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Home > Columnists > C.E. Marraffino
July 23, 2012

Follow Your Dreams, Own Your Choices

Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I informally agreed to move in together once I'm out of college and he is in grad school. Right now, we have a long-distance relationship.

Here's the problem. I recently found a two-year MFA program overseas that I've fallen in love with. I told my boyfriend that I'd like to apply, and initially, he seemed happy for me. But whenever I want to discuss the details, he directs the conversation elsewhere.

I know this program means more time away from him, and I don't expect either of us to change our plans. But it seems he expected me to move in with him wherever he ends up going for his master's. Even if I don't get into the MFA program, I still want to explore the world before settling down with him. He doesn't seem to get it.

Also, how do I get my parents to support my decision to go overseas? I know they will claim that I won't be safe and ask me why an American school isn't good enough. I don't want them to yell at me. — Pennsylvania

Dear Pennsylvania: One of the signs of adulthood is taking responsibility for your choices and being confident in the face of objections from others. You should listen and take into account those whose opinions you respect (such as your parents and boyfriend), but the final decision is yours, good or bad. Own it.

A program abroad is usually an opportunity for growth. A boyfriend who pressures you to behave in ways that benefit him but not you could be a problem in the future. Please acknowledge that these people will miss you and worry about you, but also reassure them that this program is beneficial for your education and maturity, and you will stay in close contact. The yelling and disapproval is something you will simply have to endure until things settle down.

Dear Annie: I recently sent a small check to a friend of mine living in bankruptcy. The explicit "strings attached" to this gift were that he use it for a specific luxury item that has meaning to him and that he would not otherwise get for himself in his current financial straits.

He told me he used the money instead to pay an everyday bill. I considered my gift to be disrespected and told him so. His response to my disappointment was to assail me verbally, saying I must think I'm better than he is, and then to go into a prolonged defense of his misuse of my gift.

I would have felt better if he had simply apologized, and I ended our relationship of more than 40 years. I feel I was played the fool. What do you think? — "Omerta" in New York

Dear N.Y.: We think when you send a check to a friend who is living in bankruptcy, you don't tell him to spend the money on a luxury item when his electricity is about to be turned off. You meant well, but your lack of empathy provoked his inappropriate verbal attack. Ending a 40-year friendship in retaliation implies you have no appreciation whatsoever for his stressful situation. How sad.

Dear Annie: "Paul" asked who should pay the greens fees when friends visit and ask to play golf at his facility. Having played golf for many years, I feel that everyone pays his or her own greens fees. It's just an automatic thing, no questions asked. Simply walk up to the desk and pay your own way. It's the polite thing to do, especially if you want to be asked to play again. — Shreveport

Dear Shreveport: Thanks. Here's one more:

Dear Annie: Try to take the money out of the equation. When we go visit our friends and relatives, we pay. When they come visit us, we pay. We're just pleased to see them. — Happy in Tennessee

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.


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