DEAR ABBY: I'm a 12-year-old boy with some generosity problems. When my neighborhood friends come to my house, I offer them some things (food, mostly) that are strictly off-limits, but it feels necessary.
Also, these friends bully me, and it's against the rules to play with them, but I want to, so I sneak out to do it. I know I'm not doing the right thing, but I can't help it. Can you help me? -- CAN'T SAY NO
DEAR CAN'T SAY NO: I'll try. But first, you will have to understand and accept that "friends" who bully and take advantage of you are not friends. Giving them things that are "strictly off-limits" may seem necessary, but it won't buy real friendship.
Believe it or not, your best friends are your parents. That's why it's important that you level with them about what has been going on. Ask them if they can help you get into after-school activities where you will meet nicer people who might like to be friends with you for no other reason than the fact that you are a nice person, too.
DEAR ABBY: I'm having a problem with my dental hygienist, "Gloria." During my appointments, she engages me in conversation, which invariably lengthens the appointment from a half-hour to a whole hour. She giggles like a schoolgirl and stops multiple times during the cleaning to remove tools from my mouth so we can talk.
I don't want to be rude, but my appointments are on weekdays, and I need to get back to work. Occasionally, I have brought something to read, hoping it would keep Gloria from striking up a conversation, but it never works. I'm now considering changing dentists because I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with her. Please help. -- MIFFED IN MILWAUKEE
DEAR MIFFED: When you go to your next appointment, the first words out of your mouth should be to tell Gloria you don't have time to talk and must be out of there promptly in 30 minutes. If she can't comply, discuss it with your dentist so he/she can "remind" Gloria that her relationship with patients isn't personal, but professional, and discourage the small talk. The dental practice is a business, and if the situation is as you describe, Gloria could book twice as many patients as she's seeing now if she curtails the small talk.
DEAR ABBY: My husband has gained a significant amount of weight, which has changed his appearance. I have to admit I no longer find him attractive and have a hard time even kissing him. I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I am turned off physically.
He wants to lose weight, but can't seem to find the motivation, even after visiting with a doctor and a dietician. What can I do when he approaches me for a kiss (or more)? -- ASHAMED IN ALABAMA
DEAR ASHAMED: Tell him what you have written to me. If that doesn't give him motivation, nothing will.