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Advice Goddess

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Hags to riches

My boyfriend of a year has his own home, as do I. He needs a roommate to help pay bills, and only a woman has responded. She'll have her own bedroom, but they'll share a bathroom. He advertised in the campus housing office, so she must be young, or younger than I am (my boyfriend and I are both in our mid-30s). I have an issue with him having a female roommate. What if we have a fight and he doesn't answer the phone? What if he drinks beers and watches movies with her? I trust him, but believe in avoiding tempting situations. He insists he'll be at my place all the time anyway (which I've told him isn't fair to me), and says I'm just insecure. I said I'm willing to meet her and see how I feel, but he won't wait to see if others respond (he did once before and ended up stuck).

The Girlfriend

Don't be too quick to assume this prospective roommate is some young hottie. The joke'll be on you when you discover she's some 60-year-old former housewife who's going back to school and borrowing his razor in the morning to mow her chin hairs.

If his roommate ends up being considerably younger, hotter and less bearded, sure, something could go on between them. But, unless you've got the guy chained to a dripping pipe in the basement, he's always just a barstool or bus seat away from temptation. So, even now, when you have a fight and he doesn't answer the phone, it may be because he spent the night rearranging his sock drawer or "rearranging his sock drawer" with some ex-stripper named Blaize.

As for his contention that he'll be at your place "all the time anyway," he probably isn't saying so because he'll pay less on his water bill if he flushes at your house. Chances are, he's trying to allay your fears that his living arrangement will become one long halftime show, with his roommate dropping out of school to spend her days vacuuming his living room topless. At the same time, he's probably trying to maintain some semblance of dignity as a guy in his mid-30s who has to take in a boarder to make ends meet. Yet, there you are, turning his solution to his financial crisis into the rental version of hotornot.com. And exactly how ugly and disagreeable must a prospective roommate be before your boyfriend can get out of selling his blood to keep the lights on?

There are easier and less complicated ways to get extra-relationship sex than advertising for it to store its tampons under your bathroom sink. Now, either you have reason to trust your boyfriend or you don't. You don't get to tell another adult what to do, which is what you're trying to do with "I'm willing to meet her and see how I feel." Meanwhile, you're not only telling him you have little faith in him, but suggesting he's settled for too little in a girlfriend, since you seem convinced your replacement is just a one-bedroom/shared bath ad away.

You'd actually have more control by relinquishing control. Instead of telling him what to do in other relationships, show him why he wouldn't want to do anything that jeopardizes yours. It's really the best way of seeing to it that there's no woman he'd rather open a dented can of beans for: "Au poivre, darling? Or would you prefer tartare?"

Not bi a long shot

I just met this really cool guy at a caf. We bonded over being artists and later exchanged e-mails. The thing is, I'm a lesbian, and I'm never sure when to break this to a guy. Now, he's invited me to lunch, and I'm feeling guilty. I don't want him to spend money on me thinking I'm a possibility. Boy Friends Only

As I told a straight girl who asked me a similar question, it's best to inform a guy you're a no-go right from the start. For example, before even sitting down, you might blurt out, "By the way, I was a teenage lesbian werewolf. These days, I'm no longer a teenager or a werewolf." Or, you might say, "If you were Thelma, I'd be Louise, and we could wear matching ill-fitting shorts, crank up the Indigo Girls, and go over the cliff together."

For a less-in-your-face approach, just slip mention of "my ex-girlfriend" into conversation. (The "ex-" part is actually important, since a certain set of older straight women have commandeered "my girlfriend" to mean some woman they take pottery classes with.) You may not stop a guy from considering you a possibility, but once you've been quote-unquote straightforward, it's his problem if he blows a bunch of tens and twenties in hopes of seeing good things happening in threes.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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