Big decisions shouldn't be made quickly


September 26, 1993|By SUSAN DEITZ | SUSAN DEITZ,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I feel disgusted with myself. I am a 21-year-old female going into my final year of college; during the past three years I have cried over many guys who have hurt or disappointed me one way or the other -- relationships that amounted to nothing.

In the past month I have spent time with a great college guy my age who treats me like a princess. The problem? Oh, he has crooked teeth, doesn't speak correct grammar and dresses "funny." He and I will be going back to college in a month and even though we will be five hours apart, he wants to attempt a long-distance relationship. I am too preoccupied worrying if he is The One or just another boyfriend, because I'm having trouble accepting his "faults."

I recently broke up with a guy whom I found "perfect": He was tall, good-looking, spoke like a college professor and was very, very intelligent. Yet he treated me like dirt and the relationship ended. I know that his "perfect" traits did little for it.

My new guy isn't nearly as intelligent or confident, and I'm beginning to wonder whether I have to compromise the traits that I seek and value for a guy who really cares about me and treats me the way I deserve.

The thing is, we are so different. I'm Spanish, he's Polish. I love the city, he loves the country. I know I'm not perfect and we're both pretty young. I know you can't tell the future, but can you please offer me as much advice as possible?

A: You're way too early to ponder the heavy questions that are on your mind; you know this man only four weeks! Teeth can be straightened, clothes can be updated, grammar can be corrected and city-country differences can be resolved. Nothing in your complaint list is too major to be fixed; the bottom line is his respect and caring for you, of course, and you seem to know that well. But it is too soon to burden yourself -- and this relationship -- with issues that would demand answers if marriage were right around the corner.

Go back to school and stay in contact with your friend, but see other people also. (And make sure that he knows about that and will do the same at his school.) Why drag down a fun time with problems that need no attention at this time? Don't make this imperfect fellow your one and only, but do not settle for less than his style of relating, either.

And for Pete's sake, stop being disgusted with yourself; your only crime is being a bit premature in your worrying.

I'm a 24-year-old male who finds it impossible to begin conversations with women, let alone ask one out for a date. My previous girlfriends have either asked me out first, or our relationship just happened "naturally," with the woman always making the approach.

Now that I'm available, I can't seem to work up the courage to approach a woman in a nightclub or bar, or even when I'm having lunch in the park, and make friendly conversation. I've been in many situations where I want to speak up, but I always hesitate and let the moment slip through my hands. This has been going on for about 2 1/2 (dateless) years now, and it's very discouraging.

What should I do? Maybe I shouldn't mess with the formula, and wait until someone approaches me again. (I don't know if I can wait any longer, however.) I really want to be the one to start conversations, and, more importantly, perpetuate the conversation. Any suggestions? I know I'm not the only one in this lonely boat.

Your impatience is a good thing here, calling your attention to patterns that are not working well. Do mess with the formula; muster up courage to make the approach, but make interests the meeting ground rather than bars and nightclubs. Join groups that are doing what you enjoy, and as you become involved in them, you'll see that conversation is easier since it's based on common ground. And, most importantly, interests don't bring much social pressure with them; things happen more naturally when people share common ground. So change your pattern, but also change the meeting place . . . and watch your social life improve.

I raised my son without help from his biological father. Without condemning his father, I gave my son to understand that if he ever came to me with the same situation that I had, I would not insist he marry the girl nor would I tell them what to do, because that had to be worked out between them. I told him that I would insist, however, that he pay his 50 percent of whatever decision was reached.

If the girl chose to give up their child, my son and I would do everything in our power to gain custody. If she chose to keep it, he would still support his half and try to get at least partial custody. I would have the child on weekends while it was tiny, but he would be responsible for picking up the child from its mother and taking it back. Once the child was old enough to "do things" (the park, the beach, etc.), my son would take over. There is no way he would not be part of that child's life and let it grow up without knowing its father.

My son doesn't like that arrangement much, but knows that it's right and that no son of mine is going to just shrug off a child of his. He will live up to his responsibility. Or else, Mother will come down on him like a ton of bricks. It takes two to tango, and he will live up to it.

It sounds as if you have pounded responsibility into your son, perhaps because of your own life experience with his father, who did not live up to his. And while you say that custody decisions are to be between him and the child's natural mother, you have already detailed the arrangements for your son's custody. You're a concerned mother with a stake in his child's life, but it is his life and his relationship and his custody decisions to make.

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