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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm an 18-year-old male living on my own in an apartment not far from my parents' home. They visit me often and take turns driving me to the local college because I don't have a car.

My parents tend to worry about me. I'm rather thin, but I eat healthy. My dad goes over the top with his concern about my weight and it is hurtful. He has called me a "cadaver" in front of friends. And when he drops me off after classes, he often says, "Now go eat something fattening!"

I have tried to discuss how his repeated comments affect my self-confidence, but am always met with, "I'm your father. I have every right to be concerned." Am I wrong to take offense at my dad's brand of concern? Is there anything I can do to evade these hurtful comments? -- TWIG WITH FEELINGS

DEAR TWIG: Your father's attempt to "help" you by ridiculing you in front of your contemporaries is insensitive. The fact that he is your father does not entitle him to be cruel.

If there is a student health center at your college, go there and talk to a medical professional about what is a healthy weight for your height and age, and whether any medical tests might be necessary to verify your health. If not, consult your family physician. This may provide the "proof" you need in discussions with your father. Some males fill out later than others.

You should also ask your mother to point out to your dad that what he's doing is counterproductive. Perhaps she can make him see the light. If that doesn't work, arrange other transportation to and from school so you will be less dependent on your father.

DEAR ABBY: A friend and I were talking about how wimpy a lot of guys in our generation are. We're both in our mid-20s and seldom meet guys who take charge.

Several times we have met guys who said they'd call and set up a date. We know they're interested because they have told our friends they'd like to date us again. But then they don't call. Try as we might to give them chances to ask us out, they usually don't.

I know that traditional dating rules are often discarded, but I don't want to be the aggressor. Their being "scared" isn't an acceptable excuse, much less an attractive quality. Why do women so often have to do all the work nowadays or end up alone? -- PREFERS TRADITIONAL

DEAR PREFERS TRADITIONAL: Women do not have to do all the work in a relationship or risk remaining single for life. But they do have to shoulder a lot more of the responsibility than a generation ago as a result of the women's movement. (Yes, I know I'll catch "heck" for saying it.) As women have become more independent and aggressive, the old rules of romance have started to disappear.

Men aren't stupid. Their view is, "If women are willing to do the courting, why should men do it?" The guys you've described aren't wimps; their passivity hasn't turned other women off. Sending you messages through your friends instead of being direct and following through on their promises to call is business as usual for them. While their behavior may seem immature, it has worked for them before.

Don't give up hope. There are men who are interested in old-fashioned romance, but they are fewer in number. Be patient, keep looking and you'll find one.

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