Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: The day after he was laid off from his IT job, my boyfriend received the offer of a lifetime for a new job, 1,000 miles away. This involves a huge bump in pay and a promotion to a management position. He's a 24-year-old college dropout, so this is huge. We have only been together for three months, but we are very much in love. He said that the first thing that came to mind when he started weighing his options was our relationship. I am very supportive and encouraging of his ambitions and goals; I feel the same way about my own future career. I told him that I could never ask him to give up this opportunity for us. I know that I'd end up feeling guilty and he would end up resenting me. What I need to know is ... should I go with him? My gut instinct was to let him know that I'm not financially able to move right now. I'm a 24-year-old nursing student who works two part-time retail jobs and still lives at home. I have student loans, a car payment, medical debt and I had to take a break from school because of family stress and lack of money. Even though my heart says I should go, I feel it's an immature decision to make. My brain says, "moving across the country for a guy you haven't even known a whole year -- are you crazy?!" I got engaged to my childhood sweetheart when I was 18. My family doesn't trust my judgment with men because of my track record ... and I worry that they're right. What's your advice, Amy?
DEAR CONFUSED: My advice is to trust yourself and this relationship enough to marry the wisdom of your head and your heart together into this idea: "I believe so much in this guy, this relationship, and myself -- that I'm going to enjoy a long-distance relationship until we both get on our feet." Separation is challenging, but being in a long-distance relationship can also yield surprising benefits -- the time and space for each of you to establish yourselves professionally and to concentrate on your own personal growth and development, while also being in a secure, loving and supportive relationship with each other.
You are trying to learn from your previous experiences, because that's what mature people do. Give yourself a benchmark several months away to revisit the idea of moving. Do not sacrifice your own academic and professional goals.
DEAR AMY: We have a very good friend, "Stacy," whom we've known for years. Lately we find that, instead of doing things with her friends, Stacy seems to hole up at her house, never answering the phone. The voicemail box on her cellphone is full so we can't leave a message and she takes a week to respond to texts or emails. When we see her she's happy but we can't figure out what she's doing with her time and why she's chronically late to every engagement (though she denies that). She has also turned rather miserly, even though she doesn't have money problems. It may sound trivial but we're concerned about her and when we try to broach the subject, she gets very defensive. Any ideas for us?
DEAR FRIENDS: Some of your observations are tinged by the sort of judgment that can make a friend wary -- or defensive. "Stacy" might be struggling with depression, alcoholism (the holing-up and chronic lateness are signs for either, or both), or another emotional, health or emotional challenge. If she seems to have substantially changed recently, tell her, "I worry about you. I treasure our time together, so I hope you'll be honest with me. Is everything OK?"
DEAR AMY: As we learn in our community of yet another death associated with teenage drinking, I want to applaud your tough answer to "Distraught Mom," whose 15-year-old daughter wanted to attend "keggers." Kids that age are not mature enough to make this sort of choice. That's why parents need to say, "No!"
Grateful and Grieving
DEAR GRIEVING: Many parents contacted me with similar feedback. Thank you all.