Dear Annie: I am a college student who has been dating a girl for about two months. She’s from out of town but lives in the same city as me.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been more isolated than usual. She has a roommate but otherwise feels lonely. I spend as much time with her as I can (respecting social distancing protocols, of course), and we text a lot.

In anticipation of having to stay home, I’ve taken on several projects that take up a lot of my free time. I am passionate about them. My girlfriend, who has more free time, will often video call me while I’m working, expecting me to immediately answer and talk for a while, even on days where we’ve spent hours together in person. If I try to politely decline, she says, “Ouch.”

How can I explain to her that, while I do love talking to her, I want to do other things, too, and don’t appreciate being guilted over needing some personal time outside of my work?

— Girlfriend Blues

Dear Girlfriend Blues: The best way to explain is exactly the way you did in your letter. It is very healthy that you have found things to keep you busy during the lockdown, and you should encourage your girlfriend to do the same.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone. During stressful times, people use different coping mechanisms. Perhaps hers is to be needy while yours is to withdraw and find other things to do.

Good relationships have the three c’s: communication, compromise and commitment. After you have communicated what’s in your letter, if you are both committed to the relationship, you might have to compromise with her as well.

Best of luck to you both, and stay safe and well!

                                                             •        •        •

Dear Annie: Your column “Nurses Offer a Hand to Hold” hit me hard — and gave me some solace at the same time. In 2003, my mother was living with us and had a heart attack (she’d had a couple before). The EMTs responded quickly and took her to the cardiac intensive-care unit, where she got excellent care.

She had expressed a strong wish to not be alone when she passed. As we got close to the end, I left what I thought were explicit directions to call me any time of day or night. I left her at about 10 p.m. one evening to get some rest and got a call at 7 the next morning that she died at about 3 a.m. I was crushed that I wasn’t there!

That has stayed with me to this day. My hope, and maybe one day my belief, is that a nurse like nurse Palmer was holding Mom’s hand when her time came.

I hope the column comforts others as well. We all need to thank a nurse not only for their professional capabilities but also their personal care.

— Thank a Nurse

Dear Thank a Nurse: I am sorry you lost your mother but grateful that you found comfort from nurse Palmer’s letter. Wishing you and your family love and peace.

                                                             •        •        •

— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her latest anthology, How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?, features favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation, and is available as a paperback and e-book. Email your Dear Annie questions to The opinions expressed are her own.