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Archive for June, 2008

I’m an avid reader of a number of advice columns, and it seems that at least once a week, a woman writes to one or more of them regarding her boyfriend or husband’s porn habit.  A lot of women are threatened by porn:  the perfect fake breasts, the enthusiastic blow jobs, the glass-shattering moaning…how is a real woman to compete with these sexual automatons?  Do men prefer them to us?

Generally, they don’t.  I, for one, am not threatened by porn.  For an excellent explanation as to why, read this.  This quote sums it up nicely:

If you’re the kind of woman who thinks your partner’s watching porn because there’s something wrong with you, do you also think there’s something wrong with your cooking if he likes to eat out or that there’s something wrong with your DVD/TV set-up if he likes to go to the movies or that there’s something wrong with your driving if he wants to drive? Is it always about you?

Some people think that watching porn is cheating.  I disagree.  If the guy is watching porn but still attentive to his actual girlfriend or wife, where’s the problem?  If he avoids sex or social situations to stay home and watch porn, then it’s an addiction.  If it’s just a harmless hobby, you’re not going to get anywhere laying down ultimatums.  If you give the guy a choice between you and the porn, don’t be surprised he eventually chooses the porn…and finds another woman who’s more supportive of his habit.

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You all know the one-to-ten scale for rating a person’s hotness.  Seeing as my friends apparently have all invented named relationship theories, I’ll throw in The Binary Scale.  With binary numbers, you have zero and one.  If grading someone on The Binary Scale, you either like them or you don’t.  This is helpful for two situations that I can think of (feel free to add more):

1. You’re contemplating hooking up with someone.  Hot or not?  This is usually not a decision you agonize over, particularly when drunk.
2. Blind dates.  You never met ’em before, and you never worked your way up from friendship to dating, so you usually know within the first few minutes whether or not you’re going to regret agreeing to this.

If a more detailed analysis is necessary, one can move on to the one-to-ten scale.  Say you want to date a co-worker.  They get a one on The Binary Scale because they’re hot, but then you need to factor in all the ugliness that can result from bringing your personal life to the office.

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Between 40+ hours a week at work, the gym, volunteering, going out with friends, traveling, the occasional full night of sleep, and other activities, it’s amazing anyone finds time to date.  Making plans with people often dissolves into negotiations and concessions, lest one added activity upset the delicate balance of your schedule.

It’s not just finding the time, either.  Everyone is looking for the ideal person to squeeze into their lives — they’ll put up with your insane overtime at work, love all of your friends, and not mind at all if you cancel plans half the time.  They’ll tag along to museum galas or football games even if they’re not particularly interested in art or sports.  You don’t have to change your life around at all!

Oh, but you do.  Without my getting too “The Secret”-y, I’ll say this: You have to make space in your life for love.  If you tell all your friends you’re ready for a relationship, but you barely have time for a bowl of cereal, you aren’t yet.  The first part of being ready is getting to the place where you feel as though your great life would be made greater with the addition of someone to share it with.  The second part is being okay with scaling back on the life you had.  Relationships take work, and work takes time.

There was a commercial for some store about ten years ago that had a line that went: “Buy the half-price cocktail dress — the party will come.”  The same goes for dating.  Make room in your life for some spontaneous plans.  After all, you might meet someone tomorrow who you’ll want to go out with this weekend.

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Tonight, a friend of mine shared a genius theory.  She calls it the “Stupid Asshole/Crazy Bitch Spectrum.”  Basically, assuming that in their worst states, men are stupid assholes and women are crazy bitches, the continuum would look like this:

Stupid Asshole——–The Middle——–Crazy Bitch

If, in a relationship, one person is peachy keen while the other one is being a stupid asshole (sleeping with hookers) or a crazy bitch (repeatedly accusing the boyfriend of, say, sleeping with hookers when he’s actually not), the peachy-keen person might want to end things.  But if the guy and girl are both moving to their ends of the spectrum, they need to talk it out and, as my friend says, bring it back to the middle.  Return to the relatively neutral state where, for the most part, you respected and trusted each other.

You come up with the best stuff at parties.

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Most people recommend that when you’re on a first date, keep the conversation light and avoid controversial topics.  No sex, no religion, no politics.  I disagree.

Sure, start off with the usual pleasantries — where you work, hobbies, how many siblings you have, where your family is from.  But don’t be shy about things like the upcoming presidential election, your thoughts on adultery, and other taboo subjects.  If you’re looking to find someone to be in a serious relationship with, the purpose of dating is to find out if you can put up with them for a long time.  Disagreeing about fundamental things lessens your chance of a successful relationship.

You can pick out juicy bits of info if you read a bit between the lines of what your date says.  You won’t glean much from “I like to go hiking” other than the fact that the person is relatively active and likes nature.  Who doesn’t?  Try some meatier material and see what they say.
On the election: “Clinton never would have been a good president.  Women are too emotional to be in charge.” (red flag!)
On the environment: “Yeah, global warming is a problem, but it’s not my fault.  Would you like to see pictures of my Hummer?” (ditto)
On finances: “My job pays pretty well, but I make more in Vegas.  I owe my bookie a few million now, but I’ll totally make up for it the next time I play blackjack.” (run!)

See?  Don’t be so polite that you spend an hour discussing the weather.  Really try to get to know this person on a deeper level.  If they say things that disturb you, at least you know for sure that you’re not up for a second date.

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When guy friends tell me they got a girl’s number, and then ask when they should call her, I say “within three days.” Usually, any longer and the girl begins to expect no phone call, brands the guy a jerk, and moves on. You don’t want to call her after she’s branded you a jerk. And, really, people are quite busy. If you want to see this girl again, shouldn’t you try and work your way into her upcoming schedule? Don’t call her for the first time on Friday night expecting to go out with her that weekend.

On that vein, I’ll introduce an exception to the “within three days” rule. I call it the “call by Wednesday” rule. Let’s say you meet a girl on a Friday. Three days from that is Monday, which is pretty far from the next weekend. In that case, I think it’s okay to extend the acceptable calling period until Wednesday — close enough to the weekend to make plans, and not so far in advance as to seem overzealous. So, if you don’t want to count the days while trying to think of non-awkward ways to say “Hey, Amy, this is Tom! We met on Friday?”, just remember to call by Wednesday.

Here’s another tip: Don’t hold onto a girl’s number for a few months, call it, and then think she’s going to want to go out with you. That happened to someone I know, and she sad to me (while making a face), “He comes out of nowhere after like a year. Weird!” Yeah, do you want a cute girl to think you’re weird? Didn’t think so. If you meet a girl you want to see again, get her number and call within three days (or by Wednesday!). It’s that simple. If she gave you her number, she’s expecting you to use it.

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The other night I couldn’t sleep, and Tootsie was on TV.  You know, the one where Dustin Hoffman plays an unemployed actor who dresses as a woman to get roles?  He befriends/has a crush on a cast mate (Jessica Lange) who, when she breaks up with her sleaze of a boyfriend, has the post-breakup crying jag in the presence of the assumed-to-be-female friend.  “Who am I going to have dinner with?” Jessica Lange asks.  She immediately dismisses that thought as stupid, but she was on to something.

Dating someone gives you built-in Saturday night plans.  Suddenly, there’s no need to call up random friends, hoping you won’t have to spend another weekend alone at home.  It’s easy to get comfortable.  A friend of mine told me of someone she knows who has very few close friends, but is always in a relationship.  When those relationships go sour, they don’t have many people to turn to.  In those cases, finding someone new to date, even if they aren’t good for you, becomes a way to get over a breakup.

The reason a relationship ends is because there were problems in it.  Cultivate good friendships, so that if you experience another breakup, you have people to talk with.  Figure out what went wrong, what you can do to change, and what to look for the next time.  That way, with your friends’ help, you hopefully won’t make the same dating mistakes multiple times.

Also?  Don’t ditch your good friends when you start dating someone.  You need them in your life!

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