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Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:01 am

All doc and no action

 I’ve been going to the same primary care doctor for a few years. I’m very attracted to him, and I believe he’s attracted to me, too. There’s always been a dynamic between us. I thought it was his “bedside manner,” but when I asked others, they didn’t have the same experience with him. I know he isn’t married. Also, I am very healthy and only see him annually for “well checks.” Do you have any advice on whether I should do anything? –Patiently Waiting

It’s okay for your doctor to ask you, “Can I give you a breast exam?” – but not if he adds, “… later tonight, in my Jacuzzi?”

There are all sorts of places a doctor can go to meet women – bars, parties, bowling alleys, grocery stores, and hostage standoffs – but he can lose his license for dating those he picks up in his reception area. Not only does the American Medical Association deem current patients off-limits but a former patient can also be a no-go if it seems the sexual relationship started through an exploitation of trust, knowledge, or emotions from the doctor-patient relationship. Because rules can vary from place to place, it’s wise to check with your state medical board to see whether they have stricter standards. For example, Colorado’s Medical Practice Act imposes a six-month waiting period before your doctor is allowed to see you in a dress that doesn’t tie in the back and expose your butt crack.

Even if your doctor does have the hots for you, he probably has an even stronger desire to avoid downscaling to “driving” a shopping cart, collecting cans, and living beside a dumpster. So, the first move, if any, must be yours – putting an unambiguous end to the medical portion of your relationship. Do this in writing, adding something like, “You’re an excellent doctor, but I would like to see a doctor closer to my house.” It doesn’t matter whether that’s true. It just has to get the message across – without impugning his skills – that you’re formally outta there. At the end, add, “I would, however, be interested in seeing you socially.”

That little addition might not seem like much, but as linguist Steven Pinker notes about a remarkable feature of human psychology, even the slightest veiling of what we really mean will allow people to pretend it meant something innocuous. The deniability “doesn’t have to be plausible, only possible,” Pinker explains in a paper. So, if Dr. McDreamy doesn’t want the romantic relationship you do, he can pretend you’re just suggesting it would be nice to bump into him at a gallery opening or something, not bump into him between your sheets. But before you do anything, you should accept that you may have misread the signals, and he may not be interested. Either way, you’ll need a new doctor, whom you can search for online – ideally, on your health plan site, not Match.com.

© 2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon

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