Dear Abby:

I'm 15 and had always attended the same school until last year, when my parents moved to another state.

After we got here, I met this cool guy, "Ted." We had a relationship until last December, when he and his family moved to another neighborhood and he had to change schools.

I never had a chance to tell Ted that I love him until three months ago. We met at a ballgame and I confessed. He said he loved me too. I asked if we could be a couple again. He told me he couldn't deal with that right now because he has to concentrate on school before he deals with having a girlfriend. After he said it, I realized my grades should be my highest priority, too.

Two weeks ago, he called and asked me when we could have sex. I told him in six years, when I'm 21 and out of school. I think I'll be ready by then for that kind of a relationship.

Should he have asked me that question? And should I have agreed so quickly?

Confused in Georgia

Considering that Ted isn't ready for a serious relationship, I'd say his question was extremely presumptuous. And you didn't "agree quickly." You handled the question intelligently, letting him know that as much as you care for him, you're not a pushover and your own priorities must come first. Although you said you'd consider it at 21, I have a hunch he was more interested in what he could expect on Saturday night.

Dear Abby:

"John" and I started dating two years ago, when he was a college freshman and I was a junior in high school. He was my knight in shining armor.

A year into our relationship, we lost our virginity to each other. I have no excuse other than I was in love and believed that someday we would be married.

Six months ago, John suddenly broke up with me. He said he needed his "space." After three months, he changed his mind and wanted to get back together. He swore he wanted only me and nobody else. I believed him and forgave him.

Last week, I learned that while John and I were apart, he'd had sex with another girl -- an especially wild one who's had numerous lovers. I broke up with him immediately, but now I have a problem. I am experiencing some symptoms that could be an STD.

In my small town, everyone knows everyone. If I go to a local doctor, it'll be all over town before dark. It would shame my parents. I'm leaving soon to attend college several hundred miles from here. Would it be harmful to wait until I get there to see a doctor about what I'm afraid I have?

Burned in Kentucky

If there is a Planned Parenthood office within driving distance of your community, contact it now. It is listed in the telephone book, and the people there will be glad to help you.

If there isn't one, call the Centers for Disease Control's national STD/AIDS hotline: 800-227-8922. They may be able to refer you to a public clinic for a confidential evaluation. It's important that you not put this off because some STDs can lead to infertility and other problems if treatment is postponed.

Dear Abby:

What is proper etiquette for buying a step- grandchild gifts for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc.? My daughter recently remarried, and I don't even know her stepdaughter. Am I expected to buy her gifts just like my own grandchildren?

Step-Granny in Tennessee

To skimp on gifts for the new addition to your family would be a false economy. Welcome her, get to know her, and treat her like family because that is what she is now. If you discriminate on special occasions, the child will be hurt, her father will feel resentful, and you will put your daughter into an awkward situation. I strongly advise against it.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate