Foot-dragging boyfriend puts engagement on endless hold

DEAR ABBY: I'm 28 and have been dating my boyfriend, "Spencer," for 2 1/2 years. We have talked a lot about getting married. We know where we want it to be, who will be in our wedding party and what the theme will be.

A year ago we discussed getting engaged. Spencer said he'd propose "sometime within the next year" and last spring it seemed like he was working up the courage to do it. (He was talking about how happy he was and what he was seeing for our future). Then his best friend got his girlfriend pregnant and told Spencer he was thinking about proposing to her. After that, the idea of us getting married went on the back burner. Spencer stopped talking about us, and I think the reason was he didn't want to step on anyone's toes. (It's why he said he didn't want to get engaged when his sister was getting married.)

How do I bring up the subject without coming off as pushy or selfish? A lot of our friends are in committed relationships. If we put our lives on hold every time one of them gets engaged, we'll be waiting years before it's our turn and we can start a family. I'd appreciate any advice you might have.

— READY TO MOVE FORWARD

DEAR READY: Not knowing your boyfriend, I can't guess why you haven't received the official proposal. It's time to talk turkey with Spencer and ask him exactly why he seems to be stuck at the starting gate. It was considerate of him to postpone your engagement so it wouldn't distract from his sister's wedding plans. But for him to do it again because of his friend's impending fatherhood doesn't seem like a legitimate reason to me.

DEAR ABBY: I am a tween and I'm scared about getting a disease or sickness. It started when I watched the news one night last month waiting for a show to come on. The news had all these terrible crimes and diseases, and that's when I started freaking out. My friend says I'm crazy, and I'm afraid she's right. All this worrying has me really feeling out of it. What should I do to quit worrying about diseases?

— SOUTHERN GIRL

DEAR SOUTHERN GIRL: There's a saying in the news business, "If it bleeds, it leads." It means the more shocking a story is, the more attention it will grab and the more people will watch. Quieting your fears may be as simple as talking with your parents about what's scaring you, or having them schedule a visit with your pediatrician.

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