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Parallax - Advice            April 10, 2000

   Happiness struck when she least expected it

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I can't believe what is happening to me. I'm almost thirty-six and I hadn't been out on a date since I don't know when. I had pretty much given up on men entirely. I've always thought I'm quite attractive but my self-esteem was so low I thought I was the ugliest creature on Earth. I found that only sleazy men would ask me out. I knew I was touching bottom when I could hardly say no to them. Then one day I ran into an old acquaintance from my first job. He asked me out on the spot. He said he'd always liked me and he wasn't going to let me go so easily this time. That was two months ago and we have been going full speed since. We both say we're in love, and I believe it. We've started talking about marriage. It's like my life just made a 180 and half the time I can't believe it's true. Every day I wake up afraid that something bad is going to happen, that he's going to leave me, that I'll go back to being dateless. Am I crazy, or is this normal, or am I letting things go too fast?

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Her view:

Dear Dateless,

"Oh trauma me - I am happy." You're right, we should figure out what to do about this. We have a few options. I'll list them in order of greatest impact.

There is public flogging, always a good choice when one is unduly blissful. Next there is self-flagellation - a reliable crowd-pleaser. Then my personal favorite: tying yourself naked to a public fountain while tourists take pictures. I think any of these three will do, take your pick.

But seriously, don't do this to yourself! Don't even be thankful. Expect you'll have a good relationship and you will. It's when people fret that things start to go wrong - don't create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Being happy is not exactly a cue for you to anticipate some sort of tragedy. If you think things will fail or believe that they will, then you can be certain of only one thing. So, don't be neurotic, put it out of your mind, and fall in love...

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His view:

Dear Dateless,

Perhaps 'a long time' in your self-imposed dateless captivity has dulled your appreciation for the finer pleasures of real world dating; uncertainty and co-dependence can be scary when you've only had your defeatist attitude to worry about since you-don't-know-when.

Perhaps you fail to notice that when things are beyond your control, 'something bad' can always happen. He might dump you, yes, or you might also get run over by a lawnmower, or your stocks might crash. Why worry about it so much? It's one thing to be conscious all this could happen, and take measures to prepare, but incorporating massive panic attacks into your morning routine is probably not that useful.

Perhaps if you don't believe 'it' is true it's because you're still thinking of 'it' as a miracle and not a rather commonplace occurrence that you somehow managed to avoid for an extended time period. Maybe you'll only hit bottom when you go back to being dateless precisely because you don't muster the self-confidence to recognize your value in the relationship.

I suggest the next time you have the opportunity, you give one of those sleazeballs a chance - you may learn something from them, such as getting up the courage to ask someone out.

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