Archive for the 'relationships' Category


getting married in a hurry

Reader E. E. writes:

I have two friends who are eloping and it really bothers me. I just don’t think they’ve thought it through. She’s not pregnant (that I know of) and I just don’t think it’s wise to rush into a marriage, especially given the current divorce rate. How do I get them to think about it?

Dear E.E.:

By the time two people have announced they’re getting married, it’s far too late in the game to tell them they need to “think it over”. In fact, the more you tell them you don’t approve, the more likely they are to go through with it and just not invite you to the ceremony or the after party.

Telling someone you don’t think they should get married is just like telling a friend you don’t like their significant other — it’s going to drive a wedge between you. People who have decided to get married are every bit as headstrong as people who are dating, if not more so. If you are that certain that this elopement is going to completely ruin their lives and you’re willing to sacrifice your friendship over it, then by all means, tell them.

One ring to rule them all

Image: vichie81 /

If you were a parent or direct relation to the engaged parties, your say might have a little more weight. You could withhold inheritance money or something. And in fact, if it’s really that serious to you, saying you can’t be friends with them if they’re making this decision might sway them, although I doubt it.

I can understand your concern, of course. According to every statistic out there, our generation takes marriage about as seriously as we take reality TV (by which I mean, not at all). Britney Spears can do it in Vegas and get it annulled six hours later; gay people aren’t allowed to do it; half our friends and family members have gone through divorce, and it’s never easy or pretty, even if it’s mutual.

But don’t believe for a minute that eloping means they’re not taking marriage seriously or that they haven’t thought it through.

First of all, the fact that they’re not having a giant, stressful wedding could be a life saver for their relationship. We put a lot of pressure on people to make their wedding days the best days of their lives, and sometimes that’s a death knell.

Second, the length of an engagement is not a good gauge for a couple’s commitment level. We all know stories about people who met and got married within a week and are still together 50 years later. It’s not how long you’ve known each other that makes a marriage last; it’s how willing you are to work on staying together.

Third,  they’re adults, and you have to let them make their own decisions, whether it’s going to be a complete mistake or the best idea they’ve ever had.

Finally, try to take a step back and see if you feel like they shouldn’t married because you wouldn’t be ready in this situation, or because you really think they’re not ready. Your feelings on marriage are your own for your own reasons, and they’re perfectly valid, but remember: you’re not the one getting married. I think you will have a much better time with this if you ask your friends their reasons for getting married rather than telling them you think they’re too hasty, which comes across as judgmental. Talking with them about their reasons for such a quick wedding might actually put your mind at ease; just don’t plan on your input changing their minds at all.

My best advice: be happy for them. Whether they’re going to last together or not, they’re going to need your support and love, and that’s all there is to it.


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.


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.


the highly sensitive person

Reader S. I. writes:

I have a friend who freaks out about everything, and it’s really starting to bother me. She takes everything really personally. Like, one of our friends got her email address wrong in an email about a girls night out, so she didn’t hear about it until I forwarded the email, and then she said she didn’t think she was really invited, so she wasn’t going to go. Stuff like this happens all the time. What can I do?

Dear S.I.:

I understand the frustration you feel. It sounds to me like your friend is a Highly Sensitive Person, and the bad news is: if it really annoys you, there’s not much you can do about it, beyond leaving the friendship altogether.

The good news is, you can be aware of what’s going on, and maybe clue her in, too.

A Highly Sensitive Person is someone who exhibits traits of higher sensitivity than others. (Kinda’ obvious from the title, I think.) It’s not a diagnosis of  mental illness, it’s not on the autism spectrum, and it’s not caused by eating too much gluten, so don’t get too excited. It’s a personality trait that some scientists estimate 1 out of every 5 people is born with. Your friend was born this way.


Image: Naito8 /

HSPs tend to take things more personally than others, and many HSPs are also shy. However, the sensitivity doesn’t just center on their personal interactions; they also tend to be sensitive to physical stimuli, like noise, light, and even caffeine. HSPs get overwhelmed easily because for some reason, they are more sensitive to what’s going on than many of the people around them. If your friend is an HSP, she can’t help “over-reacting” — her sensitive nature just processes stimuli differently, and she honestly feels like your other friend left her out of the email chain on purpose.

As someone who is apparently HSP herself, I can tell you that it kind of sucks. I am often convinced that people don’t like me because of flippant comments, or how they react to my blog, and I don’t respond well to teasing. It’s embarrassing sometimes how personally I take things. Also, I can’t have more than one cup of coffee in the morning, because I get shaky and can’t sleep at night. I also get overstimulated by jack hammers in the street, loud parties, barking dogs, and screaming babies. It makes me feel really impatient and kind of ridiculous. I’m aware of what’s going on, but there’s not much I can do about it other than accept that it’s happening, and/or try to escape into a dark, quiet room.

However, there are benefits to being an HSP. People who have this trait tend to be more aware of nuances around them, and are great hosts at parties because they know exactly what someone else would need to feel comfortable. HSPs are also deeply moved by music, theatre, and art, which is kind of a bonus. We’re supposedly a bit more empathic, too; I’ll bet when your friend isn’t freaking out over some misunderstanding, she’s one of the best friends you’ve got.

Your friend probably has no idea that she’s an HSP. The best thing you can do for her is understand her condition yourself, and be a little forgiving. You can also let her know you think she may be HSP. Send her a link to an article about it, like The Highly Sensitive Person. (NB: She will probably be upset that you felt you had to send her a link about her behavior, but that will pass.) Let her read up on it, and if she can be more self-aware about it, she may be able to pick up on when she’s being over sensitive, and at least temper her reactions in a more positive manner. Why don’t both of you take the self-test and see where you land?

If you don’t think you can handle her sensitive nature, you may need to cool things in the relationship. It’s not your job to make her personality change, and if you are still annoyed with her even after you know what her condition is and have talked to her about it, maybe you two weren’t meant to be friends. That doesn’t make either of you bad people. Sometimes you can’t be friends with everyone.

Hopefully you can both come to terms with her sensitivity, and enjoy a less frustrating friendship.


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.


working out together

Reader W. H. writes:

Got any tips for working out with a significant other?

Dear W.H.:

Working out together seems like a great idea, and to some extent, it is — you are motivating each other, and that is awesome. But the fact is, matching your physical fitness goals with a partner you’re romantically invested in is actually hard. Personally, I hate working out with people, even if I am head over heels in love with them. The only person I’ve ever felt comfortable working out with was my twin sister. Since she lives over 2,000 miles away from me, I typically go to the gym alone and that is it.

working out

C'mon, babe, it'll be fun! Image: Ambro /

The fact is, we often fall in love with or at least date people who are not our “equals”, physically, mentally, or otherwise. Even if you’re both interested in physical fitness, chances are you don’t bench press the same amount, dance at the same level, or have the same ability to throw or catch a football. These latter aspects are things we tend to look for in a gym partner, not a life partner. This is fine — you probably don’t have the same work skills as your partner, either. Even if you work in the same office. Exact sameness is just not a priority for most humans.

Most of the couples I know who do go to the gym with their BF or GF split up to do their own things upon arrival — she hits the elliptical, he hits the bench press. I know a couple wherein the lady is a marathon runner and the dude is a body builder. They go to each other’s competitions to support each other, but don’t work out together.

That’s probably my top advice for you: go to the gym together and agree to meet up after an hour or so. You get all the benefits of having someone to spur you into working out without all the hang ups of working out with someone who is not your physical fitness match.

But there are definitely those couples who kiss each other between bicep sets, and talk to each other while they’re doing their abs. And there are those couples who run together. And I’m sure you can think of several couples who play tennis together or ride bikes together or whatever else. So it’s possible.

If you really want to work out with your partner, doing the same types of physical exertion, there are a few things I’d suggest you consider first.

What kind of workout are you looking for? For certain types of workouts, you need to have pretty much the same skills to workout with a partner. Running, swimming, hiking, biking, tennis… most two-person sports, etc., all fall into this category. My boyfriend runs a six-minute mile; I take twice that long. While we still run together from time to time, I often send him off ahead while I wheeze behind, because my lack of stamina doesn’t need to ruin his workout. If you and your partner don’t run at the same  speed or have a similar backhand, I would recommend going to the gym. At the gym, you can get on treadmills next to each other and run at different paces without losing each other, or lift different weights while still communing together. You could also join a sports team together, and play softball, kickball, or volleyball without having to be matched.

How similar are your workout goals? The biggest part of this component to consider is whether or not one of you actually doesn’t want to work out at all. In which case, dragging them to the gym will be futile. Don’t even bother. In order to work out at all, a person has to be willing to do so, period.

But there are subtler aspects to this question, too, though. If one of you is trying to slim down and the other is trying to bulk up, you could be slightly at odds. Diet and hormones have a lot of say in how our bodies look in the end, but people who are trying to lose weight tend to do more cardio and people who are trying to bulk up tend to do more bodybuilding. If your goals are similar, it’s a piece of cake; if your goals are different, you’re going to have to figure out a compromise — cardio one day, weight lifting the next, yoga together, spin class, etc.  Honestly, any type of exercise is good exercise, so unless you’re both really serious about your different goals, working out together shouldn’t be that hard.

Do you have matching levels of knowledge about the workout? Maybe she knows more about weights; maybe he knows more about cardio. Or vice versa. If you’re both pretty well-matched, then you can workout at the same things together (albeit at different levels, probably). Or you can take turns teaching each other about your specialty. I also like the idea of signing up for a class that doesn’t necessarily require a certain level of knowledge about the exercise. For instance, many yoga classes tend to have beginners and experts all mixed together, or spin classes give you your individual bike to work out on. This can help you vary your workout and broaden your love for your partner. Or it can make you hate each other endlessly. Which brings me to…

How patient are you with each other? This is actually the biggest part about working out with anyone. If you really cannot sit and wait for someone to understand something, or finish something, or do something right, you really shouldn’t be working out with them, even if you are so in love you can’t go anywhere without each other. How do you know if you’re capable of patience? Ask yourself the following:

– Do I ever feel the urge to hurt someone who I think is driving too slowly in traffic, has cut me off, or is otherwise inconveniencing my daily commute? (Or: Do I ever have road rage, even if I am not willing to admit it’s actually road rage?)

– Do I ever get unstoppably angry while standing in line?

– Do senior citizens and/or children annoy me? 

If your answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, I would not recommend you try to teach your spouse a workout routine, or how to play tennis, or how to pitch a baseball. Definitely split up when you head to the gym, even if you are similarly matched in terms of goals, knowledge, and fitness. Save yourselves. Love is not a salve for personality flaws. You might as well minimize them rather than exacerbate them in front of the person you ostensibly want to share your life with.

But if your answers to the above questions were no, then your ability to help your partner at the gym, or to accept their tips on your workout, might not be that big of a problem. Go ahead and run together, swim together, or lift weights together.

And lest we forget: there are other types of exercise that don’t involve leaving the house. Or the bedroom. If ya’ get my meaning. You can always just focus on making that aspect of the relationship a little bit more… intense.


going away party with a bang

Reader C. F. writes:

I am having a going-away party soon, and a significant number of my friends literally can’t be in the same room with each other. How do I handle this in a manner that will piss off the fewest people?

Dear C.F.:

This is reminiscent of that post I wrote about which half of a newly-split couple you invite to a party. But a bit more complicated.

The most important thing to remember about this is that it’s your party, not theirs, so what you say goes. If you have to kick people out, do. If you have to uninvite people, do. Who cares if it pisses them off?

Furthermore, why do you have friends who hate each other? This is too much drama for a Friday afternoon. Maybe you need new friends. Blood feuds are soooo 19th century.

But, okay, maybe you like these friends for reasons other than their silly dramas. Or maybe you’re totally overdramatic yourself (which is my suspicion). So you’ve got to throw this party whether they’re hatin’ on each other or not, and you care about their feelings. Okay okay okay.

I have a few ideas:

good party?

Good party? Or awesome party? Image: Piyaphon /

Give your feuding friends notice. If there are blood feuds between people, tell them that if they want to come to your party, they have to lay down the swords for one night and get over it. Remind them that their love for you should be stronger than their hatred of whoever. Consider hiring security, should a fight break out.

Make it a very public invitation and they can decide who’s not coming on their own. I’ve got at least one ex-friend who makes a point of responding “NOT ATTENDING” to any event that I have responded “ATTENDING” to, so that we all know that he’s absolutely not going to make it specifically because I’m there. In fact, he won’t even attend an event I’m just invited to. If your friends hate each other that much, they’ll probably work things out on their own. (Interestingly, I don’t hold this blood feud against this guy. I really don’t care if he’s going to be somewhere or not.)

Draw names out of a hat. Or have them draw straws. Or compete in feats of strength to prove they deserve to be at your party. If one of them is less of a friend to you than the other, you can crop them off the list. Or if one of them is more fun at parties than the other, you can invite that one.

Don’t invite the haters. Any of them. When they ask why they weren’t invited, you can tell them it’s because you didn’t think they could be civil. They’ll probably go ape shit, but that’s not your problem. This is what they get for acting like children.

Have someone else make up the invitation list. In fact, have someone else plan the whole damn party. It’d be like having a maid of honor, someone who’s supposed to keep your champagne glass full and hand you a handkerchief at the altar while handling all the petty nonsense you shouldn’t have to worry about. Only this is a going away party, not a wedding.

Buy extra popcorn and sit back to enjoy the fireworks. Just invite everyone and let them duke it out on their own. This works better if you’re having the party at a bar rather than, say, your house, btw. And if you can be laid back about it and not get involved in their drama yourself.

Don’t have a party at all. If your friends are really that incapable of handling human emotions and acting like grown ups, they don’t deserve the party you would throw anyway. Just grab a bottle of wine and watch episodes of Friends on Netflix or whatever. You’ll probably feel 10 times better going this route than than spending time with your “real” friends.

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