DEAR ABBY: Is 16 too young to know you're truly in love? My boyfriend, "Miles," and I both feel that we're truly in love and want to spend the rest of our lives together. We realize that it will be a few years at the least before we can marry, but we're willing to wait.

My older sister laughs at me when I say that I know I'm in love. She says I am way too young, and I need to be older and more mature -- like she is -- to understand. She's 17 1/2, so she's really not that much older.

I have a large picture of Miles in our room, and when she has friends over, she points at it and says, "That's Judy's true love forever," and they all laugh about it. Can you be truly in love at my age? -- JUDY IN BIRMINGHAM, ALA.

DEAR JUDY: Yes, it is possible to be truly in love at 16. However, at 16 you are still maturing emotionally and intellectually.

The problem with making a lifetime commitment at this age -- although some people have done it -- is that both of you are still "growing" as individuals. Not all people grow at the same rate, and their interests often diverge. Does this mean the couple is not truly in love? No. But it does mean that it's better to be older before making a promise to stay with someone "forever."

That said, your sister is wrong to belittle and ridicule your feelings. And for her to do so is a reflection of her own immaturity.

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DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a certain man for about eight months. We get along wonderfully most of the time. However, when we're out in public, he is very cold to me and standoffish.

Four months ago, we were at a trade show where he ran into friends of his and stood and talked for 15 minutes without ever introducing me. I finally walked off.

The same thing happened again on Mother's Day. Some friends of his approached, and they visited awhile. The difference this time was one of the men in the group noticed me standing there and interrupted the conversation to introduce himself, as did everyone else then. My so-called boyfriend never said a word.

As we were leaving, the main speaker at the clinic where we were stopped him and asked, "Is this your wife?" -- which I am not, but I also am not as he introduced me. He replied, "No, this is my friend." (We are intimate!)

I do not like the way my boyfriend treats me in public, and I am tired of his being noncommittal. Am I being unreasonable? -- TIRED IN COMANCHE, TEXAS

DEAR TIRED: Your "boyfriend" either was never taught good manners, or he is so into himself that he has no concern for your feelings. Instead of pretending you were part of the pattern on the wallpaper and ignoring your presence, he should have immediately introduced you.

What happened at the clinic should be your wake-up call. Although you are intimate and consider him to be your "boyfriend," he has stated publicly that he considers you only a friend. (With benefits!) If that's how you wish to be regarded, then continue seeing him. If not, give your ego an enormous boost and walk away. He's obviously still looking, and so should you.

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