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DEAR ABBY: I have been dating my girlfriend for six months. We have a close relationship and are deeply in love. She is going away to college this fall. The school is two hours from our hometown. We had a talk about what we are going to do when school begins. She wants to break up with me because we won't see each other as often. I personally believe we can work it out.

How can I convince her that we should remain a couple? In my heart, I feel we are meant for each other. --HEARTBROKEN IN HAWTHORNE, CALIF.

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: If you want to keep the lines of communication open with your girlfriend, do not pressure her into an exclusive relationship when she goes off to college. She wants the entire "college experience," to meet new people and not feel tied down. It is a healthy attitude -- for both of you.

Couples in love give each other the freedom to be themselves. To do otherwise is controlling, and people run away from those who make them feel smothered. If you are meant for each other, you can get together when she comes home on weekends and holidays. She will be far more interested in seeing you if you have not made her feel guilty about other men with whom she may have seen a movie or gone for coffee.

While she's gone, think of new ways to broaden YOUR life. This should be a period of exciting growth for both of you.

DEAR ABBY: I am an income tax accountant. During the past two years, I have encountered several widows and widowers who are unaware that they qualify for Social Security benefits at age 60. This is true even though they may have been divorced from their spouse at the time of his or her death.

Is there any way you can spread the message? -- CHUCK IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR CHUCK: Absolutely. This comes right out of the Social Security Handbook:

If you are divorced, you can receive benefits on your ex-husband's (or wife's) Social Security record if he (or she) is receiving Social Security benefits (or is deceased) and your marriage lasted 10 years or longer; you are presently unmarried; and you are age 62 or older. (If he or she is deceased, you can collect benefits at age 60; age 50 if you become disabled.)

Those who feel they may qualify for benefits or have other questions about Social Security should contact the nearest Social Security office, or call 1-800-772-1213. The deaf or hard-of-hearing may call a toll-free TTY number: 1-800-325-0778. The Web site is www.ssa.gov.

DEAR ABBY: In your reply to "Sneezing in New Jersey," who asked if it was OK to blow one's nose at the table, you replied, "... if the nose-blower sounds like the first blast of Gideon's trumpet ..."

Abby! The name of the archangel messenger of God who blew the trumpet is Gabriel, not Gideon. Gideon was a judge. Just thought you would want to know. -- SARA IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR SARA: Not to be tooting my own horn, but I wasn't wrong. Gideon was a liberator as well as a judge. In Chapter 7 in the Old Testament book of Judges, Gideon leads a force of 300 men against the Midianites. Gideon and his men blow trumpets as they attack, which makes it seem as though a huge army surrounds the Midianites -- who flee in terror.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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