Category: Advice Goddess

The Advice Goddess

Loot Actually 
I’m envious of a friend whose boyfriend frequently does nice things for her: bringing her soup when she’s sick and surprising her with a weekend getaway and a pricey handbag she’d been coveting. My boyfriend is a nice, reliable, loving guy. I’d considered myself lucky to have him, but now I’m worried my “good-boyfriend” standard is too low. — Comparison Shopping A woman feels loved when the man she’s with does those little things that say “thinking of you” – as opposed to “spent all day forgetting I had a girlfriend.” Not surprisingly, you envy your girlfriend who gets those little (and bigger) signs. Envy gets a bum rap as a toxic emotion. (It can have toxic effects when the envious try to even things out by sabotaging those doing better.) However, evolutionary social psychologist Bram Buunk’s research suggests envy is actually “adaptive”: functional – a sort of alarm clock for yearning and ambition, alerting us to others’ higher achievements (or groovier stuff) and motivating us to nab the same (or more) for ourselves. Men are not cryptographers and they are particularly bad at translating women’s nonverbal signals like pouting – if they notice them at all. Tell your boyfriend what you want – sweetly, not scoldingly – in the context of “what would make me really happy.” Chances are you’ll need to tell him a few times...

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The Advice Goddess

Dear in Headlights I’m a girl in my 20s. I recently started dating a guy I’m falling in love with. He invited me to a party to meet his friends, and I’m nervous. He’s “objectively” more attractive than I am (6-foot-2, brawny and incredibly handsome) and very successful. I’m attractive, but I see the looks women give him, and I can’t help but feel his friends will question why he’s interested in me. I’m thinking of backing out of the party, but maybe I should back out of dating him entirely, given the pressure. — Freaking The other guests are going to a party; as you see it, you’re on trial and they’re the jury. The invite: “Drinks, tunes, and executing the borderline attractive girl at dawn.” Tell somebody you might end it with this guy because you’re afraid his friends will be all, “Ew, why’s he with her?” and they’re sure to scold you that you shouldn’t care what other people think of you. They mean well, but this is ridiculous advice – akin to telling you not to get hungry. We evolved to be people who care what other people think. That’s built into our psychology, same as the urge that drives us to nab a burrito, which keeps us from passing out, dying and being eaten by raccoons. Successfully handling other people’s appraisals of you starts with...

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The Advice Goddess

Life in the Fastened Lane 
I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year, and I love him, but I also love my independence. I need alone time, meaning space from him and everybody. He wants to spend every minute together and seems to need constant closeness to feel okay. Is this a bad sign — on his part or mine? Should I want to spend every second with him?  –Confused The sort of relationship where the partners are never apart tends to be a good thing for only one of them: the tapeworm. Chances are your boyfriend’s preference for a more, uh, conjoined style of romantic partnership is shaped by his “attachment style.” “Attachment” is British psychiatrist John Bowlby’s term for a person’s habitual way of relating in close relationships: for example, securely (feeling they can generally count on others to be there for them) or insecurely (suspecting others will bolt on them at any moment). Our expectations for how we’ll be treated by romantic partners appear to be driven by how we, as infants and tots, were treated by our closest caregivers. For example, if infant us shrieked out of fear or hunger or because of a soggy diaper, did our primary caregiver (usually Mommy, but maybe Daddy) reliably come running to soothe us and fix the problem? If so, we’d be likely to develop the psychological orientation...

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The Advice Goddess

 Needle in a Bae Stack 
I am a 31-year-old woman, and I can’t figure out why I’m having such a hard time finding a man. I am attractive (in good shape and considered pretty); have a master’s degree; am successful in a competitive business; and I love to read and talk about news, history and ideas. I have wonderful friends; I’ve worked hard to resolve my issues; and I do my best to be a kind person. I just want my match: someone who’s smart, highly educated, equally successful or more so, attractive (tall – at least 6-foot-1 – and masculine), passionate, well-read and a good person. What’s wrong with me that, even with online dating, I rarely find men even in the ballpark of what I want? –Miserable Grocery shopping’s easy when your list has generic items – “beer,” “chips” and “cheese” – and not “cheese from free-range Albanian yaks raised by monks, whispering positive affirmations to them as they graze”: “You are loved, loving and lovable, and you manifest perfect health by making smart choices.” You’re looking for “that special someone,” not “that random anydude.” You’ve developed yourself (advanced degree, cool job and smartgirl interests), which sharply narrows the pool of equally achieving men you have to choose from. Being a woman likely adds another layer of difficulty through “hypergamy.” This is the strong evolved female motivation to “marry up”...

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The Advice Goddess

Buddy Heat 
I’m dating an awesome woman I see a future with. However, there’s a hurdle: She doesn’t want to have sex until we’re committed, but I don’t feel right about committing without knowing we have sexual chemistry. A previous relationship ended because the sex was subpar and I don’t want to go through that again. — Conflicted Sexual chemistry is pretty important. You don’t want to get all emotionally attached and then find that sexually, you go together like peanut butter and a repeating saw. Men and women are alike in countless ways. (Both have two legs; men don’t randomly have six like an insect.) However, we differ psychologically per the physical differences we do have; namely, how sex can leave a woman “with child” and a man “with a teaspoon less sperm.” These differences drive men’s and women’s conflicting “sexual strategies,” explains evolutionary psychologist David Buss. For men, a casual sex-centric “short-term sexual strategy” – hit and run…sex and shun – has the most “reproductive benefits,” increasing men’s chances of passing on their genes. Women benefit most from a commitment-centric “long-term sexual strategy” and look for signs a man is emotionally attached, making him more likely to stick around and provide for any, um, sex biscuits they might create. Where there are deep-seated desires, there’s often deception. Buss calls this “strategic interference,” describing sneaky tactics used to get...

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