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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I consider myself to be a nice, normal person. I know how to make interesting, intelligent conversation that can engage just about anyone. When I go out socially, I often meet people and we hit it off.

Typically, by the end of the conversation, there comes a point where it is decided -- usually by the other person -- that we exchange information, which includes phone numbers and e-mail addresses. I generally wait a few days before calling, or until an occasion arises to invite the person to participate with me.

When I call or e-mail, I always leave a message, but I almost never get a response back. Sometimes I wait to see if the person I just met calls me first, but it never happens.

Do people just pretend to be interested in me, or am I fooling myself? Or are they just too busy to make the effort to have another friend? I don't understand it. Am I missing something? -- BLOWN OFF IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR BLOWN OFF: What you have described happens frequently -- usually when someone wants to end a conversation on a positive note. The failure to follow through can be for a variety of reasons -- busy schedule, lack of interest, met someone else, changed their mind.

But if this is happening more than 90 percent of the time, it's time to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you come on too strong, or keep the people you meet involved in "interesting, intelligent conversation" so long they feel the need to get away. My advice is to ask someone you trust whether this could be a possibility.

DEAR ABBY: Is there such a thing as a "quarter life" crisis? Ever since I completed my undergraduate degree, I feel like I have lost something great and can't seem to find my way. My professors were the only family I had.

I have moved to a new school and started a new job, and I feel extremely unsure about what I'm doing. I feel lost without the support of my professors. How do people make it through this transition without the assistance of family and friends? Is this normal, or am I the only one who feels this way? -- SEARCHING FOR MY PATH

DEAR SEARCHING: Your feelings are normal. You are a fledgling who has left a protective nest. You are now learning to fly on your own power.

Join some of the clubs at your new school, and spend some time getting to know your co-workers. New relationships take time to cultivate, but in a few months you will feel more at home in your new surroundings.

DEAR ABBY: Is there something wrong with the fact that I don't like to entertain? I don't even like having people over at my house. My husband likes to barbecue and invite others to come over. Am I wrong -- or am I a snob? -- ENOUGH ON MY PLATE

DEAR ENOUGH: Neither one. You may be socially recessive or an introvert. But because you married someone who is an extrovert, you will have to learn to compromise. If this is too difficult for you, please consider counseling to help you work through your social anxieties.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)