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Lighten up: You can have a mortgage and still have fun

As I approach 30, I seem to be drifting apart from my close girlfriends from college. I have been married for five years, have a house and am thinking about children in the near future. My once-close girlfriends are largely still living with their parents, and constantly nag me about no longer being "fun" _ i.e., going out and partying all the time or taking group vacations to foreign countries, which would be irresponsible given my desire to save for a family and other obligations (mortgage, etc.) they do not have.

It is not fun always being the one to say no and to be viewed as "old" and no longer a good friend. My view is that these girls are immature and don't understand responsibility. Is there hope of saving these friendships, or should I cut my losses, lose the constant guilt and find people more in my own stage of life? If it's the latter, how do I graciously do so _ just taper off contact?

"These girls are immature and don't understand responsibility"? What are your friends thinking? You sound like a bag o' giggles.

Somebody is, or somebodies are, taking everyone waaay too seriously. When they call you old, just cop to it. "Yep, I'm a hag. Have fun in Rio, buy me a calico thong." (Or if a trip they're planning is both appealing to you and on the cheap side, go _ you don't have kids yet, and you aren't dead yet.) Then invite them to things you're willing to do. If they're amenable to that, you stay friends. If they're not amenable to that, you drift.

Don't send this e-mail

I'm dating a man who works in information technology, is a brilliant artist and photographer when he chooses to be, is great with kids, has a B.A. in history, has no debt and minimal expenses, and hates his well-paying job.

So he has finally decided that he wants out of his career. He has no idea what he wants to do instead, he just wants to make the same money (right off the bat) and not hate what he's doing. This morning, he suggested that he get his resume together and have me e-mail it to my friends.

Something felt really wrong about this to me, and I said so. I feel a little exploited. He was very hurt and confused that I felt that way.

He hasn't sent his resume to any employment agencies, or even submitted it to other jobs that I know of. Am I being stingy?

Only if that's the new word for having integrity.

Some people _ including your boyfriend, I imagine _ would see his idea as "networking." But since he hasn't so much as clicked a mouse on his own behalf, you suspect he's using you to avoid having to make any real effort himself, and you resent it. A totally reasonable position.

A position that I suspect you've been forming since long before he achieved career crisis. A brilliant artist "when he chooses to be"? Nice eye-blink editorial there.

Anyway. Because you feel exploited, you're actually obligated not to send out that e-mail; it would be wrong to foist upon your friends anything you didn't appreciate having foisted upon you.

Tell me about it! E-mail tellmewashpost.com; fax (202) 334-5669; write "Tell Me About It," c/o the Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.

Washington Post Writers Group

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