Dear Abby:

I married young. We had four children who are now grown. I went through a midlife crisis in my thirties and ran around doing whatever I wanted with whomever I wanted. My husband, "Louie," begged me to stop, but I didn't. So Louie divorced me and married a woman I'll call Melody.

It's been eight years since the divorce. Louie has told my mother and our children that he still loves me and will till the day he dies. I feel the same way about Louie, but I will not go back with him.

Why? Because when my car broke down, it was Melody who picked me up. When I was sick, Melody brought me my meals. She is a sweet, caring woman who wouldn't hurt a fly, and I cannot cause her pain she doesn't deserve.

The moral: If you have someone who loves you, do not throw it away. Love is a rare and precious thing that doesn't come along all that often.

Sadder but Wiser

That's true. However, you'll be a lot happier if you stop looking backward. You have matured emotionally since your thirties. You have also learned important lessons about life. Stop dwelling on the past and focus your energies on looking ahead. If you do, it is possible that you'll meet someone and be able to rebuild your life.

Dear Abby:

My best friend introduced me to a guy about a year ago. "Arthur" was two months out of a three-year relationship. I was leery about getting involved with him, but he was the sweetest, most attractive guy I'd met in years.

Arthur called when he said he would, brought me flowers on every date, and I could discuss anything with him. I've never had such a perfect balance of physical and emotional stability in a relationship.

After two months, Arthur told me he wasn't sure he should be with me because he still wasn't over his ex-girlfriend. He said he was falling in love with me and it scared him. I was hurt and upset. He cried and begged me not to hate him.

I didn't see Arthur for six months. I ran into him last week and we started talking again. Arthur wants to start seeing me again, but I'm afraid I'll end up getting hurt. I want to be with him, but I don't want him to break my heart. What should I do?

Afraid of Getting Hurt Again

You say it has been six months? He may have gotten his former girlfriend out of his system by now. Take it slowly. Give him a chance, but be cautious. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Dear Abby:

I don't know who to talk about this with, so I'm coming to you. I'm in foster care and living with a nice, loving family. I'll have a new sister because they are adopting me. She is always asking, "Where is your mom?" I always say, "I don't know where my mom went," but I have this weird feeling in my stomach that she doesn't want me to be part of her family. Part of me thinks she is getting used to the idea that she's getting an older sister, but I don't know if I am picking the right family to live with for the rest of my life. Please help me.

Worried in New York

Tell your foster parents what you are feeling. It is possible that they need to reassure their daughter, who may be feeling some sibling rivalry. Counseling could also be helpful in putting your fears to rest. Talk to the social worker who is handling the adoption. He or she can see that you get it. I wish you the best of luck and a happy future.

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

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate