Undead again? 

Q: My on-again, off-again girlfriend of a year wanted "time off" to date other people. Two weeks later, she told me she was in love with someone else. That was a month ago. I've spent the past month desperately staying busy so I won't call her or be sitting home thinking about her. Just when I was feeling a little better, she called me to say she missed "hearing my voice," and wants to go out for a drink next week. I know we won't get back together — it's just not going to happen — but I'm dying to see her. Would going out for one little drink be such a bad thing? —Torn

A: Modern medicine has advanced to the point where doctors can pretty much get a frozen fish stick swimming again. In this case, it's your relationship that's floating dead in the water. Your ex was feeling a little lonesome (when she wasn't busy loving the new guy), so she thought she'd take the electric zapper paddles to the thing ... just for an evening. That's all well and good for her, since she isn't the one running to Elks (cq no apostrophe) Lodge events to avoid sitting home and feeling like an open wound. You can give the relationship the two-hour Dr. Frankenstein, but where will that leave you? Back at last month's square one — wearing antlers and weeping.

Q: I was seeing a woman I thought I would be with for the rest of my life. Four years into the relationship, we broke up and I started dating again. My problem is that every woman I get interested in prefers to be with a man who treats her like dirt. I'm not talking about stupid women, either. These are professional, educated women, 28 and up. They all treat me like a big brother or a buddy, coming to our dates with other men or leaving our dates with strangers. Typically, when I run into them weeks or months later, they cry to me that the guy they brought along or left with was just interested in a quickie. What is it about these women that they'd rather be with men who are trying to put notches in their bedpost, instead of a man (me) who wants to wake up holding them in my arms? —No Notches

A: Just as there are whistles only dogs can hear, there are messages that are visible only to the naked female eye. You're wearing one, and it reads, "Hello, My Name Is ... 'Kick Me.'" You're under the convenient impression (sniff, sniff, cue the violins) that nice guys never get the girls. Well, you're inconveniently wrong. While it's true that some girls (especially those in their 20s) are quick to throw over the boy next door for the unshaved felon in the stolen Camaro, most grow up and get over this. When they do, they want nice guys — not too-nice guys like you. The distinction is in the pushover-ability. Your pattern of getting ditched on dates says a lot about you — that you come off so desperate for love that you'd trade your liver for a girlfriend, and maybe throw in a kidney or two. This makes you a prime target for user-girls — the kind of women who are gracious enough to let you pick up the check before they run off with the waiter. You should thank your somewhat-lucky stars that, thus far, you've only encountered small-time users. The pros see pushovers such as you as job substitutes. They'll bleed you for large appliances, small cars, 30-year mortgages, and airfare and lodging for 29 Mongolian relatives ... and that's just while they're warming up. You'll continue to have parasite/host relationships until you learn the magic word — "no" — and get on kissing terms with all its cousins: "I don't think so," "not on your life," and "guess again, bimbo-face." It's not that you have to use the negative approach at all times, as in, "You want French food, do you? Well, word has it McDonald's drive-through has french fries." You just have to start behaving like a guy who has self-respect — a guy who doesn't treat every woman he meets as his last chance to have sex again before he dies. To do this, take a casual approach. Look at each woman as a possibility in need of further investigation; an investigation which will take the form of a date. And take a look at yourself. To avoid any further big-brothering, hire a team of experts — a hairstylist, a trainer, a dresser — to repackage you so you're more sex-friendly. The idea is to reinforce your ultimate real-man message — "take me home with you," not "take me home with you so I can watch your cats while you get it on with some other guy." Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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