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Hi Carolyn: How can I put a damper on my increasing disappointment that my boyfriend hasn't proposed? We've been together four years, we have a strong relationship and I'm sure he's not going anywhere. We're moving in together in a few months, and I couldn't be happier. I know we're headed for marriage, because we have discussed it. But I still don't have a ring.

It's not the ring, honestly. It's just that I want to be with somebody who wants so badly to be with me for the rest of his life that he's excited about proposing. And he's not. How do I get over my need for a guy who's excited about marrying me?

-- New York Single

A. You couldn't be happier! Except that your boyfriend isn't excited about marrying you and that's making you miserable.

"Putting a damper on it," or "getting over it," or any other form of denying a problem, is not the way to resolve it.

Moving in with it? So not the way. Not not not.

You have feelings. Deal with them. "I feel I want my boyfriend more than he wants me, and it hurts."

There. I know I feel a whole lot better.

And, after an apparently long stint of persuading yourself that everything's great and your feelings are just a pesky houseguest/a virus you can't shake/an awkward rash (draining, isn't it, just to think about?), you'll feel even better when you also act on these feelings.

In your case: speak up, break up, suck it up, or propose your own darn self.

Normally I'm a fan of the last one, but not here. You want him to want you -- a valid desire you can't satisfy by dragging him to the altar by his scalp.

Sucking it up also has its appeal -- but, again, not here. Cohabitation-ever-after works when that's what you both want, not what he wants and you resign yourself to endure.

Which leaves two choices. Tell your boyfriend you're hurt and why and hear what he has to say; or hear what his actions (and your pain) have been saying to you all along, and release him.

Listen to yourself, too. It's easy to get so used to wanting something that you stop seeing what you'd really get. Is it marriage you want, or the guy?

Strengthening the pickup lines

Dear Carolyn: I am a college student and have noticed that one of the best places to run into females here is at the gym. However, I also recognize that approaching a female while working out can seem kinda sketchy. Do you have any advice on how to approach somebody without sounding threatening or piggish?

-- J.S.

A. Or Petri-dish-ish. "Females"? Bio major, by any chance?

Women at the gym are like men at the gym: They're people at the gym. Or store, or library, or wherever. This would be the duh statement of all eternity if it weren't so relentlessly hard to get. Approach a woman as if she's a-a-a WOMAN, and you both feel awkward. Approach one as you would any fellow gym human -- "that treadmill's broken," "funny T-shirt," "would you please spot me?" -- and neither of you even notices that what you just did was meet someone new. Takes practice, but so does whatever else you do at the gym.

E-mail "Tell Me About It":; fax: 202-334-5669; or write: "Tell Me About It," c/o The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Chat online with Carolyn each Friday at noon Eastern time, at

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