Dear Abby: He is hassled by friends for being single for so long

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DEAR ABBY: I have never had a long-term relationship. My friends and family kept calling me out for it. I tried online dating and setups by friends and family, but nothing worked out. In fact, the constant questions only annoyed me more. With all my friends happily married and settled, I started resenting their intrusion into my life.A couple of years ago, I decided to take a break from dating because I couldn't handle the stress anymore. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it. I never revealed this to my friends. After a few years of silence, my "well-wishers" began commenting again on my single status, and it annoys me to no end. I have started staying away from them.Is there any way I can convince everyone that I am a normal straight male who just likes to be left alone? I enjoy get-togethers, as long as the topic of my singlehood doesn't become the joke of the day. Please advise.— PRETTY COOL DUDE IN PENNSYLVANIADEAR PRETTY COOL DUDE: Talk to some of your close friends and tell them you are happy being single. Tell them their comments about your single status and being made to feel like the "joke of the day" isn't funny to you — it's embarrassing. Tell them, just as you told me, that if it doesn't stop, they will be seeing less of you. Friends will be sensitive to your feelings, although occasionally they still may try to fix you up because some people can't resist the urge to matchmake.P.S. Because all of your friends are married, try to form some new relationships with single people.DEAR ABBY: I attend a small church with two of my grandchildren, ages 5 and 10. About 90 percent of the time they are the ONLY children there. They are very active in the church and are the bell ringers, candle lighters and offering collectors. They partake in the welcoming and special prayers, lead the Pledge of Allegiance, sing songs and do communion when we have it.I allow them to bring their iPads to occupy them during the sermon — on silent, of course. I feel that because they participate so much in all other areas and the "adult" sermon is usually over their heads, there is no harm done. My sister, however, insists it is rude and disrespectful. She is constantly getting after them, telling them to put their iPads away and pay attention.None of the other church members have a problem with it, not even the pastor. What do you think? Should they be able to continue to keep occupied and not be disruptive to others, or should they power them down?— KEEPING THE PEACE IN MISSOURIDEAR KEEPING THE PEACE: Right now those children are active, engaged and enthusiastic about participating in the services. I see nothing to be gained by forcing them to listen to a sermon they can neither relate to nor understand. Because the pastor and other church members have no objection to what your grandchildren are doing on their iPads, the person who should "power down" is your sister.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 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." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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