DEAR ABBY: I have had an exclusive relationship with “Brad” for almost four years. We love each other dearly. We will soon be seniors in college and spend a lot of time together, including holidays, vacations and family functions. He is my best friend, and it’s hard to imagine life without him.

Lately, however, as I think about our future more seriously, I am beginning to question whether Brad and I are right for each other. We do not see eye-to-eye on some important issues – including politics, religion and having kids. It also concerns me that he’s not as ambitious as I am when it comes to career goals and opportunities. Brad has never been one to plan very far into the future, whereas stability and security are important to me.

When I try to discuss my concerns, Brad claims I’m being hysterical and says, “Here we go again!” If I pursue it, we end up arguing and nothing gets resolved.

Should I break up with Brad now so that we can both meet other people in our senior year – or am I being unreasonable? – LOVESICK IN ILLINOIS

Not at all. You are asking intelligent and mature questions about a decision that will affect the rest of your lives. I commend you for it.

Do not allow Brad to minimize your concerns and your differences. He needs to do some growing up before he makes a lifetime commitment to anyone – including you. Some time apart would benefit both of you.

DEAR ABBY: I was with my boyfriend, “Marty,” for six years before we had our daughter. She is now 3 years old. On Valentine’s Day, Marty finally gave me an engagement ring. I couldn’t have been happier – until the other day when someone asked Marty what kind of ring it was. He said it was a “friendship ring.” Can you believe this?

Abby, I am a person who believes in family values. I want my daughter to have a full-time father. I am thinking it might be time for me to leave Marty. Should I ask him if we are ever going to be married, or are we just going to continue to play house? – NOT LAUGHING IN MARYLAND

There is a big difference between friendship and engagement. Of course you should ask him. But before you do, tell him why you’re asking. If he can’t bring himself to set a wedding date, the family YOU value will have to include someone other than Marty.

DEAR ABBY: I’m an attractive 18-year-old single female from a good family. I enjoy wonderful friendships and am about to begin my first year of college. I was wondering if you could figure out what my problem is, because nobody else can.

Whenever I like a guy, I make it clear with friendly, “interested” actions. (But believe me, I’m not too forward.)

At first, guys seem to like me, too. But then they quickly become uninterested and end up never asking me out – or even talking to me again! This has happened sooo many times.

Please help. What am I doing wrong? – DATELESS ON SATURDAY NIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA

Your friendliness and “interest” may be being interpreted as needy and desperate. This is a huge turn-off for members of both sexes. Tone it down a little, and see if you get better results.

P.S. You might more closely observe what your girlfriends do.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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