DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm a woman of 29, and recently got involved quite seriously (but quickly) with a Middle Eastern man. I'd been warned by a number of my friends about the nature of men from this region, but we just connected so well, I felt compelled to ignore their warnings and wrote them off as just being ignorant. However, as of late, my man has begun to display the characteristics my friends were fearful of. The latest incident -- the most distressing -- was when he brought a pink burka home and demanded -- not asked -- that I wear it when we go out at night time. Now I'm a professional woman with a master's in philosophy and am well aware of the discrepancy between cultures, yet I never suspected that he'd behave this way, as he has never before displayed the sorts of attitudes that many westerners associate with this region. He's an educated man, working towards becoming a doctor and he is very handsome and fantastic in bed. His family seems to like me and I just find them adorable, but what do I do about the burka? -- Torn Between a Burka and a Man, Tuxedo
Dear Between: Handing you a head-to-toe cover up burka and "demanding" you wear it, plus your glossing over other unnamed incidents are big, red flags in the love department. You have a controlling person here. Attraction and great sex are not worth becoming someone's obedient servant. And, being Mrs. Doctor Somebody is not necessary for you, or anyone. In your case, you are one degree away from being a doctor of philosophy yourself. Now is the time to open your eyes and explore all the deeply-held religious and cultural beliefs of this man, and air your own beliefs about roles and marriage and career and religion and how children are raised. There will be many more things this man requires of a serious marriage prospect, and things that you would want of him, that perhaps he cannot give. Frankly, it's surprising you say he "brought home" the burka. Are you living with him already and sleeping with him beforehand? How does he really feel about that? Does he disrespect it, though he enjoys it? Does his family know everything? Would they seriously want you in the family if you were not going to become part of their religion and take on their customs? You have much to consider, and the time is now.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: After reading the comments on Feeling Gross, I had to peel myself off the ceiling before writing you. (Feeling Gross was told by some online men she was too heavy for the "few extra lbs" category and by others she was the wrong for the Big Beautiful Women (BBW) division too.) What the heck is wrong with people? As a woman with a "few extra pounds" myself, even while taking up running, yoga and other forms of exercise, I feel flabbergasted people associate weight with health. Even doctors debate if 40 extra pounds puts people in danger. I got sick and tired of some guys' attitudes about what a woman looks like, yet these same individuals have huge bellies themselves. Like many women, I'd like to have a man in my life, but I watch this whole online dating circus and reject it. In short, let's dispense with the lose-40-pounds scenario, and urge people to work on themselves. Miraculously, the physical changes usually follow the interior ones. I really hope Feeling Gross finds her happiness. -- Fed Up, Winnipeg
Dear Fed Up: Sorry, I'm not accepting your argument on extra weight-fine health. Twenty pounds overweight for a woman may not be a health danger, but 40 pounds is pushing it, especially if you don't want to say hello to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease down the road. And yes, people can work on themselves and their self-esteem but weight doesn't magically come off when you feel better about yourself, although a happy, confident feeling helps. It requires work and perseverance.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6