Thrilla in vanilla
My best friend is a guy. We have tons in common and our conversations are lively, honest and deep. He's basically everything I've ever wanted in my future husband, but he has an infatuation for Filipina women half his age. I'm 37, his age and Caucasian. His plan is to find and marry a girl from the Philippines. He's so stuck on marrying a Filipina that he is learning to speak Tagalog and travels to the Philippines twice a year but has yet to have anything work out. I hope he'll eventually develop the attraction to me that I have for him and that compatibility will trump looks, because he often tells me how much he appreciates me. Am I fooling myself, or could he outgrow his Filipina fetish? — Boring American Woman
If people could override their physical attractions, strip clubs could hire homely but very kind women to bare only their souls. For the price of a lap dance, they'd tell a man all about their work easing the suffering of cancer patients or nursing stray dogs back to health. Afterward, he'd go home to his hot but mean wife and do his marital duty — while fantasizing about Martha getting little Buster to a really good home.
Whenever you start looking at your friend through future-husband-colored glasses, remind yourself that the guy's learning Tagalog, and not because he calls the cable company and they say, "Press one for Tagalog." Lust is a powerful and automatic biochemical reaction driven by sex hormones in the brain. One study by Dr. Ingrid R. Olson suggests that we appraise whom we find hot in 13 milliseconds or less — approximately 25 to 30 times faster than an eye blink. And unfortunately, we can't rejigger whom we lust after — any more than we can convince ourselves that something that smells like ass really smells like lily of the valley.
You need to stop focusing on how you click with this guy. I really click with my friend Debbie, but when I look at her and feel longing, it's to ask her where she got her barrette. We're well-matched as friends and hair accessory shoppers but nothing more. What you need is a guy with a you fetish — one who thinks you're the hottest thing since he leaned back, trying to look cool for you, and burned his hand on the party host's stove.
To find that man, banish your Filipina-phile from your mind as anything more than a friend with a thing for women who aren't you. If that's hard, stop hanging out with him so much until it stops being hard. Save for meeting a fairy godmother and having her transform you into a 4-foot-11, 18-year-old hottie from Manila, there's only one way this guy will fall for you, and that's by installing a tripwire.
Getting into your genes
I'm 27 and passionately in love with a 24-year-old woman I just started dating. I said something in passing about not knowing whether I want kids, and she said, "If I'm not pregnant within two years by you, I'll get pregnant by somebody else." Shocked, I asked who. Her answer: "Preferably a friend, but it doesn't really matter." I wonder whether I matter or I am just being used. — Disturbed
You were probably picturing yourself as more of a sex machine than a sperm dispenser. (If there's a movie of your relationship in your mind, it's the kind that gets blocked by Net Nanny software. In hers, Julie Andrews and the von Trapp children bound through the meadows in their clothes made out of curtains.)
The fact that her romantic role model seems to be the speeding bullet doesn't mean that she isn't into you or that she's using you. In fact, her honesty suggests otherwise. (She didn't let you get all attached only to tell you to either dad up or get out.) But numerous studies splashed across the media show that single parenting disadvantages kids economically, emotionally, in school performance, and in their later relationships, and troublingly, all she can think about is the tumbleweed blowing around her empty womb.
If you know you don't want kids, now's the time to leave. If you aren't sure, you can stick around and try to figure it out, but the giant ticking uterus hanging over your head may warp the course of getting to know her. After all, it's kind of a romance-killer to be hearing "It had to be you ..." while you know she's thinking, "Then again, the UPS guy looks like he has a healthy sperm count."
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or 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.