LEAVE DULL ENOUGH ALONE
My boyfriend is educated, responsible, affectionate, and attentive, but he's also incredibly boring. Not only is he shy, socially awkward, and never spontaneous, he isn't passionate about anything. He doesn't even get worked up about computers, which he's supposedly really into. An exciting evening for him is going to the drugstore to buy a can of peanuts on sale. My parents insist I should overlook all this because he's a good person (and better yet, "marriage material"). They say if I dump him, I'll regret it and wind up with some "bad boy." He is a good person, and the sex is great, but I can barely detect a pulse on this man. Am I being too superficial?
-Painting The Town Beige
Sometimes a near-death experience compels a person to really start living. Unfortunately, there's no telling whether your boyfriend will ever have one. While you might feel tempted to help matters along by, say, pretending to run him down in your car, this may lead to numerous negative consequences - for example, finding yourself considered "marriage material" by your cellmate in women's prison.
Like a lot of parents, your parents divide their daughter's boyfriends into two categories: potential husbands and guys who spend their spare time knocking over liquor stores and boosting cars. Your boyfriend does have the stability and dependability parents look for when separating the fiancés from the felons. Alas, he combines these with all the personality of a bran muffin. Your mom and dad find this a minor tradeoff - probably because they're concerned for your safety and security - but maybe because, like many parents, they're secretly terrified that their "kids" will move back in with them at age 45.
"Am I being too superficial?" you squeak, practically apologizing for wanting to have some fun. Priggish types do paint superficiality as an atrocity akin to trapping small woodland animals to make fur vests for your Barbies. Quite frankly, superficiality gets a bum rap - as if you can't gossip about some movie star's cold sore and still lead a meaningful life. (Take it from me: You can be both deep and deeply superficial.)
Fun is an essential part of life - although it's frequently compromised by the need to make car payments and keep a roof over your head that doesn't have a "Salvation Army" sign bolted to it. Okay, that stuff is important. But, maybe, just maybe, there should be more to life than mailing the Visa bill on time and remaining ambulatory while your cells divide.
Do you like how a guy smells? Do you have sex dreams about him while pretending to listen to your boss? Does he make you laugh? Does he inspire you? (Inspiring you to ask, "Are you dead, dear, or just practicing?" doesn't cut it.) For a relationship to work you actually have to connect with somebody - beyond the times you go bump in the night. This requires a guy who has a passion or two besides saving big on a can of Planters. Sure, your current boyfriend can probably be counted on not to leave you, cheat on you, or run up your credit cards. But can he be counted on to keep you awake?
Parents should be more concerned with telling girls they'll always need to support themselves - which would eliminate the need to shove them into oxygen-sucking relationships in the name of "security." As good as your parents' intentions may be, "'til death do us part" works best when it doesn't play out like an experiment in whether it's possible to literally die of boredom.
GETTING THE "OUT COLD" SHOULDER
I'd been dating this great girl for about a month when she started having blackouts. She said stress had caused them in the past, and she was afraid our relationship was re-triggering them. She assured me she was still interested, but needed to figure things out and would call after the weekend. In the past three weeks, I've phoned several times and even sent a card, and still nothing. I honestly don't know what to think, and it's tearing me up. If she'd wanted to end it, wouldn't she have given me some indication?
-In The Dark
After a month of dating, what does a girl have to be so stressed about, whether you're picking her up at 7:15 or 7:30? Dating isn't just for checking out new restaurants. You're also supposed to be figuring out the woman you're with - noticing, for example, whether she seems a viable candidate for a relationship that isn't preceded by the words "doctor-patient." Unfortunately, it appears this woman was too busy blacking out to send you a typed, double-spaced statement of her intentions or lack thereof. She is, nevertheless, sending you a clear message: Move on to a woman for whom a loss of consciousness is merely a sign you're doing something very right in bed.