Advice

Miss Information: How to find a friend with benefits.

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

Dear Miss Information,

I go on that one website looking for no-strings sex. You know, the one that starts with a “C” and ends with a “list”. One of two things happens when I go out searching: either I get zero replies or an inbox full of pay-to-play solicitations from professionals. Please tell me how to meet people! I suck at bars, all my friends are taken, and their friends are all couples. — Horny Guy Out of Ideas

Dear Horny Guy Out of Ideas,

There’s a thriving hook-up universe outside of Craigslist. Hard to believe, I know. More good news: because of the crap economy, that universe is expanding exponentially online. You may poo-poo the tameness — and the monetary commitment — of the sites mentioned in that link, dedicated Casual Encounters user that you are, but I urge you to do some exploring. Almost every major personals site has a profile option that lets you say, “Why yes, I AM looking for something skanky! That’s so sweet. How did you know?” (It’s true. When I was soliciting erotic stories for a hook-up anthology, the raunchiest letter I got came from a couple that met on eHarmony.)

Don’t go out there and feign like you’re looking for a relationship. Don’t solicit folks unless they have that special anything-goes box checked on their profile either. You’ll still get phonies and false leads, but you stand a much better chance of finding someone on sites with detailed profiles than you will on Craigslist. Do some research, rock some free trials, and test it out.

Meanwhile, I want you to get your shy-boy ass back to bar. Go late, leave later, and try a change of venue and wardrobe. Remember: flirting is like public speaking. The only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice and suffer, suffer, suffer.

Dear Miss Information,

About a year ago, my girlfriend and I were going through a rocky period. Fighting all the time, but still monogamous. Things got better. The arguments resurfaced when I found out that she’d been going out for drinks with someone behind my back. She swears up and down that he’s just a friend and that all they ever talked about was our relationship and problems. He means nothing to her. He’s the cheap version of a therapist, a sounding board. She hasn’t seen him in a couple months, but now she wants to go visit him where he works. (He’s a bartender, that’s how they met.) She says that, since it’s a casual visit and not a date, that makes it okay.

I don’t want to be controlling, but this really pisses me off. My best friend says to tell her it’s either this guy or me, but I’m worried that I will alienate her. I offered to come with her to the bar, but she says that since everything she’s told this guy about me is negative, she’s worried it’ll be awkward. She keeps telling me how physically unattractive he is, but how would I know? — Double Shot of Stress

Dear Double Shot of Stress,

A homely barkeep doesn’t sound very threatening. Still, your girlfriend isn’t providing you much reassurance, is she? The whole situation is just sketchy.

The facts:
• Their relationship was established in secret.
• They met while you were in a bad spot as a couple.
• He works a stereotypically sexy job in an environment with unlimited alcohol.
• She wants to keep the two of you from ever meeting each other.
• Their friendship is based around her discussing the intimate details of your relationship.

What you have to reassure yourself:

• Her good word.
• Bartender in question looks more like Moe from The Simpsons than Tom Cruise in Cocktail. (This doesn’t fully count, since it also relies on her trustworthiness. You haven’t met the guy, so he may very well look like Tom Cruise. He may also be able to do cool tricks with vodka bottles.)

Not telling you about a new opposite-sex friendship puts your girlfriend in the wrong. It’s not on par with cheating, but it’s definitely not helping your already-rocky relationship.

If she wants to hold on to her friendship and keep your trust, she needs to throw you a bone. After all, you just want to meet the guy. Set her a timeframe for when you would like to join her at the bar, but leave her control of the particulars. Be prepared with a set of back-up demands — e.g., she must limit the bartender visits to a set number of times per month — in case she balks.

Readers, I don’t think that’s at all excessive. Do you?