DEAR ABBY: I am a female experiencing what one might call “Ugly Duckling Syndrome.” I was an awkward child and adolescent, and was teased and rejected by my peers – especially boys. As I reached adulthood, I “blossomed” into a good-looking young woman – not exactly a swan, but definitely easier on the eyes than I was.

I get a lot of attention from guys now, but no matter how many people tell me I’m beautiful, I still don’t believe it. Inside, I’m still the same plain, unattractive girl I used to be. When people stare at me in public, the first thing I think is they’re thinking how ugly I am.

Abby, my negative attitude is pushing people away. People don’t really like being around me once they get to know me. (An acquaintance actually said to me, “You’re one of the prettiest girls I know, but your attitude is ugly.”)

What can I do to enhance my confidence without becoming conceited? – NOT FEELING PRETTY IN N.J.

DEAR NOT FEELING PRETTY: The problem you have described is not unique. It is sometimes shared by individuals of both sexes who have had plastic surgery that made a considerable difference in their looks. It has less to do with a lack of confidence than with anger at those who failed to notice their inner beauty before.

My advice is to stop obsessing about yourself and concentrate on making the people around you feel better about themselves. Make an effort to be kind to those you encounter, speak well of others, and do something nice for someone else without regard to personal gain every day. If you do that, your insecurities will lessen and you will be a more attractive, less defensive person to be around.



DEAR ABBY: I have read so often about the “other woman.” Your advice is always, “If he cheats on his wife, he’ll cheat on you.” I wish I had listened, but I didn’t – and now I face a lonely future.

For more than 30 years, I was the other woman. I was always faithful to “Hank.” I changed my life around to make him happy. I knew he’d never divorce his wife, but I needed Hank in my life. He also cheated on me for 10 years, but then became faithful until three months ago.

Hank’s wife died a year ago, and we continued seeing each other. A couple of weeks ago, he announced that he wanted us to be “friends.” Hank said I was his special friend, but he could no longer spend every night with me because his children and grandchildren “wouldn’t understand.”

Last week, I learned that for the past three months, Hank has been seeing another woman. He told her that he sees an old friend “occasionally.” Abby, she has been to his house and met his entire family! Hank said if I don’t like it, he’ll stop seeing me.

I have spent most of my adult life with this man. Now I mean nothing to him. He didn’t respect me enough to be honest from the start, and now I’m left with nothing. – CAN’T STOP CRYING IN TEXAS

DEAR CRYING: Excuse me, but you have not been left with “nothing.” You have learned one of life’s hard lessons, and you have a future. People recover from worse disappointments than the one you’re experiencing. So dry your tears, and if you haven’t already done so, salvage some self-respect by telling Hank goodbye. The minute you do, you’ll start to feel better about yourself – and that’s the first step in getting your life back on track.



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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)


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