An unfair to remember
In middle school, I got a crush on "Sam," but he wasn't interested. In high school, he took me to prom, but only as friends when none of the other girls he asked said yes. I was jealous upon hearing he'd gotten married, but several years later, he called, said he was divorcing, was coming to town, and wanted to see me. I gave him a fine homecoming, thinking he was finally seeing me in a new light. At week's end, I said I wanted to be more than friends, but he didn't. Apparently, he was just doing the girl he didn't in high school. Twenty years later, he contacted me on Facebook. We messaged back and forth, just catching up, nothing flirty. We're both happily married, with kids, and there's no danger of that changing, but what surprised me was the amount of anger that welled up in me at how he'd treated me back then. I quit writing, and he wrote to ask if he'd done something wrong. Should I tell him what I'm feeling? — Irate
This was supposed to play out like it does in chick flicks. The guy realizes how dumb he was, that the perfect woman was right there all along, and he rewards her for her years of loyalty by swooping in and making this grand gesture.
You felt like the victim of a romantic swindle, but the guy merely said he wanted to see you, and he did — naked. The problem was, you'd spent a decade seeing him through "Why don't you want me?"-colored glasses, making you desperate to believe he was seeing you in a new light, and not just the light from the lamp on your nightstand. But, remember, he made no promises, just blew into town, had sex with a willing girl, and blew right out again. This is what guys do. Being angry that a guy acts like a guy is like being angry that your dog lifts his leg on a fire hydrant instead of politely excusing himself to the downstairs powder room.
People tend to spin their experiences in the way that protects their ego. You, for example, entirely sans evidence, decided that the guy was finally feeling something for you, and not just feeling something in his pants. Eventually, the obvious became unavoidably clear, but you so needed to believe he loved you that you just proceeded as if he did — getting angry at him for acting badly; in other words, for not acting like a man who loved you would. Two decades later, you're a happily married middle-aged woman with kids — who's chomping at the bit to go on Facebook to prosecute her seventh-grade crush for not loving her back. (Unfortunately, they only have a button to "poke" somebody, not incinerate them into a small pile of ash.)
Acting like an idiot is the human condition. What makes things go easier is admitting when you've been an idiot so you can maybe avoid acting so idiotically the next time around. Had you just placed the blame where it belongs — on you, the person in charge of the door policy for your bedroom — you wouldn't have spent two decades lugging this bucket of anger around. If you do write the guy again, explain your absence by telling him you've been busy, and keep the embarrassing details to yourself: busy raging at being humped and dumped 20 years ago by the hot guy who's now somebody's uncool dad.
Bland of brothers
I swear I see this line in almost every guy's online dating profile: "Looking for a real woman." What exactly does that mean? — Real Curious
A guy advertising for "a real woman" sounds selective — while not ruling out anyone on the planet with a working vagina. (Even a woman who's 51-percent silicone isn't going to say, "Whoops, I'm too fake to reply.") As for what it means, well, it means he's looking for a woman with real breasts. Or, a woman with real-looking fake breasts. A woman who knows how to change a tire. Or, a woman who knows to stand back and watch the man change the tire. Mostly, it's a euphemism for "I don't know what I want, but I don't want what I just had." Being so vague is pretty dumb, considering the medium. In a bar, you can only hope the hot thing across the room has the qualities you seek. The Internet affords you the opportunity to articulate exactly what you want: "funny, easygoing, college-educated, adulterous." Even being the slightest bit more specific helps; for example, as one "real woman"-seeker put it: "I'm looking for a real woman who wants to have sex with a married man."
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.