DEAR ABBY: I am in a long-distance relationship. I live in Kansas; he's in Michigan. Because we are 720 miles apart, phone calls, text messages and Skype are vital to the health of our relationship. I make it a priority to text or call "Good morning" or "Goodnight." Unlike me, sometimes he's consistent and sometimes not, especially on weekends. He says he falls asleep, but it continues to happen, and I'm getting tired and frustrated about not being a priority.
I have been as patient and nice as I can be, as well as continuing to tell him how much I love him and want our relationship to work. I would love to hear your advice. — FAITHFUL BUT FRUSTRATED GIRLFRIEND
DEAR GIRLFRIEND: I know you love this man, but take a step back. You may be smothering him. Stop doing all the work in maintaining the romance and give him some space. If you do, he may realize he needs to step up and devote more energy to your relationship. Communication has to be voluntary, not mandatory. If you continue to pursue him the way you have been, you won't draw him closer; you will drive him further away.
DEAR ABBY: My father is nearing the end of his life. I'm an only child with no family nearby. When my mother passed away, many people reached out to me, and I know their intent was to comfort me. However, most of the time I ended up comforting them! I would try to escape by saying things like I had a task to take care of, but when people are crying hysterically on the phone or in my kitchen, they don't seem to hear. How can I politely tell people like this that I'm not their therapist, and they are not comforting me? — TAKING CARE OF DAD
DEAR TAKING CARE: All you need to say is you can't talk right now, and you will call them back later. Period. Then hang up. If someone is having an emotional meltdown in your kitchen, you have the right to tell the person you can't deal with it right now, you'll visit with her — or him — "another time," and guide them to the door.
DEAR ABBY: I am a man who has read your column for more than 40 years and have often thought your advice is reasonable, although not always exactly what I would have advised. Now that I'm retired, I find myself composing little "Dear Abby" conversations in my mind as I go through the day and meet small challenges or hear about them from acquaintances. You know what I mean — what should Tom do about his abusive daughter, how should I address the neighbors' habit of feeding the deer and squirrels, or what should I do with this latest bit of gossip? I literally ask you for guidance, then argue with the advice I think you would give — sometimes out loud. Is this a sign of creeping insanity or something worse? — BLABBERING IN MISSOULA
DEAR BLABBERING: It isn't a sign of creeping insanity. It's a sign that you may need another woman in your life besides Dear Abby.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.