Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tagalong Tandem Blues

Dear Abbner,

I have been seeing a girl for a few months now. Or, to put it more accurately, I've been seeing TWO girls.

It's not what you might think. The girl I've been seeing insists that her friend go with us wherever we the movies, dinner, the beach, or just hanging out. She says that they are best friends, do everything together, and has even hinted that for our relationship to go to the next level, the friend has to sign off on me. In other words, I have to get the friend's approval.

This friend doesn't have a boyfriend or even any prospects. She's introverted, doesn't contribute much to the conversations, and is really more of an anchor dragging down what could be a fun relationship.

Is there a way I can change this dynamic and get some alone time with the girl I am actually interested in seeing?

-Doubled Up In Deerfield

Dear Doubled,

This is actually an easy one.
Usually a situation like this is caused because the girl you like either isn't sure about you, or isn't sure about herself around you. It will ordinarily go away with time as the relationship matures.

Occasionally it's just a test to see how far you can be pushed.

And every once in a while it's an arrangement to wheedle some extra meals out of a guy.

Since this doesn't seem to be going away, you'll need to be more proactive and change your focus.

The first easy answer is to enlist a wingman to run interference with the mouse. And not just on double dates. Your guy has to cull the herd with plans to take quiet girl to a different dating venue on the same night you plan to take your date to a special place. This isn't just manipulation. If you've watched a steady diet of chick flicks, you know the normal RomCom ending is your buddy winds up in a hookup with the wallflower. (For a reference, see "When Harry Met Sally.")

Your other option, especially if you don't have any buddies available, is to become your own wingman.

Start paying attention to the quiet friend. A LOT of attention. More attention than you're paying to the girl you actually want to be with. Start talking about this other person in every text and phone conversation.

If possible, get the other girl's phone number and start calling and texting her as well. Get to really know her.

When the three of you are together, be sure to remark on how attractive the girl is that day, or pay some other compliment. Make sure they're legitimate praises, otherwise this will blow up in your face.

When it's time to take the girls home from the date, drop your girlfriend off first, then take the other girl home. Walk her to the door if possible. Don't make a real move or try to poach a kiss, because that will make you a cad and will likely result in you having no future dates with either one.

If you play this right, your girlfriend's natural tendencies toward jealousy will appear, and SHE will make the decision to put the kibosh on this dating tandem, leaving you unblemished.

The third option is to go ahead and date them both. Of course, only the Great Clooney (blessed be his bachelorous name) can actually pull this off successfully. But if you're destined to crash and burn anyway, you might as well make it a glorious explosion.


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Frustrated Husband Losing Wife To Church

Dear Abbner,

I've been living with my wife for nearly 10 years. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but we were always able to overcome them. Until now.

About a year ago, she was "born again" and joined a local church. Since then, she's gone completely fanatical about it, attending services twice a week, including Sunday services that run all day and into the night.

As you would expect, our sex life has gone to almost zero, and the relationship is in trouble. Now, she seems to have plenty of time for Jesus, but little for me. Also, everything I do these days is a sin against God, including my Sundays watching football, the beer I drink during the game, and the nacho farts I let loose every time she says "amen."

I feel like I've been cuckolded by Christ. What can I do to get my wife away from the church and back into our marriage?

-Heathen In Hartford

Dear Heathen,

There is nothing you can do to get your wife away from the church.

In essence, she is having an affair. And it's pretty unlikely that you're going to be able to compete with our Lord and Savior.

You have few options here.

First, you could throw away the beer, turn your back on your NFL brethren, and join her church. You will probably be completely miserable, and you may need a 12-step program for your Tom Brady withdrawals, but you'll save the marriage. Who knows, you may even come to enjoy revival meetings and pot luck suppers. That reading thing may become a bit of a bore, especially since about the only book most churches approve of is a 400-year-old tome written in weird, hard-to-decipher English called the Holy Bible. However, you'll find some of the stories to be exciting and interesting, with folks smoting, slewing and begatting each other all over the place. (Check out the Old'll swear parts of it were written by Quentin Tarantino.) Also, you'll find more than a few passages that will make handy ammunition for the inevitable next argument with your wife.

Option two is to expand your horizons, including a few new habits of your own. I would recommend a lot of drinking and carousing on Saturday nights, including the occasional address amnesia where you forget to come home. While you're out sowing your wild oats, your wife will be home praying for crop failure. Sounds bizarre, but it will actually bring you closer together because you'll have something in common - your ruination and eternal damnation. The only thing religious zealots love more than an all-day prayer meeting is a mission to save someone's soul.

Your third option is prayer. Hit your knees every night and pray that tomorrow will be the day that the church shows its true colors, which in most organized religions is a nice, shiny shade of hypocrite. Far more churches have been destroyed by internal strife in the last 50 years than any external invasion or crusade by Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, or Amway salesmen.  If you hold out long enough, the church leadership will eventually mess up and piss off the congregation, and your wife will be back by your side by the time Peyton Manning returns to the field (following a stubborn neck injury that hasn't responded well to surgery OR prayers from Indianans), with your spouse claiming loudly at the TV that Manning's mother was a canine, that his parents were never married, and that the Colt quarterback should go begat himself.

Whatever option you choose, know that I'll be praying for you. Or drinking a cold beer in your honor this Sunday.


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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vegan Worried About Carnivore Boyfriend

Dear Abbner,

I have just started dating a guy from my hometown. He is a terrific guy, very attentive, funny, and a good kisser. My only problem is that I am a vegan, and he is...not. In fact, not only does he eat disgusting red meat, he is also a hunter who likes to eat Bambi, Thumper, and Rocky (deer, rabbit, and squirrel).

I like this guy a lot, but I'm not sure I can have a future with a man who sees nothing wrong with eating other living creatures.

Does this relationship have a future?

-Meatless in Montana

Dear Meatless,

The chances of this relationship working will be directly proportional to how zealous you are about your anti-meat stance.

For example, once married, will he be required to cook all of his own meals? Will you be nagging at him for every hamburger and McNugget he consumes? Will you be calling him "baby seal killer" every time you have an argument?

The level of zealotry isn't just a question for inter-epicurean relationships. Catholics and Jews have been able to intermarry and live happily together, as have Methodists and Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists, and even the occasional Episcopalian and agnostic, so long as their individual versions of God don't become verbal truncheons with which to bash a mate over the head. For example, I've never heard of a successful Jewish/Muslim coupling, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen so long as nobody brings up the "my religion is older than your religion" or "my Messiah could kick your Messiah's ass" taunt during an argument.

The point is that it isn't really about your devotion to a deviant lifestyle. (Sorry, I just let some of my meat-eating bigotry take a bite out of the discussion). It's about your ability to find common ground instead of turning that ground into a turf war.

In your case, I'm not particularly optimistic.

The fact that you see this as an issue means it IS an issue. In my experience, vegans are so extreme and zealous about their menu choices that even weirdoes like vegetarians aren't radical or militant enough for them.

The fact is that your man doesn't just eat meat, a mindless non-choice made by people who usually don't think about the fact that ground beef doesn't actually come from the ground; he actually kills meat sources. There are even some non-vegetarians who are squeamish about this practice, and have been known to offer verbal harangues to those who shoot cute, furry animals; chastisements that usually take place at dinner over a good plate of veal or lamb curry.

If you're not willing to ease your extremism about the consumption of meat and meat by-products, I would recommend you go out and find yourself another vegan. Of course, he might be too scrawny and weak to make it all the way down the aisle with you, but just think of all the money you'll save at the reception by offering a main course of sticks and roots. You probably won't get any of the cool wedding gifts, like a George Foreman grill or a turkey deep fryer, but you'll likely be up to your emaciated elbows in cuisinarts and food processors. Hopefully you'll still get some matching china and silverware, unless you plan on raising your children as true vegans. (The good news is you won't need a good redneck wedding present like a lawnmower, since you can just put your kids out in the back yard to graze.)

Save yourself and some poor meat-eating slob the heartache (and soy milk heartburn) of arguing over whether deep-fried Twinkies count as a fruit or a vegetable.


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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sex A Non-Starter For Longtime Girlfriend

Dear Abbner,

I've been dating my girlfriend for six months. We're both in our mid 20's. We have a lot of fun, have a lot of things in common, and enjoy each other's company. We kiss and even, you know, do other things, but she is adamant that she is not ready for sex. She admits she isn't a virgin, but says she doesn't want to complicate the relationship with sex.

I'm ready to take the relationship to the next level, but my interpretation of the "next level" doesn't include more cold showers and sleeping alone.

Is there something I can do, some technique or phrase that can help solve this problem?

-Sexless In Saratoga

Dear Sexless,

You have my deepest sympathies.

Unless you happen to be Brad Pitt or George Clooney, the answer is simple.

Dump her.

I know this sounds extreme, and those equipped without a Y chromosome are going to scream, but it's really the only solution.

And I think Brad and George (who have regularly dumped even women who DO have sex with them) would agree.

"She admits she isn't a virgin, but says she doesn't want to complicate the relationship with sex." Let me read that back to you: she isn't against sex, she just doesn't want to have sex with you.

If she never had sex before, it would be a completely different approach. If you were with a 20-something virgin, that's the kind of woman you'd immediately want to take home to mom. After that, a trip to the Smithsonian would be in order, because they are as rare as mastodon fossils. That's not the case here.

Because of the "other things" you two do, it's obviously not a deep moral or religious issue, which would be worthy of respect.

To paraphrase the completely appropriate and applicable title of a sappy chick flick, she's just not that into you. During the first six months of a relationship, a guy is on his absolute best behavior. He just doesn't get any better than this. After six months, a woman knows if she is or isn't attracted to you. Heck, I've been told that a woman makes up her mind whether she's going to do a guy within 60 seconds of meeting him. It's obvious that you've put in the time, but for whatever reason, you aren't that mythical "The One" so many women are unreasonably waiting for.

All this is giving the woman the benefit of the doubt. A darker (and yet not uncommon) reason might be the ultimate in sexual politics. She is holding out for the brass ring of a gold ring. She wants to use her penultimate weapon to goad you into marriage.

If you're up to it, and have a good prenup, this might be a real option. It might be the only way to sample the wares. Unfortunately, it's pretty likely that the sex won't be worth the wait (partly because, like anything in life, you have to practice doing something frequently to acquire any proficiency at it, and partly because it's already pretty clear that she has a libido that's about as active as Mauna Kea, the Hawaiian volcano that last erupted about 3,600 years ago).

My best advice is to move on to someone with whom you are more sexually compatible. "Till death do you part" becomes a much longer sentence when sex is doled out with an eye dropper and a microscope.


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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Husband Becoming Couch Potato

Dear Abbner,

My husband is becoming a couch potato. Every weekend, he spends nearly every hour on the sofa in front of one sporting event after the other. Whenever I suggest we go out, he has some game on the schedule that just can't be missed. What's worse, he expects me to be the in-house waitress during these televised events, fetching him sodas and beers and snacks.

I love him, but I'm reaching my level of frustration with this behavior. I didn't marry the NFL or the NBA, I married a man who occasionally liked to leave the house once in a while.

Do you have any hints on how to blast my hubby out of his man cave?

-Sports Hater In Spokane

Dear Sports Hater,

I'm always surprised when I hear this complaint, particularly when I hear it after someone else just filled my ear with tales about their husband or boyfriend spending all their time at the bar.

First, let me give you a variation on an old Public Service Announcement that used to play on local television channels back when there were only three channels:

"It's 11 p.m. Do you know where your husband is?"

In your case, thankfully, the answer is a consistent "yes."

Instead of being MIA every Saturday night, you know where your man is. Obviously he loves you and is devoted to you. He's not looking for excuses to hang out at the pub, and you have no worries about who he is seeing on the side. Major pluses in any relationship.

It's a statistical fact that couch potatoes are 93% less likely to cheat on their spouses than men who spend their weekends out with the guys doing "manly" stuff like watching sporting events at strip clubs and nudie bars, according to a recently completed study of Jerry Springer and Maury Povich episodes.

Nag your husband enough and I'm sure he will accommodate you by taking his passion for football, basketball, baseball, and NASCAR to the nearest sports bar. Not only will you get the reward of seeing less of your husband, you'll also enjoy the thrill of seeing more of your household budget spent on $7 beers.

As for serving your loved one drinks and snacks, let me ask you this: would you prefer that some other woman fawn over him, be nice to him, offer him kind words, make him feel better about himself and his life, and make him feel extremely important, all while bringing an endless stream of drinks and snacks to his lap? If you would rather that someone else handle these tasks, then maybe the problem isn't with him, and the issues run a lot deeper than a World Series game with extra innings.

It sounds like what you truly want is for him to stop watching sports, stop participating in something that he enjoys, that he give up something that gives him pleasure. It will make you happier for him to be less happy. These aren't the desires of someone who REALLY loves her husband.

Your insistence that you don't want to be the house waitress is a fair one, and easily solved. At your nearest Walmart, they have these little mini-refrigerators, usually trimmed in dark brown. You can buy two and put one at each end of the sofa. They already look like end tables, so simply place lamps on them, cover them with doilies and magazines, and nobody will notice the difference, while your husband will be able to get his treats for himself. If you REALLY loved your husband, you'd make one of them a Kegerator, which has a keg of Coors inside and a beer tap on top. (Put a lampshade on top of the beer tap and everyone will simply think it's just another table lamp with a burnt-out bulb.) THAT is true love.

Finally, it's fair for you to want your husband to take you out on a date. Tell him so. To prime the pump, schedule a night out during the week. (You'll find restaurants and theaters a lot less crowded on a Tuesday night, and there is less chance of conflicting with NFL or NASCAR). At that dinner, let him know you'd like him to take you out more often. Also, remind him that sex is a participatory activity, but may become more of a spectator sport for him if he doesn't change his behavior.

The only caveat is, if the date he plans happens to be at the ballpark or track, don't bitch. At least you're out of the house, and you're not the one walking up and down the aisles yelling "Peanuts! Popcorn! Hot Dogs!" It's not a perfect solution, but it's a start.


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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting Out Of The Friend Zone

Dear Abbner,

I have a classic male problem. I went out with this girl a few times, and we had a blast. We've done dinner, movies, and just fun outings. Each outing ended with a kiss, and I can tell you she is unquestionably the best kisser I've ever known. If kissing were an Olympic sport, she would win the gold in the 60-second and freestyle events. Afterwards, I could take the silver in board breaking, if you know what I mean.

The problem is that I really like this girl, and feel like we have chemistry. I want to take it to the next level. (This is an indicator of how much I like this one paragraph, I've used two corny Nora Roberts-like phrases. I'm also losing Guy Points because I happen to know who Nora Roberts is.)

Unfortunately, I have somehow found myself in the "Friend Zone." On our last date, she let me know that she really liked me, but that she didn't want to mess up the friendship by becoming a couple. She also said that I was a "nice guy." About the only thing missing from the conversation was the "it's not you, it's me" thing.

I've read that persistence is one of the keys to getting the things you want. Should I continue pursuing this relationship? Or just be satisfied with being a friend without benefits?

 -Zoned in Arizona

Dear Zoned,

Since the dawn of time, men have been explorers. We have set sail on leaky ships in search of foreign lands. We have discovered new continents, and traversed them on nearly every organic and mechanical conveyance. With the right training (watching more than three episodes of Bear Grylls on "Man vs. Wild") you can strap a parachute on us and kick us out of a moving airplane armed with nothing but a machete and a camera crew and we'll manage to slash and hack our way out of the densest jungle.

However, not even the beloved Bass Pro Shops have ever sold a map, compass, and GPS gift set that can help a male navigate his way out of the Friend Zone. Mostly because it is not now and has never been our choice. I suspect that even in the prehistoric days of large, furry Neanderthals holding a club in one hand and dragging a mate by the hair with the other, it was the woman making the decision as to who she would give her hair to.

I would love to tell you not to give up, because that's how we as a species and gender have achieved so many great accomplishments, like the George Foreman Grill (blessings be upon his name and left hook).

In Nora Roberts novels, that pursuit is called persistence, and is rewarded with true love in the end.

Unfortunately, in today's real world, it results in a ride in the back of a police car and a stalking conviction. This has been researched thoroughly and reported extensively in the weekly relationship documentary "Cops."

If you think you can successfully navigate the hedge maze known as the Friend Zone, I want you to remember how things ended up for Jack Nicholson in the Stephen King movie "The Shining." If someone as uber cool and suave as Jack winds up dead with his eyes open while covered in snow and ice, what chance do we mere mortals have?

But if you're intent on trying to do the impossible, here is something to try:

Stock up on alcohol. Try to incorporate it into any date, outing, and hanging-out session. Nothing cuts through the inhibitions like therapy sessions with Jack Daniels.

It probably won't change her mind, but it might get her inebriated enough to do something stupid, like sleep with you. Some girls get so hung up on the sex thing that the next morning they'll convince themselves they really ARE in love with you rather than cop to copulation without emotion.

Yes this sounds barbaric, and definitely won't result in what you really want, which is a deeper relationship. However, it at least gets you out of the Friend Zone and back in the game.

My best advice is to be happy you have a new friend, and put yourself back on the market. The danger in your situation is becoming so obsessed with the unattainable that you wind up ignoring other opportunities, like the cute girl at work who always spends a few extra seconds talking to you about the Niners. You're so focused on attaining an exclusive on Angelina Jolie's lips that you fail to realize Miss Reception Counter 2011 has been studying the book "Prevent Defense For Dummies" every night just to capture an additional 30 seconds of your attention the next day. Oh, and asking her pals how she can move out of YOUR "Friend Zone."


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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Surviving Chick Flicks

Dear Abbner,

My girlfriend and I have a great relationship. We agree on most things, and don't argue much over the things we don't agree on.

However, there is one area where we are completely incompatible, and it's starting to create friction that isn't going away.

I like all kinds of movies except one: chick flicks. (Or, for the more politically correct, "RomComs.")

If Katherine Heigl made a video that featured two hours of picking her nose, my girlfriend would insist we see it twice and buy three copies of the DVD.

Lately our weekly dates have turned into battle grounds, and nobody comes away unbloodied (which would be great if we were watching one of the movies I want to see, where blood is welcomed and encouraged).

Are you aware of any 12-step programs that might help get my girl free of her addiction to sap (as in sappy movies, not her boyfriend the sap)?

-Living In Heigl Hell

Dear Living,

This is a predicament.

You're asking me how to change the directions of the tides, or how to make the Earth spin in a different direction.

Unmarried women crave movies about other unmarried women becoming married women. That's a definitive, unchangeable fact that is more certain than whether Pluto qualifies as a planet.

But before you're forced to run off and enroll in the Renee Zellweger fan club, you have some options.

First, sidestep the theater.

To be honest, movie dates are the province of a lazy boyfriend, someone without the imagination and energy to come up with something different.

Plan dates that don't revolve around Hollywood's weekly offering of uninspired drivel. To be sure, the date can't be anything fun like bowling, fishing, hunting, car races, poker, or the strip club. And that's okay, otherwise, you wouldn't have anything left to do with your male buddies.

However, you can come up with something innovative that she'll like. Usually, anything with horses that doesn't involve a track or a $2 window will work, like horseback riding, a visit to a petting zoo, or a trip to anywhere in a horse-drawn carriage. (I believe a guy could pull off the unthinkable, the holy grail - getting his girl to accompany him to a strip club - if he took her there in a horse-pulled handsome cab.)

Consuming food in a romantic setting is also a consistent winner. Anything from a fancy restaurant down to a simple picnic in a quiet meadow is considered romantic. (A woman once shared one of the "secrets of the sisterhood" with me on this topic. Basically, a woman loves any meal, anywhere, as long as she doesn't have to cook it.)

If you can withstand torture that rivals the most insipid Jennifer Aniston RomCom, you always have the option of a date at a museum, art gallery, or craft show. Women always claim they enjoy the culture, but I believe it's really just faux shopping.

Should you run out of ideas for inspiring dates, do what your girlfriend is doing: watch the chick flick. But not as entertainment. Watch it the way she does - as an instruction manual. Just like your Saturday morning in front of the TV watching Roland Martin's fishing show, she's learning techniques on how to hook and gaffe you for that inevitable trip down the aisle. For you, a chick flick will be an instruction manual on cool date scenarios. The next time you are forced to spend 90 minutes watching Cameron Diaz pretend (badly) that she has trouble getting a man, take notes. There will be at least two examples of killer date ideas you can scarf.

And finally, if all else fails...

Marry the girl.

It's the only known cure for the disease.

For some reason, once a woman gets married, RomComs lose a lot of their allure. It seems a married woman's taste often turns more toward thrillers and murder mysteries, particularly those that feature plotlines where the cad of a husband takes a sightseeing trip through the wood chipper. I'm not exactly sure why.

The most important thing to remember is that dating is about pleasing her, not yourself. (That's what your own collection of "movies" stashed behind the bookshelf is for.)


If you have a question or need advice with a "male perspective" on relationship issues, behavioral issues, dude etiquette, or the best penmanship techniques for writing your name in the snow with yellow ink, e-mail your questions to