DEAR ABBY: My best friend, "Kyra," has joined the drama department at our school. She has made a lot of theater friends now and hangs out with them every day after school. She used to meet me occasionally at my locker after school, but no longer does so. The only time I see her, she's with her theater friends, and I'm uncomfortable because I don't know them and I'm shy.
I'm trying to make friends with Kyra's friends, but when I'm with her, she kind of ignores me and doesn't try to include me as much as she could. It's depressing that my best friend would rather hang out with other people than me. I'm missing her. What do I do? -- CAST-OFF IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CAST-OFF: Kyra's behavior is insensitive, but I don't think you can change her. So the solution will be for you to become less emotionally dependent upon her. A way to do that would be to develop some outside interests of your own and start cultivating them.
While Kyra might have a flair for drama, perhaps you might be more interested in sports, art, computers, etc. If you start to explore what activities are available, it will provide you with a larger circle of acquaintances, and you'll miss your friend less because you are filling your time with other things. Please give it a try.
DEAR ABBY: Three times in the last week I have been hugged by people who then informed me that they were sick. At dinner last night, one friend blew his nose throughout the meal and then wanted to shake hands. Yuck!
A little reminder during cold season: If you are sick, "coming down with something" or even just "fighting off a little bug," don't hug others! Don't give a little peck on the cheek or shake hands. You can politely mention that you are "a bit under the weather and don't want to share." Other people won't be offended or think you are being standoffish. They will be grateful for your thoughtfulness. -- TRYING TO STAY HEALTHY
DEAR TRYING: That's good advice, if folks are willing to heed it. I can only add that flu vaccinations, frequent hand-washing and a small bottle of hand sanitizer can lessen the chances of getting these viruses when our friends are in a state of denial, and it wasn't "an allergy."
DEAR ABBY: I'm not particularly attractive, pretty or girly. I don't think I'm what boys are looking for, so I tend to not be too involved with them. I have a lot of male friends, but I have never had a first kiss, a first date, etc.
Yesterday, a guy friend asked me out. I was shocked. I saw him as only a friend and never thought of him as a boyfriend, so I said no. He acted like it wasn't a big deal. Things aren't awkward between us, but I think I may have hurt his feelings or his self-esteem.
After school -- he'd asked me out after my third class -- I couldn't stop thinking about him. I don't regret my decision, but I'm worried about him. Can you help me? -- CONCERNED IN EUGENE, ORE.
DEAR CONCERNED: It might help to recognize that people ask each other out for a variety of reasons -- which can include needing a date for an event, romantic interest or just wanting to hang out with someone who is good company. Not knowing your friend, I can't guess what his reason was when he asked you out.
Because you think you may have hurt his feelings, make a point of telling him that you hope you didn't. And mention that since you are new to the idea of dating, you think you may owe him an apology because you care about him as a friend.
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