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I've been dating my boyfriend for over two years. We're both in our early thirties. When the subject of marriage comes up, he says he absolutely wants it -- in the future. He's just gone back to school, is in the middle of changing careers, and feels he has too much going on right now to bring in the element of "family." I understand, and have been fine with this, but my friends insist he's had more than enough time; that if he's not interested in marriage now, he never will be. I hate imposing deadlines, but I want kids, and don't want to date him for my entire thirties only to discover that he never wanted marriage or children. Am I deluding myself about having a future with him, or should I keep giving him the benefit of the doubt?--Ready and Eager

Where would you be without friends to tell you how unhappy and wronged you should be feeling? Let's see, feeling good about your boyfriend and happy with your life? For some people, the glass is always half-empty. For others, the glass is totally empty, except for a dead fly in the bottom. Sure, perhaps your friends just want the best for you. Then again, perhaps they wanted the best for themselves, but it didn't quite work out that way, and nobody loves company like misery.

Of course your boyfriend has had "more than enough time" -- over there in that parallel universe your friends live in, where the earth revolves around your uterus. Back here in Realsville, the guy is scrambling to reinvent himself -- probably hoping for the best, but secretly picturing himself standing outside the car wash with a ratty paper cup. A man who isn't comfortable with who he is and what he does is a man who isn't ready to commit to anything but figuring that stuff out. Wanna see how fast your boyfriend can run? Stamp your feet and demand that he bring home the bacon while he's still out hunting for the pig.

That said, there's no such thing as TiVo for the ovaries, so you can't just sit around hoping he'll someday feel the urge to marry you and make moppets. Figure out how much wiggle room you have. Are you dead-set on having your own bun, in your own oven, or would you consider adopting? (Save a child while preventing saggy boobs and swollen ankles!)

Let your boyfriend know you're all about holding the ladder while he's scampering up, but you need him to seriously consider whether he wants what you want. Stress that whatever he decides is cool with you. Just remember, even if he insists he's on the daddy-track, there are no guarantees. He might change his mind, he might have been lax in making it up, his sperm might be poor swimmers.

But you know him, right? Is he a good guy? Is he with you because you have something passionate and special, or because he's got too heavy a class load to find time to break up? Decide for yourself whether he's cavalierly depriving you of "the best years of your life" -- or whether he is, or will be, an integral part of them. For the most accurate results, avoid demanding an answer on the spot, like it's the final round of Jeopardy! and the buzzer's about to sound. If you need to keep busy while he's mulling things over, you might use the time to thank all those helpful friends of yours -- by offering to wire their jaws shut.

Two Much of a Good Thing

I just started dating an identical twin. She and her sister not only look exactly alike, they dress alike, speak alike, have the same body language, and both still live at home. Her parents invited me over for dinner, and I'm freaked out that I might mistake the sister for my beloved and wind up looking like a jerk. I gave my girlfriend a watch, but she doesn't always wear it. I also gave her a sweater, but her sister soon had the same one. How am I supposed to tell them apart? --Double Trouble

The Miracle of the Sweater wasn't enough to suggest something's up? Come on, you give Doublemint Twin No. 1 a piece of clothing, and it clones itself almost instantly, and you think this is mere coincidence? These girls are playing you. Instead of being frozen in fear of getting chimped, let them know how much you enjoy a good chimping. Be frank about your confusion, and be sure to lay it on real thick whenever the parents are in earshot: how hard it must be to be around "all this perfection." When the parents leave the room, go ahead and guess which girl is yours -- then goose her to see if she squeals like you're wrong or right.

Copyright 2004, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)

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