Ask the Advice Goddess 17

I'm a woman living in New York. I travel a lot for business. Over a year and a half, I've gone out about six times with a guy who lives in LA who also travels a lot. (I was in a relationship between the times I saw him). I'm not sure if I want to have a relationship with him, but I'm kind of willing to see what happens. He just went to South America for a few weeks. He said he'd call me as soon as he got back. He was supposed to be back home a week ago. I still haven't heard from him. My mother always told me that I shouldn't call men until they call me, and that women should NEVER ask men out. What's the rule on calling guys? Should I call him? Should you ever call a guy? --Confused, ManhattanAdvocates for "Fairness In Dating" -- (usually men who have a hard time getting women to go out with them; often for very good reason) -- pound their chests and howl that women should share the burden of initiating dates.While it would be nice, and perhaps, more "fair," if women took equal responsibility in one of the more panic-inspiring facets of the dating ritual, the reality is that relationships work better when men do the chasing. Scream all you want about perpetuating gender inequity and patriarchal culture. But once you crawl out from under the hairy armpit of radical feminism into the real world, you'll find that most men --whether or not they will admit it -- prefer pursuing to being pursued. (Orion The Hunter, me Tarzan, you Jane, and all of that). Nobody's quite sure why this is. But perhaps it goes all the way back to basic biology: You know...the sperm chases the egg; not the other way around.Should a woman ever "reach out and touch someone" who happens to be a man she's interested in? Of course. Once you have a relationship going, a guy shouldn't have to do all the work, just because he wears the Dockers. On the other hand, don't phone a man so often that he starts fantasizing about entering The Witness Protection Program.Regarding your man's disappearance, there are a number of possible explanations:*He is still in South America, and is having difficulty navigating the phone system with high school Spanish. *He was kidnapped by revolutionaries who don't take MCI. *He is home recovering from dysentery, and can't make it to the phone. *He has met someone else and dreads telling you.Call him and inquire about his trip. You should be able to sense from his response whether he simply spent a little extra time south of the border or if he has gone south for good. 4I had a very nice girlfriend for five years. We broke up about a year ago. I was pretty depressed for eight or nine months. I snapped out of it this past Spring. A friend recently fixed me up with this woman. Wow. Major chemistry, fireworks, all that stuff. The problem is, now, I'm finally okay being alone. In fact, I'm enjoying it. I've been dating a bunch of women -- nothing serious -- and I don't feel like I want to get into another big relationship right now. On the other hand, this girl is really great, and I don't want to give her up either. Any suggestions? -- Gourmet GuyPeople are always in a rush to name things. Some parents are in such a hurry to give their baby a name that they pick one out while their little pumpkin is still but a blur on the ultrasound. Many name their child seconds or hours after it's born. This seems a bad idea. Until you let your little girl run around for a few years, how can you know for sure whether she's a Sunshine or a Faust?The same goes for relationships. Instead of forcing yourself to prematurely define what you want, just proceed forward until you know what that is. To be fair, be honest with this woman about your confusion. Make it clear that you are in no way reticent about her; it's only that you were just starting to enjoy singlehood when she came along and threw all those fireworks into the mix. Go slowly with her; try to see each other no more than once or twice a week so you won't feel pressured to fall into a relationship you don't think you're ready to have.However, in spite of your newfound affinity for the single life, take heed that when it comes to fireworks, once the fuse has been lit, chances are there's going to be an explosion.Got a problem? Ask Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, box 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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