DEAR ABBY: Over the weekend, while I was cleaning and reorganizing our bedroom, I found the engagement ring my boyfriend plans on proposing to me with. I didn't know he was planning to ask the big question, and I'm thrilled that he is going to. I haven't even hinted that I know anything is going on because I don't want to ruin the surprise more than I already have.
My problem is, I hate the ring he chose. It's beautiful, but, Abby, it's so big. I like dainty jewelry, and it is the complete opposite of anything I would ever choose for myself. What do I do? I love this man with my whole heart. He's my best friend, and we have been there for each other through the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. We have great communication and always keep things completely honest between us. I suppose I should suck it up. He chose this ring for me, and I don't want to hurt his feelings. Please tell me what to do. — DISAPPOINTED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Congratulations on your upcoming engagement. Your problem is unique because most of the letters I receive about engagement rings come from women who are disappointed that the stone is so small. However, if the size of the stone in the ring your boyfriend is giving you makes you uncomfortable, your response — after an enthusiastic "YES!!!" — could be, "But, darling, this stone is so large we will have to hire an armed guard to accompany me if I wear it outside the house. Are you sure it's WISE for me to wear this every day? I would be very happy with something more modest, you know." (It's worth a try.)
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DEAR ABBY: I have always been too kind and polite. I give money I shouldn't, say yes to favors I don't want to do and keep my mouth shut in situations where I should speak up. My best friend once told me I shouldn't say what she needed to hear, but only what she wanted to hear.
I have been in therapy for two years now, and have finally reached the point where I'm learning to say no. I love that when I meet strangers, I can use the skills I'm learning and be more assertive.
My friends and family are having a hard time with it. I broke up with the bestie because our relationship had been not only long, but also toxic and abusive. Other people I come in contact with now seem shocked if I say no or voice an opinion of my own. They then proceed to pressure me to change my mind, which makes me transform back into a mouse and comply so I won't seem rude. How can I get them to understand — in a polite way — that I am changing for the better, which includes putting myself, my needs and my decisions between yes and no first? — LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE
DEAR LOOKING OUT: You and your therapist appear to have been doing some good work. Of course people who hear you say no or state your honest opinion are having trouble with it. That's not the person you WERE. You are becoming a new person, someone with whom they are not used to dealing. Keep in mind that when someone asks you to do something you would rather not do, you ALWAYS have the right to refuse. And when you are pressured to change your opinion, what you should say is, "Intelligent minds can differ," or, "I'm entitled to my opinion." It's the truth.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.