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boston-globe-logoThe Source: Dear Margo, The Boston Globe

The Dilemma: "[My husband] has been an alcoholic since he was fourteen. When he decided to quit drinking, he wanted to go out 'with a bang.'… He wanted to go to a strip club and have an intense version of a lap dance…I wasn't at all interested in participating, so we set the ground rules of three things he could do …They ended up doing everything a couple can do. He is hugely sorry and doesn't want anything more to do with strip clubs, porn, or being with anyone else. I can't tell you how much I appreciate him telling me what happened. On the other hand, I feel I am falling apart. I can't stop crying, can't stop visualizing…Do you have any advice for me?"

The Advice: "Your guy certainly didn't keep the 'reward' bargain, but then again, that was almost predictable. The 'visualization' problem is the downside of confessing, though in this situation, I think your husband did the right thing by telling you. Because this is complicated by your promise, and then your permission for 'three things,' I suggest you focus on the fact that he has stopped drinking. Years with an alcoholic husband have to be worse than, well, four things. Concentrate on his sobriety, and with time, the hurt will go away.

The Rebuttal: I think you're treating this a little too lightly, Margo. Yes, the wife should have known better than to agree to this set-up, but a deal's a deal. How's he supposed to stay sober for the rest of his life if he can't control his behavior for one evening? I think the missus needs to hit up Al-Anon while her husband gets to 12-Stepping. Using a phrase like "I can't tell you how much I appreciate" to describe her reaction to his sordid confession reeks of a deep codependency.

peoplelogoThe Source: Jessica Simpson, quoted by Paul Chi, People

The Dilemma: Jessica Simpson's already tried to find love via mellow rock stars and NFL quarterbacks. What's next? People suggests she try something new: online dating.

The Advice: "While the now-single Jessica Simpson may have had her fair share of heartache, don't count her out when it comes to searching for Mr. Right on the Internet…Whether it's building a relationship by emailing, chatting online or utilizing dating networks, the singer, 29, says she has no problems with finding romance and long-term friendships with the click of a computer mouse. 'I mean, anybody who can find love online, so be it,' says Simpson. As for getting her own feet wet in the online dating pool, she says, 'Maybe. Who knows?'"

The Rebuttal: Jessica, I love you, even though there have been several times I've almost been tricked into buying your shoes at major retail outlets. (What? They're cute.) However, I must put my non-pleather pump-clad foot down and stop what will undoubtedly be another in a series of bad moves. How are you going to fill out a dating profile when the public already knows everything about you? How can you make connections in a medium where it's already difficult to make connections when people see you as a novelty or a number on a scale rather than a human?

logo-independentdublinThe Source: Dr. Victoria Lukats,

The Dilemma: "I'm in my mid-twenties and I'm confused as to how to approach a situation with this guy I work with... He has been in a relationship with another woman for three years though, so nothing has ever happened between the two of us except for the odd close call when we are drunk. He has recently broken up with her though... Is there an unspoken time limit before you can hit on a guy after a break-up?"

The Advice: "I'm making the assumption here that it's a relationship you're looking for with this man — not just a quick fling or a series of one-night stands. If it's the latter, then you needn't worry about waiting — I'm sure he'll gladly reciprocate."

The Rebuttal: Vicky conveniently leaves out Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Ending #2, which is: you sleep with Coworker on the pretext of a one-night stand. Wracked with insecurity, vulnerability, and all those other loaded -ity's that come from being fresh out of a relationship, Coworker morphs into Clingy the Sad Clown. Now you have to rely on a combination of paid informants and a GPS tracking system every time you want to use the office bathroom. Never make assumptions, especially when there's a paycheck involved. Have an expectations-setting talk first, sex after.

askmen-logoThe Source: Doc Love, Ask Men

The Dilemma: "About six-and-a-half weeks ago I met Teena, who I seemed to instantly click with…I got Teena's number, but it turned out, unfortunately, that right at that time I learned that I had to leave town on business for five weeks. I tried to call Teena the next day. I know this was too much too soon, but I thought it would be better than waiting five weeks before calling her and telling her that I'd been called out of town. Anyway, I got no answer, which was probably just as well because I broke the rules of 'The System.' ...It's been six-and-half-weeks now…Is it too late to call Teena for a date?"

The Advice: "You never call a woman the very next day... Think about this: if the babe has any real interest in you, that month-long waiting period will make her crazy... And it will show her that you can function in the world like a self-confident, self-sufficient man without running to the phone and calling her at the first opportunity... That said, even though all this time has passed, you have to call Teena. Just ring her up and act like nothing happened and hope that she remembers you... Remember, guys: you have to learn to think on your feet."

The Rebuttal: Think on your feet, guys. By following "The System" — an elaborate set of rules, scripts, and instructions — yours for only ninety-nine dollars and a money-back guarantee! Riiiight. Assuming you called once and left a quasi-normal message, you did the right thing. Teena didn't call because she wasn't attracted to you or was not available to date you, for whatever reason. She probably gave you her number out of politeness and regretted it the next morning. The problem with elaborate gambits like "The System" is that, while you may gather a lot of phone numbers, few of the people giving them out are sincere.

Commentarium (14 Comments)

Nov 12 09 - 2:51pm

Dude. Your response to #1 was waaay off-base. The whole point of seeking treatment for alcoholism is, no, the alcoholic can't "control his behavior for one evening." There is a reason that Step one is admitting powerlessness over alcohol. Probably the writer should go to Al-Anon, and probably the husband owes her a big fat apology for this and countless other offenses, but he is doing the right thing in seeking help for his addiction. 12-step programs work, they don't work based on will-power or self-control, and this last night out just goes to prove that this a a guy for whom all control/rules/love/compassion/boundaries go out the window when he picks up the first drink.

Nov 13 09 - 2:53pm

You advise columnist need to cross reference your letters better. This one already got play on Dear Margo. It's getting old reading the same letters...sorry but it needs to be said!

Nov 13 09 - 6:10pm

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What three things? First base, second base, third base?

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