Category: Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

Fossil Fool? My husband died of a heart attack at age 75. On his phone, I saw several unsettling texts from younger women, alluding to improper liaisons and asking for money. We often helped needy families, but I’m suspecting these women tempted and took advantage of a kind, caring old man, or maybe he turned dirty old man (looking for something more exciting than his wife). Before his death, he started viewing pornography online and seemed not quite himself. Could this apparent change in personality point to dementia? Finding these texts has turned my grieving upside down. I’m often angry with him for possibly cheating on me. I’m not sure how to put this to rest in my mind.  — Perplexed Widow Sadly, elderly men are often easy prey for young scamstresses. These women sexually tempt or even just flatter an old man out of his money – all, “You remind me of that dude from ‘Star Wars’!” – making him think of himself as a young, hot Harrison Ford (when the “dude” he actually resembles is Yoda). I’m so sorry – both about the death of your husband and the apparent death of what you believed about him and your marriage. But I’m hoping my frank exploration of what you do and don’t know will help you make your way to peace of mind. First, it is possible your husband’s...

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The Advice Goddess

Con Juan 
Lately, women’s magazines keep mentioning “sociopaths.” What is a sociopath? From what I’ve read, it seems like both my exes were sociopaths. How do I avoid attracting others? — Wary Woman When a guy asks you on a date, it would be great if you could check him out on LinkedIn and be all, “Oh, look…endorsements for embezzlement, insurance fraud and identity theft!” Set aside everything you’ve read about sociopaths, much of which is probably wrong. Sociopathy and its nasty sibling, psychopathy, are manifestations of “antisocial personality disorder”: a relentless pattern of exploitative behavior involving a disregard for the rights of others and a lack of guilt upon violating them. However, sociopathy and psychopathy differ in meaningful ways, though they are often written about as if they are interchangeable – in the media and (ugh!) even by researchers. In short, sociopathy is “fire” and psychopathy is “ice.” Psychopaths – the icy ones – are coldly calculating manipulators who fake caring about others but are incapable of forming any emotional attachments. (Think lurking plotters lying in wait.) Sociopaths are the fiery ones: impulsive, hot-headed and boastful; easily enraged – even to the point of violent outbursts – making them more likely to end up in the slammer. Sociopaths sometimes form one-on-one emotional attachments, but these are typically pretty toxic. Psychopaths are born, not made, meaning psychopathy is genetic and present...

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The Advice Goddess

On Crowd Nine 
I’m a 43-year-old woman in my second marriage with a man who’s also on his second marriage. We are both determined to make this marriage our last! We have a scheduled date night. We make sure sex happens weekly. I’d like to know whether there are other things we can do to keep from walking down the aisle a third time. — Hopeful In some marriages, somebody could lose consciousness and it wouldn’t be all that noticeable. Date nights are good for keeping the marital jets firing, as is having sex weekly, but regular dates and sextivities don’t change how being married is like subscribing to Netflick. No, my copyeditor isn’t day-drinking, and yes, I mean “flick.” Netflick would have only one movie, and you and your partner would be forced to watch it every night of your life together…until one or both of you shrivel up and die of boredom or start dialing jackals with law licenses (aka divorce lawyers). What can help is making your married life more like single people’s lives – uh, in ways that don’t remodel your vows into something more along the lines of suggestions. In a New York Times op-ed, social historian Stephanie Coontz explains, “Single people generally have wider social networks than married couples, who tend to withdraw into their coupledom.” Though marriage “can provide a bounty of emotional, practical and financial...

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The Advice Goddess

Bare Tracks 
My boyfriend asked me for nude photos of myself. I reluctantly sent him one. I feel very uncomfortable about sending it and I don’t want to send more – though sending naked pics now seems very common. Am I paranoid? — Online Privacy Fan Unfortunately, “online privacy” is one of the more absurdo oxymorons – a contradiction in terms on the level of “planned spontaneity,” “working vacation,” and my favorite: “civil war.” (The warring factions yell, “Thank you!” and “No, thank you!” across the trenches until more people pass out on one side than the other.) Digital-world technology has made our lives vastly easier, more efficient and more fun, but it can also cost us big-time – on a scale previously unseen and even unimaginable throughout human history. Back in the Middle Ages, no one had to worry about some brainy malcontent hacking their “cloud” and releasing all their nudie shots to the Global Village. At worst, one other person might come upon a lone sketch of them in a state of undress or maybe a few slutty etchings. In other words, you are far from unreasonable to say no to sending any further nudiepix, and it would not be unreasonable to ask your boyfriend to delete the one you sent him (explaining your privacy concerns). That said, he might find that request unreasonable, vis-a-vis how common it is...

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The Advice Goddess

Venus Envy 
I got a boob job two years ago. My best friend, seeing the results, wanted one, too. When she realized she couldn’t afford it, she started making snide comments about women who get them. Recently, a guy was hitting on me at a party, and she started flirting with him and asked, “Do you think I need a boob job?” and told him I’d gotten one. I was shocked. I’d like to say something to her, but she’s the louder part of my friend group, and I’m unsure how. — Disturbed Self-defense for men is karate or maybe Krav Maga. For women, it’s ducking mean remarks. Many people have a romanticized view of women as the sweet, ever-nurturing “better angels of our nature.” That’s a major myth, but it continues to have traction due to the nature of female rivalry, which is much like slow-acting poison gas. (It’s often hard for a woman to recognize she’s been dosed…till she’s writhing on the floor like a goldfish sucking in its last desperate breaths.) While from boyhood on, guys tend to relish competition and are openly aggressive (like when one socks another in the jaw), psychologist Anne Campbell describes female aggression as “indirect” and “covert” (sneaky and hidden). She believes women evolved to compete this way to avoid physical harm that might have damaged their ability to have or...

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