I met a really great girl before deploying to Iraq. We’ve gotten as close as two people can while physically separate, but she is sexually frustrated to the max and wants to have an unemotional hookup. She suggests we each have a “last fling” before we start our relationship (when my deployment ends in 60 days). Well, I’m in an all-male unit, and when I’m home, I want to be with her. She’s attending a wedding this weekend (single guys, hotel rooms, open bar, etc.). She says not to worry, but I know how much she wants this. I just fear that any hookup she had might stick in my mind and keep me from giving her my very best. How can I encourage her to hang on a little longer? Barring that, how do I get okay with this?
Oh, yay. You, too, are allowed a last fling. And lucky you, you’ve got your pick of a bunch of big, dusty, sweaty men in camouflage pants. There’s no open bar, but there is an open desert, stocked with a variety of IEDs. Luckily, this doesn’t stop groups of young single females from wandering past the base, but the old bearded goatherd urging them on with a stick surely frowns on interspecies hookups.
Probably many readers’ first thought is, “Jeez, the guy’s off in a war zone. Can’t Miss Ants In Her Panties keep her legs crossed for another 60 days?” The truth is, maybe not, no matter what you say. The question is, can you deal? It may help to understand why you feel so threatened. Your feelings go way back, and I mean way. Like 1.8 million years, to genetic adaptations that helped our male forebears guard against paternity uncertainty. Today, figuring out who a kid’s daddy is just takes a DNA test, and birth control can eliminate the question entirely. These vintage genes of ours are the problem. We’re wandering around the latter part of 2011 biologically and psychologically calibrated for life in the Stone Age, and complex cognitive adaptations like “Yo, DNA! In 1951, Carl Djerassi invented The Pill!” take hundreds or thousands of generations to get wired in.
It might help to recognize that sex isn’t special — or isn’t necessarily special. Insects have sex, and not because one particular bug means more to them than any other, but because the urge to get it on is just one of many physical urges of living critters, like the urge to eat lunch. Yeah, okay, on a realistic note, you’d probably feel a lot less hurt and threatened if she were talking about some guy at the wedding slipping her a roast beef sandwich.
Still, assuming there’s no pregnancy, disease, or continued attachment, yesterday’s sex act is no more relevant than yesterday’s lunch. What gives it relevance is the importance you decide to place on it. Can you see this hookup as something she just needs to check off her single-girl bucket list? Or, will you preserve whatever happens like a fossil in amber, poisoning your potential future together with a never-ending symposium on a tiny bit of her past? To start fresh together, it’s probably wise to have a “what happens at the wedding stays at the wedding” policy. This way, you’ll lack the details (if any) to make a dirty little movie you can run on a loop in your head — which may keep you from making the mistake so many jealous men do: turning their woman’s forgettable drunken hookup before they were even a couple into the most unforgettable sex she’s ever had.
Meet Joe BlackBerry
This girl I’ve been dating for a couple months really likes me, but I’m not feeling it. Because we’ve done a lot of texting, I’m thinking of breaking up with her by text. It would be a lot less uncomfortable.
Getting dumped is bad enough; it’s worse when your soon-to-be-ex not only won’t spare you face-time to do it but stiffs you on vowels. (If your girlfriend doesn’t have unlimited text messaging, it could even cost her 20 cents to find out “its ovr.”) Smartphones make life easier, but not everything in life should be. Once you’ve spent more than a few naked hours with somebody, you can text them to tell them you’re late, but not that you’re never coming back. As for this girl, even though you’re “not feeling it,” breaking up in person will be hard for you, and she’ll see that, making the experience less dignity-eating than if you used your phone as a buffer. In other words, compassion, not cellphone technology, should be driving your breakup behavior. But, if compassion’s not really your thing, at least consider your text messaging limits, and maybe keep your phone in your pocket and program your Roomba to go tell her it’s over.
Read Amy Alkon’s book: I See Rude People: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).