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Originally published Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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True love or transition guy? Widow needs to know

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax answers questions about transition relationships and debt.

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DEAR CAROLYN: Two years ago my husband died of cancer. I grieved hard.

But back in July, I decided I am ready to date.

Strangely enough, my first time out of the gate I met someone with whom I am extremely compatible. He likes me too — a lot.

But, in his own words, he is terrified because he believes he is my transition guy and, in his mind, transition guy can never be long-term guy. He thinks I simply don't know what else is out there and I need to explore.

I'm not that interested in exploring. I should add that he split from his second wife a year ago, so he is in a transition, too.

Can a transition relationship never become a real relationship?

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Yes, of course, transitions can become permanent.

A funny thing happens when your goal becomes one of persuasion, though: Where you might once have been open to letting this relationship run its natural course, whatever that may be, you're now invested in having it become a long-term committed relationship.

It's impossible to have a relationship without any external concerns, hopes or influences, but you still want to get as close as you reasonably can to creating conditions where the relationship lives or dies on its own merits.

Embrace the fact that neither of you can think for the other; or know where things are going; or know who's right, if anyone, about if the transition issue is even relevant — then use that as the root of your positions on this subject.

Such as: "Maybe you're right that transition guy can never be long-term guy. Let's find out by giving it a shot, instead of quitting before we start." Or: "I get the 'see what's out there' idea. I just don't feel that urge myself." Or: "Sure, you don't want to get hurt — or maybe this is really about me as transition girl? What do you say we move slowly?" Validating someone's concerns tends to be a lot more productive than reaching for ways to disprove them. And if he never drops his guard, then that's who he is, not who you made him be.

DEAR CAROLYN: My husband and I both want another child, but despite our best efforts to be thrifty, we find ourselves in ever-deepening debt after having our first baby a year ago, buying our first house and buying a (used) car after someone totaled our old one.

We have options for making more money, but we both get so stressed just looking at our budget situation, we avoid it.

I know this is untenable, and an irresponsible place from which to consider having a second child. Can you help?

— H.

DEAR H.: Can you sit down and decide which of those potential new income sources to pursue, how best to pursue them while ensuring good care for your baby, and how quickly you can start? Can you recognize your budget situation is too stressful to face alone, and make an appointment for help through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (www.nfcc.org)? Can you stick to the resulting debt-management plan? Can you recognize that all this is essential, right now, even if you decide not to add to your family?

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living.

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