The Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

 

Mystery meet

A man my friend was crazy for just broke up with her. I kind of saw the breakup coming, as I thought they were too different, but she thinks he just falsely advertised who he really is. They met online, and he made himself out to be this guy who loves art and culture, which to her means going to museums, shows and lectures and to him means staying home and making things. She now insists that the only way to meet people is in the activity you want them to be doing. For example, if you want a guy who likes art museums and going to cultural events (which she does), you’d better hang out in an art museum to find a date. I think it’s a mistake for her not to keep online dating, because I think she’ll meet a lot more men.

— Friend Of Stubborn Woman
 

People try to put their best foot forward on dating sites, and rather often, it turns out it’s not actually their foot.

Of course, deceptive self-marketing is not exclusive to online dating, and online dating does offer certain efficiencies that trying to meet a man at an art museum or cultural event does not. For example, people join a dating site specifically because they are looking for a partner. Some man you spot in a museum may also be looking for a partner — his wife, who was right behind him just a room ago.

It sounds like your friend is blaming the Internet because a guy she liked didn’t like her back. They maybe both projected what they wanted on each other and needed to dig deeper to find out who the person they were dating really was. This is what dating is for. It’s supposed to be a process of finding out about a person, not “I baited the hook; I caught the fish; now let’s decide what’s for dinner at the wedding!”

We often don’t need anybody to go to the trouble of deceiving us. We do that really well on our own, like by telling ourselves we’ve found the “perfect person” and ignoring any evidence to the contrary. Instead, there needs to be a vetting process, whether you meet a man online or at an artwalk. It involves asking questions and looking to see who he is and being willing to find out that he isn’t right for you. This vetting is essential because, wherever you meet men, there’s one thing many will have in common: insisting they’re interested in whatever you are if they think you’re hot. Try to help your friend see that holing up in the art museum isn’t the answer. Sure, it might be kismet that Mr. Dreamypants is standing in the lobby right next to her favorite sculpture, or he might just be waiting to enjoy the work of Sir John Harrington, the guy who invented the flush toilet found in the free public bathroom.

 

A mitey love

I’m 5’8”; my fiancé is just at 5’7”. I’m only comfortable when he wears lifts, especially if I’m wearing heels. It may not seem like a big height difference, but when he doesn’t wear them, he feels like my son. I know they’re uncomfortable, and he sometimes doesn’t feel up to wearing them. Mostly, though, he won’t let me see him without them, because he knows I’m way more attracted to him when he’s a tad taller. I feel bad about this, and I’ve prayed that one day, my strong love for him will let me ignore this minor “flaw.”

— Trying To Get Above It

The dream was tall, dark and handsome. Not elfish, dark and handsome. Still, the problem here could be seen another way: You need to be shorter. Unfortunately, accomplishing that is the less practical solution, as it would require a saw. It might help to understand that you want him to be taller not because you’re a bad person but because you’re a product of human evolution. In our ancestral past, height in a man likely had mating and survival advantages. (The short caveman would have been less able to reach the lion with his spear: “Take that, you big meanie!”) As for what to do in the present, elevator shoes might be the solution you’re both looking for. While lifts are inserts stuck into the shoe, mainly raising the heel, elevator shoes, which can be custom-made by a podiatrist, have a hidden platform built in throughout the shoe. The latest models are cleverly designed and appear to be normal footwear. This means that a man needn’t suffer the discomfort of tromping around in heels just to be attractive to his partner. (Next thing you know, he’ll be complaining about the scratchy red lace and underwire digging into his flesh.)

(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

 

The jaws of ex-wife

 

I have had a huge crush on a man for several months and finally asked him out for drinks. During our “date,” he mentioned his friend he wanted to set me up with, and I told him that HE is the person I’m interested in. He laughed nervously and seemed a little shocked. We went back to his place and spent hours just talking. He revealed that he’s dating his ex-wife. She lives four hours away, and he visits her a couple times a month. We’ve since hung out at the pool and had drinks, but he again mentioned that he’s dating his ex-wife. I’ve never been this attracted to a man, and I can’t stop fantasizing about meeting him for much more than drinks! Do I lie low, waiting for him to drop his ex-wife, or do I make a move?

— Magnetized
  

 

There was a reason the guy wasn’t asking you out, and it wasn’t because a cartoon witch put a spell on him and he was unable to say “How about a drink on Friday night?” until three animated teapots and several woodland animals broke the evil curse.

The wisdom of grandmas remains wise: If you want to catch a boy, don’t run after him. As I explain with some frequency, women evolved to be the harder-to-get sex because having sex meant they could end up a single mother dragging a kid around the Sahara. Men coevolved to expect women to be choosier and to suspect that something’s wrong with a woman when she’s doing the chasing. This evolution and coevolution got burned into human psychology over millions of years — as contrasted by the drop in the bucket of human existence that is the women’s movement in the past 50-some years. So, even if a man’s ego is saying “Well, how groovy that she’s pursuing me!” his genes are probably starting a betting pool for whether you are seriously loose, are seriously needy, or will soon be frying up his pet koi and feeding it to him in a little lemon butter sauce.

Assuming some guy isn’t too fragile a flower to lay his ego on the line (in which case he’s lame partner material anyway), if he isn’t asking you out, he either isn’t interested enough or isn’t available enough. You’re now making this guy out to be the greatest thing since the four-slice toaster, probably to justify hanging around like a dog waiting for a scrap of food to get knocked off the counter. (In the wake of making a mistake, we have an unfortunate ego-coddling tendency to come up with reasons it wasn’t a mistake instead of admitting that, in fact, it was, which would allow us to move on.)

Any further date-flavored get-togethers with this man are a bad idea. By continuing to throw yourself at him, you’ll turn your self-respect into a chew toy. And even if he eventually detached himself from his ex-wife, there’s a good chance that, by chasing him, you’ve already screwed up the equilibrium for any relationship. A more productive deployment of your time and ego would be dating that man he offered up as a decoy or finding men on your own — the available kind — and flirting with them, which alerts them that you’re there for the chasing and interested in being chased. Flirting actually allows a woman to make the first move — but far more alluringly than by yelling “Can’t you see I want you, you moron?!” while clubbing a man over the head with the poolside clue phone.

Zero Thumb Game

Do you text a guy after getting home from a fabulous date to hint that you want to see him again? Maybe to tell him how awesome he is or hint at your schedule? My girlfriend says no, but I think a guy should know you liked him so he feels he can ask for a second date.

— Considerate

There are times when a guy knows better than to ask a woman for a second date, like when she ended the first one by throwing herself out of his car while it was still moving. Otherwise, a man doesn’t need hand-holding and encouragement in the form of texts: “Here are all the dates I’m free through 2015. Also, I’m double-jointed. Pick me! Pick me!” When you like a guy, you tell him so during your date by seeming happy and engaged and thanking him for a great time at the end, which suggests you’d be amenable to another date without also suggesting that you’re controlling and desperate. Just because we have all these fabulous high-tech ways of communicating doesn’t mean we should always be quick to use them, tempting as it can be to help a man along to the thought, “Wow … what a wonderful helicopter mom she’ll make someday.”

(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

 

Cleanup in Aisle Home

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for 10 months and living with him and his 12-year-old daughter for half that time. He broke up with his daughter’s mother after she became addicted to coke and then meth. She has been in and out of jail and has a massive number of possessions, loads of which are still here: furniture, little picture frames, small decorative pieces, jewelry boxes full of random junk (earrings, magazine clippings, makeup, little figurines, candy wrappers). When I moved in, I spent days boxing up many of her possessions, but she claims to live in a tiny apartment, won’t divulge where, and refuses to take a single box. She even freaks out at the mention of getting rid of her dumb garden gnomes (which she stole from someone’s yard while high). If my boyfriend tried to make her take her things, she’d have a huge meltdown, putting their daughter in the middle, and he’s submissive to her because of that. I’d put everything in storage, but we don’t have the extra money. My boyfriend’s getting exasperated about this, and I’m thinking I should just drop it. I hate living among all of her things, but I love him so much that I don’t seem to have a choice.

— Smothered

You’re a hard lady to buy a housewarming gift for, as they don’t make plaques that say, “Home is where the heart-shaped jewelry box full of your boyfriend’s daughter’s mother’s candy wrappers is.”

It’s no small thing, having to wake up every day in some other woman’s two-bedroom junk drawer. But like many women, you seem to prioritize your relationship over your feelings and well-being. There are compromises to be made in any romantic partnership, but being gnawingly miserable in order to be happy doesn’t end well, assuming you weren’t looking to live resentfully ever after. Healthy compromise involves expressing your feelings and together figuring out solutions that work for both of you, not keeping your feelings to yourself until clutter control suggestions like “put random stuff in pretty baskets” give way to thoughts like “commit arson.”

There is a way to turn this situation positive — without lighting a match or opening your front door and yelling, “Yard sale!” Use this as your training ground for developing healthier conflict resolution. To bring up how you’re feeling, open with the good stuff — how much you appreciate him and your life together — and then tell him that you’re unhappy living in a house that constantly reminds you of his ex. Let him know that you understand his concern for protecting his daughter but that the solution isn’t submitting to emotional blackmail; it’s talking to his daughter in advance about what you’re doing and why and maybe scheduling a sleepaway for her on the day the trash hits the fan (or, more prudently, the storage unit).

Tempting as it must be to “store” his ex’s things in a landfill, it’s safest to proceed with the expectation that she’ll sue him for that and claim that the bud vase that was under the bed came from the Qing dynasty and not free, with a Wednesday wax job, from the carwash. As for your not having the “extra” money for storage, tending to your feelings, as well as your boyfriend’s, may mean that you both go without lattes or do odd jobs so you stop living as a second-class citizen to two stolen garden gnomes, 17 partially filled shampoo bottles, and all the rest.

University of Chicago law professor Lior Strahilevitz said that the law typically regards a situation like you’ve described as “gratuitous bailment,” legalese for a person’s temporarily holding someone else’s property without benefit or compensation. He suggests that your boyfriend send several emails and texts and leave phone messages telling the ex that she needs to pick up her possessions from the storage facility “within a reasonable amount of time.” (What that would be varies by jurisdiction.) I suggest that you also photograph her stuff and document all the steps you take. According to Strahilevitz, your boyfriend would be wise to hang on to small valuables, like photos and fine jewelry, which aren’t a menace to store. But, he says, “donating or disposing of the furniture and junk after a few months in which emails and calls … asking her to remove the property were ignored probably would not constitute gross negligence,” a scary legal term that merely describes being really careless with someone’s property.

Although, at the moment, one woman’s trash is another woman’s trash, the prognosis looks good for that “another woman” no longer being you. Personally, I’m picturing the winning bidder on Storage Wars dreaming of abandoned art treasure in her unit and finding it — from Rodin’s little-known “garden gnome sitting on a toilet” period.

(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

 

 

Not a mourning person

My girlfriend died in a car accident four months ago, and I fear I’m not grieving the way I should. I was really broken up at first, crying hysterically, and I miss her terribly. I often think of things I wish I could tell her or we could do together, but I’m comforted by remembering all the positive things about us and her, and I’m grateful for the time we did have. Friends are worried, saying that I need to experience grief fully and work through all the stages in order to recover; otherwise, the grief could come back to bite me. I worry that I am suppressing stuff, but I have no idea what. Despite what’s happened, I still like my life and my job. I even find myself laughing at stupid stuff. Am I just in major denial?

— Living
 

Those who care about you are worried that you aren’t wallowing in pain and despair, and they’re maybe even a little suspicious: “Come on, man, who’s keeping you company if not Misery?”

Supposedly, if you really loved somebody, you’ll grieve big, long and showy: retire from personal hygiene, refuse to leave your bed for six months, and only stop sobbing into your pillow to ask somebody to plant weeping willows so even the vegetation will be crying in solidarity. But bereavement researcher Dr. George A. Bonanno points out in his terrific book, The Other Side of Sadness, that there’s no evidence for this belief or a number of widely held beliefs about grieving, like the notion that there are “stages of grief” — five of them — that every bereaved person must go through before they can go on: “Whoops, you flunked anger. Better go back and punch four walls and get in two bar fights!”

The “stages of grief” were based on psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ observations of people who were themselves dying, not those who’d lost someone they loved. “Grieving over the death of a loved one is not the same as facing your own death,” Bonanno points out. He adds that Freud’s notion that the bereaved must do “grief work” to heal — slog through every one of their memories and hopes about their lost loved one (as if sorting a mountain of wet clothes at an industrial laundry) — is unsupported by research, and there’s even evidence that this re-chewing of memories strengthens their connection to the deceased, preventing healing.

Yet another myth is that your failure to go into Scarlett O’Hara-style hysterics in the coffee room every day means you’re postponing your grieving (perhaps until beach volleyball season ends?). In fact, the idea of “delayed grief” — grief as a darkly mischievous force determined to eventually pop up and bite you — is another unsubstantiated idea from one of Freud’s psychoanalytic minions. Studies find delayed grief extremely rare — almost to the point of nonexistence. What your behavior seems to reflect is resilience — healthy coping through putting your girlfriend’s life and death in perspective in ways that help you go on with your life. In other words, if you have a problem, it’s that your friends think you have a problem. The next time they suggest you’re grieving incorrectly, you might reassure them. Tell them you’re in the “bargaining” stage and that you’d feel much better if only they’d stock your fridge with beer and steak, and on their way out, would they mind detailing your car?

 

When bald things happen to good people

I’m a decent-looking guy with unfortunate hair. It’s thinning rapidly and receding to the back of my skull, and topical treatments barely made a difference. I’m now thinking of shaving my whole head, but I’m wondering what women think. Considering my circumstances, what’s my best option?

— Follicular Rebellion
 

Going bald isn’t all bad. If you’re like a lot of men, every time you lose a hair off your head, you’re a hair closer to growing a ponytail out your nose. Although women generally prefer men with hair on their head, there’s a line that gets crossed, and that’s when there’s a desperate little patch on top (a la Prince William) that calls to mind a pointless attempt to grow a vegetable garden in arid countryside. Doing that doesn’t make you look like you have hair; it makes you look like you have hair issues. Shaving your head, on the other hand, projects confidence, suggesting that you’re comfortable enough with your face and yourself to put them out there unadorned. If you go the head-shaving route, consider adding facial hair to make it look like there’s still a little lawn on the property, balancing out the clearing on top. You could try a few styles, take pix, and poll the ladies. Who knows? It might be just the way to meet a woman who longs to run her fingers through your back hair.

(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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