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GONE WITH THE WIN
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half. I know without a doubt he truly loves me, and I truly love him, but for some reason, we fight constantly. It starts with a little disagreement or because one of us thinks the other is talking with an attitude. We'll end up calling each other names, cursing at each other, blaming each other and yelling for hours. Though we both acknowledge that this needs to stop, I just can't help myself, and neither can he, and it's getting us depressed. When we aren't screaming at each other, we're very happy. How can we make this fighting stop?

-Bile Sharing

Love can be the stuff recurring nightmares are made of - when you care so much about somebody that you can't stop imagining them meeting some horrible end. So, what's on your mental DVD player? Drowning? Electrocution? Grisly car crash? Or maybe a giant claw busts out of the ground, yanking your beloved under. One earth-shaking burp later, a couple well-Hoovered bones and a lone sneaker fly out of the hole, landing on the exact spot where he stood smiling and waving just moments before.

Ideally, your worst nightmare doesn't double as your wildest dream. You claim you "truly love" your boyfriend. Screaming "I hate you, I hate you, please die!" until you bruise your pancreas is probably not the best way to express it. Let's hope you don't also "truly love" your boss, who's unlikely to see loud, persistent verbal abuse as your ticket to a company car and an office with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Oh, but you'd never scream at your boss! In fact, you probably put a sock in it for a lot of people - for example, when a traffic cop asks, "Do you know why I stopped you?" Surely, you don't blurt out "Because you're too big a loser to make detective, but you still have children to feed?"

So, the only thing standing between you and your boyfriend and a loving relationship is… the power to fire or arrest each other? There is another option: Simply resolve to be nice to each other - at all times, no matter what - then do it. Start acting like you're in a partnership instead of a fight to the death by enemy combatants. This means treating each other's needs and feelings like they matter instead of like mundane details to be brushed aside on your way to the kill. And here's a hot tip: If you want the last word, try "I'm sorry."

Pull out the video camera - and not just to see if you can capture yourself saying "When we aren't screaming at each other, we're very happy" with a straight face. You can both try my helpful hints above, but a little footage of yourselves engaging in thermonuclear psychological warfare should convince you that there's probably much more at work here than a collective bad habit. Maybe you're stuck on sick scripts from childhood. Maybe you thought a relationship would plug up your unresolved insecurities, instead of turning them into weapons. The bottom line: You can't have a healthy relationship as unhealthy people.

Get help - and before one of you gets a little too close to a blunt object during one of your marathon love-fests. Quite frankly, neither one of you has any business being in a relationship until you can at least treat your partner as you would a total stranger. Just a guess, but if you had a stranger chasing you around your apartment screaming obscenities, you'd probably try to have them arrested. You certainly wouldn't be making dinner plans with them between rounds.

COME SALE WITH ME
I really want to get a good present for my crush - something romantic, sweet and cute that won't make him freak. We obviously like each other, but he hasn't asked me out (yet). Can you suggest something meaningful I can give him to help move our relationship along?

-Shopping For A Boyfriend

"With every date, a free George Foreman Grill!"

Are you a woman or an infomercial? Maybe going out with you should be its own reward. The best gift you could give a guy is a clear sign you're interested. You do this by batting your eyelashes, not your credit card. If he's interested, and man enough, he'll ask you out. If he's interested, but too much of a wuss, he'll never do more than make eyes at you. Don't make the mistake of picking up the slack. Try to see dating as a free sample of your future together. At your wedding, when the priest says, "Do you take this woman…?" do you really want a man who'll have to turn to you and ask, "Honey, what do you think I should say?"

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail [email protected] (www.advicegoddess.com).

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