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Sowing her mild oats

I've always gotten terrible crushes on exciting, ambitious, bold men who never want anything to do with me. I gambled that being with a good, reliable man would cure me of my pointless crushes, and married my best friend. He's in love with me, and I love him as a friend and figured I'd grow to love him as a husband. Besides, I want kids and I'm short on time. On a recent business trip, I met a man with everything I'm attracted to; for example, big manly shoulders, a confident bearing and wit. My husband's the opposite, pulling his shoulders forward like he's trying to hide his head between them. While he's funny, he's timid and socially awkward, and only mutters witticisms under his breath. Luckily, the new man doesn't threaten my marriage, but only because he doesn't want kids. My husband sensed something was up, and now worries whenever I travel. Could I eventually develop an attraction to my husband? I'd hate to lose my best friend over this. Crushed By Crushes

I love asking couples how they got together, but, in your case, I'll guess: "I just got super-tired of drunk-dialing business executives (I mean, they all eventually block my number), and at that moment, I happened to glance at my watch, and went, "Holy moly, I need sperm!'"

Some women marry for money and position, but you married to avoid self-examination. On a practical level, this is like curing bleeding gums by buying a new lip liner. No, never mind asking the obvious, "How come I keep throwing myself at all these Big Men who show little interest in me?" Instead, you "gambled" by marrying the man you consider a stoop-shouldered loser of a "best friend" hoping that you could love him as a stoop-shouldered loser of a husband. Perhaps you haven't heard, but best friendship is supposed to mean you'd do almost anything for somebody, not almost anything to them.

Regarding your desire to have kids, don't be too quick to consider your diaphragm a quaint souvenir. You don't just "have" children, you actually have to parent them. There's more to this than the thrill of dressing your little girl as your tiny clone; namely, 20-plus years of sacrificing your needs for those of your spawn. If that doesn't dissuade you, sample parenting's demands by moving in for a week with a family with young children like my neighbors, who haven't eaten at a restaurant that has waiters instead of clowns for the better part of a decade. If you're honest, maybe you'll admit that your urge to have adorable little things running around would be better served by dressing up your dog as Pocahontas.

Could you eventually develop an attraction to your husband? Sure you could, if you divorce this husband and marry one you're attracted to. Of course, that guy's bound to be unsuitable in his own special way. And isn't that the point of all the supposed "pointlessness"? You aren't so much looking for love as you're trying to look like you're looking for love; probably because you're terrified of rejection.

Until you work through that, avoid committing to more than a time and place for pointless sex. And while, in yet another outpouring of concern for your needs, you say you'd hate to lose your "best friend" over this, it's probably the sweetest, kindest thing you could do. Who knows, the guy might stand up a little straighter for a woman who marries him because she can't keep her hands off him not because she can't keep her hands off firemen, police chiefs, loggers, astronauts, corporate presidents and broad-shouldered traveling salesmen.

Here comes the bribe

I'm a 20-year-old guy, and I like this girl a lot. I think she likes me, but I'm not sure whether she'll go out with me. Should I buy her a necklace with her birthstone for her birthday, or is that coming on too strong? Interested

The shortest distance between two points does not involve a detour to Zales. Point A: You're interested. Point B: You want to know whether she's interested back. Hmm ... do you buy her jewelry and try to read her thoughts as she opens the box? Or ... think big, go straight to her dad, and ask whether he'll take 40 goats and 20 cows for her hand in marriage? Or ... here's a novel concept: Ask her out! Yes, it really is the thought that counts, and if you buy jewelry for a woman you have yet to date, her thought's likely to be that you're too needy, desperate and lacking in confidence to think your company and a couple mojitos would be enough. Of course, there are women who will overlook such things those who see you as the shortest distance between them and cash, prizes and maybe a new washing machine.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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