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Swami Dearest

I started dating this great girl three weeks ago, but ever since she went to a palm reader, she's been acting really weird. She explained that her feelings for me haven't changed, but the palm reader lady brought up something she thought was under control (related to her "regression"), and said we need to take things slowly. She insisted I keep calling and emailing her, but she goes through days where she only writes back or picks up the phone sporadically. Other times, she's her old self, responding right away. Do I try to ride this out, or back off and let her figure things out?

--Psychic Limbo

You ask a girl to a movie, and she has to have some lady feel up her palm before she can give you an answer? And based on what? That lady's proven ability to rent a storefront, hang a neon hand in the window, and use vague, flattering statements to part fools and their money? Believing in this is like swallowing the sucker-bait of those TV-land mediums (debunked by James Randi) who pass off rapid-fire guessing games as evidence of their ability to act as human antennae for messages from the dead. Conveniently, the dead seem to confirm only that you once had a little white dog, or other stuff you already know; they never tell you anything really useful, like where they buried their rare coin collection or who to bet on in the Super Bowl.

The "regression" this girl mentioned is most likely "past-life regression," the lucrative, it's-all-in-your-head travel agency sideline of many a strip-mall seer. Just close your eyes and hold out your Mastercard, and you might learn that it wasn't Mommy but mummy you should blame for the mess you are today. Yes (and kindly avoid howling with laughter), back when you were a janitor at the pyramids, it seems some nasty pharaoh ordered you sealed in to keep his queen company until somebody could haul her out, stick her in a museum, and invite people in to admire her shriveled remains. Proof? You ask for proof? This is spiritual stuff! Don't be crass!

Like the dinner guest who begged my friends to rearrange their living room furniture so it wouldn't be "bad for her aura," being cartoonishly irrational doesn't make this girl a bad person, just a bad person to be with. A case in point: You've dated her three weeks, and you already have centuries of baggage. "Have a nice day," you say? Oops, bad idea. She bursts into tears. "How could you say such a thing?! Just a few lifetimes ago, I was in Pompeii, and you're telling me to have a nice day? You ever have a nice day while being smothered in ash?!"

Consider making rationality a requirement in a potential partner -- right up there with the ability to walk upright and use utensils while eating. Tempted as you may be to shrug off her compulsion to look for easy answers, it's hard enough to make it work with somebody whose decision-making doesn't involve third-party analysis of the flesh fold under their thumb. My prediction? You'll avoid a whole lot of misery if you back off -- permanently -- from this girl or any girl who considers palmistry more than an amusing party game or a conduit to an expert opinion on whether to switch to a less drying brand of hand soap.

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.