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Dear Carolyn: I'm currently a college student in the Midwest at the beginning of a relationship with a girl at my school. We've been seeing each other a little more than a month, but I'm starting to have serious misgivings. For several months, she has had a "hopeless crush" (her term) on one of our mutual friends. She claims these feelings for him will always be present despite my wishes to the contrary.

Recently it has come to light that they both have romantic feelings for each other, but she claims she is still committed to our relationship, and he is also otherwise involved. Should I bail on this relationship now (which would make us both very unhappy) if getting hurt worse somewhere down the line by this might be inevitable?

-- Chicago
A: This is the forehead-slapper of all time. Except that it's not.

This has nothing to do with your potential to get hurt. Your girlfriend wants someone else, so you politely excuse yourself from the relationship. Easy.

Except she describes it as a "hopeless crush," and hopeless crushes are what people have on movie stars and tawny literature professors -- what even happy old-marrieds can have occasionally (on professors and movie stars) and still remain happily married.

Except you guys aren't happy old-marrieds, you're newly dating. And this other guy isn't a movie star, he's a highly attainable mutual friend.

Except she admits to her crush so freely, it sounds frivolous, as if she's not serious about attaining him. Plus, she did choose you.

Except she didn't choose you over him, because she couldn't have him, because he was already with someone else ...

Even though he has romantic feelings for your girlfriend.

So. Your girlfriend wants someone she actually knows and could realistically have, and he wants her.

So, you have your serious misgiving with a side of clue, and you politely excuse yourself from the relationship. Easy.

Don't worry. I had to go to college to learn this stuff, too.

Second to the gridiron

Dear Carolyn: I love my boyfriend dearly, but as we progress in the football season (I can't believe we're just past halfway), I find myself getting resentful every time Sunday rolls around. Since we live and work in different cities I savor our weekends, the only quality time we have. I try so hard to understand his fascination, but I just can't seem to sit on the couch for hours on end watching teams I've never heard of! The only logical compromise I can think of is that I leave and do things I enjoy. But this compromises my limited time with my guy. Any suggestions?

-- Too Much Football!
A: Yes. That you leave and do things you enjoy.

Just promise it won't make you even more resentful when he doesn't join you and therefore "proves" you were willing to sacrifice for him but he isn't for you. Otherwise, your "just leave" plan is really "just setting him up."

And that's on top of dating long-distance, itself a setup for failure. Weekends are precious, so you treat every one as a special occasion, so weekends are pressure. Bleah.

So much better to say, "OK if we split our Sundays together between football and something I enjoy?" and if he says no, address your resentment from there.

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