Q: I am a college sophomore and have been dating my boyfriend, “Evan,” for nearly a year. I am planning to take a semester abroad at the beginning of my junior year.
Recently, Evan confessed that if I leave, our relationship would have to end. He asserts that being away from me for more than three months would be too painful and scary, not knowing if I was all right. (He has some anxiety issues, for which I have urged him to consider therapy.)
Should I end this relationship now or continue to see if Evan changes his mind? There’s a possibility, depending on program availability and class requirements, that I may not even be able to go. I don’t want to break any hearts or inflict any pain. Evan is my best friend, and I’m scared of losing him. — Ambitious Student in Maryland
A: Gather your courage and tell Evan that you love him and want him to be your best friend forever, but that the semester abroad is an opportunity to grow. By the way, your absence will provide Evan with one, too, if he chooses to avail himself of it.
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You are right that he needs to work on his anxiety issues. It would be a huge mistake to let them stand in the way of your having the experience of a lifetime if you are lucky enough to get it. There are worse things than being alone, and one of them is being attached to a partner who would hold you back.
Q: I am 50, own my home and am debt-free. I have friends but have never dated anyone. This doesn’t bother me, although many of my close friends joke with me about being a “50-year-old virgin.”
My problem is, four years ago I lost my job. I have a few investments and a small inheritance that, when combined, give me an income of $60,000 a year. So I don’t need more money.
Although I did look for another job for two years, I haven’t tried for the past two. I tell my friends I’ve decided to retire. They keep telling me I need to find a job because I need something to keep me busy. I remind them that I have enough money for everything I need.
Friends have started telling me I may have a “problem” and should think about counseling. I see no need for it but have decided to get an outside opinion. So, Abby, should I see a counselor about my lack of interest in finding a new job? — Out of Work in Texas
A: There are reasons people work besides the financial one. Social stimulation is important, too. I am glad you have the money to support yourself now, but what if something unplanned or catastrophic happens in the future that jeopardizes your nest egg?
Fifty is young to “retire.” The counseling you’re considering should be used to determine why you lack the motivation to continue being a contributing member of society. (This may be the “problem” your friends are hinting at.)
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.