The guy I've sorta been seeing travels around making videos for an extreme sports company but lives two hours away in the mountains. We met through a mutual friend, went to dinner and then had sex. We had a few more dates, and then he got a girlfriend. He contacted me after they broke up. I went up to see him, and we went to dinner and had sex. He then visited me, and I cooked him a lovely dinner and gave him a massage, putting lots of effort into everything, but he never puts much effort into us. He'll always say, "I really like you, you should know that," but only when I'm hounding him, asking why he never calls. Because he lived with his girlfriend for two years, he seems capable of commitment. Should I tell him how I feel — that I want more out of our "relationship"? — Irked
There are some pretty funny extreme sports, like extreme ironing — lugging an ironing board to a remote location (like the top of a 1,000-foot rock formation) and, as extremeironing.com put it, combining a dangerous outdoor activity "with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt." Less amusing is the extreme sport you seem to favor — all-terrain hurling yourself at a guy who rings you up for sex whenever nobody in his zip code is available.
When you want a boyfriend, you don't send the message that all a guy has to do to get you is sit across from you and eat a burger. (What's your idea of playing hard to get, withholding the ketchup?) Your extremely casual sex partner popped up again, and you not only had sex with him but cooked him dinner and gave him a complimentary massage. Are you an aspiring girlfriend or an aspiring day spa?
Feminism tells us that a woman should be able to do anything a man can do, from becoming an astronaut to having sex on the first date. I'm all for girls growing up to be astronauts. And obviously, a woman can have sex on the first date — but because men tend to devalue women they don't have to chase, she's taking a risk unless all she wants is a little nail and bail.
You need to accept that you've blown it with this guy, having trained him to see you as dating roadkill — the sex-providing equivalent of a flattened possum. If he's starving, he'll scrape up some possum steaks; otherwise, thanks, he'll take the $36 T-bone. Your thing with him won't be a total loss if you turn it into a lesson in how not to act with men in the future. But, don't just play hard to get; become hard to get. This means developing yourself into a woman who wants a man but isn't so needy for one that she'll shove her self-respect in the closet and try to bribe him into wanting her with sex, shiatsu and home-cooked gourmet meals. Sure, the way to a man's heart is sometimes "through his stomach," but only for laparoscopic surgeons taking the scenic route.
Brawl in the family
My formerly loving parents are fighting constantly and putting me in the middle, frequently calling to complain about each other. They even phoned me together during a heated argument to ask whose side I was on. This is gut-wrenching, and it's been great to have my boyfriend's ear, but I was humiliated to discover he'd called Catholic services and his parents to ask what I should do. He's a sweet guy, and I'm trying to forgive him, but I feel he compromised my trust. — Exposed
You counted on two people to be the mature adults in your life — and then the "honey, do" list became the "honey, die" list. (It's enough to make a girl march into AT&T and ask them to take her off the Family Plan.) As mortified as you are that your boyfriend took your problem out and introduced it around, this is a sign, not that you can't trust him but that you can — to be there for you when the chips are down instead of turning up the game and crunching extra-hard on the Doritos. Applaud him for his good intentions, and then make sure he understands your "privacy settings." Next, inform the enemy combatants that your ear is now off-limits for trash-talking and that you'll say goodbye and hang up fast whenever either starts. Ask them to see a mediator to help them work out terms to live by in the immediate future (get names at mediate.com) and find a therapist to help them over the long term — for their sake and so seeing them might eventually be more like going to Donny Osmond's family reunion than Don Corleone's.
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.