DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing "Hillary" for a little more than a year. We're both in our late 20s and just starting our careers. We both live with our parents.
We've been having problems because I'm not willing to move in with her. I have told Hillary many times that there is no audition for marriage, but she's convinced it would "bring us closer." Many of the people I've worked with ended up splitting shortly after moving in together. Conversely, many of Hillary's friends moved in with significant others and were married shortly after.
I admit, I'd like to take things slow (call me old-fashioned), but Hillary doesn't know if she can wait until I feel ready to take this step or propose.
We acknowledge that we love each other. Our parents are not exactly rooting for us, so we're taking another break from things. I suggested that we both find our own places for the time being. Hillary has never lived by herself. We don't know what to do, and I'd like some advice from someone who doesn't have a stake in this. -- AT A CROSSROADS IN ILLINOIS
DEAR AT A CROSSROADS: I'm glad you asked. Neither you nor Hillary seem ready for the kind of commitment she's angling for right now. What's clear to me is that she wants to get out of her parents' house, while you appear to want some independence before making a lifetime commitment. Your suggestion about getting separate apartments is a good one.
I would love to know why neither set of parents is "rooting" for this match. But let it serve to make you think long and hard before doing anything you're not 100 percent ready for.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are having a disagreement. I went into a women's clothing store to buy her a formal dress for Christmas. She has recently gotten into superb shape, and I wanted to celebrate it by buying her something formal but sexy.
I found an item I liked but was unsure how or whether it would fit her. The store manager who was helping me asked one of the salesclerks to try it on for me. She did, and I bought the dress.
My wife feels this was highly inappropriate of everyone involved -- tantamount to a "come on." Can you give me your views? -- WELL-INTENDED IN PHOENIX
DEAR WELL-INTENDED: The store manager's offer to have an employee put on the dress to show you was something that's done all the time. Your wife may be in "superb shape" physically, but emotionally she appears to be insecure. Now that you know this about her, the next time you want to buy her an item of clothing, take her with you. It won't fix what ails her, but you'll avoid another disagreement.
DEAR ABBY: Someone said something to me today that really offended me. I let her know she had hurt my feelings and her response was, "I'm sorry you took what I said the wrong way." (Abby, there was no other way to interpret it!) Essentially, she made it MY fault because I was "too sensitive."
If I said something that hurt someone's feelings, I would simply say, "I apologize. I didn't mean to hurt you." When you try to justify your actions and blame the other person for taking offense there really is no apology forthcoming -- which only makes the situation worse.
Was there a witty comeback to let this person know her lack of an apology did not go unnoticed? -- OFFENDED IN ALBUQUERQUE
DEAR OFFENDED: I wouldn't call it "witty," but it's accurate: "That's right -- blame the victim!"
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)