By Amy Alkon
The sorrow and the pretty
Do men in troubled relationships often seek someone to give them a nudge to get out? I often attract these men, some of whom I suspect just want a backup relationship before splitting with the wife. I happen to be interested in the current man confiding in me about his angry, obsessive wife. I won't tell him to leave on my account, but I hate to see such a great man putting up with her. — Catalyst
You've gotta give a guy points for an original spin on a tired pickup line: "If I said you have a beautiful body, would you let me sob on your shoulder about my mean wife?"
As a listener, you provide considerable cost savings over the guy with the gray beard, the monocle and the couch, and it can't hurt that crying on your shoulder comes with a front row seat to your jigglies. Your presence can also provide a helpful thumb on the "I'm outta here!" side of the scale for a man who lacks a Ouija Board, a Magic 8-Ball, or the guts to make a decision. And while it is possible that some of these men fall for you, it's also possible that any "I love you! I want you! I have to have you!" a man blurts out is just a bad translation of "Eeek! I'll be alone, and you're cute and nice to me. You'll do."
It is a bit odd that, the way some women collect Hello Kitty, you collect "Hello, I'm teetering on an angry divorce." Are you maybe insecure about getting involved with a guy when all you have to offer is you? With a man in a troubled marriage, you start with a competitive advantage — how endearingly sane and reasonable you seem compared to Mrs. Satan. And a man in crisis requires conversational triage — attending to those bleeding out first. (No need to lay your feelings on the line; you can focus on his problems and bond over how you're the listening postess with the mostest.)
As for the latest man crying out to you from the Trail of Tear-Streaked Kleenex, consider the obvious: A man confiding in you about his "angry, obsessive wife" is a man who is NOT AVAILABLE. Maybe it's time you retired from running the Unhappily Married Man Rescue and take a run at the unencumbered. (At the very least, strictly limit the ear-time you give to other women's leftovers that aren't quite left.) You should find that a man has much more to give when he isn't panicking that his wife will take half of everything he owns, including his man parts she's got squirreled away in a drawer somewhere.
Breaking the unsound barrier
Last night, a girl I was seeing several months ago texted me, wanting to get back together. She'd cut all ties with me after accusing me of causing her brother to abuse her, both emotionally and physically. We'd been sexting, and her brother read one of my texts, and she blamed me for his behavior, either for making the abuse happen or for making it worse. She's no longer living with her brother, and I'm tempted to go back to her, but I don't want to ruin things with this new girl I'm seeing who seems kind, understanding and more stable. — Decisions
Think about how this works in an action movie. Typically, the film ends with the hero safe and sound in a bar, reflecting on his narrow escape. (In Jaws, the guy didn't turn around and go back in for a swim.)
You can feel sorry for this woman and hope she gets some help, but a woman who blames you for another person's behavior is telling you something — she's irrational and unstable and you've probably only grazed the tip of the drama iceberg. In a word, FLEE! — unless you luck out, and she ditches you. (The self-removing problem girlfriend is the next best thing to a bag of trash that grows legs and walks itself out to the curb.)
It's actually pretty imperative to make rationality, self-respect and emotional stability your top must-haves in a girlfriend and to be mindful of how easy it is to rationalize the behavior of the drama dispensers, especially when reminiscing about the hot times. (Red lingerie always pleads its case louder than red flags, and the crazies always seem more fun in bed.) But, getting together with an irrational, unstable woman — especially one with irrational, unstable, meddling relatives — is like sticking your life in a wood chipper. Ultimately, if a woman's going to take your breath away, it shouldn't be because there's only a little more oxygen left in the trunk of her nutbag brother's car.
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.