Dear Annie: I am 56 years old. When I was 44, my wife and I divorced after 17 years of marriage. I think we were lovely parents to two amazingly independent and strong daughters. They are now 22 and 26.
I feel that I was married at the perfect age, 28, and my wife was 25. We had a very good run, and we did a good job of co-parenting after we divorced, when the girls were teens. We always tried to take the high road. I always tell people to try to be courteous to their ex-spouses.
Anyway, the funny thing is I have not dated once in those 12 years, because I sense pitfalls and know about age gap problems, and sometimes I do that goofy formula that says the appropriate age to date is half yours plus seven years (or older). Women that age have actually asked me on dates, but I've refused. Other women have drama and kids, and I know I don't want to mess up entire families' dynamics with my desire for finding a mate.
I am wondering whether we live in an age when I can get my social fill in my time at the Y, swimming and in coffee shops, socializing as the extrovert that I am. Could that be the new norm? — Happy Bachelor
Dear Happy Bachelor: If all your issues with dating have been related to age, why not date someone in the same stage of life as you? Match.com, eHarmony and other dating sites allow you to set age ranges, and OurTime.com is a dating site exclusively for people over 50.
If dating simply doesn't appeal to you, that's fine. There's nothing wrong with enjoying life without a romantic partner. What matters is that you're happy and that you have a healthy social life, and it sounds as if both of those things are true for you.
Dear Annie: Why can't people bother to spell my first name correctly? I have a fairly common name, six letters long, that happens to have about seven different usual spellings. What gets me is that even when the proper spelling of my name is right in front of people, they will still misspell it. It will be on the envelope, at the bottom of a card or letter, on the front of my file, in my email address, in the church directory, etc. That does not seem matter, because people proceed to write my name however they want, using one of the other possible spellings. When that happens, I correct the misspelling on the paper. Even people who have known me for a long time, such as cousins and friends, will misspell my name. Furthermore, sometimes folks mispronounce it by saying it as one syllable instead of two. This has been a lifelong problem. How do I get through to people? — Joanne
Dear Joanne: I had to laugh when I got to your signature. I was expecting something much more complex. I don't know why people have such trouble with your name. When it comes to strangers, even if you tried every trick under the sun (spelling it out, even wearing a name tag), the fact is they might still get it wrong, so all you can do is try changing your outlook. Friends and cousins, on the other hand, have absolutely no excuse for getting your name wrong, and you should tell them so.
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