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,

I just started dating this really great guy. One problem: he sort of likes Jesus. I’m Jewish, which he knows and seems to have no problem with. I just don’t know if I can date someone who says they want to meet Jesus some day (although it’s more of a “ha ha, Jesus seems cool” type of thing). Frankly, I think a lot of Christianity is bullshit, and I’m more of a cultural Jew than anything. He’s also really into professional dancing, which I am terrible at and don’t particularly enjoy. The Jesus stuff on top of that might be a dealbreaker. Am I being too harsh? — A



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Dear A,
Harsh? Do you know how many relationships are broken up each year by professional dancing? And that’s not even counting the number of women (and perhaps, men) wooed away by Animal-Planet-Pet-Star-emcee-come-ABC-danseur-extraordinaire Mario Lopez.
I appreciate your wanting to be open-minded and objective. Now stop. This is dating. You are not hearing death-row cases. You’re not writing public policy. You have a right to impose unfair standards and make irrational judgments. Your romantic happiness depends on it.
If you 100% for-sure gut-level liked him, you’d be more tolerant of the Jesus stuff. You might even let yourself be talked into the waking nightmare called salsa lessons. Six months from now you’ll be carping at him, but now’s the time to be all swoony and disgusting. You might complain a little in front of your single friends to save face, but no one is buying it.
Still unsure? Here’s a good litmus test. I got it from my sister a long time ago, and I still use it. Imagine yourself at a party. It’s filled with all your favorite people. People you look up to. Good human beings. Now imagine you have to give a speech on why this guy is the coolest person in the room. Look down at the index card. Are you at a loss for bullet points? Do you have bullet points but don’t feel like you could expound on them? If so, worry. Admiration is tied to respect. Respect is tied to empathy. Empathy is tied to being and staying in love. If a little voice in the back of your head says, “He’s a cheeseball!” listen to it, no matter how mean and petty. It’s an indicator of a more significant feeling.

 

Dear Miss Information,
A few years ago I got out of a long-term engagement and dove straight into a rebound relationship that’s lasted for two years. I ended up moving to New York with the guy. It seems like everything should have ended about a year ago, but I can’t find the guts to cut the cord. I just signed another lease with him, and now I’m kicking myself for it. I don’t see how I can get out of this situation without major stress, whether it’s living with him as an ex, moving out and paying two leases, or kicking him out and hoping he’ll pay for two leases. Should I stick it out for the sake of the lease, or is there a way out of this? — Stuck in Brooklyn



Dear Stuck in Brooklyn,
You’ve got problems? I’ll tell you problems. Trying to find a one-bedroom in Manhattan for less than two Gs. The one I looked at today had a view of the Queens Midtown Tunnel and smelled like a wet dog wading through a sewage leak.
Don’t make yourself miserable for the sake of some stupid lease. What is a lease? A housing agreement. It’s not a marriage or children. Every day people with fewer smarts and fewer resources extricate themselves from situations a trillion times more complicated than this.
Find yourself a subletter. I know your landlord probably gave you a big scare speech, but that’s because he doesn’t want any cobra breeders or brothels in the building. Offer up a clean-cut person with good credit, and see what happens. Do some preliminary research, just in case your landlord decides to be a dick. You have more rights than you realize.
You also have more options. You could move out and he could get someone to sublet. He could move out and you could get someone to sublet. Both of you could move out and find a pair of people to sublet. Start fresh with new roommates in new neighborhoods.
How to tell your boyfriend: I’ve seen it done two ways. One I call The Concierge. This is where you do all the prep work — apartment scouting, landlord wrangling, moving-company estimates — in secret. You only go to your partner when a game plan has been established. You’re sympathetic and responsive to his concerns, but throughout the whole process it’s you taking the lead. The Concierge I recommended for those at risk of caving, either because they still have feelings for their partner or because they’re afraid Suzy/Johnny is going to go batshit crazy.
The other method I’ll call The Brenda (I’ve been watching a lot of 90210 lately). The Brenda is similar to The Concierge. The main difference is that you involve your significant other at the start of the proceedings. The Brenda is good because it involves your partner, you don’t have to feel like you’re sneaking around and you can get a lot more work done more effectively. But the Brenda has its risks. You could get talked out of it, or agree to a temporary stay of execution. I did that once. It lasted one-and-a-half years.
“The only way out is through.” Don’t know who said that. According to the internet it was either Robert Frost or Alanis Morissette. Still good advice though. Moving out is intimidating, but broken down, it’s just a series of little (painful) steps. It can be done — you just have to want it bad enough.


Dear Miss Information,
I like to date around, and when I start seeing a new woman I let that be known up front. I also make sure I’m clear about my “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. If I’m seeing someone else, or if she is, we don’t ask each other about it or share any information. I’ve recently started seeing this girl, and though we’re still just casually dating, she frequently drops little bits of information into our conversations — dates she went on, people she slept with. I don’t know what to do about this. I like her a lot, but I hate hearing that stuff, especially after being clear about my policy. I don’t want to break it off, but should I? Am I the asshole here? — Too Much Information


Dear Too Much Information,
I don’t think so, but dating multiple people is tricky. It sounds like you’re doing it right. If I had any way of getting in touch with this gut-spiller, I’m sure she’d tell me.
Assume she’s doing this because she’s clueless and didn’t absorb the rules the first time. Go over them once more, with concrete examples of what’s acceptable and what’s off-limits. Don’t bring up specific things she’s told you. She’ll get caught up in semantics and fact-checking. I never said I fucked him. I went down on him. And it was Wednesday, not Tuesday. Stick to behaviors and categories. I don’t mind if you tell me it’s him on the cell. Just don’t show me the dirty texts.
If she persists, she may be unhappy with the current situation and trying to get a rise out of you by appealing to your jealousy. Call her on it. Of course she won’t admit it — jealousy is unhip. But much can be learned by adopting a pleasant-yet-detached tone and asking her questions like a shrink: “How do you expect me to react to that? Uh huh, I see. What would you like me to say right now? Uh huh, I see. Why would you think I would want to know this?” Etc.
Fingers crossed, she’ll pick up on where you’re going with that line of questioning, and the oversharing will die right there. If not, consider dropping her and finding a woman who’s more into the idea of casual dating. It’s a dying art, which is kind of sad, really. When my mom was in college she dated four or five guys simultaneously, and it wasn’t no thing. It was dinners and walks. A little necking by the door at the end of the evening. (Holy crap, I must be ovulating. I’m totally idealizing the ’50s.) Anyway, I’m just saying there should be more choices between heavy-serious and slutty hookup. What about you guys? Do you agree?

 


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