DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother and father are divorced. Recently, my mom started dating a guy who seems nice. He treats her well and seems very genuine. Because of the physical distance between us -- we live thousands of miles apart -- I’ve only spent time with them together a couple of times. From what my siblings and I can gather, there is nothing wrong with him. But then I start to think, why is this great guy single at this age? He’s 50. Should I be worried my mom’s boyfriend has an ulterior motive or something that he’s hiding? -- Suspicious of Mom's New Boyfriend, Cleveland
DEAR SUSPICIOUS OF MOM’S NEW BOYFRIEND: Take a deep breath and calm down. Your mother is a grown woman. She is enjoying this next chapter in her life, and by your own account, her suitor seems to be a good guy who treats her well. As you get to know him, you will learn about his life. You can also ask your mother how it is that he is 50 and single. She will know if he has ever been married and what his former circumstances are. If you ask her out of genuine curiosity rather than sounding an alarm, she will likely tell you what she knows. Do not share your worries with your mother. Right now, it doesn’t sound like you have anything to be worried about.
Many men and women are single when they reach their 50s. In some cases, it’s because they never met the right person. Other times they are widowed or divorced, just like your mother. Many of them are perfectly normal, good people.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a daughter who is in her last year of college. She is very social and gets along with everyone. This may sound a little weird, coming from her father, but I am kind of concerned about the fact she has never had a long-term relationship.
I don’t suspect she is interested in women (even though I would not have a problem with that), but she has never had a man who she was particularly interested in, either. I am put in an awkward position because this is every father's dream -- never having your daughter’s heart broken -- but I also think it’s an important experience in life. Do you think this is abnormal at her age of 22? Would it be appropriate for me to bring it up with her? -- My Daughter's Future, Los Angeles
DEAR MY DAUGHTER’S FUTURE: Your daughter is not abnormal. While many young people do navigate the dating world when they are in college, some are more focused on their studies or just haven’t found the right person to spark their interest. Ask your daughter about her life. Do so without judgment, though, which will help her to open up. Start by asking her if there is anybody special in her life. Do not assume that there is not just because she hasn’t told you. If she says no, ask her if she has dated at all in college or if she wants to. Allow her to share her thoughts, and know that this should be an ongoing dialogue. You do not need to get a complete debrief in this first conversation.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)