DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dating a guy for about three months now. He seems to have his sights set on building a good life for himself. He is frugal and kind. He seems to have a really good attitude about moving forward in his life, and I like that about him. I just learned that he has a mouth full of dentures. It turns out he wasn't always so responsible, and he let his teeth rot, or so it seems. This man is in his early 40s and doesn't have any of his real teeth. Learning this really bothers me. To be fair, he has told me that he is reinventing himself, and it looks like he is on a good path, but how could he have been that irresponsible? And what else don't I know? I don't mean to be judgmental, but I feel like this is a sign of other things that might be way off. How do I find out? -- Beyond the Smile, Dallas
DEAR BEYOND THE SMILE: You have described someone who seems to be focused on making a good life for himself. You have dated him for a short time, so there is no way that you could already have all of the information about who he is. Relax and take your time. Choose to discover more about him. Ask him about his dating history, his work history and what he has done in his life over his adult years. Address the elephant in the room: Ask him what happened that he lost all of his teeth. Sometimes people lose teeth due to neglect. Other times it is because of gum disease or other illness. Don't be shy. Ask so that you can understand his health history and life choices.
As you talk to him, think about your own life. What has occurred that you are not so proud of? What choices do you wish you had made differently? Seek balance in your view of him by taking a sober look at your own life and sharing that with him during these talks.