DEAR HARRIETTE: What do you do when you're in a relationship but you want to start dating again? I met this man on Facebook, and I would like to take him out for his birthday. He is handsome, and he is someone with whom I can see myself having a relationship. We started to correspond via email for a few weeks until we exchanged phone numbers. Talking on the phone is just easier. My male friend liked the idea of going out for his birthday, and that made my heart smile.
During one of our numerous conversations, I told my male friend that I was married and that my husband and I have been separated for 15 years. To my surprise, he was taken aback by the statement. He told me that he doesn't want a woman who is married. I told him it was not a big deal. I really like this guy, and I want to see what develops from our friendship. I am not planning to divorce my husband anytime soon. I am lonely and want companionship. What is a woman to do? -- Till Death Do Us Part?, Baltimore
DEAR TILL DEATH DO US PART?: Why are you surprised at your suitor's surprise? I think it is a good thing that a man does not want to date a woman who is married. That you are separated is different from married, and you admit that you are not planning to get divorced anytime soon. Why is that? Are you benefiting in some way from being married to your husband even though you have not been together for years? Is being married a safety for you?
You are living in that space of having your cake and wanting to eat it, too. You are legally married but not with your husband. You are lonely and want companionship, but you are not legally available to receive it. You may want to thank this suitor for making your dilemma so obvious. Do yourself a favor: Take care of first things first. Clear the way to have a healthy new relationship.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor from back home died several years ago. I was included in his will, which went through years of sluggish movement in the court system. Finally, I have been told what was left to me, and I don't even want it. I feel so stupid having held onto this notion that I was really getting something. What do I do if I don't want it? -- Willed Out, Shreveport, La.
DEAR WILLED OUT: You should have received information from the estate explaining that you do not have to accept the items. Essentially, you need to get in touch with the official person in charge of the dispersion of the will. Explain that while you appreciate your neighbor's gesture, you will be unable to use the item(s) left for you. Suggest that the administrator of the estate dispose of it in whatever way he or she sees fit -- or search for another family member who may appreciate that which isn't right for you at this time.