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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Paul," and I have been dating for four years. He has recently started talking about purchasing an engagement ring for me. Paul is well-off, although very frugal, which is how he accumulated most of his wealth.

Paul has been searching online sites for a used ring. He says he "doesn't want to waste his money on a new engagement ring when he can buy a used one." This from a man who didn't think twice about spending thousands of dollars to buy his son a brand-new car or a brand-new boat for himself.

Am I wrong to feel I'm only worth a used engagement ring? This is the most precious gift he could give me -- a sign of our love and commitment -- and I would cherish it forever. I am deeply hurt and would appreciate your thoughts on how to pursue this issue. -- FEELING "USED" IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR FEELING "USED": There's a difference between frugal and just plain cheap. That Paul would tell you he considers buying you a new engagement ring is a WASTE shows insensitivity to your feelings. Would he also prefer that your wedding gown come from a thrift store? I know it has been four years, but please take a moment, step back and ask yourself how stingy Paul is about other things.

Obviously, you are a romantic, and Paul is pragmatic to the core. He wants his dollar to stretch as far as it will go. But shopping online for a used ring is risky. Unless he buys from a reputable dealer, he could wind up paying the price of a diamond for a lovely zircon.

Paul may seem like a "gem," but is this the way you want to live the rest of your life? Bear in mind that while not every woman would be averse to wearing a pre-owned diamond that was recycled and reset, you do not appear to be one of them.

DEAR ABBY: How can my daughter broach the subject of her matron of honor's "beard"? We're not talking about a few hairs here, but a growth that would make some young men envious. The wedding is coming up soon, and the bride and groom are concerned how it will look in the wedding pictures, but they don't want to hurt her feelings.

I, for one, have been taking quick swipes with my razor for years, and my whiskers haven't grown back thicker or darker, and I only have to do it once or twice a week. Ladies, if unwanted facial hair embarrasses you, forget the myth that shaving will make it worse. You don't have to lather up like a man at the sink, and no one has to know it but you. -- BRIDE'S MOM, ST. LOUIS

DEAR MOM: Before the wedding, schedule a "spa" day for the women in the bridal party -- manicures, pedicures, waxing. When you get there, invite the "bearded lady" to join you in getting any excess facial hair removed. If she sees she isn't alone, she may go for it. And if she's resistant, your wedding photographer can always "Photoshop" the fur away.

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