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Drive-By Lust

My fiance and I have been together (and faithful) for four years. I love him, but our relationship feels stale. The other day, a hot guy in a Mercedes pulled up next to me at a stoplight and gave me a look that made me feel like I was fifteen. I was nervous, but also excited that this guy was checking me out. All day, I couldn't stop thinking about him. I didn't even feel guilty that I, for a while, completely forgot about my boyfriend. Does this mean that my current relationship is over, or should I dismiss the encounter as just that--an encounter with a fresh face?

--Red Light

CAN YOU really blame your libido for longing to unplug its respirator, toss aside its walker, and get the old gametes moving again? The poor thing's been gasping under the weight of The Big Myth for four long years -- the notion that you and boychick get kissed by the marriage fairy (or the commitment fairy, as the cohabitative case may be), then just keep your privates private, and you'll get free passes to stumble arm-in-arm into the sunset in dazed bliss.

Unfortunately, you lack barnyard animals to bind you together. Unlike in "the good old days" (which really weren't all that good for us chicks); these days, if you and your boyfriend break up, no cows will go unmilked. No fields will go unplowed. No hay will go unpitched. Plus, you probably have the disposable income necessary to dissolve the economic Krazy Glue that used to keep women down on the farm -- women who usually had little more than a fistful of grocery money at their disposal and family planning methods as scientific as praying that they wouldn't add another mouth to feed to the nine they already had. In those days, women didn't get too far unless men were doing the driving.

Today, you've still got a big, rusty religio-cultural ax hanging over your head; one inscribed with the message that you're a failure if your marriage or relationship ends. But, in truth, endings are often a good thing...especially for those couples comprised of two voids coming together to make an even bigger void, instead of two whole people who make each other better and have more fun together than they would alone. Essentially, your best shot at saving your relationship is to turn it into the exact opposite of the double-occupancy void. Be honest with your fiance about your relationship ennui. Together, kill off all elements of the antiquated, body-snatched concept of couplehood. (That's when two former individuals start running around as BradandJanet -- the two-headed embodiment of the lie that partners can be everything to one another.) BradandJanets only do things and see people that interest them as a couple...all in the name of "security." Ultimately, though, by preventing your partner from taking a week off to fish (without you) or even going out for a night at a strip club, you end up offing the very person who excited you in the first place...making the security of your relationship feel like the maximum kind.

Check out the smartest model I've found for relationships, "Open Marriage," by Nena and George O'Neill; a book widely misinterpreted by those who didn't read it as a justification for everybody to have sex with the neighbors. It's really a roadmap to a lasting relationship between two which helps you build enough excitement, intimacy, and trust with your fiance to come home laughing to him about your horny little libido's drive-by flirtation with some Slick Rick in a Mercedes.

Copyright ©2000, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.