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.