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Posted on Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Woman feels like an intruder on long weekend visits

By Carolyn Hax

Hi, Carolyn:

I'm in the early stages of a long-distance relationship. We see each other as many weekends as possible.

Whenever he visits me, I clear my calendar from Friday to Sunday. When I visit him, I can't help but feel like I'm intruding on his life.

I think this has to do with the fact that we haven't been together very long. I feel awkward tagging along, but I feel even worse sitting alone in his apartment while he honors prior commitments (he has a part-time job and is also on a casual sports team). I keep coming THIS close to telling him I don't want to visit when he has other plans scheduled, but that seems like it would come off as controlling. What do you suggest?

-- New York-D.C.

I suggest you get your head out of your (boyfriend's apartment).

He lives in either New York or D.C., obviously. So, your away games are in a city that offers so much interesting stuff for people to do and see that visitors risk the paralysis of too many choices.

I get it, you're there to see your boyfriend, so you want to see your boyfriend. But when he's had these prior commitments -- which I applaud him for honoring, by the way -- why haven't you used this time to explore Inherently Fascinating City?

Let's say you have a great reason for staying in; you're wiped out from a demanding job, maybe. That just presents a different reason to appreciate his occasional absences, since they offer time to nap or read or work or contact other people you love.

When you decline to make your own plans -- even tired, or stranded in Culturally Challenged City -- you essentially say to your boyfriend, "I skulked around your apartment the whole time you were gone because I lack sufficient curiosity and initiative to do anything else."

The implication that you have no interests beyond being with him is relationship-endangering. What's sweet in the "early stages" can get stifling fast. And unbroken togetherness is vacation life -- artificial -- whereas keeping commitments is daily life.

Whether you sightsee or loll on the couch, downtime is ideal for pondering whether your clear-the-decks approach to love will be healthy for you in the long run. People drift apart, break up, die or just pursue interests that don't interest you. Or they just have crabby days. Each presents challenges, but all are a lot less intimidating when your self-sufficiency muscles haven't gone slack with neglect.

--0-- --0-- --0--

Hi, Carolyn:

My mother has pancreatic cancer. They hope to start chemo soon but the prognosis is horrible. My sister and I are both planning weddings, hers in August and mine in September. I feel like they should be moved up to ASAP because, as far as I'm concerned, my mom is the most important person at the wedding besides my husband-to-be. I am fine with a simple church wedding and a hotdog/hamburger barbecue. Should I move it up, or keep the plans as they are to give her something to look forward to?

-- Anonymous

The simple church wedding sounds warm and perfect. Do it now, before the illness and/or the chemo take over, so your mom can feel her best. Good wishes to you all.

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