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Bridget Jones’ Diarrhea

I’m a 23-year-old woman and my boyfriend is 37. We’ve been very happy and communicate well, but I recently started hanging with a guy my own age, and I ended up having feelings for him, too. I hate going behind my boyfriend’s back when he’s fully committed, but my biggest fear is that my family will think he’s too old for me, and their approval means a lot. I need to choose soon because I hate lying to people I love. How do I decide who’s right for me, and what should I base my decision on?

--Confused

Write each guy’s name in catsup on your kitchen counter. Find a pregnant iguana. Clip its toenails and scatter them in a circular pattern around each name. Walk outside and ask the first person you see their name. More than eight letters? Go with the older guy. Fewer than eight? The young dude. Or…just dump both, leave the iguana to lick up the catsup, and throw yourself at the next guy who asks you the time.

No, I’m not kidding. At this stage in your life, this is as good a method as any for deciding who will stay and who will go. The truth is, nobody is particularly right or wrong for you because there isn’t a whole lot of you to be right or wrong for. In fact, if you’re like a lot of people in their early 20s, you’re a larva in shoes. With boobs and a job, you probably look the part of an adult, but at best, you’re the test market for Smirnoff Ice and probably have a hard time with existential questions deeper than “Bleu cheese or ranch?”

Yet, chances are, pretty much all you have are questions -- big, looming ones like “Who am I?” -- which you can’t duck by answering “Who am I with?” Do yourself a favor; admit you aren’t sure who you are, and start trying on selves like day-of-the-week underwear. So, Saturday morning, you’re a blank slate, tabula rasa, but after a weekend matting your hair into dreads, you slouch into work all tabula Rasta. Tuesday, maybe you throw on a Che Guevara T-shirt and march to your cubicle as girl revolutionary. Oops, the office know-it-all tells you the guy was actually a mass murderer. You slink to the bathroom, turn your shirt inside out, and vow to sneak out early to celebrate capitalism at the mall.

Your real problem isn’t choosing between the two guys, but the fact that you seem to approach life like a contestant on “The Price Is Right,” glancing nervously at your 12 inbred relatives in the audience for hints at the answers. Take your biggest fear, for example. It isn’t that your relationship won’t meet your needs, but that it won’t meet your parents’. Ma-ma! That’s exactly why you shouldn’t get serious with any guy right now, especially a much older one. Since you don’t know who you are, it’s easy to fall into being who you think he wants. And instead of looking for your own answers, you’re prone to lean over and, essentially, cheat off his SAT.

To figure out what’s right for you, have the guts to throw yourself into what could be wrong for you. Take risks. Make mistakes. Date mistakes. Live it up. Just not so much that you end up maimed, pregnant, or dead. In the wise words of the ancient philosopher Sir Mick Jagger, “It’s okay letting yourself go as long as you can let yourself back.”

Posted by aalkon at September 19, 2007 7:24 AM

Comments

And here's a few more:

"The One" doesn't exist.
There are no soul mates.
"You complete me" and "I am nothing without you" are immediate evacuation warnings for intelligent, worthwhile people.
If the earth moves or shakes on a first kiss, it's probably cuz you were real drunk.

My recommendation: Just fuck the young one for god's sake. The old one knew it was coming anyway. He'll be over it so quick, you'll be offended.

Posted by: kg at September 19, 2007 6:14 AM

What does a 37 year old want with a 23 year old?

I'm willing to bet it's not life long commitment or incredibly deep conversations about the political economy and morality. I'm also willing to bet it has more to do w/ the fact her tits look better than those on a 37 year old chick.

Her lack of a defined self is probably appealing to him - he knows she'll do what it takes to please him and ask for little in return (b/c she doesn't know what she wants!). 37 year old have done the "Take risks. Make mistakes. Date mistakes. Live it up." This means 37 year olds usually have baggage and won't put up w/ much shit. To some lazy and superficial people this is what drives them to date fresh, untainted, low-baggage meat.

LW: take up some hobbies or something. If you have to ask a total stranger "which one is right" for you then you shouldn't be in a relationship w/ either of them.

Posted by: Gretchen at September 19, 2007 6:29 AM

LW: take up some hobbies or something. If you have to ask a total stranger "which one is right" for you then you shouldn't be in a relationship w/ either of them.

A-freakin'-men!

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2007 7:04 AM

I know what I'm looking for in a 23 year old.

Someone who isn't jaded by her divorce(s), or her lack of marriage at 37.

Someone who hasn't established a career that she decides takes precedence over everything else in her life.

Someone who isn't likely to have children.

Someone I won't feel guilty for dumping when she tells me she wants children. She'll have plenty of time to have them after she's figured out I'm never going to give them to her.

Posted by: brian at September 19, 2007 7:17 AM

Someone who you can dump without having any guilty feelings, after you break her naive little heart.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2007 7:38 AM

Where is this young lady's dad? I'd have terrorized his ass into another hemisphere by now.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2007 7:48 AM

If she can't swing a way to date both of them, my advice would be to just pick the one she likes better. It's not any more complicated than that.

Posted by: Monica at September 19, 2007 7:58 AM

Monica,

Yes it is more complicated than that because she still has society's bullshit moral code of conduct crammed firmly up her ass.

"I need to choose soon because I hate lying to people I love."

Yeah, she hates it so much except she's doing it.

If, however, she just fucks the young one, she will be able to decide pretty easily which one she likes better.

Posted by: kg at September 19, 2007 8:10 AM

Flynne - well, SOMEONE'S gotta make them jaded. Otherwise, how will they have a lousy attitude in their thirties? :)

OK, I'm gonna go hide now.

Actually, even the 23 year olds are too much work to bother with. If I wanted to expend that much effort, I'd start another company.

Posted by: brian at September 19, 2007 8:27 AM

"I hate lying to people I love."

Wouldn't lying to people you love be a warning sign that you were in the middle of a big mistake? Wouldn't "the people you love" be a fantastic resource in times of personal doubt?

If you can't turn to them for advice, why bother with what they might think?

Most 23 year old women have a word they use when they talk to 37 year old men: “sir.” When LW was squealing at her sweet sixteen party, this guy was looking at the big 3-0. Five years and change ago, he would have been on Dateline as a sexual predator. What could they possibly have to talk about? Maybe some couples can pull off this kind of thing, but she hardly seems wise for her years.

I should have met her when I was 23. I had just finished a four year hitch jumping out of airplanes. I was pulling down straight A’s in college while holding two jobs and an internship. If I had met someone like LW back then, I’d have talked to her for two minutes before checking to see if someone had pinned a note to her jacket in case she got lost.

Amy suggests that she make mistakes. She has the “make mistakes” thing down cold. What she needs is a better acquaintance with consequences. This is an excellent example of infantilization. LW is legally an adult but is dangerously lacking in the most fundamental of life skills. What she should do is put her poofy hair up in a pony-tail and go serve a good cause until she can tell the difference between the dessert of life and the main course. (And same goes for the boys btw.)

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2007 8:55 AM

Oh Brian you are such a grump.

"Someone who isn't jaded by her divorce(s), or her lack of marriage at 37."

Are you forgetting whose website you are posting on? Amy is in her early 40's, never married, never plans to, and is happy about it! I'm the evil age of 37 and the same goes for me. I have no reason to get married and it would interfere with my plans to be a cougar at the age of 60.

"Someone who hasn't established a career that she decides takes precedence over everything else in her life."

Until I find a way to get paid to ride my bike and play with my dog, my job is a way to pay the bills, period. Being consumed by a career is such an old-school, baby-boomer thing anyway. It's for those ten people on the planet who have fun at their jobs or the vast majority who think they need to live in a McMansion, have a litter of kids, and lease their cars. Besides, coming from you, with all your start-up companies etc., are you the pot or the kettle on this one? You over-achiever, you.

"Someone who isn't likely to have children."

No kids, and got my tubes tied three years ago. Any questions? You "jaded" old git - this reminds me why I'm seeing someone seven years younger than I am. Gotta love that sweet innocence and the, um, energy level. Aaaarrrrggghhh! (In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day.)

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 19, 2007 9:13 AM

Jo - Grump? Thanks! Nobody's ever called me a grump before. Is 38 too young to be a curmudgeon?

There's a difference between a job and a career.

I have a job. Actually, I own a job. It is not a career. A career is something people use to define themselves, and pour their entire existence into it. You've heard the term "married to your job". That's a career. Work comes first, and everyone and everything else is a distant second.

I'm no over-achiever. I do precisely the amount of work required to finance my lifestyle.

Somehow, I don't think you'd be interested in dating a guy who spent 100 hours a week working and 15 minutes a week with you.

Posted by: brian at September 19, 2007 9:30 AM

Notice how Brian seems to hint at having his own company-- then vilifies a woman whose career takes precedence in life.

Boo hoo. Why would any woman sacrifice her career for someone as disingenuous and jaded as you are?

'After she's figured out I'm never going to "give" them to her'.....bwahahahaha!! You're fun. Keep posting....

Posted by: Wendy B at September 19, 2007 9:33 AM

Wendy - see the post above yours.

A career is what someone has when they have nothing else.

I work because I need money, not because I enjoy it. I don't have any hierarchy that I answer to, I don't have any power ladders to climb.

I've met career women. They are obsessed with gathering power and conspicuous displays of consumption. These are the ones where if one buys a new Saab, the next one down the ladder needs a BMW.

Then there's the real women. Unfortunately, they're (mostly) all taken and aren't interested in leaving their husbands/boyfriends.

You'll notice that Amy's got her own company, but I'd hardly call her a career woman.

Posted by: brian at September 19, 2007 9:37 AM

I can't even bear to listen to someone being described as "successful" anymore. Success as defined by what? Success in impressing his neighbors with his shiny new car, or success in keeping his old car held together with Mexican chrome (duct tape)? What I want to know is, does the guy have any fun???

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 19, 2007 9:51 AM

Flynne - well, SOMEONE'S gotta make them jaded. Otherwise, how will they have a lousy attitude in their thirties? :)

Oh brian, you're so cute! I had my babies in my 30s, while I was working in a big pharma company after the musician's magazine I was working for folded. I was having the time of my life back then; I interviewed Greg Adams from Tower of Power, David Johannsen (in his Buster Poindexter persona), the guys in Molly Hatchet and Kansas, and a host of others. I was fortunate that my mom was willing to watch my girls for me, she knew how important it was to me. After the big pharma co., with all its nastiness, I mellowed out with a marketing consulting group (mostly graphic design, and some admin stuff) and now, at the age of almost 50, I'm the office manager for a biotech company, I have as awesome bf, 2 great kids, and my life is pretty much the way I want it. The only thing lacking is enough jing to be able to travel more, but we're doing well enough, all things considered. And while I still am jaded about a lot of things, they bother me less now than they used to. I consider myself pretty damn lucky these days. (But that's subject to change at a moment's notice, too!) o_O

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2007 9:55 AM

Little boy, dressed as a pirate (not Jo) goes out trick-or-treating. Knocks on a lady's door, she answers and says "Oh my! Aren't you a cute little pirate! But tell me, where are your buccaneers?"
He looks up at her and says "Under my buccin' hat!"

Arrrrrrgggggh.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2007 9:59 AM

Congrats Pirate Jo! I know you are having a blast with your energizer bunny! I had me a little rabbit too! Had to dump him, though! Boo hoo hoo! Waaaaa! Enjoy it while it lasts and lasts and lasts!

Posted by: kg at September 19, 2007 10:01 AM

I really like this advice for people in their 20's. I get to hear alot of stupid bullshit. The other day I was having an argument with a friend who said "you are never truly ready to have kids so age doesnt matter." Yup. Age doesnt matter? Really? Because most 50 year olds tend to look like they are enjoying life more than most 20 year olds.

Posted by: PurplePen at September 19, 2007 10:08 AM

Sooooo PurplePen, we are to conclude you are closer to 50 than 20.....

you never sound like you're having much fun....

and you're here why? Oh that's right, to brag about how much wiser the old are than the young.
Bravo, what a visionary. Us 20-somethings come to Amy because WE KNOW THAT ALREADY.

I really need to stick to reading Amy and Amy only...times iz tough down here.

Posted by: Wendy B at September 19, 2007 10:19 AM

Wendy, your logic is faulty.

I am in my early 20's. I have a heavy financial burden caused by job insecurity so forgive me if I'm not dancing for joy. Also I am terribly insecure simply because I'm young. As I get older this tends to decrease. I should perhaps be more specific that men in their 50's seem like they are enjoying life more than women in their 20's (who are too worried about what the world thinks of them) (or like you that the world is out to offend them). I am surrounded by men in their 50's and women in their 20's. Which company do you think I enjoy the best?

Posted by: PurplePen at September 19, 2007 10:38 AM

General:

I don't think all 20-somethings are stupid and incapable of having successful relationships (romantic and otherwise). That would just be insulting myself...and my relationships.

I DO think that people learn as they go. I've made lots of mistakes so now that I have something good I know it. Will I change? Probably. Will he? Probably. But you just go w/ it, give it your all and hope for the best.

The LW does seem incapable - such a harsh label should be distributed on a person-by-person basis. So, consider it distributed. Girl, you needa do some serious soul searching and ask yourself what you see in someone so much older which appeals to you.

On the bright side: she's making at least two mistakes right now to add to the repertoire o' fuck ups and she's on her way to figuring herself out a little bit more.

Posted by: Gretchen at September 19, 2007 10:41 AM

you never sound like you're having much fun....

I enjoy Purple Pen (via her comments here) because she's real, and smart, and "gets it" in a way many or most people don't. I never knew PP was 20-something, and now I'm really impressed.

Pirate Jo is another favorite for similar reasons.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 19, 2007 11:15 AM

I didn't think PurplePen was in her 20's either! Keep it up, lil' mama!

Posted by: kg at September 19, 2007 11:34 AM

I love 'em all. Except Brian, who's under-insured.

But he's right about the 37-year-olds.. It's a little later now, but when dating in my late 30's and early 40's there were a number of experiences which sang the melody of this song:

"I suspect that few things are more off-putting to a man eating dinner than to notice that the woman across the table is looking at him more hungrily than at the food on her plate -- and she is not hungry for his body but for his whole life."

Posted by: Crid at September 19, 2007 11:38 AM

Brian wins points for his comments on the Erin Aubry Kaplan entry. And gets demerits for being underinsured.

And Crid, regarding the quote, there's far too much of that going around. Too many women think they're getting off cheap by, as I like to say, "having a man instead of building a you." After their looks go, there's nothing left but flab and bones.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 19, 2007 11:49 AM

PurplePen,

"I am in my early 20's. I have a heavy financial burden caused by job insecurity so forgive me if I'm not dancing for joy. "

The movie "Little Miss Sunshine" I enjoyed watching has memorable quotes below. This might help you feel better.

Dwanye: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap-high school and everything-just skip it.
Frank: You know Marcel Proust?
Dwayne: He's the guy you teach.
Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh... he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, 'cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18... Ah, think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.

Posted by: Chang at September 19, 2007 12:03 PM

Chang, we appreciate the sentiment, and there's a grain of truth to it. But a single graduation speech's worth of suffering-is-good-for-you rhetoric is enough for a lifetime. (Here's a favorite: http://urltea.com/1j1s ...Not that it's from an profoundly successful figure in an absurdly comfortable industry.)

The truth is, poverty sucks. It's degrading and unpleasant and embittering, and life can end at any moment through no fault of your own anyway, so it's better not to be poor and hungry and miserable.

Posted by: Crid at September 19, 2007 12:13 PM

Whoops.. note that etc... The link is

http://urltea.com/1j1s

Posted by: Crid at September 19, 2007 12:15 PM

Sorry, I think HTML is disabled over here. And you're absolutely right. There's something to be said for not having a Ferrari at 15, but poverty is a great teacher: mainly that it's much, much better to be rich.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 19, 2007 12:30 PM

Crid,

"The truth is, poverty sucks. It's degrading and unpleasant and embittering, and life can end at any moment through no fault of your own anyway, so it's better not to be poor and hungry and miserable."

Agreed. But we don't need to be well off to be happy. Once we have basic clothing, food, and shelter, our chances for happiness are all the same. You need to be careful of what you give up for money.

I am poor by choice. After I read Amy's article "Chump Change", I quit my high paying job and started my own company. It is not easy to be on your own and I am struggling but I found out what I was made of. That makes me feel really rich.

Posted by: Chang at September 19, 2007 12:50 PM

Props to you and to Purple, I'm certain that you're both going to be very glad you put in the time.

Posted by: Crid at September 19, 2007 12:58 PM

Struggling (financially, psychologically, or otherwise) does teach you something. I admire people who take a risk to create something. That's different from holding up poverty as something noble in and of itself.

And thanks for telling me that, Chang. It means a lot. The notion that I can make a difference is part of why I do what I do - as opposed to writing ads or sitcoms.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 19, 2007 1:00 PM

Chang -

Just curious. What was it about "Chump Change" (a column about a man being led on by his sort-of-still-married girlfriend) that led you to take the risk?

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 19, 2007 2:14 PM

Good question, Snake. Link to that column is here:

http://www.advicegoddess.com/ag-column-archives/2005/10/chump_change.html

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 19, 2007 2:34 PM

At 37 and lots of mistakes in, I was finally smart enough to recognize a good partner who also had his shit together. Early on in our dating, he made one of those sweet (but lacking logic) comments about, Where had I been all his life? My answer was: Becoming the person I am now...you know the one you like so much!

That said, its easier as you get older to have this perspective. Stepping into the wayback machine, it was hard not to think that the earth revolved around every clothing choice made (and my choices were few), let alone relationship choices, so I hope this young lady is able to take the advice to heart. Feel free to date either, none or both of them (plus many, many more), but don't tie yourself to anyone so young!

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2007 2:50 PM

Snakeman,

"Just curious. What was it about "Chump Change" (a column about a man being led on by his sort-of-still-married girlfriend) that led you to take the risk?"

At first you have to pretend that Amy works at HR at one of Fortune 500. Also, pretend the LW is over worked and under appreciated employee and his "still-married girl friend" is his uncaring and manipulative boss at work. Also, note that the LW happened to be an immigrant with a very low self esteem and decide to seek out an advice from Amy about the unhappy situation at work.

Then, read the column "Chump Change" again. All the career advices I needed was in that column. The key advice, which influenced my action, was the following. The (words)are my comments.

"Apparently, it's a full-time job for you, avoiding the real problem: You aren't simply looking for love (job) ; you're desperate for love (job) -- which is the surest way to land in the arms of somebody incapable of providing it. This won't change until you get comfortable being alone -- (decide to start my own company by myself) comfortable enough to refrain from selling yourself down the river to the first con girl who needs a bit of man-bait to green up her ex."

Posted by: Chang at September 19, 2007 5:18 PM

I take offense on the comments that women that have a career are bitches and not womanly or that their career are their priority.

If that is your views I suspect you have been hanging around the wrong women. I manage one of the largest construction programs in the world. I'm also married to the same man for 15 year and I'm the mother of 6 children. My career and my family are on the same plane, both are equally important to me. It isn't a matter of picking one or the other, but planning well.

Over the next 10 years I will be responsible for $50 billion dollars worth of construction and I cook breakfast every morning and dinner every night and supervise homework and attend every sport game, pick children up from school or daycare and transport them to practices and lessons, attend parent teacher conferences, bake cookies for the PTA, and spend quality time with each person in my family each and every day. It can be done. You just have to be determined and work hard and plan well.

Just about everyone in the world has to work and the worse thing you can do is illustrate to your children that working sucks. It shouldn't. Working is a necessity, takes up considerable amount of a persons time, and therefore, you should enjoy it.

Posted by: ciminx at September 19, 2007 5:31 PM

Ciminx - you are looking for offense in all the wrong places. I would submit to you that you are the very antithesis of a "career woman".

You have failed to put your family second, therefore you have a job, not a career.

The "Career Woman" gets the Harvard MBA, makes partner, and at the age of 35, having shunned every man that's approached her as being insufficiently ambitious, wonders why nobody wants to be with her.

The "Career Woman" turns every aspect of life into competition. Most men aren't interested in a relationship that's a combat arena. The only time I'd be interested in competing with my woman is when she's got an XBox controller in her hand.

Otherwise, I can't be bothered with playing one-up.

Posted by: brian at September 19, 2007 6:10 PM

Chang -

Welcome to the American Dream. Once you're out on your own a while, you'll wonder how anyone manages to work for someone else.

Good Luck.

Posted by: brian at September 19, 2007 6:11 PM

Chang -

Thanks for the explanation. As a fellow entreprenuer (left big firm law practice to start my own shop), I know exactly what you mean about learning "what you're made of." Five years later, I not only have more time and money, but I learned (during the lean times): 1) how to cook better than a restaurant, 2) the unlimited entertainment available at the public library, 3) where the hot chicks are for free yoga classes, 4) how to buy affordable good food at Trader Joe's, 5) to re-discover the joys of bicycling, 6) that Bally's offers just as much gym for 1/4 the cost, 7) where the hot chicks are at free art gallery openings, 8) how to kill the TV habit, 9) the true value of leisure time, etc., etc.

Brian - I don't agree with your notion that "career" is a four-letter word, but I certainly can't argue with the underlying sentiment. I don't think Ciminix and you are really all that far apart once you get past the semantics.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 19, 2007 8:49 PM

Snakeman99, how on earth did you find that bicycling fit into a limited budget? I spent a fortune this year on a touring bike with pimped-out-ride panniers (an investment, that's what they are, yeah!). But if you are going the "old 'an busted" route, you get extra points for coolness.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 19, 2007 9:29 PM

PJ -

Used bike - $200

Not dealing with traffic - priceless

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 19, 2007 11:44 PM

Wow, Chang. Thanks for explaining that.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 12:03 AM

brian, forgive me for doing some selective cut and paste with your post but check this out:

"The "Career Woman" gets the Harvard MBA, makes partner, and at the age of 35, having shunned every man that's approached her as being insufficiently ambitious,...The "Career Woman" turns every aspect of life into competition.
Most men aren't interested ..."

MOST men. Maybe not you and maybe not me but SOME men long to meet this woman. To each their own, it takes all kinds etc.

If she is miserable with who she is and constantly doubting her life choices then Danger, Will Robinson but if she knows what she wants and would rather be alone than settle then happy hunting.

For any "Firefly" fans, I always thought the chemistry between Capt. Mal and Inara (the interplanetary call girl) was along these lines. She wanted him to be a better man; worthy of her. She inwardly hoped that he would step forward to lead a rebellion against the repressive regime. He masked his resentment of the guilt she inspired in him through contempt for her career.

Posted by: martin at September 20, 2007 6:40 AM

"She wanted him to be a better man; worthy of her."

Sounds very Ayn Rand to me.

Well, except for the rest of it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 7:29 AM

Well, I DO have all the action figures from "The Fountainhead." Dominique Francon, mmmmm.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 8:05 AM

Just gotta say that I also did not know that PurplePen is in her 20s!! I am very impressed with her level of insight and her interesting comments. Kudos. :-)

Posted by: jaylyn [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 9:22 AM

All the compliments are greatly appreciated.

Posted by: PurplePen at September 20, 2007 10:22 AM

So far, no one has suggested polyamory. I'm not sure I would recommend it to "Confused", but essentially it means openly dating more than one person, where nobody owns anyone else.

Amy's got "The Ethical Slut" on her Book Picks, which is what I'd recommend too.

"Confused" needs to have a clearer understanding of her own moods and desires; she's worried because she "has feelings for" a new person... like if she were in the perfect relationship she'd never have a crush on anyone else. That's American cultural brainwashing. I'd advise her to quit watching TV dramas and start thinking for herself. Having the hots for someone DOES NOT mean you have to act on it.

Posted by: Red Ree at September 20, 2007 10:52 AM

"So far, no one has suggested polyamory."

Doesn't work for a whole lot of people.

And also, I'm trying to avoid the reappearance on my site of the plague like Amy Gahran.

Oops, I mean, I'm trying to avoid Amy Gahran like the plague.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 11:28 AM

Martin - that's as may be. But these women need to realize that they are restricting themselves (often voluntarily) to a very small pool of men. The ones that are willing to put up with their shit aren't going to satisfy them in any meaningful way, and the ones that meet their oh-so-high standards are usually taken - often by a blonde aerobics instructor. This leads them to whine like MoDo.

There's an old saying - Women don't date down. I don't know what percentage of women are willing to take a mate who is less ambitious than they are, or socially/financially below them they are, but I'd be willing to bet that it is small.

Using this audience as a guide post, however, is not likely to be statistically useful. The women attracted to this place are reasonable and intelligent.

Posted by: brian at September 20, 2007 1:09 PM

"Polyamory" is bullshit.

37 seems to be a magic age here, mine as well. WEIRD!!

To go back to a WAAAY earlier post, "Soul Mates" are real, but appearantly not for everyone. I don't want to derail the topic by going into my own story, but it would shock many. It always does...

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 1:20 PM

I'm the same age as the LW, as are many of my friends. And, judging from my friends and acquaintences, her letter is not surprising; the clock is ticking, apparently.
The other night, I had to listen to my 24-year-old female friend do the math: "OK so I want to know a guy at least a year before I'm married. And I want a spring or summer wedding. But I want at least 6 months to plan it. So, if I meet the guy I end up marrying tomorrow, I can get married in spring 2009. But, if I don't meet the guy until like March of 2008 and I want a spring wedding, I can't get married until 2010! And I'll be 27! And let's say, I don't meet the guy I end up marrying until 2009? What if I don't get married by the time I'm 30??"
I think most people's default setting is marriage. 2 years ago, I decided that I'm not planning on ever getting married or having kids. That could change. But I'm surprised at how much more fun it is just turning off those default settings for...oh...let's make it 10 years.

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 1:50 PM

Mobideus, I can only speak for myself, but I like stories, unless they are shocking, then I really like stories.

Brian, the reason MoDo is like a glass of O.J. right after you brushed your teeth is that she makes vapid generalizations about men, women and the general state of the gender landscape.

Just an observation.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 2:02 PM

No, it's because MoDo's standards are such that nobody real can meet them. In her own world, she's perfect, and there's just nobody worthy.

Of course, the fact that she's as dumb as a post might have something to do with it as well.

Posted by: brian at September 20, 2007 2:37 PM

What's a MoDo?

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 20, 2007 2:51 PM

Maureen Dowd. Who wrote some long whining screed about how men are so vain and why wouldn't one of them want such a wonderful, successful 40 year old woman like her.

The answer, which she never gets to, is "because you're an insufferable bitch, Mo."

Posted by: brian at September 20, 2007 3:14 PM

If I may do a little blogwhoring:

http://blog.corbino.org/?p=227

The whiny screed is linked from there.

Posted by: brian at September 20, 2007 3:16 PM

Ugh. Couldn't get through it. Too many words.
Besides, I already know why men don't like 40 yeard old career women - [GENERALIZATION ALERT!] because they've usually let their appearance go to shit.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 20, 2007 3:40 PM

Forgot this postscript -

Oddly enough, Maureen does not appear to be one of these women. Google image search reveals a particularly striking face. I can only assume (for her), its the personality.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 20, 2007 3:42 PM

Not me! I read, write and think a lot, but I'm also deeply superficial! (In other words, I understand male sexuality enough to not let myself go to shit! Also, I feel dreadful when I don't look my best.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2007 5:01 PM

"Over the next 10 years I will be responsible for $50 billion dollars worth of construction and I cook breakfast every morning and dinner every night and supervise homework and attend every sport game, pick children up from school or daycare and transport them to practices and lessons, attend parent teacher conferences, bake cookies for the PTA, and spend quality time with each person in my family each and every day. It can be done. You just have to be determined and work hard and plan well."

I put about five years between you and a nervous breakdown.

Posted by: louise at September 20, 2007 6:32 PM

"I put about five years between you and a nervous breakdown."

Aw, c'mon, have a little faith. Maybe she gets stoned to bejeesus every morning while she has her coffee and has a GRRRRREAT time with the little angels.

Snakeman, I started out biking on the cheap, too. It's just a matter of time before you get sucked in. I agree with you about biking to work, though. The rock star parking is worth a lot, and the ride itself is my favorite part of the day.

This is the third year in a row that I've hit 3,000+ miles, and by now I've got two nice bikes. The speedy little racer, for the long, fast rides I do without stopping on the deserted county highways west of here. (Nice thing about living in the Midwest.) Also the touring bike, which can carry my groceries, school books, and even my dog - not to mention the camping gear I want to take on a long cycling tour next year. Biking isn't just the best way to get around town, it's the best way to take a vacation, too.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 20, 2007 7:15 PM

Sofar, I was guessing you were a lot older than 23. You certainly have things figured out better than the LW, and probably better than I did at 23, although I have always shared your sentiments about marriage and children. Being freed from that timeline (although not, unfortunately, from having to listen to other women talk about it) is a great source of freedom. Your life belongs to you, to live however you choose.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 20, 2007 7:18 PM

PJ -

I stand in inspired awe of your biking prowess. Hadn't even thought of a combo biking/camping getaway. That sounds tremendous.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 20, 2007 8:32 PM

PJ - I'm going to have to disagree with you.

Motorcycle is the only way to travel.

Posted by: brian at September 21, 2007 3:36 AM

I'd put a motorcycle in front of my TV, but riding it wouldn't do half as much as biking does for my ass.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 3:49 AM

The tart one-size-fits-all attitude about age divergence in dating isn't wisdom--it's resentment.

Posted by: Brett at September 21, 2007 4:54 AM

What a boring column. It started with some bloody idiot that is too stupid or naive to make her own decision. Then the comments started... Few of them have much to do with the letter. The majority of you are just looking to boost your own self esteem. "I'm only single because all available options are JADED." "I have a cooler job than the rest of you." "I'm smarter than you because I'm older/younger than the rest of you (whichever the case may be)." "men suck." "Women suck." It's like listening to teenagers in a daycare or something. Yawn.

Posted by: Renee at September 21, 2007 10:19 AM

Sounds like someone pissed in Renee's Post Toasties.

Posted by: brian at September 21, 2007 10:24 AM

Poor thing. It was probably Renee.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 11:14 AM

Thank you for proving my point Brian...

Posted by: Renee at September 21, 2007 11:14 AM

Anyone can curse the darkness Renee.

It takes someone special to pour a fresh bowl of Toasties and lead the bored to the promised land of mild, fleeting diversion.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 11:23 AM

Chang, I give you major props. I think any confusion on the matter can be explained by pointing out that the defintion of poverty is when you can't get the things you need. But everyone has to decide for themselves what it is that they actually need; no one can do it for them. It sounds to me like you have made some decisions and you now have everything you need. Perhaps you were actually living in poverty in your previous job, but you aren't now.

As for the original LW: Yeah, I remember being 23, vaguely. Yeah, I F'ed up a lot (pardon me, I'm at work). The thing is, there are an awful lot of things you can F up on and it's recoverable. You just need to avoid the non-recoverable F-ups. The sage Matt Groening once summed it up very nicely, as thus:

Don't get pregnant.
Don't get anyone else pregnant.
Don't have a whole mess of kids and don't be mean to kids.
Don't kill yourself.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at September 21, 2007 12:30 PM

> What a boring column.

It's fascinating when people come to a place like this, a completely free entertainment site, and spend time composing paragraphs of complaint about how bored they are.

Renee, help me understand.

1. Why bother to complain? This is an advice column in a freebie newspaper. There's a picture of a woman with bright red hair right up there next to a playful alliterative moniker... If you read any farther than than, you know what you're in for, and you know what it's costing you. It would be much less trouble to click away with your index finger, or turn the page.

2. If you know what was supposed to be written, why don't you tell us? What would have been interesting? You have time to write, and apparently strongly believe that an opportunity went unused. So why don't you do better?

3. Is there anything more obnoxious than the teenage failure to take interest in one's surroudnings?

Posted by: Crid at September 21, 2007 12:42 PM

Brian, HA! This must be why you are such a grump! Real cyclists pedal. Naw, I can't totally say that. I had a great booty call that lasted over a year with a Harley guy, and those guys are cool - him especially. I'm sticking with my pedals though.

Snakeman, I don't know if you live in the US, but there are some great places here (I'm looking at the Natchez Trace Parkway) to bike. You don't have to camp EVERY night - part of the fun of traveling is the cool little places you can stay, especially if they have a good breakfast. The Natchez Trace has bicyclists-only campgrounds, though, which I'll bet would be a good place to socialize. Knowing what to bring and having the right gear makes a big difference. I'm sort of new at this and taking my cues from overnight weekend camping rides. Next year, though ...

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 21, 2007 12:47 PM

Crid, I'll bet Renee is under-insured, too.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 21, 2007 12:49 PM

Crid - I don't know what kind of mental incapacity it takes to do a drive-by threadcrapping.

But, dig this, RENEE CAME BACK JUST TO SEE IF ITS TROLLING GOT A RESPONSE!

And, having gotten a response, trolled further.

And of course, we're all suckers for batting the troll about the head. Ah, well.

Posted by: brian at September 21, 2007 12:52 PM

I will thank you all for your comments. I would not say that I was trolling. I read this column all the time. Actually, I look forward to when new ones become available. I was simply pointing out that this particular one was a little boring. Its the reason that I read Amy's column and not Dear Abby. She usually has more interesting letters written to her. I understand that she can't help who writes to her, really. I was just disappointed is all. Call off the attack, how bout?

Posted by: Renee at September 21, 2007 1:35 PM

Well, okay. But next time post a link to something funny, like a monkey playing a banjo with his feet or George Bush doing a Rubik's cube.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 1:42 PM

I answered this one because I get letters like this from young girls all the time. And not just young girls, either. In short, the answer to "Who am I?" you don't get to by answering "Who am I with?"

PS I'd sooner spin a can of tuna on my counter (mermaid up, yes, mermaid down, no) than ask Dear Abby her opinion on anything.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 1:45 PM

"Mobideus, I can only speak for myself, but I like stories, unless they are shocking, then I really like stories."

Alrighty then. :) (Believe it or not, this is the short version)

I never believed the concept of "Soul Mates" either until this. Whether or not the term "shocking" really applies, I don't know, but it always raises eyebrows...

Oct. 31st 1986, I was 16 years old.:

I went to a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, basically because it was Halloween and there was nothing better going on. I dressed as "Eddie," one of the characters, I most resembled.

There was a group there of people dressed as the characters and acting it out. It turned out the only character they DIDN'T have was an Eddie, so they asked me to participate, which I did, even though I was nowhere near as adept at the role as all of the others.

There was a girl there dressed for the Riff Raff character, who completely dazzled me. I couldn't take my eyes off her for most of the show. (As an aside: she was attractive, but certainly not the center of most guys attention.) Something in her eyes completely captivated me. I knew right then and there I was going to marry her.

I tried talking a little to her, never got up the courage to really engage her in a converation (she was there for another guy at the time anyway), I never even got her name. When the show ended she, with the rest of the cast, left.

I kicked myself in the ass for years afterward thinking I blew it, but never forgot her. She was the subject of fantasies, I even told [people about her, all of whom thought I was an idiot for carrying a flag for a girl I never even actually met, and had only seen once.

Flash forward through drug-problems, a number of miserable relationships, yadda-yadda, the growing up thing.

1992: When I was 22 (I know, still a young'un) I was at work and I guy there was reading through a booklet of personal ads. I asked off-handedly if there were any Morticia Addams' looking for a Gomez? Never expecting that there would be, he said "Yep, I found this one and thought of you immediately."

The ad started: ATTENTION HORROR FANS! And went on to describe a Blond with green eyes, looking for a guy to take midnight strolls through cemetaries with. I thought right away "Could this be her?" I had never answered a Personals Ad before, and knew the chances were DAMN unlikely, but the ad sounded intrigueing, so I answered it anyway. I included my phone # for the hell of it.

She didn't call, but she wrote back and gave me her #, I called her.

As soon as I heard her voice I was willing to bet it was HER. We talked a bit, found we had much in common. I even asked her if she had ever been to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. "Oh yeah, me and some friends of mine used to even dress up as the characters and act it out on Stage. I was Riff Raff."

We set up a date. Our first date was just a "getting to know you" date and lasted 3 hours. Our second date, the following weekend, lasted all weekend long. After dating for 3 weeks I proposed and she accepted.

We got married 1993, we are still VERY happy, and have never even had a serious fight.

That's why I now believe in Soul Mates.

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 2:06 PM

Sorry, there's no evidence there's any such thing. There are people you click with, and the initial click is chemistry -- because you don't know them, you just feel an affinity with them. You were very unwise to marry her so soon, you just got lucky that it worked out okay. I hear a lot of those stories -- from people getting divorced or about it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 2:10 PM

Amy - sometimes dumb luck is all you need. I worked with a guy who proposed to his wife in about the same length of time. They have three children now, and remain happily married.

Then again, I also know people who dated for eons, got married, and after about 15 years got divorced.

Blind luck.

Posted by: brian at September 21, 2007 2:31 PM

Yes, but people all like to believe they're lucky, and have found their "soul mate," because they find it terribly romantic. This means they're predisposed to ignore anything that suggests otherwise. Morbideus is really lucky they worked out to be compatible. He went in blind and had no idea what he was getting. All he knew was that he found her attractive and had chemistry with her. You don't know somebody's values and character flaws -- which really make the difference in whether a relationship works -- until you've known them over time. It's great that you had a lucky roll of the dice, Morbideus, but that sort of behavior, when combined with lack of birth control, is often the stuff screwed up kids of divorced parents are made of.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 21, 2007 2:46 PM

Furthermore, I don't consider a relationship that lasts 15 years a failure. Nor do I think marrying for life is realistic or makes sense.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 2:47 PM

Lucky?

When we first contacted in 1986, I was enthralled with her, she could've given a shit about me, and definately did not "click."

I don't espouse the idea of "Soul Mates for everyone", I'm not even crazy about the term, but I don't know of any other way to describe it.

Obviously if my experience doesn't fit into one's pre-concieved paradigm, they are more than welcome to write it off. It's certainly no sweat for me.

On a different note: "Nor do I think marrying for life is realistic or makes sense. "

Lions mate for life, why not humans?

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 5:15 PM

Amy, forget I asked that last question about the lions and mating for life, I've been reading this column long enough that I know your take on it. When one speaks with such conviction, who am I to resist the temptation of pointing out that it does happen? On a species level... Jaguars, of course, are a total spread the seed and run species.

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2007 6:24 PM

Darn! I always get back from trips when these discussions are already really long...!

I'm with Renee. I really don't see alot of interest in discussing the actual column.

I can say though, from experience, that the 37-year-old guy better not feel like he is going to have this gal around for awhile. She is way too young to be thought of as a serious girlfriend. He should just have his fun with her now, because obviously she needs to be dating people her own age...and if not this new guy then eventually she will find another one, and another one, and another one...I mean, she will dump him eventually for someone who can stay out and drink all night and play Xbox with her and who has more hair in his ratty little beard than the 37-year-old has on his head...

Too immature at that age. At 23 she should be out having fun...at 37, he should be grazing the playgrounds for single mommies.

As far as not telling her parents...??? WTF! I thought caring what parents thought went out a long time ago!!!

Posted by: mike at September 21, 2007 6:33 PM

mike - there's no reason to expect that all 23 year olds should be out playing the field.

The LW, on the other hand, is clearly not feeling attached to her 37 year old boyfriend.

And what of us in the 38 year age bracket that wouldn't touch a mommy with a 10 foot pole? Are we supposed to stay alone so as to not upset the age balance with the 23 year olds?

Tell ya what - you take the thirtysomething single mom. I'll take the 23 year old gamer chick.

Posted by: brian at September 21, 2007 7:33 PM

Lions mate for life, why not humans?

Actually I don't think this is true about lions. A male has a bunch of females but when a younger male comes along to challenge him, he is liable to get killed or exiled. In neither case do the females care a lot. It's not a very good model for human society; but then, why the fuck should we model our behaviour on lions? We should teach lions to behave more like humans.

Posted by: Norman at September 24, 2007 9:09 AM

'Lions mate for life, why not humans?'

Norman is quite right about the lions. I've heard that sometimes the female lions get rid of the male if he isn't doing his job of patrolling the perimeter and having sex with each of them 20 times a day.

And if a younger male defeats the older male and takes over his job, he kills all the cubs so that the females go into heat again. I don't think that would go over very well in human society.

I think we should all act more like bobono chimps.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 24, 2007 11:29 AM

Why can't we be more like carrots?

Posted by: Norman at September 24, 2007 12:36 PM

I saw that on a National Geographic thing years ago, so I won't swear to it.

My point in mentioning it in the first place ("why model human society on lions?," You so funny!) was that mating for life happens in certain species in the Natural World, so whether or not to mate for life "makes sense" may be more of an instinctual thing rather than a logical or even rational decision.

Are humans hard-wired to mate for life or not? That was the question...

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 24, 2007 1:14 PM

Are humans hard-wired to mate for life or not? That was the question...

OK, but it was fun while it lasted! I even wondered it we could start a new religion - "... if only people could be more like carrots, the world would be a perfect place...". Must...fight...temptation...

It's pretty evident we're not hard-wired to mate for life. I'd say we're more hard-wired to mate (ie bonk) whenever a good opportunity comes along (ie if we think we can get away with it). This seems to be true for males and females, judging by recent DNA sampling which reveals that for about 5% of births the father of record is not the biological father. That statistic requires two participants per birth who are not mated for life. Or are things different where you come from?

Posted by: Norman at September 24, 2007 2:29 PM

Pirate Jo, as soon as you find a way to make a living riding a bike, let me know how it's done.
If you ever find yourself in central Texas, we can do a ride together (with a bunch of other people).
You say you're in the Midwest - have you ever done the RAGBRAI? What do you ride? I recently got a LaPiere, carbon frame. It's sweet.

I would ride to work, but my company doesn't have showers, nor do they supply a place to park a bike.

Posted by: William at September 24, 2007 9:03 PM

Even birds that are supposedly mated for life screw around on the sly, plus they don't live that long anyway, so 'life' is a relative term.

I would like to be more like a carrot-orange and full of Vitamin A, crunchy, living in the good earth-sounds like heaven!

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 25, 2007 7:50 AM

I'm a parrot nut and I was going to point out that most parrot species mate for life, so I was interested in your comment Chrissy. I haven't read anywhere that they screw around on the sly...do you have a reference for that?

There's a whole lot of literature about parrot behavior in domesticated situations and its currently going through some major shifts in thinking. Data suggesting that the mate for life thing isn't true, would add new perspective to the ongoing debate.

Posted by: moreta at September 25, 2007 9:18 AM

moreta, I did a search using the words 'bird mate unfaithful' and found an interesting article on the National Geographic site. Since you're a bird nut, you will probably find it interesting.

I watch way too much Animal Planet & Discovery channel. Ask me about meerkats...

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 25, 2007 11:16 AM

I like the Chimp idea. Throwing crap at people who piss me off has it's allure..

"That statistic requires two participants per birth who are not mated for life. Or are things different where you come from?"

"Mating for Life" doesn't necessarily mean 100% sexual exclusivity, (appearantly the instinct to bonk is stronger than Pair Bonding) I mean the instinct to look for a partner with intention to spend the remainder of days with... And 5% aint much, it means 95% ARE?

Humans are far more a "slave to our instincts" than some people like to think...

Would you say, Chrissy, the same would hold true for meerkats?

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 25, 2007 1:41 PM

Tell both men the truth ... it is easier to
remember... you might be surprised at how
it works out... best to live your life for
yourself... family and friends fall away with
time .. and those who do not .. well that is
called serendipity

Posted by: Honor Lightwell at September 25, 2007 10:30 PM

Throwing crap at people who piss me off ...

A traditional Scottish insult is "Away and throw shite at yourself." I like the image of this. "Shite" is more unpleasant than "shit", and there is some practical difficulty in throwing anything sticky at yourself. The final pleasure is to imagine your victim, after all this effort, covered in crap.

Use this insult today - you know you want to. You don't have to be Scottish, but you should at least try to speak like Willie the Groundsman.

Posted by: Norman at September 26, 2007 12:50 AM

"Mating for Life" doesn't necessarily mean 100% sexual exclusivity

Fair point. Though 5% is only the number that lead to offspring. The number of illicit liaisons must be higher. At what point would you say it undermined your mating for life hypothesis?

look for a partner with intention to spend the remainder of days with

When you're in love, that kind of thinking makes sense, but anything up to 40% of marriages end in divorce. (I think - no easy stats available.) In fact if there is any divorce at all, is it not evidence against your hypothesis? If not, how much divorce would it take to convince you?

Posted by: Norman at September 26, 2007 1:00 AM

Meerkats are cute! Other than that, what I've learned from watching Meerkat Manor is that they live in a group, led by a dominant female or couple and she or they decide who boinks who. Sounds pretty boring to me.

I select monkeys as my role model, because with the shit throwing and devious fornication, they have the most fun.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2007 6:15 AM

Hey William, I think Lance is the only guy who has ever gotten paid to ride a bike.

I do Ragbrai every year - what about you?

I have two bikes - a Trek 5200 carbon frame bike for speedy rides out on county highways, and a Long Haul Trucker touring bike for lugging camping gear (or coolers full of beer) around. I suppose I'll be needing a mountain bike or a recumbent next ...

Posted by: Pirate Jo at September 26, 2007 8:41 AM

Pirate Jo, I haven't done it yet. There were a few of us in our group who were thinking of doing it last year, but we never got our act together. Maybe next year. How do you manage the logistics?

There are quite a few men who get paid to ride, but they're a bit faster than me :(. There are around 5 guys in our group who I can't hang with when they head up a hill (including a 17 year old kid who could get paid for it if he keeps it up), but I'm a just bit too old and heavy to be a pro.

Posted by: William at September 26, 2007 10:03 AM

"The number of illicit liaisons must be higher. At what point would you say it undermined your mating for life hypothesis?"

When it gets to the point where the illiciteur decides to leave their marriage, or when the marriage falls apart due to it. How many guys would cheat on their wives, yet have no intention of leaving them?

"When you're in love, that kind of thinking makes sense, but anything up to 40% of marriages end in divorce. (I think - no easy stats available.) In fact if there is any divorce at all, is it not evidence against your hypothesis? If not, how much divorce would it take to convince you?"

Numbers, and man-made institutions hold little by way of "evidence" relating to Human Nature. Certainly the vast majority of marriages which end in divorce should never have gotten married in the first place, and I'm sure the signs were there, just ignored.

These statistics only relate to marriages in THIS country. On a world-wide level (the entire human species) I'm sure the numbers are significantly less. "The Human Animal", not "Mating Habits of the Average American".

It goes without saying (I think so anyway) that Americans are spoiled and decadent (YAY DECADENCE!!) but to think we in this country signify Humanity in a pure state, is... like flinging shit at a meerkat.

"Use this insult today - you know you want to. You don't have to be Scottish, but you should at least try to speak like Willie the Groundsman."

I DO want to... first chance I get. :) Although I think "shite" sounds more polite than "shit." Ever since "Dog Soldiers" I've loved the word "shite".

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2007 12:28 PM

Morbideus - You reject numbers ("Numbers, and man-made institutions hold little by way of "evidence" relating to Human Nature.") except when you like them ("These statistics only relate to marriages in THIS country. On a world-wide level (the entire human species) I'm sure the numbers are significantly less.") I wonder what evidence you would accept to reject your hypothesis that we mate for life. Can you say what that evidence might be? If not, it's not a hypothesis, it's an article of faith.

Funny that you should think "shite" sounds more polite than "shit". I (and my late wife) were of exactly the opposite opinion. Is this something to do with Dog Soldiers (not seen it) or a regional accent thing? Anyone else care to comment?

Posted by: Norman at September 26, 2007 2:35 PM

"You reject numbers ("Numbers, and man-made institutions hold little by way of "evidence" relating to Human Nature.") except when you like them ("These statistics only relate to marriages in THIS country. On a world-wide level (the entire human species) I'm sure the numbers are significantly less.") "

That was me using numbers to respond to you using numbers. As much as I'd like to take credit for it, it's not simply "my hypothesis." It's a running Theory made by many acedemics far smarter than me. I believe it, however, because "mating for life", or attempting to do so even if it doesn't work, looks like a common trend in human cultures world wide, for as long as human history has been recorded. It's sure as hell not "New Age Thinking".

"I wonder what evidence you would accept to reject your hypothesis that we mate for life."

Evidence I would accept? If people attempting to do so were the minority instead of the other way around.

A funny thing about instincts; Just because you have the instinct to do something, doesn't mean you WILL do it, or that you'll succeed at it, but that you can't seem to stop trying.

"Dog Soldiers" is a GREAT movie. Where else can you see a guy, seconds from being eaten, look a werewolf in the face and say, "I hope I give you the shits you bastard!!"?

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2007 9:09 PM

Morbideus - Sure, marriage has been around a long time. My guess is that we learned back in the stone age that tribes needed stable partnerships in order to survive. Otherwise, feelings of jealousy etc would get out of hand leading to non-cooperation and occasionally murder. I don't think the other apes have anything like marriage, do they? ( Just as a point of information.)

Social mores get passed down from one generation to the next culturally, so rules that work (like marriage) will tend to survive in culture, even if they have no genetic (ie instinctive) basis.

All of which leads me to conclude that I am out of my depth in this topic and I should probably just shut up and listen. Doesn't mean I agree with you yet! Dang, it's hard being opinionated and ignorant at the same time.

Posted by: Norman at September 27, 2007 1:01 AM

God... I wish I'd read this when *I* was 22.

Posted by: Jayne at September 27, 2007 1:25 AM

Thanks, Jayne -- really appreciate that.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 27, 2007 4:21 AM

"Otherwise, feelings of jealousy etc would get out of hand leading to non-cooperation and occasionally murder."

Feelings of jealousy caused by...? ....A threat to their attempt at fulfilling an instinctual function, perhaps? ;)

The impact of instincts, and the way these sometimes conflict the rational mind, fascinates the hell out of me. It's all interesting stuff, that will NEVER be proven 100%, and would be ignored by the masses even if it was. It's just fun-stuff to think about, that even the Einstein's of the world will disagree on.

"I don't think the other apes have anything like marriage, do they? ( Just as a point of information.)"

I admit total ignorance to the mating habits of other primates. I know the alpha male gets the alpha female (reflected in humans like Anjelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, for example) but that's about it. I don't know if the others in the Ape Tribes even GET to mate...

"Dang, it's hard being opinionated and ignorant at the same time."

I know the feeling... Cheers!

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 27, 2007 1:21 PM

Depends on the ape. Gorillas have harems, so only the dominant male (silverback) gets to mate with the females. Gorillas also have the smallest balls.

Chimps live more like a soap opera with lots of clandestine screwing around, even though there is a dominant male and he tries to hog all the females, it's a tough job because the females are pretty crafty. Chimp balls are mid-sized...

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 27, 2007 1:28 PM

Thanks, Chrissy. :)

I never even thought about it, but since you mentioned smallest and medium... which primate has the biggest?

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2007 10:23 AM

Apparently there is a corelation between the polyamory of the females (I don't like using the word promiscuous with respect to any females! If there is a better word out there maybe somebody can help me out with this), and the size of the balls of the males of the species. It's all about sperm competition. I think the chimps have the largest in relation to their body size.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 2, 2007 12:34 PM

That's an interesting correlation, thanks. I if that is similar to the fact that certain species can get empregnated by more than one male at a time, while others can't.

"(I don't like using the word promiscuous with respect to any females! If there is a better word out there maybe somebody can help me out with this)"

I don't really see why anyone should get offended by "Promiscuity," it's a good word... and I'm sure any chimps reading this column won't be too offended. ;)

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2007 2:24 PM

If promiscuous is equally applied to the males of any species, I'll be happy with that!

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2007 7:26 AM

If you are going with a guy and start hanging with another guy at the same time, you are a tramp. Sounds like "trade up" syndrome, those girls who never spend more than a few days between boyfriends, because you started emotionally cheating on one while finding the other.

Posted by: Smarty at October 9, 2007 12:43 PM

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