Many-married man wonders how to date

Dear Amy: I am in my mid-50s and have been married four times.

I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.

I abused substances for 35 years.

I have been clean for three years now and my life today is beyond my wildest dreams.

I have repaired the relationships in my life with family and have built solid friendships today with people I have met in recovery and at work.

I attend church and am a completely new person.

My old life was dark and suicidal, but my new life is beautiful and positive.

I have done a lot of work on myself, with the help of therapy and AA.

I believe I am the best version of myself today, however I am concerned with people judging me by my past life.

How do I start dating?

Who would want to take a chance with a guy with such a turbulent past life?

— Stormy Past

Dear Stormy: Congratulations on your continuing recovery. It is truly inspiring.

The way to date is to start doing it! Tiptoe into the shallow end of the dating pool, with the help and support of your sponsor and sober community.

Coffee dates and/or lunch are the current standard for meeting new people.

If your date chooses to drink alcohol, you should tell her that you don’t drink because you are an alcoholic in recovery. There. That’s one hurdle cleared.

Four divorces is not a first-date topic, in my opinion. Your first date should be devoted to covering more superficial basics and doing a lot of listening.

You have every valid reason to take things very slowly. Additional drama may be an unhealthy trigger.

If you are contemplating a deeper relationship, you should tell her, “I have a very challenging relationship history, and I think it’s only right for me to tell you about it, so you can make your own choice, with your eyes wide open.”

Dear Amy: I need your opinion on whether I am cheap, or whether my logic makes sense. When I order a mixed drink in a hometown bar, it might cost me around $4.

I will typically leave a dollar on the bar.

While on vacation I have paid as much as $12 for that same mixed drink. I know that leaving a 20 percent tip is the standard practice, but the bartender in both cases spent the exact amount of effort to fill a glass with ice, pour a shot of alcohol, then top it off with soda. Am I being cheap in thinking that a dollar on the bar is appropriate?

– Casual Tipper

Dear Tipper: Let’s test your logic: The waitstaff at Brews and Bones in my hometown takes my order, runs back and forth to the kitchen, visits the table repeatedly and receives a generous $10 tip on a bill totaling $40.

Then I visit Le Restaurant Fancy in Chicago, where the waitstaff takes my order, runs back and forth to the kitchen, and visits the table repeatedly. This person has expended roughly the same amount of effort as the waitstaff at Brews and Bones and so, using your logic, I will also give them a generous tip of $10 on a bill totaling $125.

The waitstaff and bartenders in Chicago (or your vacation destination) likely have much higher expenses. Bartenders rely heavily on tips to make a livable wage, and often share their tips with barbacks or other support staff.

Readers: Tip generously!

According to an article on tipping in Food and Wine Magazine, the basic tipping standard is $1 for a beer, minimum $2 for a mixed drink (no matter where you are), and 20 percent if you run up a tab.

Dear Amy: “Half-Grateful, Half-Frustrated” described her husband’s method of unloading the dishwasher. She said he leaves some clean dishes and utensils on the counter, along with the dirty stuff.

I really disagree with your advice that she confront him about this. She has probably terrified him about where to properly store things.

– Upset

Dear Upset: I’ve received a high volume of responses to this question, and most respondents agree with you. I find this baffling. Longtime married couples should be able to talk about practical things without the fear of being labeled a nag.