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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 15 and dating a guy I'll call Ted. Ted has had sex, but I have not. He says he'll wait until I'm ready. Well, I'm ready! It's just that I promised my mother I would wait, and she knows everything I do. I can't keep this from her, but I'm afraid to tell her. What should I do? -- AFRAID TO TELL MOTHER

DEAR AFRAID: Continue to abstain. If you think you are mature enough to have sex, you should be adult enough to talk to your mother about it. You should also become fully informed about STDs. Call the Centers for Disease Control's National STD toll-free hotline, (800) 227-8922, or visit the American Social Health Association's special Web site for teens at www.iwannaknow.org.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in my booklet "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

The most difficult word to say in the English language is also one of the shortest. It's "no." Yet the inability to say that one simple word can complicate your life in ways you can't imagine, particularly when it comes to sex. So, I repeat -- talk to your mother.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a senior in high school. Until recently no guy I've ever liked has been interested in me. One guy I've liked for a few years -- "Marty" -- finally asked me for a date. It's a problem because my friend "Lori" has liked him a lot longer than I have.

Lori doesn't know it, but Marty told my other friend that even though they've hung out together a few times, he's not interested in her. Lori thinks I'm stealing Marty from her, but I'm not. I don't feel I'm stealing anybody, and I'm so excited. Am I wrong for wanting to go?

I think Lori is blowing this whole thing out of proportion. Does she have the right to be jealous? Shouldn't she be happy for me? I wasn't jealous when she hung out with him -- I supported her. But somehow, I can't help thinking I've betrayed her.

Abby, am I a horrible friend? -- CONFUSED IN OREGON

DEAR CONFUSED: No, but as it stands, you are an ex-friend. I hope he's worth it.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Justin," and I have been together for a little more than a year. We both work two jobs to support ourselves and make ends meet. I have student loans to pay off and so does Justin.

Abby, my birth control costs me $30 every three months, and sometimes it's difficult to find the extra money to pay for it. We have both agreed that having children right now would not be in our best interests.

Would it be too crass to ask Justin to help pay the cost? -- WONDERING IN VERMONT

DEAR WONDERING: Crass? Not at all. Since the birth control is benefiting both of you, he should share the cost. Put it this way: Tell him it's time to pony up because of economic hardship. From my perspective, he's been getting a free ride for too long.

P.S. Planned Parenthood can provide you and your boyfriend with affordable birth control. To locate your nearest Planned Parenthood office, call toll-free (800) 230-7526, or log on to www.plannedparenthood.org.

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. (Postage is included in the price.)

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