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Savage Love: Straight Up 

I'm in my mid-40s, straight, never married. Ten months ago, my girlfriend of three years dumped me. She got bored with the relationship and is generally not the marrying type. The breakup was amicable. I still love her and miss her. Last week, I wrote her a letter saying that I still love her and want us to get back together. She wrote me a nice letter back saying she doesn't feel passion for me and we're never getting back together. Over the past few months, I've started dating another girl. She's pretty, smart, sexy, and kind. If I proposed, she'd probably say yes. I want to get married. The problem is that I don't have the passion for her that I had for my previous girlfriend. So do I "settle" for Girlfriend #2 or start my search all over? Please don't give me the bullshit that love can happen at any age. At my age, the number of single women without kids is low. How many married people "settle" for someone who is a good person but not their true love?

­— No Clever Acronym

There is no settling down without some settling for. Please make a note of it. Also, NCA, while passion is a great feeling — totally intoxicating — it also tends to be ephemeral. It's a hard feeling to sustain over the long haul, and marriage is theoretically the longest of long hauls.

You felt strongly about your ex, but she didn't share your feelings. You don't feel quite as strongly about your current girlfriend, but you would like to be married — to someone, maybe her — and Girlfriend #2 seems like a good candidate. I wouldn't suggest proposing, as you've been seeing her for only a few months and most sane women view early, impulsive proposals as red flags.

And finally, NCA, the specter of a "true love" waiting for us out there somewhere, either lost or not yet found, snuffs out more good-and-loving-and-totally-worth-settling-for relationships than anything this side of cheating.

Dear Dan,

My girlfriend has started seeing other partners. It makes her happy, and in turn I'm happy for her. It's taking me a bit of time to adjust to the new situation, but she's happier than she's been in ages. We love each other and are crazily compatible. Today she came back from a hotel with bite marks on her breasts. I know she's been with a few people over the last few weeks, but being reminded of it each time I look at or touch her makes me uncomfortable. What's more, the guy who did it knew she was part of a long-term couple. Do I need to get over it for the sake of my girlfriend or do I make an issue of hickeys?

— Boy Really Unnerved In Seeing Evidence

If you and the girlfriend have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about her hookups with others, BRUISE, then hickeys and other kinds of slow-fading marks violate the spirit of that agreement. Those kinds of marks amount to a nonverbal "tell." You have a right to calmly point that out to your girlfriend, and she has a responsibility, in the future and in the moment, to remind/warn her outside sex partners that leaving slow-fading marks on her breasts, neck, thighs, forehead, insoles, eyelids, etc., is out of bounds.

For your part, BRUISE, don't inspect your girlfriend post-hookup for the kinds of marks that fade quickly after sex, as that would amount to a nonverbal ask.

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