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Vacation lover won't let it go

Q: I'm a single woman in my late 20s and have recently run into a bit of a dilemma. Over the summer, I met a guy while on vacation out of town; we had a few steamy nights, said our goodbyes, exchanged e-mails with no expectations, and went our separate ways. Ever since, he has been e-mailing and calling me a lot, and he eventually confessed that he is in love with me, and wants to be with me, etc. I like him, but I'm not interested in him or a long-distance relationship.

Unfortunately, when he told me he loved me, I responded with the same because I didn't know what else to say. I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I didn't mean it. I am also guilty of reciprocating the flirting and leading him on. I feel extremely guilty and am not sure what my next move should be.

- S.P., Cheektowaga

Your next move should be nothing short of telling him the truth. You don't feel in love with him, you are not interested in a long-distance relationship, but you've lead him to believe otherwise.

Being honest with him is the only solution.

When you break it down for him, do it over the phone rather than via email and do it soon; he deserves that, at least. Start by letting him know that you enjoyed your time together over the summer, and that you think he's a great guy. Explain that while you're attracted to him, and do admire him to some extent, it's just not what you're looking for right now. Apologize for leading him to believe that you love him, and tell him that you'd prefer to keep the relationship friendly if possible.

It's going to be a difficult conversation, but once it's done you'll feel relieved, and it will give him the opportunity to meet new people without his false hope for your relationship anchoring him down.

Then you must follow through with this. Don't flirt, and don't say things you don't mean. Learn from this experience, and apply it to anyone you meet in the future when necessary.

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Are pets a turn-off?

Q: I am what some would consider a "cat lady." I live alone with my five cats, whom I love dearly, and also birds and fish. I've been told by family and friends that my pets are hindering my love life, since it seems like every time I bring a man home, I don't hear from him again.

I love my animals like children, and really would be devastated to have to give them up. What do you think?

- H.L., Buffalo

Walking into someone's home and being greeted by five cats and chirping birds might be overwhelming to a lot of people, so it's no surprise that your love life has taken a hit.

Pets can be a wonderful addition to any home/family, but I've found in my professional experience that they can affect relationships with other people. It has also been my experience that some people with many pets are using them to replace real relationship with human beings, for whatever reason.

You have to remember that many people have pet allergies, and not everyone is a lover of all animals.

I know that asking you to give up a few of your animals sounds like I'm asking you to give up a part of your family -- but the fact remains that animals are not children.

Perhaps you have a friend or family member that is willing to take a couple of your pets; this way, you can still see them and spend time with them without it affecting your personal life.

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Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions (www.buffaloniagaraintro. com). E-mail questions to queencitymatchmaker@gmail.com and include your initials and hometown.

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