DEAR ABBY: I am 18 and sad all the time. I have never had a boyfriend, and have struggled in the past with anxiety and loneliness. It has been a rollercoaster year for me — a tough first year of college, watching all of my friends enter meaningful relationships. All I can do is be ashamed of the fact that I'm struggling while others are thriving. I need help, but don't know where to turn.
— A COMPLETE MESS IN OHIO
DEAR COMPLETE MESS: Before I start offering you advice, please let me point out that the first year of college is a huge adjustment for everyone. You're away from your usual support systems, adjusting to a new environment and new responsibilities. Instead of comparing yourself to your friends who are entering "meaningful relationships," please look around at all of the students who are single like you are. If you do, you will realize they outnumber the ones who are coupled up.
Because you are sad for extended periods, you should head over to the student health center and talk about it with a counselor. He or she will help you find ways to overcome your feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression — but only if someone who is qualified knows you're having trouble. And please don't waste one minute being "ashamed." What you're experiencing is not uncommon.
DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of two young children. Three years ago I divorced my husband of eight years. My mother does not accept the divorce and still views my ex as a family member. She's planning a family reunion for my father's 80th birthday and has told me she's inviting my ex, which will be uncomfortable since I am attending the party with my boyfriend of two years.
My mother's unwillingness to accept my new boyfriend in my life is hurtful, and it is affecting my relationship with her. How can I sustain a relationship with her if she doesn't accept that I have moved on with my life?
— IRRITATED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR IRRITATED: You have moved on with your life. But in the eight years you were married, your mother grew attached to your former husband. I assume that you and your ex have a civil relationship, if only for the sake of your children. So go to the reunion with your boyfriend. Give your parents every opportunity you can to get to know him, because the more they are exposed to him, the greater the chances of their accepting him.
P.S. Wouldn't it be lovely if your ex were to bring a date? Why not call him and plant the idea ...
DEAR ABBY: I am a 61-year-old, recently retired male. I think I am experiencing a midlife crisis, exacerbated by my wife's decision to let her hair go natural — meaning gray.
I know you and your readers will probably think I'm shallow and am trying to hold onto my young, 59-year-old "trophy wife." We have been happily married nearly 40 years. In my eyes she represents our youth and vitality, which suddenly isn't feeling so youthful or vital since her roots started showing. What can I do?
— YOUNGER AT HEART IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR YOUNGER AT HEART: Try this. Remember the words of Benjamin Franklin on aging. He wrote: "In the dark all cats are gray."
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.