DEAR ABBY: Six years ago, I met a man who seemed to adore me. We fell in love, he gave me a ring, we talked marriage and bought a beautiful home together. Sounds great, doesn't it? Here's the problem: We're not married yet!
I waited four years for him to set a date. He never did, so I finally got up enough nerve to ask him. He replied that he was "nervous" about the thought of marriage. I felt emotionally abandoned by his reply. Since that time, my self-esteem has almost disappeared.
Friends, family and co-workers ask me (especially around Valentine's Day), "When are you two getting married?" I joke and say, "Don't get so worked up -- it's only a piece of paper," but my heart feels like it's breaking because I know marriage is the ultimate commitment of love, and I can't bear to tell them the truth. (I'm good enough to sleep with, but not good enough to marry.)
I still love this man with all my heart, although I know I will probably go to my grave without a wedding band or the children that I long to have.
Abby, please tell your readers who are considering living with their lovers to wait until after the wedding. -- SETTLED FOR LESS
DEAR SETTLED FOR LESS: I'm printing your message in its entirety, although your signature says it all.
You are long overdue in re-evaluating your priorities. A wedding band and children are a lot to give up for a piece of real estate and a boyfriend who can't make a serious commitment.
Perhaps soon you'll reclaim your self-esteem and present your roommate with an ultimatum. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Trust me.