Giving her paws
I've been dating a great guy for three years. I occasionally get invited to work functions, and I'd like to take him, but I can't trust him to act appropriately (not grope me in front of my co-workers, make inappropriate small talk, etc.). The thought of bringing him makes me so anxious that I go by myself. Recently, we went to two concerts he wanted to see, and I kept having to pry his hands off my breasts in the middle of a crowd. It was humiliating. Last week, he tried to grope me in line at the ice cream store in front of a bunch of families. I'm starting to think he has a social anxiety disorder. Asking him to be a supportive partner and accompany me to the occasional work event doesn't seem like that big of a burden, especially since I entertain his friends and go see bands I don't like for him. I don't want to sound like a prig, but I'm advancing in my career, and I should soon be attending more work-related events. Am I being unreasonable? — Groped
Some social conventions are such a bore, like the expectation that when your boss extends his hand, your boyfriend will reach out and shake it, not grab both of your breasts and cop a feel.
Usually, when they talk about a guy having manners from another time, they mean he's polite like they were back in the '50s, not when the Neanderthals were running around. It's normal to sometimes have to make excuses for your partner, but excuses like "He's actually a vegetarian," not "Believe it or not, he was raised by a pack of wild animals after his parents died in a freak canoeing accident."
Wildly inappropriate PDA is generally a sign that you're 14 and lack boundaries or a way for a highly insecure partner to mark his territory. It can also be a way of hiding shyness by overcompensating. Whatever it is, it sure isn't loving behavior. It's bad enough that he embarrasses you at concerts and the ice cream store, but office parties are not parties; they're work meetings with alcohol and land mines. When you bring your boyfriend, he should do his best to support you, and not in the way a Wonderbra would.
You get the relationship you put up with. Three years in, you have no idea why your boyfriend acts like he just broke out of the monkey house. Maybe it's a social anxiety disorder, maybe it's itchy hair follicles, or maybe he's trying to sabotage you because he's jealous of your success. The first or second time he got all Mr. Gropeypants was your cue to let him know where his hands go when he's with you in public. What stopped you then, and what's stopping you now? Fear of confrontation? Fear of losing him? Lockjaw? Speaking up might've had you well on your way to a solution years ago — or to a boyfriend who not only knows better than to French you under the mistletoe at the company Christmas party but gets that dry humping you under it is a big no-go, too.
As fat would have it
I've been on about 20 dates with girls I met online, and 15 of them were much heavier than they were in their photos. I'm getting a little tired of this. Is there some acceptable way to ask a woman how much she weighs before you meet up? — Narrowing 'Em Down
There's that saying, "The camera adds 10 pounds." Well, the Internet often subtracts 50. (Not to worry, all that weight will be back in place before you can say "Starbucks at 3?") But, sorry, you cannot ask a woman how much she weighs — or even poke around in that direction: "So ... what's the most candy you've ever eaten at one sitting? And, are you sitting on any candy right now?"
Internet dating has its pluses — instant access to loads of potential partners — and its plus-sized minuses: those big surprises you've encountered on three out of four dates. Just think of them as a price you have to pay for the easy access — a sort of high technology fee. In the future, assume everyone's lying and be pleasantly surprised when someone isn't. To keep your emotional costs down, try to get women to meet you as soon as possible for a quick drink instead of carrying on at length by phone and e-mail. This should help keep you from getting attached while spending weeks learning everything about them and then finding yourself on a date unable to ask the one thing you're really dying to know: "So ... when was your picture taken? And of whom?"
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.