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Marriage out of the question

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

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.)

Dear Abby: Once a year I type my ZIP code into a website to see who the registered sex offenders are in my area so I can be better informed and protect myself and my family. A photo, address and the charges attributed to the offender are posted on the site. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw a man listed that I work with and see quite often. The picture looked recent.

I haven't said anything to him. I have known this person for five years and thought he was a good guy who respected women. I'd like to think it was a one-time mistake and that he would never do it again. But would he?

Should I tell my teenage daughter who sometimes visits me in the office? Should I tell the other women who work here? If a co-worker knew this kind of information and showed it to me, I'd be grateful to know. What do you think I should do? – Stunned in the City

Dear Stunned: Tell your daughter to keep her distance from this co-worker. But before you drop this bombshell at the office, you should first discuss what you have learned with your employer.

Dear Abby: I hope you can help with this etiquette question. My son and his wife believe that when you finish a good meal, you toss your napkin on the now-empty plate. They say this sends a message that the food was great.

I do not agree. Is placing a grubby napkin on the plate inappropriate behavior or is this legit? – Not A Napkin-Tossing Dad

Dear Dad: Your son and his wife need to re-read the chapter on table manners in their etiquette book. When a meal is finished and the plate is empty, diners should place their used napkins on the table BESIDE their dessert plate. It should not be placed on top of a dirty plate.

P.S. If they don't own an etiquette book, it appears they could use one.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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