I'm in a great relationship of seven months. My boyfriend and I never get sick of each other. We respect each other and are there for each other, and we talk very openly, even when we're upset. His ex-girlfriend is part of our group of friends. She is thin and very pretty. I know I'm attractive, but I'm struggling to lose these 10 pounds I put on in college. Also, she's super-sweet, and she and my boyfriend broke up because he cheated on her. He told her right away and felt sick about it for a long time, so I'm not worried that he'd cheat on me. Friends tell me how much he loves me, and he even told me he'd feel "lost" without me. Still, I get nervous when they're alone or talking a lot. I haven't said anything about her being around so much, but I know other girls wouldn't stand for it. — Jealous
You're the one who's obsessed with getting in another woman's pants — being able to wear his ex-girlfriend's skinny jeans, and not just as arm-warmers.
I know, if he's going to be chummy with his ex, couldn't she please be one of those women people charitably describe as "pretty once you get to know her"? Instead, it seems her 10-step get-gorgeous routine involves "1. Wake up," while you probably feel you have to put in a half-hour in the bathroom some mornings just to keep from scaring the dog. And then, some evening when you're at your glowiest (after a brief struggle to squeeze your muffin-top into steel-belted control-top pantyhose), you need only stand next to her to feel yourself rapidly devolving from arm candy to arm ballast.
It would be easier if she fit the stereotype of the gorgeous girl with the tiny lump of coal heart. Unfortunately, she's sunshine with legs (sickeningly long, slim legs, with no hint of cankles). Making matters worse, they had an indiscretion-driven breakup, not an "I'm sick of you" breakup. Whatever could be stopping him from scampering back to her? Well, it doesn't sound like you're exactly a barker, and although men prioritize looks in women, once you're within the zone of what a guy finds hot/cute/sexy, other stuff comes into play: Are you kind? Does he feel needed, appreciated, understood? Do you click as a couple — naked and clothed? And OK, you aren't on the short list to be an Abercrombie model, but is every day more fun because you're in it?
Don't let on how jealous you feel (it sends a message that you're not all that), and don't try to control a man by telling him what to do (it leads to resentment, secretiveness and rebellion). You tell a man what to do by making him happy and by being happy with him. Your relationship may eventually end, but if you accept that, you can enjoy the hell out of it while you have it. For peace of mind, start a conversation about what you appreciate about each other. Listen up and you might get your head around the notion that he's with you because he's "lost without you" — and not because he lost his directions to the skinny girl's house.
Adjusting the shudder
I'm an OK-looking guy, but I look terrible in photos. I am joining an online dating site and don't know what to do about my picture. I can't afford a photographer. — Unphotogenic
Some people's photos look best with some clever cropping. Apparently, yours look best if you crop out your head. Part of your problem is that you probably think of taking "a" picture (or three) instead of doing as professional photographers do — taking maybe 1,000. This basically means staging a photographic accident, meaning in at least one of the 1,000 shots, you should accidentally look like yourself or even better.
A novelist friend of mine, Sonya Sones, author of The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, takes some fantastic photos of her various traumatized author friends. She says people look best when the photographer shoots from a little above them and advises against using a flash — ever — because "it makes people look ugly. Period." She suggests shooting outdoors, in the shade: "In the sun, people get hideous haunted-house shadows under their eyes and noses, which is not a good look unless it happens to be Halloween."
I'll add that you should experiment initially with different angles to find your best and try some shots in which you're doing something you enjoy — fishing or grilling or playing poker — so you'll forget to freeze and look awkward. Put in a little effort and you could soon be posting a picture that's more NotBadLookingGuy123 than Quasimodo456 ("You had me at 'Hell no!'").
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.