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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All Doc And No Action
I've been going to the same primary care doctor for a few years. I'm very attracted to him, and I believe he's attracted to me, too. There's always been a dynamic between us. I thought it was his "bedside manner," but when I asked others, they didn't have the same experience with him. I know he isn't married. Also, I am very healthy and only see him annually for "well checks." Do you have any advice on whether I should do anything?
— Patiently Waiting
It's okay for your doctor to ask you, "Can I give you a breast exam?" — but not if he adds, " later tonight, in my Jacuzzi?"
There are all sorts of places a doctor can go to meet women — bars, parties, bowling alleys, grocery stores, and hostage standoffs — but he can lose his license for dating those he picks up in his reception area. Not only does the American Medical Association deem current patients off-limits but a former patient can also be a no-go if it seems the sexual relationship started through an exploitation of trust, knowledge, or emotions from the doctor-patient relationship. Because rules can vary from place to place, it's wise to check with your state medical board to see whether they have stricter standards. For example, Colorado's Medical Practice Act imposes a six-month waiting period before your doctor is allowed to see you in a dress that doesn't tie in the back and expose your butt crack.
Even if your doctor does have the hots for you, he probably has an even stronger desire to avoid downscaling to "driving" a shopping cart, collecting cans, and living beside a dumpster. So, the first move, if any, must be yours — putting an unambiguous end to the medical portion of your relationship. Do this in writing, adding something like, "You're an excellent doctor, but I would like to see a doctor closer to my house." It doesn't matter whether that's true. It just has to get the message across — without impugning his skills — that you're formally outta there. At the end, add, "I would, however, be interested in seeing you socially."
That little addition might not seem like much, but as linguist Steven Pinker notes about a remarkable feature of human psychology, even the slightest veiling of what we really mean will allow people to pretend it meant something innocuous. The deniability "doesn't have to be plausible, only possible," Pinker explains in a paper. So, if Dr. McDreamy doesn't want the romantic relationship you do, he can pretend you're just suggesting it would be nice to bump into him at a gallery opening or something, not bump into him between your sheets. But before you do anything, you should accept that you may have misread the signals, and he may not be interested. Either way, you'll need a new doctor, whom you can search for online — ideally, on your health plan site, not Match.com.
Apartment 2B Or Not 2B
I'm a single guy living in an apartment down the hall from two single girls. I find one very attractive, but the one I'm not interested in is clearly interested in me. She flirts with me overtly and keeps saying she and I should go for a drink. What I'd really like is to get something going with the other roommate.
— Double Trouble
Unfortunately, dropping in on the girls down the hall isn't like visiting a frozen-yogurt shop: "I'm not crazy about the sample you offered; may I try the other flavor?" You've heard of The Bro Code — unwritten rules for how guys are supposed to look after their buds? There's a female version; call it The Bra Code: Sistas before mistas, besties before testes. A girl will not date the guy her friend — especially her friend she lives with — has set her sights on. Worse yet, there's a good chance that asking you out was something the hot one helped the other one plot. You can, of course, ask the hot one out, but unless the not-so-hot one falls desperately in love with some other guy, the hot one is unlikely to join you in anything sexier than an elevator ride to the lobby.
What you can take out of this is a reminder not to get too laser-focused on one particular girl. You should always be scanning the horizon for possibilities and have a few on deck so when one falls through, you can just shift over to the next. This should keep you from clinging desperately to lost causes, like by pretending you have an identical twin brother and trying to date both the hot and not-so-hot roommate at once. (No, you can't just feign a stomachache and run back in wearing a different hat.)
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 download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).
Advice Goddess Radio: Motivation researcher Dr. Edward Deci on how to be self-motivated and to best motivate others.
(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
Read Amy Alkon's book: "I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman's battle to beat some manners into impolite society" (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).