The Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

 

Jenny from the blocked

I appreciate that you tell it like it is instead of telling people what they want to hear. I heard you on the radio saying that an online dating site isn’t a very good venue for women over 40 who aren’t very physically attractive. Honestly, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m probably a 5. My marriage ended last year, and I’m ready to start dating again. Should I bother with online at all?

— Realistic
 

Like the 24-year-old part-time model you’re competing with on the online dating site, you are female and have owned swimsuits. In fact, you’d wear that same tiny little gold bikini she’s got on in her profile pic — if it were socially acceptable to go out on the town in a little gold sleep mask.

Online dating is like going to a very snobby bar where everybody has the attention span of a firefly. People do find love and even marriage online, but those most likely to get lucky are hot 22-year-old women just looking to get lucky. Hot 40-something women will get dates, but because guys tend to go for younger women, many of those messaging them are one foot out of the nursing home (if they aren’t using the computer in the nursing home’s Activity Room to troll for younger meat).  

The problem for anyone online dating is that the format — endless choice — is overwhelming to our quaint little human brains, according to research by social psychologist Dr. Sheena Iyengar. Although we think having loads of options is ideal, when presented with more than a handful, we often choose poorly and are bummed out afterward, or we find ourselves unable to choose at all. So, like a rat pushing a lever for more cocaine, even a man who sincerely wants a relationship and who’s just gotten home from a promising date often can’t help but make a beeline for the computer. (There’s always another one … thousand where that last one came from. No need to stop and smell the 45-year-old roses.)

Especially for women who are over 40 and physically underfabulous, a more fruitful and less confidence-eating option than a dating site is a group meetup site like meetup.com or grubwithus.com, where you sign up for group dinners and other activities with people who share your interests. Some groups have hundreds or thousands of members, and the criterion for joining is whether you, say, like to combine tennis and Bible study, not whether you have a waist the size of a chewed pencil.

Also, online, the risk of humiliation is low for a guy who’s a 5 messaging a woman who’s a 9.6 (on the off chance she’s bored with rich guys with movie-star looks). In person, it becomes clear that he can either go home alone for the rest of his life or go for the more evenly matched. That’s when he starts talking to the nice 5 lady on his right — giving you a chance to sparkle in a way you can’t online. But, all the better if you sparkle inside and out. (Get Staging Your Comeback, by Christopher Hopkins.) A little money smeared around in the hair, wardrobe and makeup departments can be a powerful thing. Without it, as you see in shots of famous actresses caught sans makeup and groovywear, even some pretty stunning women can end up looking like they’ve taken a break from picking their pimples in the doublewide to duck into the holler and shoot a squirrel for dinner.

 

Spawn Juan

I’m a woman whose online dating profile states: “If you have or want kids, we are NOT compatible. Move on. Non-negotiable! I don’t care if you think your kids are different. They’re not.” Yet, somehow, men with kids read this and still ping me! Are they stupidly optimistic? Horrifically lacking in reading comprehension?

— Nobody’s Stepmom
 

Maybe they’re hoping it’ll be like getting a 6-year-old to eat his green beans: They’ll just pour some ranch dressing on the kid and you’ll suddenly find him appealing.

Your irritation is understandable. What about “No kids/non-negotiable!” says, “Octodad, I’ve been waiting all my life for you”? The answer is, you’re hot. I’m guessing you are, anyway. In the face of female hotitude, men have an incredible capacity to rationalize: “Shouldn’t have to miss out on a babe just because I got some girl pregnant in high school!” or “You’ll change your mind when you see what a sexy beast I am.” Consider the annoyance an attractiveness tax, and try to focus on the joys of unparenthood, like how you can spend the estimated $200K you’re saving (by not having kids) on white carpet, sharp-edged furniture and homeschooling your cat.

(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

 

The Sorrow and the Pretty

Do men in troubled relationships often seek someone to give them a nudge to get out? I often attract these men, some of whom I suspect just want a backup relationship before splitting with the wife. I happen to be interested in the current man confiding in me about his angry, obsessive wife. I won’t tell him to leave on my account, but I hate to see such a great man putting up with her.

— Catalyst

You’ve gotta give a guy points for an original spin on a tired pickup line: “If I said you have a beautiful body, would you let me sob on your shoulder about my mean wife?”

As a listener, you provide considerable cost savings over the guy with the gray beard, the monocle and the couch, and it can’t hurt that crying on your shoulder comes with a front row seat to your jigglies. Your presence can also provide a helpful thumb on the “I’m outta here!” side of the scale for a man who lacks a Ouija Board, a Magic 8-Ball or the guts to make a decision. And while it is possible that some of these men fall for you, it’s also possible that any “I love you! I want you! I have to have you!” a man blurts out is just a bad translation of “Eeek! I’ll be alone, and you’re cute and nice to me. You’ll do.”

It is a bit odd that, the way some women collect Hello Kitty, you collect “Hello, I’m teetering on an angry divorce.” Are you maybe insecure about getting involved with a guy when all you have to offer is you? With a man in a troubled marriage, you start with a competitive advantage p— how endearingly sane and reasonable you seem compared to Mrs. Satan. And a man in crisis requires conversational triage — attending to those bleeding out first. (No need to lay your feelings on the line; you can focus on his problems and bond over how you’re the listening postess with the mostest.)

As for the latest man crying out to you from the Trail of Tear-Streaked Kleenex, consider the obvious: A man confiding in you about his “angry, obsessive wife” is a man who is NOT AVAILABLE. Maybe it’s time you retired from running the Unhappily Married Man Rescue and take a run at the unencumbered. (At the very least, strictly limit the ear-time you give to other women’s leftovers that aren’t quite left.) You should find that a man has much more to give when he isn’t panicking that his wife will take half of everything he owns, including his man parts she’s got squirreled away in a drawer somewhere.

 

Breaking the unsound barrier

Last night, a girl I was seeing several months ago texted me, wanting to get back together. She’d cut all ties with me after accusing me of causing her brother to abuse her, both emotionally and physically. We’d been sexting, and her brother read one of my texts, and she blamed me for his behavior, either for making the abuse happen or for making it worse. She’s no longer living with her brother, and I’m tempted to go back to her, but I don’t want to ruin things with this new girl I’m seeing who seems kind, understanding and more stable.

— Decisions

Think about how this works in an action movie. Typically, the film ends with the hero safe and sound in a bar, reflecting on his narrow escape. (In Jaws, the guy didn’t turn around and go back in for a swim.)

You can feel sorry for this woman and hope she gets some help, but a woman who blames you for another person’s behavior is telling you something — she’s irrational and unstable and you’ve probably only grazed the tip of the drama iceberg. In a word, FLEE! — unless you luck out, and she ditches you. (The self-removing problem girlfriend is the next best thing to a bag of trash that grows legs and walks itself out to the curb.) 

 
It’s actually pretty imperative to make rationality, self-respect and emotional stability your top must-haves in a girlfriend and to be mindful of how easy it is to rationalize the behavior of the drama dispensers, especially when reminiscing about the hot times. (Red lingerie always pleads its case louder than red flags, and the crazies always seem more fun in bed.) But, getting together with an irrational, unstable woman — especially one with irrational, unstable, meddling relatives — is like sticking your life in a wood chipper. Ultimately, if a woman’s going to take your breath away, it shouldn’t be because there’s only a little more oxygen left in the trunk of her nutbag brother’s car.

(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 way of the nailgun

My boyfriend of four years is a wonderful man who makes me incredibly happy. He was there for me throughout my breast cancer, making me feel sexy, beautiful and loved. I’m 43, divorced five years. He’s 41, never married, and his longest relationship was with a train wreck of an alcoholic on house arrest (I know, red flag). Six months ago, he moved in with his dad (45 minutes away) after his dad asked him to help renovate a house he bought to flip. We text daily and sometimes talk on the phone for 10 minutes, but I only see him every two weeks for a weekend. I’m lonely every day. I miss the day-to-day of coming home to the person who loves you, cooking together, working through life together. Realizing the renovation will take more than another two years, I asked him whether he’d ever consider moving in with me. He said he’s already unpacked and it would be a pain to move again. Couples marry and have babies in the time we’ve been dating! He says they’ll all be divorced in five years and we’ll still be together, which could be true. I just don’t know how to get past wanting more.

— Empty House

Sure, absence makes the heart grow fonder — until it makes the heart yank out its calculator and notice that it’s spent 85 percent of its year sitting next to a dent in the couch.

You’re experiencing an unbreakup — a breakup where you don’t quite break up. Your boyfriend has managed to get out of your relationship, but without the wrenching breakup conversation or the bummer of no longer having you in his life. And although it’s been six months since he had himself downgraded from boyfriend to biweekly houseguest, you’re still referring to him as a “wonderful man” who makes you “incredibly happy.” In fact, you can’t help but bubble over with the language of joy: “I’m lonely every day” and “I don’t know how to get past wanting more.”

Wanting the man you love to be around to cook dinner with you isn’t exactly a freakish sexual fetish. Still, he isn’t a bad person if he doesn’t want that — just a bad person for you. But, consider that his relocation to Home Sweet Home Depot might stem from some emotional itchiness on his part. Maybe it’s overwhelming when a woman just needs him because she loves him and not because she can’t get to the liquor store herself while wearing her state-supplied ankle jewelry or because she’s too weak to hitchhike to chemo.

Whatever your boyfriend’s problem, it’s making your happiness come a distant second to his dad’s need to reface the cabinets. This isn’t entirely his fault. It might be worth it to him to work through his commitment heebie-jeebies or whatever, but you can’t just hint at what’s bothering you (asking whether he’d “ever consider moving in”). You need to tell him flat-out that you’re miserable without somebody there day to day. This tells him he’d better come through, or he’ll lose you. (Spell that out if it needs spelling.) As for your priorities, you e-mailed me some wise words from your oncologist: “You deserve to be happy. You only get one life, and you worked really hard to keep yours.” This suggests that the right guy for you will be there for you because you’re there and alive and you want to be with him; you won’t need to dress up as a leaky faucet to get his attention.

 

Mao Tse-Tongue

I’m a woman dating a woman who never really cooked until she met me. I’m not a professional chef — just seriously into cooking. At first, she loved learning from me. Now, when she has me over for dinner, she gets upset when I make suggestions. I just hate to see her plan a great meal, sometimes with expensive ingredients, and have it not turn out.

— Dicey Situation

She was probably planning on serving capellini, not Mussolini. Sure, it’s got to be hard to watch her violate a tomato, but maybe the “right way” to dice one is the way that doesn’t break you two up. To avoid meddling, don’t think of her cooking for you as cooking; think of it as an edible gift. (If it were your birthday, surely you wouldn’t tail her to the mall, lecture her on what to buy, and then berate her on how she’s wrapping it all wrong.) Compliment her efforts, and when you cook, you can enlist her help and show her a thing or two. Ultimately, knowing your way around the kitchen sometimes entails knowing when to stay out of it and keeping your mouth clamped shut until it’s time for Mr. Fork to fly a big load of oddly rubbery mashed potatoes into the hangar.

(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 Call of Doodie

Loved your response to the bored-out-of-their-gourds parents of the 1-year-old. I’m three months pregnant and a little worried in the wake of a recent dinner party. There were four sets of new parents there, and all the wives seemed to resent the hell out of their husbands. The husbands, predictably, seemed defensive and angry in response. My husband and I have a really great partnership, and I’d like to keep it that way. Are there things we can do to avoid the parental hate stage, or … fret, fret … is it an inevitability that comes with the stress of having a child?

— Baby On Board

Today’s marriage is reportedly a more equal partnership. For a lot of couples who become parents, here’s how that works: The woman blimps out for nine months, spends hours and hours in agony squeezing a huge thing out an extremely small opening, and then becomes a 24-hour milk dispenser and poo-slave for the better part of a year. The man holds her hand and says “You can do it, honey!” while she’s in labor, helps name the kid, and then, when friends come over to watch the World Series, picks it up and says, “Look what we made!”

Trophy dads aside, if there’s one area of parenting that breeds eye-daggers of wifely resentment, it’s unequal sleeplessness. Yeah, I know, according to The Beatles, “love is all you need,” but they forgot the small print: This is only true of people who are not suffering from sleep deprivation, which, by the way, is not only a necessity for tending to one’s newborn but a form of torture banned by the Geneva Conventions.

Sure, there are certain biological problems with sharing the nightly feeding duties. But, just because the booby with the drinks in it is on only one of you doesn’t mean there can’t be catering. In other words, Daddy can bottle-feed if mommy breast pumps, and nothing’s stopping him from diaper-changing. What matters is that Mommy and Daddy are going halfsies on sleeplessness. As a happily married male friend with a new baby puts it, it’s essential to “scrupulously share” wakeup duty, or a wife who used to look lovingly at her sleeping spouse may begin calculating how much jail time she’d get for smothering him with a pillow.

During daylight hours, a little time off for the stay-at-home mom, even for 20 minutes after Dad comes home, is a huge relief, as are playdates — one night a week for her to go out with friends and be a person instead of a big udder. Just a little alleviation goes a long way in showing that a husband doesn’t think women have babies and men have babies as props — to parade around Starbucks in a BabyBjorn, making all the hot girls coo, and then hand back to Mom until the kid’s old enough to be interesting: “Hey, little man, Daddy’s gotta read the newspaper and putter around the garage for six or seven years. Let’s talk when you’re big enough to throw a ball around.”

 

Silent Knight

I’m thinking I should wait until after Christmas to break up with my girlfriend of two years. She is planning on accompanying me to my family’s for the holidays and otherwise has no place to go. (I’m picturing her home alone, maybe calling her stepbrother she talks to once a year.)

— Not Jolly

When your thought is “I think we should start seeing other people,” it isn’t supposed to mean making your girlfriend spend a week with your grandma and 62 of your closest relatives. Although you’re trying to be kind, delaying your breakup is the wrong thing to do. You break up with somebody as soon as you know, which means they can lick their wounds and get on to somebody who does want them that much sooner. (There are exceptions to the immediacy rule, like if it’s two days before your girlfriend has finals or if somebody’s just died and she’s on her way to identify the body.)

Just think how what you’re suggesting could play out. In the weeks before Christmas, she’ll likely sense that something’s not quite right. She’ll gnaw endlessly on this with her girlfriends, and they’ll come up with the perfect solution … Santa lingerie! When you finally end it, she’ll likely drag out of you that you weren’t really feelin’ it — starting around Halloween. So, besides the painful emotions that accompany any breakup, you’ll be giving her the gift of humiliation as she replays the mental video of herself prancing around in a Santa hat and jingle bell pasties … on what turned out to be the biggest chopping day of the year. 

(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).

The Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

Four wettings and a funeral

My hubby and I had our first child last year, and we’re so happy and proud to be the creators of the most adorable creature either of us has ever seen, but our marriage is tanking. We aren’t naive; we expected change. But we’re both stressed and exhausted and we never have sex. Our lives seem like one big dull, diaper-changing, kid-focused routine. The scariest thought keeps crossing my mind: What if our marriage can’t survive our having a kid?

— Bundle Of Worry

Dr. Seuss is not a couples therapist. “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” needs to be followed up, at least one night a week, by Mommy and Daddy making some sounds that don’t come from the horsie, the rooster or the hippo.

The advice to have “date night” that you probably see everywhere but the bottom of your shoe is right on. Where it misses is in how to do it and why. Researchers have actually quantified where happiness comes from (no, not from stoned leprechauns passing around a bottomless bag of Doritos at the end of the rainbow). According to studies looking at fraternal and identical twins raised together and apart, how happy you are appears to be as much as 50 percent genetic. About 10 percent of your happiness level stems from your life circumstances (stuff like your health, income, and the fact that you are now parents and feel like you haven’t had a good night’s sleep since John Quincy Adams was president).

The good news is, about 40 percent of your happiness is within your control, through how you think and activities you can do (like date night). The bad news on the good news is something called “the hedonic treadmill,” which is not a new form of torture at the gym. It’s researchers’ cute name for how we quickly adapt to both positive and negative changes in our lives and pop right back to our baseline level of happiness or mopeyness. This means it might not be enough to drag your weary, bleary parental cabooses out to dinner every Wednesday night. Sure, that’s better than sitting home fretting that your kid won’t get early admission to Harvard, but research by positive psychologists Dr. Kennon M. Sheldon and Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky finds that variety — “a continual stream of fresh, positive experiences” — is key in increasing and sustaining happiness.  

So, you need to go out on a variety of date nights — changing up your activity every week and taking turns planning it so one of you will always be surprised. Lyubomirsky talked on my radio show about having Grandma babysit her toddler overnight and taking off with her husband to a hotel just a few miles from their house. (If you can’t afford babysitters, or Grandma’s six states away, trade babysitting with friends with a kid around the same age.) You don’t have to do anything elaborate or expensive. You can borrow a Wii and ski the Swiss Alps from your living room rug, have a picnic dinner and then ride the Ferris wheel, or just go get hot dogs and make out in the car. 

Keeping your sex life alive is what differentiates you two from very tired roommates who once got drunk, hooked up, and forgot birth control. Like many new parents, you probably think you’re too exhausted to have sex, but maybe you’re just too exhausted to have the spontaneous sex marathons you had before the kid came. First, forget the idea of spontaneity. Parental sex needs to be scheduled sex, or you’ll probably never have it. You should also redefine sex as something along the lines of “doing things together naked.” (Think of it as a snack-sized version of your former sex life.) Remember, the point isn’t breaking endurance records; it’s getting started making out and then having as much sexual activity as you can stay awake for.

I know, having a baby looks so idyllic in picture books. The stork drops him off one day, and then on the next page, he’s 5. In real life, there are back-to-back trips to Poison Control, meaningful conversations about the day’s shade of poo, and hopes that people will think you’re just holding the baby for some other lady when he’s screaming his lungs out on a plane. But, surely there are good times in between. And according to the research, another way to be measurably happier is expressing gratitude — taking moments throughout the day to appreciate what you have and to express appreciation to each other. Put in some effort to be happy and maybe you’ll not only stop fretting about divorce, you’ll start having reckless sex (with each other), and before long, your husband will be taking time off from worrying that your 2-year-old doesn’t have enough extracurriculars to read Dickens to your womb.

(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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