Dear Abby: I am a 54-year-old divorced father of one daughter. I'm fit, look good for my age and earn a good income as a consultant. I'm not rich, but I own a condo and have a sizable retirement fund.

I have a strong desire to remarry, but I have some "baggage." My daughter, "Danielle," is bipolar. She has done nothing since graduating from high school last year but get into trouble. Danielle has been arrested for drugs and stealing and hangs out with a rough crowd. My ex-wife does not have the inner strength to throw her out, which would probably be the best thing for her. This is out of my control, but still, women I date lose interest in me when they learn about my daughter.

I hate to lie, but I think I may have to start when we trade information about our children. Theirs are often very accomplished, so the contrast is terrible. Should I make up some half-truths until the time is right to tell the whole story? I'll follow your recommendation. —Embarrassed in Virginia

Dear Embarrassed: Your daughter suffers from a mental illness. She belongs in treatment, not on the streets. That your ex-wife hasn't thrown her out isn't a reflection of weakness but a measure of her strength of character.

You and your ex could both benefit from joining a support group — and I have one for you. It's the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Since it was founded in 1986, it has grown to more than 1,000 support groups nationwide, and offers advice and online information for persons with depressive and manic-depressive illness and their families. To find a chapter near you, call toll- free (800) 826-3632 or visit its Web site:

Under no circumstances should you concoct any "half- truths" in an attempt to cover up your situation. A woman who would write you off because you have a sick child doesn't sound like much of a catch. And any woman with a head on her shoulders would resent having been misled.

I don't know where you're finding the women you've been seeing, but I recommend you fish in other dating pools. In a support group you might meet someone with whom you have much in common.

Dear Abby: I live in Chicago and commute to and from work each day on the El train, which is typically crowded. There are never enough seats to go around. What surprises me is the lack of thoughtfulness that men show when it comes to seating. It's extremely rare for a man to offer a seat to a lady. In fact, I have watched men race past women to grab seats. Just the other day, there was a very pregnant woman on the train and not a single person offered her a seat.

I'm not trying to portray females as the needy, weaker sex, but some chivalry would be nice. In this age of equal rights, am I outdated in my thinking? —Needs a Seat in Chicago

Dear Needs a Seat: I don't think so, but there are those who would argue with us. With more people using public transportation because of increased fuel prices, seats are at a premium. One would hope that the commuters would practice good manners, but if a man didn't offer a pregnant woman his seat during the commute, I would offer her mine rather than force her to stand on swollen feet and ankles.

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

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