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Dear Abby: I recently retired, but I haven’t told anyone. I receive widow’s benefits, so I’m comfortable financially. I like my privacy, and I’m afraid things will change if I tell people about my retirement. My father is dying of cancer.

My best friend says if I were her sister, she’d be mad at me. My sister lives a mile away and I don’t want her dropping in on me. If she knew, she’d include me in everything she does. I feel this is my life and I want to enjoy it alone for the most part.

Am I wrong? Am I hurting anyone?

I was widowed 20 years ago and have had no serious relationships since. I’m independent, attractive and have joined a few dating sites, but I’m picky and have not met a man who attracts me. I’m 66, in good health and look younger.

Am I being selfish? Do you have any advice for me?

Loner Lady Out West

Dear Loner Lady: If your sister has shouldered the responsibility of caring for your dying father by herself, thinking you are too busy working to help, then she would have every reason to be very angry. Even if that’s not the case, her feelings will be hurt when she finds out — and she will — that you’re avoiding her.

If she didn’t love you, she wouldn’t want to include you in her life. All you need to do is say no to her invitation if the activity isn’t your cup of tea. And surely, you can find a tactful way to ask any drop-in visitor to make plans with you ahead of time instead of dropping in.

You say you want to enjoy your life alone for the most part, but you have joined dating sites. In this life, people have to give in order to get. It may be the attitude you’re projecting that’s keeping you from meeting men on those dating sites. And yes, I think you are selfish.

Dear Abby: My 16-year-old son and I are having a debate and would love your take on the matter.

I think if you stand in a grocery store checkout line and read a magazine without buying it that it’s stealing. He doesn’t agree.

What do you say?

Just Looking

Dear Just: If your son is reading the magazine from cover to cover, then I agree he’s helping himself to something he’s not entitled to. If he is only “sampling” to see if there are enough articles in the magazine that he thinks it’s worth buying, I wouldn’t call it theft.

Using your yardstick, judging from the number of people I have seen at checkout counters with their noses buried in the tabloids, that would make us a nation of thieves.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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