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Ask The Advice Goddess 

Light Greener Pastures

My boyfriend and I were friends for a year before we got involved. Now we're very much in love. Lately, he's been hinting about marriage and ring-shopping. I just have one small worry: Every day, when we tell each other about what happened at work, he mentions this very attractive female coworker -- she said this, she said that; that sort of thing. Sometimes the content of their conversation seems rather personal. Am I paranoid, or is this a red flag?

--Seeing Light Green

Contrary to what a lot of women like to believe, love doesn't cause men's eyes to go bad. No, the moment a man agrees to pair up with you, he will not start hallucinating airbrushed water buffalo in "come-hither" repose where Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, Maxim-um babes, and Playboy centerfolds used to be: "Hi, my name is Elsie, I weigh 1139 pounds soaking wet, and I enjoy chewing my cud, wandering the wide open spaces, and swatting flies with my long, sexy tail."

In case you hadn't noticed, it's a big, scantily-clad world out there, teeming with lingerie model-types in skirts the size of cocktail napkins and pants so tight you could count their pores. Now, I'm not claiming that your boyfriend's staring so hard at these women that his tongue's dragging behind him like a train on a wedding dress; that is, not when he's with you. But, when your eyeballs aren't around to monitor his eyeballs, you can bet his eyeballs are bouncing down the pavement like Jack Russell terriers after at least some of womankind. Not only that: When he has the opportunity to speak to a hottie (or even a luke-warmie), and maybe even crank up his flirt jets, he's unlikely to pull a hood over his head and scurry away muttering something about a vow of silence.

What does this tell you about your boyfriend? A startling revelation: He's a man. Like you and every other person whose genes crossed the evolutionary finish line into this generation, your boyfriend's a walking, talking cocktail of adaptations fostering the spread of humanity across the planet (as opposed to millions of acres of untrampled peat moss). In men, being very visual and very excited by feminine variety are a few of these adaptations. (Most men keep this quiet, especially if they're in a relationship with a female partner, fearing that they'll be yelled at until their ears shrivel and fall off for not thinking and behaving more like a woman.)

What does all of the above tell you about what is or isn't going on at your boyfriend's office? Very little. To figure that out, ask yourself whether his ethical standards appear to be constructed out of ribbed elastic. If so, why are you still there? Next, say he does have a crush on this girl. Will he leave you for her? There's always that chance. To make that chance slim down, make your relationship feel like a place you both want to be -- warm, sunny, exotic, and fun, like a vacation in Tahiti. Since he's being open with you about his life, it must feel something like that right now. To keep it that way, do everything in your power to avoid making it feel like returning from Tahiti to a really bad day at Customs. You know: being interrogated repeatedly under fluorescent lights and praying you won't be dragged off by the authorities to see whether you've tucked any contraband anyplace really inventive.

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