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Posted on Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Boyfriend tugs at heartstrings from a very long distance

By Dear Abby


My boyfriend, "Cole," and I have been together since college -- several years now. We have a loving relationship, but the problem is distance. My job sometimes requires me to take short-term (two- to five-month) contracts in other cities and overseas.

Even though it is difficult to be apart, I handle long-distance relationships relatively well while Cole does not. This began in college when I studied abroad for a semester. Cole tries to be supportive and wants me to be successful, but he takes it personally when I have to leave. For me, it's just about a job, but Cole doesn't see it that way.

I would support Cole wherever and in whatever he needed. Although it would be ideal to be together all the time, I realize that sometimes it isn't possible. Am I being selfish, or do we simply need different things out of a relationship? -- GLOBE-TROTTER IN DES MOINES


Are you being selfish, or is Cole being selfish? Are you willing to give up a career you have prepared for and work in so that he will no longer suffer separation anxiety? While your relationship is a loving one, the two of you have serious differences, and you must rationally decide which is more important to you. After that, everything will fall into place.


My wife died nine years ago after a long illness. We have a son, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

I met "Lucille" two years ago at a basketball game that involved both our grandsons. Slowly, we began dating. Lucille has been a widow for many years and has five children. We are now engaged and planning a wedding for about 60 people after Lucille retires next year. We want to include our families in the ceremony.

Lucille's two eldest sons plan to give her away. Two of her granddaughters will be flower girls. I asked my son to be my best man and he refused. He said he is happy for us and will attend the wedding, but he prefers not to stand up for me. He feels it would be disloyal to his mother's memory. He is adamant.

I never imagined my son would act this way. I didn't mean to offend him. I'm not trying to replace his mother. We just want to bring both families together. Abby, your opinion, please. -- WELL-MEANING DAD ON THE EAST COAST


It's a shame that your son feels unable to support you as you enter this new phase of your life. If he is offended at the idea that after nine years you would want to remarry, the problem is his. Do not make it yours. I'm sure your late wife would want your life to be fulfilling. Ask your daughter or a close friend to stand up with you and let nothing spoil your day. You and Lucille have earned your happiness. Bless you both.


Please tell me the proper etiquette for gift-giving. My in-laws often leave the price tags on gifts, especially if the gift was expensive. I believe price tags should be removed. Shouldn't a gift come from the heart and not be a monetary statement? -- OFFENDED IN WISCONSIN


Yes, it should. Leaving a price tag on a gift implies that the giver is also "giving" the recipient a burden of gratitude. And the burden of gratitude can weigh so heavily that it diminishes the pleasure of receiving a gift.

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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