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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a male relative who puts his arms around me, holds me close, and hugs me every time he sees me.

I have hinted that I don't like it, but to no avail. When I casually mentioned this to his wife, she smiled and said, "People who experience physical contact tend to have fewer emotional problems."

Abby, this may be true, but as far as I'm concerned, every time he does this to me, I feel manhandled, and I dislike it intensely.

If I were to take harsh measures, my other relatives would say I'm being foolish -- he is just being friendly.

Please tell me how to handle this situation. I am not a child. -- YOUNG FEMALE ADULT

DEAR YOUNG FEMALE ADULT: Quit hinting, and when this male relative approaches you, give him the straight-arm and this short speech: "From now on, no more hugging, please. I don't mean to be unfriendly, but I really am not into hugging."

And if his wife again interjects her opinion with regard to physical contact and emotional problems, you smile and tell her that you don't need that much physical contact -- and you'll take your chances with "emotional problems," should any occur.

DEAR ABBY: I don't lie, steal, swear, gamble or cheat on my husband. I don't do drugs, cheat on my taxes, abuse my children or run stop signs. I don't chew my fingernails, drink to excess, overeat, gossip or spit on the sidewalk. But I am addicted to cigarettes, and consequently, I am subjected to verbal and emotional abuse by non-smokers.

I know what it is like to be treated like a second-class citizen. I am told where I may and may not sit. I have been told that I stink, I'm weak, and I ought to be ashamed of myself.

So what do I do? I go out in the alley and light a cigarette to comfort myself and calm my nerves. Am I such a bad person? -- GUILTY IN ANTIGO, WIS.

DEAR GUILTY: No, you are not a "bad" person. You are just one of millions of smokers who are addicted to cigarettes and are not yet ready to do whatever it takes to free yourself of this addiction. When you're ready, call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service. Its toll-free number is (800) 4-CANCER.

DEAR ABBY: I recently had a friend visiting me. She brought her children along. I noticed that her children were playing at my desk where I keep my jewelry in a drawer.

After they left, I discovered that one of my rings was missing. Should I tell my friend? -- ANXIOUS

DEAR ANXIOUS: Yes. But before telling her, search everywhere you think the ring might be, to make certain that it is nowhere to be found -- not just misplaced.

CONFIDENTIAL TO ANNA MARGARET J. (FORMERLY OF YUMA, ARIZ. -- NOW READING ME IN THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE): Of course I remember you! Please write again and enclose your address.

What teen-agers need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with their peers and parents is now in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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