Carolyn Hax: Advice

Family presses for use of limited vacations

Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I live a plane flight away from my family, and get only one and a half weeks of vacation a year. I get a constant stream of people saying they missed me at “whatever event” and I should come visit more.

I know that individually they mean well, but I’m not happy with the situation either, and the cumulative effect is just to rub it in. I keep replying that I have very little vacation and I’d be happy to host them, but so far only one person has even tried to take me up on my offer. It’s making me dread these visits. What do I do?

Not Visiting Enough!

Besides a logistical tweak – inviting specific people for specific dates, versus “Come see me sometime!” – I mostly suggest you stop taking the “We missed you at (whatever event)” remarks to heart.

You’ve made your life choices, they took you airplane-distance from your family, and presumably staying there is also to some degree a choice, yes? I realize I’m assuming, but please at least consider that your limited vacation days are only part of the picture that keeps you away.

So if that’s accurate, then their “we missed you!” … while not actually flying to see you, is a lot like your saying “I have very little vacation” … and not actually moving closer to your family. It’s a dance they initiate and you willingly join, as opposed to a set of emotional thumbscrews they slap on you every visit.

So. “Thanks, I miss you guys, too” is really all you need.

Dear Carolyn: I’m lacking the courage to break up with someone right before I fly out to visit him. I’ve been in a bi-coastal long-distance relationship for several months with a sweet, kind man I met online. He has visited me twice. I had mixed feelings after our second visit but felt I needed to give the relationship more time.

Two months ago, I bought a plane ticket to visit him for eight days. I’m now regretting my decision and feel strongly that I should not go. It’s become crystal clear to me that we are not a good fit and I can’t imagine a future with him.

He is very excited for my visit and has high hopes for a life together. I feel like a horrible person for wanting to abruptly back out of our plans and end the relationship. But the alternative – flying out for a visit – seems worse. What to do?

Inflicting the Blues

Back out of the trip. There’s no way not to break his heart, right? So break his heart as kindly as you can, which includes doing so promptly, because every day you postpone the breakup, you also postpone his recovery from it.

Unsolicited bonus advice: Next time you date someone who lives far enough away to involve overnight stays, please act on your misgivings the first time you have them. If it were a matter of saying yes to a few more dinner dates, then, OK, wait till you’re sure-sure, but it’s not fair for him to spend money assuring you that you don’t like him.

As you’ve probably figured out for yourself, of course. I’m just dotting the i.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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