DEAR ABBY: My friends and I are in eighth grade. This is our last year together. We'll be going to different high schools in the fall.
"Allie," "Betty," "Carol," "Diane," "Emma," "Fran," "Gail," "Hannah," "Ivy" and I sit together at lunch. The table is pretty crowded, so we took a vote that two people should leave the circle. Allie and Betty had to move to another table. After lunch, Carol said she didn't think it was fair to vote friends out of the circle. I realized she was right, so I passed a note to Diane about not wanting to break up the circle and what Carol had said. I said we should all sit at the same table again. Diane said OK.
The next day, we all got together at our regular table, but Emma and Fran got into a fight. No one liked anyone anymore. The circle was officially broken. Now four of the girls sit at the original table; the rest of us sit at a picnic table. I'm the only one who's friends with everybody from the circle.
It hurts me to see my friends separated at lunch time. Will you please print this letter and let them know it was wrong to break up the circle? I want my friends to reconsider: Remember who your friends are. Think about the good times we've had and that I'm all of y'all's friend! -- BROKENHEARTED IN FLORIDA
DEAR BROKENHEARTED: Your mistake was in taking the vote in the first place. I'm printing your letter in the hope that your circle can be mended. If it can't be, console yourself by understanding that, much as we might wish it, not all friendships last forever. As people mature, they sometimes change or have less in common.
P.S. You have a wonderfully upbeat personality. If you also have an affinity for languages, you'd be a natural for the diplomatic corps.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 23-year-old woman and live at home with my family. My boyfriend, "Stan," and I have been dating for over a year. We're deeply in love and want to be married someday.
However, I have a huge problem. I'm afraid to stay overnight anywhere other than my house. I get scared and homesick whenever I try to stay overnight somewhere else. I know this isn't normal, and I'm afraid I won't be able to marry Stan because of my fear of living away from home. Please help me. -- HOMESICK IN OHIO
DEAR HOMESICK: You may be suffering from a mild form of agoraphobia. Please consult a doctor, because your fear is not that uncommon and you can be helped through therapy and/or medication.
DEAR ABBY: My 7-year-old son was adopted when he was 3. He'd had a difficult life until then. My wife and I had read stories about older adopted children sometimes having difficulty bonding to new families, and this was a concern for us.
Last week, when he and I were riding in the car, he asked if his grandparents were going to have an Easter egg hunt for him and his brother as they had in previous years. I replied, "Yes, it's a family tradition." He then remarked, "I know what a family tradition is." I asked him to explain. He said, "It's when you do the same old thing -- only it's still fun."
To my mind, that is the best description of a family tradition I've ever heard. Hope you agree. -- MICHAEL IN MARYLAND
DEAR MICHAEL: I do. And it appears that your son feels very much a part of your loving family.
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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