Shover's quarrel and Junior mince

Q: I was seeing a great guy for seven months. We laughed a lot and had great conversations and great sex. He would call me a couple times a week and spend a day or two with me on the weekends. It seemed as if he was trying to make room for me in his life. Although he made me feel loved, he never said that he loved me. Not too long ago, he started a demanding new job and got custody of his kids. Suddenly, he started holding me at arm's length. I screwed up my courage to tell him how I feel about him. As soon as I said "I love you," he became cold and distant. He told me that we are just friends and said that he doesn't see me as being his "last" relationship. I stopped seeing him, but I miss his support and love. Did I misread the signs? —Passion Statement

A: Check the shelves at Hallmark. You'll find them bewilderingly bereft of SWAT-team battering rams inscribed with cuddly-wuddly messages — and it isn't because they've been flying off the shelves. Apparently, buyers for Hallmark know a few things you don't: In spring, a young man's fancy does not turn to thoughts of shove. The Beatles never sang, "Shove, shove me do." Shove doesn't make the world go round. In short, shove is not the answer. But, you sniff, "All I said was 'I love you.'" Come on. Your declaration was no spontaneously erupting geyser of amour. This particular geyser was running on a timer — "Time for me! And make it snappy!" was the message you wanted to send. You know it and I know it and your boyfriend figured it out, too. Being a pushy broad is no way to win a man's heart; not unless the man in question is looking for a new and improved version of his mother: ("All the nagging/half the varicose veins!") Being a compassionless broad won't ingratiate you either. Here's a guy who suddenly found himself holding down a demanding new job and his kids. This is a man making some hard choices: Does he sneak out of the office early or dare he trust that his kids are home hitting the books, not making bomb threats and taking hostages on airplanes or whatever it is kids do to amuse themselves these days? What he needs isn't a girlfriend who starts spouting geysers of need in the name of love, but a girlfriend who actually loves him enough to cut him some slack when lifequakes hit. Now, it's entirely possible that you were just a good-time Charlene to him all along. But, the best way to find out if that's the case is the easy way — just ask, "Hey, where do you see this going?" — don't stand outside his life in a heart-stenciled flak jacket shouting, "Police! Open up or I'll break it down."

Q: I have been with my girlfriend for more than nine months. We've always fought and reminded each other of small bad things we'd said or done. Still, we've always managed to kiss, make up and say that we love each other. Recently, though, we've been fighting a lot. Today, we agreed to end our relationship and stay friends. I'm having doubts about our decision. I really want to be with her. I told her that, but she doesn't want to change her mind. Right now, I want to be the best friend I can be to her. How can I do that while stopping myself from trying to bring the intimacy back? —Sticking With Our Agreement

A: Some people have a tad too much access to the six-year-old in them. You: "You stole my Furby!" Her: "Well, you pulled my hair!"

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

Think of everything you two had in store for you, had you grown old together: You: "Hey, those are my dentures!" Her: "Are not!

"Are too!"

"Well, you stole my Centrum Silver."

"'Cause you were doing wheelies on my walker again."

"Was not!"

"Were too!"

Apparently, your girlfriend got wise before she got old, which is probably why she broke up with you. To get your head around being her friend, follow the lead of parents with bickering children: Take a time out from each other; say, two or three months without any contact. This doesn't mean that you have to give her the silent treatment (or pull her hair for old time's sake) if you run into her at a party. Just smile and say hello and move on. After a few steady months of keep-away, you should process her change in status from your 6-year-old old lady to your 6-year-old old girlfriend. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail [email protected]

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