Dear Carolyn:

A relationship with an incredible woman recently ended and I am trying to get back into the dating scene. I know the fastest way to get away from the sadness is to keep busy and date new women, but every time I go out I am always comparing the women with my ex-girlfriend and sabotaging myself. I feel like I am in a Catch-22. To get over her, I need to date, but when I do date, I only end up thinking about her. Help.

Washington

The "keep busy" tactic I know involves specifically not trying to replace an old hurt with new dates.

Stop picking the scab and devote your time to things that make you happy to have some spare time. Bonus points if they're things you let fall by the wayside to free up more time for her. Save dating for when you meet someone who makes you want to start dating.

Dear Carolyn:

A very close friend has recently returned to the area. When we met in high school, I harbored feelings toward her that were never reciprocated. Through different colleges and travels abroad, we did keep in touch, but my feelings subsided over the years of absence.

Well now we have gotten as close as we once were. But, as I'm sure you have already guessed, I fear I'm falling back in love, which is not good at all. She is involved with another, as am I, only now I feel my current relationship suffering because of overwhelming feelings for my friend. The last thing I want is to end one of the best friendships I've ever had, but at the same time I dread seeing her because I know there will never be anything more than a good friendship. Solution? Please help.

Stymied

No solution, just a reminder that you really aren't stymied and that ending this friendship isn't really the last thing you want.

That distinction, as I'm sure you've already guessed, goes to torturing yourself indefinitely with wanting what you can't have. Tell her this when you explain why you can't hang out with her anymore.

My hunch is this same honesty wouldn't be fair to the girl you're seeing, but I also have a hunch it's not fair to keep seeing her. Only you know how you feel about her, but if I were she, I wouldn't want to be with a guy whose overwhelming feelings were for someone who wasn't me.

Dear Carolyn:

Is it wrong of me to be upset that my ex-boyfriend of four years did not tell me he is engaged? We've been apart for 11/2 years. I found out recently from a mutual friend. I don't want him back, I just feel after that much time together, I deserve it. I want to call and tell him so, but I'm afraid I might be overreacting.

Virginia

I don't think you're overreacting, but the call could push you there, depending on what you hope to accomplish. "Hey, congratulations, but I'm sad you didn't tell me yourself," in an effort to say congratulations but you're sad he didn't tell you himself, seems far more promising than "Thanks a lot for telling me yourself" in an effort to make him pay.

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