The Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

 

The tweakest link

I met this man, and it was instant attraction. I’m a 40-year-old woman with my own place, a car and a good job, and he’s an ex-convict who served four years in prison for selling meth. He’s very loving, but he has no car or driver’s license (it expired during prison), has a minimum-wage job, and is too needy — always checking up on me and doubting where I am. I pay for our meals, etc., and drive him everywhere. It’s like I’m taking care of a child. I’m trying my best to forget about the material things and just base this on love.

— Weary
 

It’s a good thing you think the guy’s hot, or you might try to trade up to a serial murderer with a driver’s license.

It must’ve been a kick to get it on with a real bad boy instead of the kind who pulls up on a Harley wearing a leather jacket he bought at the mall. But, assuming you don’t have all the conscience of a dirt clod, how could you make this more than a one-nighter? Sure, officially, he’s “paid his debt to society,” but he wasn’t in prison for growing pot, the gateway drug to lying in a beanbag chair and reinventing the wheel. He was selling snortable slow suicide, complete with rotting teeth and a “meth mite” bonus — nonexistent but seemingly real crawly bugs that users try to dig out from under their skin with their fingernails or sharp objects, leaving some really sexy open sores.

Beyond what he’s done to make a buck, he’s now about as independent as one of Paris Hilton’s purse dogs (although he probably asks his “mommy” to buy him a cheaper class of sweater). You can’t possibly respect him, and if you can’t respect him, you can’t love him. You’ve just been calling this “love” to cover for a bad decision that you let give birth to a whole litter of bad decisions. You did have help — the flawed machine known as the human brain. When we do something dumb, our brain encourages us to ignore evidence we’ve made a mistake so we can hang on to our shiny image of ourselves as smart people making wise choices. This feels good in the moment but can, say, leave a person working hard to convince herself that she’s shallow and materialistic to want her equal.

If you can accept making mistakes as a normal, expected part of being human, you can put your braying ego on mute, critically assess all your decisions, and admit your mistakes instead of getting into a committed relationship with them. (There’s no time like the present to start.) As wonderful as it is to feel needed by a man, it’s best if it’s simply because he loves being around you, not because without you he’d have to eat raw hotdogs out of the package and take two buses to make the meeting with his parole officer.

 

All tied up in hots

I persuaded my friend and his ex-girlfriend to get back together, as I’d never seen a more loving couple. The problem is, I started finding her sexy. She and my friend are now inseparable whenever they’re not at work, and I’m racked with guilt for looking at her like a sexual object. (I’m not in love with her; I just want to sleep with her.) Hanging out with them has become awkward, to say the least.

— The Creep
 

You aren’t attracted to her because you’re a horrible person but because you’re a man, not in a coma, and you probably find it dangerous and inconvenient to go around blindfolded. Like breathing or digesting a burrito, attraction is involuntary. (Whether you drool on her shoe or refer to her as “Hey, sex puppet!” is up to you.)

As for why you feel so guilty, men are told it’s a thought crime to ever view women as sex objects. Of course, that’s exactly how women think of themselves when they’re dressing to attract a man. Oh, did you think women wear plunging necklines and a little gold charm dangling in their cleavage to frighten away mosquitoes?

As annoying as it is to want what you can’t have, assuming you have no plans to leave your friend pinned under a tree in bear country, what’s the problem? Keep reminding yourself that his girlfriend’s a no-go, and seek a woman you can have. If you can’t be around these two without your eyeballs crawling all over her, you might pare back your time with them. Otherwise, consider their utter inseparability your best defense against bad acts. It’s not like your friend’s going to turn to you and say, “Hey, man, I’m right in the middle of something. Mind toweling off my girlfriend?”

(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.blogtalkradio.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

 

Apocalypse meow

For years, a group of us girls has gone camping, to dinner, to concerts, etc. Our husbands do their own thing together while we hang out. When they bring a new guy into their circle, they seem to think we should automatically accept his female partner. We normally do because we’re nice like that. The problem is, there’s a gal who invites herself to everything she catches wind of from her husband. She consistently creates incredible upheaval, agitation and hurt feelings with her callous remarks and abrasive personality. Triple that when she drinks. Her bad chi is ruining the nurturing dynamic of our loving and supportive group. Help soon, as she’s trying to get in on a camping trip. We’d be stuck with her for five negativity-filled days.

— The Women

Imagine if Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, communicated like so many other women tend to. Forget the direct approach. She’d roll her eyes behind some prime minister’s back, burn sage after he leaves, and make the Joint Chiefs hold hands and chant, “Shine white light on our borders and restore our protective womb of national security!”

Men and women approach conflict in very different ways. Men have an easier time being direct because they evolved to be the competitors of the species and see trying to top one another as a normal part of life. If the guys were bugged by a guy in their group, one of them would probably just blurt out, “You’re being a dick. Be less of a dick.”

Women, on the other hand, evolved to be the cooperators, nurturers, and empathizers of the species, prizing group bondedness and keeping the peace. This sounds so much nicer than how the menfolk do things but actually leads to ugly indirect aggression like dirty looks, spiteful gossip, and shunning. Though it’s best not to go around breaking one another’s noses over who has the cutest shoes, women often end up festering with nastiness, while guys can sometimes sock each other and then go off and have a beer.

Assuming you lack the Bewitched skill set — the power to twitch your nose and transform or relocate people and objects — wishing things were different is merely a way to kill time while in line at the supermarket. One of you needs to take this woman aside, gently explain the group culture, and give her a couple examples of things she’s said that don’t quite mesh with it. She also needs to be told that it’s kind of a problem when she gets likkered up. The direct approach is tough in the moment but ultimately less hurtful than the silent one, and it gives her a chance to mend her ways. If she keeps on harshing, it should be no surprise to her when she’s invited not to come, having been given fair warning that your group is more “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Chi” than “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pabst.”

 

Homo on the Range

I’m a 22-year-old gay male living in a small town. I’ve met three of the four men I’ve dated online. Three looked nothing like their pictures, and one was a total jerk. How am I supposed to meet nice guys I’m attracted to? If I see a cute guy in a coffee shop, I have to figure out whether he’s gay, and I risk embarrassing myself if he’s not.

— Gay In Nowhereland

Sure, as a small-town gay guy, it’s much harder to find dates than it would be in one of the gay capitals of the universe — like San Francisco’s The Castro — where leaving for work means bumping into the guy next door taking out the trash in hot pants and a feather boa.

Although straight people in Tinyville do have a bigger pool of potential partners, what you and many straight people everywhere have in common is the unwarranted indignation that the dating world was not immediately your oyster. Yes, meeting people is hard. Yes, people on dating sites misrepresent themselves. Sometimes, it’s unclear whether they’re even in the same species: “Truth be told, I’m three-quarters Italian and a quarter German shepherd.”

What you have that straight people don’t is the gay community — or the possibility of a gay community. Either find it or create it. Online dates who turn out to be duds romantically can become friends or at least connections to other gay men. Maybe set up a First Friday drinks night for gay men in small towns around you and get all the rainbow-colored fish in one bowl. You might not immediately find a boyfriend, but you’ll create a fun social scene that should prove more productive than spending three hours pretending to check your phone next to the lone gay video in the town video store.

(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

 

Alive and welded

What is an appropriate amount of togetherness time for a couple? My 9-year-old son spends half the week with me, plus every other weekend. My girlfriend of a year wasn’t happy with only the other half of my time, so she started joining me and my son. She and I are now together 5 1/2 days a week (3 1/2 of which are also with my son). I’m never alone; I have no time to go grocery shopping, etc.; and no one’s happy. My son prefers being alone with me; she enjoys him but feels she’s sacrificing our time together. On Saturday, I had an important business meeting at 10 a.m. and a 2 p.m. coffee with a visiting guy friend. I had paperwork to do in between, meaning I’d be away from her from 9 to 5. She was really upset, acting almost betrayed, and wanted me to reschedule everything for my Saturday with my son. I said no. She then said she’d come for coffee before my meeting, lunch afterward, and join me and my friend. I’m normally nonconfrontational, but I again said no. She complained all weekend. Now I’m afraid to even schedule a haircut on Saturday, the only time I can go.

— Overwhelmed
 

Your girlfriend makes intestinal parasites seem like bong-hitting slackers.

It sounds so nice when a woman tells you she always wants to be by your side — until you realize that she means like your ear or your right arm. (At a carnival, it must be a tough fit in the Porta-Potty.) Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, your needing a haircut or wanting to spend time with your son or a guy friend without female supervision isn’t a sign that you’re a failure as a man and a boyfriend. And beyond needing to be off-leash long enough to hit the grocery store, a man needs time to sit on the pot like “The Thinker” or grunt and drool a little in front of the TV.

Don’t mistake this woman for someone who loves you just because she’s in a relationship with you, and love is usually considered the point of that sort of thing. A woman who loved you would want you to be happy and comfortable and would respect that you’re trying to be a good dad, even if it meant seeing you less. If that didn’t work for her, the loving approach would be ending it with you, not guilting you into saying, “Sorry, son … you’ll have to throw the ball across the yard and go get it yourself. Daddy’s girlfriend hasn’t seen him in almost 45 minutes.”

Did you, by some chance, forget your testicles on a picnic table in the summer of 2011? There’s something very wrong with your girlfriend (probably that she never fixed the Big Empty within). She might’ve been compelled to get cracking on the repair job had you stood up to her from the start. But, by wimping out, you enabled her, basically giving her the go-ahead to colonize every moment of your time and giving her a year to get used to it.

At this point, doing what you obviously need to — getting time to yourself and quality time alone with your son — should go over like ripping a Band-Aid off a burn victim. But, if you want things to change, you have no other choice than to lay down limits and stay firm on them. It’s possible you’ll lose her, but that surely beats slapping a police officer and tripping a jail guard just to get a few days of alone time in a cramped, windowless cell.

 

He Leicas the last lady

Why would my hubby keep pictures of his ex-fiancee? I found the photos in a box he told me to go into to get a document we needed. He doesn’t know, and I don’t want to bring it up.

— Disturbed
 

He married you, and probably not just because you were both in Vegas and he had a Groupon for the Elvis wedding chapel. Also, these photos of his ex were in a box, not framed in hazy hearts and bouncing around as his screensaver. They’re part of his personal history — which isn’t to say he’s looking to have history repeat itself. Chances are, he has photos of every other ex-girlfriend plus some shots of himself with disastrously groovy hair. Assuming you married him in part because you find him trustworthy, trust that he’d tell you if he had the retroactive hots for his ex. Try to divert your focus to a less emotionally fraught mystery, like why he has three sets of toenail clippers. (You never know when a man has a secret third foot stashed away in a safe house somewhere.)

(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.blogtalkradio.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

 

Catfight Club

My boyfriend of two years is best friends with his ex. During their 14-year relationship, he says they had a codependency, becoming each other’s social world. They were still roommates when we started dating, and she refused to even let me into their house. He says he’d like us to become casual friends and includes us both in group events like a recent hike. On it, I tried to be friendly, but she pretty much ignored me. Afterward, I told him it was awkward spending the day with someone who has issues with me. He became angry, saying I should be more understanding, that it was much more difficult for her. (She seems to require a level of coddling and emotional support that I don’t.) He’ll also go to events and not invite me because she’ll be there. I’m positive they’re done romantically, but he’s abnormally protective of her, always defending her feelings over mine. When I try to discuss this, he blows up. (Our relationship is otherwise good and loving.)

— Excluded

There’s that old Eddie Money song that goes, “I’ve got two tickets to paradise. Won’t you pack your bags; we’ll leave tonight.” And then there’s your boyfriend’s version: “I’ve got two tickets to paradise. We’ll call you from the beach.”

When two become as three, it isn’t so much a relationship as it is the beginnings of a parade. Assuming you aren’t members of a polygamous religious cult or regular guests at parties where everyone throws their keys into a big bowl, a relationship is generally understood to mean two people prioritizing each other over all others. If one of these people wants more creative terms, he needs to arrange for them by mutual agreement and not just stick them on his girlfriend and hope she doesn’t notice, or at least doesn’t complain.

In favoring the ex-girlfriend with the perpetually broken wing, your boyfriend isn’t just being unfair to you; he’s creating what therapist B. Janet Hibbs, Ph.D., calls “a chronic climate of unfairness.” Hibbs feels fairness violations are at the root of most relationship problems, noting in Try To See It My Way that you can’t trust your partner if you don’t expect to be fairly treated. Unfairnesses left unrepaired lead partners to “withhold care, love, affection, and finally, themselves.”

Your boyfriend talks like he wants you girls to sit around braiding each other’s hair — yet foments conflict by making clear that you come second, and to a woman who treated you like a poo-covered dog she didn’t want in her house: “Just tie her to a tree and come inside!” His being so codependently cozy with his needy ex is far less risky than going all in and being interdependent with you. So, of course he blows up when you broach the subject; evading all discussion of it allows him to keep her as his human binky.

Write him a note explaining that you two need to talk in a calm way about something that’s bothering you. (It’s impossible to have a relationship with somebody who goes all sixth-grade science project volcano whenever there’s a discussion he’d rather not have.) Tell him that you understand his friendship with his ex means a lot to him but that you find it painful to always come second. If he wants to remain your boyfriend, he needs to get his loyalties in order — meaning, even in the event his ex suffers some tragedy (A hangnail! A hangover!), he’ll treat you more like his girlfriend than some woman in line behind him at 7-Eleven.

 

Two shrieks to the wind

In arguments with my boyfriend, I’ll ignite — yelling, name-calling, threatening to break up. He isn’t deserving of those names, and I don’t want to break up, but I fear I’m sending us down that path.

— Mean Girlfriend

You’ve decided to jazz things up with a little role-playing, but forget pirate/slave girl or housewife/UPS guy. You’re into animal magnetism — like the jackal on the downed cow. Apparently, you misunderstood; the saying isn’t “If you don’t have anything nice to say, scream it at the top of your lungs.” Every time you do, you claw a chunk out of his love and goodwill for you, weakening your relationship. Start exploring why you do this, and tell him you’re working on it (so he’ll know you’re trying, even if you aren’t instantly Gandhi). In the meantime, set up ground rules: If you start arguing ugly, the discussion’s over. Write down your points, and talk when you can remain civil. If you fail again, postpone again. Bottom line: You aren’t allowed to treat him like you forgot you love him — which is like re-enacting that romantic moment on the bow in Titanic, except that you scream obscenities at him and shove him off the ship. 


(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.blogtalkradio.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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