Dear Harlan,

I’m about to lose my wife because she says I’m not the man she has tried to make me into. I’ve tried to tell her that relationships are give and take, and that accepting and understanding someone as he or she is is the first step to a healthy relationship. She says that she’s been trying too long and just wants to give up. Please tell me what I can do or say to keep my marriage together.

Out of Answers

Dear Out of Answers,

I came across this quote from Thomas Merton (“No Man is an Island”) and thought of you: “The beginning of love is to let those we love to be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” Do you think this should continue? Maybe it’s time to find someone who can love you for you.

Dear Harlan,

Three months is the maximum amount of time that I can manage to keep a normal, well-adjusted, responsible man around. After three months, they appear to lose interest and move on to the bigger, better deal. I have been comfortable in my thongs, I have been in rooms in my thongs, I have been to shrinks and group therapy and quit drinking and quit hanging out in places where the old me found men. That pretty much left Internet dating, which also has proven to be a bust. I have changed everything about me that I can imagine to change, I’ve lost weight and learned to wear makeup and dresses and to be positive all of the time even when I want to strangle someone. I have “fixed” my personality so that it isn’t so intimidating or overbearing. I don’t what else to do. I’m nearly out of time to be able to have a family (I’m a geneticist and I have seen too much proof that women over 35 should not reproduce and thus refuse to do so myself). I have reached a point where I feel that my only two options left are to settle for the least horrible guy who will stick around, which won’t happen considering that in all of this changing I’ve done, I have decided not to accept abuse any longer or accept being alone and childless as my fate. I’m desperate and ready to give up.

Almost Done

Dear Almost Done,

No giving up. Start thinking like the new you. And stop thinking about your old eggs. If you’re not getting what you want, change something. Since meeting online is your primary way of dating, make sure you’re giving off the best vibe. Make your profile less about what you want and more about what you love to do. Include at least three pictures (make sure you’re active in them). Put yourself on at least two different sites. Consider paying for one. Switch every few months. Reach out to men with the mindset, “Are you as interesting as you are attractive?” Get set up and meet people offline where you live, work and play. When a good man ditches you, find out why. If you’re not too bitter, the good ones who leave you will come back when they realize you’re the very best. Just don’t stop. Give it a good two years. The new you has to circulate, date, mix and mingle to stop being single — that takes time and patience.

Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at har [email protected] or visit online: www.helpme harlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 3501 N. Southport Ave., suite 226, Chicago, IL 60657.