DEAR ABBY: I'm a woman in my early 30s. When I was a teenager, boys never looked my way, but since my early 20s nearly every guy I've had friendly contact with has fallen in love with me. I have been proposed to six times.
I was married twice and hated it both times. I have been single for a few years and love it. I have mostly avoided men during this time because I didn't know if any man would want to just casually date me.
I started dating again about six months ago and have been seeing a man who is fantastic. He's the kind of man I have been looking for -- kind, even-tempered, well-spoken, etc. He has hinted at marriage, and I'm terrified because I'm afraid that I will "lose" myself. I enjoy my life the way it is, but I'm worried that eventually I will want a partnership, and this would be the man for me.
The idea of going to the next level makes me want to end the relationship. I'm afraid if I can't commit to this man, certainly no other man would have a chance. How do I know if I'm better off single where things are good, or take a chance on another marriage where things may not turn out so well? Is marriage for everyone? -- HAPPILY SINGLE ... FOR NOW
DEAR HAPPILY SINGLE ... FOR NOW: Because of the number of Americans who are divorced or living together without marriage, I would have to say no, marriage isn't for everyone. But when you get it right and have built a strong, loving, mutually respectful partnership, nothing can beat it.
Have you learned from the failure of your two marriages? If so, then you have matured from the experience. If you're planning to have children, it is to their advantage to live in a two-parent household.
That said, if you truly feel you are happier being single, then single you should remain because there are no guarantees that a marriage will be successful. Marriage can only be as strong and lasting as the couple entering into it are determined it will be. And that takes love, understanding, empathy and willingness to compromise.
DEAR ABBY: Our daughter, "Gabi," is 15 -- almost 16. She's active and healthy, but for the past few years she has been putting on weight. She's 5-6, weighs more than 160 pounds and has a curvy, feminine body. Despite the fact that my wife and I are both thin, my wife will not encourage her to watch her weight. Actually, she's supportive of our daughter's increasing size. She told me, "Gabi can gain up to 25 more pounds and, combined with her height, be a pretty plus-size."
My wife has always been thin. As a teen she was late to develop her figure. She keeps buying Gabi new clothes as her weight goes up. The styles are too tight, overly revealing and draw attention to the rolls of fat.
I'm not trying to force my daughter into a model's size, but I am concerned about her health. This problem would be easier to manage now than attempting to lose the weight in the future. Please help me present the importance of being proactive with Gabi in this difficult time of maturity. -- CARING, SUPPORTIVE DAD
DEAR DAD: The most qualified person to do that would be your family physician, or Gabi's pediatrician if she has one. It's common knowledge that there is an obesity epidemic in this country, and if your daughter continues to pack on the pounds, she could be at risk for serious health problems. Your wife may be going to the opposite extreme in trying not to make your daughter self-conscious about her weight. I agree with you that this is a subject that is better addressed now than later, so schedule a consultation.
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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