I’m a 39-year-old woman, dating a guy 10 years younger for about a year. He swears he’s in love, can’t live without me, says I’m the best woman he’s ever been with, and makes me feel great when he’s with me. However, he rarely answers the phone when I call and has stood me up numerous times. Whenever I get mad about being stood up, he’ll call after a couple of days and either say he was in the hospital or someone died. Should I move on, or is it possible that he does care but needs to grow up? I would like to add that our sex life is out of this world. The truth is, I am turning 40 soon, and I guess he makes me feel young.   

— Confused or Stupid?

OK, so your sex life is out of this world. And don’t tell me — when you call the guy, his message says, "If I’m not here, I’m probably on the mothership …."
Actually, he has so little respect for you that he can’t be bothered to come up with original (let alone plausible) excuses, or call you in a timely manner to deliver them. In fact, he’s got you trained to call him and wait a couple og days to hear which of his two excuses it’ll be. What? Somebody died? People die every second — almost all of them strangers to a guy who isn’t exactly living out his final days at Whispering Pines nursing home. Oh, wait — was he in the hospital again? Perhaps insurance companies are finally recognizing being a complete jerk as a legitimate medical condition. Or did he just sprain an ankle walking all over you?

Sure, mistakes happen. Like, once. A good guy works 16 hours, lies down for a five-minute nap, and wakes up five hours after he was supposed to pick you up for your date. He’ll be mortified, call you pronto to tell you how sorry he is, and clean out the corner florist to say it again. Should a date who’s a no-show fail to call right away, or claim he was held hostage by bank robbers, the reality is almost certainly one of two things: He isn’t a good guy or he isn’t a good guy. Do feel free to believe otherwise — the moment you turn on the local news and see a familiar face bound and gagged on the floor of the bank.

Since anybody with an IQ over freezing is too smart to put up with the excuses you do, it’s got to be a profound lack of self-respect that keeps you coming back for that 26th helping of crushing humiliation (or, as you prefer to call it, "out of this world sex"). Of course, you have your reasons, like how young he makes you feel — but do you really need to relive that time you waited alone in the rain when your mom forgot to pick you up from ballet? You have to be blocking out your true feelings, and reality, too, probably out of desperation to be loved — which is about the best guarantee you won’t find anything remotely resembling love. You’ll only be ready for a relationship when you can take or leave being in one. Go work on yourself until you don’t need to hear how wonderful you are from somebody else — that is, just as soon as he comes out of this week’s coma, and the waitress in the nurse outfit releases him.

Absolutely fabricated

My girlfriend of six months just met my parents. She really liked them and wanted to know if my mom liked her. I said, "Of course." This was a lie. My mom has always been extremely critical, and was not a fan. My girlfriend must know this somehow, as she’s started asking what my mother liked about her. What do I tell her?  

— Can’t Keep Lying

By all means, tell her the truth: "She likes that you aren’t pregnant with my child." Your girlfriend doesn’t want the truth; she wants reason to believe your mother liked her. This puts you in the terrible position of coming up with some conscience-searing lie, perhaps "She thought you were very attractive, with a beautiful smile and a great personality." Should your girlfriend realize your mother doesn’t like her, she’ll probably act weird around her, which is sure to make your mother like her even less. That’s why this situation calls not just for lies, but preventive lies — occasionally volunteering information without being pressed, like "My mom asked about you again." No need to tell what she asked: "Why does she dress like somebody who gets paid $20 to get in a man’s car?"

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