Q: I've been dating a certain man for the past nine months. I feel in my heart that he is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, but I sometimes find myself flattered by other men's attention. I recently lost 30 pounds and am starting to feel really attractive. Can I be in love yet interested in others too?
A: No way. It sounds as if you need to be playing the field, that you need to prove your attractiveness and aren't ready to be true to one man -- yet. You could tell your certain man that you need a looser arrangement with him, and, of course, he is free to date others too. But be sure to have this dialogue with compassion and gentleness, since your feelings for him are so warm.
Q: My impression in talking with many women is that they are in competition with me; they speak abruptly and forcefully, and seem to be looking for a way to top my story.There doesn't seem to be a soft edge on any of these women. Now, I'm 51 and like the "old" ways, but I am willing to change . . . and have, but it's hard to do when the opposite sex relates to you like the same sex. Has society changed so much that we will eventually relate on a totally neutered basis?
A: The women you're meeting are confused about equality, and have contorted it to start a war with men. So often feminism is used as a cover-up for anger against the other sex, and diminishing men is considered a female prerogative. The women I describe as Fusion Feminists are feminine, soft, gentle and friendly because they are confident of their strengths and capabilities. The FF is a steel fist in a velvet glove. She has no need to compete with men because she has proven her wholeness and self-reliance to herself. In these '90s, women must reach out in friendship to men.
Q: I've been going with my present girlfriend for six months, and recently it seems as if the relationship has taken a wrong turn. Every time I call, she seems distant and determined to crush something she isn't willing to work at -- our love. We hardly ever go out and whenever she does come over, we end up in the DTC bedroom. I really want a relationship stronger than sex, but I don't know what to do to put back the romance into this dying relationship.
A: It's time for a shake-up. The next time you two are in your place, balk and refuse to have sex with her. Tell her you have a headache (men are allowed to have them, too) and see if that provokes a discussion. Be honest about wanting more from your relationship; it's a risk worth taking. A bit of gender reversal will make some shock waves.
Q: My lady has said more than once that she is insecure about developing close relationships with men. Yet I feel we have something special together if it weren't for the fact that she is seeing another guy. She rarely sees him, though, and I find myself getting closer and closer to her every day.
It is very difficult for me to hold back my true feelings and I know she can sense my uneasiness. I definitely don't intend to do anything to ruin our friendship, but somehow I feel that if I continue this way I may be exposed to a great deal of disappointment. Could I be wasting my time, or could it all be worth it?
A: This is a triangle of pain for everyone involved, and your lady friend senses the dark endings. Your place in it may be a safe haven for your romantic feelings right now, but oh! the pain when you let them show. To be fair to yourself, move away from this time bomb and start meeting women who lead less complicated lives.
Q: I'm not really single; in fact, I'm not even old enough to get married. But I have a problem with relationships. I have never had a boyfriend, and some people call me a prude. I am waiting for something that doesn't exist, at least to my knowledge . . . the Perfect Man.
I have finally met someone really nice, and my friends say I should make the first move. But my question is, what should it be? I am scared of the response and I am really worried about my reputation. Will I scare the guy? And how long should I wait for Mr. Right?
A: Since you've met someone who clicks with you, your waiting may have paid off. And you certainly should reach out and make your move toward him if you are as wise as your friends. You could invite him to a party, or ask him to the movies, or make a picnic lunch and ask him to share it with you. Ask those friends for suggestions and ideas. But it's you who must put them into action.