DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My new girlfriend wants me to try a polyamorous lifestyle. I admit I met her at the last fetish ball in town, but I had no idea she was that far along the track. I don't mind anything we do together as a couple, but I am not the least bit interested in other people. OMG! I am a pudgy nerd of a guy and it scares me (and would embarrass me) to get undressed to do anything sexual, except with my lady. But it is hard for me to find a girlfriend. -- Scared Stiff, Downtown
Dear Scared Stiff: Nerds can have boundaries. This is one of them. Tell your new girlfriend: like it or lump it. If she doesn't like it, then you are not going along on this experimental, just-about-anything-goes ride to please her. She may turf you but it'd be better than being dragged into sexual activities you don't understand or want.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Like most people nowadays, I use an online dating site to meet people. Right now I'm looking for casual dating and I have no real plans for long-term commitment. I recently went on a date with someone I met online and we hit it off and are great friends right now. We have a "friends with benefits" deal that's been going smoothly for both of us but I've recently become aware of the fact that he's falling in love with me and has admitted to me that if he had his way, I'd be his girlfriend and we'd be in a committed relationship. He's a dear friend and I don't want to hurt him. He tells me I'd hurt him more by ending our friendship but I'm honestly not comfortable being with someone who loves me when I don't feel the same. I have tried to have "those" feelings for him but there is no spark there other than the fact that I like his company and enjoy having sex as an added bonus to our friendship. Any advice? -- Troubled Friend, North End
Dear Troubled: Ouch. You just want him for conversation and occasional thrill you get from sex with him. It's up to you to be sensitive to this person's emotional involvement and increasing hurt. "Friends with benefits" ended the day he started feeling things in his heart called "wannabe lover" and you just wanted to keep dabbling. You should feel very uncomfortable at this point! Tell him it's time for you to call it as "friends" because it isn't going any further with you, ever. Be very plain-spoken. He can't set himself free as long as there's hope and access to you. But you can do it as it's actually your responsibility to tell him right away, even if he says he wants to keep trying.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I have had it up to my neck with my family. I grew up in a rough household, and was taught if another family member screws you over, you have to forgive them, no matter what. My child adores my family members, who feel it's OK to get him really excited to visit him, then ditch him last minute. This has been going on since as long as he can remember. I don't want to lose my family members, who are going through some pretty rough things right now which is why I stay in contact with them. I love my family, but I can't keep enabling them to hurt my son's feelings. Every time I bring up the fact that they're just hurting him, I'm painted as being a "b h." I don't want to give up on them because I was in their position a few years ago until I had my son, but I also don't want them to think they can do this forever. How do I approach this topic? -- His Mom, Winnipeg
Dear Mom: Tell the guilty parties by phone. They don't deserve a face-to-face that would hurt you. This is well overdue. The second time they ignored plans with your son should have been the last time they got to make plans to see him. They can visit him when they are able, or you will drop in with him for a visit, but they can no longer make plans that can be broken. And embrace the word "b-word" when they use it because it, as you will tell them, means you're a grown woman who is in control of her life.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6