Archive for the 'dating' Category


setting the ex up with someone new

Reader N.G. writes:

I casually dated a guy for a while, and things didn’t work out. It wasn’t a bad break up and we’re still technically friends, although we don’t hang out alone together or anything — we just spend time in the same social circles. A few weeks ago, I brought a new friend to a party, and she was asking me questions about him. I think she’s kind of interested in him, which is great, because he hasn’t been dating anyone in a long time. I would be totally happy if he started dating a new girl, and I’m not jealous at all, but I don’t know if he’s her type. Still, I think she has a right to figure that out on her own. Of course: she doesn’t know we ever dated. So, should I tell her we dated, or tell her I don’t think he’s her type, or encourage her to try things out with him anyway, or what?

Dear N.G.:

It’s very kind of you to think of the happiness of both your new friends and past exes. It’s also great that you’re capable of moving on, especially since you only casually dated this guy and you still hang out in the same social circles. Good job on keeping things from getting awkward. Hopefully he feels the same way.

I tend to believe total honesty is the best route in all things relationship. However, given the casual nature of your relationship with both of these people, I don’t think it’s necessary to divulge that you dated the guy in question to your new friend.  Unless you know something really damning about him (like, he’s abusive or he has an STD), let her get to know him on her own time. Some relationships should just take their course.Who knows? They may be perfect for each other.

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

Telling her straight up that 1. you used to date him and 2. you don’t think he’s her type can make you look like a jealous, territorial girl, even if you’re not at all jealous and actually want them to date. If she gets really deep into asking you questions about him, you might mention it for full disclosure, but I would not lead with it. Wait until she’s pretty close to having her own ideas about him before you plant that in her head. The fact that he’s casually dated you may taint her impressions of him, obviously.

On the flip side, I would not go overboard in trying to set them up, either. Pushing her on him could be just as disastrous to the unawkward vibe in your current setting as warning her off him would be, especially if he really isn’t her type. He will probably hear of it and figure it out as well, and it can be somewhat insulting for an ex to set you up with someone new; it could be seen as a “you can’t do this yourself and I need to get you out of my hair” gesture, depending on the guy and your relationship with him.

To sum up: my best advice is to play this cool. Don’t offer more information than necessary; keep the past info to yourself until it’s relevant; ask more questions than you offer details. Let this blossom as organically as you’d let any relationship between acquaintances or casual friends. Save the real matchmaking for your besties.


the holiday party dress code

Reader E. G. writes:

My boyfriend’s office holiday party is next weekend. Being a dude, he has no idea what the dress code is, and I don’t know any of his coworkers. It’s the holidays, so I want to get dolled up, but I don’t want to overdo it. What do you recommend I wear?

Dear E.G.:

As a lady, it can be difficult to toe the line between well-dressed and over-dressed, as you obviously know. But usually if there wasn’t a formal paper invitation that clearly states “black tie”, you are more likely to be risking overdressed more than under.

I’m sorry your boyfriend doesn’t provide you with the need-to-know dress code thing. Not all guys are that socially careless, just so you know. But typically, guys who don’t know or don’t care about dress codes tend to work in offices that also don’t care so much about dress codes, so there’s your next clue.

Um, yeah, it would have been nice to know it was a "Saturday Night Fever" them, thanks.

Image: photostock /

My very best advice to you is to wear whatever you do with utter confidence, even if you find you’re the only one there in a skirt and heels. If you’re not embarrassed about what you’re wearing, it’s unlikely anyone else will be, either. You want to get dolled up? Do it, and don’t look back. If you stay in the upper to middle ground of “dressed up” and avoid the ballgown or sweat pants extremes of the spectrum, you’ll probably be fine.

Also, take a cue from wherever the party is taking place. If they’re holding it in the office, be prepared for people to wear whatever they wear to the office (in this case, I’m guessing jeans and polos, max). If it’s at a restaurant, you can probably assume things will be on the nicer side. The location is information I’m sure your boyfriend will be happy to provide.

Wherever or whatever the party ends up being, here are a few ideas to help you blend in while allowing yourself the opportunity to dress up, whether this party ends up being a classic New Mexican “well, you could wear your dress boots, I guess” barbecue or a more upscale sort of soirée:

– Wear a dress. Unless you’re the kind of girl that never wears a dress, in which case, wear nice slacks that aren’t jeans. Skip the suited look, however, because that can make you look like you simply can’t leave your own office. You can typically get away with a cocktail dress that’s at or above the knee — a longer dress can edge into “over done” territory pretty fast.

– Keep it simple, but don’t be afraid of fun, classy, party-ready textures. A simple shift or a-line dress can be completely glamorous in the right material, like silk chiffon, taffeta, or lace. There are sequins and patterns all over the place right now, so go for it. Plus, if you don’t know any of his other coworkers, they may just assume you’re always this chic and well-dressed.

– Use your accessories to really shine. Carry your best bag, wear your good jewelry, and put on those heels you never wear. Your good pearls can dress up a tee shirt dress, and a sparkly belt can take your office job sheath to festive party in a snap. Get a cocktail ring and bling your way through the evening. And if you feel overdressed, you can easily remove accessories easily to take it down a notch. (But c’mon, who wants to do that?)

– Wear red lipstick and get your nails did. If you read any of the fashion mags, red lips are apparently the only thing anyone is doing these days — it’s like 1945 out there. If you wanna’ add a bit more sparkle to your evening, paint your nails in one of those glitter colors that are lining the shelves at salons. It may take you back to fifth grade, but that’s partially what the holidays are about anyway. Or put a little shimmer on your eyelids. And remember that a little goes a long way. As in, don’t go smoky glitter eyelids + red lipstick + glitter nails + body glitter + sequin dress. Let one or two elements speak out and keep everything else neutral.

– Smile. Meeting your boyfriend’s coworkers can be like meeting his parents. Decide before you get there that you’re going to have a good time, and that if you’re the overdressed arm candy for the evening, it’ll be a great story for the grandkids, even if they don’t end up being this boyfriend’s grandkids.


what to get your boyfriend this holiday season

Reader A. G. writes:

You wrote a post to let the guys know what their ladyfriends want this Christmas. So what should we ladies be buying our menfriends?

Dear A.G.:

Guys love presents! Image: Stuart Miles /

Excellent question.

I conducted a similar bit of scientific research with my menfolk friends as I did with my womenfolk friends to get the ideas below.

A few notes:

While guys and girls both definitely appreciate personal touches (as in, the gift-giver has paid enough attention to go and get a gift for you that you really want), guys are a bit less likely to take it personally if the gift is more generic. Also, gift cards are not out of the question, as long as they’re to the right shop. Furthermore, the element of surprise is not necessarily as important to the gents as it is to the ladies,  so don’t be afraid to ask the guy what he wants, and take notes, because he’s probably going to be very specific.

Like the ladies I talked to, the guys also said that, in their dream worlds, the gifts they get would be something they wouldn’t get for themselves, either because of finances or time or because it’s too whimsical. Gift certificates fit into this mold, because you’re giving him more resources to get stuff he actually wants.

Whatever you get him, it’ll remind him of you whenever he uses it, so keep that in mind. What I mean is: At what point in his day do you want him to be thinking of you? Or: Do you really want to be associated with that?

Finally, here is the one best rule for gift-giving: Know the person you’re giving the gift to. Don’t get sports equipment for the couch potato unless he’s asked for it; don’t buy XBox Live for the PC gamer; don’t buy the Almodovar DVD collector’s set for the guy who only watches Bruce Willis movies. Christmas is not about crafting your mate in the image you want him to be, capisce?

Here, then, are the top things my guy friends want for the holidays this year:

– Sex. Yes, this may sound like it’s coming from a complete stereotype, but a lot of guys said they wanted sex, and even if they were joking (I took answers like “a hooker” and “a threesome” as jokes), I’m not too stupid to get the hint. Sex is important to men (not to say it’s not important to women, too, but we’re talking about guys right now), so it shouldn’t be a surprise they’d like some over the holidays. The key to making sex a “present” is to do something you wouldn’t normally do. Maybe consider getting dolled up in a new set of lingerie, or buy a new kind of lube that you can try together. Some of my guy friends suggested arranging a threesome (again, they dismissed it as a joke, but it was a reflex reaction, so we’re going to assume it’s something they’re thinking about), which is something you can consider if you and your partner are into that sort of thing. (Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless it’s something you’ve both talked about extensively in the past and decided you are both completely comfortable with.) Sometimes, an unexpected BJ can be gift enough (and I just heard about these things [NSFW!], which I haven’t tried, but might be worth it). This is a good time to expand your intimacy repertoire together, so have fun and do something you’re going to really enjoy, too. One guy suggested “Sex Coupons” that a guy can redeem throughout the year, but I think that ruins the fun of it. Best idea is to light some candles, get both of you in the mood, and do something new or really interesting for a change. If the whole idea of having sex this holiday season just freaks you out… you’ve got other things you need to worry about more than what gift you’re getting your BF.

– Technology and toys. The new Transformer Tablet came up several times, as did a camera, phone, and other gadgets. Most guys have a very specific brand, make, and model of what they want, and they won’t mind you asking to double check. If you want to make it a complete surprise, do the research yourself and find the most popular, useful piece of technology that caters to your man’s specific needs. A few of the guys I talked to said “toys” and really meant “toys” — remote-controlled stuff, robots, whatever. This includes video games. If your guy is like any other gamer I have ever known, he’s probably already bought Batman: Arkham City for himself, but if he hasn’t… you know what to do.

– Being taken on a date. Guys dig this as much as ladies do, but this is a particularly idea if he’s always the one taking you out. Get dressed up, pick him up, and take him to a nice dinner and a movie. Or make him his favorite dinner and have the movie he’s been wanting to see queued up on Netflix. Add candles and turn off the phone to make it special. And then you can segue really easily into gift idea #1 above!

– Equipment he needs for his sport/hobby. If your man is really into working out, get him gym stuff. If he’s into motorcycles, motorcycle stuff. Is he thinking about making beer? Get him the kit to get started. One guy told me his dream gift this holiday season would be a carbon fibre tandem bike (and he sent me this pic to boot). While I’ve mentioned that guys won’t take it as personally if you give them something more generic, you still have to be careful about giving gifts that send the wrong message. Sports equipment can fall under this category if he’s got a weight problem you’re both aware of. Err on the side of stuff he’s already interested in, and not stuff you wish he would be interested in. He’ll probably be happy to tell you exactly what stuff he wants, too.

– Toiletries and skin care products he doesn’t even know about. As ladies, we tend to be more in the know about skin and beauty upkeep products than the guys, but they need pampering, too. Use your knowledge for good! Get him the best tools for skincare, shaving, ingrown toenails, or whatever other things plague him. This is good because he may actually be too embarrassed to buy them for himself, but when he starts using them, he’ll be extremely happy. (As one friend put it, “That apricot scrub stuff? I mean, who knew! Awesome!”) Be careful about solving problems that are too medical, because, again, this is something he’s going to associate with you every time he uses it. Plus, nobody wants Preparation H in his stocking, even if he needs it.

– A watch. This depends on the guy, of course, but watches are “jewelry for dudes”, which guys so rarely get to indulge in. (Cuff links are even more specific, because who wears cuff links anymore?) And they can be extremely personal. This falls under the “when I’m wearing it, I think of her” charm, too. Watches can run the gamut from breaking the bank to pretty inexpensive while still maintaining quality. Find something that matches his personality.

– A new job. This was quite possibly the weirdest response I got, but there were several guys who honestly said this. Obviously, you can’t magically give someone a new job (and there are ethical questions about giving your boyfriend a job even if you could), but I think the fact that this response was so prevalent means a few things. Possibly the most obvious is that we are all a little preoccupied with the economy these days, and not just for monetary reasons. Notice these guys asked for a new job, not a boatload of cash. I think that means they feel that they are stuck in a job that they don’t enjoy or in which they aren’t paid enough because they can’t find another job that’ll take ’em. It’s a mixture of feeling inadequate (“I don’t have enough talent or the right skills to get the job I want”) and trapped (“This organization doesn’t function properly or take care of me but there’s nowhere else for me to go”). While you could spend time finding jobs he could apply to, help him with his resume, and do some networking with him, I think the best gift to give him in this situation is support for when he’s not at work. Make him feel needed, loved, and important. Encourage him to do stuff he enjoys (those aforementioned hobbies and sports) and treat them with the same sort of respect as something that earns him a paycheck. If you know he’s having trouble at work, you’re probably already experiencing some of the backlash in your relationship, so go easy on him as much as you can. Treat him to something that’ll get his mind off of it, and don’t let the holidays make an already stressful situation worse.

That’s basically all the guys I knew said they wanted. Guys can be hard to shop for, because if they don’t have any ideas, they really don’t have any ideas, but as you can see above, they’re pretty easy to please. Remember: You can’t go wrong with a BJ. Mostly.


holiday gift ideas for the hopeful BF

Reader M. B. writes:

The holidays are fast approaching and I am at a complete loss about what to get my girlfriend this year. We’ve been together for a while and I want to really get her something special. I’m not really good at getting gifts, and I really don’t want to mess up. So what do you suggest?

Dear M.B.:

I’m so glad you asked! You might remember this piece once upon a time, wherein I spent several hundred words consoling a lady to be glad her husband got her any gift at all for their anniversary, and telling her that it was her job to let her husband know what to get her if she didn’t like his gifts.

That still goes — it’s your girlfriend’s job to let you know if your gifts are terrible. But the fact that you know you’re a terrible gift-giver to begin with and are asking for advice means maybe you don’t want her to have to have that conversation with you. Good job!

Gift-giving around the holidays can be a pretty stressful event, but there are a few things I can say for sure about what you should look for. It all depends on your girlfriend, of course. You’ve got to know what she likes, However, most of the ladies I know have the following rules for gift giving on “major” occasions (aka anniversaries, winter solstice holidays, and birthdays):

  1. Give me something I wouldn’t just buy for myself (either because it’s too expensive, or it’s impractical, or any other number of reasons).
  2. Give me something that I will actually like or use (i.e. not something you’re getting because you actually want it).
  3. Give me something whimsical and romantic.

Now, let’s be honest: there are girls out there who don’t care about gifts. These girls are actually angels, and as we all know, angels are sexless, so be careful with them.

If your girl does care about gifts, then you’re going to have to figure out what she likes for yourself and go from there. If she has said over and over again how much she loves X, get it for her. She’s making life easy for you.

Low on money? Services count, too, but not IOUs for services. Don’t give her a promise that you’re going to clean the house; actually clean the house. It’s a much better surprise if you just do it without promising beforehand than if you say you’re going to and then never get around to it.

I decided to conduct one of my highly scientific surveys and ask my girlfriends what they want for Christmas this year. I told the girls to “dream big”. Here’s what I heard:

"Yay! Presents!" Image: photostock /

  • A massage and/or spa day (mani, pedi, facial, soak). This was definitely the one all my girlfriends could agree on. These can get expensive, but they’re extremely thoughtful and say “go on, pamper yourself”.
  • The house cleaned (not just “picked up” but seriously scrubbed). The laundry done. The dishes done. Not just now, but forever. In other words — buy her a year’s worth of a cleaning service. Even just one visit from a cleaning service can make everything better for a long time. It doesn’t sound really romantic, but it’s extremely thoughtful.
  • A trip somewhere (with you!). “A vacation” came up more than once (we must be a stressed out group — massages and vacations for all!) Of course, you can take her somewhere that isn’t too far away and isn’t too expensive. Even just cleaning up your apartment, lighting some candles, and turning off the phone for a night can be good. Your time can be your greatest gift.
  • A CSA or Co-op membership. If she’s a foodie, being able to get amazing ingredients at lower prices will matter immensely. Having them delivered to her door every other week? Amazing!
  • A wine club membership. So you can share a bottle or two together every month.
  • Extremely nice lingerie. Nope, not Victoria’s Secret — try La Perla or Aubade. Worth the price upgrade, plus you’re going to have to do a little detective work to get the size right. And, you know, it’s kind of great for you, too.
  • An iPad or Kindle pre-loaded with some of her favorite books or magazines, and a few new ones to boot. Technology + you’re thinking about what she likes to read.
  • All the work done on the car (oil change, tune-up, a fix for “that clicking sound” — this is stuff you can maybe do yourself!)… Followed by a nice little drive to a romantic dinner (food you made yourself counts!).
  • A piece of designer clothing (“boots” was a big response among my friends) that you know would look sexy on her and is maybe a bit out of her price range. Again, you’ve got to know the girl’s taste, and her size. When you get this one right, you get it exactly right. Also: consignment stores and good antique shops are excellent for this. And the women who run those shops will be tickled that you’re looking for your lady.
  • Tickets to a show — her favorite band, opera, or musical. Bonus points if you get them a few months in advance. Extra bonus points if she didn’t even know the show was coming through your town.
  • Jewelry. Girls love sparklies. BUT WATCH OUT. If she’s expecting “the ring” and you get her diamond studs, it’s going to be a really awkward moment. Furthermore, if she’s not sure how serious she wants to be and you get her a really expensive necklace, you’re heading for doom. Just put some thought into it and be smart. If you know a jewelry designer and can have something made for her, that’s pretty awesome.

Here are a few gifts I’d steer clear of:

  • Any pet. Yes, kittens and puppies are cute, but they’re also a huge responsibility. No one should ever be given a pet as a gift unless a lot of discussion has gone into it first. (Don’t even get me started on people giving bunnies as gifts. Oh man.)
  • Any exercise equipment or gym memberships unless she has specifically asked for it. Are you encouraging her new running habit, or inadvertently telling her that you think she’s fat? Careful!
  • Nothing. This is absolutely the worst thing you can get a girl for a holiday, even if she swears she doesn’t want anything. Get her a card, at least.

Now, again, I must stress that every girl is different, and my girlfriends are probably crazier/funnier/awesomer than most, so don’t just trust what I write. Listen to your girlfriend and take some time to think about what she likes. That’s the most important thing about gifts — the thought. If you really, really can’t think of anything, ask her for a list. It’s a bit lame, but you can’t go wrong that way. You already know you’re not great with gifts, and if she’s the right girl for you, she’ll be able to accept that, too.


romantic comedies

Reader O. B. writes:

I am a highly educated, intelligent, independent, successful, takes-shit-from-nobody woman. I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist, but I do agree with a lot of feminist ideals, and one of the things I find ridiculous is the obsession with romantic love and marriage that we girls are subjected to. That said, I am often completely overwhelmed by a need to watch a romantic comedy. What is wrong with me?

Dear O.B.:

There is nothing wrong with you!

Romantic comedies are like candy. In fact, that is a perfect metaphor, the more I think about it. Like candy, these movies are made exactly to speak to the parts of you that want indulgence, fantasy, and sweetness. They’re crafted to appeal to you, even though you know they’re not good for you.

And, actually, sometimes they are good for you. Just like a really good piece of chocolate (hand-crafted, high enough cocoa content, possibly from Europe) can bring you health benefits, so, too, can a good romantic comedy.

Sometimes, they just own us. Image: porbital /

But I know you’re not talking about the hand-crafted, high-cocoa-content European romantic comedies. (No, I don’t know what a high-cocoa-content would be in a movie, sorry.) You’re not even talking about the John Cusack comedies from the 80’s, which are like those Dove chocolate squares. You’re talking about peanut M&Ms. You’re talking about those new romantic comedies that are mass-produced, totally predictable, full of A-listed-yet-talentless celebrities with two-dimensional characters, and somehow even more poorly-written and -directed than the buddy comedies that our boyfriends also fall prey to.  (And yeah, I fall prey to those suckers, too. Sometimes they’re cross-over buddy comedy/romantic comedy, like “Wedding Crashers” or even “Bridesmaids”. Man, are those ever bad news!)

Yeah, we can all admit they’re bad, the same way Halloween candy is bad.

But I think it’s okay to want to watch a stupid movie from time to time, even if it’s a stupid movie that reinforces some sort of stereotype (like, “all women want to get married to prince charming and have babies”). Your brain needs some time off from all that ass-kicking you do in your regular life. Fantasy is great from time to time, just like chocolate. As long as you don’t overindulge.

Yes, sure, someone who lives in a fantasy world has got problems. If all you did was watch romantic comedies and mourn how unlike a romantic comedy your life is, I’d say you have a real problem.

But I think just the fact that you’re aware these cravings aren’t terribly healthy for you means you’re probably more capable of handling it than, say, someone who’s watching romantic comedies because she feels part of her life isn’t going well. A lot of people find solace in movies rather than fixing what’s wrong in their own lives. Not that I have any scientific evidence of this, I’ve just watched TV and movies be soma for so many of my friends and family members.

So go see a stupid romantic comedy once in a while, or read a book that doesn’t have any edifying social value. It’s okay. We’re all allowed a guilty pleasure from time to time.


flying the freak flag

Reader S. E. writes:

I’m a polyamorous bisexual who is part of a few S&M and swingers groups in my hometown, but I’m not out at work or with my family. I’ve started trying online dating recently, and I’m wondering just how far I should let my freak flag fly on these kinds of sites?

Dear S.E.:

Blank for now

Keep the flag blank til they need to know otherwise. Image: Rawich /

While online dating is generally totally anonymous — you don’t use your real name on the site, and smart people don’t use a name that could be tracked back to their email address, etc., — your pictures are up there, and anyone with access to the site can see them. In a huge town like New York or LA, this is no big deal — there are literally hundreds of thousands of people on the site and people who know you have a slim chance of finding you without searching for your exact name.

However, in a town like, say, Albuquerque, things are a bit different. There aren’t that many people in the town to begin with, and the few who are on dating sites are very likely people you live and work with (if you happen to live and work with single young professionals, especially). And there’s a pretty good chance they’ll see your pictures and your information before you even know they’ve clicked through.

If you’re not out to those people, they could have quite a surprise waiting for them online. And so could you.

The fact that you’re not really open about your sexual orientation or preferences at work or in your family life may be a tip that this is something you should keep somewhat private on the dating site, but be prepared to discuss it early in the relationship. Don’t fly the flag on your dating profile, but pack it along on your date.

On the other hand, it sucks to get on a first date and have them spring something like that on you. (Worse if it’s a second or third date and you’re starting to get attached.) While most people probably can’t even qualify their sexual preferences, people who are poly and bi tend to know a bit better than anyone else, so you already know what you want, and if the other person can’t provide it, it’d be nice to know that from the get-go. I’m pretty sure a monogamous, straight-only person would probably want to know the same about you before jumping in, too.

Yes, it’s true that online dating sites are supposed to weed out the people who don’t fit your criteria so you never even see them (and they don’t see you). But in small(er) towns, and on small sites, that tends not to be the case.  You’ll see people who don’t even come close to having the same interests as you (sexually, artistically, or even professionally), but someone’s gotta’ fill up that space on your page, so here they are. And of course, they’re seeing you, too. So in this scenario, you’re basically outing yourself (and all your fun preferences) to people you have a great likelihood of running into on the street even if you don’t agree to meet beforehand.

Sexual preference is something between you and whatever partner(s) you choose to have, not strangers on a dating website who can leak your secrets to your professional world. If it’s at all a concern to you, I say keep it under wraps until you meet someone who, you know, needs to know.

Also, there are online dating sites that cater to swingers, S&M, and polyamorous people. Just by being on those sites you’d be flying the freak flag to a group of people who fly the same flag, so that covers all those bases. Again, those sites are going to cater to a very small group of people in smaller towns, and to some extent they’ll probably be the people you already know, but at least you don’t have to explain who you are (or aren’t) to a complete stranger every single time you meet up.


the “crazy” girlfriend

Reader J.J. writes:

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I think my girlfriend is crazy. Not the “all girls are crazy” type of crazy, but the “she might hurt me” kind of crazy. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her car outside my house a couple times. When I open the door to check, the car speeds off. I would confront her about it, but like I said, she might hurt me. I want to break up with her, but I’m sure you get the idea. I’d also like to get her help. But mostly I just want to live. How do I break up with a truly crazy woman without, you know, dying?

Dear J.J.:

I wish you would have provided me with a few more details. Just because you’re seeing cars that pull away when you open your door, it doesn’t mean your girlfriend is out to get you. I understand you want to break up with her, but I can’t help but wonder if you’re just being paranoid, or having delusions of grandeur.

It’s quite possible you’re not paranoid at all, of course. Or at least paranoia isn’t the end of your problems. As the old adage goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Have you recently done some kind of shady “business” with someone who said they would be calling on your services at a later time? Maybe you’ve done something that could warrant wire-tapping from the FBI, CIA, or IRS?


This is the image that comes up when you search for "crazy". Image: Simon Howden /

What I’m saying is, if your girlfriend hasn’t actually threatened to kill you, maybe she’s not actually out to get you.

Nevertheless, being afraid of your significant other is not okay, regardless of why you’re afraid of them.  Fear, being a feeling, is an irrational response, but you should take fear seriously when you’re feeling it. If you truly are concerned for your safety, I would say do a few things:

– Break up with her via email or text, and make it as short as possible. Don’t respond if she goes off on a crazy rant. Tell her it’s over, that’s final, and you’re not negotiating. I’d say a phone call would work if you have to, but really talking to her in a live manner could be worse than just ending things in the safest, most distant manner possible. Be brief and be direct. And move on.

– Make sure you’re somewhere safe if she goes berserk. Stay at a friend’s house for a few days, or with your parents, or go out of town entirely. If you really want to stay at your own place, make sure you have someone staying with you. Don’t be alone when you don’t have to be. Even if people think you are being hysterical or over-reacting, it is way better to be doing either of these things than to be confronted with someone who is trying to kill you.

– If you simply have to be at your place alone, keep your doors and windows locked, and make sure someone knows to check in on you (friends, coworkers, family, whatever). Don’t make it a secret that you’re worried for your safety. Again, even if people think you’re the one who’s acting crazy, that’s better than them having to attend your funeral.

– If your girlfriend has actually threatened your life, report this to the police. Get a restraining order. The police will be much more likely to take you seriously when/if something does happen if you’ve already made them aware that you’re actually afraid for your life.

– Do whatever you have to do to make yourself safe and get her out of your life. I know you say you care for her and want to help her out, but if she’s focusing on you as a target, you’re not going to be able to help her very much. The best thing you can do is help yourself and cut her out of your life. Get a new phone number, block her number, block her email — extricate yourself as much as you possibly can. You don’t want to provoke her or allow her a chance to cause a scene. Make sure you’re not somewhere she can find you, at least for a while.

– Make it a point to make your worries known to people who know your girlfriend. They can help her once you’re out of the scene, and they can also be on the lookout and warn you (and police officers) if they think she’s going to do something out of line. And if she’s not actually out to get you, they can at least comfort her after you break things off.

– Talk to a therapist.  If you really are paranoid (and I mean developing paranoid schizophrenia), you can talk with a doctor who can help you manage it before things get out of hand. Mental illnesses are no laughing matter, and if you are suffering from one, you probably can’t judge that for yourself. But on top of that, most therapists also have a lot of resources that could help keep you safe. And you’ll feel better after talking about your crazy girlfriend.

I hope this is all in your head, and that you can break up with your totally sane girlfriend. But if not, please make sure you take every precaution you possibly can. Domestic violence is no joke, and all of us should be willing to stop things before they get out of control, even if it means being embarrassed to appear weak. I’ll say it one more time, just for the record: better to appear weak than to be dead.


is she over me?

Reader M.T. writes:

I broke up with a girl because I was scared things were going too fast, but I’ve come to the conclusion she’s the one for me. I want to get back together with her, but I don’t know if she’s over me already or what. How can I tell if she’s done and unwilling to come back or if she’d be ready to give me a second chance?

Dear M.T.:

Oh, you’re such a chicken shit! Just ask her already! Say you’re sorry, bring a bouquet of roses, and if she says no, then tough luck, you effed that up, and it’ll be your turn to get over it for real. Quit torturing yourself. If you’re worried she’s “over” you and the relationship, then your decision that she’s “the one” doesn’t hold much weight, does it? Go ask her if she’ll take you back. That’s the only way you’ll know for sure.

Think she's over it?

Think she's over it? Image: Ambro /

Not enough advice? Okay, okay, I’ll keep going.

If you’re really not sure she’s over you or not, and you really think you want to get back together with her for sane, healthy, lovey-dovey reasons, well… Here are a few ways you can tell she’s over it, or is trying to get over it:

You text her and she writes back, “Who is this?” This means she’s deleted you from her contacts, which could mean she’s NOT over it. But I wouldn’t bet on her taking you back.

She’s said anything hateful about you to her friends, family, or social network. If she’s Tweeted that you’re an asshole, you’d be twice the asshole to think she’d take you back.

She has a new significant other.  If you’re still friends, you probably already know.  If you don’t know this from conversations you’ve had with her, you can generally find this out through Facebook, her friends, or seeing her in public. Of course, having a new BF or GF doesn’t necessarily mean she’s totally over you; it just means she’s taken steps to move on, which you should probably respect, unless you’re a drama queen and want to have a really bad Adam Sandler movie on your hands.

She doesn’t appear in the list of “Friends” on your Facebook profile (on the left side, right over… there, yep, you’ve got it). There’s some complicated algorithm that determines which friends go on this list in what order, but it has something to do with who’s been looking at your profile, who’s been looking at stuff you’ve been looking at, etc. If you’re still friends on Facebook and she’s pretty active on it, yet she’s not in that top 10, she’s probably over you.

She’s too busy to hang out, or it takes her a long time to respond to texts, phone calls, emails, IMs, etc. This probably means she’s moved on, or is at least trying to.

Fair warning: If you get a reaction opposite to that which I’ve listed, it does not mean she’s NOT over the relationship. In fact, the calmer and more capable of talking to you that she is, the less likely it is you have any affect over her anymore, which could be a bad sign for your cause. (But great for her, probably.)

Keep in mind that you’re the one who broke up with her, and I may need to tell you to stop torturing her, too. You technically have the power in this relationship, even though it’s “over”, and if your conclusion that she’s “the one” is just because you’re afraid she’s gotten over you and you want that power back rather than because you’re truly in love, then you’re going to have some serious issues in the future (in fact, you probably already have some).

I’m not saying you know you’re just playing for control, but you should be aware that it may be a factor. The y0-yo relationship is definitely not a fun game to play for the party who has no control over it, and any steps she’s made in a direction away from you are probably healthier for her if that’s what’s happening.

I hope things work out for you, however they’re supposed to go.


10 signs she’s not the one

Reader A. B. writes:

You gave the ladies signs they oughtta’ dump their BFs; how about for us straight dudes? What are some ways we can tell a girl isn’t right for us?

Dear A.B.:

Yes, we do love us some gender equality here.

Having never been a straight dude myself, this is going to be culled more from my experience of watching boys date girls, rather than my own personal experience. (The 10 signs he’s not the one post was actually a mix of my own experience and that of my dearest straight girlfriends, to be fair.) I think the lists can probably be interchanged, although from what I’ve seen, there are subtle differences between how guys and girls date the “wrong person”. Girls tend to get embroiled in more drama about clinging onto him; guys tend to get ever more removed from the situation and drift off, or at least that’s my experience. (Most) guys will put up with a lot to get sex; (most) girls will put up with a lot to have a boyfriend. Similar, but different, dynamics.

So here are some signs that I think you probably don’t belong with a girl:


Also, if she uses a carrot as a weapon. Image: photostock /

1. You can’t be yourself when you’re around her. There’s a difference between being inspired to be a better person and feeling like you have to be a drastically different person to keep up with her. Do you feel like you need to take college classes, even though you’ve never felt that way before? Do you feel like you have to stop smoking, drinking, or watching baseball to be her boyfriend? Do you find yourself not spending time with your other friends because you can’t hang out with them and her at the same time? She’s not the one.

2. Your friends don’t like her. This is pretty universal for both sexes. Again, your friends like you, and they presumably want what’s best for you. If they don’t like her and are willing to say so, you’ve got the wrong girl on your hands.

3. You don’t have anything in common. You need to share some beliefs and interests or it’s not going to work out. Don’t let the thought of free sex mislead you into having a cruddy relationship with a girl you can’t even talk to.

4. She talks about marriage or commitment and it makes you really uncomfortable. This means she’s looking for something you’re not actually interested in. You should be honest about this because it can bite you in the ass later on. If you don’t want to get married and have kids, for the love of all that is holy, don’t date a girl who does. Even if it’s just you’re “not sure” while she knows for certain, you will get jerked around a lot more than you want to be. And, ya’ know, it’s not fair to her, either.

5. She criticizes you in public. A lot. This goes along with sign #1, but instead of being a feeling you have inside yourself, it’s something coming directly from her. If she’s telling you and everyone around you how much she hates how you smoke, or that you never take the trash out, or how you can’t spell, or how badly you dress, you should probably end things. If she likes you, she’ll be complimenting you, and even your bad traits will be cute to her. (At least until you’ve been together 3 years or more.)

6. She bad mouths you behind your back. You probably won’t hear about this until after the break up, anyway, but if a girl is complaining to her friends about you, it’s probably a sign you two shouldn’t be together. Of course, this swings both ways — if you’re complaining about her all the time, that’s not a good sign, either. However, I find that many guys aren’t really as willing to complain about relationship issues to their buddies as girls are.

7. Your libidos don’t match. This one was originally “you never have sex”, but I’m not going to play entirely into the “guys only want sex” theme in this post. Sometimes guys don’t want sex. It’s true. If either of you wants more or less sex than the other, you’re not a match. If you’re not interested in sex with her, it’s definitely a sign. If she’s not interested in sex with you, it’s also a sign. Sex isn’t everything, and all couples go through upswings and downswings in sexual desire. But if you two consistently don’t match, especially from the start, it’s probably not going to work out in the long run. And if you find yourself not interested in sex with her, but interested in sex with someone else, yeah, it’s over, or it should be.

8. You find any single trait of hers extremely annoying. This is particularly important in the first few weeks of dating. If you notice something annoying in the beginning of the relationship, it’s only going to get worse over time. Once again, don’t let the thought of free sex blind you to the fact that you can’t be with someone who talks out of her nose or expects you to pay for everything.

9. You don’t trust her. If you’ve got major jealousy issues, or find yourself accusing her of spending too much time with someone else, it’s probably not her — it’s you. Nevertheless, if you don’t trust her, for whatever reason, she’s not the right one. (It’s quite possible nobody is going to be the right one in this situation until after some therapy, too, FYI.)

10. You find yourself doing anything on the list of 10 signs he’s not the one. Because from what I know, boys react in those ways to a girl when they are pretty sure it’s not what they want, but they can’t let go, either because they can’t figure out a way to break up with her, or because they’re getting free sex, or who knows what else.


10 signs he’s not the one

Reader A. G. writes:

I’ve been dating a guy for a few weeks, and we’ve definitely had the “we’re exclusive” talk. But I don’t know if that really means he wants to be serious or what. For the record, I want a real boyfriend that will someday be my husband, so I want to know if I’m wasting my time. How do I gauge his intentions this without straight up asking him?

Dear A.G.:

Dammit, I was going to suggest you straight up ask him! Well, if you’re too chicken to just have a talk (which bodes poorly for your future together, btw), you could go in a slightly less obvious direction and play “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, pointedly, over and over, the next time you see him.

let go

Sometimes you just need to let him go. Image: photostock /

Also, you’re right about realizing that “we’re not sleeping with anyone else” does not mean “we’re going to get married someday”. A lot of (actually, I’d say in reality, most) people are plain out territorial and only want to sleep with one person at a time, or at least rest assured their partner is only sleeping with them. It’s partially a holdover from our “ensuring the offspring are mine” evolution, and part societal constraints, and part not having to worry about STIs (hopefully).  But it absolutely does not mean he wants to be sleeping exclusively with you for the rest of his life. It is most certainly a separate conversation.

But if you really just don’t want to bring it up with him, I think, first of all, that’s a sign you should probably dump him. If you’re not comfortable talking about your future, then he’s probably not comfortable with the thought of being in your future.

If that’s not good enough for you, here are ten more signs he’s probably not “the one” (and really, any single one of these signs should be enough for you to call it quits, sweetums):

1. He doesn’t reciprocate. He should call, text, email, IM, and Facebook stalk you exactly as much as you do him. If you’re having a one-sided conversation on his wall, or on your phone, he’s not interested. (NB: If he’s IMing, texting, calling, or emailing you more than you are him, it’s a sign you’re not interested, capisce?)

2. Your friends don’t like him. This is a big sign. Your friends like you, and they know you. If they don’t like your boyfriend, it’s probably because he’s not good for you. The only problem is, if they’re smart friends, they won’t say so. But if they really don’t like him, and they let you know, get out, and get out fast.

3. He doesn’t like your friends, pets, or family, and complains about them. Even if you don’t like your family, he shouldn’t be complaining about them. It’s not something you can change. And he certainly doesn’t have a right to complain about your friends or family — that’s your job. If he asks you to get rid of your beloved dog, he doesn’t belong in your life. Sorry. Someone you “belong” with is someone you can grow with, not someone you need to completely rearrange your life for.

4. He won’t introduce you to his friends, or, if he does, he doesn’t invite you along to hang out with them. I don’t care if his friends are assholes (and if they are, a) why are they his friends? and b) why are you dating a guy whose friends are assholes?); he should be excited enough about you and him to show you off.

5. You only have sex. I don’t mean, you have sex and then he doesn’t cuddle. I mean, you don’t go anywhere together but the sack. Or maybe he leaves without staying the night every single time. If he’s not interested in dinner and a movie, you’re a fuck buddy, chica.

6.  He is unavailable to be with you, but has no real explanation. I can’t emphasize this enough: If a guy likes you, he will find time to hang out with you, talk to you, hear about you, whatever. Even if he is 4,000 miles away. He will be in touch, I promise. If he often can’t hang out just because “he’s busy”, it’s not going to be a serious relationship.

7. He won’t do stuff you care about with you. If he’s going to marry you someday, he’ll go see the band you love that he’s never heard of. Or go to a wine tasting. Or just wander around the flea market with you.

7. a Bonus, extra special, totally-dump-him-now caveat: … even if it’s stuff he cares about, too. That is a total blow to the relationship possibilities. If he won’t go to a baseball game with you, or see “Serenity” in theatres again for Can’t Stop the Serenity, and you know he follows the Isotopes like a hound or watches “Firefly” three times a week, then, really, sweetheart, who are you kidding?

8. He lies to you, about anything. This only works if you catch him in it, of course, and often you won’t find out about the lies until after the relationship is totally over, but lying is a sure sign he’s got something to hide, which is a sure sign that you shouldn’t be with him. Okay, yes, there are certain lies that are okay — like, he’s lying about what he’s doing on Friday night because he’s actually throwing you a surprise party Friday night. That’s a good-natured lie, and the consequences are pleasant. If he’s lying about where he’s going to be on Friday night because he’s banging some other chick, or he just doesn’t want to go to your high school reunion with you, yeah, uh, dump him. Lying isn’t just about the fact that he’s covering something up; it’s about the fact that he doesn’t respect you enough to tell the truth.

9. He doesn’t appreciate all the nifty stuff you do. If you’re a great cook and he doesn’t ever acknowledge this,  dump him. If he doesn’t just love the fact that you’ve planned a weekend away for his birthday, he doesn’t deserve your attention. In fact, if he doesn’t compliment you more often than not, get him out of your life. You deserve better.

10. You’re not actually into him. This is important. As girls, we get so wrapped up in just having a boyfriend at all that we forget that our feelings matter. Are you embarrassed to be with him in public? Are you not interested in what he does? Does he not stimulate you? Does he not pay you enough attention? Do you want more than he’s willing to give? Do you find yourself screening his calls? Are you afraid to have the commitment conversation with him? Then dump him and find someone new. If your priority is marriage, find someone you can marry.

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