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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I’m 27 and have been with my boyfriend “Mike” for three years. We intend to get married down the line. However, I’m discovering that Mike has a string of female admirers in all of his friend groups — women from college, clubs, interest groups, or even younger sisters of friends.

He has no interest in these women and many times doesn’t even realize that they like him until I point out that flirtatious side-poking and requests to be given rides (alone) are not normal “friend” behaviors.

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He is very attractive, courteous, and sweet — almost to a fault. When these girls flirt with him, he gives them 100 percent of his attention because he doesn’t want to be rude.

He also doesn’t call them out on inappropriate behaviors like the poking or hugging. It’s becoming really hard for me to hang out with his “friends” or even meet new ones for fear that I will meet yet another admirer.

I’ve talked to him about this, and while he admits this could be frustrating for me, he just reassures me that he would never cheat. I’m not worried that he’ll cheat. I’m just sick of his not stopping this inappropriate behavior. Am I right, or should I learn to let well enough alone?

NO MORE ADMIRERS

A. Ideally, a partner in a loving relationship should direct most of his social poking and hugging toward his partner. Your guy seems willing to tolerate your discomfort rather than put up even a flimsy social wall and inspire the slightest change in the women around him. He could very easily change the dynamic without being rude. “I would never cheat” isn’t exactly the most trust-inspiring statement from a loving partner.

You should experiment with adjusting your own orientation and focus on managing your own behavior. Boldly plunge into social interactions with confidence. Stay close to your guy and be assertively friendly (to everyone) and attentive (to everyone). You need not police him, but you do need to find out if you have the temperament and confidence to handle this behavior and if he has the maturity to redirect the flirtation toward you.

Q. I love your literacy campaign to put “A Book on Every Bed.”

When my daughter was about 12 years old, we made a deal that either of us would read a book that the other thought was outstanding.

Fast forward 18 years. We have read and had lively discussions on 50-plus great books together! Other readers might want to try this.

I would have never picked up books by Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell, Daphne du Maurier, Ayn Rand, Willa Cather, and Mary Shelley on my own. Likewise, my daughter might never have discovered Alexandre Dumas, Robert Penn Warren, Truman Capote, George Orwell, and William Golding, to name a few.

MARK

A. Thank you for sharing the excitement and enriching opportunities inspired by reading to, with, and eventually alongside your children. This is especially powerful between fathers and daughters (and mothers and sons).

I highly recommend “The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared,” by young writer Alice Ozma (Grand Central Publishing).

This charming account of the bond cemented by sharing books between a father and daughter touched me and made me smile. You and your daughter should team-read it.

Send questions by e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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