Dear Annie: I am a 42-year-old single man who has never been married or even been in a relationship. I'm perfectly content with this, but apparently, the people in my life are not. The truth is, I am not nor have I ever been attracted to either sex. I don't know whether there is something seriously wrong with me, or whether there is even a name for what I am.
I realized I was different in middle school when all my friends became interested in dating, but I couldn't care less. I figured it would eventually change, but it never did. In my senior year in high school, I confessed this to my best friend, who told me I was a freak. I never mentioned it again to anyone.
There is no underlying factor for why I am like I am. I was not abused as a child, and I had a great relationship with my parents and siblings. I can be affectionate, and I enjoy giving hugs to the people I love. I can recognize that someone is attractive, but the idea of being intimate doesn't appeal to me. I accepted this a long time ago and feel comfortable in my skin.
Over the years when someone tried to fix me up with someone, I always declined or came up with an excuse. Now everyone thinks I'm gay and in the closet.
Let me be clear, I firmly believe your sexual orientation is determined when you're born. I also believe my lack of an orientation was also determined at birth. It has nothing to do with being straight or gay.
I seriously have no idea how to deal with this. Should I just stay silent and let them think what they want, or should I try to explain how I feel? Please don't recommend counseling. I don't feel abnormal. Not being physically attracted seems normal. - Conflicted in Kentucky
Dear Conflicted: There is a name for this. You are asexual - not interested in physical intimacy with either sex. More importantly, there is a support group for you at AVEN at asexuality.org.
Dear Annie: I read your response to "Concerned Old Man in West Hills," who didn't understand why his niece was upset when he told her she was fat. You said it was rude to comment on one's appearance.
Why in hell do you think pointing out that someone is fat is so rude? They are obese, and they are killing themselves. What's the big deal in saying so? I am 78 years old and weigh the same as I did in high school through effort and sacrifice. Give me a break! - Not a Rude Guy, Just Honest
Dear Not: The fact that something may be true does not make it less rude. Would you say, "My goodness, that's an ugly baby!" or "You are really unattractive"? It is not OK to disparage someone's size when they already know they are heavy, and you have no idea whether there are underlying reasons or whether they've been working hard on it.
It can be especially galling when someone who never has had a weight problem thinks he knows enough to pass judgment. More importantly, it doesn't help the other person lose weight, so being rude is simply a form of self-indulgence.
Whatever effort and sacrifice you put into maintaining your weight might now be put to good use learning to be kinder.
Dear Annie: My heart broke after reading the letter from "Lonely in Love," whose husband doesn't pay any attention to her after three years of marriage.
As someone who has been in the same situation, I thought you gave her good advice. I'd like to add that she should give herself a timeline for change. Otherwise, she will just be older and lonelier with less self-esteem. - Been There, Suffered That in Ventura, Calif.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.