You deserve a better bunch of friends

I am 19 years old and a sophomore in college. I have a large circle of friends who are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Or so I thought.

Dear Annie: I am 19 years old and a sophomore in college. I have a large circle of friends who are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

Or so I thought.

I have never been one to drink or party, not because I looked down on it, but simply because it wasn’t my scene.

When I entered college, I made new friends who enjoyed going out and drinking every weekend. I thought I might be missing something, so I went along.

After a semester of this, I realized that the partying could be fun, but I didn’t much like the way I felt after a weekend of drinking. I preferred socializing sober.

About the same time, I also decided to improve my health with meticulously planned workouts and a strict diet that left no room for empty alcohol calories.

I loved my new healthier lifestyle, but my friends did not. They began badgering me every weekend to drink with them and gave me a hard time if I refused to eat deep-dish pizza and onion rings.

After a month or two, they began excluding me from their plans altogether. I was hurt. I never condemned them for their choices and would never preach to them. I don’t understand why I should be left out because I make different food and drink choices.

I don’t want to ditch my friends entirely. It would be next to impossible to find a group of college students who don’t behave the same way, and I don’t want to live in isolation.

How can I stick to my healthy lifestyle without my friends intentionally excluding me from their social lives? — Pennsylvania Student

Dear Pennsylvania: This is not an uncommon problem. There is tremendous peer pressure to drink in college, and most people are aware of the “freshman 15” pounds that many students pack on due to the junk food and irregular eating habits.

We commend you for choosing a healthier path. But even without preaching, your friends may be uncomfortable around you.

You are a walking reminder of their riskier choices.

Explain to them how hurt you are by the exclusion.

But also look for new friends, perhaps in the gym or cafeteria or through university organizations.

Dear Annie: I know a father who sexually abused his daughter for five years. I only recently discovered this when she finally went into therapy and told me what happened. He spent a month in jail and has a criminal record for public indecency.

Even though this was 30 years ago, her family remains angry and shocked. The father is now 60 years old and remarried and lives with his new wife in a town a half-hour away. His new wife has grandchildren, but has no idea that he is a sex offender. I don’t know what to do. Do I let his new wife know about him? — Dilemma

Dear Dilemma: It would be best if your female friend were the one to inform her father’s new wife that he could be a danger to the grandchildren. And yes, the wife should know. The man’s age and the fact that it happened 30 years ago does not mean he is “cured.”

Dear Annie: I question your advice to “Upset in Ohio,” whose husband’s brother left his wife for another woman.

She wondered whether they should attend the brother-in-law’s wedding. You told her to go, but not to stay too long.

I think it’s far better to risk alienating him than his ex-wife and daughter. “Upset” should tell her brother-in-law that they have plans that day and then take the ex-wife and daughter to dinner and a movie. — M.C.

Dear M.C.: We understand the desire to forcefully show disapproval, but we don’t think it is wise to alienate a brother-in-law when “Upset” and her husband say they wish to maintain a relationship with him.

Staying for the ceremony but not the reception will send the same message without being as offensive.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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