DEAR ABBY: I am a single woman in my early 30s who has never been married. I recently fell in love with a wonderful man with whom I spend a great deal of time. He is unaware of the intensity of my feelings, and I’m afraid of telling him out of fear of rejection.

There are a couple of additional concerns: He is 15 years my senior and a medical doctor. I am a social worker in a lower socio-economic class. In addition, we are of different religions, but we have similar spiritual beliefs and values. He is also my co-worker.

I am very interested in pursuing a deeper relationship with this man, but would like to hear your advice first. Thank you for your thoughts on this. – LONGING FOR MORE IN CHICAGO

Although it is possible that the doctor is also attracted to you, the fact that you are co-workers makes the situation possibly problematic. Because you spend “a great deal of time” together, I assume that you discuss subjects beyond those that are work-related. One way to proceed might be to mention that you “happen” to have a couple of tickets to a play or other event he might be interested in – and would he like to accompany you. If the answer is yes, you’re off to a good start.

DEAR ABBY: As the “baby boom” generation is now growing older, when will food product manufacturers wise up to the fact that printing cooking instructions on their products is no longer acceptable?

I pass on buying many items in the supermarket for this reason. Perhaps with your influence these people will begin to understand that they’re losing money from older people simply because we can’t make out a half-cup from a third of a cup in such tiny print. There are also young people with visual impairments, too. Thank you! – REVEREND JOE IN CONNECTICUT

Much as one might pray for it, I’m doubtful that the food manufacturers are going to alter their labels for the visually challenged. However, because reading package directions – and I presume labels – has become a problem for you, I recommend you carry reading glasses and/or a strong magnifying glass with you when you do your marketing. That should solve the problem.

DEAR ABBY: The recent letter and follow-up in your column regarding “Vince,” who is becoming afraid of heights now that he’s older, prompts my own. You counseled him to see his doctor.

I have a similar situation. I am in my 40s. When I was younger, I was never afraid of anything – no known phobias. However, as I have gotten older, I have developed claustrophobia! I have refused to go into MRIs – even “open” ones. I panicked several times feeling trapped in my own car. Now I’m afraid to fly – not because I’m afraid of flying, but because once I’m airborne, I start panicking about being closed in.

I think our minds rewire themselves as we get older. What do you think? – JUANITA IN SPRING, TEXAS

With every activity you refrain from enjoying, you isolate yourself further. Therefore, I am giving you the same advice I gave to “Vince in Vallejo.” Please discuss this problem with your doctor. There is help for people with phobias, and yours are multiplying.

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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