DEAR ABBY: I'm a 16-year-old male high school sophomore in what I think is a pretty common predicament. A lot of my friends have had sex, and some are having it pretty regularly. Abby, I've never even kissed a girl!
How can I deflect attention from myself when my friends ask me how far I've gone? And what can I do to make sure I am not in this spot forever? -- IN THE MINORITY IN PALATINE, ILL.
DEAR IN THE MINORITY: Some of your friends may be having sex, but I have a flash for you. A lot of the boys who say they are may be lying to each other.
You don't need to "deflect" attention from yourself when the guys start asking about something that isn't their business. News has a way of traveling -- fast. If they're your friends, they would know if you were interested in someone and the feeling was mutual. If you're asked, just say you're not seeing anyone.
P.S. In order to kiss a girl (etc.), you first have to become friends with one. Be patient and let nature take its course. You won't be in this "spot" forever. It'll happen when the time is right.
DEAR ABBY: My stepmother would like us to have a closer relationship. She and my father married eight years ago while I was in college. She was his mistress. I don't like her for a variety of reasons not all having to do with the divorce. Until now, it has been easy to remain "cordially distant."
All of a sudden she has become pushy. She says we "have" to be closer and that she's got "rights in my life as my mother." She wants me to call her "Mom" and to get me to tell her I love her. It is not going to happen. But I care about her feelings and also about keeping peace in the family.
How can I let her know that I liked things better when we were more distant and avoid telling her I love her? I need her to back off. Talking to Dad won't help. He's defensive about anything related to his wife and can't understand why everyone doesn't like her as much as he does. -- NOT IN LOVE WITH DAD'S WIFE
DEAR NOT IN LOVE: Your father's "bride" appears to have the hide of an alligator and a voracious appetite to match. She's trying to "devour" you.
It would not be rude to remind the woman that you already have a mother, and as long as you are blessed to have one, you do not intend to call anyone else by her name. As for your being asked to tell her you "love" her, explain that while you are grateful to her for making your dad happy, love is something that needs to blossom over time -- and enough time hasn't passed yet. (It should not be necessary to mention that "enough time" will never elapse.)
DEAR ABBY: My friend "Rob's" boss has invited him to be a Facebook "friend." The problem is, Rob and his friends gripe about work as well as the usual personal stuff. It's not the kind of info you want your boss to have access to. He feels uncomfortable about the invitation, but how do you say "no" to your boss? Rob is angry to have been put in this situation. -- ROB'S FRIEND
DEAR FRIEND: A polite way to refuse, if it comes up in conversation, would be for Rob to say that he prefers to keep his work life separate from his private life. But your friend should be careful about what he posts on the Internet because employers -- and prospective employers -- have been known to gain access to what folks assume is "private" communication. A word to the wise ...
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)