I’m always the other woman

I think it's time for another round of self-help/love book reviews. On Thursday morning, I'll post a list of self-help books that have been sitting on my desk for the past few months. If you want to review one, e-mail me (meregoldstein at gmail) with the title, your mailing address, and put "BOOK REVIEW" in the subject line. I'll send books until I run out of them.

Those who get a book will have until March 25 to review it for us. Like last time, the trick is that you have to review your book in one sentence. And just like last time, our Globe interns will pick best review. The winner will get a lame prize. Make sense? The books go fast (I only have about 30 to 40), so be an early bird on Thursday.

Dear Meredith and LL Sages,

I'm taking a deep breath before spewing this out. Maybe 2 days ago got a phone call informing me that the guy I've been chilling with for the past 5 or so months has actually had a long-term, long-distance girlfriend. She's moving in this weekend. Wait. Stop. Excuse me?!? How did I miss that? To be fair, he withdrew a little last weekend, but really, that withdrawal should not have been the first tip that something so big was going on.

Now, here comes the harder part for me to say. I seem to have caught a chronic case of otherwomanitis. This is the 3rd guy I’ve dated who has had commitments elsewhere. One "forgot" to break it off with me. With the other guy, one of his buddies tipped me off.

Examining it all, I guess it's pretty easy to carry on an affair with me. I'm not quite 26 and working to keep my head above water while trying to earn a master's degree. I work anywhere between 40 and 50 hours a week, am enrolled in two classes, and sometimes pick up between 10 and 15 of extra work. I enjoy getting the heck out of town on the weekends with my buddies. We always saw one another 2 or 3 days a week, usually at least one weekend day, and had a decent amount of phone and e-mail contact. That seems like a lot of contact to me but there are 3-4 other days a week that I was not physically around to play with him. Short of running hiring a private investigator, how can I verify a guy is telling me the truth when he says that he is single? (I always ask before I agree to go out on date #1.)

In dating, I'm really just looking for someone to play with in my non-work time. If something deeper develops, that'd be great but ... chances of finding Mr. Forever and a Day seem pretty slim at the moment. After this string of bad luck, I'm annoyed with myself for being a bad people reader. There's a lesson being missed here, but I can't seem to grasp it. I just ... almost feel like it's unethical for me to keep dating. I keep thinking of that girl who just moved her life for him! I don't even have the right to feel this way because he wasn't mine -- he was *hers* and I was stealing him. How do I deal?

– Thief, Western Mass.

You asked these people if they had girlfriends, Thief. They said no. You saw this last guy three times a week. You had every reason to believe that he was your boyfriend. I have no idea why you've had such bad luck, but it seems to me that it's not your fault. Being busy shouldn't make you a magnet for cheaters. Let's blame this on coincidence, age, and place in life.

As for reading people, all I can say is that you should feel as though you're building emotional intimacy with people over time, even if you're busy. You don't have to be looking for a husband, but over the course of a few months you should be introduced to someone's friends and family and let in on secrets and routines. If you're not feeling any closer to a person after many dates, go find another companion. Because yes, you're busy, but sometimes that's the best time to find Mr. Forever and a Day. Your Mr. Forever and a Day is probably going to be the kind of guy who appreciates busy.

Don't let this bad luck mean more than it does. It's not as though you were ignoring framed wedding pictures and ladies' underpants around your boyfriend's apartment. You were shocked to find out that this guy lied to you. You're doing your due diligence. Let's keep the blame where it should be. On him.

Readers? Is she really a bad people reader? Was she ignoring signs? How can she be sure that her suitors are single? Does being busy really affect her ability to get closer to someone? Is this just bad luck? Discuss.

– Meredith