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How Do I Shove Thee?

My boyfriend of six months just divulged that he is not in love with me. This came as quite a shock, since he'd been saying he was all along (the past four months). I made the first move in telling him I loved him. He says he was afraid I'd dump him if he didn't respond in kind. He claims he has "very deep feelings" for me, and wants to continue the relationship (including going on the Hawaiian vacation we'd planned). Maybe I'm guilty of being too hasty in expressing my feelings. But now, I'm so embarrassed; I can't tell my family and friends he's changed his mind. This man is no kid (he's 37). He has been very good to me, and the perfect gentleman. Perhaps the novelty of the relationship has worn off, and he's trying to come up with excuses. Now I wonder whether anything he said was true. Am I right to feel hurt and betrayed? What should I do now? --Liked Deeply

Of course you're upset. This confession of his must totally screw up your timetable for getting your as-of-yet-unconceived triplets into Harvard.

Clearly, you're a woman who likes to plan ahead: "To Whom It May Concern, You are the love of my life. From the moment I looked into your deep (insert color here) eyes, I knew you were "The One.'" You had the words, you found a man, why keep them apart? Well, if that's how you see it, you must have great success getting flowers to grow faster by standing over them and yelling "bloom!"

When you're just two months into a relationship, you're still reasoning with parts of your body not commonly used for thinking. If you must say you're definitively "in" something, tell people you're "in bed." If you can't live without hearing "I love you," buy a parrot or go shout it into the Grand Canyon. The last thing you should do is say it to the person you're seeing. It won't make them love you back. It will make them feel pressured into telling you they love you back. Which is probably what happened here.

Of course, when you said "I love you," you really meant "Do hold still while I attach this ball and chain." He answered accordingly: "I love you, too." ("Right ankle or left?") In his defense, what else could he have said -- "Thanks!" or "Suddenly, I'm reminded of the budget deficit"? Which is why he decided to toss you your "I love you, too" and parse the details later. Unfortunately, before he knew it, you'd talked him up as a sort of romantic bowling trophy to family and friends, and "later" became too late.

It speaks to his integrity that he finally unsaid it. Which isn't to say he doesn't care. He's still there, after all. He might even get to "I love you," if only you'll let him do it on his schedule instead of trying to thumbscrew it out of him on yours. This might be your chance to get to know him well enough to see whether he's the betraying kind, or a guy you could actually love. In other words, stop trying to define what you're doing with him, and just have fun doing it. It's a relationship, not a dog. There's really no need to name it.

Drudge Match

I'm a single, unattached guy, 35. Several single women at work seem interested in dating me. There's no policy prohibiting this. Is there a wise way to take advantage of the opportunities running around the office? --Hoping To Bring Work Home

With the long hours some people work, they have little chance of meeting anybody who isn't a coworker unless they get mugged on the way home from the office. Sadly, the most prudent response to the mugger's "Your money or your life," isn't "Shall we discuss that over a glass of wine?" Office romance probably won't turn you into a crime statistic, but it could turn you into an unemployment one. Try to choose wisely. The girl who swivels her head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist probably isn't your best bet. Be sure to forge a mutual discretion pact -- which may or may not keep your after-hours performance evaluation off the corporate home page. Finally, agree upon an exit strategy -- including a detailed post-relationship peace treaty. Count on it working at least as well as the ones brokered for the Israelis and the Palestinians. Does workplace romance really need to be this complicated? Well, no. Just find a buddy who also has a lot of hot coworkers, and trade them like baseball cards. Breaking up with the revenge-minded middle manager two offices down isn't quite so hard to do when she's two offices down from your buddy, and two miles and two offices down from you.

Copyright 2003, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)

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