Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I really need some help. One of my friends and her boyfriend, "Jake," have been having problems and he wants to break up with her. I have had a crush on him since I first met him. My friend knew it and dated him anyway.

Jake has been flirting with me for a while now, and I feel uncomfortable because I flirted back. I'm afraid my girlfriend will think he broke up with her for me. Please help! -- STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR STUCK: Be warned. Jake appears to be someone with a roving eye and a short attention span. While he may have his eye on you, play it cool and hold off dating him until he has first dated one or two other girls. Even then, your girlfriend may not like the idea of your seeing him -- but she won't be able to accuse you of having had any involvement in their breakup.

DEAR ABBY: My husband started smoking two years ago, and it's driving me crazy -- especially the wasted time and money. I try not to nag him, but it's hard.

Because most restaurants are now non-smoking, when we go out to dinner, instead of smoking right before he goes in, then after we leave, he'll get up a few minutes after we order to go outside and smoke -- leaving me alone for five to 10 minutes. Sometimes he does it more than once.

It makes me really uncomfortable. I feel like people are staring at me. I have asked him repeatedly not to leave me sitting there, but he won't stop. I told him it's rude and he should respect me enough to remain with me through an entire meal, but he refuses. Please tell me what you think about this. -- SMOKING MAD IN VIRGINIA

DEAR SMOKING MAD: Your husband isn't being willfully disrespectful. He is so addicted to nicotine that he cannot sit through an entire meal with you because he must have another "fix"! While your suggestion that he have a cigarette before entering the restaurant is logical, he is unable to go without smoking for that relatively short length of time.

It's very sad. Because you can't convince him to recognize he has a problem, ask his doctor to help him quit. Then all I can advise is to appreciate him while you can, because his habit will eventually compromise his health.

DEAR ABBY: I am an intellectual giant. I have nothing in common with my peers. I am smarter than all of them. I am in a gifted-and-talented program in my school, and I am still unable to carry on a conversation that everyone in the room can understand. Please help me. -- HEADS ABOVE THE REST IN IDAHO

DEAR HEADS ABOVE THE REST: Being intellectually gifted is an asset -- unless it isolates you because you can't relate to others. If you're as smart as you say you are, you should try to do what other "intellectual giants" have done -- learn to analogize what you're trying to communicate so that others of lesser intelligence can understand you. It is a skill and it may take practice, but the alternative is being unable to share your valuable insights with others.

If you cannot manage what I am suggesting on your own, you may need some pointers from a psychologist to gain the tools you need.

TO MY CHRISTIAN READERS: A very Merry Christmas to you all!

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)