Six months ago, my first serious relationship ended. My ex, “Steve,” and I attend the same college, but rarely communicate anymore. It’s difficult, but for the best. The trouble is my ex’s new love interest seems intent on becoming my friend. She befriended me on Facebook, started calling me on my cell (a number I never gave her) and inserts herself into plans with mutual friends. She always mentions random facts about me that I don’t recall telling her, like, “Your parents have three dogs, right?” She compliments me, then imitates what she compliments, like, “I love your highlights. Can I have your stylist’s number?” I want to tell her things tanked with my ex for a reason, and becoming my clone, or even my friend, isn’t the best idea, but I’m uncomfortable discussing my ex with her and don’t feel over him enough to be comfortable getting close to her. For some reason, I’ve been too proud to share this with her. Yet, on my more charitable days, she seems sweet, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. What boundaries are reasonable to set up?

 — Invaded

When he looks deeply into the limpid pools of her eyes, does he say, “Baby, have I ever told you my ex-girlfriend’s parents have three dogs?”

Sure, that factoid could’ve flown out in casual conversation, but it isn’t just that factoid or others like it. It’s the combo platter of stuff — from befriending you on Facebook to digging up your cell number to hijacking your hairdo — that makes this feel like a hostile takeover in the form of a girl-crush. OK, she “seems sweet.” You know what they say: You catch more flies with honey. But, ask yourself this: How do you feel about being the fly? Go ahead and answer — if you don’t have to run off to have a latte with her to discuss Steve’s snoring.

Of course she wants to be in your life — much like a deer tick wants to be on a dog. She’s probably not evil, but suspects she’s lacking in something he wants, something that might rub off on her if she spends enough time with you. She’s taking advantage of a tendency women have, especially 20-something women, to feel they have to be “nice” to anyone who has yet to, oh, call them a slut and push them off the roof of the student center. But  make no mistake — you’re not being nice, you’re being intimidated into a “friendship” that probably keeps you from moving on. You just broke up with your ex, and now you have to break up with his new girlfriend, too?

Here’s a transcript of what should be the extent of your relationship with this girl: “Hey, how’s it going?” And then keep going. That probably doesn’t seem “charitable,” but I’m guessing you aren’t wearing a Santa suit and a big white beard and ringing a bell outside Target. You owe yourself first and foremost. Figure out what works for you, and if something doesn’t, don’t let it in your life. Yes, it’s that simple. That is, when you do it before somebody’s all over you like eczema. Still, just because you’ve been slow to peel this girl off doesn’t mean you owe her some humiliating explanation for why it’s over between you. Just duck her, duck her calls and her e-mail. No matter how hard she presses, you’re “busy.” And then you’re still busy. And you’re busy still — much as you’d luvvvv to pop by her plastic surgeon’s office so he can make that plaster mold of your nose.

The coarse of true love

I work at a big supermarket. I’m 21, and have a hot co-worker who’s 42. (I love older women!) I want to tell her I’m looking for a little bit of a girlfriend and sex, and see if she’s into it. I know I should show confidence without being cocky, and be direct, but what else?

— Very Interested

By all means, be direct: Perhaps mention that she’s getting on in years, but you’re kinda into the older meat. And then, just get to it: “I’m looking for a little bit of a girlfriend and sex.” Surely, she’ll take it in stride: “Oh, that’s in aisle four, next to the hot cereals.” Of course, there’s another direct approach — ask her out for a beer. Even if she senses what you’re after, as long as it isn’t spoken, you can both pretend you’re just thirsty and wondering whether she is, too. Depending on how drinks go, either give her a friendly hug goodnight or try to kiss her in the parking lot. Whatever happens, make it your policy never to blurt out exactly what you want from a woman — that is, unless you’re trying to see whether you can afford her services.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail (