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Death's Doormat

Several months ago, my girlfriend, 22, told me her younger brother was dying from brain cancer. For a month, she couldn't see me due to his many problems: a brain hemorrhage one week; the next week, he was going blind. Then, his immune system started failing and the slightest infection could kill him, so they had the house steam-cleaned, and she couldn't see me in case I had a cold. For another month, she kept making excuses why we couldn't get together, then she dumped me. Eventually, I learned her brother never had cancer. I'm very bitter and angry. After doing everything to be a good boyfriend, I was lied to horribly by a girl I loved. Where did I go wrong? -- Played for a Fool

If your ex had a mean streak any bigger, it would come with elected officials, a ZIP code and a sewer system.

Yes, poor dear, you were the victim of a terrible emotional fraud, and by a twisted, thuggishly narcissistic woman who makes people who break up by text message (bye 4ever losr) seem like disaster relief volunteers. Let's all pause for a moment of compassion. And now that we've gotten that out of the way, bend over, because you're about to get paddled.

There are those who always look for the best in people. "Despite everything, I still believe people are good at heart," wrote Anne Frank. And then the Nazis dragged her off to death camp. It's nice to be nice. It's nice to believe other people are nice. It's nicer still when they actually turn out to be nice. OK, so nothing says "I love you" like a background check. But if you're looking to find love, you can't just cross your fingers and hope you won't end up with somebody who has all the humanity of a tire iron.

Cockroaches scatter when you turn the lights on. Even cockroaches in lip gloss, barrettes and Hello Kitty T-shirts. But let's get real: This girl didn't go to bed one night a big, pink, hearts-and-flowers Hallmark bunny and wake up the next morning with a crunchy brown exoskeleton and six legs. There had to be signs, even if she didn't go all-out verminoid from the start, pulling the fire alarm in old folks' homes or tripping brides on their way down the aisle.

People constantly tell you who they are. You just have to pay attention: "Hmmm, that 'look of love' on her face is a ringer for a glare of contempt!" You order flowers for her. She orders you across a five-lane highway to retrieve her straw so she won't smudge her lipstick sipping from her Coke can. Chances are she let you know, again and again, that the only reliable thing about her was her 18-hour mascara.

Just as going grocery shopping on an empty stomach will get you seeing way too much of the Keebler elves, there's no worse time to girlfriend shop than when you'd do anything to have one. Just a guess, but that's probably what got you thinking that being a good boyfriend is all it takes to make a good girlfriend out of a woman named Ebola. In the future, should you feel compelled to give a woman the benefit of the doubt, start with the doubt and work your way up from there. This doesn't mean shining the bright light on everything from "a," "an," and "uh." Just be sure you ask enough questions to tell a girl grifter who you are -- not one to fall for, "Sometimes, in the CIA, a female operative is forced to make out with a guy to throw the foreign agents off her trail."

For all the throng reasons

My girlfriend and I have boyfriends, otherwise we'd consider dating this guy we see every day at breakfast. We want to fix him up with one of our friends. Is there such a thing as a non-nightmarish blind date? -- Good Intentions

A blind date doesn't ask much of a person: just to "be yourself" and "act natural" while feeling like a Peking duck strung up in the window of a Chinese restaurant. The Europeans favor a more civilized approach: fixing up friends without their knowledge by camouflaging the blind date in a group night out. That's all you need to do. Get friends together for drinks, invite these two, finagle it so they sit next to each other, and see if they hit it off. Instead of straining to be on their best behavior, they'll be on their everyday behavior, complete with relaxed conversation and friends by their side to pick up any slack. Best of all, if you don't take any credit, you won't be awakened at 3 a.m. to take any blame: "You said body like a supermodel, not a SuperShuttle!"

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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