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.
Her Best Friend's Waiting
My girlfriend's best friend is her ex. They broke up six years ago (upon mutual agreement). She swears she's much happier being his friend and says they both feel they weren't meant to be romantic partners. Well, she clearly adores the hell out of him, and he's her go-to guy for her problems (family, career, and probably any issues with me). She respects my opinion, but sometimes I feel she only asks for it so I won't feel second banana to him. We've only been dating eight months, and I feel she believes what she says about their friendship, but part of me worries that she's still in love with him but not aware of it. During one of their long phone chats, if he said he wanted to be with her after all, I suspect I'd be dumped fast.
— Second Best
If this were a chick flick, you'd be the plot device — the guy the girl's with just so she can figure out that she should marry the other guy. (Start worrying if you roll over in bed and see a couple of prop men unplugging your lamp.)
Of course it's hard for you to believe that a guy who once wanted her body now just wants her ear. Their insistence that they're just friends does run contrary to the wisdom of the noted therapist Billy Crystal, who warned in his seminal work, "When Harry Met Sally," that "men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way." Sure it does — mainly when they have yet to have sex with each other. But, these two have been there, done each other (and done each other and then some). Chances are, the thrill of the chase really has given way to the thrill of getting on the phone so they can cluck like two excitable hens.
People commonly think love is only supposed to come in groups of two, like on the ark. But, this "two-topia" — the notion that one person will meet your every emotional, sexual, and career counseling need (while leading you in a killer ashtanga workout) — is actually an impossible ideal. The truth is, in addition to your romantic partner, you can have another deeply important person in your life — a friend-plus! — who you love more than a typical friend but who you don't love naked (or don't love naked anymore).
And sure, if your girlfriend has a BFF, you'd prefer it to be somebody named Melanie, whose interests run the gamut from shoes to shoes. And yes, she could suddenly decide to "put the ex back in sex." But, six years post-breakup, it's likely her attraction is more therapeutic — having a longtime friend to lean on who's probably helped her dust all the skeletons hanging in her closets (home, office, and beyond). Don't get all wound up in trying to compete with him or meet her every need; you just need to meet enough of them and keep getting to know her. Throw yourself into your relationship instead of obsessing that it will end, and try to focus on the merits of their friendship. This guy enhances her life, and if her life is enhanced, she's enhanced, and so is her life with you even if that flies in the face of everything you've ever heard about how love is "supposed" to play out. (Shakespeare wrote "Romeo and Juliet," not "Romeo, Juliet, and Bob.")
Two male friends who know I'm happily married have made a pass at me recently. One's kind of a player, so
whatever. The other I considered a very good friend (of seven years), and I find myself remarkably angry with him. Some friend. I feel like posting a blog item, "I have never been unfaithful to my husband and never will be."
When one dog tries to hump another, it generally isn't because he finds the other dog ethically sketchy. I get that you aren't a chihuahua with computer privileges, but there's a good chance the thought process for these guys was dog-humpingly deep. I had you send me your photo, and you're gorgeous. Men make passes at women who are blindingly attractive — and not necessarily because they devalue them as friends or think they'll be quick to toss their wedding ring on another man's night table. Sometimes, impulse, dirty martinis, desperation, and seven years of a woman's hotitude just come to a head. This isn't to say you should excuse what these guys did or continue being friends with them if that's painful, but it may help to understand that the calculation here may not have involved a comprehensive risk/benefit analysis beyond you're beautiful and they're drunk, and if they're going to be relegated to meaningless anonymous sex, they'd like it to be with you.
It's Advice Goddess Radio! Amy Alkon interviews fascinating experts and answers your questions on on love, dating, sex, relationships, and manners. Listen live every Sunday, 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).
(**This week, psychotherapist Beverly Engel on pleasers. I recently quoted from her terrific book "The Nice Girl Syndrome" in my column.)
Read Amy Alkon's book: "I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman's battle to beat some manners into impolite society" (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).