Hi Carolyn:

My close circle of friends and I really really dislike one friend's girlfriend. She is bossy, manipulative and bullheaded. We all to an extent avoid him to avoid her. Is there anything we can do to see our friend without her, or explain why we are avoiding him?

--Nebraska

I was going to list the best evasive maneuvers--guys' nights out, going only to really loud movies, having her "win" a free cruise to Fiji--but you know what? You're close friends, so just spit it out already. Be considerate, but be blunt: "Carmella's hot and all, but do her jaws ever shut?"

Note the shameless ego boost (always a helpful touch) followed by the specific complaint. If you're hyperbolic or vague--"Carmella's a belligerent cow"--what's your friend going to say? "Hey! You're right!"? Choose one legitimate point, though, and then he can actually rebut it ("It's not her fault she has a fascinating point to make on every topic"). Or he can schedule you guys separately, or ditch her, or ditch you. Whatever his solution, he chooses it, and that's what turns an awful truth into a benevolent one. Which would you rather have, friends who don't like your girlfriend, or friends who suffer quietly in her presence, gag when she leaves and quietly drop you both flat?

Hi C:

So, I'm one week into a new relationship with a guy who seems great so far. He's charming, intelligent, funny and attractive. And for the first time ever, he seems to really dote on me, more than I do on him even. See, I'm the kind of woman who rushes headfirst. My question is--if the guy is rushing headfirst too, do I have a responsibility to slow him down? He's even mentioned coming home with me for Thanksgiving. His mom died when he was 10, and I guess he doesn't like going home.

--Philly

Charming, intelligent, attractive, happy to know you. Who'd I just describe?

Ted Bundy.

Go headfirst once, and you can say it was the man who swept you away. Go headfirst often enough to become "the headfirst type," and clearly it's a man, any old man, who sweeps you away. And your judgment and dignity, too.

One week. Not a week of Sundays, a week on Neptune, a dog week?

You do seem sweet, so maybe seven days are truly all this man needed to fall for you . . . though how much "you" he can possibly know at this point is open for debate. But no matter; you're the one I'm worried about here. Maybe you found a nice guy, but, hello-o, it'll take real time and real experience with him for you to make that call. So, yes, you do have a responsibility--to yourself--to hit the brakes. You also owe it to yourself to figure out what emptiness you're trying to fill by systematically doting on men; men who, you say yourself, are just as systematically not sharing your enthusiasm. What is it you need so badly from them that you'll endure their indifference to get?

Please answer that before the new guy packs for Thanksgiving. And look for any voids he might be looking to fill--maybe the one shaped like Mom?

Hint: This next letter is a hint.

Carolyn:

I am 25 and right now, I am interested in taking the relationship thing one date at a time, one person at a time. Two questions. Do I have to let my dates know first thing that I date other people? And why is it that after three weeks, I ALWAYS have to end things with someone because they end up wanting us married and in the suburbs within 10 minutes? I don't have a problem with commitment. I just don't like having to decide before I have gotten to know them. Can you please help me? I am ready to join a nunnery!

--Charlotte, N.C.

Well, no one will leave the seat up.

There's no need to disclose your entire social schedule in exchange for dinner. No deception, either, but that doesn't sound like your thing.

Why the three-week rush? That's tougher. Fortunately, as a member of the media, I have no compunction about making gross generalizations about every young person on the planet. There is, in fact, a mad rush to pair off (at least my mail says so), and it's starting at a ridiculously young age--9 or 10 even. Serial monogamy, the (ill-advised) wave of the future. The average age at marriage is actually creeping up, so these are largely pairings without the paper, like the usual boyfriend-girlfriend, or "serious" relationships, or cohabiting couples. And the urgency strikes men as often as women, if not more so. It's like people just want the decision over with--thanks to insecurity maybe, or STD-fear-fatigue, or a couple-happy society.

So there's your problem, a society gone mad. Either that, or you're just a babe.

Keep doing what you're doing either way. Someday, you'll find one as sane as you.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or tellme@washpost.com. Join Carolyn's live discussion Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. on The Post's Web site, www.washingtonpost.com.