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,
    The other day I ran into a girl I dated long ago. When I saw her, all those old feelings came rushing back. Now I can’t get her off my mind. I know she’s living with someone, but I could tell she was sad. Should I try to rekindle our relationship or just let it rest? — Past Tense



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Dear Past Tense,
    I’d love to be the romantic and tell you to hunt her down and propose, but I couldn’t respect myself as an advice columnist if I did. I deal in practicality, not scented candles and treacly sentiment. Those touching reunions you see on talk shows rarely go so smoothly off-screen. I waited the better part of a decade to kiss my high school crush. His breath smelled like rotten cantaloupe.
    Let’s assume your girl was all frowny because of the boyfriend, not a bladder infection or a dickhead boss. The temptation to cheat is hardly the cure for her relationship ills. If you want to be the guy who convinces her to break up or starting cheating on the side, so be it. But let’s call it by its proper name — you’re talking about home-wrecking.
    I’m not saying you shouldn’t see her. You can. But don’t try to play the savior and solve all her problems. First, you can’t. Second, you’re going to get hurt. The attitude you want to cultivate is kind but detached. Use your first few meetings to learn all you can about her life and what place you could possibly have in it. A friend? Great. A boyfriend? Even better. A sweet guy she uses as therapist before going home to her asshole beau? I think you deserve better.



Dear Miss Information,
    I’ve been dating this guy on and off for four years. We fight constantly. He broke it off last winter, but we keep having sex. Now he’s starting to get involved with another girl. Part of me wants to keep sleeping with him because I don’t like this woman and I can’t respect his desire to date her. What should I do? — The Ex


Dear The Ex,
    Fucking someone you don’t want to fuck just to keep other people from fucking him is silly and counterproductive. My guess is that repeated fighting and fucking have created a co-dependency that’s chipped away at your ability to form a rational thought.
    It doesn’t matter that you don’t like your ex’s new lady. In fact, it’d be weird if you did. But look past the bitchy disposition and overplucked brows and see her for what she really is: an unequivocal sign that your boyfriend is moving on.
    The best thing for you to do would be to wean yourself off this guy. Four years of bullshit and chaos is more than enough. Find a distraction and go at it with the same tenacity you’re using to hold onto this husk you call a relationship. Now’s the time to do all those things you put off because you had another person to consider. The poet George Herbert said it best: “Living well is the best revenge.” Just don’t follow his example too closely — he died of consumption by age forty.
    One more thought to slay the jealous beast: All those annoying traits you put up with for four years? This new girl is just starting to suffer. If anything, you should feel sorry for her.

Dear Miss Information,
    I’m passionate about music, but I can’t seem to attract a guy who’s into it as strongly as I am. When I go to shows, there are single boys there, but I can’t seem to get their attention. What can I say that won’t make me sound like a douche? — Loser Girl

Dear Loser Girl,
    Concerts aren’t a great place to meet people. It’s too loud for real conversation, and most people would rather watch the band than waste their entertainment dollars making nicey-nice with strangers.
    Besides, liking the same band doesn’t mean you’re going to be compatible. In fact, it doesn’t mean squat. Bands, books, movies — they’re nice talking points, but they’re not the core of your identity. How a guy reacts emotionally in a given situation is what’s more telling. Is he nice to the bagel guy? Does he go apeshit when someone cuts him off in traffic? This is what my grandmother calls “character.” It’s not something you can learn while shouting over lead guitar. Continue going to shows if that’s what you like to do, but think about other venues for meeting guys.
    As far as pick-up lines, I’ve always found that simple works best: “Hey” or “How are you?” or “Having a good time?” Observational is also easy and has good potential for humor: “Geez, it’s crowded,” or “How’d they get that shirt on the chimpanzee?” If you’re so scared you can’t even utter a word, sustained eye contact and a friendly smile are classic boy bait.  


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©2006 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com