It's amusing to me that I have reached the age where a wedding band is something I will see on the hands of men my age, that I am at the age where most of people in their twenties are already married or headed that way. Whenever I talk to customer at work, or any man that I don't know already, I will find myself looking down at his hands to check. It's almost a warning signal, helping to gauge just how far he is straying from the rules of matrimony. I don't hit on men as a rule, whether I am single or not, but it's one of those social graces that allows you at least a split second to re-gather your motives when speaking to a member of the opposite sex. It more than serves its purposes.

One of my friends told me that a woman he doesn't work with daily but who comes in contact with him as a vendor had recently asked him out for dinner. Without thinking, he mentioned that he had to pick up his kids at the babysitter's, and it only then dawned on her that she had just asked a married man out to dinner. I didn't really buy that, even though I wouldn't put it past my friend for thinking it was a mild oversight on her part. He figured that if she had noticed that she may have figured he wasn't into. his marriage, as if it were an option to like being married or at least act like you are. A ring is a ring.

I have never gotten involved with a married man, but I know I screwed around with at least one that was engaged and was likely the main cause for a breakup of an engagement for another. As distorted as my rules for dating or screwing around with men were in my earlier years, I never stepped over that line, I was never that foolish. But I can see how other women have, and how it has provided the illusion of being select, of being special in the eyes of the adulterous man. In any relationship with men, I can't help but allow for the man what I would allow for myself, so if he cheats on his wife, why should I expect him to be any more faithful to me? Even if the man were my close friend, that would imply to me that he would likely betray me in the same way, and I can't accept that.

I have also never been married and won't pretend that I know what marriage is like in its permanence, but I have been engaged for years on end. I was also cheated on by my fiancé during the six months we were apart. I don't even know that they had sex, but to me, it's the coveting that gets you in trouble. All I know for sure is that he expressed the same intimate favor for her that he once reserved only for me, and that was enough. I even met the women he did it with when I moved here, and stupidly thought that I could forgive him, allow him friendship with this woman in addition to tolerating this woman's presence in my home. Sometimes you just can't be bigger than your own self-esteem will allow, you can't forgive completely what has been done to you so casually, with, in my case, such little regret.

Having such a gross ratio of guy friends to girl friends tipped horribly against my favor, I am on my guard constantly. Having guy friends implies a lot about you and the nature of your friendship that you often feel the need to over-legitimize it, and while it's not always fair, it's the kind of situation where sensitivity and honesty is key to survival.

So look for that ring, girls, and keep looking. Don't stop there.

Boys: you look out for those rings too. I met a very intelligent, very sweet girl one night and we talked for several hours before she casually mentioned her husband. (I mentioned a friend of mine in the Marines; she replied, "Oh, my husband is in the Navy.") She was in my lap at the time; I don't think either I or she mistook anybody's intentions.

I'm 19. I shouldn't have to look for wedding rings.

I'll probably never meet another girl who's into Robotech books, either. :(

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