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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am in my mid-20s and have found the perfect man. We are very much in love and have discussed marriage. We are sexually active and responsible about using birth control.

A week and a half ago, my period was noticeably late. I voiced my concerns to "Bob." He assured me everything would be fine and tried to console me; however, he never said anything about marrying me if I was pregnant. It turned out to be a false alarm.

Last night, Bob told me he needed "space"; that there are things he needs to accomplish in life before getting married. He said his decision had nothing to do with me and that he still loves me very much. I find it too coincidental that this change came about only a week after my possible pregnancy. We talked it over and ended our relationship.

Abby, I couldn't bear the thought of being with a man who is capable of running away from his responsibility. I, too, have things I'd like to accomplish in life, but I would have liked to achieve them with Bob by my side. Do you think I made the right decision to end it, or did I overreact? -- AT A LOSS IN ATLANTA

DEAR AT A LOSS: Overreact? Not at all. Your false alarm made your "perfect man" show his true colors.

DEAR ABBY: I am a teen-age girl in middle school. I had this boyfriend, "Bud." We were really close and were friends long before we became girlfriend and boyfriend. There was also this other boy, "Burke," who is very good-looking. We called each other a few times and just "clicked."

Some friends told me if I wanted things to spark with Burke, I would have to break up with Bud. I was in love with Bud and didn't want to break up with him -- but I wanted "sparks to fly" with Burke and me, so I broke up with Bud. He was very hurt.

Later that night, Burke didn't call me, and I found out he didn't want to be my boyfriend. I immediately called Bud, crying, and asked him to take me back. He said no!

Abby, I can't eat or sleep and I don't go out with my friends anymore. Now Bud likes another girl, and I can't stand her! Please tell me what to do. -- DEPRESSED AND CONFUSED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR DEPRESSED: You've learned a valuable lesson at a young age: A Bud in the hand is worth two Burkes in the bush. Treasure what you have and learn from your mistakes.

DEAR ABBY: You might like to share my method of updating an address book: Last year I tore all the little return address labels from the holiday cards I received and pasted them in my address book.

It makes for a much neater look and guarantees the addresses are correct. It also eliminates scratch-outs and messy handwriting, because if an address changes, I simply paste the new label over the old.

Since I never miss your column and learn much from your readers, I thought I would return the favor. -- MARY FOLDEN, NAPERVILLE, ILL.

DEAR MARY: It's a clever idea -- and with the holidays approaching, certainly worth trying. Thanks for the suggestion.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 932-6600