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Top 10 love letters of the year

Our readers have a lot of love trouble. Meredith Goldstein has a lot of answers.

Leif Parsons for The Boston Globe

Every weekday, thousands and thousands of people visit the Love Letters column on Boston.com to read questions from the lovelorn. Some letters get a lot more attention than others - maybe because they are more controversial or funnier, or maybe I’ve given better advice that day or the Boston.com readers have been especially witty in the comments they post. I can’t figure out why some letters are more popular than others, but I can tell you what those most popular letters are. Here are the 10 most popular letters since Valentine’s Day 2011, based on Web traffic.

10. I WANT HIM TO BE MANLY (Nov. 21, 2011)

The problem: “I feel like I’m the one in the relationship who does the things a guy should do. I want to know that my potential husband would protect me from a pack of wild dogs (or zombies) and not run in the opposite direction.’’

Continue reading below

My take was: “It’s not about whether he is masculine; it’s about whether he’s thoughtful and chivalrous. Who cares if he can change a flat tire if he asks you whether you’re warm enough while you wait for the tow truck?’’

Most popular Boston.com comment: THEREALJBAR wrote, “My Dad can’t figure out how to use a hammer. He needs help with anything you would term ‘manly’ as far as tasks go. But we always knew we could count on him in the important matters, like making us feel loved, and safe, and special. He was my hero growing up and he still is.’’

Leif Parsons

9. IS THIS YOUNGER MAN INTERESTED? (July 18, 2011)

The problem: “I developed a crush on a young man who is 24. He is amazing in so many ways and I believe he genuinely likes me. Am I crazy to think he’s still giving out mixed signals?!!??!’’

Continue reading it below

My take was: “Why are you communicating like a 24-year-old instead of forcing him to discuss all of this like a 36-year-old?’’

Most popular comment: LILY, in response to the letter writer’s comment about her crush wearing cologne and shaving before their outings. “You just described my teenager’s behavior on Friday nights before he goes to the mall.’’

8. I DREAD HIS RETURN (May 12, 2011)

The problem: A military wife admits that she’s concerned about her husband’s return. She feels guilty about enjoying life without him in the house. “I love him - and like him - but when I look at what my life and my stress level is now (low) compared with what I anticipate it being when he returns, I wonder if I’m going to make it through this homecoming and reentry into family life.’’

My take: Get help from the military. Don’t make assumptions about how it will feel. “Yes, he will annoy you, and no, you won’t have a queen-like rule over the television, but there will be benefits to having him home that you can’t even imagine right now.’’

Most popular comment: THATJNEENGRRL said, “Slow and steady. Give him some time to assimilate back into home life, and yourselves time to assimilate with each other as a family.’’

7. I HOOKED UP WITH MY BEST FRIEND’S BOYFRIEND (May 11, 2011)

The problem: “I’ve tried to avoid him, but I can’t seem to keep my distance either, and I know given the right situation something will happen again.’’

My take: “You can either tell [the friend] what you did and grovel, or don’t tell her and live with it (for the record, I’d tell). Either way, stay away from [the boyfriend]. He’s not yours. I don’t care if there’s an attraction. I don’t care if you always put your friend’s feelings first. You’re not entitled to sleep with your best friend’s boyfriend. No one is.’’

Most popular comment: MCDINKUS who said, rather bluntly, “You’re a horrible person.’’

6. SHE’S CHATTING WITH SOMEONE SHE DATED (Oct. 5, 2011)

The problem: A man snoops and catches his fiancee chatting online with a former suitor. “I trust my fiancee, but this does alarm me.’’

My take: “My advice is to keep the snooping to yourself for now. But when you’re having a nice moment with her, admit your insecurities.’’

Most popular comment: HMSBS said, “You’ll obviously have to talk to her and ’fess up about what you read. You can’t just call off a wedding with no discussion - but a very serious conversation is warranted right now.’’

5. IS MY MARRIAGE OVER? (June 22, 2011)

The problem: They got married young, have money problems, and she wants to leave. “Is it worth it to try to make things work or are things over between us? Should I continue to be unhappy?’’

My take: Go to therapy and think about how financial stress is affecting the relationship. “And a question worth asking yourself during this process: If you had all the money in the world, would you want your husband by your side? If so, that says a lot. If not, that says a lot, too.’’

Most popular comment: THEREALJBAR, who also advised getting therapy. “Therapy for yourself first, then talk to a couples therapist.’’

4. IS MY BOYFRIEND GAY? (Nov. 1, 2011)

The problem: She thinks her boyfriend is feminine (and maybe gay) despite the fact that he’s attracted to her and sleeps with her.

My take: He’s straight. Stop trying to figure out what he is and think about what you’re attracted to. “This is about you and what you like. You must figure out what you want without making it seem like he’s done something wrong.’’

Most popular comment: CONEARTH said her gay friends, who decided he was straight, know what’s up. “LISTEN TO THE GAY FRIENDS. They know of what they speak. People may say that gaydar doesn’t exist, but it does.’’

3. MY WIFE HAS LET HERSELF GO (Nov. 28, 2011)

The problem: His wife, who’s in the medical profession, has stopped looking nice. “The demands on her have taken a major toll on our intimacy, and what’s most difficult is that attraction has become an issue.’’

My take: Treat her to a spa day. Tell her what you like to see her wear. “She’s no dummy. She knows that she’s wearing clogs. She knows that you guys are less intimate than you used to be.’’

Most popular comment: THEREALJBAR said to help more so she has more time to groom. “If she’s dragging her butt home after a 12-hour shift and has to make dinner, you should take the meals prep over for her.’’

2. I LIKE MY FRIEND’S DAD (April 1, 2011)

The problem: She’s in a secret relationship with the father of her friend “Stacey.’’ Meanwhile, he’s not quite divorced yet. “Do I talk to her ahead of time? Does [he] tell her?’’

My take: Before you pursue this further, think about what you want. “Before you sit down and tell [your friend] that you’re in line to be her stepmom, please think about whether this whole thing is worth it. Can you really see yourself with him in five or 10 years?’’

Most popular comment: TWINSTER, who was angry. “WHAT is wrong with you? You’re willing to throw a childhood friendship out the window just because you ‘like’ this guy? Seriously?’’

1. MY WIFE STINKS (Nov. 11, 2011)

The problem: His wife stopped eating meat and started to smell.

My take: Tell her, because it might be a problem. “Your sensitive nose might be picking up something important. Perhaps she’s eating too much of one thing. Perhaps she isn’t getting enough protein.’’

Most popular comment: CORPORATE-HIPPIE-CHICK said, “When my mom was first diagnosed with diabetes, she smelled awful. She smelled a lot like corn. My baby sister was pregnant at the time and couldn’t be near her. It turned out to be an allergic reaction to a medication she was on.’’

Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.
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