DEAR ABBY: I'm a college sophomore living in a dorm. My best friend lives a few doors down. We have always had a wonderful, caring friendship and many things in common. Lately, however, she has not been spending much time with me. Normally this would not concern me because we are both very busy right now -- but we recently had an argument in which I discovered her inability to handle confrontation.
When I brought up my concern, it led to a fight. She burst into tears and said she can't handle it when I "yell" at her. Abby, I hadn't raised my voice. Later, more calmly, she told me she cannot handle confrontation and will never, under any circumstances, take the first step. This worries me, not only for our friendship, but for her own emotional health.
When she doesn't want to spend time with me, I wonder whether she's angry with me and won't say so. This could seriously affect her in her future friendships and romances. I tried to talk to her about addressing her fear of confrontation, perhaps through some sort of therapy. She doesn't think she has a problem. I'd like to help her. Am I right that this could cause her problems? -- WORRIED FRIEND IN OAKLAND
DEAR WORRIED: Yes, it could. However, until your friend is willing to face the fact that she has a problem and is ready to deal with it, nothing you can say will convince her.
In the household in which your friend was raised, she may have been punished for expressing overt anger. People raised to "stuff" their feelings that way sometimes find other ways of expressing it so they won't have to admit their true feelings. The name for this "other way" is passive aggression.
Right now, your friend may be busy, or she may be punishing you for putting her in a corner by avoiding you. But if the way she deals with unpleasantness is by avoiding it, you'll never get a straight answer from her -- so my advice is to enlarge your circle of friends.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "James," and I have been married only three years. We are both in our 20s. Everything is really great between us -- except our sex life. As far as he is concerned that's fine, too, but I am not satisfied. It may seem odd to hear the female wants to have sex more frequently than a young and healthy male, but that's the case in our relationship.
Abby, I work with the public and I get frequent remarks about what a beautiful woman I am. This makes it hard for me to believe that I don't attract him at all. I have expressed many times that I wish we were more intimate. I have even expressed it to him in more than one letter, hoping to reach him.
I am at a total loss as to how to make him realize how important this is to me. Is there something wrong with my body? I just don't know who to turn to for advice on this subject. Please help me. -- SHORT ON INTIMACY IN OHIO
DEAR SHORT ON INTIMACY: There is nothing wrong with your body. You have married a man who appears either to have a very low sex drive or be asexual. The place to find the answers you need would be in the office of a licensed marriage and family therapist. What's ailing your marriage has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your husband.
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