Dear Abby: When do I tell date I can’t have kids?

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DEAR ABBY: I’m an attractive 30-year-old woman just out of a five-year relationship. I am starting to date again, but I have a complication: I cannot have children.

I am wondering when the right time to bring this up with the men I meet would be. After a few dates seems too soon; however, the men usually reveal their desire for a family during this time.

What is the rule of thumb here? — SINGLE IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR SINGLE: The rule of thumb is: Honesty is the best policy. If someone tells you he wants a family, it would be dishonest not to tell him then that you won’t be able to have children.

However, if nothing is mentioned before, when you are becoming intimate and the subject of birth control is raised would be a logical time to speak up.

DEAR ABBY: I live in a city. Many of my friends live in the suburbs within commuting distance. Several of them commute daily, and there are many mass transit options running throughout the night.

On a few occasions we have planned an outing in the city and, after the tickets are purchased, etc., one of them (“Carla”) has casually stated, “I may need to spend the night at your house since it’ll be late when we get back.”

Abby, Carla knows the schedule of mass transit and knows what we’ve planned. How do I respond when she invites herself to spend the night? I have the room, but it’s still a hassle having someone stay overnight. — CITY GIRL WITH COUNTRY FRIENDS

DEAR CITY GIRL: Assuming this is becoming a pattern with Carla, the time to bring this up is before you buy the tickets.

The words to use are: “I would prefer that you don’t stay over because I’m really not comfortable having overnight guests.” And if she continues to suggest she wants to stay with you, stop inviting her to nighttime events.

DEAR ABBY: I find that I get asked far too often why I haven’t bought a house yet. I’m 42, single and have a master’s degree, but like lots of other people I had to go into debt to get it.

I’m not complaining about that. What bugs me is the invasive question I don’t feel I should have to answer, usually asked by people whose parents helped them to buy a house.

I don’t come from a rich family, and it feels like people are flaunting their privilege when they ask me. Duh, I don’t have $20,000 for a down payment. But I shouldn’t have to say that.

How can I respond to this question while not being rude or actually answering it? Better yet, how do I respond in such a way that people stop asking? — IN DEBT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR IN DEBT: This reply should do the trick: “There are many reasons why, and it’s complicated. When and if I do decide to buy, I’ll let you know.”

DEAR ABBY: My daughter and I disagree about whether it’s all right to hold the door open when the air conditioning is running on high to keep the house cool.

She’ll hold the door open while standing in the doorway talking to her friends who drive up in a car. In the meantime, I am paying for the AC to run full blast. Please give us some guidance. — ANONYMOUS MOM IN RALEIGH

DEAR MOM: I’ll try. Rather than venture into the physics of how air conditioners work, may I suggest that because your daughter lives with you and you are paying the bills, she should have enough respect for you to do as you ask.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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