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The folly of attempted lust 

Advice Goddess

All of meh

I'm a 30-something woman, and my best friend is a guy. We talk and text day and night, and I truly adore him. All our friends think we should be dating, but I don't feel sexually attracted to him. I agree that we'd otherwise make a perfect couple. Can chemistry grow or be built? — Bestie

There's no such thing as a one-night friendship, and for good reason — because friendship is based on trust, fondness and mutual respect, not on how the other person's butt fills out a pair of pants.

And though you might love your friend as a human being, loving him as something more won't work unless you also feel a little short of breath when you see him bend over. Unfortunately, this isn't a feeling you can practice and get better at like the clarinet.

Who you have the hots for is partly borne of history, like when a guy's lip curl pings up your tween longing for the older bad boy next door. There are also some evolved "human universals" at play in attraction, like how women across cultures tend to prefer a man who's taller than they are. And even your immune system seems to have a say. Research by Switzerland's Claus Wedekind and others suggests we evolved to be attracted to the scent of a partner with an immune system dissimilar to our own — one that would combine forces with ours to make a baby with a broad set of defenses against infection and disease.

Though you (and others aspiring to be attracted to somebody they're fond of) surely mean well, you can't give sexual bonus points to somebody for being a good person. It's actually cruel to get romantic with somebody you aren't attracted to, and biology doesn't help matters. The hormone-driven heat of the naked and new is easily mistaken for attraction, but it's actually just a temporary biochemical Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Before long, your newly beloved will be about as appealing a sex partner as your desk lamp, and you'll be mulling over whether you'd rather get it on or snip off a few of your toes with rusty bolt cutters.

Ask yourself something: Why do you have to be all "let's take this to the next level" anyway? Romantic partners often crow about the wonderfulness of their relationship by saying they're "best friends." You already have that. And frankly, platonic has its benefits, like how there's no canceling plans because it's "that time of the month" or you accidentally dyed your hair the color of Bozo's ugly shoes. And ultimately, two people are far more likely to "grow old together" if they aren't the sort of best friends who have sex, which comes with all sorts of risks and complications. (Note that reality TV shows have titles like Wives With Knives and not Best Friends Chasing Each Other With Hatchets.)

I would dye for you

My new boyfriend asked me to dye my ashy blonde hair dark. I think it would be fun to go brunette, but it seems rather unfeminist to do it for him. The bigger problem is that I recently stumbled across some photos of his ex-girlfriend of eight years, a brunette. Should I be concerned that he's still into her and I'm just a stand-in? — Wigging

Sure, a romantic partner can go too far in making appearance-related requests, like by asking you to have a new set of breasts bolted on or to wear a ski mask to the liquor store. But the reality is, we all transform ourselves to be more physically appealing to romantic partners and others. It's the reason for Rogaine, lipstick, and control-top pantyhose.

And here's a man you want to want you. Why would fulfilling this request — one you deem "fun" — be a bad thing? Yes, there is the question of whether he's asking this because he thinks you'd look hot as a brunette or because you'd look like the hot brunette he dated before. But there's a simple way to figure that out, and it's calmly (and non-prosecutorially) asking him about this hair color preference, as well as what he sees in you (lookswise and otherwise). Keep asking until you either are satisfied with his answers or — sadly — realize that this request is just a prelude to other requests. (Really, all you'd have to do is a few pages of paperwork to legally change your name, saving him the pain and expense of getting that "Melanie" tattoo lasered off his "special place.")

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Her latest book is Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck.

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