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DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently put myself out there and started dating again. I have been a single mom for most of my son’s life. He is now a junior in college, so I thought it was time. I have used a reputable dating app. Already I have met two interesting guys, but it hasn’t turned out very well. In each case, the guy acted like he was head over heels in love with me almost instantly. Wooing me, wining and dining, being the perfect gentleman — all the things that I value — and then crickets. It seems like everything just went too fast. I don’t really know how to date anymore. It has been so long. I don’t want to give up, though. What else do I need to do to be willing to put myself out there but also protect myself? — Dating Again
DEAR DATING AGAIN: Slow down. Chances are, the advice you have given your son about getting involved in a relationship is what you should follow yourself. Take the time to get to know whoever you go out with. Even if the person is completely enamored with you, take it slow. Make it clear what you want, and find out what he wants. Be specific. Sometimes people just want to have a little fun. Other times, the desire may be for a long-term relationship. Figure out what you want, and put that on the table from the start. Don’t let your guard down completely in the beginning. Give it time. Your date has to earn your trust. It’s great for him to be excited by you, but if you are looking for the long game, stay calm and pay attention. Just don’t give up.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went on a work retreat for my new job. One of the bonding exercises was to go hiking. I am way overweight and inactive. I don’t walk, run or anything else, but I got into it and made the commitment to get fit. I’ve been walking a little bit every day since we got home. Everything was going well, but then I woke up one day feeling like crap. My legs hurt so bad. My energy is gone. I’m worried and mad. I thought this was going to be my time to turn my life around, but now I’m stuck in bed and in pain. Is it too late for me? I feel like I’m letting myself and my colleagues down. Everybody was cheering for me. — Two Steps Back
DEAR TWO STEPS BACK: Make an appointment to see your internist. It’s time for you to get a complete physical along with an examination of your legs to make sure that your body is stable. It could be as simple as the fact that you used muscles that have been ignored for years, and they are reacting as they “wake up.” It could be that a medical challenge is revealing itself. Find out what’s going on in your body with your doctor’s help. Then discuss a healthy fitness routine that you can incorporate into your life right now that will help get you to your fitness goal. Consider this a minor setback. You have started your journey toward a healthier body. You can do this.