DEAR ABBY: I'm a 28-year-old, newly single female who has never been happier. I've had a couple of long-term relationships that didn't turn out well, so my quiet, uncomplicated life is refreshing. All I'm looking for now is to make new friends and enjoy myself.
A few guys have asked me for my phone number -- usually through social networking -- and have suggested getting together for a couple of drinks. As nice as that would be, the last thing I want to do is lead anyone on or give him the wrong impression. When I do decide to start looking, it will be for no one less than my Prince Charming, and I don't regard any of these men as that. Going out with girlfriends is hard because they're mostly married with children.
What and when is the best way to tell guys that, as much as I enjoy their company, I am looking only for friendship at this time? I live in a relatively small town, so going out with different men on a regular basis gives people the wrong idea about me. -- WANTS ONLY FRIENDSHIP IN MICHIGAN
DEAR WANTS ONLY FRIENDSHIP: I understand your feelings, but please allow me to point out that meeting Prince Charming can be an accident of luck and timing. In addition to that, he doesn't always come dashing forth on a white horse -- sometimes it's an old clunker.
If you announce to any man who asks you out for a couple of drinks that you're interested only in friendship, he will interpret it as rejection, so I don't advise you to make that your lead sentence. A better retort might be that rather than going out for drinks, you'd prefer to start with coffee and conversation. Who knows? The longer he talks, the more attractive he may become. Stranger things have happened.
DEAR ABBY: My 20-year-old daughter, "Roxanne," is attending college in a big city known for its crime rate, unemployment and despair. She lives alone in an apartment just off campus. She's a smart girl, careful and cautious, but I still worry about her to the point of sleepless nights and a general feeling of "when" something will happen -- not if.
Roxanne's apartment was broken into last Christmas. Thankfully, she wasn't there at the time. Since then, my worry has intensified -- especially if I don't hear from her for a few hours. We usually text or call each other at least once a day. If I don't hear from her, I panic.
My husband calls me a professional worrier and says I need to trust that our daughter is safe. I don't think I'll ever not worry about her, and the truth is I really want her to move back home. I realize this would be counterproductive to her achieving success, but I don't know how to let go of the worry. I need advice, Abby. Is this just a "mom thing" or should I seek help? -- HALF-CRAZED MOM IN MICHIGAN
DEAR MOM: It's a "mom thing" taken to the extreme. One of the reasons that children go away to college is so they -- and their parents -- can learn to live independently from each other. For you to expect your daughter to call or text you at least once a day feeds your dependence on her. It appears you suffer from a case of parental hypervigilance -- and yes, for both your sakes, you should seek professional help.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)