Five years ago, My Love and I shared our first kiss. Since then, we’ve been seeing each other three times a week for an hour. We spend this hour in his truck being intimate. We love each other. We talk about getting married, how we’ll spend our retirement years, where we’ll live, what our lives will be like. Unbidden, he promised that last year’s Christmas would be the last we’d spend apart, that our life together would begin this year. I’ve been ready for this step for three years. But, as the months fly by, he speaks less of this, and I’m increasingly despondent that we’ve wasted another year. We’re both married to other people. Neither of us has children. I know our lives are complicated, but doesn’t it come down to knowing what you want? Should I wait to see if he will be true to his promise?
— Waiting For My Love
Men sometimes make extravagant gestures for love. Heathcliff wandered the moors calling Cathy’s name until he froze to death. King Edward VIII ditched the throne to marry Wallis Simpson. Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as an “elegy in marble” to his late wife. And then there’s your guy, who has yet to spring for sheets, pillowcases, and a headboard.
Sorry, but you don’t have a relationship; you have sex in a guy’s truck. You can call the guy “My Love,” but he’s given you no reason to believe he’ll make good on his promise to take your relationship to the next level (the sidewalk?) by Christmas 2010 — or Groundhog Day 2020. You know very well that this is one of the oldest stories in the world. Yeah, sure, he’ll leave his wife for you. Eventually. When the time is right. When the moon is in the seventh house, and dogs fly and pigs read aloud from the encyclopedia.
Your guy has the wheels; the thing that’s stopping him from speeding to a divorce lawyer is probably the same thing that always has: any need whatsoever to do it. Five years in, you have yet to demand (or even ask) that he leave his wife — let alone hop out of the truck and take you to Denny’s. And sorry to say it, but other women walk away with $50 for the service you’re providing. What do you go home with, more pretty talk about how you’ll spend your retirement years? (Lemme guess: feeding the meter?)
Not surprisingly, you spin this in the way that protects your ego: This is your great love, not pretty good sex in a Walmart parking lot. The truth is, you don’t even know the guy outside the confines of the truck cab. Clinging to your fantasy future with him allows you to duck the looming questions in your present: What do you have with your husband, and should you try to repair your marriage or get out? Be honest about your situation and what you need to do. That’s how you might someday have a Love who makes good on his promises — and not just the easy ones, like moving a little to the side so you won’t go back to the office with “Built Ford Tough” pressed into your left calf.
Sloshed in translation
I’m a man who was deeply disturbed by your advice for “Not A Player” to “get some drinks in a girl” as a way to make moves on her. For my job, I took a class on preventing sexual assault, and learned that most sexual assaults include alcohol use by the assailant or victim. Your advice normalized the calculated use of alcohol in dating. I’m hoping you’ll rethink this and run a correction.
— Frustrated Reader
I wrote, “Get some drinks in a girl, then casually touch her arm a few times,” not “casually rape her in the alley.” The guy signed himself “Not A Player” because he has all the mojo of a lost kitten. My worry wasn’t that he’d date rape the girl, but that he’d end the evening by giving her a little wave and running away. Yes, alcohol is often involved in sexual assaults. A knife can be used to cut an apple or mug your granny. People don’t do bad things because they have access to a particular substance or implement, but because they’re people who do bad things. I didn’t invent the use of alcohol in dating, and I don’t write as if people reading me are stupid. Countless people drink on dates every day without any need for prosecutor involvement. They do exactly what this guy needs to do: Have a couple beers with a girl so he’ll have the guts to kiss her, and so she’ll be relaxed enough to be kissed (and by “relaxed” I mean so she’s giggly, not so she’s unconscious).
Read Amy Alkon’s book: “I See Rude People: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).