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All Worked Up

By Mink Stole | Posted 10/3/2001

How much ambition is too much? My boyfriend of six months lives only a few miles away, but he spends so much time at his job that I only see him once a week. I admire his drive, but I'm a little resentful that he puts his career so far ahead of our relationship. We have so much fun when we are together that I'd really like to be with him more, and I have trouble understanding why he doesn't make more time for me. Will he always be like this? I'm afraid to lose him because he's really incredible, but I'm also afraid that if I stay with him I'll be sad and lonely a lot. What do you think?

Saturday-Night Special

Dear Special
Ambition is not a measurable substance like water or laundry detergent--just because an exact amount of Tide will give you the brightest, cleanest wash possible doesn't mean a specific level of ambition will guarantee a successful career or relationship. And even if it did, what would you do about it? With the possible exception of Thorazine, there's no pill I'm aware of to decrease drive, and if there is one to make somebody more motivated, I want it.

It's great to spend time with the one you love, but if that time is limited and you really want to make this relationship work, you need to find something to do that will not only keep you busy but stimulated as well. Join a rock band, take up synchronized swimming, find a wood-shop class or a theater group, teach a kid to read, go to grad school--there's a million ways to expand your life that don't involve sulking at home because your boyfriend is too busy making his first million to have dinner with you.

On the other hand, if you're the kind of gal who really values her home life and wants the kind of man who considers his family at least as important as his career, it could be this guy is not Mr. Right. He's not going to change just because you want him to and probably couldn't even if he tried. It usually takes something the magnitude of a life-threatening heart attack to slow a workaholic down--and, even to save your relationship, I wouldn't recommend trying to trigger one.

I'm a 16-year-old girl just starting in a new high school and I'm getting along really well in my classes. The kids in my classes talk to me and mostly act like they like me, but so far no one has invited me to hang out after school or to any parties or anything. Once I was even talking to a girl by my locker when another girl came up and invited the girl I was talking to over to her house, but she didn't ask me to join them, which made me feel terrible, though I tried not to show it. It's always been hard for me to make friends, but I thought maybe in a new school it would be easier. It's not like I even really want a boyfriend or anything, I'd just like to have a real friend. I'm really lonely.

New Kid in School

Dear New Kid:
The books I read as a 10-year-old promised that when I got to high school I'd be snapped up by the best-looking, most popular boy in the school. He would have not only the maturity to see through my plain exterior to the beauty and wit hidden inside, but also the character to date me without the approval of his buddies, who would soon be won over by my charm and delightful personality. It's a good thing it didn't turn out that way, because then I would have peaked in high school and spent the rest of my life looking back at my glory days instead of being grateful every minute that those dreadful years are behind me.

Most of us have to work at making friends. Whether you're going for goth or glamour, always look as good as you can. Everybody likes compliments, so if someone has something or does something you like, tell her. Shyness can be misinterpreted as snobbishness--people might think you're the unfriendly one. It's also a fact that most popular kids are popular not because they're snotty but because they're nice to people. Try inviting someone to the local coffeehouse after school, or asking someone the best place to go shopping, then asking if she'd like to go there with you. Or offer to help someone having trouble in one of your good subjects. It is hard to be the one risking rejection, but the truth is that if they're acting like they like you they probably do.

If your school has any clubs, join some. If you hate them, you can always drop out, but you might get the double advantage of making friends and finding something you really like to do. If you like someone, as long as he doesn't try to hurt you, it doesn't matter if anyone else thinks he's cool. Remember, the nerds who were laughed at in high school 20 years ago are mostly still nerds--but a lot of them are really, really rich nerds now. You never know.

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