Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: A disagreement broke out Friday about your position on what the two-year mark in a relationship means. Would you mind clarifying?

Some said you believe that after two years, love dies due to repetition and monotony, and others said that's nothing like what you said.

Answer: The butterflies of initial attraction rarely survive past the two-year mark of a relationship. Those butterflies can cover up areas of fundamental incompatibility. So, people swept up in the floaty in-love feeling often dismiss problems as minor, only to find, when the adrenaline/pheromones clear, that they're tied to someone who isn't scintillating to talk to, doesn't help much, and isn't even that great in bed.

So I advise people who feel passionately in love to save big decisions for after they've been together a couple of years. That's when familiarity takes over and their relationship's natural, sustainable pace becomes apparent.

Real love doesn't die at this point, it strengthens - so that's actually a better, more accessible measure: If after two years you spend the following year wanting more of each other's company, then that's a promising sign. If you spend that third year wanting less of each other, then that might say not to build your future on this one.

Question: I applied to an uber-competitive graduate program and received a call to tell me I'd made one cut, but they needed a week to make the final cut. I am obsessing over it. It's my whole future and I'm so close, but it could be so easily pulled away. How do I stay calm these next six days and get out of my own head?!

Answer: It's only six days, but I realize that means nothing to you now.

And, it's not your "whole future," it's merely one possible future. If you want to find people whose great futures were launched by the collapse of their dream futures, you won't have to look far. I'm not just a proponent of the Post-Collapse Recovery Club, I'm also a client.

You've got six days of nervous energy at your disposal. Clean out drawer(s), closets, wardrobe, files, address books - and imagine other compelling shapes your "whole future" could take. There's never just one.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.