creators home lifestyle web
Amy Alkon


Mr. Throng I'm a 35-year-old woman, and I've been involved with a guy around my age for almost two years. It's been "open." Well, that is, he's had the freedom to sleep with other people. I haven't wanted to. I finally realized that I am not happy with this …Read more. Ben Hurry I'm a woman in my 40s, and I've been happily married for 22 years. Unfortunately, my husband and I have never been very compatible sexually. I had read so much Cosmo in college that I believed sex was something we could work on. Well, he is quick in …Read more. Shove Hurts I've spent hundreds of dollars on a relationship coach, who instructed me to cut off all sex and even all contact with the guy I was dating until he agreed to marry me. I knew he loved me and wanted to marry me; I just wanted him to do it faster. …Read more. Livid And Let Livid You responded to a woman who was very proud of herself for leaving the room to compose herself when she got really angry with her boyfriend. It is very unhealthy to stuff your anger. Why would you give this terrible advice — encouraging her …Read more.
more articles

Shove Thy Neighbor


My commitment-phobic boyfriend of several years is also my neighbor. I resolved to make it work with him and then caught him on FriendFinder exchanging numerous messages with some woman in Tijuana. He claimed he was just being friendly. I asked if he'd correspond with a guy. He responded, "No. I'm not gay." Humiliatingly, I've let him use me for things he can't afford. (He's been unemployed for two years.) He sometimes showers at his tiny apartment but basically uses it for storage. He refuses to move in with me so we could pay expenses with money his grandma gives him for his rent, but he spends all his time at my place (where I pay for everything). He partakes of my cable TV, Internet, food, and beer, and he even eats food I buy specially for my 9-year-old son. Well, he's now my ex-boyfriend. As he's been many times before. What's with him? Is talking to some random woman on the Internet worth losing everything over? — Fuming

Feminists have hammered into us girls that we aren't supposed to sit around dreaming of being rescued by some prince. Somehow, I don't think the alternative's supposed to be opting for the mooch neighbor who eats your kid's food while using your DSL to talk to some chiquita in Tijuana.

Reality, like angry little dogs, often bites. Every day, I wake up wishing for home-invasion housecleaners. But, as much as both Nature and I abhor a vacuum, at a certain point, I have to pull one out, lest my rugs provide shelter to a lot of little things with a lot of little legs. You, likewise, can pretend you've found Prince Charming, but that won't transform your Parasite Charming (not even if you throw both hands into the air and say "Poof!" six or seven times, very energetically).

Why do you keep taking him back? You're probably engaging in "future discounting," an econ term explaining how we're prone to forgo big benefits down the road for a small immediate reward. It helps to recognize that you'll be tempted to go for the quick fix. You'll be lonely some night and want a snuggle, rationalize all the reasons he isn't so bad after all, and before you know it, there'll be a familiar barnacle attaching itself to the beer tap on your hull.

To avoid backsliding, don't rely on yourself to gin up self-control in the moment; use tricks like "precommitment" to your goal, a strategy originated by Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling and recommended by Dr. Roy Baumeister and John Tierney in their book, "Willpower." Precommitment involves setting things up in advance so it's hard to cheat.

Research suggests that two of the most helpful measures are recruiting others to monitor your progress and establishing financial penalties for relapse — the higher, the better. It also helps to give yourself small rewards for daily good behavior. Maybe put aside $5 on each day you don't call him and give yourself occasional lump-sum rewards (like at the two months loser-free mark). The website can help. (You can configure it to forfeit your money to a cause you hate if you fail.) Research from Baumeister's lab also suggests that practicing daily self-discipline unrelated to your goal (say, making yourself a weird green health shake every morning) increases overall self-control. This should increase your self-respect. Which should increase your chances of having a man in your life who sings your praises — stuff like "your lips are like wine," not "your Wi-Fi's, like, free."

Idle Worship

I've been delighted and humbled by my interactions with this girl who goes to my favorite coffee shop. She is in a band and probably has lots of dates and fans, but I keep picturing us together, and not just sexually — making dinner, going on hikes, doing little couple-y things. I'm not sure why she'd want to go out with me, but I can't stop thinking about her. — Fixated

It's the teenage fangirl approach to being a man. (Are your bedroom walls plastered with photos of her that you took while pretending to check your phone?) Here you are imagining this woman running slow-motion through a field of daisies into your arms. The reality: She's walking out of the coffee shop, probably without giving you a second thought. Yes, she might be out of your league. There's a way to know for sure in seconds, and it's by asking her out. Pining over a woman transforms her from a person to an unapproachable ideal. The more you grow your fantasy girl the more impossible it'll be for you to speak to the real deal. If you want an imaginary something in your life, have an imaginary goldfish. Should things go badly, you could make it die an imaginary death and flush it down your imaginary toilet.

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."



It's Advice Goddess Radio! Amy Alkon answers your questions on love, dating, sex, relationships, and manners. Listen live every Sunday from 7-8 p.m. Pacific time, or download the podcast at the link. The call-in number during the show is 347-326-9761. This week, evolutionary sexpert Dr. Catherine Salmon cuts through the political correctness on sex, porn, and “gender.”


7 Comments | Post Comment
LW2 - Yes, you might be rejected, but the trick is to not take it personally. EVERYONE has been rejected for dates at some time in their lives, and it's usually through no fault of their own. Most of my rejections for dates have been because the woman has a boyfriend or even a husband already. I've also gotten the "I'm just not ready to date" or simply, "Thank you, but no." Getting a "no" from one person doesn't mean you're a bad guy or completely undateable.

Look at it this way, if she does say no, then the torturous fantasies in your head will stop. But if she says yes, you'll get what you want. But be careful what you wish for...if you do get a yes, you might soon discover that this woman is not the daisy-running, hiking, cooking, housewifey type you dream of. In fact, she's likely a much different person.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Paul W
Tue Feb 7, 2012 8:01 AM
LW1 -- You are asking the completely wrong question. You asked: "What's with him? Is talking to some random woman on the Internet worth losing everything?" You should be asking: "What's with me? Is the sex and being part of a couple -- even if it is a dysfunctional and idiotic couple -- worth being sucked dry on almost every possible level?" Better yet, you might ask, "what's with me? Is the sex and being part of a couple worth depriving my 9-year-old son of food while providing him with a horrible male role model that also makes me look like a complete chump?" Seriously, if you have to move in order to stop seeing this man, do it. If this were only about you, I wouldn't much care about you continuing to be an idiot -- I'd just say, "gee, I hope the sex is really, really mind-blowingly good" and walk away. But you have a 9-year-old son who needs to see his mother be a strong, independent woman who doesn't need to be part of a couple to be complete, because let's face it, you don't keep taking this guy back for the sex -- you're taking him back because you don't want to be alone. Well, here's a news flash: there are worse things than being alone, and you've managed to find it (and keep taking it back over and over again).

And by the way, if you dump this guy, you open yourself up to the possibility of finding a real man -- one who can be a positive role model for your son. But FIRST you need some alone time to get yourself together. Do NOT use the "but my sone needs a man in his life" excuse to rush right out to find another loser.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Feb 7, 2012 8:10 AM
I wish the Annies would read Amy (or Carolyn Hax) for a look at someone who knows how to deal with a question. LW1 makes me want to tear my hair. Her neighbor is an unemployed, mooching philandering bum who gets rent-money from his grandmother, and somehow the LW has "resolved to make it work." At least she wrote to the right person. The only thing I'd add to Amy's response is "your resolving to make it work doesn't obligate HIM to make it work." Or maybe she's just addicted to the sweet smell of failure.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Tue Feb 7, 2012 8:11 AM
LW2 -- you have committed one of my advice column pet peeves: you wrote in to an advice columnist without actually asking a question. But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that perhaps Amy and/or her editors saw fit to edit out the part where you actually asked something, and I'll assume that you either asked, "how do I make myself stop thinking about her," or "how can I get up the nerve to ask her out?" As Paul W has said, asking her out solves your problem. Either she says no, and the endless thinking about her likely will end, or she says yes, and you get to find out if reality lives up to fantasy. I hope you're not disappointed!
Comment: #4
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Feb 7, 2012 8:16 AM
What the hell are you writing for? Nobody, neither Amy nor anybody around you or any of us BTL, is going to have a magic wand to turn your warty frog into a prince. What's with him? Very simple, since he evidently has no pride and no principles, why shouldn't he take advantage of all that's being shoved in his face? Why shouldn't he, since there are always idiots like you who will do anything-anything-ANYTHING rather than not have a man in their life. 100 years of women's lib and we still have the likes of you around. Yrrrrch. Women like you make me sick.

In case you want advice... I don't think so, because you know perfectly well what you have to do: give this mooching grandmama's boy the permanent heave-ho and MOVE clear across town without leaving a forwarding address.

And Lisa is right - what's with YOU, exposing your son to this yurunda? I think you need to not only move across town, but find a competent therapist to get to the bottom of your self-esteem issues, if only so you can become an adequate mother.

Are you capable of living in the real world? Then I would suggest you stop acting like a pre-teen-in-love-with-the Beatles, start acting like a man and ask her out if she's so much to your fancy. Otherwise, your little bout of fantasising could well turn into stalking over time.

Comment: #5
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Feb 7, 2012 8:35 AM
Anyone hear ever read Jimmy the Bartender? He's an advice column for guys, used to run in Men's Health magazine. My brother had a whole book of his column when we lived at home. Anyways, he once fielded a question like LW2, and told an amusing story about a regular at his old bar who mooned over a young woman who came in once a week or so for THREE YEARS. He never spoke to her, but constantly spoke to Jim about how awesome she probably was, etc. Well finally, he takes the plunge and approaches her. A minute later, he's back at his stool, explaining "she's not my type." Point being, you never know till you try. How much time do you want to waste?

LW1: What's wrong with HIM? Well, I think for some people, they get really pragmatic about life. They decide the sense of pride one gets by providing for oneself is difficult and expensive. Pride can be a very expensive feeling. He's decided it's cheaper and easier to live off others. I would also bet that he's ruled by his emotions, and could easily justify chatting up a woman online with "getting carried away" or somesuch, as if that doesn't make it his fault. And I won't come down on you too hard, because I'm sure I've been there before too, hoping and hoping someone will change. It also sounds like he was working when you first got together, and this parasitism developed later..but here it is for you. You may as well end it.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Jers
Tue Feb 7, 2012 9:54 AM
Some people like being needed, even though they bitch about it they like it, and LW1 likes it. Either that or she's a female John that pays for sex and companionship; people get conpanionship from prostitues all the time, but most of them realize it's not exclusive and is just a business deal.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Kim
Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:14 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Amy Alkon
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month