Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
Got a problem? E-mail Amy at AdviceAmy@aol.com.
Mouse Ado About Nothing
I've tried to be open-minded, but I've decided that men are givers and women are takers. I study at my local coffeehouse. I am interested in this woman who comes in and often unplug my computer and offer to let her use the outlet. Two weeks ago, I decided to make my interest clearer by buying her coffee. She said, "Oh! Thanks!" Then she put her nose back in her books. The next time she came in, I offered her my large table because she had tons of books. She blushed as girls do, asking, "Are you sure?" I said, "Of course!" I then worked at a small, cramped table next to her. She made no effort to talk, except when she asked me to watch her computer while she went to the restroom. Finally, I decided to be really clear and asked if she'd like to grab a bite sometime. She smiled and said she'd just see me here, but thanks. Yeah, she'll see me there and expect me to give her my big table. I'm sick of this take, take, take. A woman needs to tell a man right away if she's not interested and not let him sit there like an idiot, planning to make her life easier.
I guess when you ask a woman whether she'd like to use the power outlet, she should just come right out and say, "I would, but I don't find you very attractive."
Why go after what you want when you can dance around it, do it favors, and hope it figures out that you've made a secret agreement with it in your head? There are girls who would respond in a way you'd consider honorable — who would not only show appreciation when you provide them with complimentary food and beverages but even follow you home. Unfortunately, they're the sort of girls who catch a Frisbee in their teeth.
Like the sign spinner on the corner in the Statue of Liberty suit, you think you need to lure women with a special offer, except instead of "Cash for gold!" it's "Snake your drain for a date!" You're apparently convinced that no woman would want you for you. This probably isn't entirely off base, since the "you" you currently are is a guy who thinks instilling a sense of obligation in a woman for favors rendered is your best hope of having sex again before you forget where the parts go.
Stop grumbling that women are conniving takers, and work on accepting yourself, flaws and all. Once your self-respect is no longer trailer-hitched to whether women want you, you can be direct — just talk to a woman, let her see who you are, and ask her out. She may turn you down, but if you feel okay about yourself, you'll see her rejection as your cue — simply to find the next girl to hit on, not to storm out behind the coffeehouse, shake your fist at the sky, and yell, "Hey, weren't the meek supposed to inherit the earth? Where's mine?!"
A friend of a year has a pattern of raving about people she meets and then completely cooling on them. Last week, she met a man online. On their first date, he took her shopping, buying her a gold ring and a key ring he had engraved with both their names and "Thinking of you always." She describes him as perfect, brilliant, etc., and said she loves him and would marry him. I said things like "Take some time to get to know him," but I don't think she really heard me.
A first date like theirs raises some questions for the second date, such as, "Who should pay the invoice for the side-by-side burial plots?" Be prepared to wear out your face trying to talk sense into your friend. The problem is "confirmation bias" — our tendency to seek information that supports what we already believe and toss information that does not. In other words, your time would be better spent painting a wall and speaking meaningful thoughts to the paint as it dries. Another productive use of your time would be adding up how much of it you're spending worrying about this woman's problems. It isn't mercenary or ugly to expect a friendship to be mutual and to influence you in positive ways. If how she lives is dragging you down, you may want to give her a little less prominence in your life. Then, when you do see her, you can just admire her ring and share in her happiness at reaching that milestone golden anniversary — celebrating 50 joyous minutes of knowing a man.
It's Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio — "Nerd your way to a better life!" with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).
Advice Goddess Radio: Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on myths about high confidence and how to develop real confidence through competence.
(c)2013, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon
Read Amy Alkon's book: "I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman's battle to beat some manners into impolite society" (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).