Dear Abby: If I’m so sweet, why do I have so few friends?

It seems like hardly anyone wants to be around the 26-year-old who is sometimes praised as ‘nice and cheerful.’

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DEAR ABBY: I’m 26 and not currently in a relationship. I don’t have many friends. I’d like to have more, and I try. I wasn’t popular in middle and high school, either. I have been in and out of college, so I haven’t been able to make friends there. I have worked at my job for three years and it’s the same story.

People say I’m “sweet, nice and cheerful,” but those traits aren’t helping me. I know you’ve written about this problem before. Can you give me some tips for being someone who others want to be around? — EAGER IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR EAGER: The keys to being well-liked by both men and women are these: Be kind. Be honest. Be tactful. Don’t be afraid of giving someone a compliment if it is deserved.

You do not have to be beautiful (or handsome) to put your best foot forward. Be well-groomed, tastefully dressed and conscious of your posture. (People who stand tall project self-confidence.) Stay informed about current events, but refrain from forcing your opinions on others. Ask them what they think and encourage them to share their opinions.

If you’re smarter than most, resist the temptation to be a know-it-all. Good conversationalists are interested in what others have to say rather than filling the air with the sound of their own voices. Cultivate your own interests so you will have things to talk about with others.

My booklet “How To Be Popular” contains many other tips on how to approach others, and what to say and not to say when trying to make conversation. It can be ordered by sending your name and address, plus a check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

Above all, remember that social adeptness isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. It is a skill that needs to be practiced until it becomes second nature. When you receive your booklet, don’t read it just once. Keep it on hand for reference because it contains many helpful suggestions about how to be the kind of individual others find interesting and attractive.

DEAR ABBY: I am a man who has been married to my husband for two years. My problem is his brother. He tries to sabotage our marriage every chance he gets — from making rude comments to propositioning me and sending me nude pics of himself. The other problem is, my husband always takes his brother’s side. He knows his brother is dysfunctional but insists I should keep giving him another chance even though, when I have, it never turns out well. What should I do? — BUGGED IN ARIZONA

DEAR BUGGED: So your brother-in-law has the hots for you, and your husband is in denial. It may take couples counseling to help him see the light. In the meantime, spend as little time around the brother as possible and, when you are forced to be in his company, do not be alone in a room with him.

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

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