Ask Amy: As expiration date nears, relationship spoils

May 1, 2012

DEAR AMY: I have been dating a great guy for a year and a half, but he recently decided to pursue his dream of moving 1,000 miles away to attend graduate school. He is leaving in three months, and we do not plan to continue with a long-distance relationship after he is gone.

A month ago, I met someone new. Under normal circumstances, I would never consider breaking off my current relationship or dating someone behind my partner’s back.

However, my current relationship has a definite expiration date on the horizon. Am I wasting my time by waiting around for my relationship to run its course? Or would it be selfish to end things now?

I care very much about my partner and would hate to hurt him, but is it time for me to move forward? -- Torn

DEAR TORN: I don’t know if it is time for you to move forward. You obviously want to, but you seem to want assurance that this will be easy, prudent and low-drama. Breakups don’t generally work this way, even when there is an “expiration date.”

Breaking up now would only be seen as selfish if you truly believed that the prospect of your boyfriend spending another three months with you (while you watch the clock waiting for the relationship to end) would be a lifetime gift to him.

Your partner is acting in his self-interest to leave town, and you can act in your own self-interest by supporting his choice and letting him go — just a little sooner than later.

Just don’t be sneaky about it.

DEAR AMY: I’ve been married 29 years to a great guy, and we have two grown sons who are terrific.

My husband’s sister is a meddler and complainer, and we are her targets. She has (many times) called our sons and told them, “Your mother is doing this and that wrong,” and the kids ignore her, but they are upset afterward.

I’ve told my husband to tell her to knock it off. He refuses, so I nicely told her that her complaining was inappropriate. I asked her to stop behaving this way around us. She said, “It’s your problem.”

Now my husband wants her to join us for Thanksgiving (for the first time). We have a really nice group of 14 people who join us annually. I am saying “no way” — she meddles, trash talks, and complains too much. (His mother, long gone, would readily say, “Don’t invite her!”)

Here are our choices: Thanksgiving for five, with none of our usual group; or Thanksgiving for 15, and I guarantee several won’t come the following year.

I don’t want her to hold us hostage. I also don’t want her in our home. She has other good Thanksgiving options.

I’m pretty firm (and nice) with my “no way,” but my husband is trying to get me to relent. He admits that he doesn’t want her to come but she is insisting. Other than inviting her, what do you suggest? -- Not Thankful

DEAR NOT: Maybe it’s me, but isn’t it a little early in the year to worry about Thanksgiving? Shouldn’t we all be busy worrying about how to get through Memorial Day weekend first?

And do you have a history of relenting to repeated queries, or doesn’t your husband know the meaning of “no means no”?

Because he seems powerless at the hands of his toxic sister, you might relieve him of this burden by saying that the next time his sister asks about Thanksgiving, he can just have her give you a call.

DEAR AMY: “Not-So-Empty-Nester” wondered what to do with all of his daughter’s possessions after she moved away from home, post-college.

Here’s what my father and mother did when they faced the same issue:

On every visit to their children’s homes, just before they left to return home, they would present us with a neatly packed box labeled “John’s stuff” or “Mary’s stuff.”

It took several years, but they managed to successfully return our possessions to us in a way that was manageable. -- Grateful Son

DEAR GRATEFUL: Many readers have responded to this query offering suggestions and stories — and I love yours.

Write to Amy Dickinson, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com.

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