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Amy Alkon


The Fastidious And The Furious My boyfriend of nine years is extremely messy, while I prefer things tidy and clean. Cajoling, asking, and flat-out begging him for consideration and help on this hasn't worked, nor have tactics like establishing certain areas for clutter. He …Read more. Serf's Up! My boyfriend works at a hardware store and can fix things, and in the past six months, his sister and her husband have asked him to install their new kitchen faucet, mend their fence (with the husband's help), and assemble a lawnmower. They are …Read more. Save The Wails Are guys scared of politically active women? My boyfriend of two months just broke up with me over my support for animal rights, and I've generally had difficulty keeping boyfriends because of this. This boyfriend was bothered by two incidents. In …Read more. Fool Disclosure On a business trip, I drank WAY too much with some work friends and ended up kissing a random girl I met at a bar, despite my having a girlfriend I love very much. I feel horrible. Until now, I'd never cheated on a woman. Is it crazy to want to …Read more.
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Abstain Removal


For my New Year's resolution, I committed to not having sex for the first six months of the year and then another six months from whenever I start dating someone. I've never been good at waiting. In fact, the longest I have ever waited is a month and the shortest (and perhaps more typically) is a few hours. In early January, I met a guy, and I've been seeing him weekly, though I think I'm being friend-zoned. He is attracted to my polar opposite (short blondes) and has shown no sexual interest in me. Yet, we continue meeting up, and he even buys me dinner and drinks from time to time. Am I wasting my time, or is this how long-lasting, meaningful relationships start — as friends first? — Reformed But Confused

You could tell guys you require a lot of foreplay. Like from winter to the end of spring.

The third-date rule for having sex isn't set in stone, but most guys won't go for the 30-date rule, which means good men you want may take themselves out of the running. You also shouldn't strain your arm patting yourself on the back for sticking to your sexual famine edict thus far, considering that you've succeeded in not having sex with a guy who shows no interest in having sex with you. Chances are, this guy is just running low on the type he is into — short blondes — and realized he could treat you to meals or go alone and spend the evening making witty remarks to his dinner roll.

There actually are good reasons not to have sex right away, even for those of us who don't come from a culture where virgins get traded for a bolt of cloth and herd of goats. Research by anthropologist John Marshall Townsend suggests that even women with no interest in a relationship that lasts beyond sunup are often surprised to wake up finding themselves pining for more. This is possibly due to the effect of oxytocin, a hormone associated with emotional bonding that's released in men and women through hugs, cuddling, kissing, and especially orgasm. In males, however, sexual activity boosts testosterone, which plays the part of riot cop, refusing to let oxytocin up to its receptor. There's a dearth of studies on these hormones' effect on post-sex bonding, but experience should tell you that men who have sex before they have any emotional attachment tend to make like the Roadrunner shortly afterward (though usually without the "meep-meep!" and the Acme anvil falling on your head).

The answer isn't putting an arbitrary time lock on your ladygarden.

Instead, try something new — the grownup-wanting-a-relationship strategy: prioritizing long-term goals over short-term romps and assessing whether a man is right for you with the organ equipped with brain cells. You need to come up with standards for what you want in a partner and take time getting to know a man so you can see whether he meets the essential ones. You should also inventory all of his less-than-ideal qualities and see whether you can live with them. Do your homework figuring out who a man is and you'll find that you just know when it's the right time to have sex with him — even without anybody holding Senate hearings on whether to restore visitor access to your funparts.

Taking Her Down A JPEG

The girl I'm dating is pretty, funny, and exciting to hang out with, but I noticed that she always poses for photos EXACTLY the same way: left side to the camera, hand on hip, head slightly dipped, smiling slightly. On her Facebook page are dozens of photos like this, same smile, same pose. It seems to be incredibly shallow to need to stage every photo the same way. Should I see this as a red flag? — The Boyfriend

The reality is, inner beauty alone usually isn't enough, which is why Estee Lauder got rich selling face cream and not books by Gandhi. Women, especially, are judged by their looks. Chances are, your girlfriend recognizes this, along with how indelible a photograph can be these days, in The Age of Uploading. The thing is, you can clean out your closet and burn shoeboxes of photos; it's harder to clean the Internet's closet of that shot that makes you look like you eat oats out of a bucket. In figuring out a photo face and sticking with it, your girlfriend has some company. (Google "people who make the same face in every picture.") As for whether you have anything to worry about — from either shallowness or insecurity on her part — look at the big picture: whether she shows an active interest in you and your welfare or whether she's too busy prepping a pose for the paparazzi waiting for her outside Pizza Hut.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email ( Alkon is the author of "I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle To Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society."




25 Comments | Post Comment
LW1: Hmmmm. This is interesting and I'm not sure I agree with Amy's answer here.

There HAD to be a reason why this LW has decided to abstain from sex, and that would be my first question to her. It sounds like she's rushed into sexual relationships before, for whatever reason, quite a bit and maybe she's seeing that that hasn't worked for her.

Personally, I think timelines are kind of ridiculous, but in my experience, if you don't abide by those promises that you make to yourself, the self-recrimination WILL come and will most likely last longer than the potential pleasure of breaking that promise.

SO, my advice to the LW would be to rethink why you made that promise to yourself. Re-live the regret that made you decide to make that decision. It had to be pretty severe.

And then, COMMUNICATE THIS WITH YOUR FRIEND!!!!! I don't think keeping this as a secret is a good idea, he probably has no idea if you are attracted to him, or what.

Expect him to take this as a challenge, every guy I've ever met will step up the woo-ing when told that there is a timeline because then it becomes a game to him. But you have to stand firm. This is about your INTEGRITY. If you buckle down under the pressure quickly, he will know that in every other area of your life you are ready to compromise.

And, FWIW, I would suggest that you stop allowing him to buy you dinner and drinks. I have a lot of guy friends who buy me dinner/drinks, but they all know nothing physical is going to happen and most of THEM are married or involved with someone else. What you are doing right now is dating with this guy, and I think that has to stop. If you want to meet him for drinks or whatever, you should pay, and you should treat it like time with any other "friend" you have. It's not fair to him to think that you are interested in a sexual relationship when you have a far more serious relationship you need to build, that with yourself.

LW2: I don't think I've ever heard of anything so ridiculous from both sides. Who the heck POSES for every photo? Sure there is a side I usually give for a photo, but my favorite photos are the ones where I'm caught unaware. And who the heck checks for a POSE? You both sound a little superficial to me.
Comment: #1
Posted by: nanchan
Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:43 AM
Hey Amy - The RoadRunner NEVER had an anvil fall on his head.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Paul W
Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:55 AM
Paul W, Amy didn't say the guy--aka Road Runner--would be the one with the anvil-on-head. She said "your head", as in the LW, the female who would presumably be the "opponent" of such meep-meep fleeing action, trying to prevent it--aka Wile E. Coyote. ;)
Comment: #3
Posted by: Francie H
Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:02 PM
I think an analysis of road runner cartoons is likely to be the most intelligent thing to grace Creators pages in weeks.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Jpp
Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:00 PM
LW1: I take it you don't normally have male friends. Well, now you do - enjoy. Not every encounter with a male has to lead to sex or marriage. You need to learn how to enjoy life and the people in it without thinking what people can do for you.

LW2: Shallow? No. Insecure with a touch of low self-esteem? Yes. Guess what? You're dating a real life girl and not a blow up doll. All humans are damaged in one way or another so if you're looking for perfect then you're going to die alone. The key is figuring out what you can live with and what you can live without.

Comment: #5
Posted by: Diana
Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:47 PM
LW1--I don't understand people who make up stupid rules for themselves. If you're into having sex with someone then do it, if not, don't. Just don't force some innocent guy who you're interested in to be an unwilling participant in the little mind games that you're playing with yourself. It seems to me that sex isn't your problem, rather low self-esteem coupled with impulse control. For that I would suggest counseling with someone who specializes in impulsive behaviors. In the meantime, society thanks you for not breeding.

LW2--You strike me as incredibly shallow for taking exception to how your girlfriend poses for pictures. Really?!? Personally I would prefer your girlfriend's more decorous approach to selfies to the myriad topless, drunken and genitalia shots overflowing the stupid social media sites of young people these days. Grow up!
Comment: #6
Posted by: Chris
Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:38 PM
LW1 - I'm with Nanchan up to a point, but I don't share her conclusion or recommendations.

Your decision to abstain from sex for six months plus six months plus whatever, came about for a reason. I would expect it was a reaction (read: overreaction) to some past behavior on your part. You jumped into bed too fast in the past, so you made the sex-free promise as a kind of counter-direction.

The problem is that your promise was arbitrary and weird, accomplishes nothing really, and makes no sense. So I would agree with Nanchan on one point only, that you should review why you made the promise. After that, you should take it down a peg. Shrink the period of enforced abstinence. Remind yourself that you can change your mind. It is allowed. Then promise yourself something more reasonable, like a month without sex.

Or if you really want to be abstinent (and get a gold star or whatever you've promised yourself when the time is up), stop dating till your period of abstinence is done. To be blunt, no man who's interested in sex is going to wait a year (six months plus another six months). The only type of partner you'll attract with your peculiar behavior is someone who's not interested in sex, or not interested in sex with women.
Comment: #7
Posted by: sarah morrow
Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:46 PM
Amy -- There are men out there that have the "grownup-wanting-a-relationship strategy" too, their not just after sex, but sex is a big part. Some women expect sex on the first, second, third date and if a man doesn't try then they think he isn't interested. Not all me make like the Road Runner after sex. Women do hold all the cards when it comes to sex and they can play those many different ways to win -- ie get what they want. If your looking for a long term relationship you shouldn't have sex until you get to know them. My Singles Coach said that takes 300 hours of time together, but you are the one that knows or feels when the time is right.
@ nanchan -- you said "Re-live the regret that made you decide to make that decision." I like that and it may have not been only one thing that made them regret it. When I was dating I passed up sex many times on the first or second date thinking this wasn't the way to a long term relationship and it probably isn't. But by doing that I missed out on a lot of sex -- a huge regret. Did that put any more eggs in my basket as far as obtaining my goal -- No. Each person needs to figure out what works best for them, I learnt not to ever pass up sex when offered. There are women and men that are just after sex -- those are the types you just have sex with.
Comment: #8
Posted by: J
Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:48 AM
Re: sarah morrow (7)

Well, of course I disagree with you. You write "To be blunt, no man who's interested in sex is going to wait a year (six months plus another six months). The only type of partner you'll attract with your peculiar behavior is someone who's not interested in sex, or not interested in sex with women."

That is JUST not true.

I dated two men long term (two years plus) without having sex with them. One I was engaged to for six months. Why didn't we have sex? First of all, he is VERY interested in sex and in women so that blows your theory right out the window.

And no, he's not a religious fanatic, in fact he's not even of the same faith as I am, so that blows the theory that we are whacked out religious nuts out the window.

And it wasn't me holding out, or him holding out. It was a MUTUAL decision.

So again, why didn't we have sex?

We've known each other as friends for over 20 years and have seen each other go through relationships, indeed marriages. Through that time, we've remained extremely close friends. There was ALWAYS something there, and a few times in that period of time, we dated, we made out, we came close to sleeping with each other, and then something held us back.

When we started dating seriously, he told me immediately that he was dating me with the intent to marry. This was not a casual dating relationship and we both knew it. We went through a period of full disclosure, it was serious dating with serious work that we had to do. We discussed building a LIFE together.

Part of that was abstaining from sex until we were married. From my standpoint, I was very honored that he would honor ME in that way. He has always been serious about our relationship and he is old school enough to want to wait until we get married.

It doesn't mean he's not interested in sex, trust me on that!

Also, you seem not to have read the letter very well, because the LW also writes "I committed to not having sex for the first six months of the year and then another six months from whenever I start dating someone." So even if she doesn't date for 6 months, she's still committed to abstaining for 6 months from the start of a new relationship.

J - I've said it before and I'll say it again. You need help. You seem to attract a particularly sleazy type of woman. Most of the women I know don't want to sleep with someone on the first date or if they do, they are doing it with a lot of guys.

As for passing up a lot of sex, why is that a regret? You regret potentially getting a social disease? Regret having your heart broken YET AGAIN when you figure out that a woman who will disrespect her body enough to sleep with someone on the first date will sleep with anyone on the first date?

If you want sleazy chicks, that's great, but then don't write here bitchin' and moanin' about how you can't find a decent woman.
Comment: #9
Posted by: nanchan
Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:16 AM
@ nanchan -- you get up on the wrong side of the bed or didn't get any last night? Stating facts -- not bitchin' and moanin' and for your info I'm not looking for a woman; 15 years of that was enough. nanchan not all the women I went out with wanted to have sex on the first, second, or third date -- which I thought was a good thing. You didn't read my post very well -- read the last sentence. You learn to turn your emotions off with those types that's how you keep from getting your heart broken -- that's what women taught me. When I was looking I didn't want "sleazy chicks" I only wanted one and that one to have morals and values and that loved sex. Why is it a regret? Because I love sex, but felt/had the belief it should be with the one you loved.
sarah morow -- made a good point about getting a "gold star" A healthy red blooded man that's interested in sex isn't going to wait a year for sex.
Comment: #10
Posted by: J
Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:50 AM
J - you JUST proved my point. You really need help.
Comment: #11
Posted by: nanchan
Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:32 AM
@ nanchan -- you must think all attractive, full-figured women must be sleazy, I know that they aren't. And for your info one of those "people" you seek help from told me there were escort services that took care of people's needs. I thought are you nuts?
Comment: #12
Posted by: J
Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:28 AM
LW1 -
I dunno, man, unless you're one of those born-again virgins, I don't see what your little self-imposed rule is accomplishing here, especially since Amy is right when she says you are applying it to someone who doesn't seem to be particularly interested.

You don't give your reasons why... I expect you've jumped into bed too early before and it's caused you grief, but you're going overboard about how to fix it. Extremes are never good, there is a happy middle here.

Personally, I think sex should enter the equation reasonably early in the relationship (around date #3 sounds like a plan, whatever feels natural), if only to eliminate the ones who are REALLY not compatible before anyone grows too attached.

Many years ago, I remember a guy I went out with a couple of times before I let him stay for the night... Oye vey. Having sex with him was like being assaulted by a power drill with the hiccups. Worst f*ck in my life. This may sound shallow, but developing a long-term relationship with him would have turned me off sex completely. And he exhibited ZERO interest as to whether or not I had enjoyed it. It was really, really, REALLY not possible. Better to find out about things like that early. For everybody concerned.

LW2 -
And why would such a trifle detail matter to you, to the point where you write an avice columist about it? Sure looks like a red flag to ME.

Comment: #13
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:18 AM
"being assaulted by a power drill with the hiccups. "

Didn't Wile E. Coyote use just such a machine on several occasions?...
Comment: #14
Posted by: Paul W
Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:46 PM
Re: Paul W
Yeah, but not for sex...;-D
Comment: #15
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:38 PM
It's the LW herself that is feeling like she's being friend-zoned, so clearly her opinion is that by waiting she's losing a chance at this guy, and it sounds like she's probably right. But it also doesn't sound like they are dating exclusively -- maybe they are dating casually because it seems she doesn't think she's the only woman this guy is seeing.

It's communication time -- has she made it clear that she'd like to "date-date" him rather than "friend-date" him? She should do what my friend always likes to tell people,"use your words!" Right now, the LW seems to be basing everything on assumptions -- she assumes that because she's not his "type" that he's not interested, yet he keeps taking her out for drinks and dinner. So... ask him. Is this going anywhere? Are we just friends? Find some way to have that conversation.

Now, as for the 6-months rule, I think that's pretty arbitrary, and it might be better served by translating that into a "number of dates" rule. Because you can see somebody several times a week for a month or two and know them a LOT better than someone you date twice a month for six months. Really, you should be thinking about this in terms of the quality and quantity of time you've spent with someone, more than anything else. And if you feel you need to be cautious, you can still factor that into your equation without needing a full 6 months before you feel like you know the tenor of your relationship well enough to "take it to the next level".

If you are seeing someone regularly and frequently, then 6 months does seem like a bit of a stretch, although I suppose not horribly so. I do find it unlikely that truly straight men would wait a year or more under such circumstances, unless they were particularly religious (or were closeted gay men -- plenty of those I've met in the bars!). Unless, of course, they weren't dating exclusively, either, I guess -- that's another possibility.

Not that the physical interaction is the only important thing, of course -- but in terms of a budding romantic relationship, it is still pretty gosh-darned important, and it would be difficult to waste a year or more on building a relationship only to find that it turns out you aren't physically compatible, and you could have found that out months ago.

Still... everyone's a little different, and every relationship's a little different, so I think most of us fall in the middle somewhere -- not falling into bed too soon OR taking too long -- and that's probably just about right.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Mike H
Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:23 AM
Mike, I think you and most of the others here are missing a HUGE part of the first LW's situation.

She has decided, for whatever reason, that worked for her in the past (sleeping with someone based on "feeling" it was right) wasn't working for her. If it HAD worked for her, she wouldn't have come up with that six month timeline. She HAD to have come up with that timeline because there had been pain in the process before she did that.

It's kind of like when you put yourself on a diet, or a strict budget. Do you just go out and eat that cake today because it won't be around tomorrow if you don't eat it, even if it doesn't fit into your diet plan and you KNOW it will blow your diet? Do you buy that purse on sale even though you don't want to charge anything new on your credit card?

If a man can't wait SIX MONTHS to have sex with someone, in my opinion, he's not worth sleeping with in the first place! What a selfish PIG! What if the LW had some kind of medical condition, or was recovering from a particularly brutal relationship (which sounds very likely, given the circumstances)?

You, and the rest of this thread, seem to think that this woman is doing something WRONG to abstain and it's not WRONG at ALL!!!!! At times in our lives, it's very SMART to abstain from sex.

I'm beginning to think that a lot of the people here are Creators are seriously deficient in appreciating the pain that some of these people go through.
Comment: #17
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:12 PM
Re: nanchan
You know, nanchan, it *is* possible to disagree without devolving into belligerence. I, for instance, am presently disagreeing with you *without* screaming, calling you ridiculous, deficient or any other name. That last paragraph was uncalled for.

Comment: #18
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:54 AM
Lise, kiss my grits. I didn't call you out. If anyone is "uncalled for" it's YOU and your constant bashing of me.
Comment: #19
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:14 PM
Oh, and a little reminder for you, Lise.


Stop acting like the posting police.

Have a lovely day, Cupcake!
Comment: #20
Posted by: nanchan
Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:17 PM
@nanchan, I think YOU are the one missing the most important part of LW's situation -- SHE is the one who believes her decision about when to have sex *isn't working out well for her*. That's kind of the whole point of her letter. Or else she wouldn't mention it at all, really.

Note I didn't denigrate her decision, either, I just suggested she think about it in a different way. So you're kind of disagreeing with a point I didn't actually make (not a surprise, given your goal seems to be more about stirring up trouble than just enjoyable conversation).

But it's the LW's own take on this situation that this dating relationship isn't working out and she suspects it's her hard-and-fast rule about sex (or lack thereof) that might be contributing to the problem. And she might be right, she might be giving off an "unavailable" vibe, or she might be sending mixed signals -- but ultimately the way she is going to find out what future the relationship might or might not have has little do with sex and more to do with communication -- as in, she needs to ASK him what's going on. Which was the main point of my comment.

As for being deficient, nanchan, since you are someone that regular insults other commenters first, goes on the attack first, makes insulting comments needlessly (exactly like the "deficient" comment, although the last week or so of your contributions in Creators are peppered with other examples), it seems like you feel perfectly free to discount the humanity of your fellow commenters *all the time*.

Seems extremely hypocritical to point fingers at others for "not appreciating the pain the LWs go through" when the LWs almost never read these comments; but you feel free to CAUSE insult and pain to other commenters, who *will* read these comments. So you pretend to show compassion for those who probably will never know the difference, but you show no compassion whatsoever for those you interact with directly. Doesn't seem a particularly nice habit, nanchan, nor does it seem to be the least bit Christian.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:26 AM
@nanchan, #19, Lise didn't say you were calling HER out. You were obviously making a gratuitous insult towards me. It was completely uncalled for, had nothing to do with your argument, and was simply you being petty -- and Lise is as free as any other poster to comment on your comments.

#20, you're not the moderator EITHER. So again, *anyone* can respond to *any* of your comments at *any* time, nanchan. You don't have the right to stop anyone from giving their opinion. Of the letters, or of your comments about the letters. So stop trying to police everyone in a way you yourself don't want to be policed. You've always had a problem with trying to enforce a standard on others that you don't follow yourself. And the last week shows that hasn't changed at all.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Mike H
Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:29 AM
Re: nanchan
My oh my, such a Pinatubo explosion from someone who's not supposed to be reading my posts...

And if you want to talk about moderating, nanchan, I remember that one post to me a very long ago where you admitted that, when you first started posting, that you thought I was the moderator. No doubt you would dearly like new posters to mistake YOU for the moderator, since you keep behaving as if you had that authority... which would explain why you're projecting again, seeing that I've never tried to dictate to posters how they can post, how often, for to whom.

Comment: #23
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:52 PM
Clearly this is David Beckham writing in to complain about his wife Victoria "Spice Girl" Beckham's standard photo pose.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Mike B.
Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:08 PM
Clearly this is David Beckham writing in to complain about his wife Victoria "Spice Girl" Beckham's standard photo pose.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Mike B.
Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:08 PM
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