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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend is divorced. His ex's name is tattooed on his arm. Although I don't like it, I realize that it was long ago and before I came into the picture.

As we have grown closer over the last two years, I'm often tempted to ask him to have it removed or covered up. I think it's tacky, and I don't like it at all. I know I can't demand he remove it, but would a gentle request do? Or should I wait until I have more of a formal status in his life? -- LOOKING AWAY IN THE SOUTH

DEAR LOOKING AWAY: Tattoo removal isn't as easy as waving a magic wand and presto! -- it's gone. The process can take several sessions, can be quite painful, and it must be done by a professional. If this is so important to you that you would put him through that, then ask him nicely. When you do it is up to you. You could jokingly ask him to have a circle with a diagonal line through it added to his ex's name.

Read more in: Love & Dating

Friend Is Alarmed by Man's Lack of Sex Drive

DEAR ABBY: My best friend of 25 years just got engaged. I suspect her fiance is gay or there's something seriously wrong with him. They have been dating for eight months and he hasn't once tried to have sex with her. He has used every excuse under the sun as to why (bad back, tired, etc.).

He recently proposed to her in a public place in front of his family. I don't think he knows the real her, and I don't think she understands the serious implications of her decision to marry him when sexual intimacy was so important to her before. She once told me she would not marry a man without first having sex with him, and that a sexless life is her biggest fear. I feel I should speak up as her best friend. Should I? -- SEEING RED FLAGS IN GEORGIA

DEAR SEEING: Yes. And when you do, urge her to get into premarital counseling with her fiance. During the sessions, matters like sex, finances and child-rearing should be discussed so there won't be any "surprises" later. Repeat your suggestion, if necessary, until she reaches the altar. Let's hope she listens to you because his fatigue and bad back won't magically disappear after they say "I do."

Read more in: Love & Dating | Friends & Neighbors | Sex & Gender

Mom With Lots to Celebrate Plans a Combo Party

DEAR ABBY: A little backstory before my question. I am 39 and the mother of three beautiful daughters, ages 18, 12 and 8. I am getting a divorce. It's an amicable one (thank goodness), and my girls are doing pretty OK with the news.

During this last year, I graduated with my AA degree. I am very proud of the achievement, but have never had a celebration. Would it be in bad taste to have a housewarming, graduation and almost-40 birthday party (my birthday is on a major holiday, and my friends are usually busy doing other things that night) and ask for gifts for my new house and the girls' bedrooms? -- CELEBRATING IN IDAHO

DEAR CELEBRATING: A party would be wonderful because you have much to celebrate. Send invitations describing it as a "housewarming, graduation celebration and 40th birthday party," but do NOT mention gifts on the invitation. If someone asks about it, feel free to tell the person. But to ask for gifts on an invitation is a no-no.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Holidays & Celebrations | Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)