DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old college student. Last summer, I met “Irwin,” a friend of my brother’s. Irwin and I became good friends, and over time, I came to deeply respect and care for him. A few months ago, Irwin left to intern at a senator’s office. He’s finishing his senior year there.

As we were saying goodbye, he hugged and kissed me on the cheek, muttered something under his breath, then proceeded to kiss me gently on the lips. Irwin and I are both shy, and I don’t know what to make of the kiss.

Could he possibly care for me, too? I don’t know if kissing a friend on the lips is considered a “friendly gesture,” or if it means something more romantic. I’m relying on your advice, Abby, so I’ll know what to do when Irwin returns home. – IT STARTED WITH A KISS IN KENTUCKY

It would be helpful if you could remember what Irwin muttered under his breath. When he comes marching home again, greet him with a kiss. Shyness can be overcome, and I think you’ve hooked a live one.

DEAR ABBY: I need your opinion. I’m 40, married 17 years, and have two young children. My husband has never been romantic – no hugs, kisses, flowers or gifts. Once I asked him to just bring me a flower from our garden. Still nothing. He knows how much a little show of affection would mean to me. We’ve had many discussions about it, and I always end up in tears.

Well, I’ve met someone. He gives me hugs and small, thoughtful gifts, and he’s willing to sit and talk to me for hours. This man makes me feel special, attractive and happy. I’ve had opportunities like this before, but I always held back because of my marriage. No more. I’m lonely and need to feel loved as much as I need air. Where do I go from here, Abby? – CRAVING ATTENTION, NO CITY, NO STATE

You have a right to be happy, but having an affair is not the way to accomplish it. Stop the affair and offer your husband the option of counseling. If he refuses to go, go without him. Right now you are like a flower in the desert. Counseling will help you to decide rationally if you are better off with or without your spouse.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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