DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: How do you know if you're in love or just fascinated? I don't know, but last night my new girlfriend said she was in love with me. I'm 31. Why am I asking that question at this age? You might wonder. Because I've never been in love before. I've never had a girlfriend long enough. I have never had a girl tell me "I love you" before, ever. I want to be nice and say it back, but I don't think I mean it yet, after less than a month. It would be a relief to finally be in love. Maybe I will never be in love. -- Loser at Love, Brandon
Dear Loser at Love: How long have you known this girlfriend? If she is jumping the gun and saying "I love you" after a few weeks, you don't need to say it back. She will stick around if she feels that way, because she knows it's early herself. Tell her you like her a lot. "I'm fascinated" would be perfect. Then tell her you need more time to see how you feel because she's lovely, but you process things more slowly than she does. If you know you don't love her after enough time elapses, don't pretend you do. Don't settle for companionship and a one-sided love affair. It will wear out fast.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: For the past few months I've been having recurring dreams about my ex-boyfriend. We dated for two years. I wanted to break up, but he didn't. There was a lot wrong with our relationship, but he didn't see it. I'm not proud of how I acted during the breakup two year ago -- very immature. I started dating someone new afterwards. Things are going great, so I don't believe that I want my ex back.... The dreams mostly feature me running into my ex in a random place (work, the mall, a party) and he is angry and cold towards me, or sometimes he's with his new girlfriend. I'm not sure what my subconscious is trying to tell me. He has a right to feel this way, and I know I feel guilty. I feel as if I need to clear things up with him and talk with him about how we ended. I also know I have no right to ask to see him. What do you think about these dreams? What can I do to make them stop? -- Haunted in Dreams, Wpg.
Dear Haunted in Dreams: Your conscience is bothering you and producing dreams. Call him up and say this: "I have always felt badly about the way I acted around our breakup and I'd like to apologize and say I'm sorry in person." Who could resist that? If he won't answer, at least you'll know he's heard you're sorry. That one word, "sorry," really helps. You have no idea how much. Too often I hear from people with old hurts that won't go away, "She (or he) never ever said sorry." If there had been an apology, the hurt might have healed over. There is peace on both sides, after saying, "I'm so sorry."
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I just came home and I'm furious. I got into a fight with a woman in front of me in the grocery line and she muttered some dirty curse words at me that no one heard, but me, like the C-word. I told the whole line what she said and they took HER side, not mine, because they couldn't really hear her. They thought I was a nutbar. I just repeated her dirty words out loud and pointed at her, that's all. I should have kicked her fat butt for pushing ahead of me in line. And THEN, she was gone for seven minutes (I clocked her) getting something she forgot, which turned out to be half a dozen things. Some people have all the nerve! Why don't the checkouts tell them off and kick them out of the store? -- Furious Shopper, Winnipeg
Dear Furious: Checkout people could get fired for telling off a customer and showing them the door. And, be aware that kicking that women in the behind could have resulted in an assault charge. You magnified the verbal violence by repeating her words loudly and offending other people. (Muttering a few choice words back no one else could hear might have made you feel a lot better.) Your best recourse would have been to go to the store manager and complain about the cursing woman and the policy of letting people run for things they have forgotten. Maybe you're right, and people should get their processing cancelled if they take off and leave everything behind for more than a minute or two. But who would police that situation? Another option would be for you to shop somewhere else.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org