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Dear Amy: After some false starts, our 20-year-old son is ready to go to college. He's retaken some community college classes he originally failed, and gotten mostly A's and B's. He has a job, and this fall is planning to move near the college, which is 45 minutes away.

We've always said we would support him for college, but he wants to live with his long-term girlfriend. We like her, and they've been together two years, but they're only 20! She will also be in school in the city, but her family can't afford for her to have her own place, and she doesn't have anyone to live with. They want to get a place in between their two schools and split the rent (with her parents paying the other half).

We don't like the idea of 20-year-olds living together just out of financial expediency, or pushing the relationship faster than it should go.

He's just getting his life back on track, and we think the idea of being sort-of married, and sharing a home (that the parents pay for) while going to school is not a good idea — for school or the relationship.

Now our son says they will break up if they can't live together because it would be too hard to be in a relationship "long distance."

Would you support the cohabitation or are we right to hold the line and let them figure it out?

Amy says: If you hold the lease on an apartment and are paying the rent, you have the right to insist that your son get a different roommate — preferably someone who also goes to his school. However, the roommate you know (his girlfriend, who is nice, stable, also going to college nearby) might be a much better bet than the roommate you don't know. Your son's girlfriend might continue to be a good and stabilizing influence for him.

If you are very much against them living together, then you should put your foot down and deny them this arrangement.

However, both of these young people are leaving home, and if they are determined to be together and stay together, they will. They'll either live together with you knowing about it, or they will simply cohabit for at least part of the time (as many 20-year-olds have done) and keep it a secret from you.

I believe it should be up to the two of them to make the ultimate decision. Yes, they are young — but if they have made a mistake they will have to cope with the consequences.

Keep your distance

Dear Amy: I need to distance myself from an eight-year friendship with a neighbor. It's hard to do, since we are isolated due to COVID. I can't use the excuse that I'm out with other people or tell a white lie about why I can't talk to her when she calls.

Her negativity, repeated stories and complaints are driving me crazy. She has become extremely negative and unhappy.

I did tell her to seek therapy, and she said it didn't help.

Our world is upside down and honestly I want to savor every moment I have left. I don't have the patience to deal with other people's issues right now. I don't want to be a phony and pretend to agree with the things she says and does. I want to distance myself, but I don't want to be mean.

Any suggestions?

Amy says: Write down some simple statements: "I struggle with your negativity. I feel bad for you, but I know I can't help you. I hope you get some outside help."

"I need to limit my time talking and listening — for my own mental health."

None of these statements are "mean." Your neighbor vents to you. You have the right to honestly speak your own truth.

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