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Wife Or Something Like It

I’m a 36-year-old man who can’t decide whether a life of being single is good or bad. Sometimes, I get lonesome for a good, honest woman...then, two seconds later, I’m after the one-night bad girls yet again. I’m torn between being a “good guy” who wants a “real” relationship, and being a total dog who’s only after sex. My mom and family say I date too young (women 10 years younger), and the wrong type (trashy strippers). I guess there’s some small part of me that wants a wife and family, but I can’t seem to help myself -- I’ve got a thing for trashy women, and lust that knows no bounds. Is there a way to have it all? Should I listen to my family and try to settle down?

--Part-Time Romantic

In your mother’s dreams, she’s got a son who buys his daughter lifelike plastic dolls instead of trying to date them. In your mother’s reality, she’s got a son who’s a lover, not a father, and she’d better learn to live with it.

Now, maybe this is just a phase, or maybe you’ll be sneaking out to nudie bars with your nurse’s aide at 90. Whatever it is, don’t buy into the idea that you’d be a better man if only you could want a woman who owes her career to climbing the ladder, not hanging upside down while topless from a pole. Simply put, you want what you want -- a woman whose “career separates” are two sequined tassels and a tube of body glue. Wanting to want someone who’s a little more Ann Taylor coordinates isn’t going to change that.

There’s actually nothing wrong with being a horn-dog -- providing you’re a horn-dog with morals. This means living like George Clooney seems to live. If press reports are true, George makes it clear to women he dates that there will be only one Mrs. Clooney in his life, and it’s the woman who gave birth to him. He sets a wise example for a guy, such as yourself, who admits to a commitment span of just under two seconds.

Now, it is possible that you could extend your current commitment span -- maybe to three seconds; or even five. Even so, the last thing you should do is heed your family’s call to land a woman who only refers to you as “daddy” because you’re the guy who pays the Toys R Us bill. Tell your family you can’t, because you’re beyond not ready for a relationship, and because somebody -- some poor, unsuspecting husband-hunter -- is bound to get hurt.

Sadly, science has yet to invent a pause button so you can put your wife and wholesome life on hold, then scamper off to a cheap motel to be examined by an under-uniformed “mean nurse.” This doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream of being an occasional family man. You have plenty of family already -- why not put them to good use? Think of your relatives’ broods as lending libraries, and sign out a kid for a day or a weekend. Bring it back before it borrows your car, needs rehab, or asks for a college education.

Until you feel a pressing need to change your trash-collecting ways, not just family pressure to do it, you might steer dinner table discussions toward interests you share; perhaps, just for example, a continuing desire to experience the joy of twins. Okay, okay, so they probably had in mind the kind that come from the womb, not the saline breast implant factory. Can’t you all just agree to disagree?

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.