DEAR ABBY: I am a 53-year-old male who is fit, healthy and has a good job. I also have two failed marriages behind me, which have cost me dearly, both emotionally and financially. I have no intention of making that mistake again! I have been on my own for five years, and in that time I have had five relationships -- always with women my age (give or take a few years).
My problem is that women my age seem to have only one agenda: marriage. One very nice lady finally clarified her feelings by saying that at this time in her life, she didn't have time for "just dating" because in a few years she'd be 60.
I understand her dilemma, but I'm not interested in younger women. I try hard to make it clear at the beginning of any relationship that marriage is out of the question, and I don't proceed with the relationship unless the lady wholeheartedly agrees. But somehow I have broken five good hearts, whose only transgression was falling in love with me. -- NOBODY'S RETIREMENT HUSBAND
DEAR N.R.H.: I admire your self-image. You must be doing something right to have the ladies lining up the way they are. However, you may not be as effective a communicator as you think you are if five different women failed to get the message you said you convey. I have several thoughts about your predicament:
If your only fear of marriage is that you would again be cleaned out financially, a strong prenuptial agreement could help you avoid any problem if a third marriage didn't work. However, if variety is what you prefer, then you should restate your message every few months as these relationships blossom. (Or you could move to a monastery and stop dangling yourself in the dating pool.)
DEAR ABBY: Once a year I type my ZIP code into a website to see who the registered sex offenders are in my area so I can be better informed and protect myself and my family. A photo, address and the charges attributed to the offender are posted on the site. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw a man listed that I work with and see quite often. The picture looked recent.
I haven't said anything to him. I have known this person for five years and thought he was a good guy who respected women. I'd like to think it was a one-time mistake and that he would never do it again. But would he?
Should I tell my teenage daughter who sometimes visits me in the office? Should I tell the other women who work here? If a co-worker knew this kind of information and showed it to me, I'd be grateful to know. What do you think I should do? -- STUNNED IN THE CITY
DEAR STUNNED: Tell your daughter to keep her distance from this co-worker. But before you drop this bombshell at the office, you should first discuss what you have learned with your employer.
DEAR ABBY: I hope you can help with this etiquette question. My son and his wife believe that when you finish a good meal, you toss your napkin on the now-empty plate. They say this sends a message that the food was great.
I do not agree. Is placing a grubby napkin on the plate inappropriate behavior or is this legit? -- NOT A NAPKIN-TOSSING DAD
DEAR DAD: Your son and his wife need to re-read the chapter on table manners in their etiquette book. When a meal is finished and the plate is empty, diners should place their used napkins on the table beside their dessert plate. It should not be placed on top of a dirty plate.
P.S. If they don't own an etiquette book, it appears they could use one.
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