DEAR ABBY: I am a divorcee in my 40s who is in a committed relationship with a man who is also divorced. Neither of our marriages were happy ones. We stayed in them for all the wrong reasons. We have been together for three years, live together, love each other unconditionally and have talked extensively about getting married.
My question is, am I wrong to expect a traditional proposal with an engagement ring? It is important to me that he would think enough of me to plan one. I feel if he did it for his first wife, he should do the same -- or more -- for me. Would it be in bad taste to mention this? -- ASKING TOO MUCH? IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR ASKING TOO MUCH?: Unless one of your companion's attributes is clairvoyance, express your feelings. He may not be aware that you would feel somehow cheated if he doesn't come forth with a gesture that is "equal or better" than what his ex received. Consider carefully what resulted from that first fancy proposal.
An essential ingredient in a successful relationship is the ability to express one's wants and needs to the other partner. I would only suggest that when you do, your thoughts are couched as a request and not a demand.
DEAR ABBY: Enlighten me, please. A friend told me her daughter is expecting. She has not said one word about a boyfriend or marriage. How do I diplomatically ask, "Who is the father?"
People in my generation already knew the answer. Marriage came first. Is this now "none of my business"? The grandma-to-be has offered no clue. Can you help me out? -- OUT OF THE LOOP OUT WEST
DEAR OUT OF THE LOOP: If Grandma-to-be is keeping mum, you can bet there's a reason. If the father was Prince Harry, she would be trumpeting it from the rooftops. Your friend may not know who the father is or have some other reason for not disclosing it. Unless you want to tiptoe through a minefield, my advice is don't go there.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 13-year-old girl who suffers from what I'm afraid is obsessive-compulsive disorder. I have known for four years, but I never told my parents. I finally opened up to them a few days ago, and I thought they wanted to help. But later I heard them mock my condition and laugh about it.
Abby, I thought my parents wanted to help me, but it's becoming clear that they don't. They have offered me therapy, but I'm scared they will mock me for that, too. Now I'm afraid to go. Should I? -- O.C.D. DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: When people don't understand something, unfortunately they sometimes laugh at it. However, are you absolutely certain that what your parents were laughing about concerned you and not something else? I find it hard to believe that loving parents would laugh at their child's discomfort.
You should by all means take them up on their offer of talking to a therapist. It is the surest way to find a solution for your problem. And when you do, tell the therapist you think you heard your parents laugh about your problem, because if it's true and they are not aware of how serious the problem may be, the therapist can explain it to them.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)