Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
Got a problem? E-mail Amy at AdviceAmy@aol.com.
The Company You Keep Away
I've got an intense attraction to this musician I've been dating for four months. He's on the road a lot, plus he's new to the city and recently out of a relationship. He says he's not ready to get serious now and just told me he wants us to be non-monogamous. The more I try to get close the more he pulls away. My girlfriends told me to stop chasing him and be much less available. I tried being less present, which, to my surprise, made him miss me and be more attentive. I'm disgusted at the need for manipulative game playing. How much longer do I need to keep this up?
— Hate Games
There are times it makes sense to chase a man, like if he's wearing Lycra knickers and making a dash for the end zone or he's just run out of your house with your TV.
However, chasing a man is an especially bad strategy when you're looking for love. The reason for this goes back millions of years and comes down to what anthropologists call "parental investment" and how biology sticks women with the lion's share of it. As I've explained here from time to time, before the invention of reliable birth control, a single romp in the bushes could leave a woman with a hungry kid to haul around and feed. So women evolved to be the choosier sex — to cross their legs until the man vying to be their sex partner showed he'd be likely to stick around to provide for any ensuing Neander-browed children.
Men, in turn, coevolved to expect this choosiness from women. And though we're living in modern times, we've got some pretty antique psychology still driving us, so when a man today encounters a woman who seems easy to have, he tends to get the message that she isn't worth having. This may seem awful and unfair, but it's just how things are. So lamenting the need for "game playing" is like expecting something different from gravity. Drop an apple and it's going to fall; it will not lift off, circle your head a few times, and then try to make it to Cleveland on tail winds before nightfall.
As for this guy, sure, you want him, but letting attraction and enjoyment alone determine whom you have a relationship with is like letting your taste buds do your grocery shopping. (Dunno about yours, but mine would not be lingering in the broccoli section.) Before you get involved with a man, you need to check to see that he's available, and immediately disqualify any man who isn't single or emotionally ready for a relationship.
Once you have a viable candidate, take steps to avoid seeming desperate, like by setting the timer on your phone for 20 minutes or an hour before you return a text. The more you do this sort of thing the more natural it will feel, until you become hard to get instead of just playing it. Should you feel tempted to fall back into old chase behaviors, just remind yourself of your ultimate goal — inspiring a man to want you instead of inspiring him to fill out paperwork to keep you 100 feet away from him at all times.
Lawn And Order
How can I get the guy I’m dating to shave his neck beard? He shaves his face but not this thick scrubby hair he has all down and around his neck. Mercifully, the hair is relatively short; it isn’t Amish-length or otherwise truly beardy. But it really is not attractive.
— Not Liking The View
Word has it that the Brazilian wax is out; pubic hair is back. This may be so — but not under your boyfriend's chin.
There are practical reasons for a neck beard. For example, if a guy's car were to go off a mountain road, he might survive a few extra days on trapped Cheetos dust. Assuming this sort of situation is unlikely, you can put in a request for neck beard removal. Because criticism tends to make people feel hurt and defensive, it's most successful when reformatted as flattery. In other words, tell him how hot he is, but tell him you think he'd look even hotter with a cleanshaven neck, and ask him to try that for you for the next time you see him. Be ready to counter possible objections, like that he gets razor bumps. Magic Razorless Cream Shave, a drugstore product designed for black men, can help him prevent them while also removing the Brillo pad making love to his neck. This area can be a powerful erogenous zone — just not when it's hard to figure out whether it's saying "Kiss me!" or "Use me to clean your oven!"
It's Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio — "Nerd your way to a better life!" with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or listen or download at the link, at iTunes, or on Stitcher.
Advice Goddess Radio: Dr. Todd Kashdan on the upside of "dark side" emotions.
(c)2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon
Order Amy Alkon's new book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).