Hope against nope
I've been seeing this guy for over two years. Although we spend lots of time together, we don't have a committed relationship. We've been off and on throughout this entire two-year "complexship," as I call it. Normally, we're fine until I start asking about us being more to each other. He then picks a fight and disappears. Out of the blue the other day, he told me I deserved more and said he didn't want to waste my time or make me miss out on somebody who could give me what I want. I told him I'm fine, and that I'm dating other people (I am). Still, I'm not sure why he brought it up if he didn't want to commit to me. I truly love him, and have since the moment we met. Do you think he'll ever be ready, or am I his "temp" till he finds someone permanent for the job? — Stuck
You're about three blocks past "way too pathetic" when the stuff your girlfriends got sick of telling you — "Dump him! He's just using you! You deserve better!" — is coming from the guy you "deserve better" than. Amazingly, you take this as a sign he's ready to commit, rather than the obvious — his guilt so overtook his self-interest that he's like the buzzard feeling sorry for the roadkill: "How 'bout I just have a few pecks of your hindquarters and then be on my way?"
Not surprisingly, you need to fancy up two years of hanging around not getting what you want by calling this a "complexship." It isn't complex in the slightest: You want a relationship with him; he doesn't want one with you, but he'll continue seeing you on what I call the Bag of Chips Principle, as in, if there's a bag of chips within a man's reach, he'll probably help himself to some.
To many, your situation might seem like a simple case of "He's just not that into you." And since you'd probably see a flicker of hope while blindfolded and being lowered head-first into a pitch-dark cesspool, let me make this perfectly clear: No, he's not.
But, there's such a thing as readiness for a relationship. Finding the right person isn't enough. You have to have the right person at the right time. It's possible your guy hasn't been ready for anything serious with anyone. Instead of accepting that he can't give you what you want and waving goodbye, you most likely sealed the deal that he'll never be ready for you by being all over him like ants on potato salad. (Men don't want what comes easy to them, with the exception of "FREE BEER!")
But, wait, there are mitigating circumstances here! You "truly love him"! Great — the universal excuse women give for doing something utterly stupid and self-destructive with a man. For a change of pace, show a little love for yourself. Take that old advice: "If you love something, set it free." If it comes back to you, and comes back to you, and comes back to you, and still won't give you what you want, set it free again, and change the locks.
Boeing, Boeing, gone
A man sitting next to me on a long flight really opened up to me, and I ended up sharing stuff I never tell anyone. He asked for my number, but I never heard from him. How does someone connect with you so amazingly, then walk away from you like you're any other stranger on the plane? — Seat 13D
Welcome to the One-Flight Stand: Two total strangers, thrown together by airline seat assignment algorithms, sharing their deepest secrets over those little bags of pretzels and blankets that haven't been washed since the Wright brothers took off. With somebody you'll never see again, you can feel safe revealing stuff you'd only tell your closest confidant. And then, because you've treated them like a close confidant, they can start to feel like one. (Never mind that you can't remember if it's "Brad" or "Bruce.")
Some seatmates continue their relationship down the jetway, but most have broken up by the time they hit the terminal. As they're getting off the plane, there's that blast of outdoor air — real life hitting them, along with the realization that there's no graceful way to fit 13D into theirs. Or, maybe they realize they got drunk on anonymity, and feel dirty for exposing way too much of themselves to a stranger. If you can't stand the post-flight chill, wear protection: an eye mask or iPod headphones. If you're willing to risk it, there's always that possibility you'll continue on with some seatmate, maybe even to the point where you find yourself joining him in the TSA line; joining, as in, "You may now cavity-search the bride."
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.