The Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

 

I fry, fry again

I walked into my apartment and, to my horror, thought my boyfriend had been electrocuted. He was sprawled on the kitchen floor by an open electrical outlet with wires sticking out. There was a screwdriver near him, and the skin on his arm and hand was discolored. I ran over and started crying and shaking him. He started laughing and yelled, “April fools!” It hadn’t occurred to me that it was April Fools’ Day, because I truly thought he was dead. He says he thought I’d freak for a moment and then bust out laughing. I’m finding myself unable to forgive him, despite the fact that he says he is sorry and meant it to be a joke.

— No Laughing Matter

You, like a lot of women, probably love surprises — just not the sort that leave you kneeling over your boyfriend’s lifeless body, wondering whether to call EMS or the coroner. (What? Was there no Saran wrap he could put across the toilet bowl?)

The power of laughter can get a little oversold. (If it truly were “the best medicine,” hospitals would skip the morphine drip and hang a chimp in overalls from that metal pole by the patient’s bed.) Laughter does seem to be pretty good medicine for relationships — assuming a guy’s attempt to make a woman laugh doesn’t make her hold a grudge. Researchers have found that the ability to be funny is correlated with high intelligence — a plus in a partner — and with what cognitive psychologist Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman deems “the Woody Allen effect,” the possibility for even geeky-looking guys to get and hang on to girlfriends. (Woody Allen didn’t attract the ladies because, in pitch darkness, he looks just like Clive Owen.)

As for why your boyfriend pulled this stunt, the phrase “Seemed like a good idea at the time” comes to mind. A guy can get so caught up in making authentically gruesome char marks on his arm that he never considers how hilarious you’re likely to find it when the man you love appears to be lying dead on your kitchen floor. As for your inability to forgive him, it probably feels “safer” to cling to your grudge because it puts distance between you and the potential for future hurt. Unfortunately, it also distances you from the good stuff — love, affection, connection, and the continuation of your relationship.

To decide whether to break up with your grudge or your boyfriend, ask yourself a few questions: Does he now understand why you were so upset? Is this number 3,024 in a long line of painful idiocies or just a one-time painfully stupid thing? And outside of when he’s pretending to have died horribly, does he show you he cares about your feelings and well-being? Unless you have reason to believe Faked Death: The Sequel or other major insensitivities will pop up in your future, it’s probably time to give that grudge you’ve been holding a pat on the butt and a bag lunch and send it on its way.

 

To halve and halve not

I’ve been with two men for nearly 10 years. (Yes, they know about each other.) My BFF has been my boyfriend on and off, but he broke my trust long ago, and the sex isn’t good. The other man’s an amazing lover, but we just have a weekly fling because he’s in a relationship. Friends say to drop both and start fresh, but that’s not so easy! Seeing the fling guy endears me more to the BFF, and seeing the BFF makes me long for the fling guy.

— Stuck

When they say that to find a prince you have to kiss a lot of toads, this isn’t supposed to mean kissing the same two toads a lot — week after week, for 10 years. Now, Flotsam and Jetsam here aren’t without their merits, such as how being with one endears you to the other — much in the way stomach flu must make you long for strep throat. And if, as a little girl, you lay awake imagining yourself being shuffled between an untrustworthy bad lover and a man with a girlfriend, well then, congrats — you’re living your dream. Otherwise, perhaps you’ve forgotten something: You have freedom of choice and lots of men out there to choose from. Of course, for freedom of choice to work, you actually have to choose — have standards and not drop them and your panties every time a bad deal texts you that it wants to come over. No, it won’t be “easy.” It’s just what you have to do if you want more — like a guy who can’t wait to see you, and not because his girlfriend’s yoga class is only 45 minutes or he’s hot to make up for violating your trust with some unsatisfying sex. 

(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

 

Dark clouds on the Verizon

I work 9 to 5, and my girlfriend of two years is retired and pretty much free all day. I’ve asked that we treat dinner as our special time to reconnect and ignore incoming phone calls. Sadly, instead of embracing this request, she has resisted me with full force. Whenever the phone rings during dinner, she answers and stays on as long as the call takes. We don’t get urgent calls. She counters that if the phone rings, you answer it, and that it could be some problem she can just address and be done with. She deems my request “controlling,” yet I’ve never made a demand or thrown a tantrum. I’ve just explained that I’d appreciate it if we could carve out 30 minutes of together-time. I’ve also asked her to ignore the phone when we’re in bed, but her tendency is to answer it — even if we’re having sex. I’ve explained how unwanted this phone thing makes me feel, but she doesn’t seem to get it.

— Ignored

What will happen if one of these calls goes to voicemail? Kim Jong Un will unleash an electromagnetic pulse bomb on the U.S., and the power grid will be fried for 40 years — or the neighbor will have to call back to tell your girlfriend the ingenious thing she did to perk up her banana cake?

Two years into your relationship, the point when so many partners are just getting good at taking each other for granted, you’re telling your girlfriend you want to carve out special time to focus on each other — just 30 minutes out of her unbusy, retired woman day. She, in turn, responds like you just demanded she cut off her three favorite fingers and feed them to the pigeons.

It’s possible that she isn’t entirely conscious of why she’s treating you this way. She may fear getting closer and then getting dumped or think you’ll value her more if she makes you feel like less and less. It’s possible she is punishing you for something or is trying to abuse you into leaving. What is clear is who’s the controlling one here — the self-appointed dowager countess of the relationship, making the unilateral decision that the phone will be answered no matter what. As for you, her significant serf, keep quiet and eat your gruel while milady has a nice chat with Rachel from Cardmember Services.

It must get hard to parse whether you’re in a relationship or a call center. Perhaps you, like many people, assume that being in a relationship means having a partner who loves you and cares about your happiness. Your girlfriend does seem to — as long as it doesn’t mean having to call somebody back after dinner. Even if she doesn’t fully understand what’s motivating her behavior, if she does love you, she can behave lovingly while she figures it out and stop answering the phone like she’s one of the town’s two sober volunteer firemen. Telling her how unwanted you feel obviously isn’t enough; you also have to have standards for how you’ll be treated and be willing to walk if they aren’t met — ideally, into the arms of a woman whose screams of passion in bed don’t include “Who’s calling, please?”

 

SWAT about a Friday night?

I met this very attractive woman who works at my local bank. She has twice called me regarding the bank’s offerings, and I’ve gotten a vibe that her interest isn’t wholly professional. Do I drop by on a pretext and blindside her with “Let’s go out sometime”? Is there another way to get her attention?

— Stuck

Many men have had success getting the attention of a woman who works in a bank by coming in wearing pantyhose over their head and handing her a note. Unfortunately, this approach also tends to draw the attention of the woman’s co-workers (unimaginative sorts who, at the first sign of creative headgear, are quick to summon the SWAT team). Even if you forgo the pantyhat, asking her out in person is a problem, as nothing turns the workplace into a junior high school cafeteria faster than having your co-workers looking on as somebody hits on you. (Unless your “local bank” is Citibank’s world headquarters, she probably sits at a desk in the middle of the place.) So, do go in on some pretext — so she can attach a face to your name — and then phone her to ask her out. If she turns you down, just act like you’re cool with it and you shouldn’t have a problem showing your face in the bank — tempting as it might be to go in wearing a Richard Nixon mask and try again: “No dye packs or marked money, and can I interest you in dinner and a slow-speed police chase?”

(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

 

 

When you wish upon a sleazebucket

I was seeing a guy for four months — a guy I liked better than I’ve ever liked anyone. Two months in, he was calling me his girlfriend, putting me on the phone with his mom, and saying that I shouldn’t look to be dating other people. Yet, I noticed that he remained on the dating website we met on and was checking in there daily. I asked him whether he was seeing other girls on the site, and he said, “Only a friend I work with and she is older anyway.” When I’d ask whether he was sleeping with other girls, he’d always say no. Well, he left his email open on my computer, and I searched it and discovered he’d been contacting several women daily on the dating site and sleeping with at least one other woman. I contacted her and told her he’s contacting numerous other women so she’d know he’s a sociopath, a sex addict, a liar and a cheat. Now I’m thinking about warning other women he’s contacted. Is that crazy?

— Badly Betrayed

We all want to believe — in the tooth fairy and talking dogs, that Santa got to the mall on his airborne sleigh and not the bus after his car got impounded for DUIs.

Sticking to your preferred version of reality works when you’re 6. At 26 or 36, it tends to end badly. You, for example, tried to ignore the wildly obvious: A guy isn’t logging in at a dating site daily because his mouse gets lost on the way to the sports scores. Eventually, Reality popped up to ask you, “Am I really going to have to bite you?” So, you asked the guy whether he was seeing anybody from the site, and he said, “Only a friend I work with.” Note that this was not a no. To a woman seeking the truth, it sounds like what it was — a truth-flavored lie. But, determined as you were to keep believing you’d found your Mr. Husband, you cut up all the red flags and did a remarkable job repurposing them into throw pillows.

The fact that your suspicions finally got too big and stanky to ignore didn’t give you the right to plow through the guy’s email — the techno-quivalent of breaking in to his house and reading all his mail. People are entitled to privacy. Even scummy people. Even scummy people who are sleeping with you. If a guy’s level of sharing doesn’t match your need to know, find the door — not an opportune moment to go all Nancy Drew on his Gmail.

Railing about what a bad guy your ex is and contacting every woman he ever said “‘sup?” to on some dating site is a great idea, as it will keep you far too busy to admit that you made it possible for him to skeeve you. (Your not wanting to know coincided rather neatly with his wanting to keep his options open.) You can’t control whether somebody lies to you. You can only control whether you do — and whether you treat reality like the 50-foot brick wall it is or pretend, for as long as you can, that it comes with an elastic waistband like fat men’s pants.

 

A breath of fresh stare

I’m back in college in hopes of changing careers, and I’m interested in a woman I’ve become friendly with in one of my classes. Our schedules rarely seem to mesh, so it’s been difficult for me to find a time to express my feelings. In fact, there’s never an appropriate time to ask her out due to other students always being present. Still, I think it would be a shame not to let her know that somebody really cares for her.

— Continuing Ed

There are sometimes great barriers to two people coming together — warring nations, conflicting religions, violent family feuds, and other students seated in nearby desks. You’re taking college classes, which suggests your problem-solving ability exceeds that of most boiled vegetables. This, in turn, suggests you could figure out the obvious solution: Pull this woman aside and ask her out. But maybe what you’re most interested in is a convenient excuse for spending the rest of the semester staring at the back of her head while drawing little hearts in a notebook, allowing you to feel connected to her without risking rejection. The problem is, this can cause your feelings to fester — to the point where you have such a huge one-sided relationship with her that you become unable to speak to her without seeming creepy. If you do want to date her, ask her out now, before “Wanna knock a few back at Kelly’s bar?” comes off like “You know, you’d look really pretty chained to my cabin wall.”

(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

 

Will you flash mob me?

I’m going to propose to my girlfriend, and it seems there’s this trend of doing crazy, elaborate things to ask a girl to marry you. I know I can’t compete with the guys like the New York City dude I just read about who threw down $45,000 to pop the question. But even if friends help me out for free, I don’t know whether I can make my proposal cool enough to go viral like the Portland guy who had his choreographed and filmed.

— Don’t Want To Disappoint
 

“Will you marry me?” is a pretty powerful question. Asking this of a woman who loves you can provoke tears, and not because you didn’t hire Beyonce to sing “Put A Ring On It” and spend a year training a humpback whale to swim by at exactly the right moment and shoot the ring out its blowhole.

Regarding the proposals you mention, the New York guy is 27-year-old online marketing company honcho Josh Ogle. He wrote on reddit.com that he actually spent around $13K on a lavish proposal evening, starting with his popping the question to Nataliya Lavryshyn on a Manhattan hotel rooftop, decorated for the event with pages of Pablo Neruda’s poetry. This price included $3,500 for a professional “proposal planner” and a $1,500 post-proposal private dinner cooked by a celebrity chef. (Media outlets came up with the $45K proposal cost by adding in the $21K custom-made ring and the $10K post-engagement European “honeymoon.”) As easy as it is to mock the guy for outsourcing his proposal, Ogle is reportedly a self-made multi-millionaire (apparently, after growing up poor while his dad was in prison), so for him, $45K probably spends like $45 does for the rest of us.

The Portland guy, actor and theatrical director Isaac Lamb, pulled together 60-plus friends and family members in an elaborate (and wildly adorable) lip-synched song-and-dance routine to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You.” His girlfriend, choreographer Amy Frankel, listened to the song on headphones from the tailgate of a Honda CRV pulling her slowly down the street while everyone danced in formation behind it. Lamb then got down on one knee and said to Frankel, “You have already given me a lifetime of happiness. Will you let me spend the rest of my life trying to give you the same?” (Not surprisingly, she said yes.)

Although the trend toward extreme proposing is surely the lovechild of reality TV and social media, it has something in common with the mythic quest — an epic mission a man would go on to prove his love and worth to a woman. Of course, these days, the most dangerous journey a man can usually take for a woman is a trip to 7-Eleven on bald tires. So, conspicuous romancing can act as a stand-in proving ground — an extravagant display that a man’s “all-in” and somebody the woman can count on … to keep life exciting and to call a singing, dancing, plumbing flash mob whenever the garbage disposal’s broken.

That said, you’re asking a woman to grow old with you, not auditioning for America’s Got Proposal Talent. If you are “all in,” you probably show your girlfriend that in a lot of little ways every day. Keep in mind that Ogle’s and Lamb’s proposals reflected who they are and will likely continue to be — a really rich guy and an artsy, creative guy, respectively. Your proposal likewise needs to reflect who you are and tell your girlfriend that you get who she is — starting with whether she’s someone who’d be horrified to have an intimate moment like a marriage proposal take place on the Jumbotron.

The truth is, there’s no need for Jumbotrons or trying to hire away the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from some Bar Mitzvah gig they picked up. Even if every one of Lamb’s dancers stayed home in bed, his proposal would have been extremely moving simply because of the words he spoke. Put your effort into telling your girlfriend why you always want to be there to hold her hand, even when it gets all wrinkly. Couple that with an essential element from the elaborate proposers — delighting a woman with the element of surprise. You can do this by planning your proposal around something your girlfriend once said (and will be amazed you remembered) or just by serving her toast a slightly different way: with a heart cut in the middle with the ring inside it. This sort of proposal sends a message — “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you” (not to be confused with “Bet I can get more YouTube hits than that big dog teaching the puppy to go down the stairs!”).

(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).

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