Life Hax


Carolyn Hax

My friend noticed my guy wears ladies’ skivvies. Now what?

Ar 180219999
Carolyn Hax
Ar 180219999
Carolyn Hax

My boyfriend is a very athletic, CrossFit, off-road-biking, jock kind of guy. He also sometimes likes to wear ladies’ lingerie, which is completely fine with me.The other day he was wearing a satiny bra under a T-shirt and a friend of ours happened to see the strap. The friend is kind of freaked out and has been pestering me about “what this means” and if it is some weird fetish I have. (It is not. It’s the boyfriend’s thing. And he does not otherwise wear women’s garments.)I think it’s none of this friend’s business and I’m under no obligation to answer, but my non-answering has convinced the friend I am hiding something unseemly.How to deal with this? It’s no big deal, but it’s irritating. Friend is not otherwise nosy or judgmental.What Lies Beneath

An unambiguous “Drop it, because this isn’t even remotely your business” is all you need, as long as you have the proper enforcement of a zero-further-discussion policy.

Nice to know someone’s sustaining the satiny-skivvies industry. Most women I know are so thoroughly done with it.

I think online dating is a great idea in theory. But I have anxiety and the thought of spending a couple of hours with someone I don’t know is enough to give me the sweats. What if he’s weird? What if he thinks I’m weird? What if my anxiety makes me shaky and sweaty? What if I can’t talk at all? What if there’s no chemistry? What if he’s a serial killer? The logical part of my brain knows none of these things matter (unless he really is a serial killer) and if it doesn’t work out we’ll both just move on with our lives.But my anxiety will not be mollified. I’ve been single for an embarrassing length of time. I’ve been chatting with someone online who I look forward to meeting but the anxiety persists. I’m in therapy but the meeting will most likely happen before my next appointment (and her answer to everything is to meditate). Do you have any advice or words of comfort? Online Dater

I have advice of comfort.

-”[T]he thought of spending a couple of hours with someone ... give[s] me the sweats”: Hours?! No. Hour, or less. Coffee or a drink to start, and have something you must attend afterward. Make it clear you’ll meet at X o’clock, but just a quick date because you have to be at Y by Z o’clock.

-”What if he’s weird?” Everybody’s weird. They’re just better or worse at managing it.

-”What if he thinks I’m weird?” See above.

-”What if [I’m] shaky and sweaty?” Then shake and sweat. What can you do? The alternative is not to date, and you apparently don’t want that, so, there it is. You’ll shake and sweat less on each successive date. It’s just a learning curve like any other.

-”What if there’s no chemistry?” Then you have a bad time. For 30 minutes. (See No. 1.) You’ll manage.

-”What if he’s a serial killer?” Take reasonable precautions: Meet in public, tell friends where you’ll be, use your own transportation, read or reread “The Gift of Fear.” And, trust that “stranger danger” is overhyped.

7. “[I]f it doesn’t work out we’ll both just move on with our lives.” Yes. The near anonymity of online dating makes this more likely.

BUT.

None of this is intended as persuasion. If you don’t like online dating, then don’t do it. As an alternative, push yourself to meet people in group-oriented contexts. Proximity helps us make friends more than anything else. So, think of the things you enjoy, are good at, feel passionate about – and then look for groups that meet frequently based on those interests. Shared activities ease self-consciousness. Your chances of hitting it off with people (even just new friends) are much higher when you’re comfortable, so let your comfort be your guide.

My girlfriend of three years always badgered me about getting married before our four-year anniversary. At first the arbitrary deadline annoyed me, but after living together for two years and working through the death of her mother, I really am taking the thought seriously. I’ve even started to save up for a ring.She’s very particular about jewelry, and I’ve never bought her any before, so I opened up a conversation about engagement rings and she immediately became uncomfortable. A few days later she brought it back up and had talked to some of her friends who I suspect might have given her ideas for a ring beyond my means. When I attempted to temper her expectations, she immediately lost patience with me and refused to discuss the matter any further.When we started dating she’d always tell me she had a pretty elaborate picture of how her wedding would go down, and often showed me fantastic online videos of guys proposing while pulling off impossible stunts. I love my girlfriend, but I’m starting to wonder if I can ever live up to her fantasy, especially when talking about the future only crushes her dreams.Confused

Does she love YOU? Or just your willingness to squeeze yourself into the role she’s imagined since she was a kid?

This isn’t about your worthiness as a partner, to her or anyone else; she might like or even love who you really are if she stops thinking about herself long enough to see it.

It’s strictly about the danger of such a single-minded focus on what a romance is supposed to look like and the attention it can afford her. How can a person see what’s really there when her whole field of vision is occupied by expectations she built before she met you and apparently hasn’t reflected on since?

The way it usually plays out, unfortunately, is that people use fixed expectations to build relationships that work for a while as role-playing before they inevitably collapse – when, as the years pile up, reality refuses to be ignored.

It’s also possible I’m overstating the role of expectations here, and your girlfriend really does see you and know you and love you. But that’s not what YOU see. You see “badgered” and “annoyed” and “arbitrary” and “particular about jewelry” and “beyond my means” and “lost patience” and “refused to discuss” and “impossible stunts” and, mercifully, “I’m starting to wonder if I can ever live up to her fantasy.”

So, yes. Please escalate from “starting to wonder” to full-on, hot-lights questioning of this three-year transaction relationship where she writes emotional invoices and you pony up.

What are YOU getting out of it emotionally? What is she getting out of her life with you that she couldn’t get from any other guy who agreed to her terms?

What would happen if you proposed without an audience, performed zero stunts, used a Cracker Jack ring and said, “Hey, let’s elope?” Would the simple, profound act of your giving yourself to her for the rest of your lives be enough?

Anyone willing to go into stupid debt can find a way to buy a big ring.

Only you can be you.

Don’t give yourself away cheap.

Carolyn Hax is a syndicated advice columnist for The Washington Post. She started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. Email her at tellme@washpost.com.