Dear Abby:

Before I was a stay-at-home mom to my daughter, I had a circle of friends with whom I had a lot in common. None of us had children, and we were all focused on advancing our careers.

I have since moved to a different town and have thrown myself into my daughter's activities and the new community. I am now surrounded by a circle of "mommy" girlfriends. I stay in touch with my old friends via e-mail, and we see each other two or three times a year, but I feel that we have drifted apart.

I would like to phase out these friendships for several reasons: We have nothing in common anymore. The distance makes visiting difficult. And I am tired of hearing them complain about money problems, boyfriend issues, their jobs, etc.

I would rather spend my free time with my husband and daughter. Should I feel guilty for wanting to phase out these friendships? I'd appreciate your feedback.

Devoted Mom in Livermore, Calif.

For friendships to stay healthy and vital, there must be a commonality of interests. When you were a career woman, you had ties that bound you to these women. Now that your life has changed, it's not surprising that the bonds of camaraderie have loosened.

However, before consigning these relationships to the garbage heap, please consider that, as your daughter grows older, she will no longer be as dependent as she is now. At that point, you might want to resume your career. So, my advice to you is don't burn your bridges -- you may regret it later.

Dear Abby:

Do you think it is possible to lead a happy, fulfilled life if you never fall in love with someone and have a lasting relationship? I have a good job, own my own home, have many wonderful friends, and I know I should not feel empty because I don't have a relationship -- but I do.

Lonely in Texas

Of course it's possible. But not if the person is preoccupied with what he or she "might" be missing. What comes to mind are people who dedicate their lives to animals, various causes, and those who enter religious orders. Since you would like to have a relationship, it's time to expand your circle of friends and activities and go online to see if you can find someone compatible. But please bear in mind that there are worse things than being alone, and one of them is being married to the wrong person.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate