DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old man with a criminal record. I got involved in some fraud and embezzlement rings when I was in my early 20s, and served nine months before being released on parole.
Since then I have moved in with my mother, found a job, and I'm trying to be the man I know I'm capable of being. I have reached the point where I'd like to begin dating again.
The problem is, I don't know when the time is right to bring up my past. If I wait too long, my name is mud for not saying anything sooner. I want to do the right thing so I can stay on the right path. Can you help me? -- A BETTER MAN IN NEW YORK
DEAR BETTER MAN: I agree that the chapter of your life in which you were in prison is not something you should reveal on a first date. But do raise the subject around the fourth date, because by then the woman will have had a chance to get to know you.
When you bring it up, make it clear that you didn't go to jail for a violent crime and you're not on any offenders' list. If she likes you, she'll hear you out and understand that you don't plan to repeat your past mistakes. Men who have served their time can go on to lead successful lives, and tell her that you plan to be one of them.