I read your recent columns about guys who are too shy to ask women out. You seem to think it's okay for women to make quick judgments about a shy man's worth because his shyness is their first impression. Well, a man shouldn't have to be loud, obnoxious and "in your face." These women, with their snap judgments, don't consider that there might be something really good under the surface of a shy guy and could miss out on a nice relationship. For instance, when I was younger and really shy, I had a huge crush on a girl but figured she was way out of my league. One day, we crossed paths unexpectedly and talked for a few minutes. I decided right then that I had to know "yes" or "no" and get it behind me. I mustered everything I had and asked her out as confidently as I could. She said yes, and we dated for over two years. Had she dismissed me just because I was shy, we both would have missed out. — Formerly Shy Guy
A guy doesn't have to be loud, obnoxious, and "in your face" to succeed with women, but he can't be "in a fetal position behind furniture."
Typically, you get what you want in life by asking for it. I don't think this is "okay" or not okay; it's just how life works. When a guy sees a woman he wants, that's his moment to hit on her, meaning do his best to chat her up and then follow through and ask her out. He might wish he could just sit there silently while she looks for "something really good under the surface" — getting his credit report and references from his neighbors, his grandmother, and his third-grade teacher, Mrs. DeMattia — but that's not going to happen. And think about it; would you recommend that getting a job should work in the same way? No need to send in a résumé or cover letter or sell anybody on your merits in an interview. You would just hide under your bed, and the employers would sense what a great person you are and send out a search party.
You follow up your complaint about how life "should" work for shy guys with a great example of how it can work — once they stop waiting for a woman to club them like a baby seal and drag them home. As you showed, a guy doesn't have to be fearless to ask a woman out. He just needs to decide not to give in to his fears in the moment and then get to work fixing what's broken in himself. (In a shy guy, this is self-esteem that's really "what other people think of me"-esteem and the paralyzing fear of rejection that ensues.) The cool thing is, a guy doesn't have to become some Mr. Smooth to get the girl. He can even be kind of awkward. People admire courage, even when it maybe stammers a little. Of course, a guy won't always get the girl just because he tries, but trying and striking out will only leave him with a temporary boo-boo on his ego instead of the internal injuries he'd get from tucking his tail between his legs so fast that he bruises his spleen.
Callused in wonderland
I live in a warm climate, and the girl I'm dating walks around barefoot everywhere and her soles are really black and callused. I've jokingly dropped hints like "Jeez, it looks like you just stamped out a fire!" but she just laughs. She's a really great girl, but when I glance at her feet, my attraction takes a serious nosedive. — Defeeted
On the bright side, if you ever lose her in a mall, finding her should just be a matter of following the trail of black paw prints. Sympathetic friends will offer helpful suggestions, like that you should get her a pedicure (which will solve absolutely nothing) or do something "sexy" like washing her feet for her before bedtime — an activity that's got to be about as libido-boosting as power-washing bird poop off your roof. You're likelier to get what you want (daily footbaths? feet encased in Saran wrap?) if you make a sweet, direct request instead of just dashing off jokes about it.
But while asking might sway a partner to curb an icky habit like absentminded nose-picking, chances are your girlfriend isn't randomly going barefoot; she's probably into it. Ultimately, you'll probably need to figure out where you (and your libido) draw the line. Sure, it's a shame to break up over this, but the reality is, one man's "Okay, whatever" is another's "Yick. Lemme outta here." If you're thinking dirty thoughts in bed, it shouldn't mean fantasizing that your girlfriend's ankles would come with mudflaps.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email 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.