Advice

Miss Information: How can I soften my British boyfriend’s stiff upper lip?

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Dear Miss Information,

I need some advice. I’m the guy who is fucking up like nobody’s business on Internet personals. Yes, I’ve tried changing my profile, both the photos and the text. I’ve also tried different approaches (lots of emailing back and forth, no emailing) and different services (everything from the big sites who run Superbowl commercials to community billboards). My friend suggested I might be trying too hard, so I unchecked the boxes for "Serious Relationship" and "Dating" and have shifted my focus to making new friends.

Still no luck, even though it’s been a month since I’ve adopted that mindset. I’m not Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt and I can’t do anything about that, but I do make good money and I’m a really nice person with lots of friends. Why is it so hard for me and so easy for everyone else? No woman will even give me the time of day. — Online Dater Hater

Dear Online Dater Hater,

"Easy for everyone else?" That’s a hoot and a holler. Readers, why don’t you email me your favorite Internet dating disaster and I’ll post it in next week’s column? The winner will get a free copy of my new book and the pleasure of showing Online Dater Hater just how gruesome the cyber courtship process can get.

I know there are many who will disagree, but I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by confining your search to "friends." Friends are for cat-sitting and amateur volleyball. You want to fall in love. If not that, then at least get laid. I see a person looking for "friendship only" on a dating site and I automatically assume they’re: A) a commitmentphobe, B) full of trust and/or intimacy issues, C) not ready to date but want the validation of someone hitting on them, or D) cheating on somebody. Should what I think be taken as gospel? Of course not. There are people who advertise themselves as friendship-seekers and are none of the above. However, if you’re on a dating site, I still think it makes the most sense to go all in. Don’t sit in the kiddie pool wearing SPF 1000, a life vest, and a pair of water wings.

I’ve already spoken about the Unfuckable Five and the benefits of having a friend, relative, or other person you trust go through your dating profile and offer up edits and suggestions. You need to know whether you’re putting the most-honest-yet-flattering version of yourself out there. The people who know you personally will be able to offer you insights that a dating book or random advice columnist can’t.

I’ve also talked about the importance of good profile pictures. No cheesy headshots, no posing with wheeled transportation unless it’s a mountain bike, no shots of you with party girls with their faces blurred out, and finally, for the love of JC Penney, NO MOCK TURTLENECKS. This is the male equivalent of an ankle-length denim jumper on women. It does nothing for you, my friend.

You say you "can’t do anything about" not being Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. Bullshit. There are a multitude of ways to improve your looks. Buy some clothes. Go to the gym. See the dermatologist. Buy some boots with a heel if you’re on the short side. Get that unibrow waxed. Beauty titan Helena Rubenstein once said, "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones." We’ve come a long way since the days of barbershops and bar soap. The same applies to men.

Dear Miss Information,

I am a senior in college and recently accepted a job in California at a prestigious company, complete with signing bonuses out the wazoo and an eventual free ride to grad school. I should be celebrating with a bottle of something rappers have in music videos, but I have a situation.

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for three years. We met my freshman year at school. He’s every girl’s wet dream (if girls had those). He’s extremely intelligent, handsome, generous, funny, respectful, and has a cute British accent. But while the whole foreign thing won me over when I was eighteen, I quickly learned it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. After he graduated, instead of heading home, he stayed to live in my city. Now that I’m graduating, I’m heading to the opposite end of the US. Yes, I feel like guilty about that, but oh well.

As great as he is, his cold British demeanor causes some friction. I’m passionate and crazy in love; he’s calculating and sane. While I value what his sensibilities bring to our relationship, I constantly feel like I’m the only one that feels anything. We’ve talked about it, I’ve read books, I’ve been to a therapist. It seems that I need to learn to go without his emotional reassurance or I need to move on. While I’m questioning how important this emotional connection really is to me if I’ve stuck it out this long without it, I know it must be important if it keeps me up at night. He thinks it’s the move that’s going to cause us problems, but I think the problems are already there. They’re just going to get worse. I’m not asking what to do about the job offer; I know this is one good thing that I can’t let get away.

But am I crazy for needing more from a seemingly perfect guy? Am I right or just paranoid for thinking that the growing wedge between us has been here all along and is epitomized by my move? Is there any way I can salvage this relationship even though I’m moving so far away? — Miss (Obviously Not So) Independent

Dear Miss (Obviously Not So) Independent,

Of course there are ways you can salvage the relationship. I just don’t know that you want to. You’ve been unhappy for a while now. You were disappointed instead of delighted when he decided to thumb his nose at the Queen and remain in the States. The decisions you’re making now reinforce that sentiment, even though it’s a year or so later. I’m not blaming you for taking that job. It sounds fucking amazing. However, if the relationship was your number one priority, you’d be employing a different kind of thinking, one that included all sorts of possible solutions and scenarios:

– What if he moved to California with me?
– What if I could find the exact same job over in England?
– What if I put the job on hold, then go after it again a year later?
– What if we both decided to say "fuck it all" and start new lives as trapeze instructors at a summer camp in Pennsylvania?

When you want to be with someone, you find a way. I do believe there’s a part of you that wants to work it out. No one reads self help books on a lark or gets a big kick out of going to therapy.

Usually, when people do what you’ve been doing , there are two outcomes: the situation starts to improve and they feel more hopeful, or the situation stays the same, the frustration builds, and their faith in the relationship continues to flag. Where are you? I think you’re at the latter. Here’s proof: you call this job "the one good thing" that you "can’t let get away" instead of your boyfriend.

Does this mean your boyfriend is a bad guy? Not at all. He sounds like a keeper. For someone else. Everyone is wired differently. There’s a girl out there who will be able to deal with his stoicism, just as there’s a guy out there who will be able to give you the emotional reassurance you desire. It won’t be a struggle. He’ll generally know what to say. If he doesn’t, he’ll make an earnest attempt and you’ll get the rest of the way there with a little hard work and communication. You’ve already tried that with current boyfriend. It doesn’t sound like it’s working.

You worry whether you’re being unrealistic, as if finding an answer to that question will set you on the right course. A better question to ask is, "Am I happy?" Happy doesn’t have checklists to confuse us, like "good-looking, generous, cute accent" or formulas, like "If I have X, then I should feel Y, but I don’t feel Y, so I am a failure to the power of Z." It’s a Pass/Fail test that only your gut can answer. The key is getting your stupid intellect to pipe down and stop pretending like it knows everything.