What would you think if your boyfriend asked you about a particular woman at a barbecue after you both left? He claimed he was just curious — he’d seen her at my son’s barbecue, and wondered how she knew the family — but, of course, she’s young, beautiful and half my age (I’m 53). In our four years together, he’s gotten better about not visibly showing interest in other women, but I know he admires women, especially tall blondes. He’s a big, sweet, good-looking guy, but doesn’t have a house or much money, although he’s a hard worker. I doubt he has the confidence to pursue hot women, but I can’t help feeling worried.

— Bothered

What would I think if my boyfriend asked me about a particular woman at a barbecue? I’d just know he wanted to have a torrid affair with her. I’d think back to when he excused himself to use the bathroom, and decide he really went to call and reserve a motel room. I’d wait till we hit my driveway, pitch a screaming fit, claw off all his clothes, throw them on the lawn, light them on fire, bolt the door, make him sleep naked in the bushes, and then stay up all night praying he’d be gnawed to death by a family of hungry wolverines. You?

Of course, should I have an attack of sanity and rationality, I’d probably assume he noticed the girl because he’s male, heterosexual and not in a coma or dead. Chances are, your boyfriend is attracted to this chickie — as he is to dozens of hot young things and a few still-warm middle-aged things he sees throughout his day. There are ways to prevent this sort of unauthorized lust: 1.) Chain him to your living room media center for the rest of his natural life. 2.) Only date men who are legally blind.

The truth is, beauty is eyeball-grabbing. I’m as straight as plate glass, and I ogle beautiful women. Straight guys sneak glances at Jude Law. Purty is purty. Meanwhile, on a Crimes Against the Relationship scale, your boyfriend merely asked you about this girl; he didn’t ask her about her — running after her and shouting, “Hey, Busty! How’dja like to go a coupla rounds with me in the back of Frank’s Escalade?”

If you want to hang onto a man, by all means, turn your relationship into a tiny police state. Give him a list of places he can’t go, and people he isn’t allowed to have contact with; for example: “Never talk to any woman skinnier than I am.”

Yes, I get it: This particular woman’s younger and hotter than you. Here’s more bad news: With every passing year, more and more women will be younger and hotter than you. If your boyfriend wants to run off with one of them, there’s nothing you can do. All you can do is keep up your “curb appeal,” be confident about what you have to offer, and make your relationship someplace you both want to be. He seems to be making an effort, at least to look like he isn’t looking. Let him have his secrets and you can have yours — like, that the catalog of Victoria’s doesn’t actually come in the mail looking like a classified document: Blacked-out pictures with only sizes and descriptions, an errant manicured hand or toe and the return policy.

Law & Ardor

I read about a free criminal records search, criminalsearches.com. Just for fun, I put in my girlfriend’s name, and out popped a misdemeanor larceny charge from several years ago. We’re in our mid-20s, dating seriously for two years, and have discussed marriage. I don’t think this is that big a deal, but it hurts and disappoints me because I’ve been totally honest about everything in my life. How do I bring this up? Or should I? 

— Unlucky Strike

Since you’ve been “totally honest” about everything in your life, don’t stop now: “You know, Honey, one afternoon, there was nothing on TV, so I thought I’d look into your criminal past. You know … just for fun.” At the moment, you have no idea whether she’s a career shoplifter or whether she and her sorority sisters got pinched “stealing” the moose head out of the frat house next door. Yet, you don’t think it’s “that big a deal” — maybe because she’s shown herself to have such sterling character, or maybe because it would be a real drag if it turned out she didn’t. Love isn’t ignoring somebody’s faults; it’s facing them and deciding you can stomach them. Once you learn the real deal on hers, you’re sure to have a question or two — either “Will you marry me?” or “What’s in your wallet (and did you happen to take it out of my wallet)?”

(c)2008, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)