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by Abigail Van Buren

Girl Doesn't Know Rules of the New Dating Game

DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old girl, raised to be old-fashioned. I am very uncomfortable with how the rules of courtship have changed over the years. It used to be that guys pursued the girls. Now, the situation has reversed and girls have become the aggressors.

Most of the guys I know won't ask me out unless I make the first move and call them. They are so used to being chased that they think if a girl doesn't do it, she's not interested.

How can I encourage a guy to ask me out without being the aggressor? -- OLD-FASHIONED GIRL IN INDIANA

DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: Most males like to be chased. It's flattering, and that way they know they won't be turned down. However, there are ways a girl can let a guy know she's interested without coming on like a shark that smells blood.

(1) Be friendly.

(2) Have a reason for calling other than just to talk.

(3) If you share a genuine interest in something he's interested in, let him know it.

(4) If you want to see him outside of school, ask him to join you and a group of your friends. It will take the pressure off.

Last, if you think you're alone in having this problem, read on:

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding a letter from "Regretful in Springfield," who said she would have married "Todd" if he had only let her know how he felt. Her mother revealed on her deathbed that Todd had left the state on "Regretful's" wedding day because "Texas wasn't big enough to hold his grief."

He probably told her mom believing the way to the calf is through the cow, thinking she would tell her daughter. Unfortunately, many of us are too trusting and indirect. Believe me, the best way to get a message across is to deliver it yourself and not count on someone else to do it for you. Leave nothing to chance. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, LAKE WALES, FLA.

DEAR BT/DT: You're 100 percent right. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Regretful" could have stepped up and asked Todd, the shy guy, out for a cup of coffee. (How simple!) This somewhat current -- in the scope of modern history -- mostly American habit of women playing coy rarely works out well.

I believe that a woman waiting for her knight on a white horse is a stupid fantasy that has been sold to us by the entertainment industry for the last 75 years. Someone once said: "Where are all the nice men? Well, they're usually standing right next to you."

I have talked to many senior citizens, in particular senior women. I always asked them the same question: "Did you court or somehow 'go after' your husband"? About 75 percent of these women admitted they had made the first move to get their man's attention -- dropping by the pond where they fished, or asking them about their job or family.

Abby, I have had two women tell me they had a crush on me in high school, and yet these same two women dated only popular athletes. I don't remember either of those beautiful girls looking my way. If women want to miss out on the "shy guy" and continue to date the wolves out there, it's very easy -- just continue doing nothing. Nice guys are everywhere. -- ROBERT IN CARLSBAD, CALIF.

DEAR ROBERT: Well said. To which I add: If nice guys would simply look around instead of focusing solely on their own insecurities, they might discover they have a host of admirers.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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