The Advice Goddess

By Amy Alkon

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).

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Will Onesies Never Cease? and Take A Toad Off
October 16, 2014

Will Onesies Never Cease?

My married friend just had a baby and posts what's essentially the same "Look how cuuute!" shot on Facebook several times daily. Beyond finding this annoyingly boring, I'm 32 and unhappily single, and seeing all of her blissful pix is making me envious and resentful. Is it wrong to secretly block her photos? I feel it would be better for our friendship.
— Baby On Overboard


A lot of people use Facebook to announce their accomplishments: "I became CEO of the company!" "I got into Juilliard!" And then there's your friend: "We had sex without birth control, and look at what happened!"

Of course, the fledgling CEO typically posts the good news once; there aren't hourly selfies: "Here I am teething on my new desk!" "Here I am spitting up on the sales director!" And yes, like many new parents, your friend's excitement may have led her to misplace her "Don't be boring!" filter. But as you're feeling bliss-bombed, you might keep in mind that she's sharing only the cute moments — her mini-vacations from the screaming and the sleeplessness, going online at 3 a.m. to play "Match That Rash," and the endless analysis of the cut, color, and clarity of baby diamonds — otherwise known as poo. (If a new mom's actual reality were on parade, Facebook would be renamed Buttbook.)

Sympathizing with your friend (and even working up to feeling happy for her) is actually in your self-interest. In "The How of Happiness," social psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky wisely notes: "You can't be envious and happy at the same time." Though we rather automatically compare ourselves with others, Lyubomirsky's research finds that the happiest people aren't weighed down by others’ achievements; they take pleasure in others’ successes and appear to judge themselves by their own internal standards. Unhappy people, on the other hand, feel deflated by their peers’ accomplishments and relieved about their failures. They tend to be very focused on how much better others are doing, which causes them to feel "chronically vulnerable, threatened, and insecure."

To become a happier person, start acting like one — expressing generosity of spirit. Lyubomirsky's research finds that one of the most effective ways to be meaningfully happier is to do kind acts for others. So, instead of blocking your friend, try a counterintuitive approach: Block out time to spend with her. Go over there, maybe fold a towel and put away a couple of dishes, and treat her to an interaction that doesn't end with somebody chewing on her nipple.

As long as you're in the generosity of spirit aisle, pick some up for yourself. Remind yourself that finding a partner is hard for most people. Get in the habit of taking stock of what's good in your life, and think of constructive ways to get closer to what you want. Replacing your sneery mindset with a more upbeat outlook should have you radiating the sort of positive energy that draws people — including single male people — to you. Keep that up and you should eventually find yourself married, pregnant, and the envy of every woman whose dream it is to throw up violently every morning but still look like that girl who turned into a giant blueberry in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."



Take A Toad Off

I'm a single woman who likes hiking, and I agreed to let a male friend set me up with his hiking-loving buddy — and then he showed me his picture. I was not at all attracted. I didn't want to seem shallow (though I guess I am), so I told him to give me his info, but I never reached out. My friend keeps asking whether the guy should call me. Is it rude to say I'm not interested based on looks alone?
— No, Thanks


People who say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover won't be ending their Saturday night dodging the book's make-out attempts on their front porch. Sure, it's possible that this guy's photo doesn't entirely capture how he looks face to face. But photos are not cave drawings. If you aren't attracted to skinny blond guys, seeing a particular skinny blond guy in person is unlikely to change that. And turning down a date with a man you aren't attracted to isn't "shallow"; it's the kind thing to do — basically breaking up before the first date instead of after he's gotten attached to you. Doing this doesn't require the whole cruel truth, just enough of the truth — like "not really my type" — to send him on his way. Communicate that to your mutual friend and you'll free Hiker Guy up to focus on women he might have a chance with and free yourself up to find a man who can make your heart race — without chasing you up and down the trails with an ax.



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 — — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or listen or download at the link, at iTunes, or on Stitcher.


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Order Amy Alkon's new book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).