POSTED ON JULY 16, 2008:
The Advice Goddess
Tender Is The Nightmare
Women these days think they have the luxury of being picky about men, and you encourage them. You ran a letter from "Almost A Bride," the woman whose fiance has difficulty dealing with conflict. She said, "I'm in my late 40s, and don't want to end up alone. No man is perfect, right?" I have news for her: If she doesn't marry him, she probably will end up alone. I read about a study of women over 65 who'd been married: 25 percent were still married, 50 percent were divorced or separated, and 25 percent were widowed. The article also stated that 70 percent of girls in high school would work full time their entire lives. So much for the marrying the guy and being a full-time mommy dream! Face reality, ladies!
Imagine shopping for dinner the way you suggest shopping for a husband: "Oh, look! A piece of rotting meat that's fallen on the grocery store floor! I'll take it!"
This woman's fiance doesn't just have "difficulty dealing with conflict." He causes scenes in public. Feels everybody's out to get him. And the woman wrote, "My wedding would've been tomorrow, but my fiance broke up with me over a triviality, took my engagement ring, and stormed off--his pattern at the slightest conflict." As I pointed out, "Being with this guy isn't a way to avoid ending up alone, but a near guarantee you'll end up alone--dozens and dozens of times."
But, hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get a man! Or, as you put it, "Face reality, ladies!" Yes, ladies, do that. Reality number one: the marketability of skills like wiping a toddler's nose and reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." If your husband leaves you for his Very Sexy Secretary, let's hope you didn't have children at 22 after graduating with a B.A. in philosophy. It's wonderful if you can read Heidegger in the original German, but as a newly single mother, adrift at, say, 31, that qualifies you to be an unusually well-read salesgirl at Dress Barn.
Reality number two is human mortality. Damn humans keep getting picked off by buses and drowning in their own nosebleeds. You do mention widows in those stats you're holding up like the Ten Commandments. Those stats tell you how things turned out for a bunch of women somebody surveyed. But because something could happen to somebody in your demographic doesn't mean it will happen to you. Those particular stats didn't even include couples who've been together for eons but aren't married, like my lovebird senior citizen friends, Kay and Earl, and those cute little old ladies in San Francisco who just celebrated their 55th anniversary of not being allowed to marry with a wedding at City Hall.
Last spring, my friend Cathy Seipp died of cancer. The fall before, she told me she was afraid to be alone, so 15 of her friends became "Team Cathy," and saw that she never was. Did I mention that she was divorced? Not one of us was there because we were married to her or sleeping with her. Face reality, ladies! You'd better make some friends and fill in whatever in yourself you've been trying to patch with a man. Eliminate desperation, and there's no need to settle for the first exploding cigar that falls in your lap. Of course, being pickier may mean that women like "Almost A Bride" will miss out on that "full-time mommy dream" you talk about--or whatever you'd call life with a tantrum-throwing 3-year-old who's just this side of 50.
The Joy Of Ex
My boyfriend stays in touch with many exes, including one he was wild about who calls as his "friend" to tell him why I'm wrong for him. How do I know? He tells me. Can I ask him to put his past in the past? He tells me not to worry, but how can I not when she's a woman with whom he had an intense sexual thing?
As far as one's current partner is concerned, there are three kinds of sex one's had with one's exes: Bad sex, boring sex, and really bad, really boring sex. And then there's your current partner, hanging up the phone and announcing: "Hey, just talked to my ex, the one I had all that mind-blowing sex with, who keeps insisting I can do better than you. And how was your day, Honey?" Sorry, but why is he telling you this? He's immature? Insecure? Passive-aggressive? Or just a blithering idiot? You don't tell a guy who he can talk to, but you can tell him what you do and don't need to hear. Do that, and see whether he comes around--and with more than a "Why Your Girlfriend's Not Good Enough" pie chart from his ex.
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