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Advice Goddess

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Every clod has a silver lining

My 31-year-old daughter is pretty, in good shape and a successful professional with lots of friends and interests. We're close and talk on the phone daily, but there's one topic I can't mention: Dating. She claims I'm driving her crazy and putting too much pressure on her because I'm panicky about her situation. I'm worried to death because she's had 10-15 "boyfriends" in the six years she's been out of grad school, but none for more than several months. She'll say they have no chemistry, he's too busy at work, has no personality or they just don't connect. She assures me she'll eventually find someone, but I'm worried she doesn't know how to have successful relationships. Should I urge her to seek professional help (i.e., see a therapist)? Her Mom

What is this, neurosis by proxy? You're going somewhat crackers, so you want your daughter to see a therapist? That makes about as much sense as urging her to visit a proctologist because the guy next door has a polyp.

So, at the moment, your daughter's idea of her "better half" is whichever side her hair doesn't part funny on. Surprise, surprise, with a graduate degree and loads of friends and interests, she refuses to stick it out with some loser, or to hole up at the back of a singles bar with a pair of binoculars, scanning for his replacement loser. Is this cause for concern or celebration? It seems oddly retrograde to have to remind you that, these days, a girl can actually become somebody, and not just somebody's wife, girlfriend or mistress on the side. Then again, the U.S. Mint just announced a set of first lady commemorative coins. (What are we commemorating, marrying well?)

Remember, you describe your daughter as "pretty," not "pretty except for the red, swollen bags under her eyes and the twin rivers of mascara running down her face." Maybe she's taking the salad bar approach to relationships sampling a variety of vegetables to figure out what she ultimately wants on her plate. Maybe she's just not ready for a long or lifelong relationship. Maybe she'll never be ready. Or, maybe she really hasn't met the right man. If "her situation" becomes a source of misery for her, she's a big girl, she'll do something about it. In the meantime, having her visit a therapist could do some good for the therapist. Think of how boring it must get listening to patients complain day in, day out. Your daughter can pop in, pretty much satisfied with her life, and give the therapist a much-needed opportunity to talk politics and gossip about Paris Hilton.

Check your calendar. It isn't 1622. Your daughter will not end up a lonely spinster living in a mud hut and taking in wash if she doesn't Super Glue herself to a man in the next 20 minutes. To your credit, it seems you raised a pretty sensible girl. She's given herself freedom by getting herself together emotionally and financially. If she's secure and happy on her own, she'll only need a man if she's happier and has more fun with him than without him. At that point, she could have an issue or two a little more weighty than "How do I dump thee?" That's when she might welcome your advice providing you haven't alienated her with the daily Inquisition. In other words, probably the worst thing you could do for your daughter right now is what you have been doing coming on like some psychotic Richard Simmons whipping a mule: "Date! Date! Date! Make it stick! Snag a man before you die alone!"

Not cement to be

Surprise, I'm divorced! While therapy has helped me get over the end of my marriage, it hasn't helped me get dates. Recently, I've seen a number of women in passing I've wanted to ask out but can one approach a stranger on the street corner? Starting Over

Women have a name for men who approach them on the street: Rapists. Don't take it personally. The average woman has a lot less muscle mass and upper-body strength than the average man, which means we really are the weaker sex except for women with Glocks. Typically, women are at their most approachable after they've gone indoors. Try to meet them in a public place a bookstore, CD store, bar or coffee shop somewhere your interaction will take place in front of plenty of witnesses. To seem an even safer bet, become a regular. That said, there's no hard and fast rule against hitting on a woman on the street. On a sunny day, on a well-traveled block, you might even have some luck. Or, worst-case scenario, you'll learn there's nothing like a spritz of pepper spray to spice up a potential relationship.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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