Q: Today is Valentine’s day and I have no Valentine date or even a serious relationship. I seem to be in this state of flux for the past 10 years. In my early 40s and I am not even perceived as ‘relationship or marriage material. And I cannot relax on a date. My guard comes up immediately with people who date various people at once. Please tell me, is it unreasonable to ask/want a person I date not to date other people? Is this OK, and if not, why do I keep running into people who are like that? How do I relax with this person when there are other people in a game? And how do I trust men to be exclusive with me? I would love to settle down, but afraid that it is not in the cards for me.

A: At base, we humans are animals. We are the kind of animal that travels in packs, which we call “families.”

Our early families are chosen for us. As we grow up we choose our own packs from among our friends. By the time we get to 40 or so we have matured enough to feel a strong desire for this family of friends, and especially for one most special friend – our mate.

People who have used a lot of alcohol and drugs or who have other addictions can maintain their teenage persona and avoid realizing their need for this family of friends. It seems to me that you have either been dating a lot of people with this kind of immaturity, or you have been dating people ten to twenty years younger.

Your desire for a mate – and for a family of friends you can count on – is only human. Take a close look at the maturity level of the people you date, and make it clear very early on that you are looking for an exclusive relationship.

Let the immature “thrill seekers” go as soon as you can. And learn to find and enjoy the more mature “joy seekers” you find along the way.

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