Girlfriend refuses to see man’s writing on the wall

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of one year has told me he needs to focus on getting his life together -- getting a better job, concentrating on his career and finding himself. At this point in his life, he knows he can't provide for me and give me what I want, which is to settle down in a few years.

He said he is unsure when he will have his life together and he doesn't want me to wait for him. He feels he needs to be "selfish" now and focus only on himself. We have talked about breaking up, and while he has faith that we will be together again, I can't bring myself to end things with this amazing man.

- Afraid to let go

DEAR AFRAID: When a man says he wants to focus only on himself and he doesn't want you to wait for him, what he is really saying is, "It's over." While the prospect of moving on after having invested a year in the relationship may be anxiety-provoking, at this point, you really have no choice. And don't expect to "be together again" anytime soon because his road to self-discovery could take a long, long time if it happens at all. Please accept my sympathy for your heartache.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old boy. My dad and I have a disagreement. I have been throwing away the lunches my mom packs for school because I don't like them and buying school lunches. I realize this was ungrateful and dishonest, and I regret doing it.

As a punishment, Dad won't let me go to one of my best friends' birthday party. I'm fine with being punished, but I think this punishment is unfair to my friend because he doesn't get to have me at his party. Instead, I think it would be better to be grounded or made to do extra chores. Who's right?

- Normal Teen In Orinda, Calif.

DEAR TEEN: You are a born negotiator. Instead of taking your punishment, you're trying for a plea bargain. I wouldn't be surprised if in the future you become a successful lawyer.

However, regarding your question - I'm not getting in the middle of this one. And I'm pretty sure that this is a punishment you won't soon forget. Bon appetit!

DEAR ABBY: My aunt has been diagnosed with a progressive form of dementia and has had to be permanently hospitalized. She is no longer able to perform basic life functions and also has violent outbursts. Her prognosis is not good, and she'll likely die within a year.

I'm engaged and getting ready to send out invitations to my wedding. However, I'm unsure how to address the invitation to my uncle.

My aunt will almost certainly be alive at the time of my wedding, but there is no possible way she can attend. It seems wrong to ignore her existence and address the invitation only to "Mr. John Smith." But it feels equally wrong to address it to "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith," knowing she cannot attend. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

- Polite bride-to-be in Connecticut

DEAR POLITE BRIDE-TO-BE: Address the invitation to both your aunt and uncle, but when you do, include a sweet note saying you understand that she won't be able to attend, but hope that he will be able to join you on your special day. I'm sure it will be appreciated.

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

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