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Recluse endangerment

I've been seeing this wonderful man for three years. I'm 29, he's 41. Although he says he loves me immensely, and deems me the person most important to him, I mostly feel single. He never accompanies me to functions (weddings, Christmas parties, etc.). I'm independent, and love hanging solo with friends, but sometimes I'd like him to be my date to something. His response: "I just don't do functions." I get that. He's an introvert. In his defense, he threw a big birthday party for me, and says I'm always welcome to invite friends to his place for drinks. Still, I feel I'm kept low-profile, and it hurts. My friends have pronounced our relationship dysfunctional. So, despite all the fun we have, I wonder if something's very wrong and I'm compromising my needs. Unaccompanied

You know those party games where people ask, if you were an animal, what would you be? Well, if your boyfriend were a party animal, he'd probably be something between a deer in headlights and roadkill.

There are people who need people and there are people who need fewer people. Or, as Bukowski put it, "No [I don't hate people]. But, I seem to feel better when they're not around." The image of the introvert is negative: Norman Bates, Ted Kaczynski, Lee Harvey Oswald and Howard Hughes with Kleenex boxes on his feet. But, for many, being introverted is merely a social preference, not a disorder. This probably goes for your boyfriend unless it stops him from getting to the grocery store and he starves to death, or he's so "not a people person" that he's compelled to get them out of the way with an ax.

Frankly, your boyfriend sounds like mine. I go to a monthly writers' dinner that people would, as the saying goes, give their right arm to attend. My boyfriend would actually gnaw off his right arm to get out of it. While I thrive on human contact, it's more in his nature to stay home alone in the dark reading about Stalin and listening to Penderecki's "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima." When there is a social gathering he needs to attend, his life dream is to be mistaken for a shrub and left outside beside the porch while the party flames on.

How does this reflect on me? It doesn't. In fact, I kinda brag that he's antisocial. Of course, I don't have the equivalent of Alvin and the Chipmunks weighing in on my relationship, leading me to wonder stuff like "Does he love me enough to be miserable for me?" If you sincerely can't deal, you're with the wrong guy. Otherwise, what do your friends know? After all, the boyfriend who's supposedly keeping you "low-profile" threw you some huge birthday bash, and you don't complain that he only takes you to out-of-the way restaurants frequented by drunks and the bowling league.

It's possible you can sometimes get the guy to compromise. But, pick your parties maybe your best friend's wedding, maybe not the housewarming for Whatshername from accounts receivable. Set ground rules; like, you'll leave by a certain time, and you won't leave him stranded with some blowhard. Just don't get carried away and start expecting him to lead the hokey-pokey line. Remember, the question for him isn't just "Honey, wanna go to a party?" but more along the lines of "Honey, wanna go to a party or be locked in a small cage and gnawed to death by ferrets?" (Uh, he'll need a little more time to mull that over.)

Laugh all the way to the wank

Your response to "More Than A Wallet" suggests you're a feminazi, probably the head of the S.S. in that group. You said, in dating, whoever does the asking out (usually the man) should pay for the first couple dates. Guess what: Dates can initially be set up with a 50/50 payment understanding. I wonder how many times you weren't asked out but wished you were, and decided to screw up others' lives to be more comfortable with yours. Just Sayin'

Let's see ... I suggest men will be more successful in dating if they pick up the first couple checks and this compares to marching millions into the gas chamber, then shoving them into ovens? I give reality-based advice, and the reality is, most guys are looking for carnal advancement, not experiments in dating finance reform.

Come on, it's hard enough for some guys to get dates. Once one of these guys lands one, he's supposed to start talks on the level of the Israelis and the Palestinians about who funds the biscotti and coffee? All I can say is this: I wonder how many times you weren't asked out but wished you were, and decided to screw up others' lives to be more comfortable with yours. Just sayin'!

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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