Q: I am a widower in my early 60s. I recently met a lovely lady through a personal ad; she arouses me sexually. I am very fond of her as a companion as well.
However, I have not settled down to a monogamous relationship with her because of the problem of "space." Not only do I give her all the space she asks for, but I feel the need for it myself.
Why is this so when I also feel the need to eventually get married?
A: When we have come of age, so to speak, nearly all of us need our own "space" -- room and time alone. After a period of living alone, togetherness can feel cloying and oppressive if carried to an extreme. And as much as we want love and marriage, this need makes us hesitant about committing to couplehood. Nothing unusual about that, not to worry.
And I don't see why you cannot make this lovely lady your exclusive partner, agreeing between you that there will be spaces in your togetherness. Work it out together.
Q: I've been a single mother of a 3-year-old for almost two years, and I've been looking all that time to join a single-parent group. No group I've known seems to deal directly with issues of single parenting without linking it to dating or socializing.
I'm 32 years old, dating someone nice, and I don't want to join a group that's like a meat market. Are there any groups or networks that focus on getting to the heart of single-parent concerns?
A: Think about starting a single-parent group that you can guide. You can do the interviewing on your own and choose like-minded women and men whose concerns you share. To take the first step or learn about the process, I suggest you contact Suzanne Jones, director of the Single Parent Resource Center, 141 W. 28 St., New York, N.Y. 10001, (212) 947-0221. She's one of my most trusted resources in the field of single parenting and will help you set up your single-parent support group.
Your second step? Let me know developments.
Q: Please add this letter to the many on your desk from men who have opted out of the dating game. I'm 58 years old, drug- and disease-free, a non-smoker and a very light social drinker. I've been divorced since 1985, and I am the father of two college girls who live with their mother.
I consider myself a nice guy. Many of my co-workers and friends cannot believe that I'm still single. Recently, I dated a widow of 10 years and enjoyed her company. However, my actions toward her as a gentleman actually shocked her and in her words "embarrassed" her at times. I'm referring to holding her coat while she put it on, holding her hand while we descended a stairway, opening the car door for her and helping her into the car, holding the umbrella for her when it rained.
All of that was not done to embarrass her.
When are women going to realize that nice men do exist on this planet?
A: Women may just need your reminder to treat the man in their lives with gentleness and sincere warmth, the way they themselves want to be treated. Sometimes I wonder why familiarity and continued togetherness seem to breed careless relating.
Only a foolish woman would be embarrassed at a companion's good manners and kind consideration; perhaps it's been too long since she was treated with care and regard. Pity her, but don't change an iota of your good manners. The right woman will love you more for them.
This being a political year, it's time for singles to dwell upon their particular issues, the concerns that hit home for them and their way of life. I'd like to see letters from you describing those "single" issues, telling where they affect your life and possible solutions that can be legislated to make singleness more widely respected by society, an easier status to hold.
For openers, some issues that come to mind:
* Discrimination -- taxes, travel, dining
* Day-care for single parents
* Child custody
* Child support
* Divorce laws, procedures
* Date rape
* Cohabitation laws
* Single parent adoption laws, procedures
* Workplace attitudes, procedures, bias
* Dating services -- regulations, oversight
That's the idea. And there are many other issues that make the single life more rocky than need be. Exit poll question for you: What one issue is most important to you as a single person?