Dear Rachel,

I’m in a rut. I’m single again after dating a guy for six months. Our relationship was exciting and steamy at first, but then it just phased out. He’s not a bad guy; we just didn’t have much in common. It’s like I woke up one day and realized there was nothing there, so I dumped him. My best friend calls me The Ice Queen for ending relationships overnight, but I’m looking for a serious relationship. It’s not like I’m having one-night stands. I don’t do that. I just find myself in relationships that start off intense and fizzle to nothing. What’s my problem? Am I cold-hearted for not dwelling on my exes? And why do my relationships die so suddenly?

Signed, Alleged Ice Queen

Dear Alleged Ice Queen,

The fact that you’re writing me means you’re dwelling on your exes at least a tiny bit, so no, I don’t think you’re an Ice Queen. You say your relationships start off steamy and then fizzle, which makes me wonder if they ever really had any substance to begin with. Sometimes we women confuse sexual attraction for love. Although society is becoming more tolerant of women’s sexual freedom, our individual minds are often much more traditional. Therefore, some women attempt to create a good relationship with men who would otherwise be just a good one-night stand. Not that I’m advocating one-night stands. I’m not. Many women have trouble separating their emotions from sex, so attempting one-night stands only leads to attachments to the wrong guys.

If you’re the rare kind of woman who can separate her emotions from sex, you may be able to have casual safe sex until the right guy comes along. But for the majority of women, I suggest lusting from afar, since attempting casual conquests can distract a woman from the goal of a multi-dimensional relationship. Many men, on the other hand, have less trouble separating women into two categories: sex object and marriage material. This is one of the fundamental differences between men and women. You show a typical guy a photo of a Victoria’s Secret model and he says, “I’d like to be with her for an hour.” When you show a typical woman a photo of an equally attractive man, she thinks, “I’d like to be with him for the rest of my life.” This is one area where we women could take a cue from men. Learning to mentally distinguish sexual attraction from a deeper connection is a critical step on the road to finding your best match.

So how can do you differentiate lust from love? Take your time before sleeping with a man. I suggest waiting at least three weeks. If you’re still attracted to a man after consistently dating him for a few weeks, your chances of a lust-only relationship have greatly decreased. Jumping into love affairs too quickly is one of the biggest mistakes people make in the beginning of dating relationships. We’ve all seen the movies where love happens at first sight, but in reality, true love often builds in intensity over time. Waiting a few weeks to have sex may seem like a long time if you’re used to rushing into physical intimacy, but you’ll avoid wasting months or years of your time in the long run by taking it slow from the start.

Dear Rachel,

I have an ex-boyfriend who keeps coming back. We’ve broken up three times already, and now he’s trying to charm his way back for the fourth time. He’s too high-drama and moody for me. He literally exhausts me with his emotional ups and downs to the point that I feel numb. Somehow, though, he knows the precise amount of time it takes for me to miss him and forget all the bad times, while remembering only the good times we shared. I’m sick of our yo-yo pattern, but he’s tenacious when he sets his mind on getting me back. How can I let him know I’m done for good?

Signed, Yo-Yo Dater

Dear Yo-Yo Dater,

The only way to stop this yo-yo dating pattern is to stop it. Now. Don’t see him and don’t let him come to your place. I’m guessing that if you meet with him in person, he’ll charm you back into a relationship. Therefore, be honest with him and tell him that you’ll always care about him, but you refuse to date him again because his drama exhausts you. I understand the pull of strong chemistry and emotional highs, but at some point the bad usually outweighs the good. You need to remember that this guy comes as a complete package; you can’t extract his good qualities while discarding the bad. Know your limit. If you’re really done, show him with your actions as well as your words by not meeting with him and not answering/returning his calls. If he’s as tenacious as you say, the cold shoulder may be the only way to send him a clear message that you’re done for good.

This is a case where actions speak louder than words. Tell him “No,” then show him you mean it by supporting your words with actions. If you’re truly ready to end this pattern, this is the way to do it. If you’re not quite done, remember this technique for the future when you can’t go back and forth with this guy one more time.

Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit: www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: rachel@rebelgirlpublishing.com.