Trying for a 10 on the Love Relationship Scale

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Don't you feel happy when a friend of yours finds true love? I don't. I find it irritating. And I know what you're thinking: He's just jealous of anyone else having better romantic luck than he has. Hey, that's beside the point. OK, at least let me explain.

It all started when my friend Tanya called to say she had hit the romantic jackpot. After many years of trying, she finally found Mr. Right. She's absolutely thrilled with him and the feeling is mutual. She never realized love could be this fabulous. In fact, she doesn't even know what she was thinking before, being in relationships that were a mere shadow of this one's brilliance.

I expressed my happiness for her, hung up and plunged into the throes of depression. I realized that I'd never experienced the highs of a relationship that Tanya described.

In fact, I was starting to suspect that that kind of perfect relationship did not exist in real life -- maybe in the movies or in songs or on "The Bachelor," but that's it. And now Tanya had to spoil it all by finding perfect love right out here in the actual world. So, naturally, on my next coffee date, I'm sitting across from Linda and we're chatting, having a pleasant time. She's an attractive, interesting woman.

And then something rather unusual occurs. As we chat, my romantic soul, let's call him Alfonso, disengages himself from the rest of my body and floats overhead. Alfonso looks down on the scene, displeased. Why displeased? Because that infernal Tanya has raised the bar so high on what the perfect love relationship can be and, in Alfonso's eyes, should be. Alfonso informs me that, however pleasant, such perfection simply is not happening below.

I start arguing with Alfonso. Come on, Linda is a perfectly lovely woman. A professional. Attractive. Seems to appreciate me. I possibly could be happy with her. Maybe even forever.

But that's not good enough for Alfonso. Oh, no. He flings cold water in my face, cooling any ardor for Linda that was there before. He tells me to face the facts -- she's just not soul mate material. There are no fireworks, no bells and buzzers going off. If Tanya's new relationship is a 10, this one's barely an eight. Alfonso puts it to me plainly: Am I going to be happy with an eight on the Perfect Relationship Scale, knowing Tanya is enjoying a 10 every day for the rest of her life?

Now I'm getting angry. What makes you think, I ask Alfonso, that my present eight with Linda couldn't develop into a 10? It's our first meeting, for crying out loud. Alfonso tells me not to be a sap. He says I know good, and well that if it's not here from the start, it never will be.

This really irks me. I accuse Alfonso of trying to undermine my chances for happiness. Suddenly, Linda notices that I am in mid-argument with what appears to be some imaginary thing over my head. She remembers an appointment she's late for, thanks me for the coffee and quickly exits.

I do a slow burn, turning to face my romantic soul, who appears to be barely concealing a grin. Happy now, Alfonso? He tells me it was all for the best, and when I start moving toward him with my fist clenched, he reminds me that he's merely a part of me, so if I intend to do him any harm, I'm merely hurting myself.

Although I snap back that he's got a smart answer for everything, I realize he's right. Still, I'm seriously considering taking out a restraining order against him, and I'm trying my best these days to think positive thoughts about Tanya and her great new relationship. But man, it's a struggle.