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Dear Abby: I'm a 67-year-old single white man. My girlfriend is 21 and African-American. We have been together a year and a half and are deeply in love. We have lots of fun together and go out and do things.

When we are out together, people often stare at us. She's very attractive and turns heads. I tell her everyone is looking at her because she is so beautiful, but that's probably not totally true.

We want to be together, but I'm reluctant. The love feels good and true, but the rest is scary. We would like to have children, but she wonders if there is any risk in having a child with me. We have tried to break up, but we missed each other so much we got back together. We have a very active sex life. Do you have any advice?

Uncertain in Ohio

Dear Uncertain: People may stare because of the large discrepancy in your ages or because they aren't used to seeing interracial couples. Because you are concerned about how things will play out if the two of you decide to start a family, it would be wise to get genetic counseling because of your age. While 67 isn't over the hill, the decision to embark on starting a family at that age may depend upon your overall health and the life expectancy in your family.

Dear Abby: Our friend recently got engaged to someone who is, well, terrible! This is her first real relationship. They moved in together and got a dog within six months.

He's a lot older than she is, emotionally manipulative and abusive. Before they got together — a couple of months after his previous fiancee broke their engagement — she talked constantly about how desperate she was for a boyfriend. Long story short, she was looking for love, and he appeared.

We're not the only ones worried for her. We have spoken with several mutual friends. We all have the same concerns but are afraid to approach her about them. He has damaged her professional and personal relationships and essentially clipped her wings.

She was a bright, kind and ambitious person with wonderful dreams before she settled for him. She has lost herself in this relationship, and we don't know what to say to her, if we should say anything at all. Help!

— Nervous Friend

Dear Nervous: While it may be tempting, resist the urge to drift away from her because of him. Rather than remain silent, you and the others should point out the impact her fiance has had on her professional relationships. If he is as you describe, she may eventually learn for herself why his previous fiancee didn't marry him. And when that happens, she may need all the support you all can give her.

Dear Abby: Five years ago, my 26-year marriage ended in divorce. I am now in a wonderful new relationship. Do I have an obligation to inform my ex of my new status?

— Debbie Divorcee

Dear Debbie: Heck no! Let your children do it for you.

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

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