Dear Abby: Boyfriend’s deployed, and I met a new guy

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DEAR ABBY: I met my boyfriend, “Matt,” when I was a sophomore in high school. We started dating when I was a senior. By then, he was already active-duty military. We weren’t serious at the time (his decision, not mine). We’ve always had a long-distance relationship.

During his first deployment, Matt broke up with me. He told me he didn’t want to see me again when he came home, although I begged him to change his mind. When he came home last year, he felt differently, and we’ve been together since then.

Abby, he once told me after he’d been drinking that “he didn’t think we were soul mates” and that “it wouldn’t be him sitting next to me when we’re 80.” He is, however, very reliable and caring. My family loves him and he has a solid life plan.

Matt is now on his second deployment, and we don’t get to talk more than about once a month. I recently met another guy at college, and I have fallen completely in love with him. We get along easily and he makes me laugh. I have never felt this way about any other guy before, but I also haven’t known him very long.

I worked hard to be with Matt, and we have been through a lot together. I won’t see him in person for at least six more months. I don’t know what to do. Advice? — CONFLICTED IN THE EAST

DEAR CONFLICTED: Punt! Real life is more than a bundle of laughs. Do not break up with Matt and do not commit to this new man until Matt is again stateside and sober. Only then will you be in a position to make an informed decision about a future with either one of them.

DEAR ABBY: I had a rough time during my teenage and young adult years. One of the ways I dealt with it was by cutting myself. It became more severe over the years, and both my arms are covered with very noticeable scars.

Life is much better now, and my wife and I are expecting our first child. I have been trying to decide how I’m going to explain the scars to my child when he or she is older.

I realize this will likely be a series of age-appropriate conversations. I don’t want my child to follow in my footsteps, and I’m afraid to rationalize my behavior. How do I explain them? — BETTER NOW IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR BETTER NOW: I agree that you should answer your child’s questions in an age-appropriate way if you are asked. When your child is little, he or she may be satisfied if you simply say, “Daddy hurt himself.” When he or she is older, add more detail as necessary.

Because a tendency toward depression can run in some families, it’s important to make a special effort to keep the lines of communication open when it comes to “feelings.” If you are unsure how to handle this, consult your child’s pediatrician for guidance.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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