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Getting over her first love

Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of three years and I recently broke up. I'm young (but an adult) and I keep hearing, "There are other fish in the sea," but I can't seem to get over him. He was my first love and I hoped my only love.

He has depression and goes through these funks. He refuses to get help. His depression is the reason we broke up.

I miss him and I want to help him. We talk every couple of weeks, but he does not want to get back together because he needs to focus on himself. I think about him 2 4/7 and worry about him. What do I need to do to stop thinking and worrying about him? I'm in school, work full time and have great friends and family. What else do I need?

-- Heartbroken

A: Time and perspective, to start. Your breakup is recent, and recent breakups are painful, distracting and confounding almost as a rule, for first loves and all the subsequent ones that matter.

It sounds as if you could also use a more realistic view of what you can and can't do to "help" someone troubled. Obviously, people have profound effects on each other, and a person like you can captivate, inspire, motivate, entertain, etc., someone like your boyfriend.

But you've been with him three years, and his answer to his depression is to refuse to deal with it: Please absorb this education in the limits of how much one person can do for another.

Ignored depression is part of his package deal, and it's going to remain so unless and until he's ready to change that.

Your grief will have to run its course, but you can help it along by realizing you accomplished all you could. He's focusing on himself; let him, please, and consider doing the same. Hold your imagined future, then, release.


Over the top

Dear Carolyn: Several years ago we received a wedding invitation from my out-of-state niece. We noted the postmark was one month to the day AFTER the wedding. We sent a congratulatory card.

In May, my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. I wrote invitation letters to the bride, her mother and grandmother and mailed them one month after the celebration. Now my family thinks I went over the top. Over the years, we have responded with gifts to this family's various announcements and never once heard they had gotten or appreciated what we sent. Your opinion please.

-- Not Missing My Relatives

A: At worst you smacked these relatives for a U.S. Postal Service glitch, and at best you stooped to their level. I'm with your family here.

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