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DEAR ABBY: I'm a sophomore in a good university, studying chemical engineering. My mother feels that since I'm studying such a potentially rewarding and well-paying field, I should date only other engineers or pre-med students. She says she wants me to date people who will benefit me if we stay together.

Earlier this year, I met a girl who goes to a local community college and plans to be a teacher, and introduced her to my mother on the phone. Afterward, my mother asked me what school and major she was in. When I told her, she said I could do better and should date people on my own level.

This was extremely hurtful. My mother never gives the girls I introduce her to a chance. I really like this girl and don't want something like this to interfere. What can I do about my mother's narrow-minded thinking? -- HURT IN HACKENSACK, N.J.

DEAR HURT: Not much, I'm afraid. You view selecting a partner from a romantic perspective. From your mother's perspective, it will be a financial merger. I'm sure your mother wants you to be happy as much as you do. However, you are not an extension of her -- and only you can determine what qualifications are important to you in a life partner. When you are fully mature you will understand this and make your own decision without seeking her approval.

DEAR ABBY: During our visit to my family at Thanksgiving two years ago, my father made advances toward my wife. He was drunk at the time. My wife told me about it after we had left. I fully support her and do not question what occurred.

The problem is my mother and the rest of the family are wondering why we no longer visit. (It's about 18 hours away by car.) I am running out of excuses, and my wife has made it clear that she's not comfortable going back to visit with my dad there.

I don't want to put my wife in that position, but I do want my daughters to visit with my mother and the rest of the family, including nieces and nephews. I feel like I need to confront this, but I'm not sure how. Any advice? -- ON THE SPOT IN KATY, TEXAS

DEAR ON THE SPOT: You wouldn't be on the spot had you dealt with this at the time it occurred. Your mother should be told the truth about why you have stayed away. I don't know how much or how often your father drinks, or if he has pulled this on any of the other women in the family. But as it stands, your daughters should not visit their grandparents unless they are strictly supervised by you and their mother.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Ryan," who is 10 years older than I am, for only two months. He treats me like a princess, but he does not want to have a committed relationship. His last relationship, which lasted three years, was not very good. He has been separated from her for 10 months and still hasn't gotten over her.

I have recently divorced after a marriage of many years. I would like for Ryan and me to be more than friends, but he is unwilling at this point.

Should I give this more time and just stay "friends" -- as he calls us -- for a while, until he is over his previous relationship and has a clear mind on what he wants? -- NEEDS ADVICE IN KENTUCKY

DEAR NEEDS ADVICE: Absolutely. Because, if I have read your letter correctly, you have no other choice if you want a relationship with Ryan.

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