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Dear Abby

Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a woman who is 21 years younger than I am. She says she loves me, but I am hesitant because of our age difference.

We have known each other for years. She had a crush on me when she was 16, but I was married at the time, and she was too young. Now it's 10 years later. I'm in my late 50s; she's in her 30s. We are both single.

She brings me lunch every once in a while, which I am amazed at because it's a long drive from where she lives. I worry about what other people will think, but she doesn't care and says she wants to love me and care for me because she knows what I am about.

She's tired of dating people her age because she says they are immature. She has three kids and has never been married. I love her and want to take care of her, too, for the rest of her life. Should I listen to my heart? -- AGE IS A NUMBER, IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR AGE: You have known this woman for many years. It is not as though she's a stranger with three children who has approached you. Are the fathers of the children contributing to their support? If they are minors, what will be your role in their lives? These are important considerations.

DEAR ABBY: I was date raped seven years ago, and the man who assaulted me gave me genital herpes. I'm not someone who has ever slept around. After the rape, I told no one. I didn't go to the police. I didn't go to the doctor to get checked right away because I was scared the doctor would report the rape. I felt ashamed and dirty. Two months later, I finally found the courage to see a doctor.

I'm now friends with a guy and feel like every time I meet someone I have to tell him I have herpes because I'm not the kind of person who lies or keeps secrets. My friend seems really interested in me, and I know I need to tell him.

I feel like my life is over, and I'll never be able to have kids or marry because of this disease. It's like the man who raped me has killed my social life and my desire to live. Should I just stay alone or try to get my life back? -- STRESSED AND ANXIOUS IN PUERTO RICO

DEAR STRESSED: For heaven's sake, take your life back! Go online and research the prevalence of STDs among teens and young adults in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The statistics will be an eye-opener for you and may reassure you that you are not alone in having herpes. This information should be shared with your sexual partners.

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