DEAR ABBY: I am 20 years old and have been in a relationship since I was 15. I never had a childhood. At 14 I became an adult and never got to experience any teenage freedom. I realize now that I'm not ready to settle down with anyone, but I know he is. I am unhappy, but I'm afraid of hurting him.
I am the type of person who would hurt myself before I hurt anyone else. I think I'm ready to experience life as a separate individual, but I don't know how to tell him. He always said this would happen, but I denied it. Now I realize he was right. I don't know how to start the conversation. Please help me.
- Not Ready to Settle Down
DEAR NOT READY: You are the type of person who would hurt yourself before you hurt anyone else? While that is altruistic to the max, it is a dangerous way to live your life. In a case like this, better he should cry for a short time than you should cry for the next decade or so.
A way to start the conversation would be to say: "We need to talk, and I need to be honest with you. You were right when you said this wouldn't last - and I was immature and inexperienced when I said you were wrong."
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating my boyfriend for three years. We get along well, but he has the most annoying habit of gnawing his fingernails. It is constant, and he hardly has any left. I find it repulsive and embarrassing when we're out in public.
I have asked him repeatedly to stop. He says he has done it all his life and I should stop nagging. What can I say to make him stop? - Biting Off Too Much in S. Carolina
DEAR BITING: Nail-biting is typically related to stress and anxiety. There are ways to stop, and he should talk about it with his doctor. Beyond suggesting that he make an appointment, nothing you can say will "make" your boyfriend change his behavior. Because you find the habit repulsive and embarrassing, the question it's time to ask yourself is whether it's a deal breaker, and no one can answer that but you.