DEAR ABBY: I have been overly neat since I was in middle school. I am now in college and feel I have reached the breaking point because I'm such a neat freak. I love having everything neat and tidy, but I now spend less time being a 22-year-old and more time cleaning, scrubbing and organizing.
I can't sleep if I know there is clutter somewhere in the apartment. I have passed up going out with friends if my apartment isn't perfect. Everything has a place and a label. It's getting tiring because I realize I haven't had any good wholesome fun in a long time. I wish I could relax and be OK with clutter like everyone else, instead of wasting my life cleaning. Any advice? -- OVERLY ORGANIZED IN TEXAS
DEAR OVERLY ORGANIZED: Yes, I do. March yourself to the student health center and discuss this with a counselor there. When the compulsion to have your apartment "perfect" trumps your ability to enjoy your life, it's time to accept that you have gone from neat to obsessive. There is treatment for the problem, and once it begins you will be able to relax and let go of your anxiety. So please don't wait to get the help you need.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 20-year-old female who has been dating my boyfriend, "Will," for three years. Our long-distance relationship was going along just fine until the topic of his 21st birthday came up recently. Will mentioned in passing that he's planning on going to a strip club with friends to celebrate this momentous birthday.
Will says he just likes to look at women, that all men do and it's completely fine. He didn't seem to care how I felt about it. His mind was already made up. He wants me to be more accepting of who he is, but it turns my stomach to think of him hanging out at a strip club.
Abby, is a young man in a committed relationship going to a strip club to drink and view naked women "normal"? Should I not take this so personally? Or am I right to see this as a lack of commitment to me? -- OFFENDED IN FORT COLLINS, COLO.
DEAR OFFENDED: If your boyfriend had attempted to hide his plans from you, or if he was planning on frequenting strip clubs alone and often, I'd say you should feel threatened. But he was open about going out to celebrate his "momentous" birthday with his friends -- and plenty of women have been known to visit clubs with male dancers. So calm down. This has nothing to do with his "commitment" to you.
DEAR ABBY: I am 42 years old and being married for the first time in October. My parents divorced more than 20 years ago and both remarried. My father will walk me down the aisle.
Dad lost my stepmother two years ago, and is still having a hard time with it emotionally. Because of my age, I don't expect anything from my parents except their emotional support.
If it's all right with my parents, do you think it would be appropriate to put on the invitations, "In lieu of gifts, please make a donation to the American Cancer Society in memory of (my stepmother's name)"? -- LOVING DAUGHTER IN ARLINGTON, TEXAS
DEAR LOVING DAUGHTER: You are a sweetheart to think of it, but doing so would be a huge breach of etiquette. In fact, any mention of gifts on a wedding invitation is a no-no. The way to handle it is, when asked where you are registered for gifts, to verbally inform the questioner what your wishes are.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)