DEAR ABBY: I am a woman who is in love with my former high school coach. I don't know if I should tell him. I first realized I loved him about a year and a half after I met him. We had an extremely close relationship, but it was not inappropriate. He is 13 years older than I am.
After two years of getting to know him and forming a strong friendship, he moved across the country for work. Since then, I have entered college and we see each other only on holidays and in the summer. Every time I see him, we go back to our normal, wonderful relationship as though nothing has changed.
I was in denial about my feelings for him. I told myself it was puppy love and couldn't work out because of the age difference and the distance. But after four years of pining for him, and several failed romances with others, I realize I deeply love him. We have a unique connection, but he has a reputation as a "player," so I can't be sure he feels the same. I don't want to ruin what we have, but I want more. Should I finally reveal my feelings? -- HURTING BADLY IN NEW ENGLAND
DEAR HURTING BADLY: You and your former coach are both adults. I see no reason why you shouldn't tell him how you feel. However, if he responds affirmatively, please be careful about how you proceed with this relationship. As you said -- he has a reputation as a player, and men with a craving for variety can be very unreliable.
DEAR ABBY: I am in my mid-50s, divorced for many years, and have two grown children. I began seeing a delightful gentleman about three years ago. (I'll call him Jack.) He was dating several women at the time, and after a few months, I made it clear that we would have to have an exclusive relationship or I could not go on seeing him. Jack reluctantly agreed and kept his promise.
Four months ago, I demanded a commitment from him. I knew I loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. He told me he loved me, but marriage is out of the question -- and if that is the only way I'd stay with him, we have to say goodbye.
I think I have made a terrible mistake, Abby. What are your thoughts on this? -- DEPRESSED IN DES MOINES
DEAR DEPRESSED: Since marriage is important to you, you were right to lay it on the line to him. His unwillingness, regardless of how nicely put, to take your relationship to another level means he wasn't as committed to you as you were to him. And once your self-esteem heals, you will realize that the person who made the terrible mistake was Jack.
DEAR ABBY: May I offer a suggestion concerning elderly people? I know this from experience.
When writing to an older adult, every so often include some labels bearing your name and address. This makes it easier for them to respond and for the post office to decipher your address.
I have an elderly friend who has severe arthritis. When we correspond, it takes me at least 20 minutes to make out what she has written. The labels have helped us both. -- INDEPENDENCE, MO., READER
DEAR READER: I'm pleased to pass the word along. And because readers have complained that they get these labels along with solicitations from charities and don't know what to do with them, this would be a good way to put them to use. Thank you for the suggestion.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)