Ask the Advice Goddess

Call Waiting And Waiting

I met a guy whose job brings him to my city every two weeks. He took me to dinner, held my hand, kissed me, and asked me for another date (in two weeks, when he's back). The problem is, he hasn't been calling in the interim. I'm not satisfied with a casual "see you if and when I'm there." I already feel devalued in the rest of my life, and I don't need that from yet another person. Shouldn't a man who's truly interested in me have some interest in getting to know me on the phone? —The Silent Treatment

You wouldn't want to be one of those people who bolts up in bed after a year or two in a relationship, wondering where "the magic" went, and struggling to remember fun. No, you prefer to eliminate the lengthy waiting period and cut right to Shrill And Demanding before you've even had a second date.

Do you and this guy have a future together? You do have a future dinner. Why not go out with him and see what transpires? Dating is supposed to be a process of discovery, not a way to lock in a man like an interest rate. At least, that's the way girls who feel good about themselves see it. Girls who think the world is staring down at them through dirt-colored glasses feel differently. You, for example, confuse boyfriends with plug-in air fresheners — just the thing to plug into your life to mask the stink of "I'm Worthless!" with "Mango Madness" or "Knotty Pine." That said, there are men who can actually help you feel better about yourself. They're called therapists, and they rent by the 55-minute hour. Some might even be willing to get to know you, at length, on the phone.

Still, many therapists, like many people, favor in-person conversations, perhaps because they include handy visual cues that one's audience is going comatose with boredom. (On the phone, there's only that final thud of the body and the clatter of the receiver hitting the floor.) Causing this is a common fear; especially common in anyone who isn't a shoe-in for their own HBO comedy special. In other words, this guy could be very interested in you, yet very uninterested in talking to you — or anyone — on the phone. In short, MAYBE HE'S NOT A PHONE PERSON!

Of course, maybe he's not a girlfriend person either. Right now, all you know is that the guy seems to enjoy wining, dining and kissing you. This is a problem? An insult? OK, maybe you'd like a boyfriend, but does every story have to be a romantic epic, with Romeo and Juliet offing themselves in the end? Can't you and he just be two extras in some romantic comedy, exchanging some light banter, then exiting through separate doors in the set? If not, step aside, because women are already lining up to audition for a chance to be "devalued" just like you were. (Either that, or somebody's reshooting the part from The Ten Commandments when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea.)

If It's Not One Ring, It's Another

After proposing to my girlfriend of two years (she said yes!), I came home early and overheard her telling her sister the ring was "nice," but "not really her style." Ouch. My feelings are a little hurt, but I want her to have a ring she's happy with. Since I'm not supposed to know she isn't altogether pleased, how do I broach the subject? —Diamond Buyer In The Rough

There are women who can look at another woman from 1,000 paces and know whether her shoes are Jimmy Choos or Manolos. They're called "fashionistas." There are men, too, who have this ability. They're called transvestites. If you aren't one of them, why pile on the self-pity because you're a failure as your girlfriend's style guru? You might, instead, consider yourself lucky for getting the chance to redeem yourself — along with that "nice" ring. Explain to your girlfriend that you were, um, "gemologically conflicted" when you bought it. Ask if she'd mind checking out the rocks you didn't choose to make sure she's happiest with the rock you did. (It's best to prep the jewelry store beforehand so they don't bring out "Breakfast At Tiffany's" when your budget is a little more "Snack In The Food Court At The Mall.")

Ultimately, it's the thought that counts — on both ends: your coming up with a ring and thoughtfully accessorizing it with a proposal; her preferring to live with a ring she doesn't love to keep from hurting the man she does. The bottom line is that she loves you enough to spend the rest of her life with you. It's clear she's willing to make sacrifices to that end, but it's best if wearing ugly jewelry isn't one of them.

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