Ten years ago, my friend and I met our husbands on the same night (they were friends who challenged us to a game of pool), and we both got married the same year. We all pledged to spend our 10th anniversary in Hawaii together, but my friend's husband is making it difficult, saying no to every flight, activity and hotel my friend and I propose. He'll call a hotel "overrated" or "too touristy," but his one bad quality is that he's seriously cheap, and it's becoming clear that he's trying to torpedo the whole vacation because of it. (They are well-off, by the way!) He keeps joking that we should just stay home and celebrate — but I don't think he's really joking. I'm angry with my friend for never telling her husband to curb his cheapness and for not standing up for our plans and worried that my anger could affect our friendship. — Frustrated
While the Hawaiian islands are home to some of the world's most beautiful tropical gardens, your friend's husband would like to point out that your hometown boasts not just one but several Olive Gardens. (You can still wear leis!)
Your friend probably feels embarrassed about her husband's tightwaddy ways (and her inability to change them) but probably feels disloyal saying so. Still, despite how the man must get blisters from clinging so tight to a dollar, being married to him must work for her. (You don't mention anything about his being horrible to her or even just making her persistently unhappy, like by promising to have children with her and then insisting they have goldfish instead because they're cheaper.)
To feel less suckered, try to have some sympathy for the guy, who probably isn't cheap just to irritate you and everyone he knows. People say "money talks." To him, it probably says stuff like, "If I leave you, I'm never coming back!" The origins of his cheapitude may be in his upbringing — and may even be in his genes, according to a 2010 study by Dr. Itamar Simonson and Dr. Aner Sela surveying attitudes about risk and spending in identical and fraternal twins. As in other studies, identical twins (who are born from a single egg and are thus genetically identical) were significantly more alike in a number of measures, including how risk- and loss-averse they were, suggesting a genetic component to being a cheap mofo.
Swap your anger at your friend for acceptance of reality: She isn't able to stand up to him, and he isn't able to say yes to spending money on a pricey vacation when he probably spends much of his life worrying that he'll someday have to pawn a kidney to buy groceries. Tell your friend — sans animosity — that you're weary of searching, you're booking a hotel, and you hope they'll join you if it works for them. Who knows, when you're all looking at celebrating your 20th together — maybe on a tropical cruise! — things may be different.
Not because either of them is likely to change but because Orbitz may start offering great deals on floating to Hawaii on pieces of broken barrels.
Beta path to love
Those in the "Pickup Artist" community claim that looks don't matter; it's all about technique. Well, I've got the techniques down, and I'm still always going home alone, whereas my friend is constantly hooking up. He's a 6-foot-2, traditionally handsome alpha male. (He looks like he could have been a quarterback.) I'm 5-9, with a face grandmas love to pinch. I could lose some weight, but I've been told I'm cute and have beautiful eyes. Am I looking for excuses, or is technique not all it's cracked up to be? — Overlooked
Any guy can learn Pickup Artist techniques. Any guy who is 6-2 and has a jawline like cut glass is more likely to have them pay off. In fact, certain guys — the cuddly grandma-pleasers — may be wasting their time trying to get casual sex. As evolutionary psychologists Dr. Glenn Geher and Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman write in Mating Intelligence Unleashed, research suggests that men who are not "tall, masculine, muscular, facially attractive, and socially dominant ... are not likely to be successful in short-term mating." Geher and Kaufman suggest that guys who lack that "constellation of features" are probably better off taking the long view — developing relationships with women seeking partners instead of hookup partners.
In doing that, they say technique also matters — being assertive, confident, easygoing and sensitive (without being wimpy). Follow their advice and in addition to all the women putting their hands on you in an "Oh, those dimples! Grandma's gonna eat you up!" kind of way, you should eventually have one doing it in an "I sure hope my late grandma can't see what we're about to do" kind of way.
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.