Steve is a 50-something married man who's been around the block. Mia is a 20-something single immersed in the Center City dating scene. They may not agree, but they have plenty of answers. If you'd like an answer to your romantic troubles, e-mail them at S&M@phillynews.com or write: S&M c/o Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, PA 19101.
Q: I have a problem getting some women to go out with me. Every time I try to date someone I like, who I thought was interested in me, she says no. Could you please help me out by explaining what's the difference between being friendly and being interested? How can you tell?
Steve: Explain to her the proper execution of a suicide squeeze in baseball (or some other esoteric subject). If she pays attention, she's being more than friendly. If she looks away or tries to escape, she's not interested.
Mia: Although girls are a little harder to read than guys, they're not that much harder. Does she laugh at your jokes and seem interested in your anecdotes? Most importantly, does she occasionally let her hand casually touch your arm or your thigh? Then she's interested.
Q: I have been dating a girl for about a year now. We are exclusive with each other. She has been out out of a seven-year marriage for about two years. When she became single she had a sexual fling with a girlfriend who is bisexual. She was very honest about this, and I found it erotic. She also wants me to tell her about my past sexual exploits in great detail and has said it would be OK if I was with another woman as long as she could hear all the details. She has also mentioned that she would like to have a threesome with her girlfriend and watch me have sex with her. While I find all this very sexy and erotic, I really love my girl and only want to be with her. I am sure I could do it, but I think I would be a little screwed up after the fact. I have much more of a problem with it than she does. So I am a bit confused and would like your advice.
Steve: It is so annoying when the girl you're dating suggests that you also make love to her attractive girlfriend. I can't tell you how many times I had to turn down offers like that.
Seriously, though, you are right to express your feelings. A good relationship takes into account how each partner feels, and if one is uncomfortable about something, then you shouldn't do it. If your girlfriend respects you, she won't push it.
Mia: It sounds like you already know how you feel about this. If she really cares about you and respects you, she'll keep it just the two of you in the bedroom. Maybe you could watch some lesbian porn together. That might help her threesome urges.
Q: Is it normal for couples to have shared e-mail accounts? I know a lot of my married friends do, but I always felt that mail was private. Not that I'm flirting behind my boyfriend's back or anything, but I don't necessarily want him reading my exchanges with friends. What do you think?
Mia: The Internet is a big place; keep your own e-mail address. I don't see why that stuff should be shared. Besides, if you can't trust somebody to behave themselves with their cyber-mail, then the relationship might be in trouble anyway.
Steve: Not to mention, what if some handsome TV star sent you unsolicited photos of himself in a Speedo? You can't control what people send you in e-mail, and your boyfriend might get the wrong idea. It could lead to a lot of trouble over nothing.
Q: My girlfriend wants to go off the birth control pill because she doesn't like the way the hormones make her feel. She says we'll have to start using condoms or the sponge. I really hate wearing a condom, and I don't think they are as reliable. Why does she get to have all the say?
Mia:Well, until they make a male pill, that's pretty much the way it is. I understand your anxiety with a less reliable and more intrusive form of birth control, but you can't really stop her from going off the pill if she doesn't want to take it.
According to the Planned Parenthood Web site, the sponge is 84 percent effective in preventing pregnancy with typical use, and 91 percent effective with perfect use. (Of course, it doesn't protect against STDs.) Maybe she could try that.