'advice' columnNovember 22, 2016
Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“I’m 22 and have been dating a famous local businessman for a year and a half. He’s 42 and my first serious boyfriend, so I’m very attached. But we’ve had our ups and downs. First: He was afraid to publicly announce he was seeing a girl as young as I am so soon after his divorce. (This insulted me, but I got over it.) Second: He dumped me during a business ‘crisis’ with a two-line e-mail! Then when he tried to win me back, I stopped him cold in his tracks and left for Scotland.
He flew to Scotland and proposed in the most romantic way with a huge five-carat diamond! I said yes, though I thought the ring looked slightly wrong somehow. He makes over $750,000 a year, so I was worried he’d been ripped off by some shady jewelry store. When I returned to L.A., I found out from my jeweler that the ring was a FAKE! It was humiliating. I’d already shown it to family, friends—everyone!
First he tried to lie about it, then he said he couldn’t afford the $100,000 ring he really wanted to get me, so he’d had a copy made. The next day he took me to the store and bought me a nice ring for $4,700—two months’ salary for a 23-year-old guy. Whatever. He says he loves me. I still think it’s a crappy thing to do. So do I stay engaged or not?”
-From “Semi-Bride-to-Be” via Ask E. Jean, Elle, 16 November 2016
Only you can decide whether your relationship is worth $100,000, which it would be if your fiance had spent $100,000 on a ring, or whether it’s worth $4,700, which is your relationship’s current value according to the price of the ring you have now.
But hey, getting married is stressful! There are so many questions to consider: Can your relationship weather hardships not yet foreseen? Are you both going into a lifelong commitment with clear-eyed expectations for how to handle the challenges the next several decades may bring? Do you know your partner’s basic values, and do you share them?
But, most of all: Has your fiance bought you a not-fake ring whose value is commensurate with his income, in your opinion? The price of an engagement ring and the worth of a relationship are directly proportional.
Look, you have a lifetime to figure out whether you both want kids, or whether you’ll try to be a dual-income household, or who folds the socks and who minds the lawn care. You have plenty of time to embark upon the mutual journey of discovery concerning how you will take turns wiping your mutually incontinent asses as you age. Right now, you must focus on what’s really important: the amount of money your beau did or did not spend on a wholly symbolic, culturally fabricated symbol of devotion to nothing so much as the capitalistic commodification of love. Nothing could be more important to the future of your relationship than ensuring it isn’t doomed by a piece of jewelry, the sole measure by which all marriages are evaluated.
“My son was married twice to different women. I had two daughters-in-law. He is now married to a man. Is his spouse my son-in-law?”
-From “MOM IN MAINE” via “Dear Abby,” 21 November 2016
Dear Mom in Maine,
It’s impossible to say. The gays are a magical, mysterious people whose ways are as unknowable and inscrutable as the stars in the sky, or Crystal Pepsi. Scientists don’t yet know how their bizarre mating rituals work, or whether their fascinating and strange traditions, such as getting married to each other as a particular socio-cultural expression of romantic and familial devotion, can even be understood in terms that heterosexuals can understand.
“Before meeting and marrying my wife, I had many different sexual partners, mostly casual. I’m her first. We are in our first year of marriage. During a conversation about our sex life, I mentioned that I had been more attracted to past partners than I am to my wife. She became visibly upset; in the days since, she has stopped initiating intimacy and has asked if I want an open marriage. I said no. I tried explaining that I am attracted to her—it’s just that the physical dimension of our relationship is less important to me than the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual connections we share. And, truth be told, I have had some sexual relationships in the past with an explosive chemistry that my wife and I lack. Did I overstep a boundary? I thought I was just being honest, but my wife is clearly hurt, and I don’t know how to reassure her without lying.”
-From “Too Honest” via “Dear Prudence,” Slate, 15 November 2016
Dear Too Honest,
Your wife, bless her sexually unappealing heart, is making a classic mistake: She’s conflating how she feels with how you think she should feel. This happens all the time with people who have independent thoughts and feelings and who use those thoughts and feelings to process the way other people act toward them and speak to them. It’s incredibly confusing—you never know when they are going to believe what you say and have a response to it that is unique to their own human experience—and worst of all, they seem not to appreciate that when someone is honest with them, they forfeit their right to have an unpleasant reaction.
You, admirably honest fellow, have certainly not overstepped a boundary. In fact it is your wife who is committing a maddening violation of the social contract, which says, in sum, that anyone who is honest is exempt from experiencing negative consequences to their honesty in any way. But broads will get their ugly, boner-killing panties in a twist over just about anything.
How could you have known that telling your wife you enjoyed boning a load of other people more than you enjoy boning her would have hurt her feelings? Is there some rule out there that says women have to take offense at every little reminder that they are sexually less interesting than other people, specifically the other people whom you informed your wife that she was less sexually interesting than? She doesn’t need reassurance, she needs a lesson in appreciating being vaguely insulted with regularity, and loving it!
Lead image: flickr/Richard Pritchard