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Advice Goddess



Dusting after him

I'm 42 and in love for the first time. I live in a beautiful house with the most kind, generous, sweet and gentle man imaginable. Unfortunately, he's a slob, and it's making me crazy! The worst is walking downstairs in the morning and facing the mess. Aaarrrgh!! It can make me irritable/angry/depressed all day. I've begged and cajoled. Most embarrassingly, I've even thrown a fit. When I pick up after him (I have to his stuff gets in my way) I feel angry and resentful. He claims he doesn't like the mess either. On the rare occasion he does clean, he'll do one small area and immediately begin trashing it. Should I just accept that my living room will always look like a garbage dump? Besieged

Little girls play house. Little boys play war. War is messy, OK? Like, when you're in the foxhole, nobody's complaining, "You left shells everywhere again, and you never pick up the fresh flowers when it's your turn!"

The irony is, probably the neatest guys out there are those who've been in the military. And sure, there are plenty of women who have to bring in a disaster cleanup company just to find the telephone. But, as I've written before, many straight men just don't have the eye for clutter that women do. It's a hard-wired biological thing, and no, I don't mean biological warfare. Studies show women and gay men seem to have a better eye for ultra-local detail, and straight men seem to have better distance vision; as in, "Hark! There's a wildebeest on the horizon. Let's go spear it!"

Yes, it would be great if he could become as fastidious as some archetypal gay decorator, or if you could say to yourself, "Sure, I hate a mess, but seeing his underwear hanging off the curtain rod where he tossed it four days ago reminds me how lucky I am to have the most kind, generous, sweet and gentle man imaginable." Yeah, group hug, y'all! (Right after you finish fantasizing about beating him senseless with a bottle of Febreze.)

This mess you're in probably started when you visited the home of the man you love and saw him missing the bowl, the sink, the trash can and the dumpster, and tried to believe, "Oh, it'll be different at my place." And it is. Now, he's missing your bowl, your sink and all the rest. And here you are, angry and resentful, and for what? It's cute that he claims to be as disturbed by the mess as you are, but there's a good chance he's one of those guys who never cleans, but just moves when the bacteria-to-human ratio starts to reach CDC alert levels.

Sometimes the best way to share your life with the person you love is from the other side of town. Works for me. I live 13.2 miles from my boyfriend of six years, and we have no plans ever to move in together. Like us, an increasing number of people, called Living Apart Togethers (LATs), are in committed relationships but live separately. But, think of the cost of living apart! Then again, think of the cost of living together, growing to despise each other, then living apart.

Maintain separate residences and you can both agree on the important stuff, like how hot sex is thanks to having a chance to miss each other a little. You should also find it easier to laugh about your differences, like a certain person's impression that a ring around the bathtub doesn't really count as a ring until it's visible from space.

No Schwinn situation

I'm in my mid-40s, divorced for three years, and I haven't had a single date. I'm reasonably attractive, clean-cut, well-employed and in shape from riding my bicycle. The problem? I don't own a car (it saves me thousands a year), but I don't live in a city where that's passable. I know women with boyfriends who have no car and no job, so you'd think I'd have a chance. Yet, I've found no car equals no dates. - Different Spokes

Nothing says "I'm a provider" to a woman like a 40-something man who tells her, "My mom'll be over to pick you up at 8." Come on, you know you aren't likely to get a girl while your only transportation is a bicycle, unless you're riding around the Jiangsu province. Sure, maybe there's some fossil-fuel protester girlfriend who'd be cool with it if only you'd also picket outside your workplace in hemp shoes and dig a hole in the woods for a toilet.

Dating costs money. Invest. Or ... bike to the bank, break out a picnic basket and a bottle of wine, and ask the teller if she could give you a moment alone with the thousands of dollars you're saving by never having any dates.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail (

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