<B>Dear Annie:</B> I'm a college student and only get to see my long-distance boyfriend once every four or five weeks. We've been dating for more than 18 months. Assuming we stay together through grad school, we will have dated longer than six years before we have the chance to live together.
Since I haven't spent all that much time with him, my biggest fear is that we won't get along once we settle down. So far, the longest stretch of time we've spent in each other's company is six days. What if, by the time graduation rolls around, I discover that I've fallen in love with the idea of my boyfriend instead of the real deal?
Dear Undergrad:</B> Believe it or not, some couples don't live together before marriage and still manage to have happy, compatible lives. But you do have a legitimate concern about how little time you've spent in each other's company, and your articulation about "falling in love with love" might be accurate. So don't make any sudden plans. If you find yourself seriously attracted to someone else, it means you aren't ready to commit to your boyfriend. If you still want to be with him when you are no longer separated by distance, take the time to determine whether it's the real deal. No one should feel rushed into marriage.
<B>Dear Annie:</B> My sister, "Jane," was divorced a few years ago. She's been seeing a counselor for two years because she enabled her lazy husband.
Here's the problem. Jane has "adopted" my family because one of her sons has disowned her, his wife won't speak to her because Jane verbally attacked her, and her other son wants to be left alone for a while.
If there is a holiday, Jane wants to be invited to be with my family. If there is a birthday or wedding, even on my husband's side, she has to send a card. She insisted on sending a get-well card to a distant cousin-by-marriage whom she barely knows.
Jane also is very domineering. She rips things out of my hand to put them away. She makes demeaning remarks about people and isn't happy with anything. Her co-workers don't do the work right, the neighbors do everything wrong, etc., etc. I could go on, but I don't want to sound like her. What do I do?
Dear Texas:</B> Let's separate this into sections. If Jane wants to send birthday, holiday or get-well cards to anyone, that's fine. These sentiments are harmless and are often appreciated by the recipients, even if they seem a little strange to you. Jane clings to your family because she can't be with her own, so it is a kindness to include her whenever possible. The rest sounds like depression and anger.
You've been a supportive sister, but we recommend you set clear boundaries so Jane understands the limits of your tolerance. It's also OK to tell her that her complaints indicate that she is bitter and unhappy, and gently suggest that she discuss these things with her therapist.
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