DEAR ABBY: I have been writing to an inmate from the Florida prison system for about two years. It has slowly developed into more than a friendship. "Mike" is a born-again Christian, as am I. He doesn't get out until 2013 at the earliest, so we have plenty of time to see where this goes.
Am I wrong for considering someone who is in prison? Mike has made mistakes, nothing violent, and has turned his life around. If he does become part of my life, how do I introduce him to my family so they may better accept him?
Abby, I'm 54. I lost my husband seven years ago. It is nice to have someone in my life again. We have talked on the phone, and it feels like we have known each other our whole lives. Am I crazy? -- SMITTEN IN NEW YORK
DEAR SMITTEN: Crazy? No. Gullible? Possibly. Please forgive me if I seem cynical, but more than one devout, vulnerable, lonely woman has been taken advantage of by an inmate with whom she corresponded. That's why, before allowing yourself to become more emotionally involved, you should contact the warden of the prison and verify that what "Mike" has been telling you is the gospel truth. If it is -- fine. If it's not, for your own sake, end the correspondence immediately.
P.S. As to how to introduce him to your family, if it comes to that, be completely honest and tell them he's your pen pal. If you're not, they'll find out eventually anyway.