POSTED ON MAY 6, 2009:
The Advice Goddess
Boeing Nowhere Fast
I got involved with a guy I met on vacation. We live on opposite coasts but have taken trips together, and I developed feelings for him. He invited me to stay with him for a week, so I booked a flight and took time off. Two months before my visit, he started acting distant. He eventually e-mailed that I'd have to reschedule because a family member booked a flight to visit that same week, and hey, they're family. I was disappointed, but understood. He added that he needed me to know he'd recently begun dating someone. I was crushed, but being realistic, understood. I expressed concern that his new girlfriend might be bothered by me staying with him, but he said he wouldn't tell her the extent of our history, and dismissed concerns over the awkwardness of hanging out with her with "Why would there be awkwardness?" He thinks I should just come and have a blast in a great city I've never visited. Should I? Should I expect him to pay the $150 rebooking fee? (He hasn't offered.) Or, does this all sound totally lame?
- Holding Pattern
Does this all sound totally lame? Well, yes, but not as lame as it would if you "understood" his telling you he had to reschedule because a giant lizard picked up his apartment building and ate it.
The way he puts it, if his girlfriend pops by, she might have a question or two; oh, perhaps something along the lines of "So...who's this woman in bed with you?" But, no biggie. He'll reassure her with "I'm a little shaky on our history, but I believe we once had some really hot sex on a train." Regarding his conveniently inconvenient family visitor, it's possible a relative booked a flight without consulting their host, but combined with all the rest, I'd put money on this being an escape tactic reminiscent of one I used on a creepus on the street in New York. Creepus: "Which way are you going?" Me: "Which way are you going?" Creepus: "That way." Me: "I'm going the other way."
Girlfriends happen. When they do, the girlfriend's boyfriend--who invited you to fly on over, your dime, when his girlfriend cupboard was bare--has an obligation to set things straight, verbally, and by picking up that $150 rebooking fee. The obligation on your end is to look reality in the face and call it for what it is--which should have you writing this off as "We'll always have whale watching" or "...that garden tour of Topeka."
Instead, you act like you learned Pompeii has been covered by molten lava and 23 feet of ash, but never mind that, could they please reserve you two adjoining lounge chairs on the southeast corner of the pool? Reality is inflexible, and denying it doesn't change that; in time, it just turns the clue stick you're being hit with into the clue old-growth tree trunk. Your denial is probably a symptom of the real problem--probably desperation to have a relationship--leading you to show the guy there's no amount of backwards that's too far for you to bend over to accommodate him. To make that $150 money well wasted, stay home and "develop feelings" for yourself; namely, dignity and self-respect, which set the tone for how other people treat you. You might not score love right away, but at least you won't end up flying 3,000 miles to experience humiliation with spectacular new views.
My girlfriend's drinking problem has progressed to where she's blacking out during sex. She complains our sex life isn't as frequent (it is; she just doesn't remember). I'd like to continue our relationship, but I feel her becoming sober will create awkwardness, and her continuing to drink won't be sexually satisfying. Can I still find love in an empty glass?
There comes a time when an alcoholic's loved one must perform an intervention: "If only you'd suck down just half the Jim Beam bottle, sex would be much more fun for me." No, never mind the likelihood that someone drinking to this extent will die--and take others with her in a fiery car crash. But, ask her "Was it good for you?" and hear "Was what?" and something's gotta give. You might pretend there's actually love in that glass, not just your self-interest doing a remarkably strong backstroke. Try "Motivational Interviewing," a technique often more successful than confrontation: Get her to talk about what she wants from life, later ask how that works with her drinking, and let her draw the obvious conclusions. Enlist the support of her friends and family--ideally, by avoiding mention of what's really troubling you, and focusing on how hair of the dog has become hair of the entire dog pound.
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