Dear John: I seem to be addicted to the excitement of having affairs with married men. Is this possible? I have had one very serious affair, which resulted in us having a daughter who is now 4 years old. We were together for six years, and he was married to someone else that entire time. I am now having another affair with a man 17 years my senior, who also claims to be "happily married." I am 27. Why do I keep doing this? —Needing to Change, in Kansas City, Mo.
Dear Needing to Change: You most likely have a fear of intimacy. This behavior works as an emotional protection mechanism: You assume that a relationship will lead to abandonment, so to save yourself from any possible pain, you consciously choose men who cannot give you a full-time commitment.
Like any addictive behavior, the first step is to acknowledge that you have this tendency, and it appears that you now realize that. Consider counseling to help you through the feelings that lie at the bottom of your fear of intimacy and to learn techniques that will help you break this pattern so that you can begin a new and more fulfilling chapter of your life
Dear John: I recently became involved with a great guy who is both sweet and gentle. There is just one problem: He is also incredibly shy! I seem to have to initiate every conversation, date planning and even when and where we kiss. Should I be concerned about this? —Love Him, But... in Denver, Colo.
Dear Love Him But: Many men are quieter than their partner's. Often this provides a necessary balance in a relationship. However, from what you describe, you may be the feeling pressure to "carry" the relationship — and after a while, the partner carrying this burden finds the relationship unfulfilling. If this is the case, do yourself a favor and date him, but date others, too. By doing so, you'll better determine if you like taking the lead or enjoy sharing that role with someone else.
John Gray is the author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." If you have a question, write to John in care of this newspaper or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are kept anonymous and will be paraphrased. To find out more about John Gray and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.