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Advice Goddess



Can't take a choke

I'm a 30-year-old woman with a great new man in my life. I hesitate in calling him my boyfriend because I'm super-cautious about jumping the gun. I refer to him as "my guy," "my partner in crime," "my buddy," but I know he's more than just "the guy I hang out with." We've been dating for two months, and we've barely been apart for more than a day. Meanwhile, he calls me his girlfriend and hints at us moving in together and getting married. He says he's joking when I say he's got to be kidding. But, he is very dedicated to me. What's my problem? How do you know when to feel OK about commitment, the terminology, living together and the like? Commitmentphobe

Don't be too quick to knock fear of commitment. Many people take a far-too-relaxed approach to deciding somebody's good for the long haul: "I just knew from the moment I closed my eyes and stuck my finger on her name in the phone book."

Random acts of commitment usually come out of persistent desperation. Two months in, this guy's already talking about moving in together and getting married. This suggests he's looking for somebody special with emphasis on the somebody. Of course, when you raise an eyebrow or two, he's "joking." Right. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from the wild-eyed man chasing it at top speed with a wedding ring.

Considering his haste, it's no surprise you're bypassing the word "boyfriend" for "buddy," which makes him sound like the successor to your last guy, Rin Tin Tin, and your dabble in college with Lassie. (She was hopeful you'd eventually introduce her as Suzanne.) Unless you've left a trail of broken men, or have a habit of dating the unavailable (married, felonious), you probably aren't hesitating out of some unhealthy fear of commitment but a healthy assessment of where you are: He's more than a guy you hang out with every day, but you're not sure how much more. Unfortunately, there's a tendency to think of a relationship as either "committed" or nothing. There's actually a stage in between being "involved." Tennis star Martina Navratilova explained the difference: "Think of ham and eggs. The chicken is involved. The pig is committed."

When I hear couples brag, "We just knew from the moment we saw each other!" I'm amazed that they think this is romantic, and not an announcement that they're idiots. I always want to ask, "What, exactly, did you know? That she's reasonably tall, attractive in a sort of bookish way, and you wanted to have sex with her?" What's actually romantic isn't committing to somebody because you see how lovable, sexy and charming they can be, but because you find out how annoying, insufferable and lacking in some basic table manner they are, and it's still not enough to chase you away. Plus, there are all those big issues: sex, money and are you an atheist who secretly hates kids and is he hoping you two can raise your 12 children as Mormons?

It takes time and time unglued from each other's sides to see who somebody is. Take both, and you'll be more likely to end up with a guy who loves you for who you truly are beyond the fact that you're single, female, conveniently located and don't seem to find him sexually repellent.

Herds so good

Recently, I managed to meet three great girls in a single week. I now find myself dating all three, hooking up with each to varying degrees (no intercourse). I feel ready for a relationship but don't want to rush into something that's wrong for me. Do I have to choose now? If not, how can I avoid hurting them? Nice Guy

Your date will know it's you at the door when she hears that familiar call, "All aboard Amtrak!" There's really nothing wrong with that providing you do let each girl know she's one of several. Sure, somebody might get hurt. Getting hurt is a risk inherent in dating; less so in staying home alone and knitting.

Of course, dating in volume also has inherent risks so you'll probably have to work hard to stay organized: Perhaps use flash cards so you won't take the vegan to Steaks 'R' Us, and maybe make the ladies wear numbers like in the marathon. In time, you should feel more equipped to make a choice or you might have the choice made for you, should you try to do the right thing the morning after, but send the wrong girl the flowers. Good luck convincing her that the accompanying note "U rocked my world!!!" is your way of saying you didn't mind a bit helping her clean up after Mr. Fluffers.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail (

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