DEAR AMY: I'm a 25-year-old male, and I've been in what I think of as a "comfortable" relationship for more than two years.
Although I know my girlfriend is loyal and would make a wonderful mother and wife, I get stuck on some glaring traits, such as her lack of ambition and that she expects me to give her expensive gifts.
Basically, she doesn't understand the value of a dollar and the hard work it takes to earn it, but she always wants to spend it, and I'm not sure that will ever change because she was spoiled by her parents.
While I can imagine myself with her forever, I feel as though I'm "settling" and I don't know if I'm "in love" with her.
On top of this, I am often haunted by the thoughts of an old flame and friend of mine.
I know the whole lovey-dovey feelings often die out a bit after being with someone for an extended period of time, but I think of this other girl as a girl I've always loved (and yet I've never told her).
I've had feelings for more than seven years for her. I know she shared these feelings for me at one point.
If I "settle" now because I'm comfortable, I'll never know about the possibility of the other relationship.
On the other hand, I'm not sure I can give up what I've worked at for more than two years without a real definitive reason.
Maybe if I somehow got over the other woman, I'd be able to focus more on my girlfriend, but I've thought these feelings would go away and they haven't.
Can you help me?
— The Settler
DEAR SETTLER: I wonder how your loyal girlfriend would feel if she knew that you feel you are "settling" for her.
You don't mention what about your girlfriend would make her a wonderful wife and mother, but I can guarantee that if you enter a marriage feeling you are settling it doesn't have much chance of succeeding.
Make a decision about your long-term relationship. Don't hedge your bets; be a grown-up and make a choice.
You don't need a "definitive reason" to leave a relationship; in the end, it doesn't end up mattering much because there are "real reasons" and then there are the reasons you supply. They are often quite different.
DEAR AMY: I've recently been demoted at work.
They've brought in someone younger to do a job that I used to do, and now I report to him.
Now the company is starting a project that I have experience leading.
My boss has asked me to sit in on planning meetings and lend my expertise.
I will attend the meetings but am considering not participating much. After all, if they valued my expertise, they would have kept me at the higher position and I would be leading the project.
I hate not being a team player, but they're not paying me for project leadership, so maybe I shouldn't offer it.
What do you think?
DEAR DEMOTED: It's time to look for another job.
While you are looking, it is important for you to be as on task, involved and professional as you can be. You should do your best to suck it up and demonstrate the leadership qualities you know you possess.
This is not only good for your professional prospects — it is better for your self-esteem than sitting on your talent along the sidelines. And self-esteem matters when you're on a job search.
DEAR AMY: "Unsure" was upset because there were two pregnant women at her office and a shower was being held for only one of them.
I have worked for more than 50 years and have seen this scenario many times. It is very divisive in an office setting. I suggest they hold a shower for the first-time mother and, at that same shower, acknowledge the pregnancy of the other mother having her fourth child.
An appropriate gift certificate and maybe some flowers would go a long way in soothing feelings and would bring cohesiveness to all of the workers involved.
DEAR JANE: I agree.
Send questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.