I’m 29, as is the woman I’ve been seeing for three months. After she kept pulling away when I tried to kiss her, she confessed that kissing is very, very intimate to her. She’ll actually sleep with someone before kissing them. In fact, we’ve been having sex for a while — without kissing. She had girlfriends in college, and said she found it easier kissing girls. She claims she doesn’t want a girlfriend — she prefers guys — she just needs me to be patient, as she’s "scared to death" of kissing, and "can’t do it right now." I really like her, but I found out her last relationship lasted two years, and they never kissed. I don’t think I can wait that long.

— Smacked Down

It’s got to be weird, dating a girl for whom safe sex probably means you wear a condom and she hockey masks up like Jason from "Friday the 13th." What do you do for foreplay, tell her "I just love how the moonlight glistens on your Fiberglas-encased head"?

Your girlfriend probably isn’t germ-phobic since she kissed girls and doesn’t mention making them gargle Listerine with a Lysol chaser. But, about those forays into Lesbianapolis, you’ve gotta wonder, does she really prefer guys or does she just prefer to prefer guys? If she really isn’t into women, maybe it was no big deal for her to kiss them. It’s also possible she was molested or exposed to some sexual weirdness. I called sex therapist Stephanie Buehler, who explained, "Somehow she’s made a rule for herself … made it OK to have intercourse. It’s almost like she (uses) intercourse … to sort of hide the fact that she isn’t really that interested in emotional intimacy. I guess giving sex is easy for her, and she knows it’s something that will keep a guy around."

It is tempting, when you’re into somebody, to approach your relationship like Peter Pan. As Walt Disney’s Peter put it in 1953, "All it takes is faith and trust. … Now think of the happiest things. It’s the same as having wings. … You can fly!" Yes, it sounds so romantic, believing against all odds. Of course, if you actually jump out the window, you will not be going for one long makeout session in Neverland; you will be going in a big black zipped bag to the coroner.

A wiser approach, when your girlfriend asks you to "be patient," is to ask yourself, "For what — celebrating our two-year anniversary with an air-kiss or a lingering thumbs up?" While you’re "patient" she has little incentive to get impatient — or to become the patient of a sex therapist (see AASECT.org, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists).

Tell her you can’t live without kissing, but you’re willing to wait a little longer if she’ll do more than sit around feeling scared. Encourage her to talk about her fears, and she might come to see that they’re about as grounded in reality as "Step on a crack, break your mother’s back" (or the more modern "Step on a crack vial …").

If talking goes well, maybe she’ll let you work your way from home base to first: kissing her forearm and the back of her neck, and moving on to cheek and lip pecks, and more. Give yourself (and maybe her) a deadline — a couple months? — to see some progress. Otherwise, good luck, come Christmas party time, not only helping your friend and host revive his elderly auntie, but explaining why you and your girlfriend really had no choice but to have sex under the mistletoe.

Nearly beloved

My wedding would’ve been tomorrow, but my fiance broke up with me over a triviality, took my engagement ring, and stormed off — his pattern at the slightest conflict. Next, he’ll call to say he can’t live without me. He can be loving and kind, he goes to my young son’s baseball games, and sex is very good. I’m in my late 40s, and don’t want to end up alone. No man is perfect, right?

— Almost A Bride

Pick the healthier statement: "I’m in my late 40s, and don’t want to end up alone," or "I’m in my late 40s, and don’t want my life to be one long, argumentative hell dotted with fatherly baseball park visits and very good sex." Being with this guy isn’t a way to avoid ending up alone, but a near guarantee you’ll end up alone — dozens and dozens of times. Meanwhile, only when you’re OK being alone can you be trusted to pick a partner. If you must marry this guy, take proper precautions, like getting yourself fitted for a muzzle — lest you blurt out something terribly inflammatory like "Nice day we’re having"… causing him to hurl your wedding ring into the Grand Canyon and relocate to Brazil.

(c)2008, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)