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Wok On The Wild Side

Seven years ago, my wife of 11 years left me and married my moneybags boss. Next, my girlfriend dumped me for my wealthy friend. Then, a different girlfriend left me to marry my best friend. Another girlfriend realized she was a lesbian; another couldn’t say “I love you” back. Although I was a struggling grad student when my wife and girlfriend ditched me for rich guys, I now have a prestigious job and a large income. (The woman who dumped me for my wealthy friend mysteriously came groveling back when I got money.) I’m a sensitive guy with a lot of love to give, but I’ve been hurt so badly, I feel safest home alone with Chinese take-out. How can I overcome my fears before I die of loneliness?

--Most Likely To Be Left

You’re looking for Action! Adventure! Romance! To ride the rapids of love -- with all the drama and suspense of a nice warm soak in the bathtub; or, in action/adventure terms, something more “Die Hard With A Plush Stuffed Bunny” than “With A Vengeance.”

“But…but…” you say, between sobs, from under your bed, where you’re hiding out with a plate of lo mein, “Love…doesn’t…last!” No, it often doesn’t. In fact, a relationship is one of the more high-risk ventures you could enter into, precisely because it’s based on love, which is a feeling. You can promise to stick around, but you can’t promise to keep feeling a certain way. So, relationships end. Lovers use each other up. They go become monks. Or run with the wolves. Or with the baby-sitter.

The way you see it, other guys all have black Labs with bandannas while you’ve been assigned your very own black thundercloud to follow you around. Okay, so your wife left you, and your girlfriend left you, and your other girlfriend left you, and maybe your other girlfriend left you for your other girlfriend, and so on. Surely there were a few good moments, or even a few good years, between “Nice to meet you,” and “I’ll be by at 5 to pick up the rest of my stuff.”

A good long snivel can be satisfying, but as a preventive measure, self-pity has nothing on self-awareness. So, you’re always the one who gets dumped. Maybe that’s because you’re not one to admit it’s over and do the drop-kicking yourself. Look for patterns. Do you pick gold diggers, schemers, women out of your league? No, it’s not your fault that a woman didn’t have her sexuality worked out. What you should look at, however, were signs you missed that a woman was “not that into you” (or, say, anyone with a penis).

You say you have a lot of love to give. Would it be terrible if you ended up giving it to a number of different women? And, what do you really have to mope about anyway? You had an 11-year marriage and numerous girlfriends. There are guys out there who haven’t been kissed in a decade, and women so desperate to be touched that they plot to have strangers back into them in stores in hopes of getting one of those little “pardon me” after-grabs. Instead of being terrified a relationship will end, why not accept that it could, and resolve to enjoy it while it lasts? Sure, you could get hurt again. That’s the price of having love in your life. If you decide you can’t afford it, fine. Just understand what you’re setting yourself up for -- one day trying to look back on all the fun you’ve had and realizing you’ve mostly had chow fun.

Posted by aalkon at August 22, 2007 1:11 AM


I have GOT to be the first to jump on this one.

I agree completely with everything you wrote, Amy. Why is it that one man's embarrassment of riches (like having girl after girl after GIRL in one's life) is this guy's plain old embarrassment?

And, okay, fine -- none of them were the RIGHT girl. Clearly. But that just means that all these girls who were wrong, are gone. There was only one way to find out they were wrong, and the LW employed it. He dated them, had relationships with them, and gave it his best shot every time. It didn't work, but it rarely does. (If finding and keeping the right relationship was easy, we'd all pair off in the seventh grade and never look back).

Meanwhile, consider a friend of mine -- a bitter, angry, envious, ANGRY 32-year-old man who would kill his mama (seriously, I'm beginning to fear he might) just to have ANY WOMAN AT ALL pay attention to him for five minutes.

LW, you've got nothing to worry about. Keep at it, enjoy your good fortune, and -- when you get disappointed -- smile, shrug and remember: you had some lovely dinner dates, some good conversations, some memorable moments, and now you can go find some more.

Posted by: Daisy Jones at August 22, 2007 5:33 AM

Self-awareness is definitely something that this guy should develop. Does he know if he was happy when he was with these women? Why was he attracted to them? Why does he think the relationships ended the way they did?

It might help him get over his self-pity and figure out how to pick a woman in the future.

Posted by: Chrissy at August 22, 2007 5:44 AM

Yep, a little introspection couldn't hurt, now, could it? I mean, think about it. What do all these relationships have in common? Why, the LW of course! o_O

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 22, 2007 5:54 AM

Again, I think a big part of the problem is the assumption that one girl will be "the right girl" for you forever. We have cars, antibiotics, and cell phones. Most people will live what will only seem like forever if they're with the wrong person.

I hate when people say a marriage or relationship that ends is a "failed relationship." Not necessarily. If it was good while it lasted, you had a successful relationship. It's our standards, and people's expectations vis a vis reality that are out of line.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 22, 2007 6:10 AM

What is that sound that hovers just at the range of human hearing as I read "Most Likely to be Left"? "Aaaamy! Girls are so meeean! They keep leeeeaving me!" Its good that he wrote you instead of heading over to AWS.com to become a hater. People who complain about how the rules aren't fair or they just can't meet the kind of person they are looking for because of porn or feminism or money memes or whatever need to take a serious road trip. Even with globalization and mass-culture, there is still some variety to how people are depending on where you go. When you feel like a dating service for your friends and associates, it is time to ask yourself if you might be happier with a new set of friends and associates. As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea but the fact that LW keeps losing his fish to people he knows suggests he is fishing in a pond instead of the ocean.

Posted by: martin at August 22, 2007 7:25 AM

The LW seems to have a problem with living in the present. He's either dwelling on things that happened in the past (and only the bad things!) or he's worried about how a relationship will turn out in the future. How about asking someone out and not focusing on anything more than enjoying dinner?

Posted by: Pirate Jo at August 22, 2007 8:30 AM

"Again, I think a big part of the problem is the assumption that one girl will be "the right girl" for you forever. If it was good while it lasted, you had a successful relationship."

Exactly, Amy. Thank you.

The same volatile, increasingly desperate and scary guy I mentioned at the top is also completely baffled as to why I'm not shopping for another wedding ring, and might actually prefer never to wear one again. He thinks the only acceptable way to end a healthy relationship is to accidentally DROP DEAD while it's in progress.

The last relationships any of us ever have might end that way eventually, with or without wedding rings. But is it really THAT upsetting or irksome when they don't?

Posted by: Daisy Jones [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 22, 2007 10:00 AM

"...and women so desperate to be touched that they plot to have strangers back into them in stores in hopes of getting one of those little “pardon me” after-grabs."

This is one of those things you hope not to notice - that anyone should be in such a state. But I have to point out that there is also a case where it is such a "high" to be near someone that actual misery sets in when she's away. It's amazing how heavily wired some of us can be for close company.

Posted by: Radwaste [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 22, 2007 2:56 PM

women are pigs-- doesn't LW know that. They even blame HIM-- as here-- when women act like pigs and screw him for a guy with money-- women's main goal in life being using men for the acquistion of money, objects , resources and security. LW needs to stop dealing with the pigs -- learn to enjoy a rich, moral, fulfilling life by cultivating your self and realize that relationships with most women are based on them exploiting you for money, things and their self-interest . Its the oldest profession for a reason... see Esthar Vilar, The Manipulated Man...

Posted by: homer misogynous at August 22, 2007 3:38 PM

Above, I'm guessing we have yet another classic example -- man who doesn't choose well (or at all) and then blames all women for being awful.

My main goal in life is accomplishing a lot with my work, and making a difference in the world.

I don't believe in marriage, will never get married, and have never been supported by any man in my life (save when I was a kid by my dad).

I'm very happy and so is my boyfriend because he's a great person and I'm sweet to him, never say a mean word to him, and always try to look out for his best interests, as he does mine.

Of course, I spent much of my 30s alone because most people aren't all that great. Men or women. I pay attention to what people do and say, and I have standards, and look to see if they're being met or not.

It's an active endeavor, unlike simply sitting around blaming women for all your problems.

Remember, those "pigs" are pigs you chose. Look in the mirror and you'll see the culprit. It's called taking responsibility instead of placing blame, and men who do it -- like my boyfriend, who's always accountable for what he does, and always does what he says he'll do -- are real men, and very attractive to women...the ones who aren't just looking for a buck.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 22, 2007 4:16 PM

One more thing -- two simple rules of the road:

1. Many men just want sex. So do some women.
2. Many women just want a free ride. So do some men.

If you haven't figured this out and integrated it into your love and dating mind by 22 you're probably going to get fucked, and I don't mean in the fun way.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 22, 2007 4:19 PM

"I’m a sensitive guy with a lot of love to give, but I’ve been hurt so badly, I feel safest home alone with Chinese take-out

"A lot of love to give" what the hell does that mean? Finding a person to give some of this "love" you've been carying around? Primed and ready to give to anyone who'll take it? Get a dog.

How about finding a person who treats you so well that they inspire you to love, drawing from reserviors you didn't even know you had? It's called MAKING love for a reason.

If you've got "all this love" that's just bursting at the seams... you need to masturbate more.

Posted by: Morbideus at August 22, 2007 6:09 PM

Morbideus wrote: "How about finding a person who treats you so well that they inspire you to love, drawing from reserviors you didn't even know you had? It's called MAKING love for a reason."

I think that's really well-put. And I think it expresses the source that powers a healthy long-term relationship. Maybe the LW just doesn't know when to call it quits in a relationship. Usually, when the other person is done with a relationship but isn't brave enough to end it (the women in this case), the first sign is that they stop treating you well and, thus, stop inspiring your love. At that point, one of them has to be reasonable enough to end things and brave enough to just call the time of death. I'm guessing these relationships were on life-support long before the women decided to go for his boss (ouch!) and his best friend (double ouch!) .

Posted by: sofar at August 23, 2007 9:18 AM

Uh, my story could be LWs story. It feels simple and pure and true and I feel his pain and totally believe him and see the injustice.

Just one thing though, and I find this is so mortifying I am only aware of it by example in other people's lives, not my own which seems earnest, blameless, pure and true: the friends, boyfriends, and acquaintances I've had who had this mentality, about this or something in the same field--were desperate for friends, had stories of a childhood of Never Being Chosen--tended to keep having these experiences.

I have seen time and again how feeling very hurt and frustrated about the quest for love/friendship tends to create more sorrow in new relationships. Even the impulse to say, but I am such a nice person, I have love to give, etc still reeks of something that ends up being bad juju for love.

I have been dumped by the last four men I loved, and have been alone through the twilight of my reproductive years when I very much wanted love and a family, so seriously, I know LW's despair. I've got to say that while I have no answers at all, I have found some peace in realizing that My Story is in some kind of messed up struggle with the universe, energy, mojo, juju, the force, WHATEVER, and that I need to step back. Find a few things that I love to do, some great friends to share it with and I just don't know what to do about the rest, but at least for a while now I've stopped telling my self the sad sack story. It feels good to let go of The Story, you know? By the time you reach your early forties you've seen a lot, and I am appreciating more and more the wonder that I'm here at all.

LW, I hope you find peace.

Posted by: susan [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 23, 2007 9:24 AM

My suggestions:

1. Go to another country for an extended amount of time and get to know women there. You will notice the differences of women's attitudes and temperaments when it comes to establishing relationships. Most men that I know that are well traveled prefer foreign women by far.

2. Maybe there's something about you that repels women after they get to know you. Perhaps you maybe are a cheapskate or ill-mannered. Ask your close friends and co-workers for an honest evaluation.

3. Deep down you are gay and not quite comfortable with yourself.

Posted by: ronjer [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 23, 2007 5:00 PM

Or, the reality: Not all relationships last forever. There are people who are unwilling to admit when they've ended - the other person in one of those relationships finally gets out one way or another.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 23, 2007 5:22 PM

Or it could be that he's just not worthy, and can't take a hint.

Posted by: brian at August 23, 2007 6:09 PM

Yes - covered that in the question: "Do you pick...women out of your league?"

That's a prime reason some people can't make their relationships stick -- eventually the other person realizes they're of greater value and hightails it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 23, 2007 6:12 PM

Thanks, SoFar.

Maybe LW is boring. Obviously getting relationships isn't the trick, it's keeping them interested.

I'm also guessing there is a problem in the Spinal area... There's got to be a reason why Wives, Bosses, BEST friends & girlfriends all don't seem to have a problem fucking him over.

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 23, 2007 7:18 PM

A sensitive guy with alot to give feels like an oxy moron in my gut. Inability to roll with life's punches is not a prerequisite for empathy, and just because you're sensitive does not make you really caring. I've met so many guys who share the sentiment of the LW. They're so sensitive, so loving. How could any woman possibly leave there care bear arms?

To be honest, I wouldn't care one way another what happened to such a person, but guys are "sensitive" also seems to have this other annoying trait; they act holier than thou to guys who lack the "sensitivty." They seem to think not whining about past losses constantly is some form of radical emotional detachment. It's really, really annoying.

If the LW wanted my advice, I'd just tell him to go back over amy's letter to make sure he didn't miss anything. Those three paragraphs should be passed around in public schools to prevent further this sensitivty epidemic.

Posted by: Scott [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 23, 2007 10:17 PM

A lot of guys who call themselves "nice guys" are really huge pussies. A great book for the reeducation of such types, should any be reading, is "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Robert Glover.

And thanks, Scott, about the three paragraphs. I tend to agree!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 24, 2007 5:52 AM

The self-described nice guys are usually passive-aggressive, and can be kind of whiney and clingy. None of that is particularly attractive, and would make me feel like I was babysitting. I don't need a dependent, I need a guy that can take care of his own emotional needs.

Posted by: Chrissy at August 24, 2007 12:02 PM

I consider all my relationships to have been life experiences. They had a beginning, a middle and an end. I enjoyed them for the most part, and when they didn't feel right anymore, I ended them. A few were quite painful, but when I was finally free, I felt that I learned something and was happy to be out, and I resolved try things differently the next time around.

At this point I am very cautious, and am in no hurry to get into anything heavy. I have a few very happy arrangements with a few guys that I consider more friends than anything else. They are nothing like any relationship I've had before, and I'm glad of that, because I feel that I am being creative, and not repeating anything that didn't work for me in the past.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2007 12:15 PM

Chrissy wrote: "The self-described nice guys are usually passive-aggressive, and can be kind of whiney and clingy. None of that is particularly attractive, and would make me feel like I was babysitting. I don't need a dependent, I need a guy that can take care of his own emotional needs."

I agree. I don't know enough about the LW to know if his "niceness" is a manifestation of his neediness and clinginess. But I do know that needy people and emotionally healthy people naturally repel each other. If you're a magnet for gold-diggers, cheaters, and users and think you deserve better, the first step is to become emotionally healthy yourself, thus making yourself unattractive to undesirable people.

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2007 2:05 PM

the first step is to become emotionally healthy yourself, thus making yourself unattractive to undesirable people.

You say that like it's easy, or even possible.

Posted by: brian [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2007 5:23 PM

I hope the guy that wrote in is reading these comments because have two things to say to him: Give up and go have a life. I gave up trying to find someone about ten years ago. Since then I've been all over the world, seen and done incredible things. Hey, three years ago I rode a motorcycle through the EU and CR for a month. I hiked the Alps, went to the opera in Vienna, saw the Van Gogh exhibit in Amsterdam and a ton of other really great stuff. Now honestly, doesn't that sound better then looking for a relationship? Unless you can find 'the one' it just isn't worth it. BTW, there is a girl in my life now. She's going to be a year old next month. So I'm giving up those cigars I've enjoyed for the last 4 years, quitting my career of 26 years and moving away from my hometown so I can be close to her. And that's how much men can be willing to change when the person is worth it. So get on with it, pal. Drop me a line when you get to Paris. I know a great place for lunch. Good luck.

Posted by: jon [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2007 11:54 AM

I'll be there in a few weeks. What's the place?

And part of what I'm guessing you're talking about is going from being desperate to meet somebody to being content with your life: The "I complete me" mode of living. Until you truly feel that way, you're going to be shit as a partner for yourself and anyone else.

Where'd you get the daughter, by the way? Adopt? If so, what's that like in Europe?

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2007 12:22 PM

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: Interesting

It seems that there is no connection between THIS post and the ITEM you posted over on your blog.

TO: The Guy
RE: Good Advice

I counsel that you should not, repeat NOT, invite the serpent back into what you've NOW made your home. Something about that old adage of "once bitten, twice shy". Or maybe, if you disregard this advice, you should seek other counsel about sado-masochism.

RE: The Solution

Seek out a woman as described in the latter part of Proverbs 31.


[Good hunting and good luck. -- traditional comment of commanders to troops going into 'battle'.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 26, 2007 2:51 PM

We women were originally wired to seek out virile men who could club down a bison (or whatever cavemen ate for dinner) and protect the progeny from the saber-tooth tiger. Not someone who could write us poetry on the walls of the cave.

Lots of women really go for the sensitive types (especially when we're on the rebound and want someone who is the exact opposite of how we perceive our most recent exes). But not many women see the "Sensitive Ponytail Man" as the keeper type.

LW is probably going for the wrong type of woman altogether. His perception of the women he's attracted to and his perception of himself are at odd angles.

Also, I've got to ask....what kind of people is he hanging around with, that they'd all sleep with his girlfriends??? He needs to grow some genitalia and tell them to piss off.

Posted by: Jena at October 5, 2007 9:07 AM

This reminds me of a guy I once dated who lamented that every girl he'd ever gotten into a serious relationship with had cheated on him. Granted, this guy was still only 22 years old, but once he started telling stories about his past "loves" it didn't take long to pick up his pattern of attraction to damaged goods. I also picked up that when he was courting a potentially "good" girl he had a habit of pushing them away (like he did to me). It took him a few years to outgrow his childish hang-ups but he eventually found a healthy adult relationship. So take that into account, Most Likely To Be Left, and keep putting yourself out there.

Posted by: Michelle at October 8, 2007 10:41 AM

Better to solve your problems instead of repeatedly trying to date them.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 8, 2007 11:00 AM

Most guys that I have known this this boat are too wishy washy. You can get 'em, you just can't keep 'em. So maybe you have learned too much about how to be a man from watching "The View"?

Just a thought.

Posted by: Smarty at October 9, 2007 12:59 PM

One thing I'd say that took me a long time to figure out. Other commenters are very keen to point out what the LW is doing wrong, and he needs to hear that. But for balance: if you leave a window open and someone climbs in and steals all your stuff, you've been an idiot and you should have protected yourself better. But the person who stole your stuff is still a thieving bastard.

Posted by: Patrick Brown at October 10, 2007 4:34 PM

Yes, but you can moan about what shits people are, but saying, "I should stop leaving the windows open" is how you stop being robbed.

An example from my life: I once got assaulted in NYC by some creep who followed me home. I was in from LA, and walking to my old nabe for old time's sake. Thing is, when I lived there, I was careful never to take Greenwich Ave after the UPS facility was closed (the guys in the loading area always looked out for me when it was open). That night, I forgot my old rule, and the asshat ran up to me on the dark street and grabbed my boob. I screamed and hollered and flailed around and he ran. Sure, he was guilty of assault, but I don't focus on that because it's not going to prevent it happening again. What I say: "Self, you were kind of a dumbshit, why don't you not act like such a dumbshit again?"

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 10, 2007 4:45 PM

Absolutely. All I'm saying is, take responsibility for your own actions, but not the blame for other people's. When you're in a self-perpetuating downer like I've been and the LW seems to be, it's easy to lose that distinction.

Posted by: Patrick Brown at October 10, 2007 5:19 PM

Well, I actually think you have to be honest. There are times you just get slammed and couldn't have seen it, but most of the time, as Nathaniel Branden told me, "People tell you what they're about; you just have to be willing to listen." He wrote a great book - The Art Of Living Consciously - that helps in this area.


Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 10, 2007 5:30 PM

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