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: My wife and I are in our 50s. We've been together for 30 years and have children. I just found out that she began dating me only so she could make another man she was dating jealous. Ever since I found out, I cannot look at my wife. I cannot even talk to her. All I want to do is die. I feel like I've been living a 30-year lie. Please tell me what I should do.
Mia: This is seriously bothering you? Who cares why she started dating you - what matters is that she liked you enough to stick around, marry you, have kids and make a life together! A 30-year marriage is a pretty awesome achievement. And I doubt she spent all those years with you just to make someone jealous. I think you should forget it and count your blessings. But if you can't let it go, ask her. I bet
she'll laugh and say she stopped caring about the other guy after about two dates with you.
Steve: If you've had a happy 30-year marriage with two kids, what the heck difference does it make why she first went out with you? But since it is weighing on your mind, you need a thorough discussion of it with your wife. And if that doesn't provide closure, I suggest counseling to find out why this morbid feeling has taken such a hold of you.
Q: I'm a man who, about a year and a half ago, found myself in love with another man. He's stirred in me feelings that I haven't felt in years. I would like to tell this man (I'll call him John) about my feelings. But John is old-school and I'm not sure he would accept a man loving him. Should I tell him how I feel and let the chips fall where they may? Or should I remain silent and just continue to fantasize about what might have been?
Steve: Before any potential relationship, gay or straight, remember the three Rs: research, research, research. Find out everything you can about him. Is he in a relationship with anyone? Is he gay or bi? And, if so, is he out? This should dictate how you approach him. If he's hetero, you're probably best keeping quiet.
Mia: I say you tell him how you feel. Either way, this guy has reminded you that you're a passionate person who wants a real relationship. So if John can't give it to you, then I suggest you move on and look for someone else who can.
Q: I'm writing about your use of the term "go south" when you advised a young woman to get a lawyer to protect her interests in case "things go south with your boyfriend." I'm sure you meant no harm, but I find it offensive to all who are Southern born and bred. The terms "go south" and "gone south" are only used when something goes wrong. I respectfully request that you and Mia join me in an effort to teach folks to use a less offensive term.
Steve:As someone who is a half-blooded Dixie boy, I would never knowingly insult a son or daughter of the South. So I quickly consulted the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Robert Chapman's Dictionary of American Slang and The New York Times' word maven, William Safire. I have good news. The term "go south" has nothing to do with "the South" or American Southerners. There are a couple of origins for the word. The first is in cartography, the fact that south is down on a map. It began as a metaphor for "down" as in "the stock market headed south yesterday." The second origin is Native American: Some tribes believed the soul flew south when it departed the body. Thus, going south became synonymous with dying (or some other bad thing). Feel offended no more.