DEAR ABBY: My friends and I are women in our late 40s and early 50s. Some of us are married, some are single. Individually or as a group we have taken classes, volunteered, gone on cruises, gone to clubs and bars — you name it.

We have noticed that nearly everyone at these activities is either female or with a female as part of a couple. There are loads of single middle-aged women out there joining things and having fun, but there seem to be almost no single middle-aged men. Friends in various parts of the country report the same thing.

Where do the single men go? They rarely go out alone or with a male buddy. Our running joke is they’re all home watching bad cable TV. Middle-aged guys must be there somewhere, but where? You’d think that if they wanted to meet women, they’d go where women are, but we rarely see them. Can you solve this mystery for us? — WHERE THE BOYS AREN’T, NORTHERN WYOMING

DEAR WHERE THE BOYS AREN’T: Part of your problem may be that most of the males in your age group are already married. I don’t recommend looking for eligible men in clubs and bars because the ones who go there are usually looking for younger women.

I do suggest volunteering because it offers an opportunity to expand one’s circle of acquaintances, and even if you don’t meet a man there, you might meet a woman who knows someone who is eligible. I caution women who are looking for companionship not to “hunt in packs” because some men find the idea of approaching a group of women to be daunting.

The pool you’re fishing in appears to be small. Have you considered looking online for men in other communities in your state? You will increase your odds of success by putting yourselves “out there” because most relationships begin as the result of luck and timing.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wonderful man for two years. We’re talking about marriage, but there is a problem. He has his ex’s name tattooed on his backside and it’s starting to bother me. I offered to pay to have it removed, but he doesn’t want it off. Do I stay with him and try to get over it, or break up with him and find someone else? Help me! — REALLY CONFUSED GIRL IN COLORADO

DEAR REALLY CONFUSED: Removing a tattoo can be expensive, time-consuming and painful. If the only deal-breaker in your relationship is the tattoo, consider asking him to turn the other cheek and have YOUR name placed opposite his ex’s so you will have equal billing. A large “X” could be inked over the ex’s name if it would make you feel better.

DEAR ABBY: Please settle a debate between my fiance and me. He contends that when we’re in a restaurant, it is impolite to say to your server, “I will have …” and insists that the request should be, “May I have … ?”

I was raised to believe that either statement would be acceptable. What say you? — QUERY-CONSCIOUS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR Q.C.: If the server asks you, “What’ll you have?” it’s perfectly acceptable to respond, “I’ll have …” However, “May I have …” sounds more refined.

If this is the only complaint your fiance can come up with, he’s a lucky man and should count his blessings.

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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