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Monday, December 22, 2008

#12: Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Your best friend has a new guy, so you should be happy for her. There's just one problem - he's a total jerk. So, what's a girl to do when her pal loves a prat?

"What do you think of Tim?" my friend shouts at me for the 98th time on the crowded dancefloor. "Erm, he's nice..." I lie, doing a quick spin. She's not fooled. She shakes her head. "You don't like him, do you?" I mutter something about not knowing him, "I'm sure he's fine." But she knows. And she's terribly disappointed in me. I am tempted, oh so tempted, to say she's wrong, that I think Tim is wonderful, clearly in love with her and definitely the best thing that's ever happened to her. But I can't because it's obvious Tim isn't in love with her. In love with himself more like. I've only just met him but my prat-warning antennae are giving me a headache. He's so full of himself. His attitude towards my friend displays a cavalier sense of his self-worth, not hers. For starters, he turned up late, then hit her with a didn't-mean-it-really criticism of her faulous dress, then looks at me like he wants to kill me because he knows I see straight through him, as any decent friend would. Too right I don't like him. Would you?

Speak up, or not?

Marie, my friend, knows how I feel, yet it doesn't stop her seeing him. She even declares herself madly in love and thinks they might marry. What am I to do? Keep quiet and let her get on with it or offer her the benefit of my highly-prejudiced opinion? Try to talk her out of her as fast as you can, but suppose I'm wrong? Listen, I've drunk champagne at more marriages made in hell than I can remember. Sometimes, it's just obvious from the get-go that a relationship is unbalanced but you never quite have the courage to point it out. For months you don't say anything to either party for fear of causing offence. Then you go to their wedding, heart heavy in your boots, and declare this couple are made for each other when they clearly aren't. I look back now on times when I've done that and think of it as the worst betrayal. But how can I be sure I'm right? Suppose, just suppose, I'm jealous? I know that's what Marie will say if I front up about my feelings about Tim. But I shouldn't let such fears stop me. As more relationships face difficulties, we owe it to those we care about to help them to make a good match, not a bad one.

Truth or jealousy?

Couples who are genuinely right for each other invite very little comment from their friends. We all love a good gossip but there's little fun in commenting and whispering about those who chirp at each other like little loveirds. Those suited tend to be very obviously so. When they're not suited, it's something that is often more visible from the outside. So, I gently try to tell Marie why I don't like Tim. I wouldn't have bothered, ut she's started with the bridal brochures and what's a friend to do? "Why don't you like him?" she snaps at me. "Go on, tell me," she yells. I've never seen my friend of so many years quite so angry. I'm in a painted corner. There's no way out. So I take a deep breath and say to her: "No matter how badly he behaves, or how many times he lets you down or openly humiliates you in front of your friends, you always rush to his defence too quickly." She shrugs, "He's very busy," she says like that excuses all of the above. Then she dismisses me and here comes the comment I knew to expect. "You're just jealous. You're going 30 and still not married. Well that won't happen to me. Get out."

Slimy tactics

Yes, it's true I'm not married. So I suppose I can't comment, can I? At least, not from a position of strength. Getting married matters more to Marie than who she marries. Tim wants to marry her, I opine, because he has her exactly where he wants her - on the floor. And he's fast isolating her from all her friends. More power to have over her. She can't see it because she's totally taken in by what little charm this snake possesses. And oh, how she wants that ring. I've been where Marie is. His name was Paul, but I called him Paulie. He called me spanner face. But I like his ribbing, insisted he didn't mean it. My friend Corinne was sure he did. "You're not serious about him are you?" she asked. I was staggered by her question and blurted out no. She nodded and said: "In that case, enjoy. He's a nice piece of arm candy." But what if I'd said I was serious? Because I was. So I gradually started seeing less of Corinne and more of Paulie. That way, I didn't have to face her criticism. I suppose, deep down, I was running away from Corinne because I didn't like that she knew the truth. But I wasn't ready to face up to that yet. I was blinded by the scenery. Paulie was so good-looking but oh boy, did he know it. As I isolated myself more from my crowd (sound familiar? Marie is doing the same with Tim) I became more and more lonely because convinced as I was that Paulie was right for me, I didn't actually see him all that often. I couldn't admit this to my friends (pride) so I often spent Saturday nights, weekends and holidays alone, waiting. When I eventually wised up and left my so-called relationship, my friends as one yelled, "Welcome back."

Prat Recognition

So, how did Corinne know he was so wrong so soon after meeting him? "He was clearly a con man," she told me. "Much too busy admiring his own reflection to notice you." How could she tell all this? She hardly knew the man. "It's true I only met him a few times but I knew him through what you said about him. Everything he did was wonderful. He was just too, too perfect. You invested him with qualities he didn't have. You went on about his appearance. He's very good-looking. No question. But because of that, you assumed all kinds of other things about him." I did what many of us accuse men of doing: I judged by looks. I was a sucker for a pretty face and a beautiful, well-dressed body. I wanted others to notice me through him. To think more of me because I had this trophy bloke on my arm. Shallow or what? Paul cared more about looks than anything. I've no idea what he saw in me. Appearance wise, we were in wildly-different leagues. I was probably a bit of a novelty to him. Someone who didn't know her Gucci from her Prada, except that they're both Italian, right? Oh how quaint I must have seemed. What a prat he was. No, what a fool I was. Why couldn't I see it. Corinne shakes her much-wiser head than mine. "Well, we did try..." Okay, okay. So should I tell Marie about Tim? Without question, says Corinne.

Speaking up

Interference is what friendships are all about, otherwise they're not worth having. The truth has has to be expressed. If you're right and it all goes horribly wrong, you'll be blamed anyway, 'Why didn't you warn me?' they'll say to you. 'Aren't you supposed to be my friend?' So I say, speak you mind and do it tactfully ...saying something like 'If I was in your shoes,' rather than telling them outright they're dating a jerk. No-one likes to hear that." One way to express this feeling is to say that for you, it would be the wrong decision. She has to make her own choices and learn from them but she still needs you. So try and be supportive rather than judgemental. Deep down, she probably knows you're right. She probably has inner voices of doubt herself, but doesn't want to listen to them. Right now, she prefers to heed the call of the more reckless side of her nature and that's something we all do at some point. We are meant to get it wrong at times. How else can we know when we've got it right? be honest about your feelings because that's what friendship is supposed to be. But in the end, it is up to your friend how she wants to live her life and what decisions she wants to take. But if she realises that your concerns are an expression of love, not condemnation, she'll be very glad of it. Or she should be.

Family of friends

Friends are the new family for many of today's young women. We get closer to our friends, tell them far more about ourselves, and they see us in ways our blood family never do. So whereas we'd be reluctant - understandably - to listen to our mothers or even our grandmothers, as many of us did on the past, today we listen to friends instead. So, you have to speak up.

Try, try again

Eventually, I gather enough courage to try again. I haven't seen Marie in several weeks. This is not from want of trying. She hasn't returned my calls and the one time she did answer my call, she slammed the phone down the instant she recognised my voice. So I go over to the apartment where she lives. I'm uninvited and I'm unloved. Hey, I'm the bad fairy in Sleeping Beauty! But I've got to try one more time. She opens the door, hair up in a white towel, face half-painted. She's clearly going out soon. With Tim, I expect. I haven't much time so I blurt out pretty much everything Corinne told me about Paul. I pour out all of my mistakes. And I ramble on about How I'm glad now I had a friend to warn me, even though I didn't listen to her at the time. I finish up with: "I won't say any of this again. I have a duty to you and I just couldn't rest till I'd done it." Julie nods. She hasn't asked me into her place. "Finished?" she says. I nod. So are they. About two weeks ago. She was too proud to tell me. But she's going out tonight as a free woman. Would I care to join her in painting the town red? We burst into tears, hug, and fall in through the front door. It might not end so happily for you but you've got to give it a go. Think of yourself in your friend's position. Say what you would want her to tell the truth too. Tell her about the prats you've dated before - make them up if necessary. It'll help her to realise that you're really on her side. It's not an easy place to be, but will you ever rest easy if you don't say something, now?

How to set her straight

Here's a quick guide to the right way and the wrong way to tell a friend she's dating a prat.

» Wrong Way "Him? He's a total mummy's boy."

» Right Way "I think you might be competing with his mother for his love."

» Wrong Way "His eyes are too close together."

» Right Way "I don't think he's nice enough for you."

» Wrong Way Laughing hysterically when she says they're to marry.

» Right Way "Promise me you'll wait at least a year."

» Wrong Way He's a disgusting little twerp. Have you lost your mind?"

» Right Way "I'm worried he'll take his insecurities out on you."

» Wrong Way "Are you that desperate?"

» Right Way "You could do so much better."

Monday, December 8, 2008

#11: Reload His Rocket

At first, you did it all the time, any time, and anyplace. Now, he just doesn't seem interested anymore. What gives? Here's how to put the lust back into your love-life.

There comes a time in every relationship when you slip into the comfort zone. There is familiarity and predictability about most facets of life together and for the most part, this is not a bad thing. Sure, he's prone to the odd outburst of juvenile petulance when you insist that four hours of football on TV does not a cosy-evening-in make, but fior all his faults and foibles, his presence in your life in provides stability and consistency in your world. Plus, you get to have sex. A total win-win proposition. I'm sure I don't need to explain how important a little horizontal mambo is to your average man. Faced with a choice between life and the sex of a lifetime, most of us would actually have to give it some thought. Much has been said regarding the origins of this unquenchable thirst: it's genetic, it's how we prove our manhood to ourselves, it's the most pleasurable form of exercise yet invented. Who really knows (or cares)? Suffice to say, given the opportunity most men will drop their Levis quicker than Hollywood can crank out movie sequels.

I'm told that the male penchant for the carnal carnival can be a tad annoying - especially when you take its single-minded nature into account. As vexing as this may be, a glut is preferable to a drought and when a man loses interest in doing the biz, many a female partner is left confused, upset and riddled with self-doubt as to her - how do I say this? - pulling power. At some time or another you'll find yourself with that certain itch, he's simply in no mood to scratch. You have two choices here. You can either pack up the lingerie, storm off and find yourself a man who can't stop 'til the morning papers arrive, or you can stick around and remedy the situation. If this is the only malaise affecting an otherwise rewarding relationship, I'd strongly advise going with option two - there are easy steps you can take to remedy the situation. The reasons men go off sex are varied and manifest themselves in different ways, however there are some general causes and, I'm glad to report, remedies to match.

Just Hold Me
One of the most prevalent of all gender fallacies is that, more often than not, men fall into the trap of seeing sex as a purely physical experience - the body as fun-park concept. And while we are - for better or worse, and I strongly suspect the latter - capable of divorcing our inner selves from the physical ramifications of ultimate closeness with another human being, we're people too, dammit. Fellow souls who need - no, deserve - to be held, caressed and cuddled (anything along the lines of "you're the sexiest/biggest/best/first" will do it). However, no matter what you say or how you say it, you have to be holding us tight and maybe gently stroking our hair. I've read numerous interviews with ladies of the night who consistently report that the sex they provide is often simply a pretext and what their clients really desire is intimacy. And it kinda makes sense, when you think about it. Men live in a world of intense competition where dependence is often equated with weakness. Paralysed by out-dated macho stereotypes, they believe that all physical contact is governed by the ethos "go hard or go home". What's more, thy actually think that this is what you women want from them. Show him that you won't think any less of him if he'd rather be cuddled than canoodle and his sex drive will return quicker than you can say "Honey, can we at least wait until we're out of the cab?"

If It's Tuesday
That brings me to my next point -the dreaded routine trap. I should point out that men are just as guilty of this relationship felony (I use this word because it is more grave than a simple misdemeanour) as women. It's a genuine trans-gender libido diffuser. So let's talk a little about the trouble with routine. This does not simply apply to the recurring patterns of frequency. There's so many more factors to consider. First of all, there's days of the week. Logically, weekends would seem the ideal time for a loving liaison - there's no business-associated stress, no time pressure ("Honey, could you pick up the pace down there, I've got a 9:30 presentation.") - it all adds up to ideal circumstances for a bit of hard lovin'. Perhaps too ideal. If he knows that Friday evening through to Sunday night is the action zone, he'll become conditioned to it and you can just kiss spontaneity goodbye. Mix it up, girl, with a little Wednesday wildness and Monday mischief on offer, and your man will experience erotic potential seven days a week. And believe me, that'll stoke the fire in his bioler.

The same philosophy applies to the time of day you decide to get naked and do the chimichanga. First thing in the morning is always good, as is the minute you both get home from work - the dinner really can wait. I'd also highly recommend the early-morning encounter and by this, I mean really early - like 3am. Trust me on this, no man has ever rolled over and said, "Will you please stop fondling me, I'm trying to get some sleep here."

Location, Location
Now let's talk location. For all its wonders and majesty, the boudoir is not the be all and end all when it comes to lovemaking venues. Remember the suspenseful-and-hot The Postman Always Rings Twice? Kitchen table, with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange? Boy, when Jack delivers by hand... Still not convinced? Think Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger's tryst by the fridge in 9½ Weeks. Getting the picture yet? Use your imagination and watch your lovemaking take on a whole new dimension. We're not suggesting heading down to your local MRT station to catch a train to Ecstasy Central, the various rooms in your house will suffice. The shower, for example, is always a cracker. Steam, soap, slippery bodies... What can I say? It's a personal favorite and I'm sure you too will find yours, but you've gotta start looking. And remember, as my Auntie Beth (who outlived three husbands) always sid, "You call that carpet burn?"

My final point regarding the use of variety to perk up an ailing male appetite is perhaps the most delicate of all that I've mention. Two human bodies are capable of pleasuring one another in many wonderful ways, so experiment a little. There's a difference between discomfort and curiosity, so don't do anything you really don't want to, but by the same token, why go to the supermarket if you're only going to shop in the one aisle? If you're stuck for inspiration, there's a range of sources that should provide you with plenty of ideas that don't require the stamina of a marathon runner. There are also a few that might require you to start training up for them. Many can be found in books such as the Kama Sutra and The Joy Of Sex. Your willingness to have a go at something new and different is bound to reawaken his lust.

Equipment Failure
When the goodies in the downstairs department don't do what they're supposed to, men go through a series of emotions ranging from sheer terror to blind panic, followed by all manner of self-doubt. No matter how much and how often you reassure him, he won't be able to hear it over the alarm bells ringing in his head. There are numerous causes for flaccidity including stress, prostrate problems and even what is termed the male menopause (but this only strikes men around that age where they feel the urge to buy a sportscar and acquire a 20-year-old mistress on whose butt you can crack walnuts - and quite frankly it serves the bastards right). Once the mouse fails to come out of the house, so to speak, many men become reluctant to try to lure him out again for fear of experiencing a repeat non-performance. It's now excuse time. He'll tell you he's tired or that he just doesn't feel like it. In truth he's doubting he can do the job required and I can't over-emphasise the traumatic psychological effects of this.

I know it sounds irrational, but it's a totally different ball game for you lot around menopause time - a tube of KY and some hormone replacement therapy and you're ready for action again. This is a tricky problem to solve and I'd recommend extensive foreplay as your starting point. A long, slow full-body massage with some essential oils is always good, followed by a bit of teasing sensuality and perhaps that one special thing he loves you to do. C'mon now, he must have at least one!

We Have To Talk
I purposely left this entry until quite late in the piece so you at least consider the previous explanations before leaping onto this one. A small number of men who no longer want to have sex with their partners are in this frame of mind because, well, to put it delicately, they're banging booty somewhere else. Sad but true. How do you tell? A dramatic drop in the frequency you have sex is the prime indicator, but exercise caution when making this observation. Another thing to watch out for is him splurging on loads of sexy new underwear that he only puts on for office days but never on weekends when he's with you. If he is cheating on you, chances are, he'll feel obligated to still have sex with you to keep up appearances and arouse your suspicions. Look out for any new techniques (is he kissing differently?) or positions that were never in his repertoire. Once again, restraint and caution are paramount in a situation like this. Before the accusations start flying, make sure you have your facts straight. After all, how would you feel if you'd gone to the trouble of researching a new lovemaking trick in order to spice up bedroom time, only to be told that because you'd never done it before mist mean you're having an affair?

And Finally...
I was going to end this story by saying there are times (albeit incredibly rare) that men simply don't feel like it. But I'm afraid this is not so. If you have the place, we have the time. If you have the time, we have the place. If you have the end, we have the means. When men don't want to make love, there has to be a reason for it. It may be something you can help with, it may be something he can only do alone (now, now, that's not what I mean), but regardless of what he says, hang in there, keep wearing the lingerie and bide your time. Unless, of course, he happends to be cheating on you, in which case you have every right to sprinkle iron filings into his condom stash - and tell him Missy Yuuko sent ya. Once the crisis passes, he'll return to the fray with a pent-up passion you'll recall from your early days together and believe me when I tell you that's the sexiest kind of nostalgia there is.

Made by Grumpy Cow