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Breakup will lead to a better place

Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend of one year and I recently broke up. She said it's because she needs to learn to be on her own two feet, because she hopped from one relationship to the next and never learned to be happy on her own, and because I need to grow up because I'm still acting like a senior in high school.

I am currently making changes -- further schooling, stopping drinking, now acting my age, and removing all unneeded stuff from my life. She says there "might" be a chance of an "us" again, and I would be her first choice when she wants a relationship again, so basically I'm wondering if waiting for her is a waste of my time. Should I just move on?

-- D.

A: If wising up, cleaning up and growing up are your version of waiting, then, please, keep waiting.

Taking your letter at face value, it looks as if the last vestige of your acting like a senior in high school is that you're making smart, solid changes in your life solely for the purpose of winning back a girl. But if you're rolling in the right direction, then I'm loath to question what delivered the decisive kick to the butt.

Ideally, your hopes of getting your ex back will work like training wheels, and keep you upright long enough for you to get the hang of productivity for its own sake. When that happens, waiting or not waiting for her will be a moot point.

Until then, the chief pitfall you face is losing your motivation before you're ready to ride on your own -- or, in other words, abandoning your hopes for the relationship, and ditching your self-improvement project along with them.

So I'll phrase this as carefully as I can: With the kind of epiphany your girlfriend had, and the kind of changes you're making, there's virtually no chance the two of you will find yourselves back where you were a year ago.

That is, however, a very good thing. You're both doing work you both believe is necessary. That will take you someplace better, whether you end up there together or not.

***

What nonsense

Dear Carolyn: I need you to talk some sense into my boyfriend (27). At dinner with my parents, whom he knows to be conservative, he made a totally unfunny joke about John McCain spending the early '70s "getting room service" at the Hanoi Hilton. My dad, a Vietnam vet, was predictably offended, and boyfriend won't drop it. Am I right to insist this was out of line?

-- Va.

A: Is your boyfriend always this childish, or does he have purpose in his pigheadedness? Perhaps it's time for you to suggest that if he has a larger point he's trying to make, now's a good time to make it.

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