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.