Dear Harlan,

My girlfriend of four and a half years and I recently discussed our future and decided that we are going to be living too far apart from each other to stay together. The problem is, we still are living in an apartment together, and she still acts as though we are exclusive and doesn’t give me much space. I still love her, but I would like to start being on my own a little bit more since I won’t see her after this year. I value our friendship, and I don’t want to ruin that just by starting to talk to other girls. Is there any way to ask for more space without hurting her?

Too Close to Grow

Dear Too Close,

No matter what happens next, it’s going to hurt. This is what happens after dating for four and a half years and living together. It’s painful. Minimizing the hurt is your best approach. This means having a very clear conversation about what you want, what she wants and how you both can move forward. Then, move ahead with a clear understanding. Maybe living in the same city and breaking up will help you realize that you actually want to stay together.

Dear Harlan,

How can I be a girl whom men want to date and not a girl they try to hook up with? I’m sick of being a girl who just hooks up and doesn’t date. Help!

Unhooked

Dear Unhooked,

Boundaries. Set them. Tell men who want to hook up with you that you like to go on dates. Give them your number and tell them to ask you on one. Expect some of them to not call. But some will call. And when they do, you’ll be a girl who men date.

Hey Harlan,

My wife is pregnant with our first child. I’ve been out of town during the first part of the pregnancy because I’m in the middle of training for the Army. She is unable to move down with me. Before we got pregnant, she started working out again and actually motivated me to work out some more, but ever since we have gotten the big news, all that has stopped for her. I know staying active is important for both her and the baby, but that’s always a subject best left alone by men. Is there a good way to bring up exercise without totally making her mad at me for the rest of the pregnancy? I know when I’m home I can bring up walking together or something, but while I’m away, what can I do to help keep her active?

Expecting

Dear Expecting,

Congrats, man. I know you have the best intentions, but exercise some self-control and do not go there. This is an awful idea. No good can come of it. Trust that your pregnant wife is doing as much as she possibly can do. Some women are completely wiped out during the first trimester. The only possible way to even mention the word “exercise” is for you to discuss your own fitness routine. Then, subtly, ask her about her level of energy. When she tells you the only running she’s been doing is to the toilet to throw up, you’ll realize that you made a very smart choice. Once you get back in town, you’ll be in a better place to be an active partner.

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 [email protected] or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com.