Category: relationships

This Just In: Not All Guys Are The Same (Shocking!)

Dear Dude is a twice-monthly column in which my good friend, The Dude, answers some of your questions about the hairier sex. Dear Dude is an industrial designer by day and a serial flirt by night. He owns entirely too many bikes and a fairly well-behaved dog. He loves good food, good music and smart ladies.

Hey Dude,
Why is it that once u guys are dumped, why do u keep coming back and trying even w/pitiful emails think that the dumper still is interested even when they have told u no, thanks? Don’t u guys have any pride?

Hey nibbles –
Tough question… even tougher grammar and spelling…

Long answer: Most guys (and I think people in general) don’t like losing. If they have something – love, cell phone, keys, a moist towelette – whether they are happy with it or not, want to hang on to it over losing it. Giving it away is different, and better than having it taken away, or losing it.

Are you a heart breaker? Are you easily bored with guys? Are you prone to be in mismatched relationships where he is more into you, than you into he? I’m no professional, I’m just a dude, and I’m not going to analyze you, but if that sounds even the least bit like you, maybe you tend to attract “that type”… clingy, mildly pathetic, immature, co-dependant… In which case, maybe there is more to this issue than you think. Maybe you are “dating down”, and need someone more challenging. Or you need to quit the tight pant, indy music emo guys. Just sayin’

There are enough examples of “against all odds, conflicts and hardship, we can be together” stories in our popular culture, movies and our friend circles that many people are probably convinced that they too can be one of those stories.

To over share for a moment, I was once one of “those guys”. I’m not going to get into too much detail, but the major points are that I was with her for 10 years, married for the last 4. She met someone, and got a shot of that “fresh relationship” adrenaline. She had someone to confide in and tell all the things she formerly told me. I did the pathetic “woe-is-me” calls, texts and emails; begged, etc. I’m not proud, but I was still deeply in love. And it was crashing down around me… the life we had planned and been working on, was suddenly a wreck… or at least horribly off track. I will admit, there were times I wondered if I could go on with life. I did. I have. Life is better now.

Sure, I have baggage, but the simple fact that I am telling this story arbitrarily in response to a question that might well have been composed on a calculator is proof that I am reconciling that past. Making sure it is the past, and not the future. Most importantly, learning from it.

Short answer: No, no pride at all.


A note from Sarah Von:
About a gajillion times, I have overhead women (or, um, myself) say things like this: “why don’t guys ….?” “why do guys always ….?” or worse yet “ugh, boys are stupid!” or “all men are the same.”

For the love of Pete. Let’s stop this foolishness. It’s ridiculous to assume that 50% of the population of the world will react to a given situation in the same manner because they happen to have a y chromosome. Saying this kind of stuff creates an ‘us versus them’ mindset (which isn’t healthy for anybody) and it’s a disservice to all the great men out there. When I overhear people saying things like “women are so irrational” and “that’s a typical female response” my brain starts to melt with rage. Making giant negative generalizations about men isn’t really any different.

I know we’ve all had our hearts stepped on before and surely that can engender a bit of animosity. But let’s resist the urge to lump all men under one heading. I like to think I’m a complex and multifaceted person. I’m pretty sure men are, too.

How do you feel about the ‘battle’ between the sexes? Do you ever catch yourself making negative generalizations about men?

True Story: I Dated a Married Man

Would you ever date a married man? What's it REALLY like? You might be surprised .... //

This is one of many True Life interviews, in which we talk to talk to people who have been through unusual/interesting/challenging things. This is the story of “Michelle,” who got involved with a married man. I’m sure many of us have strong feelings about this sort of behavior, but I appreciate Michelle’s candor. Please keep your comments respectful.

Can you tell us a bit about your romantic history?
I’ve had a few boyfriends. My longest relationship was for 2 years. We lived together but we were at different places in our lives and had bit of an awkward, drawn out break-up. It left me pretty down for about 6 months or so afterwords.

How did you meet this man that you had an affair with?
We worked together – what a cliche! I’d always seen him at work, but we didn’t really start talking until I’d split up with that long-term boyfriend and started going out more with people from work.

I realize now also that he never paid me any attention when he thought I was ‘off limits.’ As soon as word got about that I was single he was around a lot more.

What did he tell you about his wife and home life?
He was completely upfront about it because we were just friends in a large group of work colleagues. It was completely normal for him to mention his wife. A lot of the people in the office had met her at various work parties so I was aware of her.

How did you rationalize the affair to yourself?
I have absolutely no idea. My father left my mother for another woman so it’s really hard for me to face up to being that ‘other woman.’ I’ve seen how destructive it can be.

My only excuse is being so upset from the breakup that I wasn’t thinking straight. He paid me a lot of attention when I was feeling particularly low. At first I found it easy to pretend that she didn’t exist.

Did your friends or family meet him? Did they know that he was married? If so, what did they think about it?
No. Nobody knew about it but an extremely good friend in the office. I didn’t want to tell anybody because I didn’t want to be the centre of office gossip. I obviously didn’t want her to find out … and I was ashamed I guess.

I’m not going to lie though, the secrecy thing really makes it more exciting. It’s a lot easier for me to understand why it happens so much now. It’s really easy to get caught up in that excitement.

How did you two keep it a secret from his wife? Did she ever find out?
Ugh, terribly. She was away working about two weeks of each month so I thought nothing of going to his house.

When I think about it now it was a ridiculous arrangement. I spent most of my time waiting for him to call and ask me to go over. We could never make plans because obviously she would come first. I even found myself cancelling plans with friends just in case he’d call. How pathetic is that?

He only ever came to my house once. He’d rung me and asked me to go over and I refused because I was getting so sick of sneaking around. An hour later he was at my door. At the time I was swooning and trying to fool myself he was into me. Obviously he wasn’t because first thing the next morning, he couldn’t have left any quicker.

How did things end between the two of you?
This is what I’m most ashamed of. I went to his house while his wife was away, we watched a movie, had dinner, went to bed.

We woke up to the sound of the front door closing because she’d come back early to surprise him. I was absolutely terrified and grabbed my clothes but he wouldn’t let me out of the room and made me hide behind the door just before she walked in. He managed to convince her that they should go out for breakfast and then I left after they did.

On the way home he called me apologizing profusely. I asked him never to contact me again and he never has.

What did you take away from this relationship?
That I will never ever get involved with someone who’s already in a relationship again. Ever.

I really had to look at how he’d treated me, too. It’s so easy to get swept up in someone you like who’s showing you attention. But if it’s only on their terms it’ll make you feel pretty crappy, pretty quickly.

From mutual friends, I’ve since found out that I was only one in a long line of women he’d cheated with. Last year she caught him with someone else and divorced him.

What advice would you give to others who are interested in someone who’d ‘taken’?
If someone had told me to stop seeing him I would have said that I knew what I was doing. I’d have said I was strong enough to handle it, but I wasn’t.

It’s a very difficult thing to share a partner with another woman and to not be able to discuss the guy you’re seeing with your friends. You’ll be doing all the couple-y things alone, and checking your phone a lot. We did have some fun times but nothing that I’d ever reminisce about.

I’d just say, if you’re considering it, it really really isn’t worth it. There are a lot of single guys around and would you really want this guy to leave his wife for you, knowing what he’s done to her?

Have any of you been involved with someone who was taken? Any (respectful!) questions for Michelle?

P.S. If you have some unhealthy habits when it comes to your romantic relationships, this might help. And it’s free!

Photo by Elizabeth Tsung on Unsplash

How To Date A Younger Man Without Losing Your Mind

Wondering how to date a younger man? Dating a young dude and struggling? Click through for "I've been there!" relationship advice!

This post comes to us via Carly Jacobs of Smaggle fame. Follow along with her awesomery on Facebook or Instagram!

At the ripe old age of twenty-six, my delicious man is four years younger than me, making him a slightly cringe-worthy twenty-two. While this age gap is not shocking, it sounded a lot worse four years ago when I was twenty-two and he was… um… eighteen… anyways…

The point is, age honestly doesn’t matter in a relationship, but this doesn’t mean that there won’t be hurdles caused by the fact that your boyfriend can’t remember The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re dating a younger man

(I must preface this manifesto with a disclaimer that not all behaviors outlined below have been displayed by my man. Only some…)

Get over the fact that you graduated from high school before he even started

You made your choice. Embrace it. Don’t cop crap for it and don’t give it anymore brain space than it deserves. You are either okay with it, or you aren’t. End of story. It’s awesome.

It is fabulous being the arm candy of a younger man. It’s sexy, it’s taboo and elevates both parties to legend status. Make the most of it.

Be understanding

About his need to sleep for twelve hours a day, his ability to survive on nothing but toast and the desire to spend $500 on an X-box despite the fact that he has only one functioning coffee cup in the whole house. He’ll grow out of it. I promise.

Realize that he might need a little more time

If you date a younger man you must understand what you have signed on for. All activities that fall under the banner of ‘commitment’ will probably flip him out. When I say “understand this “I mean “understand this.” Just cast your mind back to when you were that age and ask yourself how you would react to the situation. Be honest and cut him some slack.

Also, remember that age is not an excuse

You need to be realistic. Give him the space to be a young man but if it’s been two or three years and he is still choking on his tongue whenever you talk about moving in together then you need to do some serious thinking.

Have you ever dated someone significantly younger than you? I dated a 21-year-old when I was 27!

P.S. Love them enough to leave them alone + What if you’re 23 and you’ve never been kissed?

photo credit: Sebastian Pichler and Adriana Velásquez // cc

31 Things I Wish I’d Known About Dating When I Was 21

Do you guys remember my tangle with internet dating? The mouth-breather? The guy who wanted me to pay for his meal? Awesome. Finding someone you want to spend time or affection on isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly easier when you know what you’re doing.

I happened upon this fantastic article on one of my online haunts and thought it was too good (and too helpful) to keep to myself. By Erin Meanley

1. If you’re confused about whether a guy likes you or not, that’s probably not good. Confusion in romance belongs only in romantic comedies because it suspends the plot, but suspense in real life sucks. So try not to analyze the events. The truth will reveal itself without you having to do anything.

2. Sometimes guys flirt with you or pay attention to you because it makes them feel good about themselves. (Hey, we do it, too.)

3. Even a guy who will admit that you’re better looking than him should still be able to tell you you’re beautiful. If he holds back in order to control the situation, or to keep you, or keep you down, he’s got issues.

4. Don’t help him ask you out by texting him something nice or polite. I’m glad you’re more outgoing and thoughtful than he is, but he doesn’t want the help.

5. Guys want to get busy more than anything. They’ll say anything to close the deal.

6. It’s shocking how much guys will talk about marriage. Until there’s a ring on your finger, it will be better for you if you pretend you’re deaf.

7. It’s better not to lift a finger in the beginning.

8. In the early stages, giving him presents is too much. Generosity looks desperate to guys. You may be a great shopper and gift-wrapper; it may be his birthday and you may be wild about birthdays—even still, he’ll think you’re just wild about him. Too wild.

9. Guys just do not think like girls. I wish I’d had a brother. Real boys are nothing like the boys in movies.

10. They might take a decade to mature. Don’t hope they’ll grow up or be ready in the next six months.

11. Even if your family thinks there’s going to be a marriage, don’t let them spoil your guy. Yes, he’s grateful you gave him your car when he moved out of NYC, but he would rather have had to work for it.

12. Learn to cook. Learn to cook well. I see now that it would have won me a lot of points. A LOT.

13. Just because he might be smarter than you or more talented at certain things doesn’t mean he’s your servant and won’t mind doing all your homework/research/chores.

14. Guys get resentful, too.

15. You’re special, unique, and important, but you’re not a princess—no matter what Daddy says (although for the record, my dad calls me “Erin”).

16. It’s okay to say no. It’s more than okay. It’s always okay. If he stops calling (and many, many, many will), you’re only weeding out the guys who aren’t truly interested in you as a person. Time saved!

17. Playing it safe guarantees you’ll have more time and energy to think about your grades or your work. Less drama in your life will always be better and healthier for you.

18. You deserve to be treated like a human being.

19. Your wants and needs are just as important as his, and if you don’t express them because you think it will scare him away, then you’re saying you don’t count as much as he does.

20. Even sophisticated people with professional jobs can have tempers or hit you or use foul language. I’ve known men who dressed like diplomats but they were ugly human beings.

21. You can’t force chemistry. If you like him as a friend, the attraction might grow, but if it doesn’t, don’t force it. And don’t waste his time.

22. Ease up on the sauce. Alcohol clouds your judgment.

23. No boyfriend-girlfriend relationship starts with a 1 a.m. booty text.

24. When a guy has taken you to Applebee’s five times and you say you want to treat him, he’ll be psyched. But secretly he’ll freak out if you take him to Ruth’s Chris, even just the one teeny time. Don’t try to match him one Ruth’s Chris for five Applebee’s. Take him out, but go to T.G.I. Friday’s.

25. Women love attention. A guy needs to be pretty crazy about you in order for him to pay enough attention to make you happy long-term.

26. My mom always said, “Men don’t think.” I thought she meant, “They are mistaken in their thoughts.” But they’re just not thinking anything at all. About you. They’re watching the game. That’s why they haven’t called.

27. There should be a medium ground between workaholism and his absolute devotion. “The knight departing for new adventures offends his lady, yet she has nothing but contempt for him if he remains at her feet” (Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 658).

28. Never underestimate the quality of “interesting.” Men want someone interesting. They really do. Find some hobbies.

29. What are you hoping to gain by hooking up with this guy? If the answer is “him,” that’s a bad deal for you. “The woman gives herself, the man adds to himself by taking her” (de Beauvoir 659).

30. Expectations? They’ll ruin every dating experience you have.

31. You will never understand men. Just try to understand yourself.

What dating rules have you learned the hard way? I now know that:

1. I’m not interested in completing you. Nor am I interested in you completing me.

2. Guys with sisters = awesome.

3. I don’t want to spent my weekends watching you play some sport. I don’t need you to witness my hobbies to validate them – and I hope you don’t need that either. Also? Is ultimate frisbee even a spectator sport?

What about you?

True Story: I’m Dating a (Significantly) Older Man

What's it like to be dating an older man - 20 years your senior? According to this woman - it's awesome! //

This is the story of my friend Marie (29) who’s dating Mike (49).

How did you guys meet?
We knew each other for a year before we started dating. We met playing pick-up soccer. Now, I must mention that his son played in those games as well (he was 12 years old at the time).

I instantly categorized Mike as “older-guy-with-kid” and therefore, undesirable. Not to say that I didn’t consider him good-looking, I just didn’t consider him. Period. You know, due to the child thing.

Was there an instant attraction?
Initially, I just have to go back to that first reaction. I saw him with his son and although I very much consider him attractive now, it just wasn’t in my realm of comprehension at that time.

Did you ever hear that story about when Columbus landed in the West Indies and the natives were not physically able to see the boats because nothing like that had ever entered their reality before? Well, sort of like that.

Have you dated men who were significantly older than you before?
No, but I suppose I have been attracted to older men in the past. I was the girl with the crush on Harrison Ford while my friends all went crazy over whoever was in the latest teeny-boppers mag (at the time, most likely Joey Lawrence).

I also liked men in positions of authority, teachers and sports coaches (if they were in their 20s or 30s). Not ALL of them mind you, but there was definitely an appeal.

Have your age differences created any problems?
Well, not yet but we are approaching a time when our future will take more of a leading role in the decisions we make. For example, he will be retiring long before me. Although it’s still a long way off, our savings and where we will be settled at that point are things we need to plan out.

Also, I still have a good 10 years of potential child-bearing in me, but we have yet to seriously think about going down that road. And I don’t want it to be too late for him in terms of really enjoying that child growing up – if we do decide to take that path.

Has anyone hassled you about your age differences?
No one has ever given us a hard time. But do take note that we also live in a small place where I would say “unique” relationships are a little more frequent than average.

Neither of our families really cast a second glance (well, in front of us anyway… who knows what they had to say amongst themselves when we left!). I think it makes a difference now that I’m nearly 30. If I was in my early 20s, I think my mother would have been worried. I’ve done a lot with my life in the last eight years and I think she knows I can make a good decision.

What are the benefits to dating someone who’s more settled into their life?
Ah, I do like this question as there are so many benefits! Although, these may be due to the person I am dating rather than a function of his age. But anyway, for starters –

1) Chivalry!
I’m not saying everyone who spent their teenage years in the 60’s will pull the chair out for a lady (in fact, I would have assumed the opposite). After nearly three years, I still get the door held open for me almost every time and the words “hello gorgeous!” uttered every day!

2) We don’t have double the drama.
I admit I am still a bit consumed by my own selfish concern of where I am on my life’s journey. Thankfully, when I have a panic attack or a hissy-fit, I have someone to show me the bigger picture and level me out. I know I won’t have to counsel him for similar reasons later down the road.

Being with someone solid in his career, with a little more life experience and rationality has certainly brought me down to earth more than once.

3) Guidance.
I think having the courage to admit that the life-path you are on is not working and starting again is very inspiring. Being with a man who can talk about how he felt in a given situation and what he did to turn it around is not only impressive but consoling and helpful, even if my situation is not entirely the same. It’s much better counseling than the blanks stares I received in past relationships and I don’t feel quite so alone with my problems.

4) Sharing.
Be it chores, time or the other dish that I wanted to taste at the restaurant we are at, I love to share. I think this is a skill many men develop with age. Or perhaps it’s comes with having a child. Anyway, we have absolutely no issues with sharing the workload or compromising on any issue.

5) Gratitude.
My boyfriend, or partner, (whatever title you like) has made some big relationship mistakes because he didn’t take care of the ones he was with. He wasn’t really “present” enough to realize that the person he was with was not the right person.

He learned the hard way and now that he has someone that fits perfectly, he shows me every day! That hasn’t waned a bit in the time we have been together and I have good faith it never will. In return, I show him the same respect and I find it really grows our love every day.

What are the challenges?
Nothing really, other than some of the long-term things that are a challenge to any relationship. Saving for the future, whether or not to procreate… all these pink elephants transpire the age gap! What luck!

I think the real challenge is finding a place that accepts the two of you together. Right now we have that but who knows what a move would bring? I don’t doubt we could be happy elsewhere, but I do foresee an awkward stage of “friend-making” in a place that doesn’t know us!

Any advice to ladies crushing on someone a bit older than them?
If you feel that it could work and you think the sentiments are returned – go for it! And don’t let society’s pressures of “right and wrong” get to you too much.

Hopefully, you are comfortable enough in your own sense of moral and ethical values to be able to judge if the relationship is appropriate or not (for example, I would imagine age can mess with a workplace romance or it could be difficult to date the father of a kid you teach).

However, as long as you are not taking on the role of a mistress or getting yourself involved in some other sticky situation, remember, you only live once and the best opportunities are not necessarily the most obvious ones.

Have you dated someone significantly younger or older than you?

P.S. How to get over a break up + love your ex enough to leave them alone

The Ex-Factor

Confession: I’m a serial monogamist. Out of the past 12 years, I’ve spent maaaaybe two of those single and prowling the town (and by ‘single and prowling the town’ I mean ‘not understanding that you’re hitting on me/avoiding eye contact with interested parties/dating men five years younger than me with adjectives for names.’)However. As I’m not married, the math here would indicate that I’ve left ten years worth of ex-boyfriends in my wake. Now, it’s not as dramatic as all of that: five years were devoted to a college sweetheart, three to another man, and a few year/year and a half relationships thrown in there for good measure.

Now what does one dooooo with that sort of thing? It seems a pity to spend such a big portion of your life with someone, to become so enmeshed in their families and dreams and then – because things don’t work out on the romantic front – cut them out of your life. But break-ups, no matter how friendly or mutual, are hard. And it’s hard to see someone who was your Special Someone, become someone else’s Special Someone.

I’m friendly with my various exes: we comment on each other’s facebook pages, meet for drinks if they’re in town. My college sweetheart and I are special buddies – I set him up with his current girlfriend and called him whining when I moved back to America from New Zealand and didn’t know how to cope. (He was the only other person I knew in Minnesota who’d been through something similar). I hang out with his sisters regularly and like to consider myself their pseudo-cousin.

But what if you want to be real, true, actual friends with your ex? Like ‘let’s hang out in our sweats’ friends? ‘Call just to catch up’ friends? ‘Catch a Sunday matinee’ friends? Is it possible? Can you be really close and emotionally intimate with someone that you used to date? What about when you’re both seeing other people? What are your relationships like with your exes?