Dear Harlan: I don't agree at all with your advice to "Torn", the soon-to-be college graduate unsure of what to do about her undereducated love. You actually encouraged this woman to dump her boyfriend of four years because he elected not to go on to college! Who decides whether to be with someone based on his or her educational background? Who decides their happiness based on the salary their partner can provide?

This guy has spent the past four years of his life making sacrifices to go wherever her life takes her, just so that they can be together. He might have been planning on proposing at graduation! I'm almost 29 years old and have never set foot on a college campus (except the one I worked on). I didn't know when I left high school what I wanted to do with my life, and I still don't know 10 years later.

I met my husband while working as a janitor at the company he works for. It was a part-time position I held temporarily in addition to my full-time job as an optometric assistant. We clicked instantly and were married two and a half years later. He liked me for my personality and our compatibility, not for the amount of money I could bring to the relationship. He didn't care that I wasn't an entrepreneur or if I came from a wealthy family. His parents have a lot of money, and they welcomed me with open arms. Their son was happy, and that's what was important.

I'm lucky my husband was looking for love and not a piece of paper, because neither of us has ever been happier. She should fess up and admit that she wants out in order to explore bigger and better, not make this poor guy feel unworthy and useless because he has no piece of paper to provide her. —Allison

Dear Allison: I agree — millions of people are in a happy relationship without having a college education. But an education equals opportunities if one of you were to get fired or become disabled, or if you were to get a divorce. On top of that, a college grad makes, on average, $20,000 more per year than someone with only a high-school diploma. She shouldn't be ashamed for feeling this way.

But forget about the money and the piece of paper; going from an 18-year-old in high school to a 22-year-old in college is a dramatic change. People with all levels of education can grow apart. I only encouraged her to be honest about her feelings sooner rather than later. Sure, feelings can get hurt, but not sharing how you feel is way more hurtful.

Dear Harlan: I don't normally read your advice column, but the headline today was too much to pass up. So, this gal has a "stinky" boyfriend and doesn't know what to do. Are you kidding me? How the hell can any young gal get to making out with a guy who stinks? The solution is far more simple than your advice: HE needs a bath; SHE needs a psychiatrist! —H.T.

Dear H.T.: If the stinky boyfriend took a bath, other women might like him and the gal might lose him. If she went to a psychiatrist, she might end up leaving him and dating another guy who isn't so undesirable (and risk losing him). Maybe dating someone who no one else wants is the real attraction. Ahhh, not so simple.


Harlan is the author of "The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College" (Sourcebooks). Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614. © Harlan Cohen 2007, Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.