DEAR AMY: I am 23 and my boyfriend is 24. We have been living together for over a year. He is a wonderful boyfriend — he treats me right and trusts me completely. We have talked about buying a house and I recently got off birth control, because we feel we are ready for children. He and I hardly ever fight and all my friends love him. I just think that we have opposite personalities. I am very outgoing and he is shy and quiet. I have a strong craving to be a mother, and that’s not the problem. I think I am the problem. Our sex life is not that great. I have talked to him about stepping up his sexual game but have had no improvement. I have been sexting other men lately but I don’t have it in me to physically cheat on him. I feel that I am falling out of love with my boyfriend. I don’t think I would be heartbroken if we broke up, and that worries me. Part of me wants to start a family and settle down, but another part of me says I’m young and in my prime and should be taking advantage of it. I am so confused. Any advice? — Conflicted
DEAR CONFLICTED: You need to hop back on (and double up on) your birth control because you are not ready to have a child. If you think your boyfriend holds you back, wait until you have a baby on board. And — at 23 — you shouldn’t have to be ready, because you are simply too young and immature to be a parent. I agree with you that you should have fun, be free or whatever version of that you envision. All of your actions indicate that this boyfriend — although kind and loving — is not the guy for you. If you want to be fair to him, you should be brave enough to leave the relationship.
DEAR AMY: Last January my mother passed away. I was at every doctor’s appointment, radiation and chemo treatment — as well as doing the daily chores my folks needed while my mother was sick. When my mother passed I made all of the final arrangements. I have never been able to grieve since her death, as I know that everyone around me carries such profound grief and I am always a shoulder to cry on. As the holidays approach I feel an overwhelming sadness at the thought of our small family without my mother. Of course I have to keep my own feelings of grief under wraps because everyone else is so upset at the thought of the holidays. I keep everyone together and soldier on. How can I possibly deal with this grief during the holidays and put on a good face for everyone else’s sake? How can we face this new reality? — Sad Daughter
DEAR SAD: You took such good care of your mother. And now you need to take good care of yourself. Let it out. Allow your grief to happen. For someone like you, surrendering to your own grief is very frightening. It is an act of bravery to allow yourself to be sad. Crying with others is an intimate act, and once you do you will be giving others the opportunity to offer you comfort. Set a place for your beloved mother, but try to treat yourself as a guest of honor this year — be good and kind to yourself, and easy on others. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts through grief, but it is important to feel it. Your grief will eventually lead to wonderful memories, and a poignant joy will take its place.
DEAR AMY: I can’t believe you didn’t suggest to “Good Neighbor” that she should share her trash can with her neighbor! She says nothing about not being able to put her own trash in the can because the neighbors have filled it. It costs her nothing. All of our neighbors share can space. If I have extra trash, I can count on my neighbors to lend some can space. — Sharer in California
DEAR SHARER: This is ideal; it is obviously time for a neighborly conversation.