DEAR ABBY: I'm a senior in high school and I have a problem. I'm in a parasitic relationship. A boy at my school, "Dan," believes himself to be my best friend. It is sad because everyone acts as if he is invisible. I noticed that he was an outcast and went out of my way to be kind to him. He latched onto me and now follows me around at school.
I have a boyfriend who is really concerned, but neither of us knows how to approach this. Dan calls me at home and always asks if we can hang out "as friends." (I keep coming up with excuses to avoid it.) Dan is a nice guy, but this has been going on for two years and his attachment has only increased. I have no idea how to let him know our "friendship" has become too suffocating for me. Please help. -- OVERWHELMED IN OHIO
DEAR OVERWHELMED: Because he has been excluded by everyone else at school, it's not surprising that Dan is emotionally dependent on you. However, you have a boyfriend, your studies and a social life, and you need to explain that to Dan when he asks to "hang out." Those aren't excuses; they are facts. Say it kindly but firmly, and do not be defensive. If he persists, talk to a counselor at school.
In a few months high school will be over and Dan can move on and start building a life. Many successful adults weren't popular in high school. Perhaps when he thinks back, Dan will remember you as the one bright spot in a miserable experience.