In need of some non-parental advice--my boyfriend and I have been together for nearly four years now. We are sophomores in college (age 20) and have been discussing the future a lot lately. We have mutually set our career goals, and want to spend the rest of our lives together (although we are not "officially" engaged yet because a diamond is difficult to afford right now).

A corporation has decided to offer him a job right now that would be waiting for him when he graduates. This job has a VERY nice price on it. Problem is, he doesn't want to tie himself down in case his "dream" job pops up. I agree with him totally that it is a little early to accept an offer. But I'm afraid of being stuck in a town where I may not have the potential of earning my career goal, and the last thing I want to do is cause problems by being selfish.

We love each other so much, have been through so much together, and have been anxiously waiting to finish college so we can start our lives together. I don't want this whole career issue to ruin our plans for the future together. So I guess the question is, should I encourage him to accept the offer, or should I discourage it because it may hamper my career?

-- M.D.

Question: When you get up and go to the fridge for a Coke, does either of you ever trip over that 800-pound analogy in the middle of the room?

You are both in full agreement that sophomore year is too early to be tied down to a job.

You are both in full agreement that you want to be tied down to each other for life.

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Your BRAIN. You left it in high school.

He doesn't want to settle on a job before he graduates because so much can happen between now and then. You shouldn't want to settle on each other before you graduate because so much can happen between now and then.

If you belong together, you'll pass that test. If you don't, trust me, you want to find out now.

Meanwhile, by letting your future so consume you, you've missed this thing called "the present." It's something you should never dismiss lightly, no matter how old you are, but it's a five-alarm shame in college. Why are you even there when you've got your career and your husband worked out and the only goal left is a diamond? (Which, by the way, is a lovely gesture but "officially" meaningless. Ask, accept, engaged.)

You have resources at your disposal there that you'll only dream about later, and, boy, I want to carve this into your soul: You have the time to use them, and the youth to be shaped by them. You will never have that combination again. You can immerse yourself! Learn! Grow! Explore! Live the cliche!

And you've chosen: "anxiously waiting."

I'm not saying you can't bloom and grow together (though I'll cop to some hearty doubts), but there's no way you can if you won't even try, if you're so focused on getting past it all. To get to . . . what, your life together? You're alive and you're together right now.

You're 20, and you have exactly what you want. How inexpressibly sad.

To the question it didn't occur to you to ask, I have a two-word answer: Want more.

To the question you did ask: Explain to your boyfriend that you have too much at stake personally to give him good advice, and that the decision must be his. He didn't ask me, but it's pretty clear his uncertainty has made his decision for him; five semesters is a long time, and 20 is awfully young. Let's hope he figures that out.

Dear Carolyn:

Why is it that if a woman requests more physical intimacy from her husband or boyfriend, it is okay, but if the husband or boyfriend requests it, he is branded as being oversexed? "Is that all you think about?" That is the response I get from my wife. I don't think wanting to have sex more than twice a month is too much.

-- Va.

Unless one of you is having an affair with this stereotype, it doesn't belong in your argument.

She's fending you off with a really tired line, you're getting upset over the line, neither of you is any closer to knowing what the other is feeling, and nobody's getting sex. Enough.

Sometime when you're not in bed (and not even close to going to bed), ask if the two of you can, please, talk about this. That way, neither of you will have Mr. Steamy breathing down your neck. Just tell her how the rejection and the thoughtless stereotyping make you feel, then ask how she feels. Then listen to the answer. If you cut her off or get angry or defensive, this conversation's over. Look deeply into this sentence . . . you are feeling very, very patient . . .

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