Original "Tell Me About It" columns will appear in Sunday Source while Carolyn is on maternity leave. The following are excerpts from spring 2003 live discussions on washingtonpost.com.


I have a horribly superficial question that I'm embarrassed to ask, but here goes. Met a guy online, was totally charmed, talked on the phone for hours, and met him for the first time this week. I still think he's awesome, funny, sweet and a great match for me, but I'm worried that I'm not physically attracted to him. He's pretty heavy, and while I'm no model myself, I can't help but think, "Wow, he's really heavy." So do I admit that I'm a shallow jerk and throw away this great guy, or do I plunge in, realize just how stupid it is to worry what others might think, and try to get over my own hypocrisy?


Or (C): Can't you try for a nonromantic friendship and see where it leads?

Though this is why I still balk at personals, online dating, etc. After you've announced "I Want a Mate," it's hard to back off far enough to let nature take its own course.

Whatever you do, don't force a romance and hope the attraction will follow. That's not fair.


Husband and I have been together for nine years, married for four. We had conflict -- how much I worked, how much I looked up to others instead of him, etc., deference issues. I began intense friendship (NOT physical) with male friend/confidant; he began five-month affair with bar waitress who is now pregnant. We have since separated (his call).

I want to work on things; we should at least try to see if we can make things work before divorcing. He feels as if there is too much to deal with and that he needs to deal with other "moving parts" -- his job, this pregnancy -- before he can commit to working on the relationship. He has also been verbally abusive since the separation.

I am 30, no kids, good job. Everyone is telling me to close this chapter and move on. I am holding out for hope. I feel that if I am willing to work, shouldn't he? From experience, how do you know when enough is enough to move on?

Beantown, Mass.

You are willing to work, and that's great, but what he "should" do is irrelevant. He either works at it or he doesn't, that's all you have. As for when you know enough is enough, there's no rule. It's just what makes sense to you at the time. Now, it makes sense for you to try. After a certain amount of fruitless effort, it will make sense for you to quit trying.

Also, as you get used to the idea of having your marriage end, you might not feel such a strong need to patch it up, abuse (both now and well before the separation, seems to me) and waitresses be damned. I think the shock of so big and final a change triggers a preservation reflex that makes you want to hold on to the status quo no matter how bad it may have become. I also think that shock passes, and that's when you hear people say how relieved they are, or that they feel sad but also sure it was for the best.

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