Dear Carolyn:

I've got what I think is a very common problem with an uncommon twist: I'm in love with a woman who is in a long-term relationship with someone else. She also seems to be very much in love with me and not with her partner.

The twist is that she can't seem to make up her mind whether to honor her commitment to him and live a life she claims is tepid and unsatisfying, or take a chance on a real and lasting love with me.

I just got out of a very unhappy marriage after five years, so I can understand both her desire for something more and her difficulty in taking that enormous leap. But I'm not interested in being "the other man" and she's not really the cheating type anyway. What advice would you give her about how to choose?

B.

You have a very common problem with a very common twist. Sorry to stomp on your sense of adventure.

It is easy for a relationship to grow tepid. It is easy to become attracted to someone else while in a tepid relationship. It is easy to imagine how much better the new relationship would be than the tepid one.

It is also easy to imagine the new relationship growing tepid just like the old one -- or worse.

And even when you set aside that (very healthy) skepticism: Breaking a commitment, to someone you may still love and have known for so long, is really, really hard. Just because the relationship is unsatisfying doesn't mean there aren't some things that are good, some things she will miss, some things she hopes might rekindle the flame.

So my advice to her is to tell you to go away till she makes up her mind, so that she can make up her mind. So she can really think. So she won't just trade old blah for new.

If ending her relationship isn't the best thing for her, then it isn't for you, either; and if it is best, she knows where you live.

Dear Carolyn:

How do I get over the blahs of not wanting to get out and meet men? At 28, I'm not in a huge rush, but I'm also aware that time is passing. My problem, though, is that despite the fact that I am very outgoing and social, I've found myself recently spending my free time only with friends and family. I just prefer the company of people I already know to that of strangers. But if I keep this up, I'll never meet anybody. (I've even tried going out with guys from Match.com, and basically this only serves to convince me that I shouldn't be wasting my few moments of free time with people I don't know or really care about.)

Va.

You weren't wasting your time on those dates -- they gave you a valuable tip: Stop dating.

Maybe hanging with friends and family isn't the way to meet men. But forcing yourself to meet men you don't want to meet isn't the answer, either.

So stay home. Friends and family have friends and family who have friends and family, and who knows what will sprout from those roots. If nothing else, you can call it a much-needed break.

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