Dear Carolyn:

I've been going out with a guy for a couple of weeks, and last night we had sex for the first time. It wasn't the most thrilling encounter nor am I completely enraptured with this guy, but we did have a good time together (before the sex) and I would like to continue hanging out with him, go on a few more dates, whatever.

The problem is that he's uncircumcised and this is a huge turnoff. I find myself thinking about him in a positive fashion, then I remember "it," and my stomach drops and I feel as if I've been doused with ice water. Now that we've entered the sexual dimension, however, I don't think there's much chance of successfully transitioning back to "just friends."

--SF, CA

My, how bankrupt of you.

When you're not "completely enraptured" and you have sex anyway, you get what you get. Unfortunately, turtle boy gets it worse in the short run, and your exit apology--please, can we just skip the friendship farce?--should take that into account. Give due weight (much) to your judgment error (big) in moving things so far before you were ready. That means you give no weight, no time, no suppressed little shudder, to the superficial matter of looks, since it's nothing more than a consequence, and a large neon sign, of your mistake.

If you're reluctant to cut things off completely, remember that in the long run, he wins: He'll be free to meet someone who cares.

Hi Carolyn:

Why is it that breaking up hurts so damn much? I'm 29 and was just dropped by my boyfriend of six months. And man, it hurts. But I've done the dropping, too, and, in this case, ending it made sense. It's not like there won't be someone else, and it's not like my life isn't full and I'm not happy. Obviously, I'm not the only one who staggers around and can't eat, can't sleep, etc., after a breakup. In your opinion, why the hell do we all go through this?

--Sleepless in Dupont

Actually, it strikes me as a natural response to being picked up, held to the light, turned over, shaken a bit, and then put back on the shelf. It's not an uplifting experience.

Still, in the clear light of time, you come to realize, hey, maybe some of his complaints were fair ones, which you can apply next time, and some of them were just a matter of taste, which you can't, can't take personally--unless "stark raving" is your main aspiration in life.

If you want to shake the stupor for real, gather all these reasons you weren't right for him and take them as a compliment. You have a personality, you have a style, you have a voice. If these are at all unique, hey, most people won't want you! Nor will just anyone be right for you.

Hi:

I just returned to school, undergrad, after taking a much-needed leave of absence. Went home, interned and worked. Started dating a good friend of mine and the relationship turned out to be great, but always in the back of my mind was that I was returning to school. So months pass, and I am getting ready to go. Boy decides that he wants to move with me to school. It is my last year, and I have never been in college without a significant other. Good move or bad move? Just looking for an unbiased opinion.

--Chicago

Why, when your biased one is so much more relevant? For your last year in school, you want your freedom. You're entitled. The sooner (and more kindly) you explain this to the guy, the better. Especially since it's a bit early for him to be uprooting himself for anyone, don't you think?

Dear Carolyn:

I have a problem. I'm seeing a guy right now, and we're getting along really well. The only problem is he still lives with his ex. He says they are not together and sleep in separate bedrooms, and I believe him. Should I be worried? Should I ask to meet her?

--New York, N.Y.

Your first problem is with your proposed solution to the problem. Meeting the ex might ease your mind, but what about hers? If you were living with your failed romance, how thrilled would you be to meet your replacement? While she checked the bedrooms, would you fix her some tea?

Your second problem is that you need to wonder whether to worry. You can make the argument, I suppose, that the current New York real estate market would make even a flatulent louse-breeder seem like an appealing roommate if it meant hanging on to some prime square footage and a 212 area code.

But still. When you start a new mess with someone who hasn't cleaned up his old one, you've really got problems. When he loses the roommate, he'll know where to find you.

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