DEAR ABBY: I'm a 28-year-old male who has never had a girlfriend or a meaningful relationship. I'm well-educated, nice-looking and have a good sense of humor. But I get shy and nervous around the opposite sex. Compounding that, I seem to have a serious "resting face." People assume I'm frustrated or angry/grumpy when it's just my normal expression. I'm worried it makes me unapproachable or appear to be unpleasant.
I have overcome addiction, attend daily support meetings and have almost a year of sobriety. I avoid bar/club scenes where a lot of people my age socialize. I'm beginning to feel very alone and empty. I asked out a temp at my job, but she had a boyfriend and offered to set me up with a friend of hers. I declined because I was embarrassed.
My friends tell me it's a game of numbers, but it hurts being rejected all the time. I see beautiful, nice women with men who treat them badly, and I obsess over what's wrong with me. My experience with women is limited. I'm not looking for a commitment, just some friends to share good times and laughter with. I'd love to have someone to spend time with before loneliness awakens previous bad habits. -- ABOUT TO GIVE UP IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR ABOUT TO GIVE UP: I doubt your "resting face" is what keeps women away. It's more likely the fact that you are afraid to interact with them.
Start by talking to some of the women in your support meetings. They already know something about you and the strides you have made in overcoming your addiction. And involve yourself in activities you enjoy that are more social. It may help you to develop your "people skills" so you will feel less anxious in other social situations. But do not allow yourself to use the fact that you are lonely to destroy your sobriety because it would be a poor excuse.
DEAR ABBY: I hate eating with my spouse because his table manners are awful. He sits with both elbows on the table, leans close to the dinner plate and uses his fingers to push his food onto his fork. He mashes everything on his plate together before he starts eating, smashes crackers in his soup, scrapes his spoon on the bottom of the bowl and slurps his liquids. He also licks his fingers.
He thinks he can modify these behaviors when he's with others, but he lapses into them even when he's with friends in a restaurant. Please help me. How can I get him to change? Must I tolerate it? I have tried constructive suggestions and gentle prodding with no success. Please respond in your column because he reads it daily -- while he eats. -- DISTRAUGHT SPOUSE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO
DEAR DISTRAUGHT SPOUSE: Your husband must have many wonderful qualities if you married him knowing this is the way he consumes his food. Among them is an awareness that he should modify his eating habits when he's with friends. Let him know that you are his best friend and you would like him to practice his "party manners" when he eats with you. If he's reluctant, point out that he "lapses" when he's socializing with others, and it isn't pretty. It may motivate him to try harder.
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