I’ve been with my boyfriend for 10 months, and we’ve been living together in his house for six. We have a reasonably happy, healthy relationship, except that he won’t give me a key to the house. He has “trust issues” and blames them on unrelated things from the past. I want to move forward, but this key thing is always in the back of my mind. Am I asking for too much too fast? Or is he being an inconsiderate jerk?

— Locked Out

What do you do, sit on the porch like a dog and wait for Master to come home? Maybe you should also bark at passing schoolchildren, try to bite the mailman and, when nature calls … well, there’s always the neighbors’ rose bushes!

Now, it’s possible that your boyfriend actually has something to hide. Next time he’s in the shower, peek into the basement. Is there, perhaps, a padlocked freezer down there with a pile of worn shoes next to it? If you’re reasonably certain the guy’s no serial killer (at best, serially average), what could he possibly be protecting? The sad thing is, probably nothing much. More than likely, his most valuable possessions include what remains of the family stainless steel, the collected works of KISS and maybe several cases of limited-release Cheetos.

At least you won’t be one of those smug couples announcing to the world, “Our relationship is based on trust!” No, yours seems to be firmly rooted in his paranoia and need for control and your willingness to be humiliated and inconvenienced in service of it. Oh, the poor dear, did some woman rook him over in the past? If so, it’s probably because he closed his eyes, forked over his trust, and hoped for the best, probably out of desperation to be in a relationship. But why would he go to the trouble of working through the fallout from that (or whatever issues he has) when you make it so easy for him to treat you like a boarder with a string of burglary convictions?

Are you asking for “too much too fast”? For future reference, “too much too fast” is bringing the “Name Your Baby” book on the first date and demanding the guy sign off on your favorites for the twins. It is not merely hinting, after six months of living together, that he might pry his house key out of the sunless area where he stores it and cut you a copy. Perhaps you see this as a small sacrifice for love. Well, love may be many things, but it is not being made to hole up in your back seat until the guy with the security clearance to the front door comes home. Beyond what should be the obvious self-respect and dignity issues, it’s a question of safety. There are times you need to be able to run in the house and slam the door. What are you going to do, ring the bell insistently and pray the muggers are phobic about ding-dong chimes?

See that door you can’t get a key to? Open it and leave. Spend time alone until you get rid of that good girl in you who doesn’t ask for anything, and you come to understand that selling yourself out won’t get you love in return. Next time a guy says “mi casa es su casa,” maybe you won’t wait around half a year for him to show you what he really means: “OK, it might never be your casa, but how about I crack the door open and we have sex through the chain?”

Dial “M” for meathead

I dated a woman for three years — one good, two bad. By bad, I mean catching her in bed with men, guys constantly leaving her phone messages, etc. Although we broke up three years ago, I’m still in love with her. She calls on rare occasions (I see it on Caller-ID), never leaving a message. I get excited and phone her, but she won’t return my calls. Is she playing games or just psycho?

— Hanging On

Wait. You get excited and call her back? This is like recognizing the guy who held you up at gunpoint last fall and chasing him down the street, “Hey, wait … don’t you remember me? C’mon, let’s grab a beer!” Why she’s calling now is a mystery — one you’d be wise to avoid solving. If you’re wistful for the way she used to make you feel, hire some bar rat to punch you in the face once a week for two years and pay his friends to laugh at you while he’s doing it. As much as that’ll hurt, it’s got to be less painful than going back to a woman who stopped just short of replacing her bedroom door with a turnstile and sending you to Home Depot to pick up the parts.