DEAR READERS: Over the past three weeks, I have devoted each Wednesday's column entirely to the intelligent and heartfelt responses I've received since I asked readers to tell me how they just said "no" to sex. Today's is the last in this series.
DEAR ABBY: How should a girl diplomatically say "no"? She can say, "Take me home and we'll see if it's OK with my parents." Or, "Let's wait until I get my blood test back." Both suggestions should cool the young man's ardor.
But if the situation has progressed so far that sex is the next step, the girl has already gone far beyond the point where she should have said no, and there's no longer a way to be diplomatic or pleasant. I offer some suggestions on what to say then, and the young lady should speak loud and clear: "Take me home. What's the matter with you? My daddy will make you a soprano!" "When were you last checked for a sexually transmitted disease?" "Did you know my father likes to come out here and see who's making out?"
I hope these suggestions prove helpful. Hang in there, Abby. You make the world a better place. I'm an avid fan, but please don't print my name. I'm ... A (MALE) DENTIST IN MISSOURI
DEAR ABBY: Our daughter has given "promise rings" to her three daughters. Each ring was presented on an evening when one of the boyfriends was present. When each girl accepted it, she made a promise to her parents, to us (her grandparents) and to God that she would not have sex before marriage. They never take the ring off.
Perhaps this is simplistic, but a girl can display her ring and repeat the promise she made, should the need arise. -- GERI WALTMAN, GRAND MEADOW, MINN.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 24 years old. I've been pregnant and have also had an STD. I know firsthand how difficult it is to say "no." It's not a matter of being rude. It's a fear of not being liked if you don't have sex, not being aggressive enough to refuse, and wanting someone to make you feel "loved." Abby, it's scary to say no, especially if you have low self-esteem. But I've finally learned to do it.
Sometimes I still feel self-conscious -- and scared, too. But that's natural. What's not natural is being 16 or 17 or 18 and being alone and pregnant or having AIDS.
It's OK to be rude if you have to be, and it's also OK to say "no." If you feel like you can't say "no, that's when you have to muster up your self-confidence and say, "Who cares if this person doesn't like me? I like myself and care enough about myself enough to refuse!" -- SAY YES TO YOURSELF IN MINNESOTA
DEAR ABBY: My advice to women and girls who want to avoid unwanted sexual encounters: Tell them up front that you're not ready for sex. Avoid sexual situations. Stay out of bedrooms, back seats and dark corners. Use your head and stick with the group. Don't use alcohol or drugs, or the drug will be making the decision -- not you. Be as rude as you have to be and don't worry about it! Your long-range plans for yourself are important -- and they'll be better served if you are tagged "rude" rather than "easy."
Listen to me: I made every mistake in the book, and my children and I paid a terrible price for it. You young women are our future. You are beautiful. You are important. Your lives are worthwhile. Take care of your lives and the children you will someday have. Please! -- LEARNED THE HARD WAY.
DEAR READERS: Thank you for your eloquent and caring letters. I was touched by how many of you wrote to share your experiences in the hope that they might help someone else. I regret that space limitations prevent me from printing them all.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)