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Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 29, 2006; 12:00 PM

Carolyn takes your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

Appearing every Wednesday and Friday in The Washington Post Style section and in Sunday Source, Tell Me About It offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there -- really recently. Carolyn Hax is a 30-something repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

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BTDT: For D. in this morning's column:

No response is much more "telling" than calling him up to tell him off.

Carolyn Hax: I know. But she doesn't.

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Washington, D.C.: Hmmm...I'm always baffled by the fact that guys date girls they are not interested in for months and months, not for sex but for an ego trip. Could you explain this to me? I recently was the victim of this (turns out the guy had a real girlfriend on the side that he was telling this all to while it was happening). I mean, how is this enjoyable to him, knowing that is his actively hurting someone else. I can't reconcile this kind of behavior in my mind. I guess I've never been the one who did do this to another person. Is it really that fun to do?

Carolyn Hax: First of all, don't pin it on guys. Girls do it all the time, too.

And I don't know if it's "fun" per se--except maybe to a sociopath--but it does strike me as ... what's the word ... validating? Gratifying? Ego trip says it too, now that I think about it. It's just a bid for more attention, which probably isn't that hard to reconcile when you think about it. He's just a toddler passing for a grownup. I'm sorry you got sucked in.

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Texas: Carolyn! I would like to hear from other peanuts who got married even though they loved, but weren't in love with their spouse and how that worked out for them? Could you please ask em for me?

Carolyn Hax: Done.

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Never been kissed...: Hey Carolyn, so I've been going out with this really great guy for seven months. He's never tried to kiss me. I think he's waiting for me to make the move, but I can't muster up the courage to do it; it ridiculously hard for me to ask him out in the first place. Even if I did, would I be doomed to always making the first move? A little reciporcation would be nice... Would it be rude to ask him why he hasn't kissed me yet?

Carolyn Hax: Rude? No. Overdue, necessary, a favor to the curious, yes. It does sound as if you're suited to each other, if you can get past this hurdle.

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Alexandria, Va.: Carolyn,

I'd really, really appreciate your input. I've been with my boyfriend for almost a year and a half now. It hasn't always been easy, as he is a single father with a lot of things on his plate, but we love each other and have a good relationship. Lately, it seems like when we are together, things are great, but during the week when we are apart, things aren't so great. Is it a bad sign that when we are together things are great and when apart, not so great? Thanks for your time!

Carolyn Hax: "Not so great" is such a broad description, I have no idea. Can you be more specific about what goes wrong, why, and thereby upsetting whom?

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Washington, D.C. -- Online Only Please: Sorry if this question was submitted numerous times. I kept getting a server error! Anyway, here goes:

I have a huge problem. I need to break up with my family. The only sane person left is my mother. The rest of my family has degenerated into a bunch of drug taking idiots. Hard drugs, not just pot. I used to be able to just ignore it and still hang out with them on holidays. I can't do that anymore. I have a three-month-old baby and I just don't want him exposed ever to their lifestyle. My problem is this. How do I still spend time with my mom on holidays withut the rest of the clan (they all flock to her house on holidays)? Do I have to give that up and just see her when they aren't around? It makes me really sad because she's elderly (80 years old) and I don't know how many more holidays she will be around for. My sister (who does not and never has done drugs - although her husband is a complete addict)thinks I'm overreacting and that my baby is so little, the druggies can't possibly have any negative effect on him. I disagree. Any advice on this?

Carolyn Hax: Wow. Give up on holidays, and join the (I suspect large and growing) club of people who've been forced to treat them as just an arbitrary day that can be moved as needed. Personal example, holiday traffic is so bad in the Northeast that my family celebrates Non Thanksgiving/Non Christmas, complete with trimmings, on a random December weekend. Your incentive is so much greater, it seems like a minuscule price to pay.

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Boston, Mass.: I've gone out a couple times with this girl I met a few weeks ago. She keeps telling me that she can't date me because she has this on again/off again thing with a guy who isn't good for her (her words, not mine). I'm pretty sure she likes me and this isn't a blow-off. Is there anything I can do at this point or do I just need to step back and wait for her to figure out what is going on with the other guy?

Carolyn Hax: Step back. Save yourself. Seriously. There's no happy ending until she can pull herself, on her own, for her own reasons, out of a tar pit. It's the difference between a healthy person (emotionally) and an unhealthy one.

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Re: Never Been Kissed: Warning -- I was in a similar situation and there turned out to be a very good reason for it... the guy was not straight!

Learn from my mistake. It may not be the same case for you, but it's possible.

I wish I could have saved myself months of worrying and heartbreak.

Carolyn Hax: Crossed my mind but I didn't want implicitly to rule out other possibilities. Thanks.

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Washington, D.C. Dancer: Carolyn, You've often characterized pursuing your hobbies and interests as the best way to meet dates and mates, and you have a negative attitude about making a specific effort to meet people outside of your everyday activities.

Dance is my passion, and I spend a great portion of my free time taking lessons and going to local events. However, I know nearly everyone involved in the local scene and I can count on one hand the number of straight men I've met. If I limit myself to the unattached among these (a smaller number still) my prospects seem grim. Considering that DC is teeming with singles and diverse activities, limiting myself to the rare unattached heterosexual dancer seems very short-sighted.

Carolyn Hax: You;re interpreting my words so narrowly. If your social circle has gotten too small, by all means widen it. What I advise against is widening it for the sole purpose of finding a mate, which would then make 1. the activities you take on seem like a chore; 2. the pretext for talking to people a bit artificial/forced/limiting; and 3. anything short of marriage seem like a failure. This last part isn't an opinion, it's a trail well marked in my mailbox over the years by people worn out by mate shopping. Broaden your social circle for, sure, improving your chances for romance, but also for imrpoving your life, period--which you obviously want to do or else you wouldn't be searching for a mate. It's a fine line, but I really think it's useful to start out with the understanding that all you may get out of your efforts are some new experiences, hobbies or friends. No small things.

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Re: Texas: I did it (married someone I loved but was not in love with) and wouldn't do it again (we split up two years ago after 12 years together). In my case I thought initially that I could make it work, but ultimately the lack of intimacy and physical compatibility ate away at the relationship until there wasn't much left. Ending it was incredibly difficult, but I've since found a relationship that has it all (and managed to remain friends with my ex, too). My ex has also moved on to a more fulfilling relationship. Hold out for the real thing. You'll be cheating yourself and your partner if you don't. You both deserve more.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. These are starting to come in, so I'll post here and there as I see them.

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For Texas: Re marrying for love but not in love:

I am that gal, and I fell madly in love with another man while married and am now contemplating divorce and hurting my husband, who is a really wonderful person. Sucks.

Carolyn Hax: No doubt. Thanks.

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Re: Never Been Kissed: Could be he is just extremely shy, though, and it will all work out once you discuss it or ask him why he hasn't kissed you yet...

I am a guy and have had this problem before. I have lost many a good woman by being too scared to make the first move, even when they signal that they wanted me to.

I don't think he'd still be around after seven months if he weren't interested or if he was gay.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks for the other side.

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Tennessee: So I just found out that I might be laid-off in a month. I don't know for sure, but it's my first job and I'm freaking out. Is there any way to prepare/deal?

Carolyn Hax: 1. Update resume.

2. Send out resume.

3. Stop all unnecessary spending.

I.e., assume the worst and use every bit of your month to secure another position. Two things that won't help you are panic and wishful thinking. Just be methodical, prepare for the worst, hope for the best. (Though even if you don't get laid off, being in a company that can't offer any job security is reason enough to looking.)

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Wasn't In Love: I wasn't "in love" with my wife when we got married. Not the head-over-heels, lightheaded, slightly irrational, gotta-be-with-this-girl feeling. And I'd had it before, so I knew what it was like.

But I did have a great deal of love and affection for her. A bunch of respect. And we were very compatible, and great friends. In many ways it was a question of head-vs-heart.

How'd it turn out? It'll be seven years next month. Two kids. There have been ups-and-downs along the way, just like anyone else. But I like to think we are both happy with how things turned out.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.

FWIW, I'm not sure I'd define the early relationship head rush as "in love." More like, "in hormones." But I think your definition is common.

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Washington, D.C.: How do you know the poster writing about not getting kissed by the boyfriend is a woman? Just sayin'.

Carolyn Hax: I don't know; I'm just playing the odds.

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Re: never been kissed: I swear I'm not trying to be snotty here, and apparently other people don't think this is as weird as I do, since you're getting perfectly serious responses, but...

Dating for seven months, and not even a kiss? I understand the no sex until marriage/love/engagement/other serious committment for people who have those beliefs, but not even a kiss goodnight? How is this even dating (vs. friendship)? Maybe I'm way off base here, but maybe he doesn't "know" you're dating and thinks you're good friends?

Carolyn Hax: You aren't snotty, just blunt. Thanks.

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Washington, D.C.: I think I am not in love with my husband anymore but don't think he has much of a clue about it. We have a great life -- beautiful new home, great children, everything seems perfect but I am pretty miserable. It is not so perfect that there are not fights and bickering and arguments -- those are the bane of my existence. He knows how much I am affected by these situations -- more often than not it is him picking them, nitpicking this or that about something I am not doing right, etc. His family did this all the time and he is very much a product of a fighting family. They very quickly made up or rather swept it under the rug and moved on. These things deeply affect me and when I have suggested that we go to counseling because of the fighting, our lack of communication, different communication styles, and resulting serious lack of sex and intimacy (from me), he says that I should go because I seem to have the problems with these issues. Which leaves me wondering what the hell to do. I am getting more and more miserable day by day and even contemplating divorce but if I cannot even get through to him why we need counseling, how could I even mention this? I fear that it is so all or nothing once the big D word is brought up. He would be blown away and I fear that even mentioning that I am that miserable would be bringing on a whole other level of misery that would come back to bite me even harder. HELP!

Carolyn Hax: Start with the counseling for you. Understand what the dynamic of your marriage has done--when you get blamed for everything, and have your thoughts and feelings invalidated/undermined at every turn, that's when I file it under emotional abuse--and how this ties in to your depleted feelings for your husband, and what your options are for addressing the problem. Just sorting it out with someone and setting out a methodical, informed plan for dealing with it should help you start thinking --and expressing yourself--more clearly. And if that's not enough to wake him up to how serious this is, I'm not sure anything will. Good luck.

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Child Of A Mom Who Settled.: My parents have been married for 35 years, and I could always tell they weren't madly in love. Or really "in love." Dad was always kinda gripy about not getting affection from Mom. Mom has been loyal to the end, but it was always clear even before she told me last year that she settled that it wasn't a love match. (I always assumed as a kid that if my parents HAD had that kind of relationship, it must have died off before I was born.) Now that my dad is dying, she's mentioned wanting to find someone else that she can have actual romantic feelings for.

To this day I am flabbergasted at any couple who has been married for say, more than a year, and they still actually WANT to see each other and are HAPPY to see each other.

So, think about the lesson your kids are learning from watching your marriage, folks.

Carolyn Hax: Great point, thanks.

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For Texas: I married a man who is wonderful and I love but am not in love with. We've only been married for two months and it's already not working out. I have no desire to be intimate and the lack of passion is sad. I look to him as a friend but not a mate. Please don't marry for the sake of marrying. It's not worth living life like this.

Carolyn Hax: For either of you. Please talk to him about it; don't drag it out.

Want more of these, guys? I'm starting to depress myself here.

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Doinkville: So, last night my boyfriend and I were all dressed up and heading to a party. I see a bunch of dogs frolicking in the grass and comment on their cuteness, asking him which one is his favorite. He responds, "I like the one in the yellow pants," referring, of course to a dog's cute female owner.

Maybe this would be funny to somebody, but he cheated on me before and I didn't find it the least bit funny. What to do? And, who the heck wears yellow pants?!

Carolyn Hax: Someone with a lot of male dogs?

Better Q: Who stays with a guy she's still (steamed) at for cheating? If you haven't made peace with it somehow, I see in your future cute chicks in yellow pants lined up as far as the eye can see.

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On the other hand...: I posted a mninute ago that marrying someone I loved but was not in love with was a mistake for me.

I forgot to mention, though, that the times I HAVE been head over heel in love it has been disastrous, which is why I was willing to settle for comfortable in the the first place.

Not sure where that leaves us.

Carolyn Hax: Being very very patient about finding something in-between! Most people have at least one fiery crash-and-burn to their names, and that doesn't mean most people are seeking shelter in harmlessly delightful dinner companions they shudder at the thought of touching. It's not either-or, big lust or big bore. There can be attraction that grows slowly--because it's built on knowing and loving somebody, vs. just looking at and flirting with him or her--and lasts for the same reason. The best way I can describe it is that you aren't panicky that the phone won't ring, and you aren't indifferent whether the phone rings or not; you know it's going to ring and you're still happy it does. Years and years into it.

It's why I hate the whole, "It wasn't happening on date one so I moved on." If you have the kind of easy, crackly conversation that makes you look forward to the next conversation, stick with it, see what happens.

This has been a public service announcement.

Sorry for the lecture.

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For Tennessee: I agree with Carolyn's advice, but having been there want to say this:

First, take the weekend to be good to yourself, not by spending lots of money, but just do something you enjoy with people you like. Remind yourself that you are not your job.

It is stressful but just hearing "don't panic" doesn't really stop the panic. Take active steps to calm yourself and strengthen yourself before and during your plunge into taking care of business (the resume, etc.)

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.

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Silver Spring, Md.: So what's the deal with an office romance? Good, bad, ugly? I didn't realize how much it's frowned upon, but really, they say the average person spends most of life at work. There's a guy I'm interested in (being that I work a lot of hours, who has time to date? Especially people you don't know?), but now I'm hesitant to put the moves on him because in general society thinks it's a bad idea.

Carolyn Hax: Half of society met its mate at work, so tell it to shut up. Don't date within your chain of command; don't date someone upon whom your job performance depends; don't date someone you can't avoid if the romance fails; don't date anyone at work if you can't put on a civil face and deal with someone who dislikes, rejects or humilates you; don't boil anyone's bunny if something does go wrong. Ie, don't be stupid. Enjoy.

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Washington, D.C.: Okay, I'm young, single and stupid, so please forgive this question. But to all of the people who wrote in, why did these people get married in the first place? I know some are saying they thought they could make it work, but why was there this need to settle? Did they think they were getting to old, or it felt like the next step? Reading all of these stories is kind of scary and I'm kind of afraid I'd make the same mistake someday if this many people have done it.

Carolyn Hax: One common explanation--seriously--is that the date was set, the nonrefundable deposits paid to the site/caterer/florist, the invitations sent, and so it was too painful, scary and or embarrassing to stop the momentum now. Even the ones where the decisions to march listlessly were made sooner have the mark of too much momentum to fight. mainly, it's the fear that this is as good as it gets and s/he won't even have that any more ("All relationships are work," remember?), or some variation thereof. Add to that how difficult it is to face hurting the feelings of someone loved, and you have a lot of anemic I-do's.

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Re: in love v. love: Thanks for the last part you wrote. I'm with someone I love, who I am also physically attracted to. We do not lack for any amount of intimacy. That said, I don't think I am "in love" to that point of super-heart-flutteriness, etc. I love him, I love our conversations, and I hate not spending time with him. I keep thinking that something's wrong because I don't think I am head-swimmingly, head-over-heels IN LOVE with him. Thanks for basically letting me know that that's ok.

Carolyn Hax: I read "I love him, I love our conversations, and I hate not spending time with him," as a description of being in love. Expectations are an enormous factor in this, aren't they?

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Mending a broken heart: Carolyn--

Thanks for answering my question in your column a few weeks ago. I'm the guy in his mid-20s who is still having trouble after his ex left him without warning a year ago and can't find comfort from friends (get drunk, get laid, or just forget her) or shrinks (too much psychobabble that doesn't really help). Where do I find true support and comfort?

Carolyn Hax: Friends with more depth; pursuits that are personally fulfilling; people you've written off but maybe have more to offer if you give them a chance. What you're looking for you;re eventually going to have to find in yourself, and so when you;re looking for external support and comfort, go places that have a history of making you feel good about yourself. This can be a person, a place, a book , a movie, a food, an exercise regimen--anything. Dig. What experiences, in the past, have energized you? Go there.

And if you're depressed, get professional help.

I'm afraid that's the best i can do.

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Re: office romance: If you are the lady in the cubicle across the hall from me you should totally put the moves on. Just sayin...

Carolyn Hax: Go say hello. Just sayin.

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Arlington, Va.: Carolyn--the marriage/in love question is fascinating. Any chance we could hear the other side of the coin? Are there any people out there who decided to end a good but seemingly not perfect relationship and now cannot seem to find anyone nearly as good as the person they passed up? I'd love to hear that side of the decision...

Carolyn Hax: Ooh, good point. Anyone pass on the so-so option and regret it?

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Stressed, US: Hi Caroyln,

I really need your help. I've been under a lot of work and personal stress for the past couple weeks. As a result, I've gotten really upset at my fiance (for a misunderstanding), I've been pretty bitter-sounding during conversations with my boss (for nothing that was her fault), and I've in general been a depressing person to be around. I know I should stop acting this way, but I can't! Things just seem more depressing lately. I'm afraid that people will pick up on this and stop wanting to be around me.

What can I do to change? (My fiance tried telling me to make an effort to "be happy," and I got mad at him).

Carolyn Hax: Choose a moment when you have some time to settle in, go to your fiance, apologize, talk about what helps you when you;re stressed and what doesn't. Essentially, figure yourself out so you can anticipate and correct yourself before you unleash your wrath on the public.

Another PSA.

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Relationships are work?: You once wrote something along the lines of "Relationships don't need work as much as they need attention." Any chance you could elaborate so I can forward it to my friends who are currently committed to hammering their square pegs into the round holes of their mates?

Oh man, I meant to say that merely as an analogy but it came off a little...

Carolyn Hax: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH? Understood.

I'm sure there are a lot of ways to read this (and a lot more ways to make a marriage work) but I think "work" is when you have fundamental incompatibilities. Those can be emotional (one's closed, one's open); physical (one randy, one not); spiritual; logistic (neat/sloppy, organized/dis-); endless variations. Basically, it's anything that you want to change, that makes you unhappy as-is, but that hasn't shown any signs of changing over time.

Attention is seeing a good thing and buying it flowers for not other reason than to celebrate a good thing, and prattling about your day or explaining your bad mood for no other reason than to keep this good thing integral to your day-to-day life.

That do it?

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Passing on a good thing: I know two women (one in her 50s, the other in her late 20s) who left their husbands because they were "bored" and fell in love with other men. The new relationships didn't work out (although both got married to the men and later divorced) and they later looked back and admitted to me (and my mom, who is friends with the older one) that they left "a good man" and a solid relationship for a fantasy.

People do this all the time, men and women. Nothing new.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. Another one:

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Where you find true support, Comfort: Carolyn,

Maybe the guy looking for true support and comfort (a year after being dumped) doesn't really want it. Maybe he just wants to wallow, and that is what makes him feel good -- it sure sounds like it! Some people enjoy being miserable; it protects them.

Carolyn Hax: Thus the way I signed off. Thanks.

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I am the poster girl for letting a good guy go: Oh, I could write the book. I am 37 and single. My high school boyfriend was so incredible and I had no idea because I was so young and he was my first love. I broke his heart I really should have given it more of a chance. But I don't beat myself up for it because I was inexperienced. But I broke off an engagement a few years ago because my boyfriend was Jewish from a very religious Orthodox family. They disowned him when we told them we were serious. He was very close to them, but he loved me and wanted to stay together anyway. I couldn't go through with it for fear that he would end up resenting me. I regret it so much. I think his family would have come around eventually, but I didn't think it through at the time. Neither of us has been able to find the same happiness with someone else.

Carolyn Hax: yeah, I don't think high school counts. But why haven't you gotten back with the other guy, who you seem to know firsthand also hasn't found happiness?

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Forest: you can't always choose your circumstances, but you can choose your attitiude

Carolyn Hax: And your shoes. Thanks.

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California: I found out this week that I'm having a miscarriage. It's been pretty tough for me (emotionally, not physically). No one at work knew I was pregnant. I kind of want to tell a couple of my colleagues. But I just want it to be over with, and I'm afraid if I tell anyone here it'll just drag on more, and I don't necessarily want anyone here to even know I'm trying to have a kid until I'm pretty sure it's going to work out. I feel pretty lost in general, and I don't know what to do. Any advice?

Carolyn Hax: I'm sorry. If you think you can trust one of your colleagues to remain discreet and follow your lead, then I'd say talk about it. To that one, privately. If you're not confident of that, then I'd call your OB-GYN for the number of a support group or network--especially one you can access online--just so you can have a safe, anonymous outlet when you need it. Also, if you have a friend who works near you who can take walks with you at lunch, that could help, too.

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Chicago, Ill.: My husband and I are blessed with a lot of wonderful friends. Now that we have a beach house in another state (plane trip away) where we spend summers, between family and friends, we have constant visitors. We love sharing our second home with friends but also need time without houseguests. I'm hoping your readers will have solved this problem without hurting people's feelings.

Carolyn Hax: "I'm sorry, that's not a good week/end for us; how about X instead," or, "I'm sorry, we're all booked up for that month/summer/etc." Friends who punish you for saying no aren't your friends. Set limits without fear.

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Washington, D.C.: I didn't pass on the so-so option, I passed on the "The One" option several years ago because she wanted to start on the family part of our relationship and I wasn't ready. We were in tune on mental, physical and emotional levels -- just not in timing.

Another thing I think factors into some decisions by those who get married to a "friend" over a "mate" is the added value of history and memory. I will never have someone to share those amazing memories of my earlier relationship, and the joys of growing up and making mistakes and learning from them together. Ultimately, however, that's not enough to build a future together.

Since then, I have had some wonderful relationships, and the woman I am with now is really a wonderful match for me. One thing that helps build that trust is that she had built wonderful relationships before but not "The One" so there isn't envy or jealousy from her. And, I consider myself fortunate every day to be with her.

Carolyn Hax: Interesting about the history thing, thanks.

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New York, N.Y.: "If you haven't made peace with it somehow, I see in your future cute chicks in yellow pants lined up as far as the eye can see." Meh. Smacks a little bit of putting the girl at fault for the guy's inappropriate behavior. Like her insecurity led him to cheat. Probably not what you meant, but think it could behoove from some clarification.

Carolyn Hax: Egad, not what I meant at all. Just saying, don't stay with someone you can't trust. Some cheatings can be understood/reconciled/filed away under "I genuinely believe it won't happen again," some can't--and therefore are motivation to sneak, snoop, suspect, pace, accuse and react badly to comments about hot yellow pants. That's not reconciliation, that's torture.

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Washington, D.C.: I graduated from college in May and landed a "great" job -- really good pay, good location, the works. But after three months here I hate every minute of it. My goal in taking time off before graduate school was to get experience to decide what I wanted to pursue, but this isn't helping a bit. The only advice I get is to pursue interesting volunteer opportunities outside of work, but I am so depressed after a horrible day here that I can barely do anything. Is this common and I'm just being a baby?

Carolyn Hax: Start looking for another job. An oops or two on your resume won't hurt you, but getting so depressed you can't function will.

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For the depressed guy: People who characterize therapy as "shrinks" who spew psychobabble that doesn't really help definitely fall into the camnp of people who don't want to help themselves out of their own funk. Therapy is about enhanced self awareness and insight into the "why" of why we do and think particular things. Both of which would seem to benefit this guy. Me thinks he doesn't really want to understand himself better... or he would try.

Carolyn Hax: I think that's what I tried to say the first time I answered him. Probably shouldn't have chased the fake rabbit twice. Thanks.

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Anywhere: I recently began seeing someone I really like after a dating hiatus (and before that, a long relationship). It's been so long since I've dated anyone that I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm nervous! How do I relax so I don't psych myself out and ruin a good thing?

Carolyn Hax: If it's a good thing, being yourself can't ruin it.

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Passing on a good thing: I ended a good relationship for one reason: His sex drive was way higher than mine. Now I really, really wish I had just met his needs in that area, because he was great in every other way.

Carolyn Hax: This is really interesting. I believe people with the lower drive in otherwise happy relationships really should just try--but I haven't found a way to say it that doesn't sound like, "Go have compulsory sex."

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Arlington, Va.: Raise your hand if you're now feeling insecure about your partner's love (vs. "in love") for you...

Carolyn Hax: Eh. You can never know--how much you;re loved, when you're going to die, how big your ass really looks in those pants. So you give it your best shot and hope your efforts pay off more than they don't.

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Three-month work malaise: Yikes, I wouldn't tell the recent graduate to look for another job yet. The first year working is notoriously rough, regardless of the job. If s/he can't learn to sack up and pull through for at least the first year, the most valuable post-college lesson will be lost. It's called work, not naps and cookies...but that's a distinction that's harder to explain than to pick up along the way.

Put another way: the rest of adult life will be marked with periods of varying lengths that just plain suck, and it's critical to learn how to deal with them in ways that don't always involve bolting.

Carolyn Hax: Fair enough. I just worry about the depression angle, and also believe some things are wrong/miserable enough to be worthy of fleeing. But you're right to suggest caution. Thanks.

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Anonymous: Philisophical question, do you think people are getting better informed about relationships, and so relationships are improving, or that things will always be the same?

Carolyn Hax: Ehh. Ever seen "Defending Your Life"? There will always be a few people advancing to the next level, and a lot getting sent back to earth to try again. It's not just how informed you are, really, but how well you're able to apply what you've learned to your own behavior--which involves self awareness without debilitating self-consciousness, a willingness to accept fault without getting smothered by it. It's not an easy balance to strike.

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Somewhere north of here: Raise your hand if part of you thinks it'd be nice to have a partner to be able to be insecure about.

Always greener...

Carolyn Hax: Come on--you'd rather be fretting by the phone than doing your own thing in peace? I have a hard time believing you mean that.

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Green eyes monsters: Maybe we should have a jealousy chat one of these days?

Would love to hear from the peanuts if anyone else has the experience of having a great, trustworthy BF but occationally not liking a female friend of the BF because she's overly flirty or whatever. I've been jealous of a couple of girls in my BF's past... I feel kind of silly feeling jealous when he's done nothing (because of course I can't tell the girl to stay away from my guy), but if I notice some inappropriate behaviour shouldn't he? A little casual flirting is one thing, but if the girl's all up in his space and flirting harder with him than I've seen her do with anyone else, that's just annoying.

Carolyn Hax: Isn't every chat a jealousy chat?

The flirty girls aren't the problem. He's the problem if they cross lines that he doesn't enforce; you're the problem if every bit of flirtation in your mind crosses a line (or if he's the problem but you do nothing about it but complain without backing it up).

In other words, if it's a recurring problem, that in itself is the problem.

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Carolyn Hax: Time to go. Thanks everybody, have a great weekend and type to you next Friday.

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