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by Abigail Van Buren

Romantic Feelings Cloud Best Friends' Relationship

DEAR ABBY: I'm an 18-year-old girl. Romantic relationships have never meant much to me. It's fun to have someone to go to art galleries and coffee shops with, and to make out with in my car, but I don't have a need to tie myself down. I have had a lot of nice "flings" during high school, but it was high school, and it's time to move on.

My best friend of 11 years, "Mick," happens to be a boy. We decided in middle school that our relationship would be strictly platonic. Last night, Mick kissed me and told me he is in love with me. I don't feel the same. I'm not physically attracted to him. I tried to be nice and told Mick it would ruin our friendship, but he disagrees.

With any other guy, rejection is easy. But this is my best friend. Mick has low self-esteem when it comes to girls. If I say I'm not attracted to him, it'll hurt his feelings.

I feel stuck and angry. I told Mick the truth about how I felt a long time ago. Do I have to be mean to get my point across? Here's how I honestly feel: I love hanging out with him, but I find him repulsive-looking, and if he kisses me again he's getting slapped. I've never been mad at him before. Can you please help me? -- "ASHLEY" IN CLEVELAND

DEAR "ASHLEY": According to the letters I have received from men, most would prefer to be told the truth rather than be left hoping and dangling. You and Mick have different objectives. He wants romance; you want only friendship. It's time for you both to widen your circle of friends.

It isn't necessary to tell Mick that he's "repulsive" or that the next time he makes a move on you, you'll deck him. However, the sooner you tell him plainly that you consider him your best friend -- but nothing more -- and the "chemistry" isn't there for you, the better off you'll both be. Believe me, it's a lot kinder than stringing him along for company.

DEAR ABBY: Please let me know the appropriate way to inform my family and friends that my wedding has been canceled. How many details do I have to provide? What if my fiance, who is a publicist, has posted a lengthy and one-sided account of what has happened? -- FORMER BRIDE-TO-BE

DEAR FORMER BRIDE-TO-BE: You do not have to provide any painful details to anyone. Write a short note to your family and friends. All you need to say is "Dear ( ), This is to inform you that 'John's' and my wedding has been canceled. Condolences are not in order -- it was by mutual consent. Love, ( )"

If your former fiance has actually had the bad taste to post an account of why the wedding is off, I cannot stress emphatically enough that he's no gentleman, and you're lucky to be rid of him. Do not sink to his level.

DEAR ABBY: There seems to be an awful lot of women exposing themselves on the Internet in graphic sexual fashion. My wife says that men degrade themselves by looking at them.

My question to you is, what is more degrading? Looking at them, or women exposing themselves? -- WONDERING IN PUYALLUP, WASH.

DEAR WONDERING: For a woman to post graphic sexual images for people she doesn't know to view strikes me as more degrading because it indicates that she thinks she has little else to offer.

However, for a married man to view those images could also be considered degrading -- and threatening -- to his wife. Many women have written to me because their husbands spend more time looking at porn on the Internet than having a sex life in their own bedroom. In other words, the practice became an addiction.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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