DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old girl who is obsessed with remaining a virgin. I'm uncomfortable around guys my age for fear they will want sex.
I am tormented all day long by thoughts of losing my virginity. If I see a mildly racy scene in a movie or have a sexual thought and experience some sort of physiological reaction, I become extremely upset. I must repeatedly reassure myself that any arousal was not deliberate.
I'm sick of feeling so anxious over this stuff. I sometimes wish I didn't know about sex at all. What can I do? -- EMBARRASSED IN NEW YORK
DEAR EMBARRASSED: Stop beating yourself up for having normal feelings for someone your age. As young women (and men) mature, sexual feelings happen. They are not shameful, and experiencing them does not mean they must be acted upon.
The more you tell yourself not to think about something, the more you will. (I feel similarly about chocolate.) One way to deal with obsessive thoughts is to divert the thought into an action that is acceptable. In your case, becoming involved in sports might rechannel some of your sexual energy. The key is to stay busy. But if your obsessive thoughts persist, they should be discussed with a licensed mental health professional.
DEAR ABBY: My daughter-in-law is driving us crazy. She is constantly on her cell phone with Facebook, e-mail or playing games when she's at our home. Her sons (3 and 7) were fighting last week and she didn't even raise her head to break it up. She just repeated in a monotone, "Stop," because she didn't want to break her concentration!
What I don't understand is, she's a teacher. How would she feel if her whole class tweeted, e-mailed and played games during her lessons? If I say anything about her using the phone at our dinner table, she makes a face and later tells my son I'm rude. -- HAD THE INTERNET UP TO HERE!
DEAR HAD THE INTERNET!: The Internet has many virtues. It provides information and diversion -- but it can also be addictive. From your description of your daughter-in-law, it appears she has become hooked. That she would fail to intervene when her children misbehave sends a strong message.
You should detail your concerns to your son because they are valid. Not only is your daughter-in-law's behavior rude and a poor example, but the children are being neglected. The Internet is not the problem. The problem is her fixation on it.
DEAR ABBY: After entertaining family and friends with BBQ holiday dinners, which includes purchasing all the food and beverages, must I send guests home with leftovers? Over the years, it has been "expected" that I'd give them a take-home dinner at my expense. What's right -- pack the leftovers for my own personal use or divide them up for guests? -- LEFT HOLDING THE BAG
DEAR LEFT HOLDING THE BAG: People "expect" you to send the leftovers with them because that's the pattern you set all these years. Because you now prefer to keep them for your personal use, pare down the menu and prepare less food. You might also clean up earlier and put the excess food away -- out of sight, out of mind. If you are questioned, deal with it by pointing out that in this economy everyone needs to cut back -- and while in the past you sent food home with your guests, for the foreseeable future "charity" begins at home. Your home.
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