'The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations,' by Jane Buckingham

Until you've discussed a commitment, you're technically free to date around sans guilt. But that doesn't mean your gentleman friend won't have hurt feelings when he finds out he's not the only name on your dance card. If you want to segue into a relationship with one of the dudes, then it's easy enough to phase out the other one(s) without full disclosure. However, if you plan on man juggling for a spell, you should make it clear that things aren't exclusive. It's best to bring this up when setting up plans, especially if he starts making assumptions about your time. Say, "I really enjoy spending time with you, but I feel like I should let you know that I'm seeing other people." Then it's up to him to decide if he's okay with the casual thing.

Everything is going great. Really. So you're pretty sure this is where you'll screw it up somehow, like you always do.

Breathe, breathe, breathe -- it's natural to feel fear or anxiety in the early, ambiguous phase of a relationship. Use your girls as your sounding board and take the time to examine your worries. Are you afraid of being close to someone? Of losing your freedom? Of opening yourself up and (potentially) being rejected? Feel free to work it out with the ladies, but for the meantime, hold back from sharing your fears with your beau. Sometimes we want the object of our affection to see us cry and be vulnerable because we want to be accepted or protected. But hold out a little longer. In the meantime, friends, family, and therapists are there to sop up the crazy.

Having said that, be careful of the faux friend. This is the girl who likes to pretend she's got your best interests at heart -- but really doesn't. She's usually single and a bit bossy, and she doesn't really want anyone to be happier, prettier, skinnier, or tanner than she is. She may not even know she's doing it, but she'll steer you in the wrong direction and give you bad advice. Also, this is not a public poll. Talk to one, two, or at most three of your closest friends -- don't let word get out that you're worried, because you don't want word to get back to him.

You made the big proposal! Okay, not that proposal -- the one about moving in! He doesn't want to. Ugh. Should you break up just to save face? And by the way, why doesn't he want to live with you?

What are your reasons for wanting to move in together? Do you want to bump your relationship up a stage, or do you just want to save cash and com-muting time? Shacking up is a big decision, and he has a right to think it through. Use this difference in opinion as a jumping-off point to discuss where your relationship is going. If you see it heading in a different direction than he does, a breakup may be in the cards. But don't ditch an otherwise strong connection just to save face.

Someone you're seeing casually has just professed his undying love. You may feel the same way, but you may not. It's too soon!

You don't always want to take a guy like this seriously. He may be dumb/romantic enough to get caught up in the fantasy of love at first sight and all that. Tell him he's sweet, but be a bit skeptical about his intentions. It's not that you aren't completely desirable or anything, but when someone pledges his love for you that soon, he's probably (1) desperate to be in love, (2) genuinely in love, or (3) bananas. It takes time to find out the truth, and if he's truly in love with you, well, then he'll wait for you to decide.

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