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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Prefers to Play Host Instead of Being a Guest

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Kent," and I enjoy entertaining. We often throw birthday parties for friends, as well as holiday parties and dinners and barbecues during the summer. The problem is, whenever we receive an invitation to attend a gathering at someone else's home, Kent responds with, "Ask them to come here." I think this is rude because our friends are just reciprocating.

This issue came up twice last week. When I asked Kent why he doesn't like to go to our friends' homes, he says he prefers to entertain in his own house. I don't think it is good manners to ask a host to move the party to our home.

Incidentally, when we do go, Kent always enjoys himself, so it's not social anxiety, and he's definitely not shy. Would you tell me if I'm making too much of this? -- EMBARRASSED IN ALASKA

DEAR EMBARRASSED: I don't think so. While your husband's impulse to host the party might seem generous the first few times the offer is extended -- after a while the burden of gratitude can hang heavy and destroy friendships. That's why it is important for people to be able to reciprocate -- and for others to allow them to.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a man for four years. I told him I am ready to end our relationship if he isn't ready to get married within the next year.

Two months ago, he gave me a beautiful 2 1/2-carat diamond ring and announced to family and friends that we are engaged. He has not discussed any wedding plans, but he says the wedding will be within the time frame I am asking for.

I went to a jeweler today to have the band on my ring enlarged a bit and was told that my stone is not a real diamond. Abby, this man owns his own business and is wealthy! He spends thousands on golf trips every year and just spent a great deal of money on high-end house furnishings.

My head is spinning. I am embarrassed to tell anyone of this fraud. What is your take on this? Do I confront him? Am I fooling myself thinking that this man truly wants to marry me? -- DUMBFOUNDED OR JUST DUMB? IN FLORIDA

DEAR DUMBFOUNDED: My "take" on this is that your fiance was trying to pull a fast one. If he would behave this way about your engagement ring, what else would he be less than honest about in the future?

Whether you "confront" him or not depends upon how you define the word. If it were me, I'd remain calm, tell him what I'd learned and how, listen to what he had to say and take my cue from that.

DEAR ABBY: Please remind your readers that a nice thing to do on Valentine's Day is to go to a veteran's hospital to visit the veterans who are there -- especially those from World War II, whose numbers are dwindling. The wards generally have parties going on for them. Try to attend. You'll find a group of very appreciative people there. -- SERVICE OFFICER, AMERICAN LEGION POST IN MAINE

DEAR OFFICER: Thank you for a terrific suggestion. Valentine's Day -- with all the marketing that goes with it -- can be one of the most depressing days of the year for singles. A sure way to keep the blues away is to do something nice for someone else. What you're proposing not only fits that category, but also provides a way to meet other generous-hearted people. What better way to spend this coming Sunday afternoon?

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)