DEAR ABBY: Our son, "Sam," is a senior in high school and has chosen a college that will suit his major. Now, all of a sudden, his girlfriend, "Amanda," has decided she wants to attend the same school. We'd like to discourage it because we know she's only going there to be close to our son. We feel she needs to get out on her own as much as Sam does.
Sam has tried to break up with her in the past, but she makes him feel guilty about breaking it off. We have talked to our son about her and her behavior. He is a bright kid, but seems not to be smart where Amanda is concerned. Please help us figure out a way to make Sam understand the kind of position he's putting himself in. Amanda is needy and spoiled. She has never had to work for anything. Our son holds down two jobs and seems very independent — so why is he coddling her?
— HELP NEEDED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR HELP NEEDED: Sam may be emotional about Amanda, or just so soft-hearted he can't get past her guilt trips. Please remain calm, because college is almost a year away and a lot can happen between now and then. If Amanda's focus is on Sam and not her grades, although she may want to attend the same college, she may not be accepted for enrollment.
If she is, then your husband needs to have a man-to-man talk with Sam and point out that when he gets to college he is going to be exposed to many different experiences and people, that he's quickly going to grow emotionally and intellectually, and that is why it's important that he keeps his options open.
DEAR ABBY: My problem is I attract needy people. I don't have a problem setting boundaries. However, those boundaries are frequently crossed because the person is so self-absorbed that he/she "can't hear" me.
How does one draw the line with a complete stranger who wants to tell me her whole life story the first time we meet, and sucks away my energy and my time? I feel like the individual isn't even talking to me. She might as well be talking to herself or to a wall for all I care. Abby, I do not want to continue being taken hostage by these kinds of people. I'm not interested in their lives or troubles. I have enough of my own. I don't want to be unkind, but I haven't found a way to protect myself from being forced to invest time in needy acquaintances with whom I do not wish to pursue a relationship. I am not a total (rhymes with witch), but I am definitely ...
BAFFLED IN VERO BEACH, FLA.
DEAR BAFFLED: If I understand your description correctly, the type of person you describe is a "sapper." These are individuals who talk until they completely drain the energy from their "victim" — not unlike vampires in Stephenie Meyer's novels. An effective way to deal with a sapper is to stop the conversation. Explain that he or she has caught you at a time or place when it's inconvenient to talk, or tell the person you do not feel qualified to deal with their situation and refer them to a doctor, lawyer or therapist. Then walk away or end the phone call — depending upon how they have "attached" themselves to you.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend broke up with me, saying, "It's not me, it's you." If he meant it as a joke, I didn't feel like laughing. What should I have said to him?
— STUNG IN DENVER
DEAR STUNG: The best response is the one you probably gave him: "Goodbye!"
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.