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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating my boyfriend, "Derek," for four years. After a night of emotion-filled discussion, he asked me to marry him. I said yes, but it has always been a difficult idea for me to wrap my head around. I'm turning 21 and although that may be old enough for some people to get married and have kids, it scares the heck out of me.

I love Derek and I want to marry him one day. He assured me we could stay "engaged" for a few years, but it still makes me uneasy. We don't have a ring yet, and we agreed we wouldn't tell our families until we get one. It doesn't feel real because there's no ring and no one knows -- could that be why I'm so nervous?

I need a second opinion and some advice on whether to wait to tell anyone or tell people now. -- COLD FEET

DEAR COLD FEET: An engagement with no ring and no announcement hardly seems like an engagement at all. That's why you and Derek should rethink making any announcements until you both feel ready to take such a big step. When the time is right, the idea of marriage and children will make you feel happy, not frightened.

Frankly, I think your fears may be well founded because you have had little life experience -- and once the ball starts rolling, stopping it may be complicated. That's why you and Derek should remain in a holding pattern until you are more confident about what you want to do.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce

Teen Is Eager To Tweak Her Looks With A Nose Job

DEAR ABBY: Although I am not considered bad looking, I'm not extremely beautiful either. Guys find my friends prettier than me.

For a few years I have been thinking about getting a nose job. My parents say I need to wait for all my facial features to adjust to my growing body to prevent facial disfigurement in the future. I think that's just an excuse. When is the right age to get a nose job? -- ALABAMA TEEN

DEAR TEEN: This is a question that should be answered by your personal physician. You didn't state your age, but I don't think your parents are stalling. According to WebMD, it is very important that before a young person has a nose job the facial bones have reached "adult size." The usual age for girls' noses to mature is 15 or 16. (Interestingly, for boys it is a year or so later.)

Read more in: Teens | Health & Safety

DEAR ABBY: My father had a son with a woman while he was dating my mother. Mom made Dad choose between her and his son. He chose Mom, and has had no contact with the boy.

Dad doesn't want to interfere with his now-grown son's life. I, on the other hand, would love to reach out and meet my half-brother. Would it be overstepping boundaries if I do this? -- SOMEONE'S SIBLING IN MICHIGAN

DEAR SOMEONE'S SIBLING: I'd be curious to know how you became aware of your half-brother's existence, because I'll bet the topic wasn't discussed in your home. While I might have no objection to you reaching out to your half-sibling -- because I am not emotionally involved -- your mother will feel betrayed and angry. If you decide to move forward, be prepared.

Read more in: Family & Parenting

Happy Eid Al-Fitr

TO MY MUSLIM READERS: It is time for the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Happy Eid al-Fitr, everyone.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations

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