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Amy Alkon


Is This Deceit Taken? I'm a 54-year-old single man. I've discovered a troubling and apparently rampant trend among people around my age doing online dating — women not being honest about their age. I think the women doing this include the woman I started seeing, …Read more. Destitution Wedding A friend asked me to be a groomsman in his wedding. It's being held hours away, and the only hotel is pricey. With tux rental, attending will cost me over $500. I'll also have to miss work. (I'm a waiter.) Is it okay to decline a wedding invitation …Read more. Carbon Dating I am a single 58-year-old woman with a one-year subscription to eHarmony. In the six months I've been on, only two men have contacted me. Of the dozen men I've reached out to, only one responded, and nothing came of it. I'm stumped as to why I'm …Read more. All Is Not Flossed I've gone out several times with a girl I really like, but her breath bothers me enough that I don't want to kiss her until it improves. (It smells like pepper and socks.) She doesn't smoke, eat stinky foods, or have an odd diet (beyond not eating …Read more.
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Pierre Pressure


I'm an 18-year-old woman, recently asked out by a handsome, charming 34-year-old guy from France. He took me out to a nice restaurant, and everything was wonderful until he admitted that he has a girlfriend, though he explained that they always fight and break up. He said he isn't ready to leave or cheat on her, but he is very attracted to me and wants to keep seeing me platonically to see where our "relationship" goes. I believe him but feel like some second option. After dinner, we ended up making out in his car. Things were going WAY too far, so I had him take me home. I really like him, but I don't want to waste my time wanting someone who already has someone, even if he is "confused" about her. — Disturbed

Some men take their monogamy very seriously: "I'm not ready to cheat on my girlfriend. But I might be ready after dessert."

Yes, the guy reeled you in like a dazed trout, but you shouldn't feel too bad about that. In addition to his being an experienced 34 to your inexperienced 18, he's also French. If there's a French national sport, it's probably seduction. (Note that nobody calls making out "North Korean kissing.") French seducers are particularly good at romantic spin, like how this guy told you he wants to "keep seeing you platonically," which, it seems, is French for "grope you behind the restaurant in a car."

The French also tend to be more relaxed about the boundaries of monogamy. In a Pew Research Center poll, when asked whether an affair is "morally unacceptable," only 47 percent of French people said it is, compared with 87 percent of Americans. Former French President Francois Mitterrand's wife even invited his mistress to his funeral, where they stood together over his coffin. Still, even in France, there are lines you just don't cross. In the words of actor Yves Montand: "I think a man can have two, maybe three affairs while he is married. But three is the absolute maximum. After that, you are cheating."

Unfortunately, you missed your cue to activate the ejection seat — the point at which the guy mentioned having a girlfriend. A guy with a girlfriend is a guy who is not available. Not even if he says they're on-and-off and suggests sampling you as a way of deciding whether they should be off-and-off. The problem is, there's a time when this sort of clarity comes more easily, and it isn't when you're in the heat of the moment, having your culottes charmed off by Jean-Claude the Seducer.

You need to go into a date with a set of standards — standards you come up with ahead of time for what you will and won't accept.

If, for example, one of these is "Never become somebody's backup sex," it won't matter that the man in question is very attracted to you and says so with a French accent. As France's big gift to the United States, the Statue of Liberty, says on its base: "Give me your tired," not your "tired of their girlfriends."

You May Now Miss The Bride

My ex-girlfriend and I broke up two years ago, and she's about to marry another guy. I admit that I'm not quite over her, and she knows this, so I'm not invited to the wedding. But we loved each other for many years, so it seems wrong to let such a big life event of hers pass without mention. Do I send a card? A gift? Put in a phone call? — Former Boyfriend

When the woman you love is marrying someone else, it's natural to be of two minds — one that says "Call and congratulate her!" and the other whispering, "Call in a bomb threat to the church on their wedding day!"

Taking the classier approach will actually have benefits for you — even beyond avoiding a lengthy trial and prison time. A growing body of research finds that "walking the walk" — acting the way you'd like to feel — is one of the fastest, most effective ways to change how you do feel. Basically, by acting as if you're over her, you'll help move yourself along to that point. So, yes, write out a congratulatory card. (A gift is unnecessary, and a call might be uncomfortable, especially if you and she end up playing phone tag and her fiance notices 26 messages from her ex.) In the card, you can simply say something like, "Wishing you guys all the best on your wedding day and many years of happiness!" Just avoid getting into specifics on the happiness thing, like how you'll always be there for her: "If your husband ever finds you in bed with another man, I'd like it to be me."

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email ( Her latest book is "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck."



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 — — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. The call-in number during the show is 347-326-9761. This week, Dr. Andrea Brandt on how "mindful anger" can improve every area of your life.


8 Comments | Post Comment
I like this column, it's pretty much the only reason I bother with this site. Too bad it only gets written once a week or so.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Seabeast2
Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:24 AM
LW1 -- You believe him, really? I know you're only 18, but most of the 18-year-olds I know aren't complete imbeciles. The guy tells you he's not ready to cheat on his GF, and then proceeds to...cheat on his GF. Because, you see, that's what he was doing when he was out on a date with you. That's what he was doing when he was getting as far as he could with you in the car. That's what he's doing when he's busy "seeing where this relationship goes." As Amy points out, Americans tend to take a far dimmer view of infidelity than people from a whole host of other countries, including, most notably in this case, France. Apparently your "Jacques" has figured this out, so even though he see no problem whatsoever with cheating on his GF, he realizes that American women likely WOULD see a problem with it, so he has to try to convince them that he really doesn't want to cheat and isn't normally a cheater by nature, it's just that you're just so attractive he can't help himself. And you fell for it. Hook, line and sinker.
As it happens, your primary concern here isn't that he's cheating on his GF with you -- it's that you feel like a second-best option. This suggests to me that you're not so much concerned with his being a cheater, as you are that you're not his No. 1 option. In that case, I have good news for you! The best, easiest way to become his No. 1 option is to go right on doing what you're doing -- keep pretending that what you're doing isn't cheating.
And then, when you are his No. 1 option, do you know what the big prize is? A guy who is almost certainly going to find another stupid or desperate woman with whom he will "see where the relationship goes" while he's "not ready" to cheat on you. Congratulations and enjoy!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:48 AM
LW1 -
This is a player, who knows exactly what to do to give the right impression. This yurunda about keeping it platonic until you can see where the "relationship" is going it to convince you this it not just about sex. The big "confession" about the girfriend, plus the inclusion of how much they're always fighting and breaking up, is to make it look like he's so-o-o honest and trustworthy - AND deserving of sympathy. And it's working like a charm (what's not to like, right?), you're swallowing it up hook, line and sinker.

The reality is that he IS a player. What he wants is to add a sweet young, freshly nubile, barely adult TEENAGER to his roster. And one who is naive and inexperienced enough to swallow his drivel.

And another thing: even if he decides to leave the other for you at one point, what guarantee do you have that he'll not start lining up another sweet young thing as a back-up plan the minute the honeymoon is over? RUN. You can't say you haven't be warned.

P.S.: Are you in the habit of making out with the guy on his back seat on the first date? Sorry, but this is marking you as a cheap sleaze, and will only attract you jerks who have no respect for you - like Mister Casanova there. I know you're very young, but I strongly suggest you start developing some standards and morals.

And, Amy: "when asked whether an affair is "morally unacceptable," only 47 percent of French people said it is, compared with 87 percent of Americans."
Sorry, but they're merely less hypocritical. Of the whopping 87% of Americans clamouring to believe "an affair is morally unacceptable", there is a high percentage of THAT who don't do what they preach. A value you only pay lip service to and don't adhere to in actions is not a value you truly have.

Comment: #3
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:35 AM
LW1: How would it be a waste? Unless your goal is to marry him? Is that it? Do you only date because you're looking for a man to marry you? Because that's really pathetic. At any rate, you already know he's a cheater - if that's what you're into then continue seeing him. I'm sure his girlfriend will be thrilled.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Diana
Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:55 AM
LW1: You're being used. That's IT. I wouldn't have continued it past "I have a girlfriend.....". You need to do the same.

LW2: I've written a few of those types of notes myself. The only advice I would offer in addition to Amy's is that after you write that letter, stop all contact unless your ex initiates it and then ONLY with the approval of her husband.

While I am friends with most of my exes, if they are married, I make sure that their wives/girlfriends know about any communication I have with them. Some are comfortable with me (and have become friends as well), two are not. The ones that AREN'T, ironically, have the worst marriages and I suspect they are "suspicious" of me being friends with their husbands (nothing could be further from the truth). In both instances, I have told the exes that I won't interfere with their marriages and limit contact (yes, even on FB).

There is a time for everything, and now is not your time to be with your girlfriend. That time has passed. You need to move on. The fact that you're not over her is enough reason for me to advise you to stop all contact all together for awhile, to give yourself time to heal and to move on.

Comment: #5
Posted by: nanchan
Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:59 AM
LW1 - It sounds like you have some pretty good self-defined standards for who you think is good dating material, and this guy obviously does not fit them. Amy is right that you missed the first ejection seat button, but you have ample opportunity to refuse all future contact. Consider yourself lucky you didn't sleep with the guy and end up with his kid, acknowledge your mistake and resolve to make your next guy a better choice.

LW2 - If I were in your shoes, I would simply ignore her wedding and let the event go. Maybe in some years when you're married and settled down yourself, you can get together along with your respective spouses and have lunch.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Paul W
Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:08 PM
@Paul -- I'm just wondering where you saw that LW1 had any real standards in place. It kind of looks to me like her requirements are that he be charming, he takes her to a nice restaurant, and he thinks she's hot. I'm unsure as to whether the French accent is also a requirement or merely an added bonus. She also appears to be more "disturbed" (as her signature puts it) that she MIGHT be his second choice than she is by the fact that he's cheating on his girlfriend. I'd say it might be high time to raise her standards a bit (or even just establish SOME standards).
Comment: #7
Posted by: Lisa
Wed Jul 23, 2014 8:12 AM
LW1--What's disturbing is that you're even considering a relationship with someone who was your age when you were two! What could the two of you possibly have in common other than what's between the sheets? Honey, you seem incredibly naive so allow me to explain what's going on. 'Pierre' asked you out under false pretenses because he found you "incredibly attractive." Once he had you out and showed you a wonderful evening, he broke the news about his girlfriend situation and explained how he wanted you as a "platonic" friend in order to appear "honest" and forthright. It was also a bit of social engineering genius because savvy people know that a basic human characteristic is to want what one can't have. In other words, it was a ploy to gain your trust and make him seem like forbidden fruit and therefore all the sweeter. You should have caught on to the game when you were making out in his car after dinner and things went too far. Duh! What did you expect to happen? Sweetie, you're obviously not suave or sophisticated to play in the big leagues so I suggest you steer clear of much older predatory men and date within your own age pool.

LW2--By all means send a card with your heartfelt congratulations and wishes along with a lovely gift. Amy's right; it's the classy and grown-up thing to do. I hope your ex-girlfriend's marriage finally brings you some closure so that you can move on with your life.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Chris
Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:56 PM
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