the advice goddess

the advice goddess

Vulture capital

This woman and I have been friends for a year. She’s a free spirit of sorts with zero boundaries. In the time I’ve known her, she’s been married and divorced and then engaged, and now that has ended. She always has another man on the side. (She did even when married and engaged.) She frequently mentions my husband — how he likes animated films and so does she (they’re not my thing) and offers to accompany him to them. She always gives him a big hug hello, even when I’m around, and goes on about how similar they are, and it just strikes me as odd. Here’s the killer: Last week, she saw my husband at a gathering, came up behind him, and kissed him on the neck! Of course he told me, as he has no interest in her, but I was shocked. We are planning a business together, but now I don’t want her near my husband! Should I confront her? 

— Disturbed
 

“She’s a free spirit of sorts.” Of sorts. The classic, harmless sort is the cute hippie girl who dyes her hair teal, changes her name to Magic Rainbow, and goes off for a year to live in a teepee. What does your free-spirited friend do, make lingerie out of found materials that she can wear when she climbs on your husband?

Boundaries aren’t such a bad thing; they keep the cows from roaming the freeways. Should the urge strike to let one’s lips prowl the neck of another woman’s husband, true friendship and empathy make the best fences. A true friend might find herself attracted to your husband but would be careful to avoid saying or doing anything to tempt him or make you feel threatened. This “friend’s” sneak attack on your husband’s neck meat, along with her notion of sexual fidelity — “Till death do us part or the NBA shot clock runs down” — suggests that she’s a narcissist, a self-absorbed, manipulative user.

Narcissists lack empathy and can’t be true friends or partners because their aggressive self-interest always comes first, although they tend to be good at faking friendship or partnership and painting their toxic opportunism as, say, free-spiritedness: A woman must follow her bliss! … right down the pants of another woman’s man. (Oh, come on, Stuffy … she always has another man on the side — why not yours?)

Do you really want to be in a partnership with a woman whose moral compass seems fixed on magnetic ME! ME! ME!? In deciding that, be careful not to let momentum get the best of you. We’re prone to want to continue down the path we’ve been on and rationalize why that’s a good idea — even when evidence that it isn’t keeps popping up like dogs in humiliating outfits on YouTube.

If you’re hellbent on working with her, get a partnership agreement drawn up by a lawyer (one who is not your alcoholic brother-in-law). Probably your best bet, however, is bowing out now with a host of vague but plausible reasons: You’re not ready; you don’t have the energy right now; it wouldn’t be fair to her. Keep the actual reason to yourself: A startup takes a hands-on approach, but she’s only got two hands, and they’re usually crawling up some other woman’s husband.

Life is methy

My girlfriend had a drug problem but claimed she’d been clean for seven years. It turns out she’s been using for the entire year we’ve been together. Two months ago, she went to rehab. I thought she was doing all right afterward, but then she admitted that she’d twice gotten high and had sex with a guy she met at rehab. I think I can forgive her, but I’m wondering whether I can ever believe her again.

— Duped
 

Random urine tests can say a lot about a person, like that she either got the dog to pee into a cup or could one day give birth to a fine litter of Labradoodles. Drug addicts lie. Yours has been lying to you from day one, and not about inconsequential stuff. (Don’t run to get an HIV test; grow wings and fly there.) Your girlfriend’s motto appears to be “Just say ‘Don’t mind if I do!’ to drugs.” You could say she’s been cheating on you with drugs. Actually, she’s been cheating on drugs with you. Make no mistake about what comes first and who comes second. That’s not going to change overnight — and maybe not ever. You can someday have a loving, mutual relationship — once you find a partner whose moments of painful honesty involve admitting to stuff like scraping your new car getting into the garage, not “Oh, I had sex with a crackhead I met in rehab. And how was your day?”

(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

Inner booty

In your answer to “Dismayed,” the 32-year-old woman with a Ph.D. who was unimpressed by the men she was meeting, I was struck by how cold and calculating it all sounds: Women evolved to marry money and power; men look for eye candy to parade around on their arms. As a man who doesn’t bring money or power to the table, what do I have to give up? Why can’t you just fall in love like you got hit by a ton of bricks and have that be enough?

— Male Romantic
 

Day to day in a relationship, it’s inner beauty that counts. Unfortunately, it takes outer beauty to draw a man close enough to find out how wonderful a woman is on the inside … which is why cosmetics companies make bajillions with stuff like L’Oreal Visible Radiance and not L’Oreal Sandwich-Making Kit To Feed The Homeless.

People wax on about “love at first sight” (or getting “hit by a ton of bricks”) because the reality — “My genes made me drool on your shoe” — doesn’t sound very romantic or nice. As evolutionary psychologist Dr. Michael Mills explained on my radio show, our genes don’t care if we’re happy. They’re selfish little buggers, manipulating us to do whatever it takes so they can hop on to the next generation. If one big purple eyeball on a woman were an indicator of her health and fertility, Playboy would be called Cornea, and men in bars would be chatting up women’s foreheads instead of their cleavage. Instead, men evolved to go for women with the features that actually do indicate fertility, like youth and an hourglass figure. Women, on the other hand, evolved to be hot for men who can protect and provide, as women who went for wimpy deadbeats would’ve been more likely to have children who starved to death or got eaten by lions. (Genetic fail!)

If the reality seems depressing to you, check out the results of thumbing one’s nose at it: a broke, girlfriendless guy sleeping on a buddy’s couch, gnawing on pizza crusts and complaining about how superficial women are — and what a tub Megan Fox has become. Being honest about what women want and realistic about how you stack up is how you improve your chances of having love in your life. You can either optimize what you have to offer or scale back your demands for supermodeliciousness. So, maybe you can’t get Miss Universe, but make your peace with that and you could end up living happily ever after with Miss Hottie of the Cul-de-Sac. Winning her isn’t a simple matter of flashing a bunch of cash. The protector-provider stuff just gets you in the door so you can show her the stuff money can’t buy. That’s when you convince her that the two of you can have a beautiful future together — one filled with liberal applications of CoverGirl Heal The Wounded Squirrel.

 

Romeo must dial

I’m online dating, and I’m uncomfortable giving my number out, probably because I’m reluctant to give a stranger several ways to access me. Also, I consider myself a good judge of character, and phone calls don’t reveal as much as seeing a man’s mannerisms, body language, etc. I like to get to know a man through emails and then meet and, if the chemistry is there, open myself up to calls. This arrangement seemed fine until today, when it was greatly stressed that a phone conversation would help the process along.

— Woman On Hold
 

A person’s nonverbal expressions can tell you many things — whether they’re tense, angry, socially awkward — but probably not everything you need to know: “Uh-oh … that’s the posture of a man with human remains in his freezer.”

Understandably, you’re grasping for control and privacy — probably because you give up much of both in online dating. But, consider the ridiculousness: You’re standing firm on telephonic privacy after posting your picture and hopes and dreams like you’re a pair of shoes for sale on eBay. And you actually don’t need to “give a stranger several ways to access (you)”; just explain that you aren’t comfortable giving out your number, and ask for his. Use caller ID blocking to keep your number from being displayed (dial *67 before dialing his number), or call from Skype.

It’s good to be cautious, but in all probability this man’s asking for your number to see whether meeting you seems worth an hour of his time, not because it’s the first step in coming to your home and torturing you for days. There ultimately may be torture involved, but probably not the kind they write screaming headlines about: “Woman Has Coffee with Man from Dating Site; Dies a Little on the Inside During Their 37 Minutes Together.” 

(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

Carpy Diem

My boyfriend and I are college juniors, happily together 10 months and living together for five. An article I read said it’s healthy to argue with your partner, and I got a little worried. We sometimes bicker about what to watch on TV, but one of us quickly gives in, and that’s it. It does bug me that he’s chronically late and his car is filled with dirty cups, random CDs, empty wrappers, etc., but I basically just shrug this stuff off. He seems to do likewise with stuff I do that bugs him. Are we both just really easygoing? I worry that we may be missing some passionate connection.

— Drama-Free
 

Of course Romeo and Juliet is the great love story of all time. What were they, 14? Self-assertion doesn’t cause much conflict when you don’t have all that much self to assert — like when you’re in the primordial personswamp of your early 20s. Just consider the sort of questions that you, as a couple sharing a life in the edu-womb, are forced to gnash over: Jell-O shots or beer pong? Cup Noodles or Top Ramen? Why was Arrested Development canceled? If the universe disappeared, would the rules of chess still exist?

Sure, even now, you may be faced with one of the big relationship-crushing issues like money problems, forcing one of you to call your dad and then go out in the pouring rain to the ATM. But, later in life, when the issue may be which of you stands in the rain with your stuff the sheriff put out on the lawn, the arguing itself isn’t what breaks you up. In fact, it is important to engage and hash out your issues so they don’t burrow in. What seems to matter is how you treat each other when you aren’t disagreeing, in all the seemingly unimportant little moments.

Psychologist Dr. John Gottman, who does some of the best research on why marriages succeed and fail, calls this the “emotional bank account model” of relationships. He writes in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work that romance is kept alive “each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life.” He explains this as a consistent “turning toward” each other rather than turning away: remaining engaged in your partner’s world by reuniting at dinner and asking about each other’s day; consistently expressing fondness and admiration; showing love in the tiniest of ways. Essentially, Gottman explains, you need to treat your partner like they’re important even when you’re in the supermarket together and they ask something mundane, like “Are we out of bleach?” Instead of shrugging apathetically, you say, “I’ll go get us some so we won’t run out.”

At the moment, your biggest problem is that you two don’t really have any problems. This is what’s called a First World problem — like “I don’t have enough counter space for all of my appliances” or “I have to walk through the living room of this $350 hotel suite to get to the bathroom.” It could be that you’re both easygoing, or that you’re starter people in a starter relationship, or that you’ve yet to reach your poo-flinging, death-glaring annoyance threshold. Perhaps just try to enjoy yourselves instead of worrying that nothing’s ripping you apart — tragic as it is that you’re far too content together to have hate sex.

Fastidious and furious

My boyfriend’s fastidiously clean. I’m not. Before we moved in together, this was a source of teasing. Now it causes fights. I constantly upset him by letting dirty dishes sit, forgetting to dump the recycling, and allowing projects, books, papers and stuff to pile up all over. He’s tried to be more accepting, and I’ve tried to remember to clean up, but it’s not working. I suggested we each get our own place again, but he thinks that sounds like a step backward.

— Messy

Your boyfriend could be more open-minded: It’s not just a kitchen; it’s a probiotics wildlife refuge. You point to the grout: “See this furry green patch? I’ve decided to name it ‘Pam.’ ” And sure, you could hire a weekly housecleaner with the money you’re saving by cohabiting and make filing systems and lists and chore wheels, but the reality is, you probably need somebody to follow you around with a shovel. Since you two were happy when you lived separately, the problem seems to be buying into the idea that moving in together is a step forward. For your relationship, the step forward would be living apart so you can go back to being lovingly amused at your differences — the way he sees the countertop as half-full and you see that there’s still space for several pots and a week’s worth of dirty plates. 


(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

You lite up my life

This man I’ve been dating didn’t want anything serious. I don’t either. I explained that I just wanted to hang out and have fun. We were going out several times a week, sleeping together at least once a week. Suddenly, he freaked, worrying I’d get attached. I reinforced that I absolutely don’t want anything serious, but he seemed unconvinced. He went away on business and called the day he returned, and we hung out and slept together. The next day, he said we needed to slow things down because he wasn’t feeling we were getting closer. (Isn’t that the point of not getting serious?!) The whole thing started making me feel bad. I blew him off, and now — crazily enough — he’s calling, texting, asking to see me again. Where do we go from here?

— Baffled
 

File you under “too good to be true.” When you tell a man “I just wanna hang out and have fun — sometimes naked,” you actually mean that. It is not secret womancode for “Love me, or I’ll cut up your shirts, set your lawn on fire, and stand under your window at 3 a.m. screaming, ‘MY UTERUS IS BAAAARE!’ ”

He must’ve been pretty bewildered: “Come on…shouldn’t you at least be trying to key my car?” Because so many women seem unable to keep things casual — even when they’re sure casual’s all they want — men tend to assume that’s how all women are. But, there are outliers, and you’re one of them. The problem was convincing him of that. Sure, you kept saying “no strings attached,” but he figured you just had your hands full weaving them all into a big net.

He, on the other hand, is a man who knows exactly what he wants: “None of that mushbucket stuff!” Until he doesn’t know: “Hey! Where’s my mushbucket?!” It seems the main thing he wants is to be in control. So, when it became clear you wanted things casual, he kind of blew you off — probably your cue to throw yourself at him — but you yanked him off his game yet again by blowing him off right back. (Men, especially, are compelled to ditch what’s chasing them and chase what’s trying to ditch them.)

The guy essentially set up a hamster wheel and then complained that the hamster wasn’t getting anywhere. Unfortunately, people are messy. Part of what’s messing him up may be the romantic mythology that says “fireworks or nuthin!” — that a relationship isn’t legit unless it’s “going somewhere.” (You can’t just plan something for Tuesday and, if that goes okay, maybe see a movie on Thursday.) As for where you go from here, a frank talk is in order: Can he handle the casual thing he thinks he wants — or is he a closet committer? If he can live without the promise of a future, you can probably have some good carefree fun in the present: “I love the way you hold me; I love the way you make love to me; I love the way that, afterward, you get out of bed, get in your car and go to your own house.”

 

Stare way to heaven

A guy wrote you about a girl he sees at a coffee shop — a girl he suspects is out of his league. You said the way to know for sure is by asking her out. Bad Advice Goddess! This suggests that he should regard all women with whatever she’s got — like if she’s “too beautiful” — as out of his league. That just isn’t right. There’s probably a “too beautiful” woman out there who’d go for him.

— Irked
 

“Sky’s the limit!” “You can do anything you set your mind to!” These are fantastically inspiring things to tell a person — when he’s about to enter preschool and you’re trying to teach him to use the potty. As an adult, you realize that the sky is not the limit. In fact, you sometimes realize that your life is taking place in the crawl space between the third- and fourth-floor apartments — or that you’ll never get a date, because you are Joe Ordinary but refuse to consider any girl who’s less than a 9.95. As for this guy, I didn’t advise him to avoid all beautiful women; I told him to stop slobbering into his latte and ask his crushgirl out. A guy who endlessly pines away either hasn’t worked through his social awkwardness or is after somebody out of his league — and knows that — and pining allows him to pretend he’s in the game without risking rejection. Rejection can be a good thing; it tells you where you fall on the “What kind of woman can I get?” scale — allowing you to either try to improve your mate value or make the required trade-offs to have dates with women you don’t have to inflate with a bicycle pump.  

(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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