Dear Susan: I’ve been with my boyfriend since I was 17. We recently turned 21. Sometimes we both feel that we got too serious too young. He often will say to me tha the wishes he had met me later on in life because he’s curious to have other relationships. Like him, I also wonder what it would be like to be with other men. I suggested to him that we try having other sexual partners but remain together. He’s open to it, but now I’m wondering if that’s a good idea. What if he or I develop feelings for these other people? So should we just be grateful that we found somebody special at such a young age? Shouldwe just break it off and risk finding something else out there? Confused

Dear Confused: You have had very special times together, but I don’t think you two will stay together, it’s almost as if you’re both saying that to each other butnot in so many words. This will not work, try it if you both must, but it’sa recipe for disaster. There will be frustrations and jealousy on bothparts. It’s not a game nor is another person’s emotions to be taken lightly. You’re both very young so this is part of your journey, but if you are goingto do this then do it if you must. But close the door, before you do. I know you won’t. I suspect you will hang on but I expect another letter from youover the coming months…asking me what you can do as your feeling so badand alone. Do you really want this? You’re a bright, intelligent youngwoman. Would you tell someone to put their hand in a fire? No so why are you asking if you should do it?

Dear Susan: I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over a year. Things have been up and down between us for most of our relationship. We met during his last year of university. He was often moody then, which annoyed me, but I figured that he was stressed with school, so I let it slide. Now that he has graduated, he has a full-time job and has just bought a house. Things are going well for him, but he’s still moody. And it seems like he has lost his sexual desire for me. I love him, but his depression is taking its toll on me. Do you think I should just end things, or is this a situation that we can work through? Moody blues

Dear moody blues: I think his mood swings are just the tip of the iceberg. He has always been self-centred. You give your support to him, but there is none for you when you need it. If you continue on this path with him, you will become increasingly withdrawn and his negative energy will become yours. If you leave him, you’ll see that life will open up. I feel that you would like to do a little travelling when you finish school, but you won’t be able to, given the situation you’re in now. I think you will leave him and find new romance. The new guy will either sail or like water sports. Think about yourself for a change. It’s your choice.

Dear Susan: I worked with a man for seven months. During five of those months, there was an intense attraction between us, but we never acted on it. We flirted discreetly in person and in emails. When I returned from my vacation, my agency contacted me to tell me that my contract had terminated and my services were no longer required. My first thought was not of losing the job but of losing my contact with this guy! He and I exchanged emails, and, in the end, he asked me to set a date to get together. He came over to my house that night; we talked and laughed and had sex. I hadn’t had sex for two years, and it felt great. He called to say that he had had a really good time and set up another date for the following week. That date was also a wonderfully intimate time. He called the next day to say he wanted to see me on Sunday. I told him that I was getting a little freaked that things were developing too quickly, so he called off our Sunday date. Since then, he has not returned my calls or emails. Did I overreact and cause him to panic? Freaked

Dear freaked: You know when you see a rock in the water, you can’t see how much is lurking underneath? First, you watered down what you said you told him. Second, yes, he did panic because this man is not free. He has another commitment, which you didn’t see because you wanted him. You gave him a reality check, and that is why he scooted. His brain had gone south! I think that saying what you did ended up saving you some heartache. You may hear from him again, though, because he was using you for sex. I’m sorry if I’m being blunt, but I don’t believe that you need this sort of pain. I know you have been hurt in the past and this was a way of putting your toe in the bathwater, but now that you have done it, learn from it. Be proud of who you are as a woman, and move on.

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Page 1 of 2Dear Susan: I split with a guy I had been living with for five years. He has a child from another relationship and so do I. While we got along well, we had very different parenting styles. We often fought about this, which ended up destroying our relationship and upsetting our kids. We decided that it would be better to move into separate places. Now that we’re apart, we’re getting along great. We realized just how much we missed each other, so we’re dating again, which I’m happy about. He’s talking about moving back in, but I’m nervous that we will just revert to the way we used to behave. If I can’t see any future together-where we live in the same house-perhaps we should even stop dating. I’m really torn about what to do. Nervous

Dear Nervous: You’re a sensible cookie. You should be nervous because neither of you has addressed the problems that caused the split h in the first place. You are different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live together. But don’t decide now. Spend the next six months talking about what your needs, wants and desires are, and then make a decision. He needs you more than you need him. My advice is not to go backward until you can see that the road ahead is clear. You know that; he doesn’t. Take the lead and work it out. Be careful how you tell him this; if you don’t put it the right way, he will feel rejected. Tell him that you love him and that you do want harmony again but not until the issues between you have been worked out. My only doubt here is that he is not aware of the importance of the situation. If I throw my psyche forward, I see another man on your path. Your current guy has to be right all the time, and we both know that this is not realistic. Take your time.

Dear Susan: I have been chatting with a guy on the Internet for three weeks, and I recently met him in person. I must confess that we slept together on our second date. It felt right, and I have very strong feelings for him. I told my sister and my girlfriend that we had had sex, and they both jokingly called me a slut. They are married, and they can’t understand the need single people have for intimacy. But I’m worried that if they think I’m a slut, he may think that too. I like to try to fix things when I’ve made a mistake, but I don’t know how to change his opinion of me. I also don’t want him to know that I’m insecure. Worried

Dear worried: The only people who think you have made a mistake are your friends. What do you think? You say you’re insecure. That’s likely why you slept with him. I think you need to look at why you’re feeling this way about yourself. I sense it’s because you haven’t had much success with men and it’s making you feel rather left out. You need to work on yourself and be proud of your body. I feel that what you’re looking for is the opposite of what he’s after: you want a boyfriend who loves and respects you, but I’m not sure that this is what’s on his mind. Stop looking for love in sex. Sex is a part of love, but you don’t know that at this stage-don’t find out the hard way. You are number one. Don’t forget that.

Dear Susan: Recently, I went through a rough patch in my life. During that time, I learned that the people I had once trusted, or thought I could trust, were either lying to me or playing me for a fool. I feel that I have very few friends I can trust; sometimes I feel like holing up in my house and never coming out. How do I learn to trust again? Guarded

Dear Guarded: I’m sorry for your pain, but there are lessons to be learned from this experience. Before your rough patch, you were happy and didn’t realize how jealous others were of you. Your work requires you to be — and appear — confident. Draw on that part of your personality to help you get back on track. The ability to trust others is not something you can instantly acquire. It takes a long time. You’re starting to make new friends, which is great. Take things slowly. There are always bad apples, but the good ones overshadow the bad; your goodness will overshadow the negative people who were once in your world. You can begin with blind faith in yourself! It’s the best place to start. You are headed for happier times.

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