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by Abigail Van Buren

Parents' Absence Is Leaving a Hole in Little Girl's Life

DEAR ABBY: I'm a junior in high school and have never had any romantic experience. It wasn't a big deal when I was a freshman, but now as the prom approaches, I'm starting to get anxious about the possibility of being dateless.

My friend "Terri" says you don't have to have a date, but I am still skeptical. Although it might be fun going with Terri and other friends, who am I supposed to share a slow dance with? I'd feel awkward sitting there while everyone else danced. And I would feel uncomfortable if a guy I didn't know asked me to dance.

If I give up on the idea of going, I might miss a special night, but could also be avoiding a potentially embarrassing situation. What's your advice? -- UNDECIDED TEEN

DEAR UNDECIDED: Stop worrying about what "might" happen, go to the prom with your friends and keep an open mind. If you aren't asked to dance, look around and you'll probably see others who haven't been asked, either. Talk to them. I'm sure they'll be glad for the company.

If someone you don't know asks you to dance, it means he thinks you're attractive. That's a compliment. So smile, be polite and dance with him. If he's not your dream partner, remember it's only a dance -- not a marriage proposal.

Unless you're willing to take some risks and put yourself out there, you will never get any romantic experience.