Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old daughter left her journal open on her bed and, being nosy, I read the page that was open. She had written that she had lost her virginity to her boyfriend.

We have stressed to her how important it is to save herself for marriage, but it looks like she decided not to. She had a friend who just found out she was pregnant three months ago. I can't believe this didn't make my daughter think a little bit more about it.

Should I confront her about what I read, or let it slide? It's tearing me up inside because she was brought up with better values than this.

We have always been very close and she usually talks to me about everything. Well, at least I thought she did. Any advice? -- MISSOURI MOM

DEAR MOM: Your daughter may have left the book open in order to open the door to discussion with you. She probably didn't know how to break the news to you any other way and feared your reaction.

How you deal with this is very important. Do not attack her and do not scold. Talk calmly; tell her you are disappointed and why. Then review why it is important for her to use every precaution if she is going to be sexually active. Use her friend as an example. I suspect your daughter already knows she has gone further than she should have and now regrets it.

DEAR ABBY: The woman I date (I'll call her Earlene) is 62 and owns her own home. She also has a truck that's fully paid for, CDs and an IRA. In other words, she's well-off.

For the last four years we have gone out to eat frequently because she lives alone and so do I. We eat out at least four days a week, breakfast and dinner. In all that time she has picked up the check only five times. Even when I pay, she never leaves a tip. She figures since I'm paying the bill, I should do it.

Earlene is from the old school -- that the man is supposed to do all the paying. I have talked to her about it. It goes in one ear and out the other. I don't believe this is fair, and it is straining our relationship because I'm not as well-off as she is.

What ever happened to equal rights for women and men? Please answer soon. This is an emergency. -- BUSTED BUDGET, ANDOVER, OHIO

DEAR B.B.: If you're asking about the Equal Rights Amendment -- it lost by a narrow margin. Even so, dating rules have changed greatly since your ladyfriend was a girl. It's time to tell the meal server, "Separate checks, please." If Earlene doesn't agree, maybe it's time to go your separate ways.

DEAR ABBY: Although I am a recent reader of your column, I enjoy it daily. Would you kindly assist me with somewhat of an office etiquette dilemma?

Oftentimes in my workplace, women will actually brush their teeth using the public restroom sink. Personally, I think it is totally inappropriate for anyone to do such a thing in a public place, especially rinsing. Could you please share the appropriate rule, if any applies, and assist me in scolding such offenders? -- GROSSED OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS

DEAR GROSSED OUT: Sorry. I respect people who are diligent about their oral hygiene. I see nothing wrong with brushing one's teeth in a public restroom, as long as the sink is rinsed thoroughly after the person is finished.

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

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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