Carolyn:

Just graduated from school and moved back home to D.C. Girlfriend of two years just graduated and moved back home to New York. We both just started working and keep pretty long hours. We are in love and when together everything is perfect. Problem is, I don't know if I can handle a long-distance relationship. I want to stay with her and would hate to break up when I'm still in love with her, but I don't know if seeing her one or two weekends a month is enough for me. I miss having a female counterpart to spend time with, especially when I don't have much time for anything else but dinner and the couch on a weekday. How do I decide what to do?

S.M.

It's not a "how," it's a "why" -- why decide now, when you can try staying together long-distance for a while to see how you handle it?

It's also such an obvious answer that I'm going to give a second one, this time to the question I think you're thinking but not asking:

Yes, it's okay to break up with someone you love just because she's inconvenient.

Different couples have different monetary, familial and moral responsibilities to each other. As long as those are all satisfied, the mere fact of not wanting to stay is justification enough to leave -- because (healthy) people don't want partners who don't want them.

In fact, I could argue that the dumber or shallower the reason for wanting out (not that yours is either, necessarily), the more you owe it to your partner to get out. Free her to find someone who loves her beyond the small stuff.

Just don't agonize so long that you find yourself discussing it all with your handy new local squeeze.

Dear Carolyn:

I'm really at a loss. I've been with my boyfriend for almost five years (we're both in our early thirties). Inevitably, once a month we have a "relationship discussion" because I'm either not getting the basics of what I want -- quality time, affection, communication -- or because he has come down on me about a weakness I have. When we talk, he admits that he does in fact want me to be perfect . . . and though I tell him that's an impossible standard (and he agrees at the time) he still holds me to that standard. Bottom line is the talking translates to the action only temporarily and the words are starting to lose meaning. I love him dearly. I'm really frustrated and upset at the same time. How to fix this?

Perfection in Virginia

If 53 conversations haven't fixed it (five years, or 60 months, minus two months for "almost," minus the five months it usually takes to grow close enough to start disappointing each other), then the little voice that tells you to initiate a 54th conversation has either bad judgment or a mean sense of humor.

He will never relax his impossible standards.

You will never meet them.

You are getting all the quality time, affection and communication you are ever going to get from this guy.

Which makes your standards just as impossible.

Which means the only way to fix this is to stop trying to fix this. Love what he offers, or leave it.

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