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Parallax - Advice            April 17, 2000

   Stuck in girlfriend confusion

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I am truly stuck in girlfriend confusion. Actually I have two of them. I know you're thinking that I'm not the nicest guy right now but I really do love them both. You see I moved from New York to L.A. recently. In New York I started dating Tanya about 2 years ago and then needed to move to L.A. for my job about 5 months ago. The relationship was great before I left and I really miss her. We had talked about getting married and I had always assumed we would. Our jobs keep us in different cities right now and if either of us were to move it would be a huge career compromise.

So, that brings me to Alexandra who I met in L.A. She is an actress and is one of the most amazing people I've ever met, not to mention stunning. I feel as though I am in love with her. I know this could just be infatuation and excitement over a new relationship but I think it is love. The problem is every time I talk to Tanya I feel I can't live without her and cannot wait for her to move to L.A. We had agreed on casually dating a little bit before I moved, but this is more than casually dating. I haven't told her about Alexandra specifically even though we did agree that if either of us got serious with someone else we would tell each other. I can't bear to tell her because I know I will lose her. But I also can't bear the thought of not seeing Alexandra. I really think any choice would make me unhappy forever because it means I lose one of them. Can I really be in love with two women?

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Her view:

Dear Confused,

First let's be clear, because I sense you're floundering here - you cannot keep both girlfriends - it is an unsustainable system which fails every time. Let me reiterate - 100% guaranteed - you cannot keep both - whatever plan you hatch will fail.

Now, the choice. It sounds as though you have already made up your mind and not told yourself because you're having too much fun. Look at the way you describe the two relationships: You still want to marry Tanya and cannot wait for her to move to L.A. On the other hand, you feel you are in love with Alexandra yet recognize that it could just be infatuation. Let me translate for you: You really missed Tanya, you needed some company and then happened upon good- looking Alexandra. I think it could have been any other woman on a different day.

Go back to Tanya - you love her. There will always be some hottie to check out, a first kiss, first sex, and endless hours talking. It's called the first few months of any new relationship - and there is nothing better in this world. You had it with Tanya too - she's just not around lately so you don't remember.

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His view:

Dear Confused,

I think you are in love with two women, but you are experiencing a different variant of love with each. New love, old love. You're living a mirage afforded by your geographical circumstances and separation arrangements.

Alexandra is giving you the new love - infatuation, passion, can't-stop-thinking drama. From Tanya you get stable, secure love. Love that has evolved into caring and comfort and all the singularly unexciting but very fulfilling things love can be. You can't decide what's better, new love, or old love. Sadly for you, new love tends to get old. Not to say passion will entirely disappear, but it yields to habit and commitment. And then you'll need to move to Chicago to satisfy the craving for new love.

Which brings me to your clever separation terms. When Tanya and you agreed to date casually, you basically agreed to risk what you had together. You also agreed that your careers were more important than your relationship. As far as I can tell, you technically broke up, in all but name. That makes you think you have two girlfriends.

Sorry pal, but you only have one.

I would recommend you make up your mind, one or the other. But I do hesitate, since it seems like choosing will make you unhappy forever - a rather long time for that, if you ask me.

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