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The rage of Aquarius

I'm an acupuncturist, 35, dating again after a difficult divorce and the ensuing custody battle. I'm shocked at how many men either want to see (i.e., sleep with) several women simultaneously or keep me as a geisha to "complement" their pre-existing wives and/or girlfriends. Could the world have changed THAT much during my 10 years exiled in marriage? I'm ready to leap out of the lotus position and wave my hands in the air over this! Are other women experiencing the same thing, or is the grass truly greener on the other side of the Great Wall? -- Spiritual Girl in a Material World

A Zen state without the enlightenment is a style statement: grass mats covering the ugly shag, a red plastic Buddha to liven up the coffee table (goes great with the $34.99 Woodstock Desk Gong from Target), and, of course, the obligatory floor pillows -- intricately embroidered, and probably a real steal thanks to child labor!

What does being "spiritual" really mean, anyway? For too many people, it's a sneaky way of announcing how morally and emotionally superior they are to the rest of us; i.e., "I wear hemp, and you're scum." And sure, they're giving some confused little old lady driver the finger -- but note the Sanskrit words for peace, love and unity henna-tattooed across their knuckles! Being "spiritual" also can be a great excuse for avoiding the tedious business of rational thought. Take "karma," the Eastern version of the naughty getting snubbed by Santa; the alluring idea that people eventually get what they deserve. Have you ever met a maggot who could definitively say he was Heinrich Himmler in a past life?

Chances are, you have met hundreds, even thousands, of men who want commitment-free sex -- sometimes because they've already committed to one or more other women. Is the fact that men are into this sort of thing really news to you? If so, where have you been living the past 10 years, under the Great Wall? Quite frankly, if straight guys could do what gay guys can -- go to a bar and pretty effortlessly snag some no-strings-attached sex -- a lot of them would. All that stands between them and their dream is the fact that they're into women, most of whom refuse to participate.

What's unreasonable is your expectation that men in your life would be any different, conforming to some airy-fairy way you think the world should work. It's kind of like going on a hike and believing vegetarianism will give you special protection: Just wave a Tofurky wrapper at a grizzly, point to your pleather shoes, and he should bound off in search of somebody in leather boots who lunched on a Quarter Pounder!

There are men out there who want a one man-one woman relationship. But you aren't one woman -- you're one contentiously divorced woman with one or more kids, and perhaps an angry ex-husband lurking on the perimeter, and maybe residual anger of your own. Under the circumstances, it's going to be hard to get men to see you as more than the nude understudy. Take down the angels and unicorns, or whatever you've been using to block out the hard glare of the real world, and you might get somewhere -- like, to the realization that you're more likely to get what you want from a man whose situation is similar to yours. Accepting reality has got to be more productive than huffing and puffing and waving your hands in the air, assuming you're looking to draw love into your life, not trying to create the new best friend to "Downward Dog," "Hyperventilating Chicken."

Callous in wonderland

After my girlfriend of a year left me, I realized I was actually glad it was over. Two weeks after our breakup, she and my friend started dating. Angry and annoyed as I am at them, I'm madder about the rift it's created in our close-knit group of friends. What can I do to make this less awkward? -- In the Muddle

For every cloud, there's a cloudier lining: At least she didn't get out of your car and hop right into his -- coming back for a moment, but only to grab the doggie bag from the dinner you just bought her in case he was hungry. People do get amped when they see a man crawling under the table on group nights out, sucking his thumb and weeping. You don't have to chummy up with the guy, but if you want this story to get boring fast, keep in mind that nobody takes sides over anybody's indifference. Yes, two weeks is a bit harsh, but is there really any right time for your friend to take up with the girl who dumped you? Well, apart from the obvious -- 10 minutes after you start having mind-altering sex with your ex's hotter, prettier best friend.

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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