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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.
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You Lite Up My Life


This man I've been dating didn't want anything serious. I don't either. I explained that I just wanted to hang out and have fun. We were going out several times a week, sleeping together at least once a week. Suddenly, he freaked, worrying I'd get attached. I reinforced that I absolutely don't want anything serious, but he seemed unconvinced. He went away on business and called the day he returned, and we hung out and slept together. The next day, he said we needed to slow things down because he wasn't feeling we were getting closer. (Isn't that the point of not getting serious?!) The whole thing started making me feel bad. I blew him off, and now — crazily enough — he's calling, texting, asking to see me again. Where do we go from here? — Baffled

File you under "too good to be true." When you tell a man "I just wanna hang out and have fun — sometimes naked," you actually mean that. It is not secret womancode for "Love me, or I'll cut up your shirts, set your lawn on fire, and stand under your window at 3 a.m. screaming, 'MY UTERUS IS BAAAARE!'"

He must've been pretty bewildered: "Come on...shouldn't you at least be trying to key my car?" Because so many women seem unable to keep things casual — even when they're sure casual's all they want — men tend to assume that's how all women are. But, there are outliers, and you're one of them. The problem was convincing him of that. Sure, you kept saying "no strings attached," but he figured you just had your hands full weaving them all into a big net.

He, on the other hand, is a man who knows exactly what he wants: "None of that mushbucket stuff!" Until he doesn't know: "Hey! Where's my mushbucket?!" It seems the main thing he wants is to be in control. So, when it became clear you wanted things casual, he kind of blew you off — probably your cue to throw yourself at him — but you yanked him off his game yet again by blowing him off right back. (Men, especially, are compelled to ditch what's chasing them and chase what's trying to ditch them.)

The guy essentially set up a hamster wheel and then complained that the hamster wasn't getting anywhere. Unfortunately, people are messy. Part of what's messing him up may be the romantic mythology that says "fireworks or nuthin!" — that a relationship isn't legit unless it's "going somewhere." (You can't just plan something for Tuesday and, if that goes okay, maybe see a movie on Thursday.) As for where you go from here, a frank talk is in order: Can he handle the casual thing he thinks he wants — or is he a closet committer? If he can live without the promise of a future, you can probably have some good carefree fun in the present: "I love the way you hold me; I love the way you make love to me; I love the way that, afterward, you get out of bed, get in your car and go to your own house."

Stare Way To Heaven

A guy wrote you about a girl he sees at a coffee shop — a girl he suspects is out of his league.

You said the way to know for sure is by asking her out. Bad Advice Goddess! This suggests that he should regard all women with whatever she's got — like if she's "too beautiful" — as out of his league. That just isn't right. There's probably a "too beautiful" woman out there who'd go for him. — Irked

"Sky's the limit!" "You can do anything you set your mind to!" These are fantastically inspiring things to tell a person — when he's about to enter preschool and you're trying to teach him to use the potty. As an adult, you realize that the sky is not the limit. In fact, you sometimes realize that your life is taking place in the crawl space between the third- and fourth-floor apartments — or that you'll never get a date, because you are Joe Ordinary but refuse to consider any girl who's less than a 9.95. As for this guy, I didn't advise him to avoid all beautiful women; I told him to stop slobbering into his latte and ask his crushgirl out. A guy who endlessly pines away either hasn't worked through his social awkwardness or is after somebody out of his league — and knows that — and pining allows him to pretend he's in the game without risking rejection. Rejection can be a good thing; it tells you where you fall on the "What kind of woman can I get?" scale — allowing you to either try to improve your mate value or make the required trade-offs to have dates with women you don't have to inflate with a bicycle pump.

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 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. Roy Baumeister on why willpower is the key to success in numerous areas in life and what you can do to increase yours.


12 Comments | Post Comment
LW1: Where do you go from here? Wherever the heck you want! Clearly, you're in a place where you can take it or leave it where this guy is concerned. So, I'd say it's probably high time you left it, since you say the whole situation started making you feel bad. I mean, if there isn't something about this guy that makes you really want to be with him, why bother?

LW2: I have to be honest, I remember the letter but I don't remember Amy's answer (and Miss Pasko isn't here to do one of her PSAs). So, just going off what YOU said was Amy's advice, I'm trying to figure out how you managed to interpret the suggestion that he go ahead and ask her out as suggesting that she -- and all women like her -- are out of his league. Your letter really doesn't make any sense. The only way to know whether someone will go out with you -- regardless of whether they're "too beautiful" or really ugly -- is to ask the person out. If the person says no, then it merely means that that particular person isn't interested in dating you. It doesn't mean that all people who somehow resemble that person -- all blondes? all computer geeks? all fitness freaks? all people wearing blue shirts? -- also are not interested in dating you.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:40 PM

You rang? LW2 refers to the second letter on 7 February 2012.

Comment: #2
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:16 PM
Miss Pasko, you're the best!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Lisa
Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:43 PM
LW1 -
It's not that he doesn't want anything serious. It's that he doesn't want to WANT anything serious. In other words, what he wants to want is the opposite of what he REALLY wants. Sounds confusing? That's because he himself is - and not being honest with himself, let alone you.

Chances are that if you started "getting closer", he'd be the first to freak and run like a bat outa hell. Been there, seen that.

LW2 -
Speaking of confused... you're not making sense. How is daring to ask the woman out, suggesting in any way that every beautiful woman is "out of his league"? Unless there was a huge editing boo-boo, you understood the opposite of what was written, I think.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:51 AM
LW1 - Four words: He doesn't want you. Everything else is irrelevant.

LW2 - I have no idea what you're trying to say, or why.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Paul W
Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:55 AM
LW1, if he doesn't want you I'll take you!
Comment: #6
Posted by: TJ
Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:36 AM
LW1: Long version: What Alkon said, except that the “frank talk” is a waste of time.

Medium-length version: This is a textbook case, a well-known and well-mapped pattern. He can't stand it that you can stand to be without him. He wants to sucker you back in, manipulate you into feeling closer (which he thinks means “needier)--and then dump you, rather than allow you to dump him by implication. To him, it's a zero-sum game, and nobody is on his team. Logically, that can only mean that you are an opponent, not a partner. If he can't “win”, he will feel that he has “lost”. Therefore, he must arrange for you to “lose”, so he can walk away as the “winner”.

This is because, in his secret heart of hearts, he knows he is a loser.

Short version: RUN!

LW2: I don't always trouble to follow Miss Pasko's directions back to the original, because either I don't care enough about the #3 letter (or 2 in this case) to bother, or I remember the OP well enough without help, or the rehash is sufficiently comprehensible w/o backtracking. But this one is a good example of a rehash letter eliciting only WTF responses because it makes absolutely no sense on its own merits. Re-reading the original makes it clear that Irked simply lacks reading comprehension skills; and that means we need pay no further attention to the rehash. So Miss Pasko is in fact performing a public service, and I don't want to hear any more about that. I have spoken. >:-[
Comment: #7
Posted by: Khlovia
Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:07 PM
Re: Khlovia
Another possibility is, as I suggested, that he wants to want something that he can't handle.

When I said "been there, seen that"... There was this (also a singer) boyfriend briefly, who certainly looked like he wanted to get REAL close, with all his talk of him being my official boyfriend, and all the things we were going to do together in the future... When the truth of it was, he was never serious to start with, but didn't want to see himself as the kind of man who has a fling (as if there was anything wrong with that), he needed to see himself as a man with whom every relationship with a woman is serious, otherwise he's an alley cat without morals. And so he preferred lying to himself and giving me this grand academy awards performance, putting on a show of something that was always nothing but a pretense. I guess he was a performer always, on and off-stage. He broke my heart.

Then a long-time friend of mine was visiting, in the company of another friend of his whom I also knew, who was also going through a broken heart episode. We sort of fell into each other's arms in consolation - that's when I learned that sex is the best remedy for a woman's broken heart (especially good sex), as it detaches you.

The relationship started as a light, fun FWB thingie. He was fun to be with and spectacular in bed, which sure is a bonus. Then he started claiming to want to go to the next level. I didn't raise any objections as we had a lot in common, it could have worked if he hadn't been so screwed up .

But it was only a pretense again. He started playing little games, where he would stand me up on a date, and then vow his eternal love to me over the phone, saying he missed me, wanted to be with me, etc. He would badmouth me to his father and make it look like I was the one harassing him - as I learned from the father as I was calling his house. I was returning his call, and he was very surprised to hear that, he had been believing his son. Etc etc etc etc, you get the picture. Well, there wasn't too much etc etc because I dumped him promptly. Enough already.

When I discussed the episode with my long-time friend, trying to understand what had happened, and telling him "getting closer" and moving to the next level had been his idea, my friend said, "Perhaps he felt this is what he should be doing". My guess is that he wasn't seeing this little number for the first time.

I believe both him and the man I was crying about before exhibited the same problem expressed differently: #1 was a heartless jerk about it, while #2 was a kind-hearted but neurotic basket case - ain't it the truth that Hell is paved with good intentions... Funny that they were both named Alain.

Well, at least it got me to stop crying about #1. But boy, some people really ARE nuts.

Comment: #8
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:43 AM
Re: Khlovia
RE LW3 - what I'm wondering about, is why would Amy bother to publish that?

Comment: #9
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:44 AM
Lise: Most of these online columns are also carried by newspapers here and there, remember. Newspaper editors have space issues. Sometimes they need filler, sometimes they need to cut something to the bone. All these #3 rehash letters are the result of the columnists having to give the page editors something eminently cuttable without affecting or endangering the new contents of the column. I can certainly understand why a columnist wouldn't want to waste too much time being super-selective about the #3 letters; they're not getting paid by the word. So sometimes the choice is going to be a head-scratcher from the fan's POV.

In re your amorous adventures: My friend, I do believe you have a "type". There is a certain set of characteristics, a certain pattern of behavior, that rings your chimes. What you like about a relationship is getting swept off your feet by a talented, romantic, enigmatic, charismatic rogue. Great short-term fun, but not great bets for the long haul. The problem with getting swept off one's feet is the high probability of subsequently being tumbled downstream and dashed against rocks. Next time you find your chimes being rung, I'd like you to try hearing them as warning bells. Peer suspiciously under the charisma and see if you can spot the rogue.

How close am I?
Comment: #10
Posted by: Khlovia
Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:01 PM
Re: Khlovia
Not close at all. It will look like that becaue the ones I use as a (nutty) case in point are the nutty ones, of course.

Mister Trinidad was not a rogue, in fact he was an eminently respectable man. His problems were alcohol and zipper-related and, as I now know, largely cultural. The one from Belize was not a rogue AT ALL, in fact he is extremely respectable, quiet, calm, polite and considerate. The reason we're no longer together is that he left for Alberta to work in the oil field and. This is a man who is private to the point of secretiveness and never tells anything except on a need-to-know basis - problem is, he may be wrong about what's needed. By the time he had been there for years, I had no idea if I ever would see him again. I wasn't looking, but I met someone else.

My "type" is someone intelligent enough to understand when I speak, and informed and curious enough of the world around him to have something to talk about. Just these two things are difficult enough to find and, unfortunately, they are no guarantee for the other things I am looking for - tolerance, no prejudices, relating on an equalitarian basis, interested in me as a person, capable of true team work. And highly intelligent men are sometimes quite coo-coo - it's a problem.

About the "throw away" LW3s... I know. But not all newspapers "cut" the same way. The Montreal Gazette takes out a word here and a sentence there, they're not careful about it, and if their little editing completely changes the meaning, la-de-da. That's why I started reading it online.

Comment: #11
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:50 AM
Okay. Good. Your post had started a train of thought in me, is all.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Khlovia
Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:14 AM
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