DEAR ABBY: I don't sympathize or empathize with others. When people are sad or upset over deaths, failed relationships, etc., my reaction is annoyance at the person because I feel I'm being forced to offer an emotion I don't genuinely feel. I have experienced all of these things in my own life, but I have never shed tears about them or let them cripple me. I view these things as part of life and move on.

As I get older, it is getting harder and harder for me to fake these emotions. My wife was in tears for a couple of days because someone she knew died. I tried to pretend to empathize with her, but I found myself getting annoyed by what I thought was her overreaction. Someone she knew died; it happens to all of us. Let's move on. Is something wrong with me?

- Moving On in Tennessee

DEAR MOVING ON: Some people live the veneer of life; others live the hardwood. It appears you are among the former and insulated against painful emotions. However, I'm cautioning you to be patient and show respect for the feelings of others who have more emotional depth, or you may be spending a lot of time alone in the future.

DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend and I have talked about becoming engaged. The subject of the wedding dress came up. She broke off a past engagement last year, and she has asked me whether it would be OK for her to use the dress she chose for the wedding that didn't happen. She doesn't want to be out $1,000 and says she does not associate the gown with her ex-fiance.

I feel we should try to sell the dress, although it was tailored for her, and pick a new one. What do you think is appropriate?

- Future Husband in California

DEAR HUSBAND: Actually, the dress was meant for your fiancee and not another man. However, because you have negative associations with this gown, offer to sweeten the pot by chipping in if she can't get $1,000 for the one she has. I think the most "appropriate" thing on your wedding day should be that you are both comfortable, happy and, above all, in sync.