Dear Amy:

There's a guy that I've been sexually seeing for a little more than a year.

I really do love him and want us to become a couple.

I've brought up this subject twice, but he says he's afraid of commitment because of the number of times he's been hurt.

I tell him I love him and sometimes he says it back.

When we are together, he treats me as though I'm the love of his life. When we are not together, he calls sometimes and we speak briefly.

I love him and I want to be with him because I feel as if we fit so perfectly together.

So, Amy, please tell me if there is anything I can do to persuade this man to be mine.

Wanting to Be Loved

You've probably heard of the whole "friends with benefits" concept. This is where friends have sex occasionally but don't become emotionally involved as a couple.

You've got a "benefits without friends" relationship, and it's pretty sad.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it. There is nothing you can do to persuade this man to be yours, because, frankly, it sounds as if you have already exhausted the very few tools at your disposal.

People are what they do. If this guy wanted to have a relationship with you, he would. He wants to have sex with you, so he does.

You tell him you love him and he yanks out the old, "I've been hurt too much in the past to commit to you." I'm sorry, but that line is just a slightly more polite version of "I'm just not that into you."

At some point, this arrangement is going to depress you as much as it depresses me, and you will take the very difficult journey out the door.

For further inspiration, read "He's Just Not That Into You: Your Daily Wake-Up Call," by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $10).

Dear Amy:

I am a 40-year-old woman and I have not liked dating since high school.

Although I was prom queen at my high school in Wisconsin where I grew up, I have always had something against dating.

When I was little, when my sisters would ask me what my dream wedding would be like, I would always reply that I never wanted to get married.

A couple of years ago I realized that I like other women. I frequently find myself "checking out" other women.

I have not told my family that I am gay for fear that they would not understand.

Back in high school, one of my friends was a lesbian, and my parents were completely against her sexual orientation.

I am afraid that my family will shut me out the way they did my friend.

How can I tell them I'm gay?

Worried

You don't mention what kind of relationship you have with your family, but if they love and respect you now, there is a great likelihood they will continue to love and respect you.

Your experience in high school was more than 20 years ago. You, your parents, your lesbian friend from high school -- everyone has changed.

I can't help you to come out, but I can tell you that it's time for you to be honest about your sexual orientation.

How do I know that it's time? Because it's what you want.

Now you need to jump off of the cliff and make a simple declarative statement to your family. "Mom, Dad, Muffin the dog -- I'm gay." Do this in a comfortable setting -- preferably at home over cups of coffee. Don't be surprised if they have already figured it out.

For information and support -- for you and your folks -- you can check the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays' Web site: www.pflag.org. PFLAG has many local chapters and most run "help lines" where counselors can talk you through this.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.