My boyfriend of two years has not received a college degree (we're 22) and it is the only part of our relationship that has ever been an issue for us. I feel it's important (for better job security and a sense of accomplishment) and he doesn't (he has a good-paying job and is anti-establishment). I know I'm more concerned about it than he is (how others view his degree-less status, e.g., my parents, etc.). I have no desire (in the near future) to get married but we have been talking about living together, which gets me thinking about a (semi) long-term investment in each other's futures. Am I wrong to press the issue now or should I just wait to see what commitment cards are dealt in the future?

Born & Bred, Conn.

You're unsure, so you should wait to see, always.

And you're wrong to press the issue. Always.

(And you might want to Super Glue your parenthesis keys.)

Your fixation on your boyfriend's degree status comes across as more of a prejudice than a solid concern. Reason 1, two words: Bill Gates. Rare but hard to discount. Degrees are always mind-expanding, usually helpful and sometimes necessary, but they aren't the only path to success. Don't be such a rigid judge.

Reason 2, it's really none of your business. How well he conducts himself, how well he supports himself, how well he adheres to his goals, assuming he even has them -- these all speak to character traits of his that are your business, both now and in weighing your future. You want to be with a thoughtful, productive citizen whose values align with your own. Perfectly fair. But it's not your place to dictate the One Correct Way for Him to Become That Man. You accept who he is now, anarchic streak and all, or you look elsewhere.

Reason 3, you have nothing to gain if you press, beyond a rep for being a nag. Even if he's not Bill Gates and he rode off campus on a wave of lame excuses and his current job's not secure and he really could use a sheepskin truss to hold his life and career together, he's the one who has to figure that out. Otherwise, he'll just be an excuse-making sporadically employed anti-Bill who does have a college degree -- and what will you press him for then?


I've been noticing how much time I spend listening to friends say things I don't support. Like the guy who always tells stories about how multiple women think he's hot, even though he has a girlfriend. Or the woman who, for years, has been focusing entirely on how bad her health is. I always just listen because it's not my place to advise them unless they ask, but in a way I'm validating them. And frankly, I'm tired of listening. Any thoughts? Maybe it just means I think I know better what they should be doing than they do, which is arrogant.


You can advise without being arrogant, disapprove without advising -- even disagree without disapproving. Just say how you feel. Nicely. "I feel bad for your girlfriend when you say that." "I wonder if worrying makes you feel worse." You'll either launch a fresh conversation or serve notice to pretty stale friends.

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