To me, this guy sounded merely clueless. OK, deeply clueless. But he supports and listens to her and appreciates her, and he bent over backwards to fix the problem once she brought it to his attention. Does he feel, very strongly, that she's not hot enough? I don't get that impression. I think she demanded honesty, asked too many questions and now she doesn't know what to do with the information she squeezed out of him. Very typical clumsy young love maneuvers happening on both sides, but tough to tell if there's something stronger pulling them together in spite of all of this fumbling. I gave them both the benefit of the doubt on that front, but I totally agree that, generally speaking, feeling like you need to improve your looks for someone is bullshit.
I had this boyfriend who used to raise his eyebrows whenever I ate cheese. CHEESE. See also: my one true forever lover. DON'T MAKE YOURSELF THE SWORN ENEMY OF CHEESE, MOTHERFUCKER, BECAUSE YOU WILL LOSE THAT BATTLE EVERY TIME.
@FloffMe Let me put it this way instead: If you're going through a tough break up and there's a lot of contempt in the mix, it's probably best not to set up joint custody of a pet. But, as I admitted at the very start, I know how tough it can be. I've seen people suffer a lot over joint pet custody, and many of them regret setting their lives up that way. Obviously if you're making it work then more power to you.
@katherine As I wrote in the column, I think there's some value in taking the voodoo-doll approach to "enemies," so that the anger around that symbolic figure is expunged. The column ultimately landed in a very different place from that. And yes, of course there's a giant difference between someone who's writing to me for advice and someone who plays a (mostly symbolic, and very confusing) part in the letter writer's story. My job in this case isn't to advise a woman about whether or not to cry to an ex's girlfriend at a wedding (hint: I feel you, but DON'T DO IT!), my job is to advise a woman about handling the aftermath of said ex-girlfriend's teary confrontation.
All of that aside, are you really trying to say, "No more playful recklessness or thought experiments, not ever, for any reason!"? Because I don't think this column would be all that interesting if I took that to heart.
@marina See, I'm not worrying about second-guessing or maligning the multiorgasmic, so much as worrying about stigmatizing those who think they're falling short if they're NOT multiorgasmic (at a youngish age, with a newish partner, in a maybe-not-always-totally-communicative relationship). But it's true, as you say, that women often don't realize their own potential. And with realizing your potential comes, all too often, NEW AGE-Y-NESS! Bah!
It does veer into hating a little, which is, you know, not entirely enlightened on my part. I think the boyfriend mentioning that his ex was multiorgasmic got my back up, particularly in the context of the ex's teary Angelina-like confession. And then the theory that she might be a lying liar just made simple sense. But you did read to the end, yes? Because, while we indulged the nasty side of this, we were meant to land firmly in the realm of "We don't know her, he has moved past her, she is feeling things, let's give her our love and move on."
I mean, this might be my weakness, but when you confess to feeling jealous and then the other person comes back and says, "Wow, you really are a sad little troll for feeling that way."? I prefer to dive right into the mess and the hatred and then climb out of it together. Because no one is immune from these feelings and these sorts of assumptions, so why pretend to be? We get a little brutal, and then we back up and brush ourselves off and we take a higher path. (After taking the lower one.)
Anyway, I hear what you're saying, completely. I'm trying to be both savage and forgiving in this one. It's more fun that way, even if it's not 100 percent generous or ideal. As for whether she's ACTUALLY multiorgasmic or not, I don't know. How common is faking orgasms these days? My mailboxes indicate that it's VERY VERY COMMON.
@Pippa Laughingstock Yeah, he does seem like an honorable guy who's put up with a lot of shit. My main goal was to get him to see that he's sacrificing too much, being too nice, etc. As far as telling him to be kind/gentle to her, those are parting instructions I give to anyone who's having trouble calling it quits. It's for his benefit, not hers. I don't want him to get pulled back into some kind of a sticky fight with her where it's ugly, she cries, she insists that he's abandoning her, etc. He needs to slip out the door, without malice, and move forward to a better life. Because you're right, he does deserve better, and he should know that.
@Don'tcallmeJenny My two other posts disappeared! Which sucks. But yes, I can see how implying that young parents are hot-blooded and selfish wasn't that sensitive. You know, I wasn't mature in my 20s. I look at 20-somethings now, and I think they seem very very young, mostly because I'm much older and I was a wreck back then. Totally subjective perspective, and clearly it doesn't apply to everyone or even most people. I honestly thought that was assumed, but I wasn't clear about it. If someone asks me "Should I have a kid at age 21?" I'm going to have an opinion, but that opinion doesn't really apply to the 21-year-old mother at the school yard. She's already made her choice, and she's doing her best just like everyone else. I can totally see how play dates would be a massive problem for you, because they're so often built around who is socializing together already. I think if I were you, I would just keep inviting and insisting to make sure that your kid is in the mix. Most mothers aren't actively trying to keep anyone out, they're just doing the easiest thing. Those "snobby" moms are probably just talking to the women who seem the most like them. Parenting culture is definitely reaching an absurd moment, but it's important that you separate the perfectionist advice from the real-live, humble, flawed moms in your midst. It's very easy for moms to seem bitchy when often, they're just uncomfortable with this new totally arbitrary socializing-around-kids thing. Anyway, send me a letter and I'll go on about this for several pages! Very best wishes - HH
@Don'tcallmeJenny Looks like our messages crossed. If you want respectful responses, you really should consider toning it down a little. In your original comment you refer to my "snobbish bigotry." Not the greatest way to start a productive conversation, particularly in the context of a very neutral letter you for some reason encountered as deeply hateful to young parents. Again, I don't doubt that you're a great parent, probably a better one than me. Best wishes - HH
@Don'tcallmeJenny You're comin' in hot, striker! The guy asked the ideal age to have kids. I offered my opinion: Early 30s. Please note, that's about 5 years before I did it. I didn't say people in their 20s are shitty parents, nor did I say that people in their 40s are too old and crusty to be good parents (even though, in my personal experience, they really are) (god my ass hurts). I absolutely never claimed to be an amazing parent. Honestly, the women you're talking about probably ignore you because your youth makes them feel old. That's it. You'll understand that sensation when you get there. I'm not condescending when I say that, see, I'm just saying: I didn't get that when I was your age. My opinion that early-30s is ideal for parenting doesn't mean that it is. Just means that I wasn't ready in my 20s.
This column is highly subjective. I do my best with the information I'm given, and I often draw conclusions based on my personal experiences. If you still feel enraged by what I've written, feel free to send a letter to Ask Polly about your experiences with bitchy older moms. But as I said, I really don't believe that they're all awful fucking people (although plenty of awful fucking people do exist in the world -- what kind of setting are we talking about here? Some settings attract more awful people than others). My guess is you make them feel a little bit awkward because there's a giant gap in your ages. I would highly doubt that they think you're a shitty parent just because you're younger than them.
And to be clear, I don't think that either. All the best - HH
@Tenar You make a really good point. Personally, I've tended to put men on such a pedestal that I've sometimes needed someone to walk up and say, "That guy? Are you serious?" But those are my anchovy ways, aimed at offsetting obsessiveness over rejection by men who weren't a good match in the first place, and therefore shouldn't be rattling around in your head forever.