DEAR ABBY: My man of three years and I are at a crossroads. He has gone from my boyfriend, to fiance, back to boyfriend, to friend, to "I don't know what he is now." He showers me with gifts and material things, which really don't mean a lot to me. I thank him often for the things he does, and I reciprocate them.
What matters more to me are simple gestures like checking to make sure I get home safely, accepting and acknowledging my friends, acknowledging me on Mother's Day, asking how my day was, taking me out from time to time instead of always saying he doesn't want to go.
I have explained to him time and time again how I want to be treated, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I have given him chance after chance to get it right, to no avail. I am tired of this. It's like we're speaking different languages. Is it time for me to move on? -- IMPATIENT IN ALABAMA
DEAR IMPATIENT: Yes, it is. If, after three years, your man still hasn't gotten the message that material things are unimportant to you, and being treated with consideration is paramount, then it isn't going to happen. He isn't the man for you.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 34-year-old female who still lives with her dad. When I start a job search, he says things like, "You've got your bachelor's degree; you'll be fine!" or, "You're a hard worker; you've got this job in the bag!" Then my hopes are raised, only to be dashed when the rejection letters arrive, which makes me feel angry and useless.
It also doesn't help my confidence when Dad says things like, "You'll never be able to afford an apartment," or, "Best you just stay here in town and get a job." I would like to leave this town someday and actually live on my own. How do I rise above my dad's expectations of me? -- FEELING STUCK IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR FEELING STUCK: It will happen as soon as you stop allowing your father's expectations -- whether positive or negative -- to affect you. Because of the economy, many people, through no fault of their own, live in multigenerational households. The impact on them has been emotional as well as financial. If you can't find a job in your ideal profession, take something that's available. Your future will work itself out as the economy improves, and while you may not have your dream job right now, the one you desire can still happen, so don't give up.
DEAR ABBY: My mother has been visiting family members' graves each year for many years. In the past she placed cut flowers on the graves, but recently she has begun leaving live potted flowers. What I learned recently is, the day after a major holiday she and her friend return to the cemetery, remove them and take them home. When I asked her why, her response was, "If I don't take them, someone else will." Am I wrong to think this is odd, or is this now a common practice I am not aware of? -- UNUSUAL IN THE WEST
DEAR UNUSUAL: I checked with two cemeteries here in Los Angeles where I reside and asked if what your mother has been doing is common practice. Both said they had never heard of such a thing. Cut flowers are removed weekly from the graves after they wilt; potted plants are allowed to remain for the family to maintain when they visit.