DEAR ABBY: I’ve been dating my boyfriend for two years. We’re in our 40s. I moved to the city he lives in, but he’s currently working in a different state, and he has been extremely stressed these last few weeks. He’s paying rent and utilities in our state as well as the state he’s working in.
He says he is overwhelmed and wants to take a break — from me! He also said he’s too emotionally unstable right now to continue our relationship. I’m devastated. I know he and his family have depression issues, but I love him so much. He’s unwilling to take any financial assistance from his family.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to end our relationship, but he’s refusing to talk to me or discuss it. — OUT OF OPTIONS IN OHIO
DEAR OUT OF OPTIONS: After two years of dating and a life-changing move to his city, I can only imagine the turmoil you are feeling at this turn of events. The problems that are stressing him out are real. Because he’s unwilling to talk to you, and you can’t force him, there is nothing you can do to fix them.
If you plan to remain there hoping things will change, set a realistic time limit and stick to it. If the deadline passes and he still feels the same, then realize how important it is for you to live someplace where you have the strongest emotional support as you rebuild your life. Write him a letter. Tell him you will always be there if he needs to talk, and encourage him to check back in with his doctor to address the depression.
DEAR ABBY: Our 11-year-old has learned to lie, and we feel terrible about it. Because she has a sensory processing disorder, clothes are a useless gift because the seams and fabric are often uncomfortable for her. We have repeatedly asked family and friends not to gift her clothes, but her grandmas are in denial and often do it anyway.
Our sweet daughter has decided that sparing their feelings is more important than asserting her own, and I’m worried this behavior will teach her that her feelings are less important than other people’s. How do we teach her to be polite and honor her own feelings and wishes without offending well-meaning relatives who cannot understand that she doesn’t appreciate or value these gifts? — MAMA BEAR IN TEXAS
DEAR MAMA BEAR: Of course your daughter should be taught that her feelings — and opinions — are important. But accepting gifts graciously is proper etiquette. It is considered rude for a recipient to tell folks their gifts are unwelcome or unwanted.
It would not be rude, however, for YOU to run interference by reminding these clueless grannies about your daughter’s problem and telling them what has been happening to their impractical gifts — that they are given away, donated, etc. because she cannot wear them. A far more welcome gift would be something she’s interested in or a gift card to a store that carries items she might like. Then suggest an area of interest of hers they may be unaware of. Also, for “insurance,” request a receipt be included with the gift.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)