“An unexamined life is not worth living but an examined one is still no bargain” — Woody Allen line from Cafe Society.

Angsty Loner (i.e., me) to Mr. Lonelyhearts: I’m 17, a high-school junior, and miserable. Partly (mostly?) due to the fact that my hormones are raging while my experience with hetero physical intimacy has been, shall we say, limited.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t emotionally suffered over this or that dashed relationship. I’ve eaten my heart out over…I don’t know, seven or eight girls since the third grade. Maybe more. And none of the objects of my desire have been more than semi-interested, if that.

Girls are fickle and flighty and all over the map, and at the end of the day I don’t seem to have what they want. Even temporarily, I mean. Before their mood changes.

So I know a thing or two about unrequited love or lust or, in the best of situations, a combination of the two that is casually, half-assedly or all-too-briefly reciprocated and then forgotten. One of these days or years the real thing will happen, and when it does…I’ll cross that bridge.

My current obsession is blonde and blue-eyed and a little scatterbrained. Or scatter-hearted. She likes me in spurts, and then some other guy moves in.

There are three others she’s enamored of. A cute, stocky, chubby-faced jock. A hippie-ish dude with longish hair, Brooks Brothers shirts and mocassins. And a local cop who’s 27 or 28. And then fourth-place me.

I rolled around with blondie on a bed of pine needles near the local reservoir…once. We made out at a party…once. She slapped me repeatedly at another party, which was her way of saying she wanted my attention. We’ve had some fun times.

But I’m strictly backup. So what do I do? Is there any path to salvation in this agonizing situation?

Mr. Lonelyhearts to Angsty Loner: I’m sorry but no, there isn’t. It sounds cruel to say this, but you’re just going to have to suffer through this infatuation and then eventually move on.

One reason you’re in fourth place (and not third, second or first) is that you’re probably radiating weak, squishy vibes. Probably born of low-self-esteem. If you have any moxie you’ll grow out of that but for the time being it’s your cross to bear.

High-school women are reticent as a rule, and they do hold most of the cards, and if they’re not that interested you can’t stop ’em.

The fact that she’s nursing relationships with four guys simultaneously is a red flag, of course. It means she has self-esteem issues of her own. It won’t kill you to pine for this flighty little blonde. It hurts, of course, but life is a never-ending stream of hurt and troubles. Get used to it. Pain makes you stronger if you can take it.

Originally posted on 3.21.11, updated on 9.17.16:

One of the healthiest things you can say about anything that’s over and done with is “okay, that happened.” Unless, of course, you’re talking about a stretch in a World War II concentration camp or something equally ghastly. Otherwise you have to be accepting, past it. Especially when it comes to ex-girlfriends. We went there, it happened, nobody was right or wrong, that was then and we’re here now…let’s get a coffee and catch up.

All my life I’ve been friends with exes, or have at least been open to same. And they’ve been open to ease and friendship with me. Except for one.

She was (and most likely still is) a whipsmart blonde with a great ass, a toothy smile and a kind of young Katharine Hepburn vibe. She’d been raised in Brooklyn but always reminded me of a Fairfield County gal.

She’s married now and living in Pasadena; her husband — a slightly stocky, gray-haired guy of some means — doesn’t resemble me or her first husband (a doobie-toking small-business owner who owned a Harley) at all. Whatever attributes or nice qualities he’s brought to the table, he’s clearly a swing away from the past.

I gave up trying to be in touch with her towards the end of Barack Obama’s first term. She really wants to erase that part of her life — the first marriage (which began in the summer of ’96) and the affair with me that began in early ’98 and lasted two and two-thirds years, ending in late September 2000.

We last spoke in ’12. The most emotionally significant thing that happened before that was her friending me on Facebook, but what is that?

Our thing began at the ’98 Sundance Film Festival and finally ran out of gas in late ’00 when her husband found out.

I took the hurt and the lumps. I was dropped six or seven times. It was easily the most painful and frustrating relationship of my life. Whether things were good or bad between us was entirely about her shifting moods. Her father had been a philanderer when she was fairly young and this had caused a lot of family pain, so she felt badly about following in his footsteps. But she kept coming back and oh, the splendor.

The bottom line, obviously, is that she’s not at ease with having been a beloved infidel in the waning days of the Clinton administration. Easing up and looking back by way of occasional contact or e-mails just isn’t a comfortable thing for her.

I could write a Russian novel about what happened during our fractured romance. I once flew to NYC just to hang with her for a couple of days without the nearby presence of her husband. Toward the end we had a blissful rendezvous in Las Vegas.

But when all is said and done I’m basically a Woody Allen type of guy — the heart wants what it wants and all’s fair. Even if nothing hurts quite as badly as being the on-and-off boyfriend of a not-very-married woman.

But I’m past it. I’m not sorry it happened. And I’ve always liked her besides. She’s smarter than me. And a good judge of character, more practical, more planted, etc. But I’m deeper, stronger in terms of handling rough seas, and a better writer.