Hi Carolyn:

I'm a 29-year-old single guy. I'm currently dating, but I'm having trouble finding somebody who's a good match. I've tried joining sports and social clubs, coed softball leagues, cooking classes and various things of that nature. I've done things like take dance lessons, take up new hobbies, etc., to break out of my social circle and meet new people. I've been on several blind dates that were so bad they're usually reserved for sitcoms. It seems like a lot of couples I know met at work, but I work in an engineering department where women are scarce. Most of my friends are married and starting families, and, though they have good intentions, they aren't much help in setting me up.

I've had my single experience and seen the world, and I feel like I'm at a point where I can share myself with somebody and have a permanent, mature relationship. I'm not in any hurry, but I feel like I've exhausted all my good ideas. Suggestions?

--Frustrated in Cleveland

I'm going to have mercy on you and not suggest anything at all--except maybe that you start taking fewer suggestions.

Really. Any smooth-dancing, home-cooking, cocktail-party-mingling, home-run-hitting bachelor engineer needs to stop acquiring skills and start using the ones he has, if only so he can stand still long enough for women to notice he's there.

Better, why don't you just figure out which classes/sports/activities you looked forward to even when they didn't result in marriage, and then make them part of your regular schedule? Do them. Enjoy them. Repeat.

Here's another anti-suggestion: Accept that you may never meet the right woman, and this is the life you've got, and you might as well live the hell out of it. Because you may not, and it is, and you might as well. Right?

This, not coincidentally, is the mind-set women will find attractive--but I hesitate to tell you that for fear you'll attend a seminar on it.

Not really, but I couldn't help myself.

Dear Carolyn:

A friend of mine who was recently married told me that even though she invited single guests to attend her wedding, many brought uninvited "dates." Since my fiance and I have a limited budget, we are unable to invite all of our single friends with dates. How do we make it clear on the invitation that only the person to whom it is addressed is invited?

--Washington

Don't invite ignorant jerks. How one manages that, I can't quite say.

Truth is, you have no real recourse, because the day we have to address invitations "Janelle Doe and Not Guest" is the day we just end this pathetic charade, drag a keg to the nearest cave and invite people by bullhorn.

Which kinda sounds like fun.

Hi:

I am a junior in high school, and I have a problem. One of my new friends and I are both extremely attracted to a guy we both know. She is very sweet and has not had a lot of experience in relationships, whereas I have had several. Now, she has sent me some subtle hints that she would be VERY upset with me if I went after this guy. My friends tell me to lay off and let her have him because she's never had a boyfriend before. But every time I see him, he is always coming up to me and talking and joking with me.

I don't want to hurt her, but I liked him before I even knew she felt the same way. Should I avoid him and save my friendship, or go after him?

--Dazed and Confused

She can't have him just because she wants him, and you can't give him to her out of friendship or pity or whatever it is your buddies are saying. You can't pass guys around like gum.

And you can't run a friendship through hints and third parties. Go up to this girl and point out the obvious, that you're having a collective swoon. It happens. Then make her an offer: Since the guy's going to choose whomever he wants anyway, suggest that you both honor the friendship by staying out of his selection process. Don't go after, don't avoid, just exist. And the loser agrees not to sulk, whine or sabotage the winner. Call it a No Pouncing, No Pouting pact.

But really, this is what a friend is supposed to do. You can't call yourself one unless you genuinely want the best for the other person, even from the depths of a jealous funk. So make that point to her, too--that regardless of how much you like this guy, you'd be happy for her if he liked her instead. On the excruciatingly painful side of happy, but there's no need to elaborate on that.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at 8 p.m. tomorrow or at noon Friday at washingtonpost. com/liveonline