1. I'm married and exhausted. Sex or sleep?
"Both," says Paul Glovinsky, PhD, co-author of The Insomnia Answer. "It's not just a question of sex but of timing. Often, women are stimulated by sex and can't sleep afterward." Which, as you know, means he crashes like a mighty oak while you lie awake and fume. "If you can time things to coincide with the time of day when you're at peak energy, your sex life will be significantly more satisfying." (Remember sex in the morning? Weekend naptime?) And speaking of time, Linda Young, PhD, a Washington-based therapist who specializes in helping women foster healthy relationships, adds this: "The average encounter is only around 20 minutes, so ask yourself why you're hesitant. Your resistance might be a reflection of your lack of satisfaction with the sex." Or your fear of intimacy, your performance anxiety, your anger about something else in the relationship—the point being that sexual unhappiness can be a shield for many other types of issues.
2. My clock is ticking. Settle for the guy I care about, or hold out for The One, who may never show up?
Do. Not. Settle. "Both of you—not to mention the children you might have—may pay the price of a fractured relationship later," says psychotherapist Ken Page, founder of the dating workshop Deeper Dating. Marrying Mr. Almost The One is, on the other hand, perfectly admissible. "If someone is your match in 75 to 85 percent of the things that are important to you—values, character strengths, how he treats other people, emotional fitness—that's not settling," says Young. "But it's up to you to infuse 'good enough' with energy and passion so that it becomes fantastic. And chemistry counts; you need to be attracted to each other."
3. I've met a great guy. He never calls. Should I call him?
"It's 2008. You can call," says Steve Santagati, author of The MANual and resident expert at AskSteveSantagati.com. Still, Santagati urges you not to put the guy on the spot. "Let him initiate plans. You can just say hello to open the lines of communication, and he might hear something in the phone call that he didn't get the first time you met." The way he responds will tell you whether you have a future together.
4. He's married, but he says he's not happy and it's ending. I should stay away, right?
Run as though you're fleeing a burning house. Which, in fact, you are. "He's already showing you he hasn't put enough distance between himself and his problematic relationship," says Young. "If you get involved, he's going to subject you to all his issues, and you're going to be a wonderful dumping ground."
5. When, if ever, is it a good idea to try again with a guy whose heart you've already broken?
About as often as pigs fly. "Usually, you can't go backward," says Manhattan-based matchmaker Janis Spindel. "It's a case-by-case scenario, but statistics show that it doesn't usually work." The case where it might work: when the failure was unrelated to your attraction or personalities but caused by outside circumstances—say, one of you was going through a family tragedy, or you were transferred to another city. Absent such extenuating circumstances, analyze what went wrong the first time, assume a similar dynamic will arise again, and then determine whether that dynamic is feasible in your current life.
6. I love my partner, but the sex is underwhelming. Stay the course or go? Neither. Instead, you're going to do the hardest thing you've ever done. "Think about the things that turn you on in the deepest ways, the things that make you feel most loved and cared for," says Page. "What kind of touch? What words? What kind of pacing makes you feel the most affection for your partner? Tell each other, no matter how wild or tame your desires might seem. When the two of you are unafraid to be naughty and vulnerable together, the experience can be amazing." Sex thrives on risk and surrender, and you're probably missing one or both.
Arianne Cohen is a Manhattan-based writer. Her exploration of the world of tall people, The Tall Book (Bloomsbury), will be published in January 2009.
Additional reporting by Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg and Kate Sandoval.