Suffocated girlfriend finally calls it quits

Published 8:23 am Friday, June 21, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend and I broke up after six years. Both of us have children from marriages that ended seven years ago. We reached a point a year and a half ago and started looking for a house together. After realizing we couldn’t afford what she wanted in a home for our blended family, our relationship became strained. The last year has been our worst.

As she suffered through job loss and other outside forces affecting her mental health, I tried to offer her more support, but she felt suffocated. I am sometimes too intense trying to find solutions, even when she says she needs space. I have not kept up my end of giving her space. 

We have had the best connection of our lives, so seeing her in pain has me distraught. She says she isn’t able to give what I need in our relationship, while I have strived to be a good teammate in her times of need. Now she says she is done because I didn’t give her space. 

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She is the love of my life. What do I do during this crushing and devastating time of my life? – DAZED IN NORTH CAROLINA


DEAR DAZED: I’m sorry things didn’t turn out better for you. You and your girlfriend have very different communication styles. She wanted to vent and be heard. You felt compelled to find solutions to her problems. When someone says they “need space,” it often means the person feels pushed or smothered. It can also mean they want to dial back the relationship or may have met someone else. 

Right now, your next step should be a giant one BACKWARD. Increase your exercise schedule, spend time with friends and do not sit around alone and brooding over something you can’t change. IF the two of you manage to get together again, I urge you to get into couples counseling so this kind of heartbreak doesn’t happen again.


DEAR ABBY: Several months ago, I let the 49-year-old son of a dear friend move into my basement. “Jason” pays me rent plus utilities. 

Last week, he informed me that he is not vaccinated for COVID. He was drinking at the time. Since my husband passed away with COVID in his system two years ago, I told Jason he would need to get vaccinated or find another place to live, but now I’m not sure he remembers the conversation. 

How should I handle this? I don’t want to alienate his mother (or him, whom I love like a son) over this. – HEALTH-CONSCIOUS IN COLORADO


DEAR HEALTH-CONSCIOUS: Ask Jason if he remembers the conversation you had in which he mentioned that he has not been vaccinated for COVID. If he doesn’t recall having made the statement, remind him. Then tell him that when your husband passed, he had COVID in his system, that you do NOT want to risk being exposed to COVID and that if he wishes to continue living with you, he will have to stay current on his vaccines. This need not be a confrontation if you approach the subject calmly.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)