DEAR MARY ANN: I am a 63-year-old professional working woman. I lost my husband approximately five years ago after being his steady caregiver for about five years. I have adjusted to my new life, have taken up some new hobbies and am relatively happy. However, periodically I miss the companionship and friendship of a man. I am not high maintenance and would love to find someone to share my free time with and who might enjoy some of the same hobbies as I do. Unfortunately, I have no idea where to begin this search. I am looking to you for some advice on how this older, mature women might go about finding some meaningful fun time and togetherness.
DEAR CURIOUS: Short of wearing a sign you have to let people know you are looking. Friends and co-workers are not mind readers, and they may believe you are content with your single life. Mr. Right will not magically appear without a little effort on your part. Let all of your contacts know you are ready to move forward in the dating world. It is acceptable to be lonely, just don't appear to be needy. An introduction from a mutual friend or a blind date has paired many couples.
Some women meet new partners quickly on Internet dating sites. These sites are not perfect and do not work for everyone. If you do decide to join a dating site, use caution and common sense. Keep the geographic radius of your search within reasonable proximity to your community. Plan to meet in person so you don't become someone's fantasy Internet buddy, nurse or purse. Attend all of your class reunions. Old friendships can blossom into new interests. Have a conference with your minister or rabbi. These professionals are in the business of helping people, and they are an excellent source for introductions and matchmaking.
Continue to be active and attractive. Look your best when you leave the house because you never know who you will meet. Be ready; there is a huge world out there.
DEAR MARY ANN: Please explain the proper etiquette when it comes to sending and receiving gifts. For years now I have given a friend Christmas and birthday gifts (which have to be mailed as she lives out of town). The problem is that she never acknowledges my gifts. Eventually I will ask her if she had received the gift and she'll always say yes and then thank me for it. I always send off a note right away thanking her for something she sent to me, hoping to get the same kind of response from her. Is it wrong for me to ask about it? I get to the point where I just want to be sure she got it.
-- WHAT TO DO?
DEAR WHAT TO DO: Your friend is extremely busy or just being rude. It is natural to feel hurt or annoyed when you spend time selecting, wrapping, mailing and paying for a gift and there is not an acknowledgement. If you want to continue the gift exchange put a note in your next gift, "Please call or email me to let me know you received this present." If there is no response after a reasonable time your friend may be sending a message that the gift exchange is drawing to a close.
Be the one to regain control of the situation and suggest you skip the presents for the next birthday or holiday and just send cards or make donations in each other's name to a favorite charity. If she is an animal lover you could send a donation to a pet shelter. Community food banks always need contributions. This may be a better use of your time and money. Furthermore, the charities all send acknowledgements and they are tax deductible.
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