DEAR ABBY: My biological father left soon after I was born. Mom spent her life in orphanages and foster homes, so she knows nothing about her ancestry, genetics or family information.

I was always curious about where I came from, so finally, at the age of 26, I decided to do something about it. Mom had always told me about “Donny,” who she said was my father. I was able to track him down and made contact. At first he denied knowing Mom, then he changed his story. Because he was married and had a family, the matter was dropped.

Four years passed and I contacted Donny again. This time, I offered to meet him on his terms to take a paternity test. He called my mother a liar and said she had been promiscuous. It made me angry because Mom was open with me about him and we have always had a close relationship. The paternity test came back and — guess what? Donny is not my father! I feel like a fool for pursuing him for nothing.

Mom acted surprised and now refuses to talk about it. I want to know my background, and it’s eating away at me that I was told Donny was a deadbeat father and I was lied to for so long. Am I doomed to never know my ancestry? — MAN WITH NO PAST

DEAR MAN WITH NO PAST: That’s a possibility, and for that you have my sympathy. When someone clams up the way your mother has, it may be because the person is too ashamed to admit the truth — which may be that she does not know who fathered you. There may be reasons why your mother behaved the way she did, having grown up not knowing who her parents were and in a series of foster homes. She may have simply been looking for someone to love her. One thing is certain, however. She raised you to be the man you are today and did the best she could, so please try to forgive her for the deception.

DEAR ABBY: I am in my mid-30s, blond, blue-eyed, tall and slender. I am health-conscious and physically active. I have had a seven-year marriage and a relationship that lasted for four — but for the last five years I have been unattached. It took me a while to get used to being alone, but I have realized something that everyone needs to know: Being single can be very satisfying

I clean my house; it stays clean. I have no extra dishes or laundry to do. There’s no toothpaste left in the sink. The toilet seat stays down. I can relax in front of the fireplace because no one is trying to get my attention.

My checkbook is always balanced, with no surprises. I can go to bed at night and sleep without having to spend half the night explaining why I’m not “in the mood.” I wake up refreshed in the morning without having to share someone else’s challenges.

I’m free to come and go as I please without the burden of anyone else’s expectations. And, if I’m feeling social, I can get together with a male or female friend and go out and have a good time.

Please reassure your single readers that it’s OK to be single, and not to allow their well-meaning friends, family or society to try to convince them they “need” to be in a relationship. If they’re happily single, as am I, they can remain that way and life will be just fine if they let it be. For me, it’s the only way to be. — HAPPILY SINGLE IN SEATTLE

DEAR HAPPILY SINGLE: I have often said it is better to be alone than to wish you were. I have also said that there are worse things than being alone, and evidently you have experienced them.

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.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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