Dear Carolyn:

Long story short. I'm 22 and trying to go to law school. Over the past year my parents got divorced after 25 years of marriage (my dad cheated), my girlfriend (who swore up and down she loved me to death and wanted to spend the rest of her life with me) broke up with me so she could go "find herself" (and has decided to try to keep me around long enough while she has her fun), and my sister can't seem to sleep with enough men twice her age (she's 20). Please give me some hope that there is more to relationships than this; right now I'm about ready to give up hope and I'd like to disown all of them.

Maryland

Which -- all relationships, or all family? Neither would be a bad idea, as long as there's some re-owning in the end. Right now you're immersed in this swamp to the point where you're taking your dad's and your sister's frailties as extensions of your own, which they aren't, and your girlfriend's 180 as a personal betrayal, which it wasn't.

Wade out for a more distant view. Spouses cheat. Twenty-year-olds do stupid things. Girlfriends fall out of love. People recover. The hardest miscue to overcome is the one you're working on: bitterness.

Maybe there is a common thread here that ties you to some screwed-up family behavior patterns, but the short story you wrote doesn't make that a given. Not even close.

Give yourself time to get over the breakup, get into law school, and start paying attention to your day-to-day dealings with people. If you're not comfortable with the majority of them, then you can fret about hope. Or even better -- work at it, with a pro or without.

Dear Carolyn:

So there are two guys I work with, A and B, who are good friends with each other. Have always liked them both, though for different reasons. B had a girlfriend, so nothing ever happened. Spent a lot of time with A. Finally told A that I had feelings for him. He said he likes our friendship as it is.

As this happens, he gets assigned out of town. B breaks up with his girlfriend, and I start spending more time with him. Now A is back in town. He drops hints about my feelings for him. The thing is, I'm kinda over it. I do care about him, but his behavior after I confessed my feelings has definitely helped get me over them. And, yes, I really want to date B. Any advice? Please?

Midwest

1. Update your re{acute}sume{acute}.

2. Tell A that expressing your feelings for him turned out to be exactly what you needed, because now you don't have them any more. Beyond friendship feelings, which you've also come to appreciate as-is.

3. Explain to A that part of the confusion is that now you have feelings for B.

4. I am serious.

5. Assure A that nothing has happened with B, and you're not even sure how B feels, because you aren't. Just tell him you felt you ought to come clean. Give him a chance to be big about it.

6. Consider circulating among some of the 3 billion Cs. This party could use some air.

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