So, his wild oats
I offhandedly mentioned to a friend that I thought her married brother was really cute. She revealed that his divorce (from a 10-year marriage) would soon be final. (It will be at the end of this month.) She then played matchmaker. He and I have been dating for three months. Things were going fabulously — until a few nights ago. We were picking a movie to watch on his laptop, and I noticed one of his browser pages was opened to match.com. He saw that I saw it but said nothing. The thought that he's continuing his search for romance hurts. I feel like I'm not good enough. I've gone from being comfortable seeing where this goes to wanting to have the "define the relationship" talk. Am I being irrational? Should I just try to relax? (Of course, he could've been on Match because he's canceling his membership or tying up loose ends.) — Beside Myself
Sure, the guy could've been on Match to cancel his membership — or to inflate his salary and height. He's just getting out of a 10-year marriage. This is the time for a man to play the field — or, in Tennyson's words, "When sprung, a young man's fancy turns to ill-advised sex with a string of bar sluts."
Whoops, just as he was about to finish picking the lock on his ball and chain, up popped you. He likes you, he's having fun with you, but the timing is still the timing. Instead of expecting him to take himself off the market before he's even signed his divorce papers, consider that his comparison shopping is not only in his best interest but yours. If, after seeing who's out there, he comes back to you, it's because he wants you for all the things you are, as opposed to the one thing you're not: his almost-ex-wife.
Of course you want to nail down a good thing — especially when you suspect it's been trolling the Internet for your replacement. But, having the "define the relationship" talk at this point would most likely define the relationship right out of existence. You can't make a man commit. What you can do is make the most out of whatever time you have together — which takes accepting that things end and that you can't order up love without the risks: "I'll take the candle-lit dinners, regular sex and somebody to snake the drain — but no heartbreak, no pickles, and a Diet Coke with three ice cubes."
It's actually when you stop trying to hang on to a guy and you just try to have fun hanging out that he's more likely to want to stick around. Tell this guy you understand his situation and the timing, and just ask whether he's dating other women. He should get the sense that you aren't somebody he can put on hold indefinitely, and you should set up some sort of cutoff date in your own mind to ensure that he won't. Meanwhile, if he isn't exclusive to you, you should make yourself a little less available. Give him a chance to miss you. In time, maybe he'll be all yours — or maybe he won't. If you need a guarantee, date a washing machine. You can tell people you met online — on sears.com: "I flirted with a Whirlpool first, but he had me at 30 percent off until midnight."
Fade to blackheads
My girlfriend is cute, but I've never really been attracted to her or found her intellectually interesting. Perhaps it's unfair that I've stayed for so long (two and a half years), but there's much I love and admire about her. She's compassionate, ethical, good-humored and patient, and she treats me like a king — cooks extraordinary meals, gives me backrubs and rejuvenating skin care treatments. Is there hope for us? — Pampered
There's much you love and admire about your girlfriend — like the way she plucks those little stray hairs from between your brows. Just think where you'd be without her. Well, probably in a sexually and intellectually fulfilling relationship, but with much larger pores. Maybe you believe that if you like a woman as a person, everything will fall into place. She'll get interesting. Sexual attraction will come. Or, maybe that's what you tell yourself to keep those cucumber facials coming. You obviously have minimum standards for a girlfriend. Hold them up to women you meet, and ditch those who don't measure up — before they spend two years waiting on Your Royal Highness. Unfortunately, the love you now have will be hard to replace. Unless, of course, you can score an appointment at the corner massage place, buy yourself dinner afterward, and, on your way home, stop off at the drugstore for some Biore face strips.
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.