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Advice Goddess

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.

Advice Goddess 

Thursday, Feb 28 2008

Bleed Between The Lines

After a breakup, people say you have to wait one month for every year of the broken relationship (in my case, 11 months) before you're ready to date. Are they making this up? Right after I was unwillingly separated and in the process of a divorce, I probably talked too much about my pain to women I dated, and they all ran. But, even six months after my separation, I was a dating pariah. I was just looking to share a nice time and have sex with a woman. Should I have been banished to a monastery for 11 months? Wouldn't life be better if women didn't apply unverified beliefs about a man based on his being recently separated or divorced? -- Judged Joe

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Nothing like a little unfinished business to jazz up a first date: "I'll be the broken man at the corner table. Just follow the trail of Kleenex and tears."

You know how sleeping with somebody is supposed to mean sleeping with everybody they've ever slept with? Well, not only does dating somebody mean dating everybody they've ever dated, if they've recently been dumped, there's a good chance you're dating somebody they're still dating. Sure, their ex is physically gone, but at the same time, they're very much in the room. So, you aren't just holding your drink, you're holding your drink in that funny way their ex does. And, of all the hopping joints in town, they make you meet them at some boring bar in the business district (gee, wonder who works next door), and they insist on a streetside table -- despite the fact that it's raining cats, dogs, and Shetland ponies.

If this sounds at all like you, you might as well have brought your ex on dates: "Look how smug she is. Clearly, it was all her fault!" Should you have been banished to a monastery? Well, no, especially not as somebody who's "looking to share a nice time and have sex with a woman." You get yourself ready to do that by going off alone and fixing what's broken -- not by trying to hold it together with used chewing gum and wishful thinking, then having little leaks on dates, or, as you put it, "I probably talked too much about my pain." Oh, fun! I can see you at dinner with a woman, shaking your fist skyward: "Why?! Why?! Why?! Sorry ... what were you thinking of for an appetizer?"

As for the one month per relationship-year rule, no, it's not like it was handed down from the mount on the stone tablets (although it's possible there was no more room on the front, and nobody noticed the little arrow and "for #11, turn stone over"). If you're dancing around chortling, "Wheee! The wife left me!" or find the mere thought of her tedious, there's probably no need for a waiting period. But, can you blame women who worry that a guy who's "unwillingly separated" isn't with them for how great they are but for how great they are as human grout for the void left by his ex? Consider whether there might be a reason women seem less likely to end your dates by climbing into bed with you than by climbing out the restaurant's bathroom window; say, that little puppet show of your last relationship you put on with the baby vegetables: "Now Mrs. Carrot is cheating on Mr. Carrot with Mr. Parsnip..."

The Thrill Of The Chaste

"Zero Messages," the guy you advised to ask women for their numbers instead of giving them his, reminded me of me. I give my card to women and never hear back from them. I think it's time women did their share of the asking. If a woman's interested, I'll hear from her. If I don't, it wasn't meant to be. Isn't it that simple? -- Rung Out

It could be even simpler. You could go to your favorite bar, grab a stool, and sit there until a woman tumbles out of a passing airplane, crashes through the ceiling, and falls directly into your lap. Yeah, forget all that complicated advice I gave "Zero Messages": Get a girl's number, get her on the line, and ask her out. There are women who will call men, but mostly men who are friends, already their boyfriend, or 24-hour plumbers. So, it seems you should either get a job snaking drains or gather like-minded men and go on a global dating strike: "Operation U Call Us! We're kicking back and waiting for you girls to chase us for a change!" Well, a guy can dream. And dream, and dream. And eventually wake up to the dulcet tones of a woman, indeed, calling his name. And wow, she's even in a little nurse's uniform! What's that she's saying? "Mr. Jones ... Mr. Jones ... have to roll you over now ... time to change your diaper."

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