Dear Annie: I know you've covered this before, but please bear with me. I am a man in my late 30s who is too nice and has no luck. I never dated in high school or college, and my adult dating experience amounts to what I can count on two hands. Married women think I'm great because I am no threat to their marriages, while single women avoid me like the plague. It's almost as if I am invading their space.
I have tried everything I can think of to find someone to share my life, including online dating services. I am tall but nothing much to look at, and no one is beating a path to my door. I am painfully shy in the company of women, which can be mistaken for aloofness and arrogance. I am extremely tough on myself.
I do not want to be hurt again and feel as though I cannot trust any women. Don't get me wrong, I love women and almost everything about them, but I know they don't think of me in the same way.
I am not looking for ways to meet women. I want to know what is wrong with me. I know it has to be me, since I am given the impression that women do no wrong and won't say what is wrong when asked. To whom can I speak (someone not related and someone I don't know) regarding my situation? Just Can't Win
Dear Can't Win: Let's examine what women are interested in -- looks, true, and for some, money and prestige. However, women also are attracted to confidence, intelligence, kindness and a healthy sense of humor, tucked inside of good grooming. Really. If you have those qualities and can't find a woman, perhaps you are looking at the wrong ones. (And it won't help to have a sarcastic attitude about women.)
Do you approach single women who are your age or older? Divorced with kids? Overweight? Inside those packages can be delightful people, but too many men are only looking for Barbie. If you can honestly say you've tried all kinds of women, then we don't know why you are having so much trouble.
Since you don't want to ask someone who knows you to list your flaws, talk to a counselor and find out if there is something else going on that isn't apparent. Your frustration and resignation also may be fostering depression and an unattractive scent of desperation. Your doctor can recommend someone.
Dear Annie: I work in an office with nine women, six of whom are smokers, including all three members of management. Most of them do not abuse the privilege, but even so, it is sometimes difficult to pick up the slack with everybody taking cigarette breaks, often in groups.
We have no formal system for how many breaks we get, and complaints about the smoking have not been well received. This has contributed to an overall decline in office morale since the rest of us are covering their duties when they are outside. The communal breaks are also the equivalent of gathering around the water cooler and the nonsmokers are left out of the loop. Any advice? Smoldering in the Office
Dear Smoldering: Don't approach this as a smoking vs. nonsmoking issue. Say that frequent breaks are affecting office morale and disrupting efficiency. However, we warn you, if it doesn't bother management, you may be out of luck.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Feeling Blue in the Bluegrass State," whose late father may have been entitled to military honors. Please tell her to contact her local American Legion or VFW Post. They will no doubt be more than willing to arrange some sort of memorial service at the gravesite and render a three-volley salute. (A 21-gun salute is given only to high echelon persons, such as the president or top official of a foreign country.) Bobbe Stuvengen, Past National Historian, The American Legion, Orfordville, Wis.
Dear Bobbe Stuvengen: Thank you so much for coming to the rescue. We hope she contacts someone immediately.
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