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by Abigail Van Buren

Friendships Met Halfway Can Survive Separation

DEAR ABBY: I can empathize with "Deeply Hurt in Arizona" (March 16), who travels back to her hometown to see her large extended family and struggles to make time for her longtime friend "Judith," who nonetheless feels slighted.

My husband and I grew up in the Northeast but now live out of state. We have flown hundreds of miles with our children to visit our families back there. Once we arrived, it seemed we were expected to continue traveling from town to town to do all the visiting. It became very stressful.

These people made little effort to visit us in our state or even come to our "base" while we were in their area. While "Hurt" visits her elderly parents, Judith appears to be sitting around waiting for her and making little effort. Why doesn't Judith go to the parents' home? Or, better yet, have a girls' weekend in Arizona or somewhere in between?

We have gotten past our irritation with family and friends and do two things: 1. We tell people in advance when we're coming so they can make plans. Groups -- especially friends -- can double up, and see us and see each other. 2. We use our time the way we want and not the way we feel we are obligated to.

"Hurt" should urge Judith to try to come to her. The road goes both ways. -- WORKED IT OUT IN ALPHARETTA, GA.

DEAR WORKED IT OUT: Thank you for writing. The scenario in "Hurt's" letter hit a nerve with a number of readers. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When my kids visit from out of state, I have an open house so the family can come to one place and spend time with them. This gives my kids more time to visit with me and any special friends they may want to see. It also lessens the guilt of not being able to see everyone. This has worked well for us, and now the family expects me to do it every time the kids come back. -- DIANA IN OHIO

DEAR ABBY: I agree that Judith is selfish and immature. I have friends all over the U.S., and when they come to visit, I understand that most of their time will be spent with family.

Judith needs to grow up and realize that not everything revolves around her. Instead of complaining about the lack of time "Hurt" has for her, Judith should make the most of the time she does get to spend. -- SHELLIE IN INDIANA

DEAR ABBY: There may be a crisis in Judith's life that she is displacing onto "Hurt." When the emotions around that crisis calm, she will need her old friend. Is there anyone in town who could find out what is going on?

I knew a woman who cut everyone out of her life in a rage after the betrayal of an assault by a loved one. Another person did the same thing after a cancer diagnosis. Once the shock faded and they began to deal with their issues, they confided in their old friends about what was really happening and were able to reconnect. -- SUSAN IN CENTERVILLE, OHIO

DEAR ABBY: Our family moved two hours away to make a better life for our kids. With a newborn in tow, we spent the entire first summer traveling home to visit family and friends.

My best friend came to see us once in the first year after our move. Recently she told me that because I moved away, we no longer have anything in common and that "maybe we would cross paths again -- someday."

It hit me like a ton of bricks, but I have chosen to move on. If our paths were meant to cross again, they would not have split in the first place. -- ANGELA IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR ABBY: Was the only time Judith heard from "Hurt" when she had a few precious moments for Judith? If one person has to do all the communicating, perhaps it isn't a true friendship -- and that is what Judith was trying to say.

The art of communication and caring is dying. Hey, folks: Friendship is a two-way street. -- BEEN THERE, TOO, IN PENNSYLVANIA

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)