Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
Got a problem? E-mail Amy at AdviceAmy@aol.com.
Dawn of the Dud
I'm a 31-year-old guy who's just about given up on dating. My last girlfriend was desperately needy. She'd make me go to the store with her, and when I went to work, she'd hang out in my office all day. (She wanted to sit on my lap and talk to me while I worked.) It drove me nuts, so we split a couple months ago. The girlfriend before her couldn't stop going on and on about the details of her sex life with her former boyfriend. I can't seem to pick a winner. I think it's due to one of three things: 1) I'm attracted to girls with serious issues. 2) All girls are like that. 3) My standards are way too high. I'd love to have a girlfriend who doesn't have big issues, and who has friends, hobbies and goals beyond the relationship. Is that the impossibility it seems to be? -- Flailing Around in the Dating Pool
So, the last girl in your life not only went to the office with you but sat on your lap while you worked? Wait . . . you were dating a Chihuahua? Let's just hope she was woman enough to do her business in the ladies room instead of on Wee-Wee Pads under the conference table.
This girlfriend was the replacement for Lady Overshare, sexual historian: "We interrupt this relationship to bring you the nude stylings of Lincoln And His Log." And interrupt, and interrupt, and interrupt. Nothing like a woman who gets a guy all fired up to dash past the sexy underwear store to the pet store to buy her a muzzle.
Dating can be challenging for a man with standards. The thing about standards is that you can't just leave them on the fake fireplace with your frat boy beer stein collection. You actually have to take them with you and hold them up to women you meet. Sure, you can say you want a girlfriend with goals, hobbies, and a self, but you seem to go for any woman who doesn't have gills. Then, instead of taking responsibility for what you let into your life, you reach for ego shelters like "Maybe I'm just hot for the nutty ones," "All girls are like that," or "I'm just too good for this world." In the words of my late pal Al (therapist Albert Ellis), "The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny."
Mistakes do happen. If you make one, admit it, don't take it to the movies every Saturday night. To catch your mistakes, pay attention to what a woman says and does, and what she seems to want from you. Take the girl who couldn't stop clucking about what a blast she had in the past. You should've asked yourself, "Hey, Self, doesn't she seem less interested in me as a boyfriend than as a big, warm ear?" You ask questions like this not only when you first meet somebody, but as the relationship goes on: Is she up to your standards? Is she still up to your standards? And while you're at it, are your standards up to your standards, or are they in need of an upgrade, too? Yes, you actually can have a goal-oriented girlfriend with a job, hobbies, and friends -- just stop settling for the girl whose goal is never leaving your side (although she might make an exception when you have to use the urinal).
Lurking For More
I want to get back with my ex before I'm friend-zoned forever. She's 19, I'm 23, and there still seems to be a flame on both ends. She's seeing someone, but hates the idea of me with other girls. Should I try to make her jealous by hinting that I've found somebody new? Wait out her new guy? Or, remain as there for her as I've always been? --Back-burnered
"I'll wait for you!" does sound romantic -- more so when your girlfriend's shipping out to Tikrit, less so when she's just going to the movies with some other guy. Oh, but she hates the idea of you with other girls. Sure she does. Just not enough to stop dating other guys and start dating you. Let her know you want to be with her again, then go live your life. For real, not as a ploy to get back into hers. Maybe you'll get her back, maybe you won't. But you will avoid learning a tough lesson: The waiting isn't the hardest part; the hardest part is realizing that the waiting's pretty much ensured that the only "flame" on her end will be the fire she's left burning to warm up the bearskin rug for the new guy.