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Frank talk is important in intimate relationship

Question: I have been dating my boyfriend for the past year and we were friends for two years prior to that. I would like to know if it would be fair for me to ask him where this relationship is going. I feel we are committed, but of course there is no ring and no date.

We are not shacking up. But we are seeing each other intimately. Please help me to word my concern to him.

- Los Angeles, Calif.

Dr. Laura: I am always surprised when two people can get naked and assume sexual positions - and later feel shy about talking. It just goes to show that sexual "intimacy" implies nothing truly intimate at all.

You shouldn't be doing anything you can't talk about - and if you can't talk about "love" and "commitment" (marriage), then you're not being "intimate" or "making love," you're having recreational sex.

Why not simply say, "You know, I've been doing a lot of thinking and I realized that we enjoy each other socially and sexually, but I'm concerned about whether this relationship has further meaning for either one of us. I'm not so sure I want to have these relations out of the context of commitment anymore. What are your thoughts?"

But first, my dear, you have to make a decision as to whether or not you're going to hang on or let go.

Question: I am 16 years old. I have a friend I am very concerned about. I met her at the beginning of the school year when another of my friends suggested that we introduce ourselves because she was sitting alone at lunch. What we didn't know was that we would be getting involved in the soap opera of her life.

She is 18 and moved to this area with her 27-year-old fiance who has not gone to college. He is a cabinetmaker, not working much. For now they are living with his parents. She does not plan on getting a job or going to college because she thinks that her boyfriend will support her. They plan on a wedding in his parents' living room because they cannot afford a church.

Every day she complains how terrible it is living with his parents. I am concerned that she has not even thought about their money situation. Right now they are not paying rent, taxes, insurance, or even most of their food -but somehow she thinks that with his (unstable and small) salary they will be able to get an apartment.

I have been invited to their wedding and bridal shower, but I do not want to attend either because I do not want her to think that I am supporting her decisions. Should I go to the show and wedding even though I don't support it, or should I confront her to tell her that I think she is making a big mistake?

- Austin, Texas

Dr. Laura: I am impressed with your maturity and insight. Unfortunately, your school chum either didn't get the same wisdom from her parents, or she's ignoring it in the hope of things' simply turning out OK without any effort or courage on her part.

Yes, you should give her the opportunity to face truths - and truths are generally tough to hear and face. Don't worry about her immediate defensive response. I trust that with your sensitivity you will prevail in getting across to her how decisions made today will have repercussions over a lifetime.

I am overnighting a copy of my book "The Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives" for you to give to her ASAP. Good luck, but remember, you can only lead a horse to water.

Question: My wife's family holds a reunion every summer, and it is a large group. My three children (ages 15, 12 and 11) have a lot of fun as it includes swimming and camping with their cousins. However, some of the cousins are now seniors in high school or go to college.

This past year, some of the parents allowed several of these older kids to buy a keg of beer. This resulted one Friday night in a drinking contest.

I was appalled. I have told my wife we should skip the next reunion. We talked to several of the parents at Christmas and they saw nothing wrong with the drinking, so it will likely happen again.

My wife wants our kids to go to the reunion as the rest of the weekend is fun. What do you think?

-Libertyville, Ill.

Dr. Laura: If you can't get these parents to agree that, for example, there will be no drinking until the last night (so that you and your family can leave in the afternoon) - then I'm with you. Don't go.