Advice Goddess: 5/12

By Amy Alkon

Friskies sour

My best friend, “Rob,” is really into this girl he’s been dating. She is loud, talks constantly about vapid subjects, generally rubs everyone the wrong way, and – I’m not kidding – makes cat “meow” sounds. (For instance: “I’m hungry; let’s get pancakes! Meow.”) Recently, a mutual friend blurted out to Rob, “Dude, seriously, how do you put up with her?” Rob was upset, and I sympathized, but the reality is, we all think that. Shouldn’t he know the truth – that none of us wants to be around him when he’s around her?

– Biting Tongue

When you’re all out to dinner, you must live for those moments when she and some other woman excuse themselves to go talk about all you guys in the litter box. As hard as it must be for you to hold back, all this guy should know is that you’re his friend. People mistakenly believe that you can criticize somebody into changing. You can’t. What you typically end up doing is criticizing them into clinging even more tenaciously to whatever you were hoping to pry them away from. Because, in relationships, initially adorable idiosyncrasies can turn screechingly annoying, it’s possible your friend will eventually grow allergic to loud, vapid women who make cat sounds. Until then, well, that’s why there’s guys’ night out at the cigar bar. You might also try to curb your annoyance by feeling happy for him. For him to be blind to how irritating she is, she must do some really special things in the bedroom – you know, like marking the bed with urine and killing mice and leaving them on his pillow.

Save the wails

Are guys scared of politically active women? My boyfriend of two months just broke up with me over my support for animal rights, and I’ve generally had difficulty keeping boyfriends because of this. This boyfriend was bothered by two incidents. In the first, I got into an argument about zoos with one of his friends at a party. Another time, we were driving alongside a car with a pro-hunting bumper sticker, and I rolled down my window and shouted something to the driver. I’m trying to do good – protect creatures without a voice. Does that mean I don’t deserve a boyfriend?

– Yes, I Stand For Something

Men tend to like it when a woman screams passionately, but it’s less sexy if what she’s screaming is “McDonald’s is murder!”

But, wait – you’re trying to do some good; don’t you “deserve” a boyfriend? You, like the rest of us, deserve not to be run over by a truck. The Declaration of Independence also spells out that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” stuff we’re all supposed to get. That’s right; you have a right to chase happiness. It doesn’t get delivered to your door. (“Sign here, please.”) And the reality is, every requirement you have for a boyfriend and every, well, nonstandard practice you have (like Wicca, being a serious Civil War re-enactor, or a hobby of throwing fake blood on people in fur) narrows your options. The size of a person’s dating pool is determined by their level of hotitude factored with how hard they are to be around. (An annoying 9 might still have many romantic opportunities, though with limited staying power.)

And just a guess, but for at least some of these guys who dumped you, maybe the problem wasn’t so much your support of animal rights as it was your lack of boundaries in expressing it. Even a guy who’s with you in principle on sticking up for Bambi and the lab rats might not be comfortable with your transforming every social gathering into an animal rights protest rally. Also, consider that there’s a difference between speaking your mind and yelling it out the window at someone who has announced in writing on their vehicle that they are likely armed.

In other words, you can refuse to ever bend your principles, or you can have a man in your life. This isn’t to say you have to start wearing snow leopard legwarmers and eating baby seal McNuggets; you probably just need to divide the world into political and social forums. Social forums would be reserved for pleasant cocktail party conversation – even if a guy is gnawing meat off a skewer and you long more than anything to stick him in the eye with it and say, “See how you like it!”

When you start dating somebody new, ask him what his comfort zone is regarding your activism, and either respect the boundaries he needs or be honest if you can’t or won’t. If you come to see a relationship as a party of two, each of whose needs matter, there’s a good chance you’ll find a guy who’ll at least be there to bail you out of jail – maybe for years to come – until you two finally retire to the country to run a lentil rescue. (Some say they scream when you drop ‘em in boiling water.)

(c)2015, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail ( Weekly radio show: Order Amy Alkon’s new book, “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck” (St. Martin’s Press, June 3, 2014).

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