Hi, Carolyn:

My roommate's almost 21 and has never been kissed, gone on a date or had a boyfriend. We attend a small college and it seems there are no "good" guys around. She said that she has given up on a guy ever liking her and that she's just going to grow old alone surrounded by cats.

I think she's much too young to be thinking like that. She has a great personality, is pretty, smart, funny, kind, etc. Any guy would be very lucky to go out with her, but for some reason she has never been asked out. I thought about introducing her to guys through my boyfriend, but he doesn't really have any single male friends. Neither of us is into parties on campus, since they overwhelmingly feature getting super-drunk and acting like idiots. Can you think of any other way to meet nice, single guys? I feel for my roommate, because I was a relationship virgin, too, until a year and a half ago.


So you know firsthand that she's not a freak or an object of pity, just for not having been kissed.

That's fortunate, because the best thing you can do for her is help her not feel like a freak or an object of pity just for not having been kissed.

Someone who muses about an all-feline future is not seriously thinking she'll die alone in a house full of cats. She's just a little worried and trying to deal with that by making a joke of it. By taking anyone's self-deprecating joke seriously -- and, worse, scrambling to offer remedies -- you all but confirm there's something to worry about.

That's why the kindest response to her cat comments is to ask that she just not let them roam on the countertops, please, or you're never coming over for dinner. And to be so confident in her gifts that her so-called problem is actually just a bummer and not something she needs to fix.

Now to that boyfriend of yours. College guy, presumably, and not one single male friend?

Dear Carolyn:

I am compulsive about reading other people's e-mail (my girlfriend's, my parents', my boss's, etc.). Through this I have found evidence of affairs (cheating on me, cheating on my father), general dislike toward me. I want to stop because I feel like a jerk. But I also feel like I get valuable information from this -- things I should know but wouldn't otherwise. What should I do?


Who wants to know who dislikes them? Painful information is hardly "valuable" when a healthy suspicion -- or even better, a thriving delusion -- would suffice.

Whether you're better or worse for knowing these things is certainly debatable. What isn't debatable is that you're finding out things you aren't supposed to know by invading people's privacy. Would you like it if they were all reading your e-mail, seeing what you wrote to me?

What say I print your full name?

If that gave you any pause at all, what you should do is recognize you gain nothing from this and stop reading e-mail that isn't your own.

And if it didn't give you pause, stop reading it anyway.

And if you weren't kidding that it's a compulsion, it's time to get thee some help.

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