Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: A co-worker, "Marilyn," recently returned from time off with a noticeably different face. She said nothing about it, so we didn't either for a while. Finally, one woman remarked to her that she appeared to have had "some work done." Abby, Marilyn denied it!

What's considered proper here? Should we have said something initially about her radically changed appearance? We were afraid if we ignored it she'd be disappointed. Having spent that much money and gone through that much pain, wouldn't she have been crushed if we hadn't?

— INQUIRING MINDS IN PASADENA

DEAR INQUIRING: When someone has spent big bucks on plastic surgery, the one question that person does NOT want to hear is, "Have you had some work done?" If someone has a good surgeon, the results are subtle, not radical.

A more tactful way to have approached your co-worker would have been to say, "Marilyn, you look wonderful — so RESTED. That trip took years off you ... " Then, if Marilyn wanted to share her secret, she could have — or just said thank you.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have always been active. We're avid campers and certified scuba divers; we water-ski and enjoy taking leisurely rides along country roads on our motorcycle.

I recently had an accident and had to have an X-ray of my spine. Afterward, my doctor informed me that the vertebrae in my neck are positioned in such a way that if I'm ever in another accident, I would probably become a paraplegic.

My husband now wants to sell our motorcycle and do everything possible to "protect" me. How do I tell this wonderful man that I don't want to change our lifestyle? We do not do anything dangerous, but he insists that we now have to watch out for "the fools out there."

— ADVENTURER IN ALBANY, GA.

DEAR ADVENTURER: Frankly, I agree with your husband. There is no denying that motorcycles can be dangerous even when the riders are taking every precaution. However, because you feel so strongly about this, perhaps you should consider getting a second medical opinion. If the second doctor agrees with the first, then you and your husband must decide whether a leisurely ride in the country is worth the risk of a lifetime in a wheelchair, because that outcome would affect him, too.

DEAR ABBY: I live in a small town in Alaska. A relationship with a woman I loved more than I have ever loved anyone has ended. I'm left with only pain, misery and suffering.

I keep trying to move on, but everything I do makes me think of her. I have asked friends for advice; they all tell me to "man up and get over it!"

It's frustrating to be told to "get over her" and accept what is. I know brooding isn't helpful, but it's a natural byproduct of pain. What I need to ask you is this: Is it worth putting your heart and soul on the line with the likely possibility of having them crushed? I hope so, because without hope, then what is there to live for? That thought scares me more than anything I have ever experienced.

— HEARTBROKEN UP NORTH

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Of course it's worth it, because without risk there is no reward. I am speaking with the voice of experience. You have plenty to live for. Falling in love is like prospecting for gold. Sometimes you strike the mother lode on the first try, but most times you have to keep digging. I don't know how small the community you live in is, but if it's so small that most of the eligible candidates for romance have been eliminated, then you should consider relocating.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.