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It's Hard Out Here for a Wimp 

Plus, what hoes around ...

The day of my third date with this wonderful girl I learned that a close friend had committed suicide. I was overcome with grief, but so afraid the news would turn her off, I made up a story to cover why I had to break plans. She believed it, and things went well for a while, but I couldn't keep up the façade and eventually said a bunch of stupid things. I later left a message on her machine, not only to apologize but to tell her the truth. It came out all wrong. I wrote her a letter, but again failed to explain. I tried a third time, with a letter including my phone number, in hopes I could tell it to her straight. She then complained to our college dean. I still see her at school and feel horrible that I was never able to come clean. Don't I at least owe her an explanation?

-- She Hates Me

You never know when a girl is a member of that group, Girls Who Don't Like People Who Know People Who Die.

Chances are, however, this girl's a member of a much larger group, Women Who Like Men Who Appear To Have Emotions, Plus The Guts To Reveal Them From Time To Time. Emotional expressiveness is measured on a scale from emotionally vacant to emotionally available (the ideal) to the emotional equivalent of 26 illegal immigrants packed into an 8-by-10 studio apartment with one semi-functional toilet in the hall. In general, no woman worth having wants some wet dishrag of a man who cries himself to sleep whenever his neighbor gets a parking ticket -- or, at the other extreme, a man who reacts to the death of a friend with all the heart and soul of a baked potato.

If you want women to flock to you, hand out money. Even the worst guy in the world can get a girlfriend who rents by the hour. Of course, your shape-shifting attempts are a version of what those girls do, but instead of strutting your stuff in fuchsia platforms and a miniskirt the size of a paper cut, you're unstrutting your stuff -- not selling yourself, just selling yourself out. This isn't to say you should start first dates with "Hi, my name is Joey, I'm an alcoholic." But, perhaps you heard wrong way back when: It's "every girl wants a pony," not a phony.

Everybody makes mistakes. What separates the men from the poodles is how they clean them up. Let's just say your efforts to "tell it to her straight" weren't exactly John Cusack/"Say Anything" moments. For the uninitiated, Cusack's character tries to win his girl back by standing under her window in the middle of the night holding his boom box over his head and blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." And then there's you, the anti-Cusack, leaving all those cryptic notes and meandering phone messages. That's kind of like e-mailing the girl to ask her to download the song -- after upgrading to a new operating system, which should only take about 14 hours on the phone with tech support in Calcutta.

Forget trying to "come clean" (any further mousy yet stalkerish attempts to get her back) and focus on coming into some self-acceptance. Without it, girls won't like you or respect you, and neither will you. Once you're cool with who you are, all that matters is giving a relationship your best shot -- even if the response from the girl in the window is "Romeo, Romeo ... wouldya turn that damn thing down?!"

What Hoes Around ...

I started seeing a guy who has a girlfriend. Wrong, I know, and what was I thinking? He kept telling me he'd break up with her, but they've been together five years, and he hadn't gotten around to it. Two days ago, she walked in on us in bed. He now says he's not with her anymore, and wants to be with me, but since she caught us, he's been distant and "busy." Do you think he's trying to patch things up with her?

-- On Layaway

You take a creative approach to ultimatums: "If you don't break up with your girlfriend, I won't stop sleeping with you!" Wow, what a predicament you put him in. People "get around to" what they have to; for example, paying the tab before leaving a restaurant lest their next meal be gruel on a tin tray shoved under the bars of their cell. If you don't insist on the basics from a guy -- i.e., being single and available -- he's unlikely to get around to seeing you have them. As for what this guy's doing now, my Magic 8-Ball's in the shop, but just a guess: He's too "busy" having makeup sex with her to have breakup sex with you?

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail (

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