DEAR HARRIETTE: As a 21-year-old virgin, I have made the decision to not have sex until marriage. It's easy now because I am not currently in a relationship. My question is, when I do become part of a committed relationship, when do I tell him that I am not having sex until marriage? I'm afraid he'll think that means I'm rushing him toward a ring, but in reality I don't want him to be disappointed later when intercourse is not an option. — No Compromise, Brooklyn, N.Y.
DEAR NO COMPROMISES: Take any relationship slowly. Get to know the person you begin to date and make it clear by your actions that you are not interested in pursuing quick intimacy.
Talk about your values as you go along, including your thoughts about family. This doesn't need to happen on the first, second or third date, but it is good to create a rapport with a potential mate that includes an understanding of what you believe.
As you get to know a suitor, ask him about his desire for family life. Get him to talk about his ideas and thoughts. When you feel you want to go to the next step and claim each other as partners, tell him that for you, this is the beginning of a closer bond. But also tell him that according to your belief system, there is an intimacy line that you will not cross. Tell him what it is. Ask him what he thinks about your boundaries and whether he is comfortable with them. Tell him you aren't pushing for marriage but just want to be upfront with him so that you can manage his expectations.
If he does want to get serious with you, this could urge him on to a proposal. That could be perfect. Watch to see how things unfold.
DEAR HARRIETTE: The word "friend" is not a term that I use loosely. For me to call someone my "best friend" means that they go above and beyond the normal duties of a friend. Once you reach the point in a relationship where both people are no longer giving 100 percent, you can't really be called a best friend.
In one particular friendship, I feel like I am giving my 100 percent but she is giving about 70 percent, which isn't a lot when it has slipped from 100 percent. Of course, she still calls me her best friend because I haven't changed. But how can I let her know that she no longer deserves the title of MY best friend? — De-Friended, Queens, N.Y.
DEAR DE-FRIENDED: Why not start with a question? Ask your former best friend what's going on in her life right now. If she has suddenly lessened her role in your life, chances are something in her world has shifted. Does she have a boyfriend? Is she about to move? Are her home circumstances the same? Her finances? Something has changed. Rather than assume she is partially dumping you, find out.
Tell her that you miss the closeness you once shared. Perhaps you can regain some of your closeness, but know that it's also possible your relationship is changing. You will have to decide if you are willing to accept the change.
(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)