Dear Abby: "Todd" and I have been close friends since eighth grade. We're now in our mid-20s, and over the years I have gotten to know his family. His mother, "Cindy," is a kind and darling woman and I like her a lot.

The problem is, she has it in her head that I am perfect for Todd. On more than one occasion she has gone so far as to ask me why I don't marry him. Todd and I have always been close, but I have never had any interest in him beyond friendship. In fact, I am involved in a serious relationship right now with a man I love dearly.

Is there a way to stop Cindy from making suggestive comments without hurting her feelings?

Holding My Tongue For Now In Minnesota

Dear Holding Your Tongue: Todd's mother's attempts at matchmaking may be annoying, but they're the greatest compliment a mother can pay a young woman. The next time she does it, smile and tell her that if you could clone yourself you would because you think she'd be the best mother-in-law in the world, but you're seeing someone and the relationship is serious.

Dear Abby: I am a 48-year-old man about to be married for the second time. My bride, "Jennifer," is significantly younger than I, but aside from that, we're alike on most issues. We have lived together for five years and have two beautiful daughters, ages 3 and 7.

We are now involved in making wedding plans. I know it's a woman's special day, but when I ask the normal question of "How much does it cost?" Jennifer becomes unglued. She says she's aware that we don't have an unlimited budget, and she's sick and tired of my always asking about the costs and saying things are too expensive.

Today she went off again when I said that the diamond-encrusted wedding band she wants me to wear was too expensive, and a simple gold band is fine for me. I told Jennifer to cut out the Bridezilla attitude. Money is a factor in a wedding, and since I'm part of it, my opinion should matter as much as hers.

Now she's stomping around in a huff, and I'm at the end of my rope. If this is how she acts now, what about after the wedding? Am I being an idiot to worry about the money, or is Jennifer being unrealistic by ignoring it and stifling my concerns?

Groom (?) In Michigan

Dear Groom (?): You're not an idiot. You are asking some very intelligent questions. One of the most frequent causes of divorce is arguments over money. So before you go any further, stop the music and insist that the two of you get premarital counseling to ensure that you really are on the same page. It could save you a bundle — of heartache and money.

Dear Abby: I am 17 and popular in school. I have a lot of friends, but inside I feel like I'm not good enough to go out with the popular boys I like. I am friends with them all, but they always pay more attention to the prettier girls.

I know I should feel privileged to be popular, but what can I do to get the guys to notice me more? I sometimes stay up crying at night over this.

Wants More In Pennsylvania

Dear Wants More: I'll tell you a secret. Fear of failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy — and so can success. The more you dwell on your "deficiencies," the more pronounced they'll become. So, act more confident and soon you will be.

• • •

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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