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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: After a year of separation and divorce, I have decided to dip into the online dating world at 45. My plan was to carefully select three to five men over the next few months and just date, without diving into a relationship or into bed.

To my surprise, the first man I met, "Darren," is a great guy. He treats me wonderfully, is respectful, makes me laugh, and I love spending time with him. Now I'm no longer interested in meeting anyone else. But I am forcing myself to stick to "the plan."

Darren is aware of this. He respects my decision, but says he'll convince me to choose him. Am I making a mistake by continuing to date others? I have real feelings for Darren and feel awkward about continuing with my plan. I think I should guard my heart. Perhaps dating others will help me take things more slowly. Any thoughts? -- CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC

DEAR OPTIMISTIC: If you hadn't met someone as compatible as Darren, I would say full speed ahead with your plan. But if you feel awkward going out with others, then you shouldn't be doing it.

This is not to say you should rush into anything with Darren. It takes time to really get to know someone. Take the time because in the early months of a relationship, both parties are in the "selling" phase. You can always decide to go back to Plan A.

Read more in: Love & Dating

DEAR ABBY: My sister "Diane" lives across the country and is an active alcoholic. I have been sober for 13 years, with the exception of a relapse in 2012. I have an 11-year-old daughter.

In addition to the alcoholism, Diane is in an abusive marriage. I have seen it firsthand when I visited her. During each of these visits we have argued, she and her husband have fought, and Diana has drunk heavily.

I have decided to not expose my daughter to my sister's drama. It was sad and stressful for me when I witnessed it. Diana is hurt and now refuses to speak to me. Did I make the right decision? -- SAFE & SOBER IN OAKLAND

DEAR SAFE & SOBER: I'm sorry your sister is hurt, but as a parent, it's up to you to decide what you want your impressionable daughter to see. That you don't want her to be exposed to your alcohol-addled sister interacting with her abusive husband seems like a sensible choice to me. Yes, you made the right decision, and you should stick with it.

Read more in: Addiction | Family & Parenting | Abuse | Marriage & Divorce

Man Has Barbershop Advice For New Girlfriend

DEAR ABBY: I recently started dating a woman I have been friends with for a few years. She's smart, funny, has many wonderful qualities, and I'm starting to fall in love with her.

She's attractive -- except for one thing that could easily be fixed. I don't know if I'm being shallow, so if that's the case, please tell me. She has a bit of a mustache.

Is there a way I can tactfully ask her to remove it without hurting her feelings? Or should I just be grateful I found someone who wants to be with me and keep quiet? -- TACTFULLY CHALLENGED

DEAR CHALLENGED: If you and this lady have been friends for years, you should know each other well enough to level with each other. Because the mustache is "distracting," ask her why she has never done anything about it. However, if she opts to keep it, you'll have to love her just as she is.

Read more in: Love & Dating

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)