DEAR ABBY: My mother and I had a debate about who should pay for dates. She thinks the man should pay, especially if sex is involved because "you don't want to give it away for free."
I disagree. I say the man should pay for the first, and maybe the second date. After that, they can agree to alternate.
I have been seeing a wonderful guy for about six months. I'm pretty sure I make more money than he does, but even if I didn't, I don't feel the need to be supported. I don't agree the guy should always have to pay. Times have changed since my mother dated. What's the general consensus on the subject these days? -- INDEPENDENT WOMAN IN MARYLAND
DEAR INDEPENDENT: The consensus is that you're right. Times have changed since your mother dated, and furthermore, paying for a date does not give the payer any guarantee of sexual favors. While in some regions, cultures and age groups there may be the expectation that the man pays, in today's world many women expect to pay their fair share after the first couple of dates.
In other words, it's common to split a check or share the cost of an evening's dinner and entertainment. The idea that a woman should put out for the price of a burger is, thankfully, passe. And that's for the best, don't you agree?
DEAR ABBY: I have known "Arthur" for more than 20 years. Since Day One, he has wanted more than friendship, but I made it clear that I never wanted more than a platonic relationship. I care about him, but have never had romantic feelings for him.
We spend a lot of time together between relationships with other people. (I was married for eight years out of our 20-year friendship.) Arthur comes over -- we hang out, sometimes share a meal or watch a movie, etc. Then we go to sleep in my bed. He sleeps in my bed, where there's no hanky-panky. I'm content with things as they are. He makes me laugh and I feel good about myself.
However, lately I sense he's becoming too attached. I worry that I might be leading him on even though I've made it clear that I don't want anything romantic or sexual. After 20 years, there are no gray areas left to analyze my intentions.
My friends think what I'm doing is wrong, that I might be keeping Arthur from moving forward in his life. Keep in mind that I encourage him to go out with friends and to date. Am I doing anything wrong that may be hurting him in an indirect way? -- PLATONICALLY CONNECTED IN TEXAS
DEAR PLATONICALLY CONNECTED: You are happy the way things are. Arthur appears to have accepted the relationship on your terms. While he may secretly hope that one morning you will roll over, open your eyes and realize that he's Prince Charming, you have been honest with him from the beginning. I see no reason to end a relationship that is rewarding to both of you because your friends are meddling. Your friends should mind their own business.
DEAR ABBY: I have a lot of health problems and need my rest. We have even disconnected the doorbell. So why do people ignore the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the front door and knock anyway? -- DISTURBED IN EUGENE, ORE.
DEAR DISTURBED: Not knowing who's doing the knocking, I'm guessing they're people who are desperate to sell you something. Certainly no friend would behave that way.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: As the sun sets tonight, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins. As we start this time of solemn introspection, let me wish you all, "L'shana tova tikatevu" -- may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)