Imaginary intruder

One of my friends has had an intruder enter her home repeatedly. She thinks it is a man she knew briefly years ago, because a cassette tape she gave him appeared in her house. She has also received harassing phone calls. I urged her to get a restraining order, but she does not remember his last name and never knew where he lived or worked. Her dog doesn’t bark because this man has entered so often the dog knows him. My friend installed a home security system, but the intruder gets through. The sheriff’s department does not believe her. Her brother plans to install a 10-key locking device on the front door and secure the back door from the inside. If this doesn’t work, she will change her name, abandon her house and move away. I hate to see my friend’s life disrupted. Do you have any suggestions?

Ah, how do I tell you this? Maybe it’s because I have four cousins who are cops, because I’m a skeptic at heart or because I took an Abnormal Psychology course at Cosumnes River College, but I think your friend is imagining things. Yes, I do. Please arrange for her to see a psychiatrist immediately.

For the last six months I’ve been talking to a guy I met online. Although we have not met in person, I feel closer to him than anyone I have dated. He said that he wants to get married and have children. I really want to get married and I think he’s the one. He lives in another state, and I really want to use my vacation to visit him. He’s very traditional in his values, so I don’t know if I should bring it up or just hint. What do you think?

I think a man who like-likes you would have visited three months ago. For a woman intent on marriage, you have invested too much of yourself in a relationship with a disembodied voice. Here’s a primer for long-distance relationships that begin online and are headed toward marriage: After exchanging a few e-mails, chat by phone. If you enjoy the conversation, continue talking while maintaining correspondence with other eligible men. After this casual, approximately two-month dating period, select the man with whom you share the most values. Decide together to date exclusively (yes, that means you ask the hard questions and allow yourselves to be emotionally intimate). During this three- to six-month period, he should visit you in your town and vice versa. Since you do not really know each other, it’s probably safest to arrange housing at a hotel. After that, spend six months in further discernment (yes, that means you ask yourself questions such as: Even though we both love skiing and dogs, do I really want to get married so badly that I will wed someone who is a Rush Limbaugh devotee?). If this goes well, and neither of you can imagine life without the other, he will probably propose. Then you can select a wedding date and begin making plans. Keep in mind that the wedding is one day and the real focus should be planning a life together.

So, should you ask him if you can visit? Yes. But if he makes excuses or is hesitant, end the connection. This will be difficult, because you have given so much of your imagination to who you think he is. Get a clue: If he was really into you, he would jump at the opportunity for a face-to-face. Cut your losses and find a man who is ready for you.

Meditation of the Week

I was resting between sets on the abductor machine when a woman sat down next to me. We exchanged smiles, and she asked if I was about to switch machines. “No,” I said. “Good. It’s not my job to add frustration to the universe,” she replied. What if you lived with that intention?