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Amy Alkon


Whoa Is Me Last year, after I split up with my girlfriend, the law firm I worked for went belly up. I haven't been on a date all year. Friends try to set me up, and I keep giving excuses for why I can't go, but the truth is, I've totally lost my nerve. I'd …Read more. Beard-Death Experience This adorable, smart, funny guy I'm dating was clean-shaven when we first met, but for the past three weeks, he hasn't shaved much. He has this really weird facial hair pattern (like patches on his cheeks that haven't filled in well), and I don't …Read more. MP3's A Crowd I've been dating a girl for two months, and I go back and forth from thinking the relationship has legs to wanting to end it. I just had a birthday, and she got me a new iPod Touch with my name engraved on the back. I told her it was too …Read more. Under New Anger Management When my boyfriend and I started dating, he was kind of a hothead. His first encounter with my friends was a game of touch football on the beach. He and another guy collided, and he lost his temper. There was a good bit of yelling, and I think …Read more.
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You printed a letter from a guy who doesn't want to be a father and wanted to know how to be sure his girlfriend is on birth control. You said, "The single worst form of birth control is trusting that a woman ... longing for a baby" is taking hers (with whether she's ethical being a "mitigating factor"). But you forgot to tell him the magic word — abstinence! In addition to preventing pregnancy, it also guarantees that you won't get STDs or suffer the physically or psychologically damaging effects of premarital sex. Also, where'd you get the idea that women are conniving to get a bun in the oven without informing their partner? Right, we're all baby-hungry, unethical hopeful breeders. — Saved Myself

I like to offer "Don't have sex!" as a form of practical advice — usually just as I'm getting into my flying car.

Yes, abstaining from sex will help a person avoid producing offspring, getting STDs, or breaking a leg after somebody cheaps out on the home dungeon installation. But there's a reason they call it a sex drive, not a sex parked in the garage. Also, the advice "Just don't have sex!" is especially impractical for guys in their hornitoadinous early 20s like the guy who wrote that letter. Sure, he'll just sit his 800-pound libido down for a little chat and then politely decline any opportunity to have sex as if he'd just been offered some questionable hors d'oeuvre.

As for where I got the idea about (some) women "conniving to get a bun in the oven without informing their partner," well, in email I've received from dismayed men paying child support to these women and from research by therapist Dr. Melinda Spohn. Spohn found that more than a third of the 400 women she surveyed at two community colleges had risked pregnancy — surreptitiously going without birth control or sporadically using it when they had sex with men with desirable qualities (like an apparent willingness to commit and good financial prospects).

On a positive note, it isn't only men who are appalled by this behavior. A female reader who wanted a second child but whose husband wasn't up for it wrote, "I can't even remember how many people heard this and said 'well, accidents happen,' followed by a *wink wink.* Seriously, it's disgusting! Even our family doctor said this! I've always been sure to make those people feel about two inches tall by saying that I would NEVER do that to my husband (and honestly, who wants a child this way?!)."

This woman's ethics are the single best guarantee a man has that birth control will be used instead of dropped behind the bed. Meanwhile, many people will tell you they value ethics and then just cross their fingers and hope their partner has them.

The thing to do is to make ethics a requirement, meaning looking for a partner to be OMG ethical!!! the way you look for them to be OMG hot!!! In other words, yes, a man who doesn't want a child should practice abstinence — the practical, doable kind: abstaining from getting into bed with any woman until he's observed that he has reason to trust her. (If he wants something loud, sticky, and expensive in his life, he can buy a Ferrari and drive it over chewed gum.)

Leica Woman Scorned

My girlfriend bought me a digital camera for my birthday. Unfortunately, the one she got me lacked some features I wanted, so I returned it to the store, got the camera I wanted, and paid the difference. When I told her this, I think she was offended. Did I screw up? — Photo-Bombed

When people say about gift-giving "it's the thought that counts," they don't mean the recipient's thought, "Did you find this in the trash?"

Yes, you screwed up — not by ultimately getting the camera you need but by making the one she gave you disappear like a witness about to testify against a drug lord. Turning the gift your partner gave you into the gift you want should be a three-step process. First, there's the effusing — no matter how uneffusive you feel: "Wow, bat excrement!" Then there's the waiting. One day, maybe two days. And finally..."I just love my camera, honey. But there's another one that has this feature I really need — this camera-nerd thing you couldn't have known about. Would you come with me to check it out?" By keeping her involved, the camera you upgrade to becomes, essentially, Son of Camera that she gave you. By the way, that's how you should start talking about your new camera, and fast, before you find yourself using it to take a series of forlorn all-by-myselfies to post on your soon-to-be-live Tinder profile.

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. Michelle Skeen on how to stop letting your fears sabotage your relationships.


6 Comments | Post Comment
"The psychologically damaging effects of premarital sex"? Seriously? Seriously??!!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Mary Clark
Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:56 AM
@Mary Clark: This is really not a serious column. And honestly, even if it were, it actually sounds like the LW *IS* the type of person who could very well be "psychologically damaged" if god forbid they did something they regretted later. Believe me, such people do exist!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Paul W
Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:08 PM
Re: LW1 -- the only people who could be "psychologically damaged" by extramarital sex are those (like the LW) who have bought the idea that it's evil and sinful to be sexually active before some idiot of a minister gives his half-awake blessing to your union, and that you will burn in hell for 1,000 years. I grew up in a community that had a church like this, and many people were indeed damaged, but it wasn't by the sex. It was by the feelings of guilt and moral failure the church had set them up for. Because, you know, they did something fun and interesting which every life form on earth does, like... have sex. I'm surprised the church has not declared breathing to be a sin, because then they could say that literally every living being is a sinner. Oops, never mind, they've already said that.

(BTW, I knew a gay man about ten years ago who had also decided that abstinence was the solution to getting over his desire for gay sex. Ergo, he could now be a good Catholic. He was 40 years old and had only had sex twice in his life . He was the most bored and lonely person I ever met. But he was convinced he was doing the "moral" thing and "saving himself," I guess, for Jesus. Sigh.)

I guess it's not surprising that the woman who wrote in saying abstinence is the answer, is also shocked and disbelieving at the notion that women sometimes (often) stop using birth control in order to get pregnant without their partner's consent. The only way for a man to protect himself against that kind of connivance is to handle the birth control himself. Use condoms. Get a vasectomy. (Freeze some sperm first in case you later change your mind.)
Comment: #3
Posted by: sarah morrow
Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:39 PM
LW1: So you sold your hymen for a ring - good for you - prostitution is the oldest profession for a reason.

LW2: You didn't consider her feelings so yes you kind of screwed up.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Diana
Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:48 PM
Sorry, but advice like that is not going to be followed by someone already sexually active and actively hard in his pants. And no, not all women are conniving to get a bun in the oven to trap a guy, and in fact, most are not. But some are, they have the power to effect an "oops" if the guy doing them is stupid enough to think birth control is not his responsibility.

If some Mister Horny Dude truly doesn't want to end up tied for life to a pregnant one-night-stand, then he should take contraception matters in his own hand - pun intended.

P.S.: "The physically or psychologically damaging effects of premarital sex"? If you really believe that, I think you've suffered some psychological damage yourself.

LW2 -
Frankly, I think when you screwed up is when you opened your big, fat, loud mouth. What you do is thank her profusely, exchange the camera on the quiet and, if she's enough of a shutterbug to actually notice the difference between the two cameras (if she ever sees you use it), THEN you tell her.

Comment: #5
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:19 PM
P.S.: And frankly, if she gets all huffy because you exchanged it for one that wasn't lacking a feature you actually need, then she gives gifts to make herself feel good, not to make YOU happy. Bleah.

Comment: #6
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:23 PM
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