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Time to explore options

Dear Carolyn: I finished graduate school last year and have been working as a researcher since last May. I had gotten a job offer in a cool city from a collaborator who really wanted to work with me. The pay was equal to what I make now, but it would have been a really fun and fascinating position. I turned it down to be with my boyfriend. I have been applying for a TON of jobs but have been unable to find something else in my city.

I know I am responsible for my own decisions, but I am starting to really, REALLY resent my boyfriend, which sucks because we live together. He won't do a long-distance relationship, and so I'm "stuck" trying to find a job where I live. I feel frustrated that I spent so long in grad school getting a Ph.D., I'm SO bored at my current job, and honestly, I just want to figure out my life, by myself, without the stress of a relationship.

At the same time I worry about being alone forever (I'm 28) even though I think it's ridiculous that my boyfriend (who is great, generally) won't compromise on anything at all.

-- Graduate degree, looking for a job and stressed

A: Yes, you are responsible for your own decisions -- and you are renewing the decision every day to remain in a position you know makes you unhappy, because you're afraid you will end up unhappy?

Please open your job search to include any city that holds the promise of more interesting work. You'd be under no obligation to take a job you got; think of it as acquiring options. Right now, your only options are the job you're in, and your imagination. Line up something real, and see if you'd still choose what you have -- job, town, man.

> See romance

Dear Carolyn: My daughter and her boyfriend recently became engaged. I like the man, they treat each other well, they seem compatible and have similar values. All good!

Now for the not so good. We (daughter, fiance, husband, I, friends) live in the South. The rest of both families live in the Northeast. The grandparents on both sides would have difficulty traveling. We agree that a wedding in the Northeast is best. The fiance has a large family; ours is small. Our family lives in a rural area; his in an urban one. My daughter's concern is that her friends will not be able to come as readily to the rural area.

Now, instead of a summer wedding, it's a winter wedding because the venue in the urban area is cheaper then.

Bottom line -- I feel, perhaps unjustly, this wedding has been hijacked by his family! If I felt this was my daughter's great and abiding wish, no problem! But she cries every time we discuss it, and claims she just wants everyone to be happy! I say it is the two of you who should be happy.

But I also admit -- I do want the wedding to be, at least a little, what I want. I am also concerned it will cost more than any of us really needs to spend.

-- Wedding bell blues

A: You've stomped your foot and pouted here, in the safety of anonymity, and that's good -- you needed to admit those feelings.

Now, bury them.

Your daughter's priorities are sound; she chose a good man and she's opting for inclusion at every turn. I hope you're proud of her, and say so -- because I think you need to hear yourself say it just as much as she needs to hear it from you, especially if she senses your dismay.

Next, set a budget, and kindly notify the relevant people that you need to stick to it.

Next, remind your daughter that the wedding isn't what matters -- it's just the party around what matters. Then ask gently if her tears are about more than being tough on herself. "Later" is not the time to face something big.

Next, think of everything beautiful about a winter, urban wedding -- early sunset, skyline, candles, velvet, close family, friends from all over. Release the disappointment and choose to see the romance.

e-mail: tellme@washpost.com

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