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Settle Sore

Plus, an exercise in utilities

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Settle Sore

I'm in love with a man I've been seeing long distance for six months. He's funny, interesting and sexy, and I really admire the way he is with people and my horses. He quit his job to move to be with me, but then, without explanation, began interviewing elsewhere. I also learned he hadn't told his three adult daughters that he and their mother have been divorced for a year! He finally told them on the day he couldn't avoid my meeting one of the daughters. I last saw him three months ago, and he's been breaking plans to meet ever since and calling and e-mailing less and less. Last week, he e-mailed that I was "just great," but he couldn't figure out how to make it work. Well, I'd like a relationship with this man. I know underneath he's caring loving, and considerate. A great companion.

-- Missing Him

Yes, he seems like the perfect companion -- for any girl who can make do with a big carrot in a man's pocket and a pat or two on the withers.

But, wait ... it appears he also has a way with people! (A way of what?) I'm guessing he smiles at the waitress, asks about her bursitis and leaves 25 percent. But, what about his people? Maybe a guy "forgets" to tell his kids that he got hair plugs or that he's renting their rooms to strangers. What kind of father waits an entire year -- until his daughter's about to catch him with his girlfriend -- to break the news that he and Mom have, uh, decided to date other people?

This was a sign -- one of many -- that the follow-up to sweeping you off your feet would probably be dropping you on your coccyx. He was moving to be with you, but then he wasn't, and never mind why. You're supposedly in a six-month relationship, but you haven't seen the guy in half as many months, and he's calling and e-mailing "less and less." Wow, right out of Shakespeare -- except in Romeo and Juliet, the big question was "Wherefore art thou?" not "Where the hell have you been these past three months?"

Naturally, you prefer to focus on what a "great companion" he is ... underneath. (Are you looking for a relationship or a career in mining?) My guess -- you're not just looking for a relationship but are so desperate for one you're willing to overlook almost anything: Oh, he eats babies? Well ... only after giving them "fair chase"! Being long distance kept inconvenient truths safely out of the way, leaving you to fill in the blanks with wishful thinking and misty memories of just how darn wonderful he was with Mr. Ed.

For future reference, when your boyfriend says he can't figure out how to make it work, he isn't telling you he's stumped, he's telling you to move on. While positive thinking can be a terrific tool (per my friend Rob Long, "Life hands you cancer, make cancerade!"), you need to bring a little pessimism into your life, and explore why dating a particular guy might be ill-advised, impractical or downright dim. If you must think positive, opt for "I'm OK with or without a man" before you start swooning, "Why, he's a regular Lone Ranger! Hi-yo, Silver, and away!" -- and you should catch on quicker when a man's particularly good at the "away!"

An Exercise In Utilities

My girlfriend of nine months was traveling when my electricity went out for the day. I asked to hang at her place until it was fixed. She refused, later explaining she didn't want to give me the alarm code -- even though we're together five days a week with "I love you's" galore! Now, she's turning this around, professing hurt feelings that I never gave her my house key. I would've, but she doesn't drive and is never at my place without me.

-- One Foot Out The Door

How could you not know her feelings were hurt? Probably because you aren't one of her girlfriends, who surely logged hours listening to how your not giving her your key means you've symbolically locked her out of your heart, blah, blah, blah. Granted, it is possible she was hiding something -- I mean, beyond the fact she's passive-aggressive, vindictive and petty. Internet dating? CIA outpost? Forgetful about flushing? It seems your idea of what "I love you" really means ("Your best interest is my best interest!") is a little different from hers ("Rot in the dark, Loverboy!"). As for your being only One Foot Out The Door, you'd better hope the next time the chips are down -- say, one's lodged in your throat -- you aren't left to flail on the floor while she takes mental inventory: "Hmmm, when's the last time he gave ME the Heimlich maneuver?"

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