DEAR ABBY: I am a 40-something divorced female. After my divorce I met a man I enjoyed being with. He led me to believe he cared for me and I bought into it. It was a vulnerable time for me and, unfortunately, I let my guard down. I did something stupid and co-signed for a student loan for him. He has stopped making payments, has blocked my calls, moved, etc., and now I'm stuck with the financial burden.

I have learned that he had a fiancee while we were involved and they are now married. Abby, he was bilking me the whole time.

I need to know what legal recourse I have. I know where he lives and possibly where he works, so if he needs to be served with papers, he can be found. I regret that I didn't keep my guard up, and I don't feel he should get away with this. What should I do now?

- Let My Guard Down in Ohio

DEAR LET YOUR GUARD DOWN: It appears you have been the victim of a fraud. If I were you, the first thing I'd do is share his address with the loan company. Then I'd discuss this matter with the police to find out if he has a history of bilking women and if I could file charges. If that isn't possible, the next thing I'd do is talk with a lawyer about any legal remedies available to me. And that's what I'm advising you to do.

DEAR ABBY: I work in the media and meet a lot of people. I have arthritis in my hands. I have always believed in a firm handshake, but I'm finding that receiving one is crippling my hand.

I don't want to appear unfriendly by not reciprocating a handshake, but I don't want my hand to ache for hours on end after meeting someone. Any suggestions?

- Hurting in Dover, Del.

DEAR HURTING: It would not be unfriendly to simply say, "It's nice to meet you, but I can't shake hands because I have arthritis." Many people do, and it's the truth.