Advice

Miss Information

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Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

  

Dear Miss Information,
 
My ex and I are trying to do the "friends" thing. (Long-term relationship, broken up more than a year, not getting back together.) Small problem: What can we actually do together? Dinner is datey, coffee is overdone, going to a park without bringing a child or a pet feels pedophile-y, and our own apartments contain nosy/judgmental roommates. Is anything neutral? We’re taking baby steps after a messy breakup, and I’m trying to not send weird signals. — Ex Event Planner



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Dear Ex Event Planner,
Seeing an ex requires planning. What other social interaction is associated with planning? Dating. How do you plan for something, without making it seem like that other something you don’t want it to seem like at all? I agree that dinner is datey. But broaden your definition of dinner. It doesn’t have to mean a sit-down restaurant. Go to the mall, grab a couple slices of pizza at the food court, then bum around and do some shopping. Eat a progressive dinner at a street fair — candy apple appetizer, hot dog entrée, funnel cake dessert. Also think about other meals, a workday lunch especially. It’s hard to feel horny, mopey, or much of anything with three meetings ahead of you and a bunch of bullshit work due. Two adults going to the park together doesn’t strike me as "pedophile-y." Are you driving a rusty van that says “FREE CANDY?” Maybe you’d feel more chill if you brought something to do — the Sunday paper, a board game, books you’re both reading. Schlep along your laptops and get some moonlighting done or work on a freelance/creative project. That’s what I do with most of my platonic friends. Try flea markets and garage sales. Pawing through musty clothes and half-used cans of wood varnish is unromantic to the max. You can both split up and wander around and come back together again. Interesting but casual. How about a movie and something afterwards? Coffee, cocktail, slice of pie. Go to the movie first, so you have a guaranteed conversational topic. Try the new Spiderman. The villains are an angry dust bunny and an exploding trash bag.
Also try poetry readings, book signings, little arty cultural events that don’t require months-in-advance reservations or expensive tickets. The symphony is bad. Johnny No-Name playing at the strip mall by the Lane Bryant is better.

 

Dear Miss Information,
I’m infatuated with this girl. I’ve seen her on several dating sites. The other day I plugged her one of her usernames into AIM just out of curiosity and discovered it’s the same as her screen name. Can I message her? Is that acting like some crazy stalker person? I have accounts on some of the services but not paid accounts where I can contact people directly. — Word Smart



Dear Word Smart,
Cough up the cash and buy a subscription for the site that looks the most promising in terms of the number of available women you might be interested in other than this woman. Then buy a subscription and contact her. She says yes? Great. If not, fuck it. You’ll have twenty more chances to get rejected. It’s fun to get something for nothing and skirt the rules, but it’s not the way to start a relationship. Not that we don’t all skirt the rules — everyone does, even the Pope — but we don’t want another person to see it as the first thing about us. By contacting this woman over AIM, you’re essentially saying, “I like you, but I’m not willing to cough up the nominal amount it would take to meet you. I also don’t care about the boundaries you’ve set up to protect your privacy and safety, and expect you to just go ahead and flirt with me anyway because I’m such a grand guy. A grand guy who kinda sorta stalked you.” You don’t have to pay money for online dating. I totally understand people’s arguments regarding the rejection rate, rising costs and general fuckwittery going on. I’m just saying that if paying isn’t an option for you, confine your browsing to no-cost sites and you won’t be so tempted to pull some freebie shenanigans.



Dear Miss Information,

A few months ago I discovered my live-in boyfriend had cheated on me. I found the girl on MySpace and wrote her a kind message asking for details. (I really don’t believe anyone but the partner is to blame.) She returned my message with such candor and civility that I was deeply impressed. Apparently it was a one-time-only incident, and she called it off when she found out about me. It didn’t even reach the point of sex. We did some back-and-forth messaging, and she suggested we meet for a drink.

Turns out she’s beautiful and I found myself captivated. We continued to write after that and confessed mutual crushes. I’ve always had bi tendencies, but have never, ever, found a naturally occurring situation in which to act them out. Anyway, she asked me out. I declined and later regretted it. Then I asked her out. Two times. Both times I freaked out and cancelled.
Background Info #1: My boyfriend has always found my bi-curiosity hot and has absolutely no problem with me hooking up with a female without him.
Background Info #2: My boyfriend and I have been going through rough times. I love him deeply but I feel like I’m falling "out of love" with him.
I’m terribly confused. I think the woman wants nothing more to do with me, I’ve cancelled too many times! I’m afraid to develop a full-blown crush. I don’t know how my relationship could survive it. But I can’t get her out of my mind. Is it just because this is my first chance at a full blown bi experience? Should I leave her be and settle for the odd, random makeout with a stranger? Or should I meet with her and try to work it out?

Oh, yeah, Background Info #3: she’s much younger, and I’m not even sure if she’s truly bi, or just playing at it. — Confused


Dear Confused,
You spend a lot of time talking about girls for someone who has a boyfriend. Could this be deeper than a Sapphic crush? Consciously or unconsciously, are you using this woman as a way to get back at your boyfriend? You cheat, I can cheat too. This girl wants you? Well guess what, she wants me too. It’s sexual politics meets an overly aggressive game of badminton. At the very least, focusing all your attention on Ms. Captivating is allowing you to avoid dealing with your fucked-up relationship. He cheated on you. You’re no longer in love with him. This is the kind of stuff you should be thinking about, Confused. Not the who/what/when/where/how of scoring your first nip o’ vagina.
Not that I don’t want you to go balls-to-the-wall with your bi explorations. I do. I just think you should find another person. I know first-hand that can be tough. You feel like a dorky outsider in lesbian clubs. The online personals are intimidating and your hot straight friends only put out when they’re drunk. Sure, they’ll make out in front of boys, but they’re total pussies about touching vagina. What about a threesome? Uh uh. You can lay down all the rules of engagement you want, but are you really going to trust your guy? He’s already strayed from the relationship once before, with the exact same girl.
And what about you? You already said you don’t trust yourself. Dump both of them. That’s what I’d do. He cheated and she’s too emotionally loaded. Besides, she might already hate you. If you want to stay with your guy, then both you and your boyfriend need to end your relationship with this woman. It’s sad, because it’s not totally her fault, but sometimes good people get the shit end of the stick. Wait a few months and rebuild some trust. Then start exploring the bi idea again. While you’re at it, having a talk about what that might mean in terms of fidelity and your expectations thereof.

 


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