DEAR AMY: I am 28 and have been in a relationship with an amazing man for the past year and a half.
The problem is, he has a live-in girlfriend of five years. We met online when we were both seeking a "casual hookup." He lied about being in a relationship at the time.
I discovered shortly after that he had been living with his girlfriend while he was hooking up with me. I confronted him, and we stopped seeing each other, but I had already developed feelings for him.
He contacted me a few weeks later, and we started seeing each other again. It blossomed into a full-blown relationship from there.
It's now been 18 months, and I don't know what to do. I am in love with him, and he claims to be in love with me, but he doesn't want to hurt his girlfriend.
He says he loves her even though he isn't "in love" with her and that he needs her to see that they're "over" before the breakup happens.
I don't want to stop seeing him (he makes me happier than I've ever been), but I don't want to sell myself short either.
What should I do?
DEAR HOPELESS: You advertised for a "casual hookup," and that's exactly what you got.
Most people looking for sex in this way do so with the assumption that this will be an experience unfettered by emotions or the pesky prospect of other people.
When you have sex with a stranger, you cannot possibly be surprised when it turns out that you don't know him.
You should assume that this man — who lied to you and continues to lie to his live-in girlfriend — is a casual hookup kind of guy. (You should also assume that he is hooking up with other people.)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but if he wanted to be with you, he would be with you. It truly is that simple.
You have already sold yourself short. Your relationship with this guy will bump along like this until you wise up.
DEAR AMY: My neighbor "Leslie" and I became quite close and discussed many personal things about our lives. We also gossiped about other neighbors. I considered her to be a true friend and trusted her implicitly.
Recently, another mutual neighbor approached me and told me that Leslie has been discussing our conversations with other neighbors — specifically the gossiping.
I am not proud that I have gossiped about others and have learned a hard lesson here (though I never repeated our conversations to anyone).
I also feel betrayed by Leslie and have cut off all ties with her. I would love to confront her, but I feel I should keep the peace. I suspect that one day soon she will ask me why I no longer speak to her (other than to say hello).
Should I tell her what I have been told or should I just feign ignorance, try to keep the peace and quietly stay away from her?
DEAR BETRAYED: It's tough, when you're a gossip, to have the whole thing double back upon you. But the fact is that most people who gossip do so with impunity. It's like an itch that must be scratched, and the concept of discretion or discernment doesn't enter into the equation.
Don't confront "Leslie," but if she asks why you've withdrawn, tell her the truth — that you feel burned because she repeated what you thought were private conversations.
You've learned your lesson. Do not expect her to learn the same lesson, however. In fact, you might become a target yourself until you prove to be such a boring subject that she turns her attention elsewhere.
DEAR AMY: I have been interested in your discussion of what to call a domestic partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, POSSLQ (Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters), whatever.
Years ago I had a very wise principal in a school where I taught special ed. She used the phrase "Dear One." I thought that to be a very kind term and have used it ever since.
— Susan in Portland, Oregon
DEAR SUSAN: So far, this is my favorite. Thank you.
Send questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.