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A medium-rare and wonderful thing

I'm 32, and deeply in love with this 24-year-old girl. I've never had trouble attracting women, but there was chemistry between us I didn't know was possible. There was a complication: She's engaged to and lives with a disabled man. She said she didn't love him anymore, and wasn't going to marry him, but refused to tell him or anyone in her life about us. She claimed she loved me and wanted to spend her life with me, but eventually admitted she wasn't leaving him any time soon. My mounting hurt made me say things I regret, like that she has no clue what love is, and that she was nothing to me but a piece of meat. I apologized, explaining I said those things out of pain, but she says they're unforgivable. Well, her fiancé has screamed "unforgivable" things to her over the phone, and he's still around. It's been seven months, and I can't seem to get over this. I'd do anything to reconcile. — A Mess

It was all going so swimmingly — you met this fabulous woman, had this incredible connection, and she told you she loved you and wanted to spend the rest of her life with you. Only one tiny complication: just not enough to stop spending it with the other guy.

While there's never a good time to tell the woman you love that she's nothing but a piece of meat, your revelation probably came at a particularly good time for her. It's likely she needed an out, but didn't realize it until you handed it to her, medium-rare, on a platter.

Maybe her identity's wrapped up in the Flo Nightingale thing, and she's worried about what people will say if she ditches the guy. Chances are, she's either too unformed as a person to decide what she wants or too afraid to express it. It's a pity, since you and she have at least one big thing in common: the idea that ignoring reality will make it go away, not just curl up behind you and use the extra time to sharpen its teeth.

If somebody you're dating has to keep you a secret, bells should go off in your head, and I don't mean the wedding kind. More like those in an alarm clock — the kind for heavy sleepers that first plays a little tune (say, Cannibal Corpse's "Hammer Smashed Face"), then throws itself on the bed and starts head-butting you.

So, what does it take to wake you? Despite all her secrecy and stonewalling, you're still finding excuses to keep mooning after her, like how "deeply in love" you are. (Apparently, you've always dreamed of meeting a woman who'd take your heart in her hands — and then put it down on her kitchen counter and forget about it for a few months.)

You're still stuck on her because you're focusing on how great it was with her instead of how great it wasn't. She's a package deal, and the moment she said, "Whoops, look at the time, gotta go home to my fiancé," it should have been clear she was a bad package. You do say you two had "chemistry" you "didn't know was possible." Well, good news! Now you know — which means you can seek it with somebody else; ideally, along with the empathy and ethics you took for granted.

It's gotta beat clinging to your fantasy of walking off into the sunset together — while doing everything in your power to drown out the likely reality: on either side of her husband's wheelchair.

Trouble on the Verizon

My boyfriend of five years calls his ex-wife regularly. He denied it, but I called her, and she admitted it, saying they're just friends. I told him to choose between us, and he said he's still going to talk to her. He says I'm overreacting, but his cell phone log says he's the one initiating most of the calls, waiting till I go get groceries or whatever. I admit I'm a very jealous person, but I need to know if I'm overreacting. — Heartbroken

So, let's see, you search through his stuff, interrogate his ex-wife, and tell him who he can and cannot talk to — all perfectly normal activities for anyone in a supervisory position in a federal prison.

It seems he likes his ex-wife and gets something out of talking to her. Either he's trustworthy or he isn't. If you aren't getting enough time and attention, that's one thing. If this is just jealousy, your problem isn't how much he's calling her but how little you think of you. Do your best to build yourself up, keeping in mind that he's with you for a reason, and it probably isn't that he has yet to chip the ankle shackle off the wall and tunnel out of your basement.

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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