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Bed Over Heels

This guy and I started what was supposed to be a rebound fling, but it turned out we're amazing together. Despite my reservations, he's still trying to be friends with his ex, who's nasty, dependent, and jealous, and caused their breakup by cheating on him. Last month, he confessed to getting tipsy and having sex with her. He apologized profusely and assured me it wouldn't happen again. Well, I found out he slept in her bed last night. He again apologized, insisting nothing sexual happened "even though she tried." He says he loves me more than he has ever loved anyone and he's just "confused." Should I wait while he works out his confusion, or look for a guy who has the sense to recognize a good thing when he sees it?

--Sucked In


If there's one thing this guy has, it's the sense to recognize a good thing when he sees it: a girlfriend who wants to believe he does some of his best thinking while naked and having sex with his ex. (Whatever happened to long, solitary walks and the therapist's couch?)

Predictably, he claims his heart is all yours; it's just other parts of his anatomy that haven't finished shopping around. He blithely risked your relationship knocking navels with the ex, and you sat idly by while he spun it as some accident beyond his control. What, the meteorite he was riding developed fuel-line problems and crashed into her bedroom, vaporizing his clothes and catapulting him onto her bed upon impact? As for the allegedly sex-free sleepover, let me guess, the girl's name is Holiday Inndenbaum, and he thought he was taking advantage of late check-in?

If you were looking for a boyfriend today, would you choose one who has an ex he drags around like Linus' blanket? Oh, but it's sooooo amazing with him. Really? You mean, except for those nights when he sneaks out for a little "let's-stay-friends" sex with the ex? That's kind of like saying your health is fantastic -- give or take the giant, turkey-shaped tumor growing out of your face.

The guy isn't a condo in Aspen. So, why are you time-sharing him? Because he's "confused"? Well, as long as he has his cake and a cookie on the side, too, he has zero incentive to get unconfused. While you can't control his feelings, you can decide whether you'll put up with a relationship increasingly patterned on a harem.

If you're going to draw the line somewhere, don't bother doing it in chalk. Think of this as the dating version of bargaining for a used camel. Know what price is too high -- suggestion: being with a man prone to tip-tip-tipsying into bed with his ex -- and be prepared to walk away. Should you continue to wait patiently while he grazes, even if he eventually gives the ex the boot, you're setting the standard for how you'll be treated in the future: "Hello, my name is foot-wipe, and I'm so desperate for a relationship, I'm glad you'll have me at all!"

Ironically, probably the best way to make him get real clear, real fast, on how "amazing" you are together is giving him the heave: "You go ahead, work out your confusion, and maybe I'll run into you at the supermarket sometime." (There's nothing like a woman asserting a little self-respect to make a man crawl back to her on all fours.) Ultimately, if you're looking to have one of those "great love of all time" relationships, your reference point should be something like "Romeo and Juliet," not "Romeo and Juliet and Wendy, and sometimes Amber and Tiffany, too


Copyright ©2004, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.