DEAR ABBY: I've only had one boyfriend. For most of my childhood, he was my best friend. When we were 14, I got scared we might fight, break up and never forgive each other, so I told him I wanted to go back to being just friends without explaining why. In retrospect, I know how stupid it was, but when I was 14 it made perfect sense. When I said it, he got angry, but more than angry he was very hurt. I never saw him again.
My problem is, I haven't been able to put myself in a relationship since. Sometimes he resurfaces in my dreams. When it happens I always feel happy "seeing" him again. I don't know what to do about this nagging feeling and how I put off a love life because of it.
It's more than a decade later. He has probably changed so much and would want nothing to do with me, so I think it's better to leave him be. But I'd like to talk to the person he is now, whoever that is. Is there a way I can solve this? -- NERVOUS ROMANTIC
DEAR NERVOUS ROMANTIC: Yes. If you know where he is, contact him and tell him you would like to talk privately with him. Explain what happened so many years ago and see if he is willing to hear you out. And please stop beating yourself up over what happened when you were 14, because it was normal teenage behavior.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 50. All my life I have known I didn't want kids, and I have had to deal with people who can't understand it. I have now reached the point where I can hardly wait until I'm 55 so I can live in a child-free senior living development.
The problem is, my partner is 10 years younger than I am. He won't be able to move there when/if I do, so I'll have to wait another 10 years to live in peace. I don't want to break up with him, but I may have to. What is your take on the situation? -- OVER-55 ONLY
DEAR OVER-55: My "take" is that not all couples are exactly the same age, and if one partner qualifies to live in senior housing, his or her partner will not be excluded. My advice is to start researching retirement communities so you fully understand what the requirements and restrictions are before deciding to move there, with or without your partner.
DEAR ABBY: I know that you are all about good manners, but I think one current practice has gone WAY too far. When I sneeze, I get loud "bless you's" from neighbors down the street or co-workers in the next room. I am not religious, and I find it offensive. These "blessers" have been indoctrinated in a 600-year-old religious practice designed to prevent the plague from jumping into the sneezer's body. When someone passes gas or burps, the "excuse me's" are often more offensive than the act -- no longer the demure "pardon me" of the past.
Sneezes, gas and burps are all natural parts of life. Can't we just let them be, without making them special? -- OFFENDED OUT WEST
DEAR OFFENDED: You can. All you have to do is tell your neighbors and co-workers your attitude about their thoughtfulness, and I am sure they will refrain. In droves.
P.S. Having to say this to every "blesser" you encounter may be a very tall order, so be prepared.
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