Is it OK to go on coffee dates with other women?

My wife of almost 30 years passed away several years ago, and after grieving for more than a year, I reluctantly tried online dating.

Dear Annie: My wife of almost 30 years passed away several years ago, and after grieving for more than a year, I reluctantly tried online dating. Just when I was about to call it quits, I met a lovely widow who had had many lousy relationships after her husband died.

‘Hannah’ and I had instant chemistry. She knows I am not like the abusive men she dated before. We live six hours apart and are able to see each other for a few days every month. Her adult children and friends really like me, and my adult children and friends think she is good for me.

We’ve been dating for two years. Hannah knows I would marry her in a heartbeat, but she won’t say “yes.” Her reasons are that I have a few more years before I can retire and leave my current home, and she has an elderly mother who is very dependent on her.

Hannah has gone back to school for a second degree, which will not be completed for another three years. In order to finish, she may have to move farther away.

She’s perfectly content to see me less often. She has her family to keep her company, but I get very lonely.

I told Hannah that I’d occasionally like to go out with another woman for coffee or lunch just to have an adult to talk with. She says that is wrong since we are in a committed relationship.

Am I being unreasonable to want some adult conversation from time to time, or should I sit at home alone every night watching TV while she has friends and relatives to entertain her? — Quandary in Florida

Dear Florida: Right now, you and Hannah have a long-standing relationship without a commitment.

Still, if all you want is adult company, it might be a good idea to go out for coffee or lunch with some of the guys and leave the women alone.

Otherwise, you risk losing Hannah, commitment or not. But we’ll be frank: If you are looking for marriage, you might need to look somewhere else.

Dear Annie: I’m 14 years old and have a friend with a problem. ‘Mia’ is a beautiful girl, but is insecure. When she feels depressed, she cuts herself. I’m the only person she has told. I made her promise me she wouldn’t do it again, and for a while, she didn’t. But a few days ago, I found new marks on her arm.

What do I do? Mia refuses to talk about it with anyone else. I suggested she see a psychiatrist and even offered to go with her, but she didn’t want to hear anything about it. How do I help her without losing her trust? — Scared

Dear Scared: You sound like a good friend to Mia. It would be best if she could talk to her parents, a school counselor, a favorite teacher or an adult relative, but you can’t force her, so it’s helpful that you listen to her.

Suggest she get some exercise. It boosts endorphin levels and can make her feel less stressed. You also can discuss the situation with your own parents. Information and additional suggestions are available through the teens’ section at kidshealth.org. Please check it out.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from ‘Gargantuan Freak,’ who was hurt when her husband’s best friend said she was “gargantuan” and her husband and in-laws agreed.

As a doctor, I can assure her that 150 pounds is a perfect weight for someone who is 5 feet 9 inches tall, and it’s likely the best friend was referring only to her height. If this comes up again, I recommend she smile and reply, “I prefer statuesque or goddess-like.”

Her husband should be supportive by responding the same way.

I don’t know why she feels so unattractive. Many women would be delighted to be so tall and slender. — M.D. in Montreal

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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