Ask the Advice Goddess 1

Please help! I'm a nice, "normal," attractive 28-year-old woman, but no matter how hard I try to meet a nice guy, I always end up with Mr. Wrong. This year, I've had the unemployed mooch, the habitual potsmoker and a workaholic who cancelled nearly every date he made with me. I try to be very friendly and open-minded, but maybe that's a mistake, since I keep ending up with these messed-up guys. Where am I going wrong? How can I improve my odds before I end up old and alone and in a rocking chair? -- "Lost Angeles"Looking for love is a lot like looking for a job. It is the rare individual who is equally qualified for opportunities in belly dancing, investment banking and particle physics. Most people must choose between the finger cymbals, the Dow Jones and the particle beam splitter.By the same token, you shouldn't try to meet men until you have a good idea of what kind of man suits you best. Possession of a working penis alone should not be enough to qualify hopeful applicants.To determine your "hiring" criteria, make a list, in order of importance, of qualities you value -- for example, kindness, honesty, intelligence, literacy, good manners, personal hygiene, possession of a job, desire to have a relationship, and the ability to carry several pieces of overstuffed luggage from baggage claim to long-term parking.When you meet someone who strikes your fancy, you don't have to stick to every last item on your list, but if any of the qualities you consider essential appear to be missing, you should probably move on.Don't be afraid to ask questions. For example, "Excuse me, but isn't that a wedding ring on your finger?"And be sure to pay attention to little red flags: If he's really the Lord High Poohbah at Coopers and Lybrand, why is he asking you to front him money for his next beer? If he leaves a meager tip, perhaps he's stingy in other areas. No matter how much you want to like him, don't allow yourself to rationalize bad behavior.Furthermore, unless you aspire to meet a lounge lizard or an alcoholic, try not to focus your manhunting efforts on bars and clubs. Actually, the best way to meet men is by pursuing your own interests. Like eating a box of Crackerjacks, even if you don't get the prize you'd hoped for, you'll have fun in the process...and possibly even master a new sport or skill.In fact, if you invest enough time and effort into your favorite hobby, it might even turn into a new job. And with a brand new set of male co-workers to choose from, who knows -- you could give a whole new meaning to the term "pilfering office supplies." 469 wordsI have been dating the same woman for about eight months. We're both really busy with work during the week, so we usually spend most of the weekend together. The problem is, she's been going away by herself about one weekend a month, sometimes two. It's not that I think she's being unfaithful while she's away, it's just that I don't think it's fair to be in a relationship with another person and be running off by yourself all the time. Am I right? --Andrew R., ChicagoBy the time they are eight years old, most boys are begging to be left home alone without a babysitter. From the looks of your handwriting and corporate stationery, you appear to be over thirty. Perhaps it's time to begin weaning yourself from constant adult supervision.Being in a relationship does not guarantee you a monopoly on your partner's time. As long as she's not out trolling for your replacement, you should respect her need to be alone on some weekends or with people other than you. Besides, why would you want her to stick around when she really wants to be somewhere else?Generally, the most interesting partners are independent people with full lives. Such people tend not to be as available as those who rely heavily on their love relationship for their identity.However, since you are dissatisfied with the current parameters of your relationship, you and your girlfriend need to sit down and redefine them. If her weekend absences make you miserable, and she needs time to herself to be happy, perhaps you should each be with other people whose needs are closer to your own. If the two of you want to continue as a couple, you need try to work out some compromise.If you do stay together, keep in mind that use of handcuffs and chains in your relationship is best isolated to those times when one of you is wearing studded leather pants with circles cut out around the butt.Gotta problem? Email or send your letters to The Advice Goddess, 171 Pier Ave, Box 280, Santa Monica, CA, 90405. c1997, Amy Alkon

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