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DEAR ABBY: I'm 37 and still single. I have never been able to keep a guy around very long. They have all given me different reasons, but the main theme is that I'm "too independent and better as a friend." I've kept some of my exes as friends, so there haven't been hard feelings.

I have accepted that I'm going to always be alone. I have come to terms with it and made a fairly decent life for myself. My issue is, everyone keeps insisting there's someone out there for me. But when I've asked them to help set me up on dates or introduce me to a friend, they haven't been willing, even though they've done it for others many times.

I "get" that I'm fat and not attractive, so maybe they don't think I'm worthy of dating their guy friends. But how do I get them to stop pushing me to date, especially when they won't help?

I also hate it when they ask me why I'm not a mom yet when I would be such a good one. Uh, hello! It takes two to make a baby!

I have lost friends over this since it's tough to hang around with people who pity me for being solo and can't accept me for who I am. What do I do? -- LONELY, BUT OK

DEAR LONELY: Tell these friends you know they think they are trying to help when they say these things, but the truth is it makes you feel terrible and to please stop.

Next, recognize that the time has come to enlarge your circle of friends. While it's true there may be a special someone out there for you, the chances are slim to none that he'll find you hanging out with this group.

You are by far not the only overweight individual in this great nation of ours, and many of them are happily coupled up. Nobody has everything. People who focus on their positive qualities and make an effort to develop them are attractive. If you stop dwelling on your perceived flaws and work to develop the things you have to offer, the results may surprise you. (This goes for both sexes.)


DEAR ABBY: I am surprising my husband for his 40th birthday with a guys' trip. All of his best friends, except one, live out of state, and one lives out of the country. I am delighted that they are willing to fly in for his birthday. He's going to be so excited.

My dilemma lies in what to do about the hotel costs. I offered to pay for a room for them to share for the weekend. However, one member of the group insists on paying for his share of the room. The others haven't said anything yet.

If they offer to pay for the room, should I let them? Or should I insist on paying because the trip was my idea? I don't want anyone to feel obligated to spend so much money since they are all paying their own airfares, which they insisted on. -- SURPRISED IN THE WEST

DEAR SURPRISED: I'm sure your husband's friends are pleased that you planned the birthday reunion. If they offer to pay for the room they will be sharing, you should let them. However, if anyone does not make the offer, pay his portion.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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