Dear Ben,

Precisely because you’re writing to me for advice, I assume that you personally feel slight remorse or guilt over the number of your female acquaintances.  (Casanovas don’t generally reflect upon the consequences of their courting ways … in fact, if friends took notice, they would see it only as a compliment.)

Look, people will think what they will — no matter how you wish they didn’t.  Only you can take responsibility for yourself and your actions.  If this public persona you’re cultivating is not you, then figure out how to develop a different one.  (And yes, from a grandma in Missouri, that might mean dating fewer women at once.)

— M