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.
Kin I See You Naked?
I'm 22 and deeply in love with the wrong person — my uncle-in-law (my mom's sister's husband). We started confiding in each other, one thing led to another, and we've been sleeping together for over a year. I'm so drawn to him. He's magnetic, charming, a great person, and a devoted dad. I know I need to end this, and before my family discovers it, but my lust for him seems insatiable
It's sometimes good to confide things of a personal nature to one's uncle — like that your mother always loved your brother more, not that you aren't wearing any panties.
Don't kid yourself that you're into the guy for all of his great qualities, like what a "devoted dad" he is — a term not typically used to describe a dad devoted to sneaking out to meet his niece for sex. Your "insatiability" is textbook behavioral conditioning. Lab rats that only sporadically get a pellet when they push the little bar become obsessed with pushing it. Rats that get a pellet every time will stop pushing when they're no longer hungry and go about their ratty business. Likewise, if this guy were totally available — if you could get sex pellets on demand — you'd stop seeing him through a junkie's glazed eyes and notice who he actually is: a guy who doesn't care enough about devastating his wife and kids to keep his willy in its cage.
You aren't going to stop lusting after Uncle Romeo; what you can stop is the behavior that follows: running off to have a sex date with him. Tell him it's over, and then come up with replacement behavior — maybe doing an hour of killer cardio — to plug in whenever the uncle lust bubbles up. To help maintain your resolve, especially at first, consider the kind of woman you want to be. Do the sorts of things this woman would do and avoid doing the sorts of things (and people) she wouldn't. For example, it might be nice to find a guy who loves being around your family, but not because he's already married to somebody in it. And finally, when you're thinking of activities more in keeping with the new you, consider the obvious — that if you're meeting your sex partners at family gatherings, you really need to get out more.
Making Stall Talk
After three years of dating, I'm ready to propose to my girlfriend. She's in college across the country now, so I'm waiting until late February when she'll be home to visit. My plan is to take her on our favorite hike and ask her there. The thing is, we've been arguing about when (and if) I'm going to propose. It's starting to get awkward and maybe even hurting our relationship, but I'd hate to ruin the surprise by telling her I'll be proposing in a few months and not to worry. Any ideas on how I can keep the peace while keeping my secret?
— The Gloom
At a certain point, a woman starts to believe the only way she'll get rice thrown at her is to start a food fight at a Chinese restaurant.
Of course you want to propose just right, out in nature, complete with small woodland animals holding the "Will you marry me?" sign and breaking out in song. The reality is, you'll probably do okay with just about any proposal that includes a diamond ring and the words, "Will you marry me?" (Ever hear of a woman complaining, "Yeah, all he did is get down on one knee, pull out the little velvet box and tell me he wanted us to spend the rest of our lives together"?) So maybe what's better than the perfect proposal is the perfect-enough proposal — the one that comes before your girlfriend builds up so much resentment that she changes her voicemail message to "Sorry, can't come to the phone right now. I'm having revenge sex with the guy in the next dorm room."
You're smart to want to take advantage of the romantic power of surprise, but you can do that on any old Wednesday. My suggestion is that you get on the phone with her one morning (extremely soon) and make like your boss has interrupted your call. Tell her you'll talk to her later, and do that — at her door on one knee. The unexpectedness and the extravagance of your flying there will give her a romantic story to tell in class the next day, and doing it sooner rather than later will allow her to spend the next few months engaged instead of enraged. (Not to worry — you'll have a lifetime of opportunities to make her so pissed off that she refuses to have sex with you ever again.)
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: "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams on how to fail your way to success.
(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).