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Dear Abby 8/18

Boyfriend pleads for time apart after father's death

    DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I were together for two years when suddenly his father passed away. Prior to his father's death, we had a good relationship.
    It has been a month since the funeral, and now we are no longer together. He has pushed me away, saying he "needs space." He says he wants us to be together "eventually," but it's best that we end things now. He says it has nothing to do with me, he loves me and I was a good girlfriend — it's just something he's going through.
    I am distraught! He was my first love, and I can't believe he would just end our relationship so abruptly. He has discarded me like a piece of trash! If you truly love somebody, how can you just leave them without cause?
    I'm trying to pick up the pieces of my broken heart, but I'm unclear on how to proceed. Some of my friends say I should fight for what I love. But my mom and my aunt say I should just leave him alone as he requested. Please help me, Abby. I don't know what to do. -- DAZED AND CONFUSED IN CALIFORNIA
    DEAR DAZED AND CONFUSED: Please accept my sympathy for what has been a painful experience — particularly since you didn't see it coming. Not knowing your ex-boyfriend, I can't be sure whether he was completely on the level with you — but this I do know: When a man — or a woman — tells someone he or she "needs space," that is what the person should be given. "Fighting for what you love" will only drive your ex-boyfriend further away.
    You should not only leave him alone as requested, but also leave yourself open to meeting new people. Your mother and your aunt are wise and experienced women. They won't steer you wrong, so please let them help you through this.

    DEAR ABBY: My parents, who are in their early 80s, live a four-hour drive from me. I received a typewritten invitation to come up and spend Father's Day with them, as well as celebrate my mother's birthday. My sisters and brother also received an invitation.
    The problem is my mother stipulated that before coming to their house to share a meal, we must all join in going to church together. Abby, I am 50 years old and have different beliefs from my parents, but they are always pushing the church. I respect the fact that they're religious, but my mother knows I don't believe in organized religion. My sisters feel the same as I do — that we're too old to be told what to do. I politely declined.
    Of course, Mother is mad, but so am I. What bothers me is that I may never be able to spend Father's Day with Dad again if Mother continues to give me ultimatums, and at their age, there may not be too many Father's Days left. Abby, it isn't a matter of going to church once to satisfy my mother. She'll push the issue again and again. -- TICKED OFF IN SAN DIEGO
    DEAR TICKED OFF: It appears your mother's religiosity has been so heavy-handed that it has turned every one of her daughters off. How unfortunate for all concerned.
    I don't know if this is a battle of wills, or whether your mother actually expects some miraculous religious conversion will result from your being forced to sit through a service.
    Allow me to offer an alternative. From now on for Father's Day and Mom's birthday, why don't you and your siblings take your parents out to celebrate the occasion rather than "coming to the house to share a meal"? Tell them you'll pick them up after church, and that way you can sleep an extra hour before making that four-hour drive.
    However, if Mom doesn't budge, you may have to bite the bullet and sit through a service. Consider this: After they're gone, you'll have fewer regrets.

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