Archive for the 'feelings' Category


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.


old ex new girls

Reader T. C. writes:

A few weeks ago, the girl I was seeing broke up with me and went on a long trip. I jumped right into seeing other girls, and I haven’t told her this. She has been sending me emails about how much fun she’s having, but that she misses me and she wants to see me when she gets back. Seeing as she’s the one that ended it, it feels kinda’ weird. I haven’t blocked her on Facebook or restricted her access or anything, but I haven’t been direct about the other girls I’m seeing. If she doesn’t know now, she’s definitely going to find out when she gets back and sees me out with one of them. What should I do?

Dear T.C.:

Sounds like you’re getting your heart jerked around a little bit, which can suck, but it’s all a part of life. Take it in stride, but do what you can to stop the bleeding.

Keep a few things in mind when you’re considering what to do:


Don't let this happen to you. Image: photostock /

1. She broke up with you. That means the ball has been in her court, whether you wanted it there or not. She took control of the relationship, and she’s going to continue to do so unless you put a stop to it.

2. Traveling makes us miss people we wouldn’t otherwise miss, or we would miss less. She’s out of her element, and she’s thinking of you. This could mean one of two things: either she’s not over the relationship, or she’s just lonely. Either way, her feelings here don’t matter too much, seeing as…

3. You’ve taken steps to move on. You’re already seeing other girls. This may have been a cover-up for the fact that you’re really hurt (which would be my guess), and you’re trying not to feel bad about the break up by having other girls to think about. I don’t necessarily approve of that approach, but I get it, and I think it’s pretty natural for a lot of people. Like I said, she took the control away from you, and your way of getting it back could be just dating as many other people as you possibly can until you’re over it. HOWEVER…

4. That means you’ve made your stand. You’ve decided you’re going to get over it, so that’s what she has to do, too. Basically you’ve drawn a line in the sand and said that you’re not going to get back together with her. If you try to get back together now, it’ll just feel shallow and empty, and she may never trust you, anyway. Your indirect communication was, “Screw you, I’m gonna’ go get some strange.” Whether that’s how you actually feel or not, that’s the message you’re conveying, and I think you should probably stick with it.

Since this is a blog about letting her know you’re seeing other people, and not one about trying to get her back, I’m not going to launch into that latter, dangerous subject.

I don’t think you have to tell her directly that you’re seeing other girls. Like you said, you’re not trying to hide it. If the new ladies post something on your wall on Facebook, she’ll see it. (As will all the other girls you’re dating, BTW. Maybe you should check out my post on dating in multiples, too.) And yeah, she’s going to find out when she comes back and you don’t have the time to hang out with her. Hell, she may even guess now if she’s trying to set up a Skype appointment with you and you’re not available. That’s a pretty tell-tale sign.

However, if her emails to you are getting overly mushy, you can’t pretend you’re not working to get over the relationship and get all mushy back. Don’t write back that you miss her, too, even if it’s true. (If it’s still true in six months, we could reconsider, but I wouldn’t.) My best advice to your claim that she’s saying she misses you is just not to respond. She’ll figure it out. Or she’ll ask you what’s up. In which case you can be honest (and uber courageous) and admit she hurt you pretty bad and you’re doing your best to get over it by sleeping around. Or you can continue not to respond.

Sometimes after a particularly hard break up, even if it wasn’t ugly, we just need time off from the person we fell for. It’s the worst feeling in the world, to be separated from the one person you feel could help you deal with the heartbreak, but you’ve got to go through it. You’re dealing with this by filling your time with other people to think about. It’s kind of a blessing that your ex went out of town, because you’ve automatically got some of the physical space you need. Although she’s apparently not taking the steps to get over you that she should be (c’mon, girls — go to Italy and just hook up with a strange Italian man, what could be better?).

It might be a good idea to tell her you’re seeing other people and you need more space. Doing so will mean the emails will probably stop, at least for a while.

But I think the fact that she’ll probably figure it out on her own is good enough. She’s not your girlfriend anymore; you don’t have to tell her every detail of your life. She doesn’t have a right to that information anymore, either, whether she still wants it or not.

While I’m here, I should probably point you to my blog about getting over it. That seems to be what you really need in this situation, anyway.


how not to be a tease (for the ladies)

Reader F. T. writes:

There has been a rash of guys lately who told me I’ve been leading them on. I haven’t been dishonest with them, but apparently they’re getting the wrong idea. What should I do differently?

Dear F.T.:

As ladyfolk, we are often less direct than we probably ought to be, especially with the malefolk. It’s kind of a double-bind issue: we’re taught not to be demanding or rude, but then when we’re indirect, we get called out for being “passive-aggressive” or “leading someone on”. There’s a fine line between “nice” and “too nice”. Furthermore, we’re afraid of being “overly aggressive” or “unladylike”. This is why we often don’t get what we want.

My best advice: be direct with the men and they’ll appreciate it.

My next best advice: Trust your gut. Know what you want. Do not settle. Half the time, we’re being teases because we just can’t make up our minds. So make up your mind, lady. Do it.

Oh, sure, telling them you’re not interested will hurt their their feelings. But it won’t be a long, drawn-out affair, which is what leading someone on is all about. If you just tell them you’re not interested from the get-go, everyone will be better off in the long run.


Sometimes it's good to be a tease. Image: bk images /

Of course, I do understand that you may not know you’re not interested until you’re on the second or third date. I’ve been there. It happens. This why I advise that you drop him after the first date if there aren’t the sparks you’re looking for. Yes, some people have a longer courtship ritual than the rest of us, but that won’t stop chemistry from getting through, even if you’re not kissing or holding hands. As the cliché goes, you know when you know. If you don’t know, then it’s a no.

Here are a few examples of times you can stop yourself before things get too hairy:

Scenario 1: He wrote you a message on an online dating service. You go to his profile, and things look fine, but you find out he’s got some trait that is a dealbreaker for you (e.g. he smokes, he has kids, he plays MMORPGs, whatever it is you swore you would never date again).

DO: Write him back and tell him you’re sorry but you don’t think it’d work out. You don’t have to tell him why.

DO NOT: Write him back a really long, flirtatious email to get his interest going, and then end it with: “BUT this-trait-you-have is a dealbreaker for me, so sorry.”

DO NOT: Waver on your dealbreakers. Dealbreakers are black and white. They may change over time, but if you know you can’t stand a guy who smokes, don’t agree to go on a date with him just to remind yourself of that fact. That makes you a tease. Once again, if you know from the very beginning you’re not going to be interested in anything further with a guy, you are technically leading him on if you pretend it’s going to be okay. Trust your gut.

Scenario 2: He’s kissed you after a second date and you just didn’t feel it.

DO: Write him an email the next day thanking him for the nice time but telling him that you don’t think it’s going to work out.

DO NOT: Agree to a third date with him. Or agree to a date with him and then cancel later. Or agree to a third date and then let him kiss you goodnight again.

Scenario 3: You’re in a monogamous FWB relationship. You’re allowed to date other guys, but you’re probably not going to be sleeping with any of them.

DO: Tell your prospective dates that this is the case right off the bat. By not telling them, you’re being a bad polyamorist. The first tenet of true, ethical polyamory is complete disclosure with all involved parties.

DO NOT: Go on three dates with the guy, allow him to give you a massage, let him kiss you goodnight, and then tell him via IM the next day that you’re already getting all your sexual needs filled by someone else but thanks for dinner. I can almost guarantee that he will not be pleased.

Scenario 4: You’re at a bar or club and this dude you’re not into asks for your number.

DO NOT: Give him your number.

DO: Tell him you’re not interested. You can do this nicely. If he doesn’t get it, and bothers you, and is noticeably drunk, you have every right to ask a bouncer to help you tell him you’re not interested.
NB: I have in the past advocated getting a drink from him and THEN telling him you’re not interested. But if you’re working on not being a tease, I wouldn’t advocate this in your case. Remember: We’re trying to teach you how to be direct.

Scenario 5: After a few dates, you decide you’d really rather be friends.

DO: Tell him you would really rather be friends.

DO NOT: Expect him to be okay with this or want to talk to you ever again. If he falls off the face of the planet, let him go. Do not pester him or invite him to your next event or write stuff on his Facebook wall. Do not text him telling him how great you think he is. Leave him alone.

UPDATE: LAST SCENARIO: You’ve told a guy you’re not interested and he writes you a mean, nasty email telling you you’re ugly or stupid or whatever. Or he calls to beg for you back. Or any number of things he could do to try and save face.

DO NOT: Respond. Block him on the social networking sites you have if you have to. Do not answer his phone calls.

DO: Let him have the last word. You’re being a better person by not teasing, so don’t let him drag you down.

Now, dear readers, feel free to share your stories of being led on, and let us know how you dealt with it.


the dreaded vday

Reader E. G. writes:

I’m the single girl yet again for Valentine’s Day this year. What’s the best way to get through the holiday without wanting to kill myself?

Dear E.G.:

arrow and heart

Sometimes we'd all like to murder Valentine's Day. Image: Idea go /

I have to throw it out there that I love Valentine’s Day, not because of the commercialized nonsense of it all or the chocolate or the flowers or whatever, but because it’s basically the first day of the year when you realize the sun has started to come back and is setting later. And that, my dear, is how I have come to cope with Valentine’s Day, whether I’m single or not.

What I’m saying is: you’ve got to reframe it. It seems like our society has given us two ways to look at Valentine’s Day. Either it’s a stress-inducing event for all couples to try and prove how they feel to each other and the world, or it’s a pity party for single people. Those are not the only options. You have to find a way to look at Valentine’s Day that suits your needs and doesn’t get you down. The world has made a holiday of it, but you can celebrate it for your own reasons. Think of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love — all love, from familial to friendly to love of nature to love of whatever else — and couch it in your terms.

Some great ideas I have:

Show your love for humanity.

Make VDay a service day this year so you’re not thinking about how lonely you are. You could go all out and volunteer your evening at a homeless shelter. Or give blood at a local clinic. Imagine all the folks at “old folks homes” who happen to have lost their beloved, or perhaps never had one. They could use your love on a day like today. Take yourself outside of your head and put yourself to work for someone else.

Show your love for your friends and family.

Instead of focusing on your lack of a partner, rejoice in your friendships. Regardless of whether I’m single or not, I always try to send Valentine’s to a few of my friends, particularly anyone who’s been having a rough year. One year I sent hand-painted cards to all of my girlfriends, my sisters, and my mom. (Just the ladies!) I’ve sent flowers to friends who were bummed about being single. It doesn’t have to be heart-shaped or dipped in chocolate. Just show the people you love your appreciation for their existence. If you put some real time and effort into it, I promise you’ll be pleased at how well things turn out.

Show your love for nature.

Get out and hang with the trees and the birds, even if it is freezing out. Just get a little sunshine in and marvel at how this world works regardless of human intervention. It’ll get your mind off the goopy gunk going on in the commercial world. Remind yourself that a commercial holiday has nothing to do with your worth as a person.

Show your love for yourself.

Take yourself out for a treat. Get a facial and a massage, or get your toenails done. Get a new haircut. Buy yourself the flowers you want or a new piece of jewelry you’d like to have. Remember that being in a couple isn’t all fun and games, especially not on pressure-filled Valentine’s Day. Revel in the fact that you’re not expected to get anyone a present or enjoy their company on this day. You’re free to do whatever you want with yourself.

Enjoy the longer days and the love for things other than commercial romance you already have in your heart. That’s what makes VDay livable, in my opinion.


FWBs without attraction

Reader W. J. writes:

The other day, a man I’d been talking to for a while asked if I wanted to be his friend with benefits. I suggested that would be ok, but said I wanted to get to know him better first. He came over to my place a couple of times for some drinks and TV and some physical activity (but no real sex). After these “dates” (there were only two of them), he wrote me on Facebook to tell me he tried to be attracted to me, but wasn’t. I can accept that, I suppose, as what it is, but I am confused. How is it that a guy would ask to be FWBs without first being attracted to the woman?

Dear W.J.:

I’m going to look at this a few ways. I don’t know the guy, but it appears that we are confronted here with the issue that sometimes certain guys feel they NEED sex. Like, need it so bad if they don’t get it they’ll die. Or even just want it enough that they wouldn’t say no if they were presented with it, regardless of who was doing the presenting.

My guess is that this guy hadn’t gotten any in a while and thought you would give him free sex. He probably meant “desperate booty call” rather than “friend with benefits”, and realized he didn’t really want to get to know you as a friend. After two dates wherein it became clear to him that you weren’t as easy as he originally thought you were going to be, he decided it wouldn’t be a good idea, so he “dumped” you.

Not so fast

Sorry, pal, some of us have hearts. Image: Ambro /

Nice of him to be honest and all, but I would not recommend hanging out with a person who thought you were just going to be an easy lay, unless that’s what you wanted him to think. (Which apparently you didn’t, since you 1. didn’t put out  and 2. said you wanted to get to know him more… not something an easy lay would do.)

As far as why he would ask you to be his partner in sex even if he wasn’t attracted to you in the first place?

I did yet another scientific IM study of my friends to answer this one. The overwhelming answer was that, given a certain situation, most guys would be willing to sleep with a woman one time even if there wasn’t a large amount of attraction between them, just because sex is sex and sometimes you want it or you’re too lazy to say no. However, a friends with benefits situation would be too hard with someone you’re not attracted to, because a FWB relationship is based on sexual attraction, and not really on that whole friendship thing.

I mean, think about it. How many ugly hooker mugshots have you seen in your day? Girls with meth addictions who need the cash bad are never very good looking. Somehow they still make money. And it’s not always by sleeping with guys who are too ugly to get laid in real life. Sometimes guys are just desperate for sex. Period.

I would like to point out, however, that just because he says he’s not attracted to you, it doesn’t mean you’re ugly. You are not a meth-addicted hooker, I presume. He may have just gotten scared off because you were wanting more than just sex, e.g. a friendship (which is a relationship, lest we forget). He may have been attracted to you in a purely physical (desperate sexual) way before you started in on the “let’s be friends first” shenanigans. This whole “trying to be attracted to you” thing has some funny wording to it that I can’t say one way or the other, especially since I don’t know him.

But I can say he sounds like a desperate sleaze bucket who needs to learn that if he wants sex, he should either be a charming enough guy to get it, or learn to pay for it from women who are desperate as he is.

My advice to you is: find someone who’s willing to get to know you if that’s what you want. Don’t settle for a shoddy “friends with benefits” situation where there’s not really a friendship and you’re not getting any benefits. Unless you’re really desperate for sex, there’s no reason to settle for a desperate sleaze bucket yourself.


between friends

Reader W. J. writes:

I just got out of a long-term relationship and have been trying to teach myself how to play the field. I met a guy at a show while I was on a date with another guy and, thanks to the wonders of Facebook, found him and started flirting with him. I went on a date with the new guy and had a blast. The problem is that these guys are friends. Since the date with the second guy, the first guy has told me that he’s really into me. But I think I’m more interested in his friend. I also think guy #1 has told guy #2 of his interest, and this has made guy #2 back off. (I haven’t heard from him since our date.) So what should I do?

Dear W.J.:

Sticky sticky sticky!

One of my top rules of dating in multiples is not to double dip your stick into the same pot, i.e. don’t date guys from the same friend group. I can stretch it a bit here and clarify that you shouldn’t SERIOUSLY date guys from the same friend group, and/or sleep with them, just for the sake of being a classy dame. Apparently, many guys have absolutely no problem hooking up with a girl one of their buddies has let her go, but I just think it’s a tacky thing for a girl to do and avoid it at all costs personally.

two boys

Go ahead, pick one. Image: graur codrin /

On the flipside, I won’t hook up with anyone a good friend has hooked up with for the same reasons. I like to eschew drama when and where I can. And if guy #2 is avoiding you because guy #1 has spilled his guts about being enamored of you, it’s possible guy #2 feels the same way I do about letting friends claim their own territory.

However, your feelings are what matter. And if you’re not interested in guy #1 and would like to pursue something with guy #2, then you should make that clear. To both of them.

Furthermore, since you’re being honest and saying you’re trying to play the field, you have the advantage of not necessarily wanting things to get serious with anyone.

Tell them separately what your feelings are. You can tell guy #1 that you’re not interested in him without bringing up the fact that you’re interested in guy #2, but it’ll probably be easier if the long run if you’re completely honest about it and say that you’re interested in dating guy #2, because guy #1 is going to find out eventually if things go forward between you two. You should probably also point out that the reason(s) you’re not interested in guy #1 isn’t because you want to date guy #2. You don’t have to tell guy #1 it’s because he’s a slob, or not very smart, or you don’t find him physically attractive. But he may want to know your reasons if he’s a glutton for punishment.

After you’ve settled things with guy #1, I think it’s fair to tell guy #2 that you like him. Tell him you’ve talked about it with his friend, too. (Boys don’t communicate with each other about these things. It’s the darndest thing.) Let him know that if he feels the same way, you’d like to pursue something with him. But leave it open. Again, you’re not in a hurry and you’ve got other fish to fry. No need to settle on someone right now, since you’re just out of a relationship. That should relieve a lot of the pressure, too.

The best rule of thumb here is to know what you feel and be honest and open about it. The only person you have to answer to is yourself.


christmas hints

Reader M. T. writes:

As a woman, I make a study of my awesome man’s needs and get him the most appropriate thing(s) for his birthday or Christmas. He of course loves it, but he skips out on reciprocating and makes up for it with a nice dinner. In the past I’ve talked him into buying me something sexy, so he gets a benefit too, yeah – he likes it… But bottom line, I’m telling him what to get me. Those two times a year I would love to be surprised with something he took time to think about that fits me and my needs to a tee. Since he’s generous, protective, responsible and sensitive to me, should I just let this go? Or is there a way he could learn to gift to me that would boost both of our good feelings about ourselves and our relationship?

Dear M.T.:

It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship, so congrats.

One thing about wonderful relationships is that we forget that they can evolve and change, and that there is always room for improvement. Asking your significant other to try something new is not a sign that your relationship is falling apart, or that you should break up, or anything like that. In fact, introducing new aspects to an old relationship can bring back the spice, if you know what I’m saying. It’s part of intimacy — sharing and growing together.

a surprise

What could it be?? Image: Suat Eman /

I think you should talk to your man about how you’d like to be surprised. Do it gently, of course — assure him that you love the dinners and you love him and you don’t want him to change (just his Christmas process). Tell him that you would just like him to try surprising you, maybe even just this once, for Christmas or your birthday. Tell him he’s known you long enough to take a stab at what you’d like without you having to tell him, and that you’ll like whatever he gets you.

And of course, then you really do have to like whatever he gets you.

Encourage him to go on impulse when he’s out shopping for you. Tell him just to get the first thing that comes to mind and surprise you with it. If you want to be extra nice, you could drop hints the week beforehand, such as: “Wow, those rings at that store are gorgeous.” OR “You know, I still don’t own a red lace bra.” True, you’re technically telling him what you want, although it’s less direct than telling him “Go to Victoria’s Secret and get me the Very Sexy Push Up Bra in a 36C.”

Buying gifts can be a stressful experience. As I’ve said before, we buy gifts for people because we think we know them and want to show this off. He may not be confident in his gift-buying abilities, and you’re going to have to convince him that those abilities are good enough for you, regardless of how he uses them.

Furthermore, if there’s any kind of financial strain going on in his world, you should take great pains to empathize and let him know it’s the thought that counts. He may have been dodging the present-buying bullet because he doesn’t feel he could get you a present worth as much in money as he feels you’re worth in love (or something similarly corny, sorry). If he can’t get you anything more than a ring from a Cracker Jack box, you should take it with a grain of salt. (And FYI – rings from Cracker Jack boxes are extremely romantic, especially if you’ve seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.)

He may have any number of reasons for not getting you surprise presents in the past. But, just like with other relationship things (like sexual preferences), talking about it can only increase your intimacy.

Remember, he may have no clue that this is bothering you. In fact, he will probably be completely and totally surprised that you feel shortchanged by his lack of gift-giving. Make sure you’re not accusatory when you bring it up. Use “I feel” statements, not “you never” statements. This is, technically, you’re problem. If he had a problem with it, he’d be trying to change it.

And you should also keep in mind that he may never learn the skill of gift buying. He might be willing to try it once because you ask him to, but he may never be able to come up with ideas on his own. Some people just aren’t gifters.

Therein lies what is probably my best advice in this matter:

I may have mentioned this before, but there is some theory out there somewhere (told to me and a group of impressionable teenagers by a youth pastor at some point) that human beings show love in one of several ways: spending time, acts of service, physical love, talking, and/or gift-giving. So people who show love by spending time will just show up and hang out with you, or make plans to do so. People who are talkers will call you. People who do service will unload your dishwasher or rake your lawn.

On the flip side, these people will also think you love them if you do their love-show right back.

It’s a nice idea to observe your partner and figure out how he shows his love, because that is how he will understand love from you, too. It sounds to me like he’s a time-spender/service-type (hence the nice dinners). He may also be a physical type. (NB: “sex” is not the same as  “physical love” in this sense — physical affection types are the ones who give and receive hugs openly and love holding hands, etc. Most men like sex. That doesn’t mean they all interpret physical affection as love. And neither do all women.) So keep in mind that while you interpret giving gifts to him as a show that you’ve been paying attention and love him, he may not interpret it in the same way.

Suggest to him that you two can learn to show love for each other in different ways. You’re a gift-giver and therefore a gift-receiver, so it means a lot to you to get surprises. He’s a time-spender, so it means a lot to him to plan things together, and you’re willing to do more of that if need be.

If you two can both study each other’s methods of showing affection and try to craft your own skills to match your partner’s, you’ll be in good shape. Better shape, I should say, since you’re already in good shape.

Just make sure it’s not a one-sided attempt at improvement, or one or the other of you is going to get resentful at having to do all the work.


new fling gift protocol

Reader L. S. asks:

I am in a very new relationship, and I think I want to get my new fling a gift for Christmas.  I don’t want to be presumptuous that we’re more than we are. But at the same time, I want him to know that I like him. So, what is the protocol on new relationships over the holidays — present or no present?

Dear L.S.:

Here is my hard and fast rule on gift giving: If you feel like getting someone a gift, do it. If you don’t, don’t.

Giving someone a gift is about your feelings for them. It has nothing to do with their feelings for you, or at least it shouldn’t. Giving a gift says “I know you; I know what you like; at least, I think I know you and I think I know what you like, and here’s my best attempt at showing you this”. This is why we get so disappointed when we get ugly sweaters from our mothers-in-law or vacuum cleaners from our boyfriends. It’s because we feel like they just proved they know nothing about us. In these cases, it’s almost better to give nothing than to give something that’s actually not in line with what the person wants.

It’s also why I hate sending people lists of what I want for Christmas. It shouldn’t be compulsory, in my opinion, and if they can’t think of something to get me, then they shouldn’t feel they have to. That need to get someone something without knowing what is the exact compulsion that leads to bad gift giving.

Furthermore, it’s why we get upset when someone tells us they don’t want us to get them anything for Christmas. It’s a let down. When you have the need to give someone a gift, it doesn’t matter whether they have expressed their desire for it or not; it’s you showing that you care.

All I want for Christmas

Image: Suat Eman /

So if you want to get your new fling something, and you have an idea of what you want to give him, absolutely do it.

However, you may want to think about how he’s going to take this gift-giving, too. Even though my hard and fast rule says you shouldn’t care. Maybe there can be a difference between caring about what he might think and just being aware that he may have an adverse reaction. Let’s try that on for size, shall we?

I am glad you recognize how your new fling could take the gift-giving (i.e. presumptuous that you’re more as a couple than you actually are).  Or he could react by being ecstatic. I must reiterate that while you should not take any of these reactions into your gift-giving plans (because you may not know how he is actually going to react), you should at least be prepared for a reaction from this new fling of yours. How he responds could speak volumes about the future of your relationship. For instance, here are a few scenarios:

– He says, “Thank you, this is perfect! Now open what I got for you!” And you live happily ever after.

– He says, “Thank you, this is perfect! But I haven’t gotten you anything!” And you’ve taken the relationship up a level he wasn’t expecting, but is happy about.

– He says, “Dammit, now I have to get you something.” And you’ve taken the relationship up a level he wasn’t expecting, and is not happy about.

– He says, “Oh. Thanks.” And hides the present away or never uses it, thinking you don’t know him at all and probably you two shouldn’t be together.

– He says, “Oh, uhm, thanks.” And hands you a present that is as unsuited to you as yours is to him. And you both feel awkward and break up a few weeks later.

– He dumps you because he’s totally uncomfortable and thinks you’re taking things too seriously.

See? So many outcomes! Or he could react in a way I haven’t listed here at all! Be prepared.

Still, I say take the risk. Since you’re sure you like this person and you want to show him this, I say there is nothing wrong with getting him a present without caring how he could react. It’s basically just like telling someone you like them. If they don’t feel the same way, you can deal with that after you’ve told them. But you’ll never know unless you go through with it.

You can lessen the risk a bit by broaching the subject with your new SO to give him a heads up. Just ask, “Are we planning on doing presents for Christmas this year?” Notice I used “we”, not “you” or “me”. Yes, it implies a lot of intimacy, but it’s also not accusatory. Asking this will let him know that you’ve been thinking about it. He’ll probably say, “I don’t know, are we?” At which point you can confess that you were considering getting him a present, and he can know what to expect.

Surprises are fun, too, though, and the holidays are all about surprises. Maybe you can try being brave this season and expressing yourself without expecting reciprocation, or caring what the other person might think. It’ll be fun.


getting over the de-friending

Reader G. C. writes:

A friend of mine recently deleted me from her Facebook friends, apparently. Yes, I even did all the work of checking to see that her profile still exists; I just got pruned. The worst part is that I was head over heels in love with her. Obviously she doesn’t (and didn’t) feel the same way. So what can I do to get over this?

Dear G.C.:

What a horrible way to get over a crush.  Now at least you know how she feels. Or you can pretend you know how she feels.

I don’t mean to foster hope where there should be none, but here’s the thing: Sometimes we de-friend people on Facebook not because we don’t care about them, but because we care about them too much. I at least am much more likely to de-friend an ex-boyfriend I don’t want to see anymore than a friend who’s just annoying me.

Still, if you two didn’t have some sort of falling out or argument, and she cut you from the friends list, it’s probably safe to say that she didn’t feel the way about you that you did about her.

Whom shall I de-friend now?

"Whom shall I de-friend next?" Image: graur razvan ionut /

I know I talk a lot about the act of de-friending and the etiquette of Facebook and other social networks. Mostly, when people discuss this etiquette, we talk about the person who is doing the de-friending and how they are to go about doing it, rather than the person who has been de-friended. You raise a very good point. What are we supposed to do when someone we really like does away with us on their social networking site?

You have several routes to take, and which you take probably depends on how courageous you’re feeling (or how much you’ve had to drink). The fact is, you’ve been hurt. You’re going to deal with this the same way you’d deal with any other type of hurt feelings. You can either confront the person who’s offended you or just let the cut ties be cut. That is up to you. But it’s going to take a few weeks at least for the pain to wane enough that you’ll be sane about it again. Pain has a half-life. Respect it.

There are a few things you may consider to mitigate the feelings a bit while you’re healing:

Communicate directly with the offender.

This is hard when your feelings have been smashed, but sometimes it’s best to hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth. This is for anyone who would rip the bandaid off all once rather than little by little. Sometimes deeper pains heal faster than the shallow ones, probably because these deeper ones start off so bad that any change is always for the better. Anyway, chances are she didn’t know how you felt. Or she may have de-friended you because she did know and didn’t feel the same way. The only way you’ll ever know is by asking her. Apparently, she didn’t block you entirely, so she doesn’t hate you to the point of wishing you out of existence. If you can handle the rejection a second time, go for it and ask what’s up. I’d suggest a Facebook message. (Why not?) Just be gentle. “I noticed we aren’t friends on Facebook anymore, and I was just wondering why?” Keep it short. Keep it sweet and non-accusatory. Don’t mention the fact that you’re in love with her. And be ready to either never hear back or get news you’re probably not going to like.

Find some healing elsewhere on Facebook.

Even while you can view this cut-off as the final end to your relationship, you can find some comfort in other places on Facebook. I wouldn’t recommend looking at her page (ever again, actually), but maybe some of your mutual friends’ pages can give you some relief. Has she de-friended all your other friends? Maybe she’s just pruned the friends list down to 100 or less. (I have many a-friend who does this.) If that’s the case, perhaps you can view this cut as less personal than you might ordinarily find it.

There are all kinds of little Facebook things you can do to make yourself feel better.How about you take this opportunity to prune your own list? Take some control back. Why not cut out any other girl you’ve had a crush on that doesn’t feel the same way you do? Or anyone whose intentions toward you are less than noble? Or you can just go through your privacy settings and cut out things you don’t like. Hide the status updates from the annoying people or block the apps you can’t stand. Make a list of people who can’t post to your page or see your photos. Half the time, they won’t know the difference. But it’s your page, and you can do what you want with it. She took control of her page. Why don’t you do the same?

In fact, I would totally recommend blocking her. Then you won’t see things she types on friends’ pages, and you won’t have to deal with thinking about her unnecessarily. Furthermore, why not reconnect with some other friends? Find a new crush. Facebook is full of people you never knew you knew.

Take some time off Facebook.

I think this is my best advice for you. You’re probably going to be obsessing over her. You’ve already looked at her page to see if she’s still around, and what’s worse is that over the next few weeks, if she hasn’t de-friended all your mutual friends, you’re going to be seeing whatever activities she’s doing on Facebook with them. Give yourself some time to heal. Take a break from Facebook. You don’t have to delete your account — just put it on hold for a while. That way you’ll be at least somewhat less tempted to check up on her every ten minutes. Take at least two weeks off (honor the half-life of pain) and find something else to do with your time. I know, I know — what was life like before there was a Facebook? Try your best to remember, at least for a little while. See how long you can go just talking to people you love and who love you back, and people who exist in your life even if Facebook doesn’t.


This is the most important part. Give yourself space and time. Remember that how you feel right now is not how you’re going to feel in two weeks. Some day you may not even remember this slight against you, and you’ll be head over heels for someone else. Hopefully someone who’s head over heels back.



Reader H. G. writes:

I am one of those girls that gives PMS a bad name. I lash out at coworkers, I tell off my boyfriend, I have screaming raging fits, and then I cry. For hours. I am just awful. And I’m tired of it. I’m considering taking hormonal birth control to get rid of it. What do you think?

Dear H.G.:

As a thoroughly modern girl, I am generally a big fan of hormonal birth control. For me, the fact that I won’t get pregnant is almost an afterthought to the everyday benefits I’ve gotten from my own time on the Pill — clearer skin, greatly lessened cramps, and a much shorter time with Aunt Flo every month. Hurray!


Maybe all our problems can't be explained away by our raging hormones. Image: br3akthru /

However, medicating “emotional problems” with hormonal birth control is not something I can totally get behind.

Doctors have actually labeled severe PMS as PMDD — premenstrual dysphoric disorder. According to most statistics, less than 10% of all women are affected by PMDD (most conservative estimates put it at under 5%, in fact). The biggest hallmark of this disorder is that it’s cyclic; that is, you have these rages and horrible cramps right before you’re going to get your period, and the rest of the time, you’re normal.

However, remember that only 5% of the population of women are really diagnosed with PMDD. It’s a lot more rare than you might think. And the symptoms have to be pretty severe.

So let’s take a step back here.

Are you unhappy with your job more than just the week before you get your special visitor? Are you unhappy with your boyfriend at times when you’re not expecting Uncle TOM (Time of Month — my sisters and friends and I had some great euphemisms when we were in middle school)? Are you just blaming your sadness on your moontime because it’s convenient?

I can’t stress enough that I am all for the health benefits associated with hormonal birth control. Good riddance to those cramps! And thank the fates I no longer have to worry about packing enough tampons to staunch the flow every month. But there are also health risks associated with the stuff, even if you’re not a smoker. And more importantly to me, you need to make sure you’re not just trying to create a false sense of security for yourself by medicating emotions that really need to be addressed.

I have personally blamed a lot of my own bad-off reactions to life on hormones. I was definitely on the wrong hormonal birth control my first year of college (here’s a tip — tell your doc you want something low estrogen, trust me), and I was an uncontrollable wreck who cried all the time and gained 15 lbs. because of it. But that doesn’t mean that the guy I was dating who made me cry was any less of a jerk. It just means I could blame the crying on the Pill rather than our relationship, and not necessarily have to act to get out of it. I’ve done it when I was coming off anti-depressants, too — thinking everything would be okay and I would be fine once the haze of coming down wore off. But that wasn’t the case. Shitty boyfriends are still shitty whether you’re hormonal or not. Being underappreciated at work doesn’t go away just because I’m not PMSy.

Let’s look at this another way: Maybe what’s happening to you is that you’re in a cruddy job or a cruddy relationship, and your hormones are just exasperating the problem.

I say listen to what your body needs. Maybe it does need medical help for extreme mood swings or really seriously bad cramps. But maybe it also needs you to reprioritize your life, find a job where you feel comfortable, and get out of a harmful relationship.

To determine this, I’d recommend keeping a mood journal. Write down how you feel every day. Write down any extenuating circumstances that may be affecting your mood — job stress? debt? fight with the BF? It doesn’t even have to be that detailed. You can find a printable chart and just tick off how you feel every day. Some services offer these apps for your fancy phone, too, and those will probably analyze the results for you, too. (Avoid any of the charts sponsored by Big Pharma. I just don’t trust anyone who’s gonna’ make money off the drug to diagnose me with the illness.)

Do this for at least two months (that’s two cycles of your menses), but preferably more, before you decide you want to get on the pill. And be really honest about it. Don’t put “PMS” down as a reason you’re angry. Really take your emotions seriously. Give your heart some credit here.

Docs are very willing to prescribe us ladies these drugs, but remember that they will cost money, especially if your insurance isn’t family-planning friendly. Furthermore, they can wreak even more havoc on your hormones if you’re on the wrong one, and the only way to know that is to try out different types for three months and see what happens. (That is a really scary awful process. Talk about mood swings, ack.) Make sure your moods are following the moon rather than actual events going on before you commit to spending that money every month on something that may make things worse before they get better.

If you still think your problems can be solved by a magical pill (sounds kind of silly when you think of it that way, doesn’t it), make sure you do your research about which one is right for you.

And I’d say keep your mood journal even after you’re on the drugs. Make sure it’s really helping. If after four months you don’t see a significant decrease in the monthly bitchfest, something else has gotta give — either you change drugs, or you change something else in your life.

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