DEAR ABBY: I’m a teenage girl who is frustrated with my family. I am the middle child, and it seems like my parents prefer my brother and sister over me. I am constantly in trouble for things they have done, and my parents are aware that they did.
When I try to express my feelings, nobody will listen. Several times I have almost committed suicide or run away. I am lost and I don’t know what to do. Please help me. — NOWHERE IN INDIANA
DEAR NOWHERE: When a person cries out in pain and feels she (or he) isn’t heard, it can be doubly painful. But suicide or running away is not the answer. What you need to do is explain to an adult — an aunt, uncle, school counselor or close family friend — how you are feeling, so that person can intercede on your behalf with your parents, who may not realize what they’re doing and the effect it’s having on you.
DEAR ABBY: How long is too long to wait when it comes to hearing the highly anticipated phrase, “I love you”? My boyfriend and I have been dating for eight months. We have been through a lot together during this time, and his actions suggest that he loves me. When I finally asked him why he hasn’t said it to me, he said, “Why haven’t YOU said it?” ”I want it to happen naturally,” and, “Just be patient with me.”
We get along amazingly well. We have a wonderful time every time we see each other (which is almost every day), and he has told me he can see a future with me. Am I wrong for thinking I deserve to hear the “L” word at this point, or am I rushing things? I don’t understand why he is so reluctant to say it, and his reluctance makes me think maybe he just doesn’t love me. — STILL WAITING IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR STILL WAITING: Not all men are comfortable expressing their emotions verbally. Actions speak louder than words. Many men have told women they “love” them, only to have their behavior prove otherwise.
That your boyfriend has given you three different answers to your question indicates to me that you may have been pushing him to say it. I would caution you against that because it could push him away. Hearing the words “I love you” isn’t something a person “deserves.” It’s important that the words be genuine.
DEAR ABBY: When I approach someone to hug, is there a correct side to go for? Does a relative or friend have a bearing on your choice, or does it matter if it’s a man or woman or how well you know them? Is the left side as good as the right side? — WHICH SIDE? IN OHIO
DEAR WHICH SIDE: Hugging anyone you don’t know well is a mistake because some people have an aversion to intimate contact with strangers. That said, I don’t think it matters a lot which side you “go for” — although I have heard some people bear to the left because that way their hearts are closer together. Personally, I tend to feint to the left because I’m left-handed — but that’s just me.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.