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Hallmark Karma

My boyfriend and I had our two-year anniversary last month, and he didn't even get me a card. I was so hurt and frustrated I told him that the relationship was over. Although I'm a student, I always pay for myself, and get him nice things too. He never seems to give back to me or appreciate what I spend. I've told him that I want someone who loves me, adores me, and treats me the way I treat them. Still, I feel that if you have to ask for flowers or cards it's as if you had to go out and buy them yourself. When I told him it was over, he hunted me down, told me he loved me and he wouldn't let me go. He brought me two roses and two cards. We got back together a couple weeks ago, and things are way better. He tells me he loves me first all the time, but my mom asks "How long will that last?" Can a person change? I do love him, but I would like someone who does the little things that make a person feel special. Am I asking for too much?

--Card And Flower Empowered

THE PETA NEWSLETTER is oddly absent of ads for mink thongs and "The Foie Gras Of The Month Club." It appears that a quarter page for "Build Your Own Outhouse!" in Women's Wear Daily is a quarter page too many. The same goes for "Adventure Travel!" ads in Agoraphobia Today...unless I've missed one for a $9.99 set of directions for throwing yourself across your living room and giving yourself rug rash.

It isn't just what you ask for -- getting your itch for affection scratched -- but who you ask to scratch it that matters. The sun, moon, stars, and a time-share on the tony side of Saturn can be yours if you hit up a guy who's prepared to provide them. But, ask a guy who isn't in the moon and stars business -- or, at least not for you -- and you'll be lucky if you end up with a leaky cardboard box on the butt end of a chunk of space debris.

Still, a guy might love you to pieces but fail to show it in women's magazine-approved ways. Contrary to what the girl rags would have you believe, the Hallmark store is not the natural stomping ground of men. That's why Hallmark's shelves are stocked with happy pumpkins and "teacher of the year" paperweights, not coffee mugs with Playboy centerfolds or those pens you flip over to make the girl's bikini disappear. Yes, getting a card from a guy is a sign...but perhaps just a sign that he dragged himself into a card store and forked over three bucks for folded, illustrated cardboard.

That said, you've made it clear to your boyfriend that you can't be happy unless he delivers his affection as per your directions. If your happiness matters to him he shouldn't find "saying it with Garfield" a terribly big deal. Time will tell. In a month or six, you may again find yourself shouting "Yo, do you love me?" across the old familiar chasm and hear only his self-interest echoing back. Then again, maybe you'll even make it to Valentine's Day, our national day of insincerity. If so, I suggest that you (and the rest of the world) celebrate it by giving one another empty shoe boxes, perhaps with a little piece of lint stuck on top. Show your love when so inspired the other 364 days of the year.

Copyright ©2001, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.