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Parallax - Advice            April 17, 2000

   'I just want a fling, that's all...'

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I like to be pretty up-front with women about my intentions. Usually my intentions are 'noble,' but sometimes I'm just looking for an affair, something short and to the point. I've noticed that when I'm up-front about having a serious relationship, women have no problem with that, no matter if they want that too or not. But when I'm up-front about a fling, they get offended and leave - even though half the time I'm pretty sure that's what they want also. Should I just stop being so honest?

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Her view:

Dear Up-Front,

Women don't like to be told they're not the center of your universe - even if they're using you for sex. They like to feel like the option is entirely theirs. Otherwise they're offended. Even a married woman having an affair can feel cheated on if her illicit lover is interested in others.

So, what to do? Do you lie and tell them you're interested in a serious relationship when in fact you aren't? I think not. This would add a whole host of other problems which can only lead to angry discussions. How about this: don't say anything about the status of the relationship until it becomes an issue. At which point maybe she'll raise the topic. This way you haven't misrepresented your intentions and you've given yourself enough time to make a decision about the relationship.

Or, you could be a little more proactive. If you're looking for a fling, target women who you think are equally inclined (for whatever reason - we won't get into these), so that your interests are aligned. If you're dating someone you sense is getting too serious you probably should call it off as your relationship will be asymmetrical and you'll end up causing her more pain by waiting.

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His view:

Dear Up-Front,

Yes, stop being so sincere, dammit! One thinks you would've learned by now...a little pattern recognition will take you far these days.

The basic rule is honest is good. Then when you get to intermediate dating you learn that, as always, there's an exception to the rule. There can always be too much of a good thing. In this example, your honesty is coming across nice and blunt, with tactless written all over it and leaving you with negligible hope for salvaging the night.

You are being frank, but they're hearing that you'd like them to admit they are, well, to put it primly, 'ladies of the night.' True - judging by 'Sex in the City,' women are as eager (at least in NY) for the old fling as we are - but admitting that all you want is sex is quite different from just having it without thinking about it.

There is a haunting vulnerability to verbalizing sexual desire. More so for women, I think. Sex just for sex has a stigma of superficiality. A social connotation that started with apple and Eve and carries all the way down to your living room sofa. So even if the lights are dim and Barry White is on, your pure intentions are not going to change the fact that we all need to delude ourselves: reality is harsh enough without having to come face to face with our inner trollop.

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