Theme week! That crazy little thing called dysfunction.

Hello, Carolyn:

I am a 22-year-old guy who has been dating a 19-year-old girl for about three months now, and we are starting to get pretty serious. She's intelligent, witty, shares my sense of humor, etc. The problem is this: I don't feel much sexual attraction to her, though I usually act as if I do.

I don't want to continue this dishonesty, but I also don't want to hurt her feelings. This problem is complicated by memories of my last serious relationship, in which there was plenty of sexual attraction but very little else. Is it realistic to want both a healthy, happy relationship and a healthy, happy sex life, or should I pick one and give up on the other?

Baltimore

Assuming you can find either one, right? You're 22 -- if you haven't met Princess Charming by now, you might as well grow a beard and stop bathing.

You and this great girlfriend are great friends. Assuming you are fundamentally healthy, and you can fight this craving for pat answers, the odds are excellent that you will meet someone you lust for who also laughs at your jokes. Knock yourself out -- dream the impossible dream.

The sad thing is, this woman you're seeing could have been it.

Your brilliant fake-groping idea not only misled her -- very, very hurtful -- but also may have scuttled your best chance at making this relationship work.

Let's say you deferred upfront to your less-than-rapid pulse. You two might have built the same great rapport, only platonically. Then, in time, you might have built up a respectable head of steam. These are both just maybes -- but when you consider that every third letter I get is from some poor slob who's spent several years falling gradually, madly, hopelessly in love with an old friend, neither one seems like a stretch.

And neither one matters at this point, unless you can say "just kidding" in a way that will make her actually want to be your friend and not want to drain your brake fluid.

When you find the proper phrasing for this, please share it with the class.

Dear Carolyn:

I am 25 and have been married for five years to someone 16 years my senior, one of my teachers in college. I have come to the following realizations: He is quite immature to want to be with someone so young, he doesn't do things he says he will, I am not sexually attracted to him, my parents hate him, he talks with his mouth full, he says he will do anything I ask but usually finds excuses not to, he doesn't get my jokes (or anyone's, for that matter), he reads books at parties, he doesn't have friends, and he doesn't let me cultivate them. He says he loves me, but I can't stand him. We tried counseling, but he doesn't think anything is wrong. I dream about being on my own. We have no children together. Would I be justified in leaving him, even with his professed love for me, or am I doomed to spend the rest of my life unhappily with him?

Doomed?

Ah. Odium vincit omnia.

If you ask me, no reasonable person would question "talks with his mouth full" as grounds for divorce. But I'm relieved you're taking your vows more seriously; it makes my job as pro-divorce cheerleader somewhat less loathsome.

Dump him! Dump him! Rah rah rah!

You've acknowledged your responsibility, you've acted on it, you've come up miserable, you've got no kids to screw up. You may now give yourself permission to cut your losses. And remember what your professor taught you: Never marry at 20 again.

Carolyn:

I came across nudie pictures and videos on our computer -- my boyfriend apparently has been visiting those sites on the Web. We've been together four years and our sex life isn't great, but every time I approach the subject, he freaks out. His previous girlfriend dumped him over their poor sex life and so he's got an enormous hang-up. The nudie pictures freaked me out. I want him (and me) to be satisfied with our sex life before he gets into porn. He says he wants to be with me, and has asked me to marry him. I would love to, except for the problem with sex. Help us.

Replaced by Penthouse Centerfold

Is he the one blaming the ex for his hang-up, or is that you? Either way, it's a deft bit of spin.

Unfortunately, the cause and effect have been spun 180 degrees. He had an enormous hang-up (the cause), and so his previous girlfriend dumped him (effect). He still has this enormous hang-up (cause), and so he prefers the 2-D Splendors of Silicone over you (effect).

Your boyfriend's sexuality is badly damaged. He needs professional help. Until he gets it, don't commit to a thing.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at noon today or at 8 p.m. Monday on The Post's Web site, www.washingtonpost.com