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Hi Carolyn: I am engaged to a wonderful man. We love each other very much and have a great network of family and friends whom we love to spend time with every chance we get. In public, my fiance is polite, well-mannered, mature. The problem is when we are alone, he does things like pass gas loudly, then laugh hysterically at it, tell and laugh at offensive jokes, smell his dirty socks -- things you would expect from a 15-year-old! He says I should know him well enough to know he's just kidding around, but he'll do these things and 10 minutes later expect to be intimate; he doesn't get that by then I'm completely turned off! Am I being unreasonable to expect the same level of respect he gives to people in social settings? Or does he just have growing up left to do?

-- Va.

A. No, you do.

And I haven't been sniffing my socks.

If this guy were unhappy to be a 15-year-old playing grown-up, then maybe a mate who was anxious to finish raising him would be just what he needed.

But he sounds very not unhappy. Deliriously not. Even after we account for the effects of the methane.

You're the unhappy one -- and, because it involves flatulence, bad jokes and socks, you think you're right and he's wrong and therefore it's incumbent upon him to change (i.e., show you "the same level of respect") to make you happy.

No, no, no.

As your fiance apparently gets, maturity means understanding that the world doesn't bend to meet your demands. Ergo his assuming certain manners in public and saving his noises for home -- home being the one place the world can be one's own. (As long as nobody loses an eye, obviously.)

You need to see your world for what it is: You're engaged to a wonderful, cheese-cutting, bad-joke-telling huffer of sweaty old socks.

You can decline to pull his finger; you can ask him not to be gross (at really inopportune times); you can respond as you choose when he chooses to keep being gross; you can love him as is; you can leave. What you can't do is rebuild him from your own list of acceptable traits.

Even if it were your place to change him, good luck. The man he is in private is the man he is -- and where do you think most of your marriage to this "smart feller" is going to transpire? Hint: It's not out with others, in public, "every chance we get."

A one-way street
Hi Carolyn: I've become quite interested in a woman, and I do know she has some interest in me as well. However, I suspect she's not quite as intrigued with me as I am with her. Is there a fine line I need to walk between showing my interest and scaring her off?

-- Washington

A. There is, but it's not about her interest in you. It's about showing enthusiasm that's proportionate to how well you know her -- meaning, on first sight it's about looks, and it's emotionally intense only after you've known her for months, and it's the great love of your life maybe after 10 years. Scary interest is when the proportion is off, and she's the love of your life in one week.

Missing intimacy

Dear Carolyn: After recently breaking up with my boyfriend, I am finding it OVER 19 LNsdifficult to move on. The emotional attachment and security, etc., are not the problem. The problem is the sex. I know it takes time for the other stuff -- but what happens when the sex was completely amazing, and I can't stop thinking about it? How does one remedy that sort of attachment?

-- Sleeping Solo in Sacramento
A: One does without, like everyone else who surrenders something to a breakup. Radical stuff, but there it is.

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