Dear Abby: What does it mean when long-distance girlfriend wants to talk to me less?

Relationship seems doomed after she orders their phone calls cut back from two a day to three a week.

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DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, at a national conference, I bumped into a woman I had dated decades ago. We started dating again, even though she lives in Phoenix and I live in the Midwest. The geographical distance between us is challenging, but we made it work through phone calls and traveling to see each other at least once a month.

It was working so well that we began discussing my relocating to Arizona so we could move in together. I thought that was our future until earlier this week. My lady friend just told me she wants to reduce the number of phone calls we’ve been having each week to three or less. She explained she needs more time to herself to deal with “challenges” she has been facing, and everything is fine with our relationship.

I was shocked because we had been talking two or more times a day as well as exchanging text messages. We have both faced significant challenges during our relationship and we had used our talks to figure out how to deal with them.

I said I wanted to talk more than three times a week. She says this won’t work. She wants less contact — MUCH less. She also canceled our next in-person get-together. I feel like our relationship is heading for the rocks. When I expressed this, my girlfriend continued to insist everything is “fine” and we could have the same relationship with less contact. I disagree. What do you think? — COMPLETELY THROWN

DEAR THROWN: Because this lady didn’t elaborate on what challenges she’s facing, I think the abrupt change in her behavior may be her way of trying to let you down easy. I can’t guess what may have caused her change of heart, but please accept my sympathy.

DEAR ABBY: A family member does beautiful scrapbooks year-round. Her work is remarkable, and everyone enjoys looking at the finished product. I have become the photographer.

Here is my dilemma: I know not everyone likes to have his or her picture taken. How do I approach this? I think it would be awkward to poll everyone about whether it’s OK before snapping their photos. A group shot at the end of, say, Christmas Day seems rather understated. Too often, I feel like the paparazzi. What are your thoughts? — SHUTTERBUG IN COLORADO

DEAR SHUTTERBUG: My thought is that you are very considerate. In addition, I think that before snapping a picture it’s polite to ask the subjects if they would LIKE to be included in the shot, or take a moment to put on some lipstick or pose with their “better side” to the camera. (It’s also a surefire way for anyone in witness protection to move out of range of the camera.)

DEAR READERS: Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere — birth fathers, stepfathers, adoptive and foster fathers, grandfathers and all of those caring men who mentor children and fill the role of absent dads.

P.S. Also, a big shout-out to dual-role moms. I applaud you all — today and every day. — LOVE, ABBY

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.

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 $8 (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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