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.

Carolyn:

I have a close girl friend who is extremely smitten with a close guy friend (actually, the two of them have been friends for many years). My friend incessantly talks about wishing he'd open his eyes and discover that she's the one for him. He loves women of all kinds and likes to flirt and I know he throws lots of compliments and stuff her way, but he also recently told me he would never date her.

She is continuing to pine but won't confront him directly about her feelings. So he feels it would be presumptuous to tell her he's not interested when she hasn't even asked him. Should I actively discourage her, or even tip her off to his lack of interest next time this comes up? It is a major topic of conversation.

-- East Coast

Ugh. You know way too much here, and I feel for you. See, if you tip her off, she'll know she was being talked about by you two, and in an unflattering way, which is humiliating. If you don't tip her off and she finds out you knew, she'll feel like the last to know, which is humiliating. If you don't tip her off and she never finds anything out, she will keep throwing herself at someone who doesn't want her. Humiliating.

Of course the reason this is all so humiliating is that she has chosen to treat it as some kind of big embarrassing high school secret, when she should just embrace her feelings, whether they're reciprocated or not, and talk to him.

But since she won't, the best things you can do, in order of priority, are to: 1. Shame the guy out of flirting with her when he knows she's desperate for him. I mean really. How cruel can you get? 2. Suggest she either talk to him or move on, because she's torturing everyone she knows.

Carolyn:

Do you think it's possible to find true love with your first love? I am 22, and have dated only one person -- I started dating him when I was a freshman in college. He has never dated anyone else. We're very compatible for the most part, and I really believe I love him, but I can't help but wonder if things would be different if we had dated other people. Right now we're long-distance since he is in grad school, and I guess I find myself questioning the relationship with him more than I'd like. We both assume I will eventually move out near him and get a job (I'm still in school).

-- Des Moines

I think it's possible to find true love up a tree with nothing but sneakers on -- and I also believe it's beside the point. You are questioning. So, question. Use the distance to allow both of you to be 22 without strings attached. Not so you can date other people, though you might, but so you can see what it's like to live only for yourselves for a while. People need to know what they're like as individuals before they can effectively judge what's good for them in a mate.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.