DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I have been together for about five years. We began dating in college and are still happily together. I have been getting hints and clues that he is planning on proposing to me soon. I love him but don't want to be engaged in my early twenties. Should I say something to Jason before he pops the question or wait to see if he actually does? I see us getting married, just not now. -- Youth, Milwaukee
DEAR YOUTH: If you absolutely do not want to get engaged now, spare your boyfriend the embarrassment and expense of proposing to you by speaking to him about your feelings right away. Express your love for him and your future desire to marry, but also your lack of interest in making that full commitment today.
Beware that by doing this, though, you may be shutting the door on him being your husband. If he doesn't want to wait or wants to be certain that you will not get involved with anyone else along the way, he may reject your rejection. If that occurs, be prepared to talk it out.
It's tricky for young couples who fall in love and believe they are meant for each other but who also want to build their careers. The risks are obvious. If you do not commit, that relationship may end. If you do commit, you may be able to balance career-building with family development -- or not. You have to decide what is more important to you.