DEAR ABBY: My best friend, “Angela,” has a boyfriend I’ll call Robb. I have an insanely strong crush on him. I am 14, but I am very mature for my age and have unusually intense feelings. Seeing Robb with Angela every day is torture.

The school counselors suggested I immerse myself in something to get my mind off Robb – sports, drama, my studies – anything. I tried for months, but it hasn’t worked. I can barely function because I’m so miserable and lovesick.

A few days ago, Angela told me she doesn’t like Robb as a boyfriend as much as she used to and would really rather be good friends with him. But she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. I want to tell her how I feel about him, but I can’t bring myself to do it. What if she laughs at me or tells me he’d never like me? I might kill myself. Please help. I don’t know how much longer I can live with this pain. – LOVESICK IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR LOVESICK: Speak up! Angela gave you the perfect opening when she said she’d prefer to be good friends with Robb. Don’t let your fear of what she “might” say keep you suffering in silence. The only thing worse than caring for someone who doesn’t know you’re alive is feeling trapped in a relationship with someone you no longer care for.

It’s not necessary to tell Angela that you’re so lovesick you can’t function. Just let her know that if she wants to date others, you’ll be happy to console Robb. Then cross your fingers and make yourself available if he wants a shoulder to cry on.

P.S. If he does, be sure to tell him jokingly what a foolish girl you think Angela is to let go of someone as special as he is. He’ll think you are intelligent and insightful, and you’ll be off and running!

DEAR ABBY: A good friend of mine recently wrote and self-published a book. It is comprised of anecdotes, poems and short essays. She asked if I liked it, and I (coward that I am) told her I liked a couple of the stories and thought the book was quite good. I lied. The book is horrible. I thought it was just me – but when I shared it with a few others, they felt the same way.

Much of what she wrote reflects strong negativity about her job as a social worker, the people she’s there to help, and the children she taught as a substitute teacher

I want to tell her my true feelings, but everybody tells me to keep quiet. That may not be fair to her. She’s starting another book, and I think she should know the truth. How can I tell her without hurting her feelings or insulting her? Her friendship means a lot to me. – LIL WHITE LIE

DEAR LIL: Writing her thoughts and feelings may be your friend’s mechanism for venting her frustrations, and it’s a healthy one. I see nothing to be gained by discouraging her. Because you and your friends didn’t care for her book doesn’t mean no one will. Since her friendship means a lot to you, mum’s the word.

DEAR ABBY: I say that the names used in your column in quotation marks are fictitious. My husband disagrees; he insists that the letters you print are exactly as written and the quotation marks don’t mean a thing. Who is right? – NEEDS TO KNOW, PAHOKEE, FLA.

DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: You are. I make it a practice to change the names that appear in the body of the letters that appear in my column. However, if a name is used in the signature, it’s because the writer has given me express permission to do so.

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.

Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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