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Question: I have a friend who has never moved beyond high school when it comes to relationships. She falls in love before she has even spoken to the guy. She stays with men who treat her badly because "this might be THE ONE"! She asks for advice but never listens to it, perhaps because I fail to explain what is wrong with her thinking.

Do you have a good definition for love that I can pass on to her? She is a wonderful, otherwise intelligent, woman, and I want to see her happy.

Answer: If it helps, you're hardly the first intelligent person to fall for the myth of the one.

Yes, you.

The myth is that there exists the one thing you can say to a friend to make her stop being a dink.

She's chasing men because she's looking for validation, not companionship. She's tuning you out because she's looking for validation, not advice. She will remain unhappy as long as she seeks validation, not self-acceptance.

Can you help? Probably not. But it couldn't hurt to get love out of the discussion altogether. A definition of what love isn't: spackle to fill inner voids.

You call mom

Question: I am stuck: I can't get my mom to call me. I have explained that I want to talk to her more, that I want her support more, that we should take turns calling each other, all to no avail. I just don't understand why she can't pick up the phone once in awhile. When I say this, I get, "I can't help it," or, "OK, I hear you," and nothing changes.

Answer: Hard to see why she's not calling.

You are Adult Daughter Who Badly Needs to Lay Off _ and what you have is a mom who doesn't call. Resist the urge to see this as her not loving, caring about or wanting to talk to you and what you're left with is a mom who doesn't call. Which is a problem you can circumvent every time by picking up a phone.

Which, to these eyes, means you still have a mom, any and every time you want her. Note "want," not "need," please.

Which makes you a lucky girl. Celebrate this great fortune whenever you care to by calling Mom _ and don't squander it by perceiving great harm where there is none.

E-mail tellmewashpost.com; fax (202) 334-5669; write "Tell Me About It," c/o the Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.

Washington Post Writers Group

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