I\’m a lesbian, and I just had a terrible fight with my partner of 11 years. I\’m a professional singer and I was setting up to perform at an outdoor event when she said she wanted a drink. She disappeared into a neighborhood bar, returning a half-hour later. I wasn\’t pleased, but I let it go. Shortly afterward, two guys from the bar approached, calling her by name. She introduced me as her girlfriend, but I excused myself, saying I had to perform. She continued talking with one of the guys for over an hour. Later, I informed her I was disturbed by her actions and found it inappropriate for her to continue conversing with a man who was clearly getting the wrong idea. Also, after she told him we were partners, you\’d think he\’d respect that and be on his merry way. Please tell me if

I overreacted.

— Fuming

That was some nerve on her part, wandering off while you were setting up for your show. After all, what\’s a groupie, uh, girlfriend, for but to scream, jump up and down, and wave her lighter while you say "testing … testing"?

Come on, after all these years watching you sing, do you really expect her to act like you\’re an accountant by profession, taking to the stage for the first time? That said, as a professional singer, you\’re probably an amateur accountant, so it isn\’t unreasonable to expect her to support you by screaming, jumping up and down and waving her Bic while you\’re struggling through your taxes.

It\’ll be a while before you start seeing department store commercials with happy lesbians carting their refrigerator home, but there is equality in one arena: A guy isn\’t going to respect a lesbian partnership any more than he\’d respect a straight one. With all the openly heterosexual men running around, it\’s a bit surprising you\’d think a straight man would respond to news of your relationship by being "on his merry way." Ask any straight woman how to get rid of a man. You don\’t tell him you\’re not only taken, but a lesbian; you tell him you\’re single and desperate for a husband. To a hetero man, lesbians are like lotto: The odds aren\’t good, but he, his ego and his libido hold out hope he\’ll be that one guy who can turn even a militant lesbian "heteroflexible."

Your relationship could be in danger, but not because your girlfriend talks to straight boys. In a series of studies from the late \’80s to the present, evolutionary psychologists David Buss and Todd Shackelford correlated one partner\’s personality characteristics with the other partner\’s susceptibility to cheat. Time after time, they found "emotional instability" (being nervous and temperamental versus secure and even-tempered) and "low agreeableness" (being cold and suspicious versus warm and trusting) upped the odds of driving one\’s partner into the arms of another.

In other words, if you\’d like to keep your girlfriend by your side, avoid giving in to the impulse to bring her up on stage and tie her to a chair. You\’ve been with this woman for 11 years. If she isn\’t somebody you can trust, what are you doing with her? If she is, the real problem is your insecurity, not her sociability. She was having a conversation with somebody who interested her. Even if he was getting the wrong idea, so what? What you should be worried about is whether she’s getting the wrong idea; say, that this relationship is based mainly on your ability to keep her away from other interested beings — except, of course, those interested in paying her for one of your promotional hats, T-shirts or CDs.

Her hour of knead

I\’ve been seeing a woman for a few months. She all but orders me to come over, then only allows me to spend the night on a cramped couch. She won\’t let me kiss her, but she does let me give her backrubs (close ones) and throws a fit if I hang with other women (friendly only). I\’m confused; am I missing something?

— Guy On The Couch

Are you missing something? Well, maybe just sex, love, respect, intimacy and $25 in change you dropped between her couch cushions. Your first clue something was wrong should\’ve been how hard you had to dig for the good points or, rather, good point of this relationship: those "close" backrubs she lets you give her. Excuse me, but what, exactly, would the alternative be? A remote backrub, where you sit across the room, operating the controls of a little massage rover? You don\’t provide relationship benefits without first having a relationship. You can\’t have a relationship until you\’re more man than manservant, meaning you have the self-respect to say no to exciting propositions like "You scratch my back, you scratch my back some more."