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Zen Fascism

For the past six months I've been seeing this guy off and on. I've told him I love him and he says he loves me. The only problem is that he is always talking about how spiritual he is (not religious.). We get into arguments all the time because he tries to tell me how I should be. He tells me that I'm negative; that I need to become a better woman; and he tries to tell me how I feel. I'm the first to admit that I'm not perfect, but sometimes he acts as if I'm the worst person in the world. Yet, every time we break up he comes back to me and says that I'm not a bad person. I'm so confused. This guy is always contradicting everything he says. He hates to be wrong. I love him though. I know it sounds lame, but I do. I'm at the point where I'm tired of crying. This relationship is not healthy for me. How do I keep him out of my life for good?


INFORM DEEPAK BOYFRIEND that you're going off for ten years to get your aura recalibrated, and suggest that he occupy himself in your absence by pelting crystals carved into acorns at hungry squirrels and forcing little old ladies across the street at gunpoint.

Although the guy has been working overtime to pawn himself off as post-mortal, his methods give him away: He's about two incense burnings away from erecting a highway billboard advertising his spiritual superiority. He claims to love you, but he can't stop chanting about all the things you need to change. (What exactly does he love about you...the way you hang the toilet paper?) Although you yourself admit that your consciousness (like everybody's) could do with a lift or two, his Zen Fascism doesn't seem to be doing the job. Frankly, if enduring a string of put-downs were the ticket to Nirvana, the flight path to enlightenment would be extremely short, and would include a mandatory half-hour layover on Howard Stern.

A big clue to your boyfriend's motivation is his use of the New-Age buzz word "negativity." Personally, I find that no one ever expresses unsolicited concern about how "negative" I am until I remind them that they owe me money. The balance sheet adds up about the same in this case. The guy is terribly insecure. By focusing on what's wrong with you, he's hoping that you'll be too preoccupied to decide that he's merely a larva in a man-suit.

Still, you can't blame him for your unhappiness. The moment he started channeling Mussolini, you should have set boundaries for what behavior you would and wouldn't accept from him and stuck to them. In the spirit of living in the moment, start now. Tell your self-appointed guru that you're not too sure who you might have been in a past life, but that you don't intend to continue being his doormat in this one. Then, burn a little sage (or just singe some parsley) and chant his negativity out of your life with one of these less-than-zen mantras: "It's over, ya big meanie," "Goodbye, guru-boy," or my personal favorite -- "Get lost, Ayatollah Khomeini, Jr."

Copyright ©1998-9, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.