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Barfing Up The Wrong Tree

I'm a 19-year-old gay male. About a month ago, I “met” a 26-year-old guy on a gay phone chat line. We had four conversations, during which we learned we had all this stuff in common, so we went on a date a couple weeks ago. At the end of the evening, I thanked him for a really nice time, but I chose not to go any further because it felt better to wait. He seemed okay with that, and we gave each other a hug goodnight. Early the next morning, he departed on a two-week vacation. I left him a goodbye message. While we were apart, it was rough for me, because I fall hard for men sometimes -- like this time. He left me so intrigued, I thought of him constantly, despite trying to keep myself preoccupied. A few days ago, he returned from his trip. I'm wondering if it's a wise decision to tell him immediately how I feel about him (for my own well-being), or am I better off stifling my swirling emotions?

--On The Verge

If your “well-being” hinges on clearing your personal horizon of all potential boyfriends, projectile honesty should do the trick. Just ring the guy up, and start spewing: “Hi, while you were on vacation, an emotional vagrant (that would be me) broke into your life, started an imaginary relationship with you, and would now like to discuss -- at great length -- all the ensuing imaginary issues. Hello? Hello?” (Don’t think of that noise you hear as the dial tone; think of it as the sound of inner peace.)

On the off chance that your wellness needs would be better served by enticing the guy to stick around, beating him over the head with your premature undying whatever probably isn’t your best bet. This doesn’t mean you have to stifle your “swirling emotions”; just lay them on somebody who can put them to good use: “Two weeks apart from you is like four eternities to me...Granny!” (Unfortunately, such spew-guarding measures may have unforeseen complications, such as Granny working up some expectation that you’ll visit her at The Home once or twice before she kicks off.)

Keep in mind that you know this guy only marginally better than somebody you stood behind in a grocery store checkout line. So, what’s with your inclination to simulate a broken water main upon his return? It’s less about who he is than who you are: probably somebody whose life feels like an unsightly bare spot on the floor; who’s panicked into grabbing for the nearest mangy rug and nailing it down for some seemingly permanent coverage. To keep this guy from coming to the same conclusion, keep from spewing anything more than the facts at hand: you had a good time with him once, and you’d like a shot at having a good time with him again.

Finally, quit waving around all that stuff you and he supposedly have in common. Quite frankly, you could probably make the same claim about an 86-year-old toothless Inuit you’d just met. In the long run, what really matters isn’t what you and he do have in common but what you don’t. (That’s the stuff relationships aren’t made of.) It’s hard enough to spot if you’re looking for it, but utterly impossible if you’re endlessly screening a mental video loop of “He’s the one, he’s the one, he’s the one!” Not to worry: That stuff always comes out eventually -- usually about a week after you’ve given up the lease on your obscenely cheap apartment to move in with “the one.”

Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.