the advice goddess

the advice goddess

Manure and wife

My fiancée insists on having our wedding at “THE most magical place to get married,” this beautiful lake resort. Her family’s well-off, but having it there creates a financial hardship for my relatives and our friends, who are working crappy jobs in a terrible economy. Our guests mostly live in our hometown, and the lake is a four-hour drive each way, and there are no affordable places to stay. I’ve suggested that we have the wedding in this beautiful space on my uncle’s farm, just outside of town, but my fiancée, who’s typically unselfish, remains inflexible. She wants it to be “truly special” and says people who care about us will find a way to come.

— Concerned She’s So Unyielding

Brides-to-be can easily lose touch with reality. They start by pricing the VFW hall, and before long it’s “Oh, is the International Space Station booked? Okay then, we’ll rent the Grand Canyon for a white-water rafting wedding. Not to worry, Grandma — you can use your oxygen tank as a flotation device!”

Destination weddings are great if you can send the private jet to pick up Grandpa Lou, Great-Auntie Myrtle, and all your Ph.D.-equipped barista friends and then put them up in a vast estate you rented for the wedding-ganza weekend. But, in a tough economy, maybe your special day doesn’t have to be other people’s special day to go bankrupt: “Please join us after the ceremony for dinner and dancing, followed by credit counseling.”

Because boys don’t grow up having misty daydreams about someday being a groom, it can be hard for a man to understand how an otherwise sweet and reasonable woman can go all weddingzilla: “My dress must have a 50-foot train, trimmed with the skins of puppies!” The question is, is this just a case of bride fever — temporary blindness to all forms of sense and reason related to wedding planning — or is it that her true colors are graduating shades of bossy selfishness (one part Kim Kardashian and two parts Kim Jong Il)?

When two “become as one,” decisions need to be a product of “we” and not “she” (as in, she decides and then tugs the leash for you to come along). A stumbling block to compromise is self-justification — the ego-protecting tendency to stubbornly defend ourselves, insisting we’re right and shoving away any information that suggests otherwise. (To err is human — as is doing everything in our power to avoid admitting we’ve erred.)

Preventing this takes putting marriage before ego — and making a pact to resolve conflicts by really listening to each other, putting yourselves in each other’s shoes, and working out solutions that work for you as a couple. Ask her to explain why this location is so special to her. Let her know that you truly appreciate her efforts, but that what’s special for you is having everybody there (and without feeling guilty about what it cost them to come). Offer to help her find someplace closer; maybe suggest having a pre-wedding photo shoot at Lake Perfectweddingspot. Since there’s no wiggle room for friends and relatives who are broke, let’s hope she’ll come to understand that your guests won’t cry fewer tears of joy if you’re saying your vows in your uncle’s pasture. As for what’s “truly special,” anybody can have a fancy hotel wedding; how many women get the opportunity to have bridesgoats?

 

Doctors without borders

My normally very sweet boyfriend told me that the doctor who gave him his physical was hot and flirted like she was into him. I told him he could’ve kept all that to himself. He said that she just is hot and that if she were ugly, he would’ve told me that instead. Clearly, he was checking her out, and I think it’s disrespectful to tell me about it.  

— Dismayed

The line from Cole Porter is “Birds do it, bees do it,” not “birds and bees get a committee together to discuss it.” Telling her how you feel could be icky and embarrassing if she doesn’t share your feelings — and maybe even if she does. You’ve heard of “plausible deniability”? If you decide to go for something with her, what you need is plausible drunkability. Have drinks with her, get a little fuzzed, and make a move on her. If she recoils in horror, it was the alcohol talking. If she kisses back or, better yet, is all over you like freezer burn on mysterious leftovers, follow up by asking her on a date. (Emphasize the D-word, reinforcing that your interest is more than friendzonely.) Sure, by making a move, you risk losing a friend. By doing nothing, you risk missing out on a lot more. Life is risk. You can either hide under your bed or opt for managed risk. That doesn’t mean managing risk out of existence; it means having a plan for damage control if things go badly. (“Captain Morgan, next time, you behave yourself!”)  

(c)2012, 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)


It’s Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess Radio — “Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blog
talkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).


Read Amy Alkon’s book: “I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).

the advice goddess

the advice goddess

Bodies at rust

I’m a recently divorced 40-something woman, now dating again, and I’m wondering what the guidelines are on how long to wait to have sex. I’m not interested in casual sex, but I have a healthy libido. If I’m really attracted to a man, I’ll be dealing with some powerful mixed (internal) signals regarding how long to wait. Really what I want is to have sex with a man I like as soon as reasonably possible without getting labeled by him (consciously or subconsciously) as an expendable floozy.

— Hotblooded

Tempting as it can be to tear off each other’s clothes and run like wild animals on the first date, it can be less than conducive to a desire to meet up again to ask things like “So … where’d you go to middle school?”

Also, you do risk getting labeled a hussy for not keeping an aspirin clenched between your knees — Rush Limbaugh’s advice for unmarried women he isn’t popping Viagra for — while the date you drop the aspirin for gets to put another notch in his oar. As explained in previous columns, men and women are biologically and psychologically different, and the sexual double standard springs out of those differences — like how one sex gets pregnant and the other sex gets paternity uncertainty. As nice (and fair) as it would be if casual sex worked the same for women and men, there’s an old Arab saying quoted by a Lebanese-born friend of mine: “If my grandmother had testicles, we would have called her my grandfather.”

Some women do wait to have sex with a man they’ve just met — like, a whole hour — and manage to make that the first hour of the rest of their lives together. Just because that’s risky doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But, sleep with a man before you know who he is and you could find yourself wearing lust goggles — convincing yourself he’s good for the long haul when he’s really just good in bed. The good news is, men in their 40s tend to be less “use ‘em and lose ‘em” than those in their 20s. “The third date rule” — the expectation that the third date is the sex date — is also more of a factor for 20-somethings. If you’re, say, 45, and dating guys 50 to 60, the third date rule is probably something more like “Don’t fall asleep.”

When dating, remind yourself that the part of you that’s clamoring for sex is not the organ that does your best thinking, and plan your outings accordingly. Keep in mind that people who regret their behavior on dates tend to say stuff like “We got really drunk, and then we slept together,” not “We went to the museum in broad daylight and then had one too many lattes.” As for how long to wait to have sex, there’s no magic number of dates. But, since casual sex isn’t your thing, you should probably hold out until there seems to be an emotional attachment — on both sides. Maybe a good guideline is waiting until you and a man are kinda cuddly. Until that time, hint that your favorite sex position actually isn’t arms folded/legs crossed; you just like to get to know a man before you get to know how his Miller Lite chandelier looks wearing your thong.

 

Beer your soul

I’ve fallen for my new best friend, a woman I met two years ago while we were both going through similar divorces. Sometimes I think the attraction’s mutual. She recently started dating but hasn’t met anyone she’s into. I’m going crazy trying to decide whether to say something and risk losing the coolest friend I’ve met in decades. 

— Obsessing
 

The line from Cole Porter is “Birds do it, bees do it,” not “birds and bees get a committee together to discuss it.” Telling her how you feel could be icky and embarrassing if she doesn’t share your feelings — and maybe even if she does. You’ve heard of “plausible deniability”? If you decide to go for something with her, what you need is plausible drunkability. Have drinks with her, get a little fuzzed, and make a move on her. If she recoils in horror, it was the alcohol talking. If she kisses back or, better yet, is all over you like freezer burn on mysterious leftovers, follow up by asking her on a date. (Emphasize the D-word, reinforcing that your interest is more than friendzonely.) Sure, by making a move, you risk losing a friend. By doing nothing, you risk missing out on a lot more. Life is risk. You can either hide under your bed or opt for managed risk. That doesn’t mean managing risk out of existence; it means having a plan for damage control if things go badly. (“Captain Morgan, next time, you behave yourself!”)  

(c)2012, 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)


It’s Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess Radio — “Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blog
talkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).


Read Amy Alkon’s book: “I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).

the advice goddess

the advice goddess

Lard of the dance

When I got married, I was a slim 6’2”, but I’ve gained a lot of weight. My wife gained about 20 pounds but recently lost that and more. I’ve been as high as 265, but I’m now at 238 and losing about a pound a week, which isn’t fast enough for my wife. When I contemplate going on a stricter diet, what comes to mind is feeling angry, tired, and hungry at my high-stress job. My wife said that I obviously love food more than her, and that if I won’t lose weight for her, maybe I’ll do it for our boys. She considers me self-centered and narcissistic because I’m not losing enough weight, and I consider her self-centered and narcissistic for framing every argument in terms of what she wants and isn’t getting. What do you think? Does being overweight mean you don’t love your significant other?

— Fatso

Some women just can’t appreciate their husband’s collections: comic books, shot glasses, broken-down cars, chins.

There’s your wife, wagging a carrot stick at you, telling you that if you loved her you’d be surviving on iceberg lettuce sandwiches or going on the Drink Your Own Urine Diet — whatever it takes to drop flab fast. Probably because weight loss seems easier for her, she assumes you’re lazy and self-indulgent. She’s now trying to guilt-ivate you into losing weight (“Picture your children fatherless … Doritobreath”), which is more helpful than voicing the other thing she’s probably thinking: “I don’t want to have sex with you; I want to harpoon you.”

Chances are, the problem isn’t that your diet isn’t “strict enough” — as in, you should be sniffing celery sticks instead of eating them — but that you’ve been following the obesity-causing dietary “science” promoted by the government and much of the medical establishment. The “weight loss” diet they advise — high-carb, low-fat — is actually a weight-gain diet. Also, as Dr. Mary Dan Eades, co-author of The Protein Power Lifeplan, writes, “Study after study has shown the low fat diet to be a failure in treating obesity, in solving diabetes, in reducing blood pressure or in decreasing heart disease risk.”

Investigative science journalist Gary Taubes spent more than a decade digging through the body of research on diet. As he writes in Why We Get Fat, the evidence shows that it is carbohydrates — from sugar, flour, easily digested starchy vegetables like potatoes, and juice and beer — that cause the insulin secretion that puts on fat. So, if you want to drop pounds — and not just one a week but like they’re stones falling off a truck — eat low-carb/high-fat foods like cheeseburgers. Even bacon cheeseburgers. (Just see that you feed the bun to the pigeons.)

Unfortunately, it seems your love handles have become resentment handles. Some of the ill will between you may melt away as you lose the gut that Ding Dongs and Mountain Dew built, but it points to a bad pattern. You don’t win marital arguments by clinging to how right you are and how wrong your spouse is; you win by working together to make things as right as you can for both of you (“us first” instead of “me first”). Some problems aren’t solvable, but you’ll be more able to shrug off an impasse if you’re consistently putting yourselves in each other’s place. That’s the spirit that keeps you from striking out in revenge — for example, by insisting you’re on the Zone diet (but not mentioning that it’s the zone from the outermost wall of Dunkin’ Donuts to the outermost wall of Cinnabon).

Memory bank fraud

I’m trying to start a relationship with a woman, but I can’t stop thinking about my last girlfriend. I want a family (eventually), so I couldn’t marry her. She already has two children, which is a dealbreaker for me, and has other baggage: debt and baby daddy drama. But, we developed a deep love, and I’m having a hard time getting over her.

— Stuck

It was the best of times, it was the best of times. And it’s called selective remembering. Your mental projector keeps playing this loop of your ex trying on lingerie. There are never any misty shots of the repo man or your ex emerging from the mist to chase the baby daddy with a big cleaver. And where are the little mind movies of her children? Or as you call them, “dealbreakers,” not “dealbenders.” Keeping this woman as your fantasy girlfriend will be a wedge between you and any woman you’re with in real life. To move on, harness the power of negative thinking. Sure, go ahead and indulge. Take that walk down memory lane with your ex. Just be sure you ask the cameraman to pull out to reveal the stroller you’re pushing with some other guy’s screaming kids in it. 

(c)2012, 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)


It’s Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess Radio — “Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blog
talkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).


Read Amy Alkon’s book: “I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).

the advice goddess

the advice goddess

 

The spinster cycle

I’m a 32-year-old woman with a Ph.D. I’m beyond happy with my career path, but I’m not meeting men I’m impressed with or inspired to see again. A girlfriend sent me a New York Times op-ed by a historian named Stephanie Coontz, who said that highly educated women can find a man if they drop “the cultural ideal of hypergamy — that women must marry up.” Coontz advises women to “reject the idea that the ideal man is taller, richer, more knowledgeable, more renowned or more powerful.” She claims a woman’s marital happiness is predicted not by how much she looks up to her husband, “but how sensitive he is to her emotional cues and how willing he is to share the housework and child-care. And those traits are often easier to find in a low-key guy than a powerhouse.” She then adds, “I’m not arguing that women ought to ‘settle.’ ” Really? Sounds that way to me.  

— Dismayed

Yes, you can have it all — a high-powered education, a high-powered career, and the perfect high-powered man to go with. Of course, it helps if you’re willing to relax your standards a little, like by widening your pool of acceptable male partners to include the recently deceased.

I respect Stephanie Coontz as a historian, but as a forecaster of economic and romantic possibilities for women, I have to give her a thumbs-down. Coontz claims that “for a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated.” Actually, as doctorate holders “Occupying” sleeping bags outside city halls will tell you, that depends on what you’re becoming highly educated in. Ph.D. in financial engineering? Hedge fund, here you come. Ph.D. in Tibetan gender studies? You’ll be lucky to be teaching the merits of pulverized lavender in the body oils section of the food co-op.

Coontz is wrong again in deeming hypergamy — women’s preference for men of a higher socio-economic status — a cultural construct. The preference for the alpha male is biological, an evolutionary adaptation that exists in women across cultures — and species. (Do we really think the lady peacock wants the alpha male peacock because she’s been watching way too much Desperate Housewives?)

Some feminist academics claim that women only want big bucks/high status men because they lack those things themselves. But, a number of studies by evolutionary psychologists have found that women with big bucks and big jobs want men with bigger bucks and bigger jobs. Even women who are feminists. Dr. Bruce J. Ellis writes in The Adapted Mind that when 15 feminist leaders described their ideal man, they repeatedly used words like “very rich,” “brilliant,” and “genius” (and they didn’t mean “genius with a baby wipe!”).

So, if you’ve become the man you would’ve married in the ’50s, don’t be surprised if your mating pool starts to seem about the size of the one that comes with Barbie’s Dream House. Biology is neither fair nor kind. What those pushing feel-good sociology don’t want to believe or tell you is that you increase your options by being hot — or hotting yourself up the best you can. Obviously, looks aren’t all that matter, but while your female genes are urging you to blow past the hot pool boy to get to the moderately attractive captain of industry, men evolved to prioritize looks in women, so powerful men will date powerfully beautiful waitresses and baristas. As evolutionary psychologist Dr. David Buss writes, “Women’s physical attractiveness is the best known predictor of the occupational status of the man she marries and the best known predictor of hypergamy.”

There isn’t a person on the planet who doesn’t have to settle. (Maybe Brad Pitt farts in bed.) Want kids? You’re more likely to find yourself a husband to have them with if you do as Coontz suggests — go for a man who’s shorter, poorer, and not that intellectually exciting but who’s emotionally present and willing to be appointed vice president of diaper rash. Problem solved — if you can keep from seething with contempt for his lack of ambition and intellect. A lack of respect for one’s spouse is definitely not the ground happy marriages are built on. That’s why settling is most wisely discussed not as some blanket policy for women, but in terms of what an individual woman wants and what she’s willing and able to give up to get it. Realistically assessing that for yourself is how you find your happiest medium — between possibly being in a panic to find a sperm donor at 42 and trying to make it work now with some guy who watches the soaps after dusting a few surfaces and drinking a few too many glasses of blush wine.

(c)2012, 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)


It’s Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess Radio — “Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blog
talkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).


Read Amy Alkon’s book: “I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).

the advice goddess

the advice goddess

Have a peasant day

Your answer to “Roseless,” the woman bemoaning her boyfriend’s lack of “romantic ambition,” hit a nerve with me. My wife of 19 years and I shared equally in raising our three children. She only sort of “works” now, but I do the home chores and all the cooking — while running a very stressful business that keeps her shopping habit afloat. She can buy all the expensive shoes she wants; however, like Roseless, she complains that I don’t buy her flowers … enough. I don’t write cute Post-it notes. When I have grudgingly bought flowers or left a note that I’m at the gym and drawn a heart on it, I’ve been amazed at how appreciative she’s been. Well, I resent this. I’ll cook a gourmet meal or be under the sink changing the garbage disposal, and I make enough money to put us in the 1 percent, but all that comes up short.  

— Restless
 

You get no thanks for the 60-hour workweek, the cooking, the handymanning, but scrawl a heart on a sticky note and … you da man. When the disposal’s on the fritz, it’s got to be tempting to just write “xoxox” on scratch paper and stick it in the drain. Toilet overflowing? Shut the lid and slap a rose on top.

Your wife’s longing for romantic trinketry can be explained by a quote from evolutionary psychologist Dr. David Barash: “Sperm are cheap. Eggs are expensive.” This is shorthand for the physiological differences between men and women and the differing male and female psychologies that evolved out of them. A man can have sex with a woman and walk away, but a single sex act can leave a woman with mouths to feed. So, as I wrote to “Roseless,” women evolved to seek commitment cues from men — signs they’re emotionally attached. Bringing home the bacon (and gourmet cooking it, too) is important, but what’s essential to many women are all those sweetiepookiewookie shows of affection. In fact, you could say Hallmark is in the multibillion-dollar business of catering to female evolutionary adaptations. So, do keep drawing her those hearts and bunnies. “Want shoes with that?” you growl to yourself. And yes, it seems she does.

You’d like to point out that your chore wheel is not a Ferris wheel. Or is it? You mention that you’re in “the 1 percent.” If I were even in the 5 percent, I’d hire people to do just about everything for me except get out of bed. But, maybe you’re secretly into feeling superior, so you keep silently slaving away and cling to your resentment like it’s a pet.

The need to be right tends to be a stumbling block to being happy. Your marriage would probably be happier if you treated your problem wife like a problem employee (assuming you’d explain how he needs to improve, not throw flowers on his desk and storm out of his office in a huff). Take her to dinner and tell her you love her but have been feeling a little hurt. Tell her what you need: regular notice of and thanks for all you do to keep your life together running. Once you’re feeling more appreciated, maybe you can ditch some of your John of Arc routine. You’re rich! Hire a handyman! Spend Saturday having sexytime together in a swank hotel instead of feeling morally superior that she’s out shoe shopping and you’re under the sink snaking gunk out of the drain.

Meek her want you

I know you tell men they must risk rejection to get dates. I’m pathetically shy, so I’m thinking of asking out this girl at the gym by giving her my card and telling her to call me if she wants to do something sometime. Win-win for the shy guy?

— Lightweight

Your card will come in handy — if she needs to fix her car’s CD player or pick something out of her teeth. Women go out with men who ask them out, and handing one a piece of card stock with your phone number on it doesn’t count as asking her out. But, your shyness doesn’t have to be a drawback. (Own it, baby! “I am mouse, hear me squeak!”) On my radio show, therapist Dr. Robert Glover suggested approaching a woman with something like “I’m actually kind of shy, but I had to come talk with you …” Women are impressed by authenticity. Chances are, a woman will be especially impressed if you not only are open about your shortcomings but flip the bird at your fears to ask her out. Keep doing that and you’ll soon become one of those smoothboys who scores with women even while carrying on conversations with their breasts. Well, okay, maybe that’s overpromising a little. But, you can at least graduate from handing women litter to asking their shoes to the movies.”

(c)2012, 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)

It’s Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess Radio — “Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blog
talkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).


Read Amy Alkon’s book: “I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).

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