The Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

Wedding her whistle

I just turned 26, and I’m ready to be married. My previous two boyfriends dragged their feet and then said the blood-boiling line: “I will marry you … someday.” I met a guy online, and we initiated a relationship on the basis that he was ready for marriage. Four months after our first kiss, I broke up with him after he, too, expressed hesitation about marriage. He insisted that he loves me but is hesitating because I have a drinking problem and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Once a month, I take everything that I love and tear it to shreds — as if in a werewolf state. I come to, devastated by my actions. I need structure and commitment from a loving partner for strength, and an engagement now would help me transcend my conditions. He wants me to do it alone and wants to see improvement before he commits. I want to make him realize how cruel he was in insisting in his profile that he was ready for marriage and not following through.

— Unwed
 

You’re a fierce advocate of truth in advertising — except when you’re the one engaging in the sins of omission: “I’m ready to be married. Oh, also, once a month, I’ll try to rip out your internal organs with a shrimp fork. Any takers?”

Typically, when a man is ready for marriage, he’s looking to settle down with the right woman, not sprint to the altar with the first woman he meets who can fit into a size 8 long white dress. If marriage actually were a cure for alcoholism, people in AA would have florists instead of sponsors, and church basements would be packed with brides tearfully confessing to being powerless before a $10,000 wedding cake that releases a flock of white doves.

You likewise don’t marry a guy because your hormones turn you into a werewolf once a month and you need somebody to bolt the exits so no sheep or cattle go missing. Per psychiatrist Dr. Emily Deans in one of my previous columns, biochemical options for dialing down turbo PMS include the 24-day or three-month birth control pill; the antidepressant bupropion; magnesium malate supplementation (500 milligrams at bedtime); and cycling from a low-carb diet to a higher-carb, low-protein diet three days to a week before your period starts.

At the moment, you’re married to escaping your problems. Addiction treatment specialist Dr. Frederick Woolverton writes in his very helpful book, Unhooked, that at the heart of any addiction is avoidance of suffering. Instead of feeling uncomfortable feelings and dealing with them, you hold their little heads down and drown them in a pond of cheap gin. And instead of doing the grown-up thing and working to overcome your addiction, you decide that the “power greater than yourself” will be the groom. But, only when you don’t need a man to feel whole are you healthy enough to choose one for the right reasons. Then you see, over time (a year, at the very least), whether you and he make sense together. Marriage is a lifetime commitment, not a lifeboat to rescue you from your troubles already in progress: “Do you take this woman … to have and to hold, and to hold her hair back as she’s driving the porcelain bus? Okay then! You may now detox the bride!”

 

Youth is fleeing

My friend is constantly dragging me to parties to be her wing woman. She’s in her late 40s but hits on hot young guys in their early 20s who never reciprocate interest. Guys her age or older approach her, but she blows them off. I’m sick of these depressing evenings and of accompanying her to the mall so she can get “hipper clothes.” Is there a kind way to tell her she needs to rethink who she’s pursuing?

— Frustrated
 

How uplifting, spending your weekends watching Generation Y getting hit on by Generation Why Are You At This Party? Of course you want to clue in your friend, “You could wear head-to-toe Forever 21, and you’d still look 49 and counting.” And you could gently suggest she expand her dating horizons to include men who are actual possibilities. But her persistence in the face of failure suggests she’s pretty attached to believing that the answer to her datelessness can be found at the mall. What you can control is how you spend your time. Extending yourself to make a friend happy is nice; subjecting yourself to regular misery is too nice and leads to bubbling resentment. The next time she tries to drag you along, tell her you’re party-weary and tired of the mall … but how about lunch or a hike? Granted, out on the trail, you could still witness the uncomfortable sight of a cougar stalking its prey — but not by changing out of its mom jeans.

(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

Attila the honey

I asked my boyfriend for his e-mail password so I could look at a message he’d mentioned. He grabbed my laptop and said he’d log in and forward it to me. He is a good guy and has never given me reason to distrust him, but if you aren’t hiding anything, why would you care whether your girlfriend can read your email, Facebook messages, whatever? He says he feels that people should have a certain amount of privacy in a relationship and doesn’t believe in sharing his passwords. Really? Not even with the woman he’s been sleeping with for two years?

— Suspicious
 

Of course, there’s no place for waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques in a healthy relationship, but after two years of having sex with a guy, you’d think you’d at least be allowed to have a spy drone follow him to the office.

While some women trade sex for dinner, jewelry and major appliances, all you expect is your boyfriend’s privacy. Privacy — controlling what information about yourself gets shared with others — is a fundamental right. Yet, I’m amazed by the amount of e-mail I get, mainly from women, who think having regular sex with someone entitles them to roll back that person’s privacy to that of a convicted serial killer (save for the flashlight-assisted cavity searches).
Like these other ladies, you seem to be confusing dating with rent-to-own. This man is your romantic partner, not your new washing machine. He gets to choose which hopes, dreams, fears, and tasteless jokes he shares with you; you don’t get to harvest his e-mail, his organs, and his every thought. But, should you somehow bully his password out of him and start mowing through his messages, it’s like putting people on speakerphone without their knowledge. He needs to disclose the possibility of this to everyone with his e-mail address: “When you write me, it’s as if you’ve written everyone I’ve slept with recently.” (Subject line: “I’m whipped.”)

Keep in mind that you aren’t suspicious of him because you found a thong in his travel mug but because you feel entitled to loot his digital life and he refuses to let you. (Why don’t you just put truth serum on his salad?) A desire for privacy isn’t evidence of sneakiness. People show different sides of themselves to different people, and he’s likely to feel curtailed in who he is and what he writes if Big Girlfriend is always watching: “Um, you spelled ‘trough-licker’ wrong in that misogynistic e-mail to Jeff.” (Suddenly, NSFW — Not Safe For Work — has an alternate meaning: No Sex For Weeks.)

You won’t make a man trustworthy by turning your relationship into a police state. The time to figure out whether somebody’s ethical is before you get into a committed relationship with him. If you can’t trust your boyfriend, why are you with him? If you can, accept that his information is his property, and leave him be when he closes the bathroom door to his mind. Relationships are actually richer when those in them have private lives, when they’re two people who come together to share a lot of things instead of two people who share absolutely everything — down to a single email address: JenniferNJason@WeAreNowOneBigBlob.com.

It’s reigning men

I’m 23, and I realized that I don’t know who I am. I just got out of a two-year relationship with a musician. I totally cleaved to his world — sold his CDs, promoted the band, started writing songs. But, it really wasn’t me, and “we” were all about him. Before him, I dated a Rolfer, and my world became all about “body alignment” and Pilates and whatever else he was preaching. I feel like I lose myself in a man and then get nothing back.

— Disappearing
 

When you’re between boyfriends, it’s got to be hard to know whether to spend the day picketing Wall Street or occupying a dressing room at Abercrombie. What happened, you started your search for self but then your feet got tired? You actually have to go out and answer the question “Who am I?”; you can’t just cheat off whomever you’re sleeping with. Consider doing as a guest on my radio show, therapist Dossie Easton, did. When she was in her 20s, she decided that she needed to find out who she was when she wasn’t “trying to be somebody’s old lady” and vowed to remain unpartnered (though not celibate) for five years. Maybe you don’t have to stay unpartnered for five years, as Dossie actually did, but you should keep fishing around for what you’re all about until you bring more to a relationship than a blank slate and a willingness to take notes.

(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

I get a kickball out of you

My boyfriend of three months is 22, and so am I. He tells me he loves me but is horrible about returning texts and calls and following through with dates. (He seems to ditch me if something better comes along.) He also doesn’t treat me very well around others. Recently, he got really drunk at a party and was hitting on my friend all night, though she ignored him. I finally pulled him aside and said he was hurting my feelings, and he said I was too sensitive and I’m just jealous that people like him. He later disappeared from the party for over an hour, and when I asked him where he’d gone, he said, “What are you, my mom?” I know I don’t deserve to be treated like this, but he can be so sweet and kind when we are on my couch watching a movie or in bed snuggling. Part of me wants to leave, and part thinks he just needs to get used to being in a relationship, because this is his first “serious” one.

— Loved and Unloved
 

If you’re like a lot of women, you’ve dreamed about this since you were a little girl — that moment the man in your life puts his hands on your shoulders and says, “Would you mind ducking your head so I can see if that woman across the room is hot?”

Men, like golden retrievers, have their flaws. They shed on the furniture, leave hairs in the soap, and hump your leg at inappropriate times. But when it’s clear that a particular man generally means well, these things are to be overlooked. Your boyfriend, on the other hand, claims to love you but ignores you, stands you up, belittles you, and publicly humiliates you, making it pretty clear that he’s looking to leave hairs in other women’s soap. And sure, he’s sweet to you when you’re snuggling in bed — probably because there are no other women under your comforter for him to hit on.

Like many people, you place too much importance on hearing “I love you.” You want to believe that these words mean something — and they probably do: that he needs to throw you a romantic chew-toy from time to time so you’ll stick around for all the casual cruelty. In an abusive relationship, which this is, you begin to crave the little moments of sweetness and intimacy that you use to justify staying through all the spirit-chomping parts. The big picture is, you aren’t so much this guy’s girlfriend as you are his backup girlfriend (the spare tire of girlfriendhood) — the one he keeps around in case there’s nothing or no one better to do. 

 
Part of you wants to leave? Follow that part. And turn this into a meaningful relationship after the fact — one you use to represent what you won’t put up with in the future. Sure, in the process of figuring out what you want in a man, you’ll have to “kiss a few toads,” but if you’re honest about who a guy is, you’ll see no reason to stick around for an extended makeout session.

 

Last tango in suburban living room

I’m staying at a friend’s house while on a business trip. She and I talk frequently, but since I moved away, we have not had any quality time. We’d both looked forward to hanging out and catching up, but her boyfriend of six months has been here every night. I like him well enough, but the worst, the absolute worst, is the extreme PDA. They share long, passionate kisses and lie on top of each other and make out while we’re all watching TV. I want to say something, but what?

— Grossed-Out Girl

 

How nice to have time to catch up with your friend — to learn how her job’s going, what’s happening with her family, the kind of faces she makes while being dry-humped. When you’re a houseguest, the things you should be expected to bring are wine and maybe a box of fancy soaps, not earplugs and a blindfold. As welcome as they’re making you feel, it must be tempting to go passive-aggressive when they’re getting it on: “Mind if I tweet this?” Or “Should I move over? I don’t want to be sitting on third base.” But, your best bet for shutting down the heavy petting zoo is evoking sympathy, not defensiveness. Do that by telling your friend that you feel bad — like you’re interrupting something — and that it’s no problem for you to stay at a motel. Sure, there may still be live sex acts there, but they’ll be separated from you by a wall and some innocuous framed print. You’ll hear everything, but in the morning, you’ll leave with the image of an adequately painted lighthouse forever burned into your brain. 

(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

When mused and abused

After my girlfriend and I split up, I wrote a creative nonfiction piece about our breakup (changing some identifying details). I published it on a popular blog and linked to it on Facebook. We’re back together, and things are great; however, she saw the story and was humiliated. I explained that what I wrote was beautiful and vulnerable and true, and many people were moved by it. She really wasn’t down with that and told me to consider her off-limits in my writing. This seems unfair. I write nonfiction. What will I write about if I can’t write about my life?

— Expressive
 

As lame as some creative writing exercises sound — “Write a haiku about what you had for lunch!” — a thinly veiled portrait of your chicken salad will cause way less relationship stress than “Turn your fight with your girlfriend into a blog post!” (And no, you can’t just change her name from Molly to Holly so nobody but your 546 Facebook friends will know it’s her.)

Yes, I’ve heard — privacy is reportedly dead. It was pronounced dead in 2006 at an Internet security conference. This doesn’t mean that it is actually dead or should be — just that lots of people are finding their dirty laundry uploaded to Instagram and their private conversations turned into content. Chances are, those nonchalantly ripping away others’ privacy online would be spraining their tongues tsk-tsking if somebody did it the non-virtual way, like by hijacking the mic at an outdoor concert series: “My girlfriend, Molly … second row, that blonde in the red … FORGOT to tell me she was weapons-grade slutty in college. She’d have a tat of that McDonald’s “x million served” sign, except that there’s no room on her disturbingly small breasts.”

Like websites, relationships these days seem to require a privacy policy — one agreed upon in advance (before anybody becomes relationship-o-tainment) and maintained in the event of a breakup. Clearly, your preferred policy would be “By sharing your life with me, you agree to share it with anyone with an Internet connection.” Sorry, but the more private person gets to set the standards, and sadly, this woman only wants to be your girlfriend, not your cure for writer’s block. Yeah, I know, you’d think it’d be any woman’s dream, sitting with you in some out-of-the-way Paris cafe as you chronicle her shortcomings on your netbook.

But, wait — if you and your girlfriend have a fight and nobody comments on it on Facebook, how do you know your lives are worth living? The answer is, decide which you want more, this girlfriend or an audience. This isn’t to say you have to stop writing about her; you just don’t get to hit “publish.” Try to see this as an opportunity to expand your writerly horizons. Go do things you can write about: Climb something. Fish for marlin. Drop in on the Spanish Civil War. And remember, everybody’s got a story, and lots of people are just dying to have theirs told. Seek them out, look deep into their eyes, and say, “So, tell me the horrors you experienced as a prisoner of war, and would you mind not leaving any participles dangling?”

Meek him halfway

I’m a writer, and I went to a book party where there were many interesting writers, including a very cute, witty man. Problem is, I’m afraid to go talk to new people, especially cute, witty men, so I hung back and eventually left. Now I’m ruing yet another missed opportunity.

— Regretsville
 

You apparently learned your social skills from a park ranger. Playing dead is a successful strategy when you’re being chased by certain types of bears. When you’re hoping to be chased by a man, you need to go over and say hello. But, you whimper, you’re scared. Yeah, okay. But, why would that be reason to avoid doing it? By making yourself do something you’re afraid of, you shrink your fears and probably feel better afterward, unless it’s something like walking off the ledge of a tall building.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a genius conversationalist. Just ask questions: “Are you a friend of the author’s?” “Is that soup on your shirt?” If somebody likes you, he’ll talk to you. If not, it’s a big world; go talk to somebody else. And don’t see every interaction as some statement about your worth. Some people will like you; some won’t. Unless you’re running for office, who cares? The more people you talk to, the bigger your life will be, and the less each interaction will matter in the grand scheme of you. Until then, remember, 90 percent of success is just showing up — and then not running back out to your car, powerlocking your doors, and speeding home.

(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

Baby makes flee

When I married five years ago, I was on the fence about having kids. I thought some parental gene might kick in, but it never did. Now, at 40, I’ve accepted that a childless marriage is best for us, given my wife’s fertility issues and my ambivalence about parenthood. My wife, however, sees no purpose to life without children. It upsets her to see me happy without kids while she pines for them. She is also upset that I won’t try all possible alternatives, such as adoption and fertility treatments, and is generally angry and outright hostile toward me.

— Nobody’s Dad
 

There are things it’s okay to procrastinate on, like cleaning behind the toilet. If you’re like me, as soon as you look back there and see new plant life cropping up (and, okay, maybe a woodpecker and a couple of deer), you break out the bleach and it’s all good. But, procrastinate on figuring out whether to have a family? There you were: “Let’s see, should we create another human being, spend 20-plus years and hundreds of thousands of dollars raising it? I dunno … let’s just sign this contract to spend the rest of our lives together and figure it out later.”

Chances are, you both had baby-related plots brewing in your heads. You maybe thought you’d ignore the issue and it might go away. Your wife maybe figured she’d get pregnant, you’d just have to go along, and the moment you saw the baby you’d melt into a loving father. But, whoops, fertility issues crept in. You can get accidentally pregnant, but you can’t accidentally adopt a child, as in, you’re driving along one day, glance into the back seat and notice a 6-year-old Romanian orphan coloring on the headrest.

Although you can’t offer any solutions that work for your wife, you do see a number of alternatives that work for you: not having kids, having no kids, remaining childless. There is one other alternative: getting divorced so your wife can try to find a man who’s interested in being a dad … as dim a prospect as that may be for a fertility-challenged 40-year-old woman competing with pert-breasted, fertility-iconish 20-somethings. Obviously, this option is not exactly the fast track to happily ever after. Then again, that’s probably not in the cards here unless you two can somehow find some wiggle room in how she “sees no purpose to life without children” and how you aren’t up for adopting anything you can’t pat on the head and leave tied to a chain-link fence.

 

Cheatapalooza

I recently married and should be bathed in newlywed bliss, but a rock star in a famous alternative band wants me to have an affair with him. I’m shocked and thrilled, to say the least. My conscience says, “Are you insane? You love your husband and chose him for a reason. Don’t jeopardize that!” But I’m also hearing “You only live once, and thousands of women wish they had this guy’s attention.”

— Chosen
 

You said “I do,” not “I’d do a rock star first chance I get.” (If only you’d known you’d meet this guy, you could’ve asked your husband for the indie rock star exception to lifelong fidelity.) Yes, thrillingly, of all the hipster girls in black-rimmed glasses and earnest T-shirts worn ironically, he wants you. This says something about you — probably that you are conveniently located, reasonably attractive, and don’t seem the type to poke holes in the condom. Wow. The romance.

You’re buying into groupiethink — the idea that you’re somebody if you have sex with somebody famous. But, he’s just a guy. He stinks up the bathroom same as any other guy. Okay, the fame fairy touched him with her magic wand. Maybe not because he’s so much more talented than the next guy with a guitar but because he was in the right place at the right time with the right chin. If his gig were at the coffee shop instead of Coachella and his panting fans were his two dogs tied up outside, would your panties still be flying off?

Remember that guy you stood next to in the big white dress? Weren’t you two eventually supposed to be holding hands in twin rockers on the porch of the old folks home? If you’re going to jeopardize everything you have with him, just be clear on what you could end up having and holding instead — a 50-year-old memory of some musician whispering those romantic words every woman longs to hear: “How ‘bout we have sex for a couple hours and then I see if there are any other cute girls outside the tour bus?”

(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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