Posts Tagged ‘relationship


setting the ex up with someone new

Reader N.G. writes:

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

Dear N.G.:

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

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

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

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

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

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


breaking the relationship news to your old crush

Reader W.S. writes:

I’m good friends with a girl I had a crush on for a long time. I recently got over the crush, and have developed a serious relationship with a new girl. I realized the other day that I haven’t told my former crush anything about the new girl — not even that she exists. We haven’t ever discussed relationships at all in the past, so it’d be kind of weird for me to just bring it up. I’m afraid my former crush will be hurt if she finds out I’ve got a new GF through an avenue other than me. What should I do?

Dear W.S.:

Congrats on getting over your crush. Because that would be my first advice.

The fact that you haven’t even brought up the existence of your girlfriend to the crush makes me think that, even if you are consciously over this crush, your unconscious may not quite be ready to relinquish it.

Yes, you and this old crush of yours have established a way of talking that doesn’t include any discussion whatsoever of your relationships. Possibly this was because she felt the same way about you as you did about her; or it was because she sensed your crush on her and didn’t want to hurt your feelings; or maybe it was because she just didn’t want to broach the topic of romance with you ever out of fear that you would admit your undying love for her and ruin the friendship. I can’t say.

You probably need to establish a new mode of communication with this former crush of yours, if you’re really over it and you’re just going to be friends from now on.

Why not just start talking about your girlfriend? I’m sure your crush asks how your weekend was, and you can at least say, “I laid low with the new GF.” Then your former crush can ask you all the details about who this girl is, and punch you in the arm for not telling her sooner, and know for sure that you had a crush on her, because if you didn’t, you would have told her the minute it happened, probably.

Or you can wait until she finds out about the GF from someone else. Facebook photos of you and the girlfriend together at some weekend getaway; comments from other friends about how sweet your new girlfriend is; catching you texting with the girlfriend; running into you at a movie theater one day; she’s bound to find out somewhere.  Which may hurt her feelings, but since you’re over the crush, that shouldn’t bother you too too much. At least, not like it would have when you had a crush on her.

Are you really over the crush? Are you hiding the GF because somewhere, deep down in your gullet, you’re trying to preserve whatever hope you had of something happening between you and the crush?

Let’s put it this way: if the crush said to you, after finding out about your new GF, “Well, damn, I mean, I thought eventually you and me would end up together.” … would you dump the GF in a hurry?

If you would, then you should probably not be with the GF in the first place, because holy canoli is that ever unfair. And you’re not over the crush. And you need to admit that to yourself.

But if you wouldn’t, then you should just man up and get rid of any vestigial crush hanger-ons. The best way to do that? Prove to the crush that it’s over. Sometimes we just have to change the direction of conversation, even if we have old habits of talking. Just put it all out on the table, and the crush you had on this girl will actually be dead.

“Hey, former crush, I’ve got a girlfriend, and since we’re going to continue to be friends, I’d like you to know all about her.”

Piece of cake.


fantasy date

Reader K.B. writes:

I have met a girl that I don’t know really well, but I know we’re both mutually interested in each other romantically. I want to take her out, but I’m out of ideas. From a female perspective, what would be a great date?

Dear K.B.:


You asked for it.

the perfect date

This could be you. Image: Francesco Marino /

I’ve first got to toss out the disclaimer that ALL GIRLS ARE DIFFERENT. I mean, we’re basically the same, but for the most part, we like to at least think we’re individual and unique snowflakes and you wouldn’t take us on the same date you’d take some other girl. Therefore, I will give you guidelines rather than actual hard and fast rules you should follow. Wing it a little. Creativity and confidence make us quite happy.

I’d say a great date would involve any combination of the following:

– Good alcohol

– Good food

– Humor*

– The ability to talk*

– The chance to feel pretty*

– An opportunity to wander around looking at things

– The chance to feel smart

You see, these are very basic guidelines. What constitutes a great date depends entirely on the girl, what your interests are, what her interests are, and what part of the world you live in. But you can be sure that if the chemistry is right and you can find some place with really flattering lighting, the date will go best if you can talk to each other and participate in something fun that will also give your lady date an opportunity to show off somehow.

For this reason, I never ever recommend going to a movie until you’re pretty well settled as a couple. Not only do movies not give you the opportunity to talk, but they also mean you’re spending the whole time looking at someone other than your date. Who wants that?

And while I personally would love to go on a date to the opera, the same troubles with movies arise with plays and musical theatre, too. Show off your burning desire to see La Bohème? Or actually have a chance to talk to her? It’s a fine line to walk, amigo.

I would definitely suggest you avoid doing any activity that you are not totally sure she enjoys. Unless she’s really a fan of football, don’t suggest you go watch football at a bar. Especially since your attention is going to be on the game and not each other. Use your noggin.

But I’m sure you want some actual suggestions. So now we get to dive right back into the world of Kat’s fantasies and go through a list of great ideal dates**:

Fancy Dinner

Pros: Excuse to get mad dolled up (everyone looks better mad dolled up); opportunity to show off knowledge of wine list (if either of you has any); great opportunity to talk; bonus points for old school romance feeling.

Cons: The ever-awkward check-splitting-or-not moment; sometimes the fancy can put a strain on things.

Museum Trip or Trip to the Zoo

Pros: Great chance to chat while you walk around; possible cute moment of holding hands while walking; great opportunity for one or both parties to show hidden knowledge of art/history/animals; zoo = cute automatically; great opportunity to show you’re paying attention to her if there’s a special exhibit concerning one of her favorite artists/time periods/animals.

Cons: Crowds; loud noises; museum legs; possibility of no alcohol.

Concert or Music Fest

Pros: Fun!; music is good; if you like the same band it’s a great opportunity to bond over it; there will probably be booze available.

Cons: Not a great place to talk (although talking afterwards is probably going to happen).

Hike or Run or Walk or Bike Ride

Pros: Nature makes people happy; exercise makes people happy and increases endorphins; great opportunity to talk; great opportunity to show off athletic prowess.

Cons: No booze; great opportunity to show off lack of athletic prowess; not necessarily a good idea in the middle of winter.

Shopping for Shoes or Lingerie

Pros: She will be completely taken by surprise that you want to go shoe or lingerie shopping; it is highly doubtful any other man has ever offered to take her shoe/lingerie shopping in the history of her life;  it’s a great opportunity to talk and get to know her (especially her taste in shoes/lingerie); it’s a great opportunity to throw sex into the mix (sexy shoes! sexy lingerie!).

Cons: No booze; possibility that you will get put immediately onto the friends ladder because that’s who she shoe/lingerie shops with; do you REALLY want to go shoe/lingerie shopping?

* Indicates extra important aspects of a date
**These are ideal for Kat only. Not to be used on other girls. Kat is a beautiful and unique snowflake.

girls with boyfriends

Reader D.K. writes:

I went to a party this weekend and met a very beautiful woman. She was a professor and studying to get her PHD. We talked for most of the night and eventually she said, “You seem like an interesting person, I’d like to get your number so we could talk more.” I didn’t even have to ask for hers! No sooner did she do this than her bf walked up. He was a really tall skinny drink of water. And while I’m no prize myself I was clearly better looking than he. Question is, should I follow up on this or should I steer clear of some potential drama?

Dear D.K.:

My immediate answer is: steer clear of the drama! One of my personal rules is that I won’t get involved romantically with someone who is in a “committed relationship”, whether it’s bf-gf, marriage, or whatever in between. Even open relationships are off limits to me most of the time, just because I don’t want to deal with the drama. I have no problem with other people doing whatever they want, but I personally will refuse to be “the other woman” in any situation. I also don’t have a competitive bone in my body, so if a guy expresses that he even likes another girl, he is all hers in my head.

That said, your own morality must dictate your actions here. If you feel you can withstand the kind of drama that is inevitably going to result, and you have no qualms being “the other guy”, go for it.


I'm sure she's magical. Image: Francesco Marino /

Keep in mind that she may just want to be friends with you. This is one of those “When Harry Met Sally” moments, where I have to explain to you that some ladies just want to be friends with a guy, and you respond that guys can’t be friends with girls because in reality, the guy just wants to sleep with the girl. Just because you’re interesting (and better looking than her current partner) doesn’t mean she’s definitely got her eyes set on you for any purpose beyond just getting to know you. Especially if she was willing to get your number at a party where her boyfriend was also in attendance.

Furthermore, unless she gave you her number, she’s the one in control here. You might not even have the chance to pursue her. If she wakes up Monday and realizes getting your number implied something she didn’t mean, she may decide never to call you in the first place.

Keeping this in mind, if you do decide to pursue things with her, you might want to clear the air from the beginning to see what she’s after. Ask her if she intended her advances to be seen as romantic or just friendly, because you noticed she had a significant other at the party. You’ll probably figure out what she’s after pretty quickly without having to ask, but it may be best just to know up front so you don’t spend months chasing after a girl who isn’t playing chase. She may be in that relationship for the long-haul, and you may have no idea what you’re actually up against. Your best route here is to ask her.

Maybe you’re the competitive sort, and even if she has no intention of breaking it off with her bf, you’re going to pursue it romantically anyway. I can’t understand the reason you would put yourself through that sort of hoop-jumping and heartache, but if splitting up couples is your thing, have at it.

One piece of warning here. I’m going to grab a quotation from Othello on this one: “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:/She has deceived her father, and may thee.” That’s Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, warning Othello that if his daughter is capable of deceiving her father, she may very well deceive her husband, too. My take on this is: would you trust a woman who left another man for you, not to leave you for another man? Just something to consider. Maybe you are better looking than her current bf, and maybe you’re more interesting, too. But I doubt you’re the most interesting or good-looking guy she’s going to come across in her life.

Good luck, whatever route you decide to take. She sounds charming and fun, and you may just get a great friendship out of the deal. Maybe she has some hot, actually single friends you could snipe, too — you never know.


breaking your own rules

Reader S. D. asks:

I have this friend who says she really doesn’t like being in a committed relationship. She always says she would prefer to just be free, especially sexually, and not tied down so much.  Recently she started seeing one guy, and now she’s calling him her boyfriend, and some of us are a little weirded out by it.  She isn’t really interested in getting married or having kids, so I don’t see why (and I think she sees it this way too) she even needs to be in an exclusive relationship.  I don’t want her to be in a relationship just because he thinks she should be, which I think may be the case. Should I confront her about this?

Dear S.D.:

I’m gonna’ use something from my degree in sociolinguistics to explain my opinion on this. It’s going to be a bit of an analogy, and it explains a lot about my world view as a whole, so hold on to your hats for a bit.

sometimes a BF isn't a bad thing

C'mon, how could she say no? Image: graur razvan ionut /

In language, there are two types of grammar: the one made of prescriptive rules, taught to you by your kindergarten teacher, and the one made of descriptive rules, which you actually speak. When most people hear the word “grammar”, they think of the the prescriptive rules: “You may not end a sentence with a preposition.” etc. Sociolinguists are far more interested in the descriptive rules: “People who speak English often end sentences with prepositions.” “Pre” means “before”; “de” means “after”. In this sense, prescriptive rules prescribe an ideal world and give an outline on how to get there; descriptive rules describe a natural process.

I apply these terms to life, as well. We have prescriptive rules, usually given to us by society (marriage is good; lying is bad; stealing is bad; exercise is good; etc), but if you look at the lives we actually lead, the descriptive rules sometimes say things very different (marriage isn’t always good; sometimes lying is necessary; sometimes stealing happens; sometimes cheeseburgers trump exercise). The natural flow of our lives doesn’t always fit with the rules we have for an ideal. And this doesn’t mean one is bad and the other is good.

So it sounds to me like what your friend has is a prescriptive set of rules about relationships, or maybe you have a prescriptive set of rules for her. “Free” and “unhitched” are what she’s said she wants, so that’s what you want for her, too.

However, maybe life has worked out differently than her prescribed rules (or your prescribed rules) have stated for her. It’s quite possible she’s come to the conclusion that she and this guy are already in an exclusive relationship, so calling it by its name isn’t really so terrible. Maybe having a boyfriend is a good thing for her right now.

Marriage and children aren’t the only things people get out of exclusive relationships, either. This is another set of prescribed rules I think we accept because society says so, but doesn’t really work all the time. The end goal of a relationship with another person is not necessarily producing offspring or standing in front of a priest and reciting vows. Sometimes it’s just enjoying that person’s company.

So, no, I don’t necessarily think you need to confront your friend about her being in a relationship even if she has sworn up and down in the past that she doesn’t want to be in one. (Didn’t you see “500 Days of Summer”?)

If she starts complaining about this relationship specifically, then that is when you need to talk with her about it. You apparently don’t know for certain that he’s the one pressuring your friend to be different than she wants to be. Her caving in to his pressures about the seriousness of the relationship is a touchy subject, and personally, I wouldn’t touch it unless she brings it up, first. Of course, I don’t think “confront” is the right word for how to react in that case; the word I’d look for here is “support”. Also, the old fashioned “I told you so” isn’t really the best idea, either. If she starts complaining about him, then by all means, encourage her to break the thing off. But only if she starts the convo.

But if she’s enjoying herself with this new fellow, and he’s not cramping her style, and maybe she’s actually happy, no. Let descriptive rules trump prescriptive rules (which they always will, btw), and go with it.



Reader T. G. writes:

My boyfriend works late every night, beyond what he’s scheduled to work. At first, I asked him to come home on time at least once a week. He couldn’t do it. Then I asked him to at least call and let me know if he was going to stay late. He can’t do that either. So I just sit around waiting for him for two or three hours after he’s supposed to be off work, not sure when he’s coming home. I feel like he’s chosen his job over me. He feels like I’m trying too hard to run his life. What’s the best compromise in this situation, or do you think I should just leave him?

Dear T.G.:

Workaholics are hard creatures to live with unless you, too, happen to be one. They don’t see a point in coming home when they could be working, regardless of how delightful you are as a partner. In fact, many people become workaholics when their home lives go bad; for many folks, work is a viable place to be when you dread going home. While your bf may be a natural workaholic, keep in mind that by asking him to do something against his very nature you might be exacerbating things. If he sees you as trying to control his life, he may be even more reticent to come home.

However, I cannot lay blame on you at all for his inability to come home on time or call to let you know he’s going to be late. That is his own choice, and you can’t take responsibility for his own actions.

What I want to try here is to reframe the situation a little.

yes, these are bolt cutters

Image: jscreationzs /

If he were a friend of yours, and not your boyfriend, you’d think he was really being inconsiderate. You might consider not hanging out with him anymore. You wouldn’t be afraid of losing his friendship, because his friendship kinda’ sucks. But since he’s your boyfriend, you’ll put up with a lot more than you would with any other relationship.

Okay, yes, significant others are supposed to hold a special place in our lives. That’s why they’re significant. At the same time, I’ve seen far too many women in my life put up with far too much just to keep a relationship that, were it under any other name, they’d dump in an instant.

I think as women we tend to think that the highest stakes in a relationship is losing the other person. Society, hormones, whatever it is, something tells us that we have to be in a relationship, and obviously keeping a partner is the highest priority in that situation. I think we should try to think about it differently. It’s your life, and maybe the highest stake is being unhappy. If being with him makes you unhappy, leaving is a better solution than trying to stay.

In fact, literally “leaving” — just going somewhere else — can create a world of difference in a relationship. If he doesn’t come home on time, go do something else rather than waiting around for him. This could accomplish one of two things for him: scare him into realizing you’re capable of actually leaving, or give him a bit of space so he realizes you’re not going to try and control his life. But most importantly, for you, physically leaving the premises would be taking a step towards being independent enough to actually be a participant in the relationship itself. You can’t have an equal partnership if one of the partners isn’t complete. There’s no need to sit around waiting for him to come home. Do other things.

I think as women we spend a lot of time being codependent and thinking about what the other person needs, rather than what we need. Quit thinking about what he needs. Think about what you need. Get what you need. That’ll take away the smothering feeling he’s got, for starters. But you need to empower yourself. You can never know what he’s thinking. It’s impossible. If he’s not expressing what he needs, you can never know that, either. You have to know what you want and what you need, and be able to express it. If your partner is mature, he’ll do the same. If he can’t meet your wants or needs, or if you can’t meet his, well…

Okay, okay, okay, someone recently accused me of just saying “dump him” every time I write this blog. I don’t mean that. Compromise is an important part of relationships. I admit it. I confess. No two people are exactly the same, and therefore, no two people are going to be able to have a relationship without compromise. Compromise is good. There are lots of things in life that are workable. Relationships require a lot of work and compromise.

But it has to be an equal attempt at compromise from both partners. From what you’ve told me, your compromise is living with the feeling that he’s chosen his job over you (which sucks!). He has compromised… nothing. That’s not fair, and not right. You have expressed a need, and he hasn’t met it. If he is incapable of compromising in a way that meets halfway (calling you if he’s going to be late seems pretty reasonable to me), then yeah, maybe you should go.

You have to decide how far is too far for you to compromise. As I’ve said in previous posts, sometimes there are personality quirks that you can live with, and sometimes there are personality quirks you can’t stand. Maybe you can’t stand a workaholic. I know I can’t stand someone with ADD. We all have our limits! He will probably never change, and if that’s the case, you need to decide if you can live with that. But you have to know your limits before you can effectively compromise.

Only you can change your priorities, and you certainly can’t change his. If you think you can learn not to care that he’s at work all the time, by all means, go for it. Changing your mindset can be healthy. But if it really bothers you, and he’s not willing to compromise in a way that helps you out, it may not be worth it to keep trying.

So get out of the house for a while without nagging him about where he is. Try distracting yourself and doing something you enjoy, rather than worrying. Be a complete person without him, and you may find your relationship makes a lot more sense with him.


getting him to like you

Reader N. R. asks:

I met a guy this weekend and I really think I like him. How can I make him like me back?

Dear N.R.:

I’m sure the advice “be yourself and have fun” won’t cut the mustard on this one, but they are good things to keep in mind. Getting someone to like you is actually a psychological game, regardless of how unromantic that sounds. Sometimes it just happens — good lighting, perfect conversation, the right band playing on the stereo. Other times, you actually have to watch your step. I’m going to tell you the tips I’ve learned from my kabillion years of experience in getting someone to like (or dislike) me. These tips work on getting a girl to like you, too; it’s all basic human psychology.

First off, don’t sleep with him right away. I know, sexual revolution, if you want sex you should have sex, blah blah blah. There are rare birds out there that are capable of handling a roll in the hay before you’ve established a personal relationship, but they are very rare birds. I have absolutely no evidence of this except personal experience, but there is something about the chase that tends to sustain a guy’s interest for longer. If you don’t want him relegated to the booty call (i.e. “imminently disposable”) segment right away, hold off. How long? That depends. Unless he’s saving himself for marriage (and in that case, you probably are too, and this advice doesn’t even matter), he may actually lose interest after a certain threshold. (And who knows, you might lose interest, too.) One month is probably a good line to draw in the sand. After two or three months, he may be looking for other outlets. (There are sex camels out there who can go for long periods without. They are amazing and they may just like you without you having to try.)


Everyone loves a puppy! Not everyone loves a person who's acting like a puppy, though. Image: graur razvan ionut /

Next up, make yourself slightly unavailable. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s that whole “chase thing” again. If you’re always right there like a puppy, there’s no reason for him to try, and even less reason to try to like you. Do not, under any circumstances, drop plans you have already made to go out with him at the last minute. Also, you don’t have to invite him to every shindig your friends are holding. Have other plans. He’s wondering if you’re available for dinner tonight? Ah, too bad, you’re already having dinner with friend X, but you’ll take a rain check. Say no once in a while. Keep him on his toes. Again, there are those rare moments where the lighting is perfect and you both just want to spend all your time together and it’s inevitable and whatever, but again, we’re talking about making someone like you, not reveling in the fact that someone already likes you.

In the same vein, don’t over-communicate. Don’t call him all the time; don’t text him all the time; don’t IM him constantly. I’m not saying don’t call at all, but take a step back and see if he comes to you first. If you’re always the one initiating conversation, you’re too available. There should be an even split between the communication. I am a huge advocate of deleting his contact information and forcing yourself not to call or text. Keep yourself busy.

Which leads me to my next point: be interesting. This is more for your own sake, and if you’re not already interesting by the time you’ve met the guy, it’s probably too late. Like I said before, you want to be yourself and have fun. But this means you should already have hobbies and activities that you’re into. Not only will this give you something to focus on other than him when you’re trying to be slightly unavailable, but it’ll give him something to ask you about, too. Get onto and get going!

Finally, convince yourself that you don’t care if he likes you or not. Or at least throw that energy out into the universe. Maybe deep down you are roiling with desire for his very presence, but don’t let on about it. Desperation is, as I’ve mentioned before, anathema to getting someone to like you. The very idea that you might not even be interested at all is like throwing chum to the sharks. Keep a cool calm surface regardless of your interior monologue. Later, when you’re married, you can laugh about how calm you appeared when in actuality you wanted to jump his bones the whole time. But for now, play it cool.

And in fact, not caring is the best thing you can do for yourself. If it ends up he doesn’t like you in the end, you won’t have put all this effort and time into a failed project.

Oh, and did I mention “be yourself and have fun”? That’s the best advice I’ve got.

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