Will work for love

Q: For 10 months, I dated the most incredible girl. She really loved me. I told her that I didn't know if I loved her, but I hoped that I would eventually. This hurt her, as did my taking her and our relationship for granted. Two months ago, she broke up with me, but we've stayed friends. Last week, her coworker revealed that he wants to date her. She's somewhat interested in him. Now that it could be too late, I realize that I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. She said that if there is a chance for us in the future, we'd have to start all over, from the beginning. Do I have a chance? —Missed The Bus

A: A wise woman understands that an unwise man cannot survive on love alone, at least in the early stages of the relationship, and gives her big doofus a long list of errands. To-do lists aren't what they used to be. In medieval times, a guy couldn't get the girl without slaying a dragon, a black knight or two, then picking up the Holy Grail and a couple legs of mutton on his way home to the castle. These days, some girls make it too easy. Take your girlfriend, for example. Chances are, she was perfectly content with a bottle of cheap wine, a little takeout Chinese and you. She didn't make you chase her endlessly or force you to throw on a tin suit and battle the green-eyed monster. There were no late-night demands that you score her a sandwich (no crusts) made from the hard-boiled egg of an extinct parrot. Nor did she nag you to pop in at Tiffany's and pick up a bunch of carats on your way home. Essentially, she never gave you much motivation to get off your big butt and get boyfriendly. This isn't to say that she never gave you a quest. There was a quest in her scenario, but it was a trick quest: She simply presented you with her big, chocolate truffle heart, free of charge, then waited patiently for you to relieve the armed guards and knock down the brick wall surrounding yours. When, after 10 months, you still weren't exactly running to grab the pickax, your Sleeping Beauty sat up in bed one night and realized that her fairy-tale relationship wasn't a happy one. You snored through her exit interview, then kept snoring ... until the competition appeared on the horizon. Suddenly, you rocketed awake and concluded that she's the greatest thing since the invention of buttered toast. Well, there's no time like the present to put out a press release about how you feel. Do exactly as she says: Start over. Ask her out on dates and figure out what's so great about her (beyond some other guy figuring it out). Let her know how you feel. Don't bother drowning her in flowers or embarrassing her with bent-knee serenades. Just give her all she wanted all along — not for you to run out and mow her image into crop circles in the English countryside. Just for you to want to do it ... and to let it show.

Q: Last week, I ran into an old boyfriend. He suggested that we grab a drink sometime and gave me his phone number. In the short time I spent with him, I couldn't tell if (or how much) he'd changed. I don't know if I shold call him and get to know him again, or if it would all end in misery. My best friend says there's no harm in trying. Still, I wouldn't know what to tell him if I decided he wasn't right for me. —Tempted

A: Unless the guy tried to skin your mother and feed her to his fish, whether he's changed isn't a life-and-death issue. Going out for a beer with him isn’t either, unless you're partial to a bar where they make you get measured for a white dress and a veil every time you order a drink. Unless your ex shares your ability to turn the mundane into high drama, he probably won't see an invitation to join you for a drink as an implied commitment to drop his dentures into the glass next to yours 50 years from now. Just call the guy up and ask him out. If you like what you see and hear, see him again. If you don't (and he wants an explanation), either tell him that you aren't up to a second round with him or tell him the truth — that you're devoting your life to pondering the staggering dramatic possibilities entwined with the age-old question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail [email protected]

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