DEAR ABBY: I am a 53-year-old male who is fit, healthy and has a good job. I also have two failed marriages behind me, which have cost me dearly, both emotionally and financially. I have no intention of making that mistake again! I have been on my own for five years, and in that time I have had five relationships -- always with women my age (give or take a few years).
My problem is that women my age seem to have only one agenda: marriage. One very nice lady finally clarified her feelings by saying that at this time in her life, she didn't have time for "just dating" because in a few years she'd be 60.
I understand her dilemma, but I'm not interested in younger women. I try hard to make it clear at the beginning of any relationship that marriage is out of the question, and I don't proceed with the relationship unless the lady wholeheartedly agrees. But somehow I have broken five good hearts, whose only transgression was falling in love with me. -- NOBODY'S RETIREMENT HUSBAND
DEAR N.R.H.: I admire your self-image. You must be doing something right to have the ladies lining up the way they are. However, you may not be as effective a communicator as you think you are if five different women failed to get the message you said you convey. I have several thoughts about your predicament:
If your only fear of marriage is that you would again be cleaned out financially, a strong prenuptial agreement could help you avoid any problem if a third marriage didn't work. However, if variety is what you prefer, then you should restate your message every few months as these relationships blossom. (Or you could move to a monastery and stop dangling yourself in the dating pool.)