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Slippery when unwed 

Putting the moos on him

Slippery When Unwed

Several years ago, I lost every penny I had, along with my health. I eventually recovered my health and career, and, in the process, grew up. I'm now in my mid-30s. Previously, I had two three-year relationships, but I only started dating again recently. The last woman I dated had eight drinks (yes, eight) on our first date -- and sounded like no stranger to the bottle. She confessed to a recent affair with a married man (I'm still trying to figure out why an affair was cool, but she was "nervous" about dating again after her divorce). She also told me things about her friends and family that would make Caligula blush. Even so, the fact that I'd never married made her leery of me -- and other women I've met have also found it a bone of contention. I'm a good guy, have good relationships with my friends and family, and I'm moving up at work. How come my matrimony-free life seems to be a stain on my character?

-- Single And Degenerate

Nothing makes a guy persona non grata with the ladies like neglecting to marry and divorce two or three of them and scatter kids all over the place like birdseed. Or, as I like to call them, "Future carjackers of America."

What, exactly, were you doing that you couldn't find your way to an acrimonious divorce by 30? Oh yeah, crawling back from death's door, rebuilding your career from scratch, and getting your self together instead of inflicting it, unformed, on some unsuspecting woman. And this is a stain on your character? Consider the source: a woman who drinks the bar dry on date one, whose affair points to a view of marriage vows as mere suggestions, and who doesn't just hang with a bad seed or two, but more of a bad crop.

You're a victim of the dating version of racial profiling. Like the Navajo handing down the oral tradition, generations of women have passed down the notion that any man who hasn't wifed up by 40 must be an irredeemable bachelor -- interminably selfish, set in his ways, terrified of commitment, a major player, or just too busy with his boyfriend. In 1950, when pretty much everybody married, and usually in their early 20s, this assumption wasn't such a stretch. Back then, U.S. Census data put the "median age for first marriage" at 20 for women and 22 for men. By 2003, it had risen to 25 for women and 27 for men, with more and more people marrying for the first time in their 30s, 40s, or 50s -- if at all.

So, are you a man who won't commit, or a man who won't commit to just anything? A woman who tells you what you are instead of asking you about yourself and getting to know you is telling you a whole lot about herself. This isn't to say one snap judgment necessarily deserves another, but there are certain women prone to such leaps: those holding a stopwatch to their ovaries; the type who'd say to a guy, "I'm nothing without you," and really mean it; and women who take an abstinence-only approach to critical thinking.

Women who do think understand that it isn't a huge accomplishment to get married; just get drunk and impulsive in Vegas. That's your chance to learn what's worse than waking up clueless as to the name of the aging stripper snoring into your chest hair. Not to worry, "Darling" is just as good a save when the mystery lady also happens to be your wife.

Putting The Moos On Him

I'm a woman in my early 20s who's attracted to an adorable guy who's very short and very skinny. I am a little overweight, but not enormous by any means. Still, compared to him, I feel like a cow. A too-tall cow. Are we too much of a mismatch to even think about getting involved?

-- Living Larger

Okay, so maybe you can wear one of the Olsen twins' skirts as a dickey. Either get into the body you have, or leave the offending parts at the gym. Whatever you do, kill the cow jokes. There's nothing less sexy than a woman whose self-image is a laundry list of flaws. By the way, it's actually women who are the height queens. Research shows women have a strong preference for taller men, while men are more concerned with finding slimmer women. No, men don't want to make love to a sawhorse in lingerie, but they also don't want to call in Search and Rescue after getting lost between the folds. Of course, that's most men. As for what this man's into, flirt with him and see how he responds. If you go to hug him, and he says, "Donnn't hurrrt meee!" the two of you probably aren't meant to be.

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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