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by Abigail Van Buren

Student Needs a Crash Course in Recognizing Teen Romeos

DEAR ABBY: I am a high school sophomore who is usually pretty happy. I have amazing friends and a great family, and I make good grades. I have liked "Michael" for three years, and recently he has begun to show more of an interest in me. He's polite to everyone, but my friends have noticed he pays more attention to me than to anyone else.

Well, two months ago Michael suddenly started dating another girl. They're totally addicted to each other, and I'm crushed. I am also confused, because when she isn't around, Michael flirts with me again. I try to avoid him and not flirt back, but it seems to keep happening. I never would have expected this from such a sweet guy. What should I do? -- HEARTBROKEN HIGH SCHOOLER

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Frankly, the first thing you should do is put your guard up. Then take a step backward so you can clear your head and view Michael more objectively because right now you are "smitten."

Michael appears to have a short attention span. Two months ago it was you, now it's some other girl -- unless she isn't around. Your sweet guy is showing signs of being a budding Romeo, so put your broken heart back together and recognize that if you want a boyfriend you can depend on, Michael isn't the one.

DEAR ABBY: We just moved into a new neighborhood and a cute little boy came to our door selling coupon books. My husband answered the door and was nice to the boy, but told him we weren't interested in buying the book. The child hung his head and walked away slowly.

As the days have gone by, we feel bad about not buying the book from him, but we didn't need or want it. I found out he and his family live two doors down, and it is uncomfortable as we drive by their house. They never wave or acknowledge us, nor have they ever come down to introduce themselves or say hello.

Should we apologize to our neighbors for making their son feel bad, or should we just let it go? -- ASHAMED IN HOUSTON

DEAR ASHAMED: I see no reason for you to apologize for not buying the coupon book. The books are not helpful for everyone. By offering them for sale, the boy is getting sales and life experience, and learning that when someone refuses an offer, the "rejection" isn't personal; it's part of the process. Rather than apologize, why not go to the parents and introduce yourselves? I can't imagine they'd be holding a grudge over something so petty.

DEAR ABBY: I'm eight months pregnant with my first child. It is my boyfriend's third child. I don't get along with the other children's mothers, but I want my son to have a relationship with his brother and sister. How do I go about getting this to happen? -- HOPEFUL IN ARKANSAS

DEAR HOPEFUL: I applaud you for wanting your son to have a relationship with his half-siblings. Family is important, and when the children are older, it could be beneficial for them.

A way to establish a kinship with the other mothers might be to remind them that, in a sense, you're all members of the same "club." Considering their former boyfriend's history, membership may continue to expand, so it's in everyone's interest to stick together.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)