DEAR ABBY: I come from a Third World country and live as a legal alien in San Francisco. I grew up reading great American authors, watching American TV and Hollywood movies, so I thought I had a good understanding about your Western societal structure. I have made many friends in this wonderful city, but the women here drive me crazy.
I am a romantic at heart, but not desperate. However, my gestures are often misunderstood. One time I gave a feminist/radical girl a book about the feminist movement and she freaked out. She said she wasn't looking for anything serious and didn't want me to expect anything from her. Abby, it was just a book, not a diamond ring.
I was in a relationship for four months. It was fine, until I told her I was madly in love with her. She freaked out and said she didn't want to get tied down. I was dumbfounded and heartbroken.
A few months later, I started dating again and met an incredible woman who made my heart skip a beat. I enjoyed being with her so much I sent flowers to her workplace. She freaked out, too.
Am I being completely ignorant to believe in romance? Or is there something wrong with me? -- CALIFORNIA DREAMER
DEAR DREAMER: There isn't anything "wrong" with you, but I suspect you're coming on a bit too strong, too quickly. Life in the United States isn't the way it's depicted in novels, television and Hollywood movies. Getting to know someone takes time -- so take more time before declaring you're madly in love. And the next time you feel the urge to give someone flowers, send them to her home because some professional women prefer to keep their private lives separate from where they work.