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The Advice Goddess: April 2020
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 11:28

Use boyfriend to spark jealousy?

Syndicated Columnist

I’ve been dating this guy for a month. Things with him are really average. However, we met through a mutual guy friend, and I’m actually really into that guy. Could my staying with the guy I’m seeing spark jealousy in the friend and lead him to make a play for me?
— Wrong Place

Sext your boyfriend and ask him to forward it to his friend.

 Kidding, obviously. But at least that would end things between you. That’s the right thing to do — as opposed to staying with the guy and using his interest in you as bait to attract the dude you really want.

 By the way, it’s probably unrealistic to think the other dude will swoop in, elbow his buddy out of the way, and run off with you. Mate poaching — somebody “stealing” another person’s romantic partner mid-relationship — has likely been a common form of mate acquisition throughout human evolutionary history, explains evolutionary psychologist David Schmitt. 

However, it has its costs. Schmitt notes that mate poaching can lead to undesirable “social consequences”: violent retribution from the poached person’s partner, damage to one’s reputation (especially for a guy who poaches his buddy’s girl), and exile from one’s social world.

 The relationships formed through mate poaching also tend to be less than dreamy. Research by social psychologist Joshua Foster and his colleagues found that “individuals who were poached by their current romantic partners were less committed, less satisfied, and less invested in their relationships” than non-poached relationship partners. The sort of people who let themselves be poached (from their previous relationship into their current one) tended to have a wandering eye — paying “more attention to romantic alternatives” and cheating more often than the non-poached.

 The moment you realize you’ve got the lukewarms for a guy is the moment you should break it off and move on. You’ll be that much further along in meeting somebody who might be right for you. Plus, your sharing any more than a date or two (and a chaste kiss, no nudity) with a guy you’re not that into is likely to make his dude friends classify you as off-limits. 

Of course, it’s also seriously unfair to the meh man (who is also a person with feelings) for you to slow-walk him off the plank. Sure, there’s this idea that a romantic partner will be your shelter, but that’s not supposed to mean they’re the bus stop where you wait till the guy you’re actually into picks you up.

Dawn of the dad  

I’m a 36-year-old woman. I’ve had my share of men who shy away from commitment, so it’s a bit of a surprise that the guy I’ve been seeing for a few months really wants to settle down. He’s already talking about kids. While I really like him a lot, I worry that his rush to settle down is a red flag.
— Uneasy


When a guy yells something out in bed, it’s a little disturbing if it’s, “You make me want to put up wallpaper in a house in the suburbs!”

 It’s possible the guy suddenly had enough of the Tinder rando-lympics and began longing for a lasting bond with a woman. Clinical psychologist Judith Sills believes feeling this way causes a shift in one’s approach to dating. The push to find the perfect “right person” gets cast aside for finding a right enough person at the right time. What makes it the right time is “readiness,” which Sills calls “an internal process that acts as a psychological catalyst for commitment.” This is readiness for true partnership — for intimacy (and the vulnerability it requires). It “does not mean being without anxiety or ambivalence,” Sills explains. But “readiness is a state of mind, an attitude of approach that helps you to push past the barriers created by these feelings.”

Whatever the reason for the guy’s rush to put up picket fencing, it’s important to take things slowly. (You might give it a year or more before you make any big moves together.) Research by psychologist Michael I. Norton and his colleagues suggests that the more budding romantic partners learn about each other, the more they see dissimilarities — clashes between them — and the less satisfied they can become with each other and the relationship.

Do something people newly in love (or at least newly in hots) typically don’t do: Seek out the clashes between you — all the areas in which you glaringly don’t want the same things, have habits that grate on each other, etc. If that stuff isn’t enough to break you up, tell him you two might have a reasonable chance of going the distance together — though not if he keeps talking to your womb on dates: “I’d like you to give me a male heir. How’s Friday?”



Callous in wonderland 

 At family gatherings, my sister-in-law makes critical remarks about my appearance, like my shirt’s very low-cut or I might want to lose weight before wearing the dress I have on. She only does this in front of others, and she says she just tells me because she cares about me. It doesn’t feel that way. I’d really like her to stop.
— Feeling Attacked


When you’re female, junior high never ends. The Hello Kitty knife in your back just gets upgraded to one by Cuisinart.

Women are said to be the “gentler sex,” because we rarely see one drag another out of the bar by her ponytail for a parking lot beatdown. But women aren’t better people than men. Female-on-female aggression just plays out differently — less visibly, less identifiably — than the male-on-male kind.

 Psychologist Anne Campbell explains that women evolved to avoid direct confrontation -- physical fights or calling somebody out to their face -- and instead compete with other women through sneaky “indirect aggression.” This is aggression that doesn’t quite read as aggression, like the public shaming that wears the plastic nose and glasses of concern.

Another popular form of woman-on-woman sneaky sabotage is spreading mean gossip to knock another woman down the social ladder and maybe even get her ostracized. There’s also “constructive criticism” — supposedly well-intentioned remarks meant to stress a woman out, make her feel bad about herself, and get her to dim her shine.

Campbell believes women’s tendency to use indirect aggression is “a result of their higher parental investment” — the fact that they’re the home and ground transportation for the developing fetus and are children’s primary caretakers. A physical fight (or more male-style fighting words that led to a punchout-fest) could damage a woman’s reproductive parts or kill her, and an ancestral woman’s survival was key to her children’s survival and to her passing on her genes.

People like you, who are repeatedly victimized by another person, often don’t realize they never set any boundaries, never told the abuser to stop. This effectively sends their tormentor a message: “OPEN SEASON ON ME FOREVER! Keep doin’ what you’re doin’!”

Whenever your sister-in-law turns a family gathering into a forum on your weight or outfit, calmly assert yourself, saying only these words: “No more comments on my appearance, please.” Be prepared for her to insist you’re crazy, oversensitive and unfairly accusing her. This is bait. Do not take it. Getting into any sort of debate allows her to cast you as neurotic and mean and cast herself as the victim.

Be prepared for her to “forget” and attack you again. Simply reiterate your mantra, in a cool, calm voice: “No more comments on my appearance, please.” You’ll shut her up without looking like the bad guy, but you’ll both know what you really mean: “Inside me, there’s a skinny person longing to get out, shove a Tide Pod and load of socks in your mouth, and put your head on spin.”


Waking the dad

My boyfriend and I recently discussed having children. I want them, but he’s a little on the fence. He says he needs to be in a better financial place before thinking about kids. I wonder whether that’s just an excuse to put off the topic indefinitely.
— Worried


Children bring their parents a lot of joy — and it helps to remember that as you’re jazzwalking to the office so you can put your gas money toward your kid’s fourth round of dental work.

Children are seriously expensive, so maybe your boyfriend just feels a serious sense of responsibility to support the little buggers while being unsure of exactly how many million bajillions that could take. Economist Daniel Ellsberg observed that we humans are deeply disturbed by ambiguity — a lack of information about how things could turn out. Some people are so ambiguity-averse (aka uncertainty-averse) they’ll opt for an immediate sure loss over the possibility of a future gain. It’s why people sometimes sabotage a new relationship: They can’t stand not knowing whether the thing’ll tank, so they blow it up themselves. 

To figure out where your boyfriend really stands, replace the ambiguity with information. Together, add up the costs of having kids (factoring in health care, emergencies, grad school, rehab, etc.). From that, project the date of his financial readiness. You might also ask him about any fears he has about having kids. 

Discussing them might shrink them — or make it clear that he isn’t daddy material and that you should start looking for a man who is. Though retailers allow you to return many items, even if they’re slightly used, maternity wards don’t work like that: “Excuse me, Nurse...these three kids turned out to be unexpectedly loud, sticky, and expensive, but I don’t see your return policy on the receipts.”

“Sir, those are birth certificates.”


Not OK, Cupid

A gay male friend set me up on a date. The man was HORRIBLE. He spent the entire date talking about himself. Everything was a brag. He didn’t ask one question about me. Now I’m wondering whether my “friend” knows me at all. Why would he set me up with someone so wrong for me?
 — Seething Woman


The road to good intentions is sometimes paved with hell.


It’s understandable you feel bad, considering your friend’s idea of the guy you’d like was a mismatch on par with inviting the vegan neighbors over for a baby seal roast. 


However, there are probably a number of misperceptions at root here —  yours as well as his. We’ll start with yours: We tend to believe our minds — our emotions, desires, and intentions — are more transparent and readable by others than they actually are. We also tend to believe others are better at reading our minds than they actually are.


To get a little perspective on this, consider the parallels this fix-up fail has with failures in gift-giving. I used to sneer at gift registries for weddings as cheat sheets for the lazy to buy presents for the greedy. Boy, was I ever off base. Research by business school professors Francesca Gino and Francis Flynn found that married people who’d received gifts they’d listed on their registry appreciated them more than the off-list gifts their guests slaved away finding or making. In fact, spouses they surveyed saw these registry gifts (which could take all of four minutes to pick, click, and ship) as more thoughtful and — get this — even more personal!


This is the exact opposite of what we gift-givers think will be the deal. “Gift givers expect unsolicited gifts will be considered more thoughtful and considerate by their intended recipients than is actually the case,” explain Gino and Flynn.


Our refusing to buy from the registry — feeling confident that off-list gifts we toil to buy or make will be more appreciated than the stuff our friends ask for — reflects a failure in “perspective-taking.” Psychologist Nicholas Epley explains perspective-taking as imagining another person’s psychological point of view. It’s basically the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, to see the world from their perspective, to sense what they want and need.


In contrast, when we give our friends getting married some weird gargoyle-faced decanter (instead of the solar-powered garlic press they asked for), we’re answering the question, “What would I want?” rather than, “What would they want?” (which they’ve helpfully laid out in a big online list).


Epley’s research suggests our tendency to fail at perspective-taking comes out of mental shortcuts we are driven to take. The brain is energetically “expensive” to run, and just like those energy-saving refrigerators, it’s engineered to avoid sucking up power unnecessarily — like by keeping us from doing a lot of thinking when we can get away with just a little.


Accordingly, Epley finds that in perspective-taking, we’re prone to come up with a quick and dirty guess about what another person wants and just run with it. But even in making this guess, our mental laziness tends to be pretty epic. We typically don’t even start by considering what they might want. We start with what we’d want, make a few minor adjustments, and tell ourselves it’s what they’d want. Helpfully, all of this goes on subconsciously; we don’t step back from the tepid whirrings of our mind and realize that we’re short-shrifting our friends.


We might catch our errors before we sent a friend off into the jaws of a helldate if we did the responsible thing and checked our mental work — “Hmmm, is he really the sort of guy she’d want?” — and then made any necessary adjustments. However, we aren’t about to put our precious cognitive resources into adjusting judgments we’ve already settled on. So, Epley explains, “insufficient adjustment” — a failure to look closely at our judgments of others’ perspectives and make corrections — is “the rule rather than the exception.”


In other words, the sort of man your friend fixed you up with probably has less to do with how he appraises you than how mentally lazy we all evolved to be. 


It’s generally wise to expect others to be pretty bad at figuring out what you want. Telling somebody what works for you can sometimes be helpful (if they don’t just nod their head and give you what’d work for them).


Accordingly, you should prepared for fix-ups to be horror fests — killing seasons for your psyche. However, you might just get lucky — get matched with somebody great. So, consider whether getting fixed up might be worth it, despite the risk of evenings spent biting your lip to keep from blurting out: “Dude. The line isn’t, ‘If you love something, make its ears bleed.’”

(c.) 2020, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ( 


Grateful Dead guitarist sizzles
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 11:27
Special to the Daily Planet

Jerry Garcia probably would have enjoyed himself.

In front of a packed Thomas Wolfe auditorium, Bob Weir, former singer, songwriter and guitarist of the Grateful Dead, dished out a selection of his blues-type compositions plus two covers on March 4 in downtown Asheville.

In a floppy Stetson, the 72-year-old Weir, backed only by a drummer and upright bass, sang with a solid voice and moaned like a pained dog on “Midnight Rodeo” and played slide licks a la Asheville native Warren Haynes on the tune “Sailor Sale.”

Prior to playing Marty Robbin’s “El Paso,” Weir said he was going to play it in the people’s key of D. Backed only by his drummer and bassplayer, Weir also played Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me.”

Jerry Garcia, the Dead’s other singer-songwriter-guitarist, died in 1995. Legend has it he and Weir met one New Year’s Eve. It was about to turn1963 when Weir, acoustic guitar in tow, walked into a music store to find Garcia with a banjo awaiting his next student. The twosome gave it a whirl and the rest is cultural history.

Weir, with the other Dead originals — bassist Phil Lesh and drummer Mickey Hart — still perform on occasion. Weir, with his current line-up, spent the summer playing outdoor festivals.  

Nearly all of the 2,200-person capacity crowd at the Asheville concert stood up during the entire nearly two-hour set — and many were decked out in a manner identifying them as still-active Deadheads. After the show, many stood outside drinking beer and smoking various substances.

In the original band, Garcia played most of the lead guitar lines and supposedly he and other bandmates chided Weir for playing his electric guitar like an acoustic. Half a century later, it’s evident he’s caught on. Weir often made it sound like two guitars were playing. At one point, he made his Stratocaster sound like a piano.

Several times, Weir has performed in  Warren Haynes annual Chrismas Jams in Asheville. In turn, Haynes has played alongside Weir in various incantations of the Dead and has also performed with Allman Brothers Band. 

Various circumstances canceled the Christmas Jam this past year, but, reportedly, the tradition will resume this year.


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