DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, “Cole,” and I have been together since college — several years now. We have a loving relationship, but the problem is distance. My job sometimes requires me to take short-term (twoto five-month) contracts in other cities and overseas.

Even though it is difficult to be apart, I handle long-distance relationships relatively well while Cole does not. This began in college when I studied abroad for a semester. Cole tries to be supportive and wants me to be successful, but he takes it personally when I have to leave. For me, it’s just about a job, but Cole doesn’t see it that way.

I would support Cole wherever and in whatever he needed. Although it would be ideal to be together all the time, I realize that sometimes it isn’t possible. Am I being selfish, or do we simply need different things out of a relationship?



DEAR GLOBE- TROTTER: Are you being selfish, or is Cole being selfish? Are you willing to give up a career you have prepared for and work in so that he will no longer suffer separation anxiety? While your relationship is a loving one, the two of you have serious differences, and you must rationally decide which is more important to you. After that, everything will fall into place.

DEAR ABBY: My wife died nine years ago after a long illness. We have a son, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

I met “Lucille” two years ago at a basketball game that involved both our grandsons. Slowly, we began dating. Lucille has been a widow for many years and has five children. We are now engaged and planning a wedding for about 60 people after Lucille retires next year. We want to include our families in the ceremony.

Lucille’s two eldest sons plan to give her away. Two of her granddaughters will be flower girls. I asked my son to be my best man and he refused. He said he is happy for us and will attend the wedding, but he prefers not to stand up for me. He feels it would be disloyal to his mother’s memory. He is adamant.

I never imagined my son would act this way. I didn’t mean to offend him. I’m not trying to replace his mother. We just want to bring both families together. Abby, your opinion, please.



DEAR DAD: It’s a shame that your son feels unable to support you as you enter this new phase of your life. If he is offended at the idea that after nine years you would want to remarry, the problem is his. Do not make it yours. I’m sure your late wife would want your life to be fulfilling. Ask your daughter or a close friend to stand up with you and let nothing spoil your day. You and Lucille have earned your happiness. Bless you both.

DEAR ABBY: Please tell me the proper etiquette for gift-giving. My in-laws often leave the price tags on gifts, especially if the gift was expensive. I believe price tags should be removed. Shouldn’t a gift come from the heart and not be a monetary statement?



DEAR OFFENDED: Yes, it should. Leaving a price tag on a gift implies that the giver is also “ giving” the recipient a burden of gratitude. And the burden of gratitude can weigh so heavily that it diminishes the pleasure of receiving a gift.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

DEAR ABBY: I have been accepted to a school that’s the alma mater of several of my relatives. My mother, several aunts and other family members all belonged to one sorority at this college. They are urging me to pledge there and uphold the family tradition.

They say they had some of the best times of their lives as members of that sorority chapter. The members do well academically, as the sorority insists on it. They made lifelong friends, and their sorority contacts have been extremely helpful personally and professionally.

Although this chapter is very exclusive and accepts only the best- of- the- best, I will have no problems getting in, not only because of my academic record but also because I’m a “legacy.”

So what’s the problem? This sorority chapter still uses the paddle. Technically they don’t haze — that is, have any initiation stunts — but they do use the paddle for disciplinary purposes. When I mention my concerns about the paddling to my mother and aunts, they say I should suck it up, as the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. One of my aunts said she thinks the rules and discipline would be beneficial for me because she considers me kind of a “wild child.”

Abby, I don’t know if you know anything about sororities, but I’m asking for an objective opinion from someone not directly involved.



DEAR P. P. P.: I joined a sorority in college, and I NEVER heard of a sorority hitting pledges or active members. Some fraternities may have allowed it, but certainly not sororities.

Whether your aunt thinks you could use the discipline is beside the point. Striking someone with a paddle is assault with a weapon. A young man died a short time ago in Florida because of the kind of hazing this national organization is winking at. Are young women who behave that way really the kind of people you would like to be lifelong friends? If not, then pass on that sorority!

DEAR ABBY: My son is chronologically 12 and the size of an adult, but emotionally he is age 5. He’s a moderately functioning child with autism, ADHD and behavioral issues.

PLEASE let people know that just because they can’t see a disability does not mean there isn’t one. I often get dirty looks and rude comments, and I am extremely frustrated with it. Being nice or ignoring it does no good.

I know my son’s behavior can be childish, rude or inappropriate at times. I have been fighting this battle every day since he was 2. I have seen every doctor and therapist available and exhausted every resource I could find, and now we have either aged out or my son isn’t “bad enough” to be eligible.

However, he is still difficult to handle, and I still need to buy groceries and run errands. Sometimes that parent you are giving the dirty looks to is near the end of her rope and could use a little compassion or at least silence from the peanut gallery. What you see isn’t always what you get.



DEAR STRUGGLING MOM: Please accept my sympathy. As you and other parents of children with disabilities deal with the realities of daily living, the last thing you ( or they) need is criticism from strangers. If someone makes a comment or gives you a look, you should say, “My son can’t help himself; he’s autistic.” It’s the truth.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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