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Friday, January 4, 2013

331

Selective Empathy and "An Outlet for Maternal Feelings"

1. You Married Dudes are driving me nuts! Or, I'm driving myself nuts, I don't know. I'm one of those women the Big Chatty Articles have been talking about recently — I've worked hard, and I'm more successful and make more money than most men my age, or so it seems. And I can't find anyone to date seriously. The people who've achieved the kind of success I find attractive — I'm not attracted to unsuccessful men, or women either, I suppose — are usually older than me, by about 10 years. And men 10 years older than I am are usually married. So, nope can't date him, can't date him either, or that one.

But a lot of the Married Dudes I've come across have different thresholds for flirting/hitting on me/directly asking me to sleep with them. It's on me for continuing to hang out with some of these guys, I know, but I like to be around people who are good at what they want to do, even if they don't always have the most sterling marital rules or whatever. And should they, even? Marriage is stupid, right? It's all just a mess. It feels like that line, I can't remember where it's from, but instead of the high school girls all staying the same age, it's the Married Dudes who — to me, at least, at this point — all stay the same. Am I being a lazy, reductive jerk? Can I go on a tear of sleeping with whomever I want and not tiptoe on glass about other people's husbands? Because if I were married, I'd almost feel sadder if I learned that the only reason my husband didn't have an affair was because the woman felt sorry for me and said no.

You ask whether you can sleep with other people’s husbands. Surely what you mean is, should you?

I’m going to assume that you really want an answer to this question — not just a get-out-of-jail card. And I have to start by saying, straight out, that your last sentence is the purest bullshit. You don’t get to justify your behavior by selectively empathizing with people you’re helping to screw over. That’s the definition of self-serving. This is true even if you believe (as I do) that you’re less culpable than the Dudes who are trying to hook up with you. You can’t invoke some unknown wife’s imaginary pride as the reason it’s OK for you to fuck her husband!

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s consider whether it’s bad to fool around with Married Dudes. Yes. Sometimes. It depends. People say that if you can’t tell Grandma what you’re doing, there’s something wrong with your behavior. But who tells Grandma anything? Aren’t shameful things sometimes desirable because they’re shameful? Isn’t the wrongness sort of the point? 

I’m not immune to all that. Still, fooling around with Married Dudes is dangerous. People’s lives are at stake and you can’t pretend that’s not the case. Once you admit that your actions might hurt innocent people, you can’t kid yourself that what you’re thinking about doing is perfectly OK. But you already know this, or else you wouldn’t have written for advice.

That’s just about the best I can do on the morality front. I’m no angel. You’re going to have to choose for yourself and live with the consequences.

Anyway, this leaves a bigger question unanswered. Why does being attracted to successful men mean that you’re doomed to sleep with Married Dudes? This reads like a rationalization to me — like you’re trying to justify sleeping with some particular Dude or Dudes, not Married Dudes in general.

But let’s take you at your word. I understand the frustration: the Big Chatty Articles have a point. So let me ask you, what counts as success? Is it mostly economic? A matter of attitude or talent? If it all boils down to status and wealth, then you do indeed have a demographic problem. I mean, it’ll help that you’re young. (Evidence suggests that older guys are sometimes open to dating younger women.) But I don’t think you’re talking about balding divorcés; and that slightly younger demographic (I’m guessing, 35-45 years old, still in good shape and at the top of their game) are reliably coupled-up. If these are the kind of guys you really like, and you don’t want to be the reason they get divorced and lose their hair, then you’ll have to be patient.

Or maybe you can broaden your ideas about what counts as success? What about intellect, skill, and social grace? I work every day with young men of extraordinary talent and wit. They’re goofier and more insecure than your average Married Dude, but they also have fewer horrible kids. A couple of them will go on to become millionaires. One or two will die in poverty, their poems as brilliant as they are unread. Some will practice law. But if you remember only one thing from this slew of inexpert advice, it’s that you might broaden your romantic horizons before committing something you’ll likely regret.

2. So my slightly femme, well dressed husband has a grooming problem: He sometimes stinks! He's not a sweaty person (unlike his wife here, who wears men's clinical strength antiperspirant) and he'll always shower after going to the gym, but he doesn't like to wear deodorant. Sometimes he comes home from his office job stinky, and I don't think he notices! I've tried to mention things in passing in the past, and he either brushes it off or gets really hurt and mopey. He tried my antiperspirant once in a sullen fit and it gave him a rash, so he just says he can't wear any. I bought some hippie, all-natural stuff (that smells really good!) 'for me' and told him he could use it, so as not to hurt his feelings, but he hasn't taken the bait. As we are getting older, the stink is getting bolder, and I don't know how to tell him without making him sulk! This smell isn't an everyday problem, but sometimes it makes night time cuddling unattractive. Help!

[Ed. – Ahem.]

Does your husband’s stink bother you more than the idea of his mopey reaction? If the answer is yes, then you should sit him down and explain — gently, with love, as you did in your letter — that our body chemistry changes as we age and that the bathing habits of yore no longer wash. You might suggest that nighttime rewards await fresh-smelling men. That would work for me.

If the answer is no, his moodiness is more repellent than his stink, then you should probably have a different conversation. You should talk about being able to communicate honestly, in a conversational space free of judgment, in the interests of long-term happiness, so that you can let him know he’s rank.

3. My boyfriend’s parents recently moved close enough to us that we see them, often. And every time they come over, his dad makes some kind of remark about how I purge my maternal instincts by having two dogs. Like, we will all come home from somewhere to the house my boyfriend and I share, and I will make appropriately coo-ey doggie-woggie noises at my pups and cuddle them hellos, and boyfriend’s dad will remark “It’s good you have them as an outlet for your maternal feelings” in a voice like he's some kind of scholar on maternal feelings (i.e. not a joking voice). At first I would respond with some variation of “hell yeah, I love my dogs!” but then when he did it EVERY time I started to get annoyed, then think it’s sexist, and now I wonder if I should TELL him it’s sexist. Boyfriend’s father never makes a crack about my boyfriend’s “paternal” instincts, even though boyfriend makes the same fuss over our dogs (because they are our dogs!).

And I don’t want kids, and neither does my boyfriend, so I don’t know if it’s meant as some kind of jab at our kidless desires (which I don’t even know if boyfriend’s father is aware of, really)? It feels like one of those times when maybe I snap at a guy, and he makes a crack about me being on PMS, and I am outraged because I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE MAD AT WHAT I AM MAD AT, DON’T DISCOUNT MY FEELINGS AS BEING CAUSED BY HORMONES BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN, except maybe I actually am PMSing. You know? Maybe I do feel maternal toward my dogs, and I don’t think being called maternal is an insult, but somehow it feels wrong and sexist in this usage, as a label applied to me instead of one I apply to myself. But does it bother me enough to call my boyfriend’s dad sexist? I don’t know. I am sure he wouldn’t understand my offense, and I would just be labeled an oversensitive feminist. My boyfriend says I can do what I want, that it’s between me and his dad, but he doesn’t really get why it bothers me (and neither do the female friends I’ve brought it up with, actually. Well, they understand kind of, but say it wouldn’t bother them). Am I being oversensitive? How could I bring it up in a way that makes it clear he's being sexist (if you agree he is) without making him defensive? Or is it not even worth it? If it matters, I generally like his dad, and he is a pretty liberal guy, but he is also 70 years old, so. I don’t think he thinks about things like how calling me maternal might be sexist.

I think he’s being a bit sexist. There’s no contradiction between not wanting kids and loving your dogs as you do. You’re not being “maternal,” you’re being affectionate in a soppy, pet-ownery sort of way. If all caring feelings (even the coo-ey, goo-ey ones) were reducible to parental archetypes, our emotional landscape would become impoverished and silly. Anyway, reducing all women to mothers, or potential mothers, is inherently belittling.

That said, I think it’s probably not worth bringing this up with a nice, liberal pensioner who’s an important member of your family and whom you have to see pretty often. Think about it: You’ve already struggled to explain things to your closest friends. What makes you think this old guy — the one person, however nice, who has the most reason to feel defensive — is going to find it any easier to see your point? I could be wrong, but I’d file this gripe in the “pick your battles” folder and try to move on … At least until it bursts out one miserable Thanksgiving when the old man’s 88 and you’re on your seventh eggnog.

One more thing: It might be a good idea to talk to your respective parents about your kidless desires. My wife and I spoke often about wanting to have a child, and even we were driven insane by our parents’ endless clucking. Talk to them about the fact that you’re not planning on enlarging the human race, and ask that they don’t spend the next 10 years making “jokes” about suppressed maternal instincts and the patter of tiny feet. This might save you a lot of bother. It might solve the dog problem, too.

4. My boyfriend and I don't really have a relationship anymore. We've been through a lot in seven years, and a lot of it just has to do with normal growing up, since we were 19 when it all started. About two years ago, he started not being himself around me, and just not really talking to me anymore. He also lost interest in sex (how does that even happen!), and just never seemed to care about doing nice things for me or complimenting me, ever. I'm not super needy or anything, but it really turned into us being roommates and not best-friend-roommates-who-do-everything-together, more like I-found-a-roommate-on-craigslist-but-it's-cool-as-long-as-he-stays-in-his-room roommate. He swears he still loves me and has nothing to do with being attracted to anyone else, etc., and he's not mean or aggressive or anything. Before I was really upset that I didn't feel like I was in relationship, now I'm just used to it and I don't expect anything anymore. I work full time, I write, I help run a non-profit, and go to school part time, so needless to say, I stay distracted.

Also, we have children together.

He says he's not with me just because of the kids, but I'm at the point now where that and being too busy for anything else really are the only reasons I'm okay with where we are now. I'm also not interested in dating or any of the perks of being single.

The part that freaks me out is that one day we'll realize that we've grown old together without meaning to.

Is it better to stay in this weird complacent state for the kids and for sticking with what's easy and workable, or should I throw a wrench into everything?

I was about two-thirds through reading this letter — around, oh, the part where you were describing your work life — and I knew what I was going to say.

GETOUTGETOUTGETOUT!

I mean, come on. You’re only 27 and you’ve been together since you were teenagers. You don’t talk. You don’t have sex. You don’t even do nice things for one another. If this really were your roommate, I’d still tell you to post a “room vacant” ad on Craigslist. But your boyfriend?

DTMFA.

Then I read “we have children together.” And my feelings got a lot more complicated.

You know what, though? I’m still going to tell you to dump him. My parents divorced when I was four and I never seriously regretted it. I was brought up by two reasonably happy adults who both remarried and both continued to feel the joy and pain of love with people they cared about intensely. Life wasn’t perfect but it was lived.

Looking back, I know that my parents’ divorce had relatively little to do with the sadness that visited our home from time to time. I knew my parents loved me. What’s more, I came to respect them for working out joint custody arrangements and never fighting over my sister and me in public. I learned an important lesson about monogamy: trust and honesty flourish within its embrace, but without love on both sides commitment is just another word for being locked in.

So get out. And if you don’t get out, do something — go to couples therapy, shake things up. Pay attention to him and make him pay attention to you. Don’t settle for the status quo. Don’t stay locked in “this weird complacent state.” That’s nowhere to be.

This will take some time. If you decide to leave, you’ll eventually need to talk seriously with your boyfriend about why you’re going — also about custody, finances, and how to co-parent. You’ll need a lawyer and you’ll have to have awkward conversations with your kids’ teachers. Don’t rush, but don’t stay still. Open up to the people you trust. Consider your options. And then act.

Previously: Shared Spaces, Lie Measurement, and the Manageable Hassle.

A Married Dude is one of several rotating married dudes. Do you have a question for A Married Dude?



331 Comments / Post A Comment

noodge

i call BS on LW1 for sooooooooooo many reasons. it feels like too much to write out.

OhMyGoshYouGuys

@noodge And who can't remember Matthew McConaughey's best line in film? Honestly.

parallel-lines

@noodge "Because if I were married, I'd almost feel sadder if I learned that the only reason my husband didn't have an affair was because the woman felt sorry for me and said no."

Well, aren't you humanitarian of the fucking year? This person is a real piece of work, not hard to see why they're single (even though they obviously think pretty highly of themselves and think they're above it all). Married guy, you were too kind.

OhMarie

@noodge I feel like this could be the lady version of "Nice Guys."

C_Webb

@noodge All I know is that the nice married guy with four kids who smiled at her one day because she had latte on her chin should just PUT OUT ALREADY.

Danzig!

@noodge hey guys I'm a thin dude who would like to date thin women since i don't really share values w/ larger women. But no thin women seem to be available, this sucks a lot, please help me??

Anne

@OhMarie-- Be nice!! I'm sure this poor woman has no female friends because she is far too beautiful and successful so that any other women would just find her intimidating. Bless her heart.

SuperGogo

@noodge Congrats, LW1. At long last, Double Ivy seems like a reasonable human being.

fondue with cheddar

@noodge It does sound like BS, or at least I hope so because the rationalization is disgusting.

The dilemma is a real one, though. I have a younger cousin who is a really nice person and very attractive, but she is a doctor and owns a home, and she has a hard time finding men her age who will date her because they feel inferior.

noodge

@fondue with cheddar well, she should come to philly and meet some of my friends, because I've got plenty of (relatively) mentally healthy, fun, dude friends who are successful in their own rights but maybe not rich who would LOVE to date/have a relationship with a successful lady doctor. I have one (a writer who earns, you know, writer's wages) who completely fell for a successful lady doctor, but she dumped him :-(

fondue with cheddar

@noodge She only lives about 20 minutes from Philly! Unfortunately, I barely know her and I only see her once a year, on Christmas Eve.

frumious bandersnatch

@Anne Ugh slightly off-topic, but my dad mentioned a woman he had been dating didn't have many women friends because "she's so beautiful, and gives off a kind off ice queen thing" and I don't know how to slap him, politely. Except I don't think they're dating anymore so maybe it's ok.

mc coolfriend

@frumious bandersnatch Ugh. And it seems like every few years a new group of young women come of the age where they echo this sentiment, b/c they do not realize how cliched and insincere it is. OTOH, ;there are particular times that particular women have said this to me--often w/out the *b/c other girls are sooo jealous of me* part--and I think what they really mean is *I do not know how to connect w/other women but I could so please do not laugh at my overtures of friendship once I am gone* soooo.....maybe we should be nice to them, at the very least so they have no merit to this whole *oh it is jealousy plus girls hate me b/c I am the first and only woman to ever be pretty also I have not included the word drama enough times yet....drama*

Dirty Hands

@mc coolfriend "Marriage is stupid, right?" Not for the person in it! The BS of LW1's last sentence is compounded because it's not just the woman in a marriage whose relationship (and possibly life) you'd be ruining by helping her husband cheat; you'd be messing things up for the guy, as well! Sheesh, there are other ways to find humans.

bombazinedoll

@noodge Whenever this sentiment comes up, I feel like we all need to collectively acknowledge that bitchface is a real problem in our society that prevents women from being friends. It is not that the other ladies are jealous of you, it's that some or all of you have bitchface and that is obscuring your secret desires to mail pants to each other.
Sorry, mini-rant over.

Aphrodite

@bombazinedoll WORD

Slapfight

@Dirty Hands Yeah, LW1 clearly has the internet. It's a great place to troll for dudes. No idea where she lives but if she's near a city she should be ok.

stavros

That was cool@m

jule_b_sorry

To LW1:

To quote the divine Ms. D. Parton:

"Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Im begging of you please don't take my man
Jolene, jolene, jolene, jolene
Please don't take him just because you can"

Pocket Witch

@jule_b_sorry Oh, that's who sang that song! It was on the country station every time I worked an early morning bakery shift a couple of years ago.

wee_ramekin

@jule_b_sorry Or to quote every decent human being ever:

"Fuck you"

jule_b_sorry

@wee_ramekin (how did you know what i was really thinking)

clipse

@jule_b_sorry Hmmm.... If he can be taken, do you really want him to stay?

Emby

LW4, just as an alternative viewpoint, is it possible that he could be severely depressed? "About two years ago, he started not being himself around me, and just not really talking to me anymore. He also lost interest in sex (how does that even happen!), and just never seemed to care about doing nice things for me or complimenting me, ever."

That sounds a wee bit like depression. Is he "himself" around other people and his friends, or is it just with you? Just something else to possibly consider.

LordHennyson

@Emby That's what I was going to say! Considering it doesn't sound like they've ever had a serious conversation about fixing the roommate situation it doesn't sound like this is the only problem with the relationship, but it could be a big first step to working through their issues

Danzig!

@Emby yeah I had the same thought. It may not mean the relationship is salvageable but it provides an avenue of inquiry that could repair the divide between em

Better to Eat You With

@Emby My immediate response, too. There's more than disengagement from the relationship going on here, it seems.

fondue with cheddar

@Emby That sounds exactly like what happened in my marriage, except I was the depressed one—he was just cheating.

LolaMoco

Oh 1/4/13 Married Dude! Is it possible for you write a post about how your parents getting divorced when you were 4 didn't ruin your whole life? My husband just left me and our 4 year old son, and while I am devastated, it probably will be the best thing in the long run. But I am tormented by the impact it is having/while have on my son.

coolallison

@LolaMoco My parents divorced when I was in kindergarten, and I did have some struggles, but overall I think my sister and I turned out just fine (she's a freaking doctor... I think she'll be alright.)

I think what the Married Dude said about his parents providing loving homes on both sides and the lack of public fighting really does help. My Mom held on to a lot of bitter feelings towards my Dad (even now... like 25 years later) and that never helped the kids out. Just love your son and he will pull through. And I'm sorry that you're going through a rough time.

TheRisottoRacket

@LolaMoco Yeah, my parents divorced when I was 12 and honestly? The whole family was so much happier! I could not imagine how unhappy the entire family would have been if my parents had stayed married. My mom later told me that they got along so much better after they divorced it was a wonder they didn't do it years sooner.

The only real meh feelings I had were related to the tiny bit of weirdness I had growing up with the only divorced parents in my friend group. But I grew up in a fairly conservative hometown with liberal parents, so that wasn't anything super new.

Oh, squiggles

@LolaMoco Don't bother tormenting yourself about this! Just try to live your life as an example to your son...i.e. Even if your husband leaves you, you still keep going, working, living, loving, and being a happy person. It is more important to show what happens after something bad happens, how we recover and keep going, than to shelter kids from the bad stuff.

This will absolutely not ruin his whole life! I think we assign more power to parenting than there actually is. Because once he grows up his decisions and life choices will be his own, good or bad. So let yourself off the hook for this, concentrate on this situation being 'the best thing in the long run', and find joy in the son you obviously love very much.

Bittersweet

@LolaMoco So sorry to hear your news! I'm sure you are going through a lot right now and you're worried about your son. It may be really hard for him, but it may be better in the long run.

My parents split when I was 37 after 40 years of marriage. While they are both happier now, I still sometimes wish they'd divorced when I was 14 - it might have saved them, me and my sister years of anguish.

smidge

@LolaMoco I definitely have lingering issues from having parents who stayed married even though they clearly do not like each other. I'm so sorry you're going through this, lady, and I hope it turns out for the best. And, I don't mean to trivialize divorce, but children are raised by humans, so they are bound to have some kind of issues, you know? So you are not an extra bad parent because you're divorced.

Citizen Cunt

@LolaMoco My parents divorced when I was 4 and it was the best thing that could have happened seriously. They were so mismatched for each other that I shudder to think of what would have happened had they stayed together.

sophia_h

@LolaMoco Just make sure your son isn't in the middle, no matter what you do. You may have some really bad feelings towards your husband, and he may do/have done some awful things, but sharing those things with your son, especially when he's a child, will make him feel like he has to choose between his parents even if that wasn't at all your intention. My parents split when I was 7, and even 24 years later the back-and-forth loyalty stuff is still going on and making family life unpleasant.

iceberg

@LolaMoco My parents divorced when I was eight. It was harder on my mum than on my dad, and things were sad for a long time, but after a while I was like "why did you guys ever think you'd be good together?" they were just so much more natural apart and would never have been able to do half the things they've done if they'd stayed together. Plus two separate happy parents are infinitely preferable to two miserable parents under one roof.

Jaya

@LolaMoco My parents divorced when I was 3 and honestly, I was so young I didn't even know what marriage was, much less divorce. I was just excited to get two apartments. When I was 10 I was a bit angry, but looking back it's really the best thing. I saw both of them equally, they stayed good friends, and I got to see how life goes on even if something earth-shattering like that happens. My mom even still has a great relationship with my dad's mom, and sees her all the time even without the rest of us!

I had some friends whose parents used them against each other, and that above anything is what I believe causes issues. As long as you remember this is between you and your ex husband, and that your son has nothing to do with it, it'll be fine.

iceberg

@sophia_h YES THIS. My mum didn't mean to but she made things a bit awkward when my dad found someone new... she woke up to herself pretty quick and everyone was much happier.

SarcasticFringehead

@LolaMoco My parents divorced when I was 9 and my brother was 4, and it absolutely did not ruin my life. They complemented each other in exactly the wrong ways, and if they'd stayed together I would probably have a deeply fucked-up view of how relationships work.

What I learned instead is that it's never too late to correct a mistake, and even if you're married to someone for 10 years (or over 40, in the case of my grandparents who divorced shortly after), getting out of a bad relationship doesn't mean you're doomed to be sad forever. That's something I'm really glad to know. I know it's different when it's not a mutual decision, which it sounds like yours might not be.

There will be things about your son's life that will happen as a direct result of your breakup, and if you are like my parents you will probably never stop feeling a little guilty for that, but you're showing him that sometimes really shitty things happen, and it's okay to feel sad about that, but they don't have to ruin your life.

coolallison

@Jaya Yeah, I remember being stoked about having two bedrooms. And two christmases! Two birthdays! Etc!

To a 5-year-old, this was kind of cool.

Better to Eat You With

@SarcasticFringehead I was six when my parents split. If they had been able to be decent to one another and not disparage one another in front of me, it would not have been a damaging situation at all, I don't think. The problems I had weren't caused by the divorce itself but by my parents' shit behavior in the aftermath (and ever since, 32 years later). You can't make your ex be decent, but you can do everything in your power to do so yourself, and things will be okay, at worst, and maybe even just fine.

fondue with cheddar

@LolaMoco It's not the fact of divorce that matters so much as how you handle it. My brother and I were older when my parents divorced (16 and 14), but they were always respectful to each other, never put us in the middle, and always made sure we knew how much we were loved.

Megoon

@LolaMoco I'm sorry! That's got to be really hard.

My parents split when I was three, and the traditional media tropes never crossed my mind (it's my fault, all I want for Christmas is to be a family again, etc... no, never). But I really wish my parents had made more of an effort to be civil to each other and not bad-mouth each other in front of me. They split up 28 years ago and I still don't like to mention one in front of the other.

But you know what? Even though they were incredibly immature and constantly used me as a bargaining chip, I still had a great childhood. Kids are resilient and if you and your soon-to-be ex do what you can to be good parents, your son will be fine. Stay strong! And again, sorry you're going through this. It will get better.

hands_down

@LolaMoco First, I am really fucking sorry you have to go through this with your son. Second, I was 6 when my parents split. It was definitely a painful thing to experience as a kid, and that's definitely where my binge-eating began. HOWEVER! It really was for the best. I understood that more and more as I got older. My mom remarried someone much better for her. It helped that my parents never fought in front of me, never made me choose one or the other. That part is really important. I had friends who went through divorce around the same age and they really suffered when one parent openly hated the other.

Also, I dimly recall being taken to a child psychologist after the divorce and having to act out my feelings with stuffed animals. Maybe that helped? Therapy for you and/or your son might be a good thing, if it's affordable. Anyway, I wish you tons and tons of luck and support!

hands_down

@hands_down Ok, re-reading my response, and just to make it clear, it was obvious to me only a few years after the divorce that it was a good thing for both of them. I never wished they would get back together. Two sets of presents for birthday and Christmas kicked ass. You can't control how your son feels in the immediate (grief, anger, whatever), unfortunately, and that's probably the toughest part to get through.

fondue with cheddar

@Megoon Kids are VERY resilient. I've known people who went through some pretty horrible shit when they were in their formative years, and still managed to grow up to be some of the best, most admirable people.

Ophelia

@fondue with cheddar This, exactly. We were also older (18 and 16) and I can honestly say that it's been fine. Not like, let's all sit around and chat about divorce fine, but. I think a big part of it is because both sets of my grandparents had ROUGH divorces, and my parents basically sat us down, talked about how it was, and said flat-out, "we will NOT do that to you guys."

Now, it's not like they hang out much or anything, but at my wedding, both of them independently came up to me and said "I had such a nice time with your mom/dad today!" which was kind of incredible.

Alli525

@LolaMoco I am actually extremely resentful that my parents DIDN'T divorce until just a few years ago (when the apathy, distrust, and loathing turned into "hey, I'm in love with another woman, I'm already having an affair with her, I want to have two wives [yes, at the same time], is that ok? NO??? WHY NOT??!?!??!?" (Geesh.))

They should have divorced when my brother and I were kids - I might have had more respect for both of them and better role models for a healthy marriage/quitting while you're ahead.

fondue with cheddar

@Ophelia Wow, that's wonderful. That's how you do it! :)

My boyfriend (whose parents divorced the WRONG way) is always amazed at how friendly my parents are to each other and to their respective spouses. They even greet each other with hugs at family gatherings. It's so nice to see that example and know that it can be that way.

lora.bee

@LolaMoco I am just agreeing with everyone here, my parents divorce was tough when I was 6 but I know it was better for everyone involved. Hugs, hugs, hugs to you.

@hands_down My parents also took me to a child psychologist after the divorce and I had to draw something about what I was feeling and what I wanted...so I drew a picture of me on tour with the Spice Girls. What parents?

iceberg

@lora.bee My parents asked me who i wanted to live with and I said VERBATIM "I come with the house".

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg Wow. That was so not cool for them to ask you that question.

I actually recently read about a situation in which the child stayed in the house and the parents took turns living there with the child. It sounds really difficult for the parents to pull off but ultimately great for the child.

tentacle party

@LolaMoco (losing my comment virginity!) I feel so strongly about this, my parents broke up when I was 3 and it was probably the best decision they could have made for both themselves and me, from my experiences and those of my friends it is really clear that what fucks you up far more is your parents struggling and fighting and making your household miserable. I enjoyed having two houses and I have a really good relationship with both parents now, which was probably an unexpected bonus of the divorce because I experienced them both on their own as people instead of as part of a parental "team". It will get better! I promise! Children are endlessly forgiving and understanding (as long as they don't get pulled into your fights)

RNL
RNL

@fondue with cheddar I love this and I want to say that it's also "really difficult" for kids to pull off living in two houses, but they're kids so we make them do really hard and painful stuff that we would never do without a second thought, like wearing braces and going to middle school.

Litebrite Idea

@smidge I also have had to work through the lingering issues from parents who should have divorced (never should have married if you ask me) but stayed together seemingly just to spite one another. I begged them to get divorced; I reminded my mom it was an option earlier this week...

packedsuitcase

@When robot unicorns attack " but they're kids so we make them do really hard and painful stuff that we would never do without a second thought, like wearing braces and going to middle school." Well, who else would we foist middle school off on? Seriously, I'm 26, and I have nightmares where I'm back in middle school and I wake up in a cold sweat. Awful, awful place.

RNL
RNL

@packedsuitcase Well, I would argue "no one". It's awful!

I just think we make kids do a lot of really terrible things (get circumcised!) that no adult would ever subject themselves to, and don't even think twice. Like making kids move back and forth. That shit is hard, and confusing, and parents to whom it is suggested are like "but that would be so HARD! What about my TOOTHBRUSH?" No shit, guys. Maybe you should have thought of that before you ended up a divorced adult with kids.

M'fly

@LolaMoco I'm so sorry! That's really rough. My parents divorced when I was 3 and they were really shitty about it (to each other and to me) and I still turned out ok, I promise. So if you are even just on semi-polite speaking terms with your ex, I GUARANTEE it will be easier on your kiddo than my parents' divorce was on me. And I survived just fine. Seriously. You're a great parent for giving a shit.

Ella22

@LolaMoco My parents didn't get divorced until I was an adult--they announced they were going to every year or two, but never followed through until I was in my early twenties. Every single day growing up was a hell of shouting and fighting and cruelty and meanness. I used to love when my dad went on business trips because it meant there was at least a small chance I'd be able to get through a day without having to be in the middle of a screaming match (unless one of us kids set my mom off, which happened a lot).

I very much wish they had divorced when I was young. Not only because my childhood would have been easier, but also because it would have been socially acceptable for me to be sad about it, whereas now it feels childish to express any grief/anger about my parents' terrible marriage. Years after their divorce, I find myself, for the first time, having thoughts like "Why couldn't mommy and daddy just love each other?!" that I would like to have processed when I was a kid!

Not to mention all the fucked up messages I absorbed about love and relationships.

Just...divorce really is the best option for the kids sometimes.

fondue with cheddar

@When robot unicorns attack Wearing braces and going to middle school are two of the most awful experiences of childhood. How cruel that the two often happen simultaneously.

WaityKatie

@Alli525 Super late on this but chiming in as someone whose parents probably would have been better off divorcing. They threatened it constantly throughout my life but never went through with it. Constant fighting, discord, and stress in the house created a very unstable environment for me, and instilled in me a lifetime fear/hatred of the very idea of marriage. Marriage = a prison in my mind. Staying married isn't always the right solution for everyone!

The Lady of Shalott

LW#1: No. Just....no.

Norrey

@The Lady of Shalott There is so much wrong there...just...so much.

JessicaLovejoy

LW1 is going to catch a lot of shit, but it still sets my teeth on edge that she should "reconsider" what successful is. It just sounds like more pandering to men and their tender fee-fees.

Judith Slutler

@JessicaLovejoy Eff a late-capitalist definition of "success" that is all about ladder climbing and professional ambition, though?

JessicaLovejoy

@Emmanuelle Cunt Sure, but MD is only guessing at what her definition is.

parallel-lines

@JessicaLovejoy It sounds like she doesn't think anyone is good enough for her. I mean, she really can't find ANYONE ANYWHERE who is successful to her liking? Not successful in the way she deems they need to be to be in her ever-so-gracious presence? It sounds like she has a lot of rules and get hissy when no one can live up to her standards.

C_Webb

@JessicaLovejoy If we replace it with "rich," which is what she clearly means, since she gives no other descriptor whatsoever, would you feel better?

Emby

@parallel-lines The answer is that LW1 lives in Podunksville, WY, and there are only three men in town. Roy's the barber, and he's got him a nice shop and always pays all the bills, but he's married to Pamela and they're stuck to one another.

Billy-Ray, he owns the bait shop up on Jefferson Ave, and he's done all right for hisself, too, but he's got Jerlene and the kids and what. He told LW1, though, that he'd take to a few "business trips" now and again, though, if she knew what he meant, and she did.

Orwell, now, he's available and all, but he just works down at the library and kind of sits there all quiet like, doesn't say much. Kind of squirrely, you know? And besides, he's only a year or two older than LW1 and she likes a man who knows what he's doing.

So she's stuck, you see.

C_Webb

@parallel-lines I am probably projecting now, but she sounds like the sort of woman who doesn't have too many female friends, because if she did, they would have either answered this question for her already, or knocked her down a few pegs to join the rest of us in the real world.

piekin

@C_Webb She just gets along with guys better, y'know?

ponymalta

@JessicaLovejoy It's suspicious when anyone dismisses a huge swath of people with a weird, blanket statement ("Every man I know besides older, married ones aren't successful enough for me"), especially when that statement is used as a supporting argument in something icky, like banging married people.

C_Webb

@piekin Women just don't seem to understand/enable her narcissism or her inexplicable sense of entitlement.

ironhoneybee

@piekin What do you expect? She's so leggy all her female "friends" are jealous.

ColdFinger

@JessicaLovejoy I'm with you. Why can't she just want what she wants, even if she makes some misguided comments there? (Not that sleeping with married dudes is the way to get it, if she's looking for a stable, long-term relationship.)

werewolfbarmitzvah

@JessicaLovejoy If her definition of successful is "a man with a fulltime job," then she might have my support. However, I sense that her definition of successful involves a whoooooooole lot more bells and whistles than that.

leonstj

@JessicaLovejoy - Also, can we address the fact that LW1 starts out discussing "Not being able to find anyone seriously..."

And then she's all like, "SOOO How about I just bang some married guys?"

Like, I don't really get how banging a married dude resolves that initial issue? Unless maybe she enjoys having serious relationships with philanderers?

But if all she is looking for is some bang-age while she waits to find her mythical unicorn dude, why not just bang some hot but irresponsible artist/musician/whatever, and then be JUST FRIENDS w/ the married, serious dudes (And their Wives)? In my experience as a hard-working & responsible not too old single guy, NOBODY loves finding two hard-working grown-up but somehow single people and making them the ONLY TWO SINGLE PEOPLE at a dinner party like other married responsible couples.

sophia_h

@JessicaLovejoy I was thinking about this, because giving her the benefit of the doubt that she's not just gold-digging, I have to assume successful guys act differently than those who are in McJobs, and that has a lot to do with how much value society places on men having material success. Guys who don't do as well feel bad about themselves and project that, so I sort of see where she's coming from. However, given that women are moving more and more into the upper echelons in the working world, as a society we're going to have to figure out how men can define "success" in other ways without becoming that petulant slacker guy.

Speaking of cake, I have cake

@JessicaLovejoy Bit of a segue here, but I'm interested in how the dominant narrative assumes the male is always the unambitious slacker who wants to prolong adolescence indefinitely, while the female is always the sensible one working two jobs to pay for grad school etc. I have two main thoughts: 1. Lots of women, including myself, are lazy immature slackers who don't want to engage with the 'real world' and 2. The emotional, psychological and spiritual cost of embracing neoliberal capitalism - which you have to do in order to have a career in the modern West - are so great it can be understood if not always justified why so many of both genders opt out and slack off

vunder

@JessicaLovejoy I don't agree. I think it's just a woman's version of being fucking shallow.

RikaConfesses

@JessicaLovejoy I was going to say something similar to @leon s ...
The logic is something like this..

IF she believes unsuccessful men are inappropriate to date because their lifestyles and values wouldn't be compatible with hers in long term/serious relationships, THEN married successful guys are also inappropriate because they can't fully commit to another long term, serious relationship. She wouldn't get what she wants either way, so of the two, it'd be better to kill time with single, less successful guys, because its less likely to have repercussions which could actually wind up impeding her career..

But, IF unsuccessful guys are inappropriate because only success is sexy, THEN there should be some divorced or widowed successful guys out there. They may be much older, but their success and/or money makes them sexy still.

Hellcat

@leon s YES! I got lost on that too! Like, OK, you probably are not going to get a "real" relationship from a married guy--just the sex part of one. So, if you're willing to settle for a sex-only thing, who cares if he doesn't meet the definition of "successful."

Then again, this type of logic might be beyond me; while "leggy" in a technical sense (as in my top half looks oddly short next to them), perhaps I am not as successful as I thought considering that I do not have this type of problem, and am 99.99% positive I'd leave a married man alone no matter what. (Ugh, that sounded bitchier than I meant it to.)

paddlepickle

@JessicaLovejoy Eh, she definitely means "rich" when she says success, because there is not actually a dearth of successful men in their 20s if rich isn't what you mean. I'm attracted to smart, interesting people who are doing cool shit with their lives and doing it well- there's no age I've seen where there or more or less of that type of person. It sounds like what she likes is rich, cheating douchebags.

Danzig!

@parallel-lines Yeah I think anybody who seems to have SO MUCH TROUBLE finding anyone they feel is a suitable partner should at least examine their standards (not necessarily to discard them, mind). The way the letter is written it sounds like she's taken her standards and externalized them such that the problem lies with other people. There's a pretty important difference between "I can't seem to find anyone suitable" and "none of these scrubs are suitable for me", imo

leonstj

@Danzig! - To be fair though, who wants a guy hangin' out the side of his best friend's ride trying to holler at them?

PoBoyNation

@leon s Also known as a buster.

Angelena@twitter

@Speaking of cake, I have cake fucking love what you said and your username. might go to the grocery store and make cupcakes like now

HoliandIvy

@JessicaLovejoy
LW1 wants to be shallow?
Fine, now I'll be shallow.
'Successful' men tend to have a very shallwesay narrow view of what constitutes the sort of women that belong on their collective arm.
LW1 just isn't conventionally hot enough for the guys that she thinks she deserves.
She's getting the nibbles from the marrieds, because they are cheating jerks who just want an affair with someone younger.
They wouldn't settle for her if they were single either.

BAM. ALL EXPLAINED.

squishycat

@paddlepickle Fuck, if she looked around where I live, she could easily find men in their twenties who are rich-or-on-their-way-to-rich kind of successful, provided she's cool with dating computer nerds (though given that the tech sector is the cool field these days, the pool of "computer nerds" is pretty broad and it's not precisely difficult to meet people who have interests outside of "computers"). But they're probably not going to date her, either (we nerds have learned social skills, you see, and know when someone is shallow and status-obsessed).

Judith Slutler

LW1 - don't you know any of these men's wives? Have you gotten to know them as anything else than the people standing between you and their husbands?

Maybe if you could take these women a little more seriously, you would 1. reevaluate whether their husbands are people you necessarily want to be friends with (yes even if these men are "good at what they do") and 2. perhaps gain a few insights into happy partnerships that are not all about both partners having achieved a high level of individual personal and professional success.

laserbeams

@Emmanuelle Cunt Not sure about 2 - how happy are these partnerships where the men are flat-out asking other women for sex?

Judith Slutler

@laserbeams It might be overly optimistic I know!

City_Dater

@laserbeams

A lot of married guys are flirty and confident and fun BECAUSE they have a wife. Chatting up has NO STAKES for them, and no matter how far the talk goes, it doesn't necessarily mean the guy is hoping to start an affair. I'm guessing LW#1 thinks she's getting seriously hit on left and right because she has a very high opinion of herself, and doesn't seem to waste a lot of energy thinking about other people and their desires and motivations.

Judith Slutler

@City_Dater Yeah this too. "Friendly" often looks exactly like "flirty" especially in the constellation she mentions - younger hetero woman who is friends with a confident older hetero man. Not that all of the guys she hangs out with are fidelitious, loyal gentlemen who adore their wives and just flirt with her for fun, but I know how that sometimes goes - and I know how quickly a young woman's illusions of being irresistable can disappear, once we get to know Older Attractive Guy's Older Attractive Wife.

PatatasBravas

@Emmanuelle Cunt Also, if she gets to know their wives and isn't a total asshat around the couples, then I strongly suspect those wives and those flirtatious husbands will be about 10000% more likely to set her up with the hot 'successful' divorcees who are ten years older than her that they know.

fabel

@City_Dater Yes. Yes. Yes. This is the vibe I'm getting, also. Someone who can't tell the difference between "harmless flirting" & "serious sex proposition", and so believes the right follow-up question to ask herself is "should I or should I not hop on this married dude's dick?"

itiresias

@City_Dater This comment made me picture how much better at flirting with strangers my boyfriend would be if he had a wife. (because he's pretty bad, now.)

RK Fire

@City_Dater To flip this around, I know that I'm more comfortable talking to strangers at parties and the like because I know that there's no stakes or possibility that anyone can confuse my intentions because I'm married. However, I may reconsider this because judging form LW1, it seems people get confused anyways.

Alli525

@PatatasBravas Exactly, not to mention that LW1's attitude is probably not one that lends itself to a lot of female friendships - and females are more likely to set their girlfriends up with quality men (more so than dudes, I guess, who in my experience have responded to "so, do you have any single guy friends" with a shrug and pointing at the nearest human male). If you're friends with a married dude, wouldn't it make sense to be cool with his wife??

P.S. Please don't hate me

So, taking LW#1's inquiry perhaps more seriously than it deserves, how is it not possible to find married men whose wives don't mind if you date/sleep with them? Unless I'm missing something, LW#1 doesn't say her goal is landing a husband.

KatnotCat

@P.S. Please don't hate me

This only makes the letter more baffling. If she isn't looking for a long-term prospect or serious relationship--and if she's scoping out multiple married men, she's a fool to think that's what's going to happen--then why can't she be "attracted" to men at different thresholds of success?

She says she can't find a serious relationship prospect in the first paragraph, but thinks that going "on a tear" of married men is going to provide that?

Honestly--I think we may have all been had by this ridiculous letter.

P.S. Please don't hate me

@KatnotCat
I think you put your finger on it: it is unclear what the writer truly wants, perhaps (again, taking the inquiry seriously here) even to herself.

Ellie

I start typing out questions to advice columns ALL THE TIME and then stop writing them when I realize I don't have a real question and really I just feel like talking about myself and hoping it gets published.

I did have a question in here once though ("Do guys like it when you wear their shirt when you sleep over or are they just being polite?") so I should be content with my current level of Hairpin advice column fame.

M'fly

@Ellie STORY OF MY LIFE. I write (and then don't send) letters to Captain Awkward like some people talk to their therapists. And I have a therapist (3 actually), I just like this way.

sophia_h

LW1, are you looking for a relationship or hookup partners? Because at the beginning, it sounded like you were understandably frustrated with the dating scene and finding a potential boyfriend/husband/partner, but then you want to know if sleeping with the married guys you find hot is wrong. If it's just sex, I am sure there are other, more-available guys you could find to sleep with, but if you're talking about relationships, well...it seems like those 10-years-older guys maybe got married a while ago, when they weren't so successful? And so some of their wives were kind of taking a gamble on them being successful in 10 years?

So it definitely seems like there are deeper issues at play here, ie are you wanting to just cut to the chase and have an already-successful partner who's also attractive, which is going to mean a pretty small number of them are still available at this point, or is the issue that you're attracted to guys who can't be yours completely, ie married and unavailable? That seems like a more pressing question than whether you should do something you already know you're not comfortable with, given that you asked an advice columnist about it. (As a former advice letter writer myself who was once ripped to shreds by the commenters on another site, I'm very aware that letters writers pretty much already know the answer, if they have to ask.)

City_Dater

@sophia_h

I think you called it here... Or maybe LW#1 is just an unkind, shallow sort of person who needs someone to explain to her that other people are not just holograms drifting through her World.

Lulu22

@sophia_h Thank you for the thoughtful reply. All the attacking here is a little stomach-turning.

Lu2
Lu2

"You might suggest that nighttime rewards await fresh-smelling men."
Ugh, again with this stuff.

I mean, presumably she's not as attracted to him when he smells bad, but that's not a BARGAINING CHIP. Jeez. He smells bad all the time, and who wants to be around that? If he won't change for her comfort without the promise of sex being either granted or withheld, then that's the problem---it's not that it's up to her to come up with the right incentive, as if he's a dog learning a trick.

gobblegirl

@Lu2 I think this criticism is unwarranted this time, as the LW herself brought up that when he's stinky, she wants to stay on the far side of the bed.

Lu2
Lu2

@gobblegirl But she's not asking him to put deodorant on right before bed only, right?

yeah-elle

@Lu2 I agree with you on this. Of course smelling nice will mean a greater likelihood of physical intimacy. He should be able to figure that out on his own. She doesn't need to tell him, so he can turn around and say (or even just think), "I performed basic hygiene! Didn't you imply a WINK WINK reward?"

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle It doesn't have to be that way, though. I had a conversation with my last boyfriend about some of his habits and told him that they were a turn-off. He understood where I was coming from and changed his habits, and he didn't expect sex as a reward for doing it.

katiemcgillicuddy

Hey LW1, I bet you've lived internationally, haven't you, you special little snowflake.

alannaofdoom

@katiemcgillicuddy - You forgot "leggy". A special leggy snowflake.

PatatasBravas

@katiemcgillicuddy She proposes dates involving bourbon and The Big Lebowski.

PatatasBravas

@PatatasBravas I forgot to add that she's a double Ivy!!!

katiemcgillicuddy

@alannaofdoom I'm sorry, you're right, where is my brain today. She's probably just a special leggy little snowflake looking for a, let's see here...a "professional" man who has a "swimmer's build" who "just got back from two weeks photographing wildlife in Botswana, and who is off to the Congo this winter". And if he's married, well, we ladies can't have it all, amirite!?

RK Fire

@PatatasBravas I'm glad you threw that in there because I was starting to think that I was reading a Harvard Magazine personals ad.

You forgot to add that she also loves vacationing in the Hamptons AND Paris.

PatatasBravas

@RK Fire The Venn Diagram of "lithe" and "philanthropy executive" has a very slender overlap, but she's gunning for it!

RK Fire

@PatatasBravas It is very hard to feel at home at both a Manhattan soiree and a BBQ, but some women can do it all!

[I'm so sad I missed that post when it was still fresh, but I'm so glad someone wrote about those personal ads.]

Megasus

@katiemcgillicuddy omg this is basically the description of the lead character from the Da Vinci Code books, whose name I have blocked from my memory forever.

ColdFinger

@PatatasBravas Wait, wait, wait. Are The Big Lebowski and bourbon bad???

cynicalsunshine

@katiemcgillicuddy She definitely enjoys local AND European museums!

parallel-lines

@katiemcgillicuddy You know, breaking up a marriage just reads so BADLY in your New York Times wedding announcement. It's like, people see that before they see that your father is a managing director for Solomon Brothers. UGH!

area@twitter

@PatatasBravas I'm so glad someone brought up Double Ivy.

RK Fire

@parallel-lines Hahaha, now I'm just remembering the wedding announcement where the couple met each other at their kids' school and then had an affair behind their partners' back. Good times!

SuperGogo

@ColdFinger They are if they're your evidence of why you just can't relate to all those silly girly-girls and all the boys just don't appreciate your special snowflakeness, per this 2011 Ask a Dude:
http://thehairpin.com/2011/06/exhausting-women-sexual-latecomers-and-peck-peck-peck-dart-out

SBGBlogs

@ColdFinger No no no! The Big Lebowski and bourbon are fine! we're referring to this special snowflake: http://thehairpin.com/2011/06/exhausting-women-sexual-latecomers-and-peck-peck-peck-dart-out

ColdFinger

@SBGBlogs, @SuperGogo
Ohhh! Ok. Got it, thanks. I'm in the minority here in that I kind of get where the LW is coming from (though shortage of available ambitious/established/whatever men does not equal, "sure, just go ahead and bang some married dudes!" to me) - but the bourbon/Big Lebowski comment got me really worried. Whew!

piekin

@SBGBlogs Oh man, that really was a doozy. Thanks for the memriez!

Hellcat

@SBGBlogs Haha! I don't know why I'm gonna read it again... but I am!

PatatasBravas

@Hellcat You're gonna read it for the "ham spatula" and "panty hamster" I hope.

Hellcat

@PatatasBravas Oy, those terms. I am laughing, yet horrified!

Hellcat

@Hellcat Ugh, I can't with that letter! I'm so thrown by the gin and beer part! Those are my, and a few of my female friends', go-tos! I am not much for the brown liquors, but the friends I just mentioned are, and I never thought of these things as atypical for girls! Gin? Really? Really?

P.S. Please don't hate me

"Well time makes you oooolder, even stink's getting boooolder"

PatatasBravas

@P.S. Please don't hate me I started singing this toooooooo. It made me love the LW a little bit.

PatatasBravas

With regards to the dog-maternity-urges jokes:

It might be worth asking your boyfriend to tell his dad that the joke is old, and that it annoys him. It's your bf's job to manage his family. And seeing as his dad's 70, it shouldn't be that big a deal for your bf to throw an arm around his dad's shoulder and say, "Hey, dad, don't you think that joke should be in retirement by now? It's been getting on my nerves and I know you've got better jokes/puns/insightful comments up your sleeves."

Also I would second having your bf let his family know, as you let your family know, about the intended kidlessness. Your family is complete when you say it's complete, and talking about it like that may quiet some of the long-term commentary from your people.

iceberg

@PatatasBravas YES it's the BF's dad, HE is the one that needs to take his dad aside and be like "UGH Dad no."

chevyvan

@PatatasBravas Well, it sounded like from the letter, the dad was being totally serious every time he said it, so it sounds like an eye-roll and a "wah-waaaahhh" won't cut it. Still I think she should eye-roll behind his back and just accept the fact that he's not going to stop saying it. Pick your battles. The intent is not malicious. Or just play into it and say, "Well, Dad, these are the only grand-kids you're ever going to get so enjoy them."

PatatasBravas

@chevyvan If the bf labeled it as a joke, it would give his dad a little wiggle room to pretend he had social graces and was ~joking, you guyssss~ but I think you're right that this is serious to the dad.

If he says that, then the bf can open a serious discussion about the no-kids future.

But this is all on the bf and his relationship with his dad. He can improv the way he sees fit!

yeah-elle

Regarding the advice given to LW2: I really hate the "improve on this, sexytimes may await" leverage approach. Even when it's totally true (ie those who do not stink will get more physical contact), I think it's awful as a problem-solving technique.

Regarding the advice given to LW3: Maybe it's because I am young and raw and probably (totally) the kind of person to whom people exasperatedly say, "yeah-elle, PICK YOUR BATTLES," but I do not like a dude telling a lady, "this is offensive to you as a lady, but you know, maybe let it slide?" LW3, if (when) your father-in-law makes this (totally sexist) statement again, I'd shut it down with a simple NOPE. You know, like, "I love my dogs, it's true. But my care for them isn't particularly maternal." If he pushes, you can be like, WHY, BECAUSE I HAVE A UTERUS?

Ragged But Right

@yeah-elle You know what? I agree with you here. I have a friend who never wanted kids, and her parents-in-law joked about maternal instincts all the time, and her husband kept quiet, and it SUCKED and eventually tore them apart a bit. You have to make a kid/no kid choice together usually, and you should back each other up! It's just a little Steinemish everyday act of resistance, surely, to be clear that some women really don't have maternal instincts? You don't have to be a dick about it, but yeah.

Quinn A@twitter

@yeah-elle Yeah, I'm a little uncomfortable with "sure, it might be sexist, but come on, it's not that big a deal, why make waves?" as a problem-solving approach. I mean, A Married Dude might be right that the LW shouldn't bring it up unless she knows how to articulate the problem clearly, but I don't like the idea of telling oppressed people to shrug off oppression to keep the peace.

Also, I don't like "enh, he's old, he's not going to change" as a reason not to call people out on things. YOU DO NOT LOSE THE ABILITY TO LEARN THINGS AFTER AGE 50. Unless he's got severe dementia or something, it's not unreasonable to ask him to respect a tiny boundary of yours.

area@twitter

@yeah-elle I had someone just yesterday tell me to ignore someone being a harassing sexist, because "he's just being a troll". Really drove home that idea that if you're marginalized, you're somehow aren't allowed to react because "that means they win". No. It means someone gets away with treating me like crap because of who I am, and I can't react to defend myself. Fuck that noise. ETA: This might be intro-level stuff here. It struck me particularly yesterday because I used to believe in not reacting, for basically the reasons quoted at me.

yeah-elle

@area@twitter Yes yes yes. Especially since the oppressed (and this definitely rings true for women as the oppressed) are so often socialized to be complacent, to be polite, to be timid, to smile and let things slide, to be submissive, etc. HELL NO. I realize it's often a lose/lose (they win if they see you react, they win if you don't react) but at least if I say my piece, I've said my piece, and they've had to deal with me being loud and angry. Some people seem to find this so exhausting to deal with. I'm not sorry, it's way more exhausting for me to keep my mouth shut.

area@twitter

@yeah-elle Yes. All of this. I hated conflict growing up- made me run and hide. Lo and behold, you can disagree with someone and not feel like you're a terrible person! Thanks, therapy! Sometimes I'll decide it's not worth the fight, sometimes I'll go in a-blazing. But I'm always the one making the decision.

yeah-elle

@area@twitter Yes, this is something I've also just come around to over the past few years, to the displeasure of those near and dear to me, as I've "suddenly" become much more difficult to deal with. I used to believe it was better to swallow frogs than ruin an afternoon. It took me a while to realize that the end result was always the same: I was unhappy and whoever offended me continued along happily. I don't know why I was so eager to preserve relationships with people who clearly didn't respect me.

I've never been a big fan of conflict, but I've always been willing to stand up for my opinions and beliefs, and it took me a while to realize that my silence when confronted with sexist bullshit was an outlier, and that I'd internalized a lot of misogyny and felt like it was my place to simply stay quiet and let men say and do horrible things.

theotherginger

@yeah-elle yes. yes. yes. i had to comment to say that.

alannaofdoom

LW1, I just want to you re-read your letter a couple of times and really let it sink in, because honestly.

Emby

LW1, I think you, like the Nice Guys of OK Cupid, need to have yourself a little think about the difference between what you want and what you think you deserve. You seem to think the first necessarily implies the second; that you want talented, successful men about 10 years older than you (preferably single!), and that also you deserve such men. But if one of those preferences has to drop, it might as well be singleness.

But here's the deal, and it's true for you as much as it's true for the NGoOKC: It's a supply-and-demand problem. If you find that none of the single, successful men to whom you're attracted are attracted back to you, then that's on you. It's not an excuse to act shitty because you didn't get your way.

parallel-lines

@Emby This is an excellent point.

Judith Slutler

@Emby EXACTLY. Nobody on earth is entitled to a relationship.

queenofbithynia

@Emby also...the idea that there are no men her age who can live up to her demanding metrics is purest garbage. The problem is that young successful personable single men in their 20s/early 30s have all the options and don't need to waste time on her -- her youth has no special cachet for them since they have plenty of youth of their own. An old man says, hey, you're cute but you're materialistic and obnoxious, and she can say, sure, but I'm younger than you! and he may say, hmmm. A man your own age, you have no leverage on, you just have to get him on your own individual merits.

empathicalist

@Emby The only part of this that makes me sad...the LW is a Hairpin reader, and still thinks this way.

queenofbithynia

@queenofbithynia shit wait a minute

here is the thing, ok

WHAT field or profession is LW1 in that is female dominated at upper management levels, hires and promotes young women through the ranks at a fast pace, BANG BANG BANG, sidetracks ineffectual young men into dead-end support roles, and old-girl's-clubs all the prize work to the women, so that all around you are RICH SUCCESSFUL young women whose male peers are few in number and pitifully underperforming in income and recognition?

AND PAYS A LOT OF MONEY?

I need to go work in that field, right now. I suspect it is in reverse-sexist imaginationland. but who can say?

PatatasBravas

@queenofbithynia I ALSO WANT IN TO THE OLD GIRL'S CLUB which I imagine being run by Evil!Leslie Knope

jule_b_sorry

@PatatasBravas Why is "EvilLeslieKnope" not my username already? Some 'pinner is missing a great opportunity to de-lurk with this username...

queenofbithynia

@PatatasBravas to be fair I actually worked in such an imaginationland one time, all except the highly-paid and rich rich rich parts. Every upper-level, well-connected person a woman -- every person a woman, period, all except for the long-suffering and not very competent secretary, who was a guy. I think even most of the board members were women although I never saw them. But this magic moon-land was the nonprofit world of Abortions-'R-Us [1] and I took home a grand intern total of $500 per month and even the president and vice president were probably not **successful** enough to warrant LW1's attraction or respect.

[1]not its real name

PatatasBravas

@queenofbithynia I want at least six figures a year for being the CEO of the Abortionplex, with the lazy river and the movie theaters and everything.

RK Fire

@PatatasBravas: Seriously though, I would think that the Head of Abortions R Us should be able to pull in a six digit salary, even if it's on the low end. I always thought that was the standard in the world of Large Non-Profit Entities.

Also, perhaps because I am a terrible person, I am imagining children singing "I don't want to grow up, I'm an Abortions-'R-Us kid.."

Daisy Razor

@PatatasBravas Oh man, "CEO of the Abortionplex" also needs to be someone's username. You're on fire today, Brave Potatoes.

queenofbithynia

@RK Fire oh I guess it's possible she did, although I feel like even that is maybe not successful enough for the success-oriented. in my office there was only the state affiliate's executive director, not the president of the whole shebang, and I don't know exactly what she did get paid in other than the privilege of bellowing at the governor all the time.

Evil Leslie Knope

@jule_b_sorry I did it. I had to do it. I took your idea because I needed to de-lurk and it was like "This. This is when you de-lurk."

I'm probably not evil enough for this username though (not into married men).

Mike_B

@queenofbithynia that actually sounds kind of like where I work, but we're not really hiring right now :(

skyslang

@queenofbithynia Fashion.

katiemcgillicuddy

LW2, but EVERYONE wants to be a Mommy!! How can you be so silly! Because also, FYI, you're being so selfish to the children that you don't actually have because, sure. To recap, not having kids is selfish, so I have been told recently.

/I apologize if everything I say today is sarcastic and snippy, but that just seems like how I'm going to play the game today.

KeLynn

@katiemcgillicuddy I'm still trying to work past the assumption of "KeLynn doesn't want to have kids, so she HATES ALL BABIES AND IS A TERRIBLE WOMAN."

katiemcgillicuddy

@KeLynn BUT WHY, WHY DO YOU HATE ALL THE BABIES?? WHY ARE YOU BEING SUCH A MAN??

PatatasBravas

@katiemcgillicuddy Haha for real. Yes, the 70 year old man in question is offering sexist commentary. No surprise there!

I found that Melissa McEwan had some good borderline-anthemic columns on why kids aren't necessary to happiness, if people want to throw their hands up in the air and cheer as they read along.

Feminist anthems aside, though, it's been useful for me to have three stock answers to people's kids questions and just rotate through them using PPM's relentlessly cheerful, icily polite! methodology.

Oh, squiggles

@katiemcgillicuddy Someone said that not having kids is selfish? Weird. My friend likes to ask people to come up with a completely non-selfish reason to have kids, and I've never heard him get a good response. Having kids IS selfish. Not selfish in a bad way, but self-serving, like most of the things we (humans, all living creatures) do.

Having kids is such a personal decision. And judging people for that decision is one step on the road to Doucheville, Population: Ever Increasing.

katiemcgillicuddy

@Absurd Bird The idea is that you only want to live for you/your spouse. "How dare you afford nice vacations! How dare you buy that sweet house! You couldn't afford it if you had children like me, oh I liiiiive for my children/look at me look at me look at me!"

Oh, squiggles

@katiemcgillicuddy Ah yes. Sound like the same people that like to put parenthood on the same level as sainthood. Ugh.

iceberg

@katiemcgillicuddy being a parent is the hardest and arguably one of the most fucking important things i've ever done, and I really wanted to do it. i can't imagine what on earth would possess someone to say that you ought to do it if even the tiniest part of you thinks that maybe you might not want to, let alone if you're absolutely confident about not wanting to.

iceberg

@iceberg nd by important I mean because parenting someone is a high stakes gig, you are shaping that person's brain and the course of their life with prettyy much every word and action.

katiemcgillicuddy

@iceberg You are absolutely right on all points.

PatatasBravas

@katiemcgillicuddy Don't even worry about being sarcastic, your comments have surely been balanced by my Pollyanna moment directly below this thread.

Also I am enjoying your sarcasm very much!

katiemcgillicuddy

@PatatasBravas Ha, thanks. I just, some days I just can't handle, you know, humans. Also, I liked your advice very much.

Better to Eat You With

@katiemcgillicuddy I've been told the "selfish" bullshit many times. My one bright spot: So has my husband.

Hellcat

@katiemcgillicuddy AAAAHHHH! Someone said the exact same thing to me once! I think I was angrier at the nonsensical idea of being selfish to a hypothetical thing than I was at the sexist notion, to be honest. And, oddly enough, when I asked this person if I was selfish by not adopting an already-in-existence child, he said no.

katiemcgillicuddy

@Hellcat And you know what? I am not surprised about the adoption thing. People are such fucking jackasses. Alright then! Off to go be my selfish self and continue not having any children in my fancy mansion made of solid gold bars that, obviously, I enslaved children to build for me!

RK Fire

@katiemcgillicuddy Their small fingers actually do make them a natural fit for building such things.

hands_down

@iceberg This! Since I'm always reading about lame parents who pressure their friends to become parents, I propose a vocal counter-group of parents who honestly don't care if their friends never have kids.

katiemcgillicuddy

@RK Fire You really should see the lacquered wood trim moldings in the Blue Room, they're exquisite, really. And the stone fountain in the East Wing is really beautifully detailed. The limestone clock that adorns the North Tower leaves something to be desired, but I mean, that's what I get for appointing the 2nd graders to it, we all know what kind of work ethic THEY have!

Ophelia

@hands_down Seriously. I'm planning to latch onto those friends for dear life, because they will play with me and do adult things.

PatatasBravas

Also I'm just going to try to give LW 1 one piece of positive advice: since you wrote I like to be around people who are good at what they want to do and you seem very frustrated about finding good people to date, perhaps try looking for people who are good at stuff that you have previously known nothing about.

They don't have to be legal eagles or CFOs, you know? Maybe try looking for people who are really really good at literary criticism, or really really good at being a travel agent, or really really good at being a vet tech, or really really good at being a Big Brother/Big Sister.

Everyone's got at least one interest at which they are better than you, and that can be an opportunity for you to learn from/be impressed by/be turned on by their successes.

(Please reconsider your criteria for success, do not reconsider your criteria for available.)

Norrey

LW4 - Get help. Professional help, from a reputable couples therapist if you can afford it. And if you can't, ask around. If you're open about your ability to pay from the start there are a lot of counselors who will work on a sliding scale, or a payment plan, or even some (a little) pro bono work. Even if what you need is break up counseling, still look; you have a lot of things to work out, especially with the kids. Good luck, I wish you the best through what sounds like a difficult situation.

Tuna Surprise

LW1: I'm struck by something you said in your letter:

The people who've achieved the kind of success I find attractive ... are usually older than me, by about 10 years.

Unless you're born rich or are one of the few talented ones that hit it early (Lena Dunham, Mark Zuckerberg), success takes time. You can see the pattern (successful = older) but you are unable to extrapolate from it (younger people = pre-successful (hopefully)). This makes me think that you're not interested in meeting younger suitors who have the potential to make it big, but you're really after money. Which is fine. But call a spade a spade. If you really want money, you need to realize that most rich guys are married and most are willing to fuck around. So have at it. But just don't pretend it's something else.

Quinn A@twitter

@Tuna Surprise Good job cutting through the bullshit on that one! I asked myself why she didn't go after smart, ambitious young guys like so many other women do, but somehow never had it click that yes, obviously she just wants access to some dude's money right this minute.

Bittersweet

@Tuna Surprise It's also too bad that for LW1, "successful" means "rich." I know plenty of people who are successful in that they have challenging careers, a nice place to live, lots of good friends, and diverse interests outside of work but who are in no way rich. One of them is my husband, who is a very successful teacher but who makes half of what I make in salary. My life would be a whole lot poorer if I'd gone for wealthy consultant/finance dude instead.

sophia_h

@Tuna Surprise Yeah, that's sort of the line my brain was going down. If all the successful people are older, you're going to have to find a guy who's just boarding the success train. I don't know what she does for a living, but usually you find that kind of partner in the same place you are also looking for success -- law school, business school, the firm or hospital you're working at, etc. Though I do remember in law school it seemed like all the guys I'd have been interested in were married or gay, so this might harken back to the generational problem she mentioned at the beginning. But still, go to professional networking events or something!

Ophelia

@Bittersweet Good answer. And frankly, @Tuna Surprise is right. I met, dated, and married my husband when he was a grad student BECAUSE I REALLY LIKED HIM. He's now a lawyer (which is good, because Holy Student Loans, Batman), which I suppose meets LW1's definition of success, but I certainly don't expect him to stay at a big firm forever just so we can be rich (I work in an industry that pays fine, but will never approach that type of salary).

packedsuitcase

@Tuna Surprise Yep. Dudefriend does not make a lot of money, and his industry isn't exactly high-paying, but he's amazing at what he does and has big dreams. But big dreams take time, and being there for the ride and the struggle to reach those is really exciting to me. (Partly because he's that way about my dreams.) Success rarely happens quickly, and I would definitely suggest LW1 open up to the "pre-successful" crowd.

Dirty Hands

@Bittersweet

Just referring everyone here back to 'Euphemisms for "Rich" and "Thin"' article:

http://thehairpin.com/2012/12/euphemisms-for-rich-and-thin-in-the-personals-section-of-the-latest-issue-of-harvard-magazine#more

fabel

Just coming on here to say I loved this A Dude. He KILLED IT

Porn Peddler

LW1, have you met a guy named Bob recently?

P.S. Please don't hate me

@Porn Peddler
Glad to see others remember that sparkling jewel!

Oh, squiggles

@Porn Peddler At least LW1 doesn't have an Eli to walk all over.

Porn Peddler

@P.S. Please don't hate me HAHAHAHAHA YOUR NAME.

P.S. Please don't hate me

@Porn Peddler
It was my birthplace!

smidge

@P.S. Please don't hate me Oh man, I think we should have a Yearly Reading of the Ballad of Bob and Eli

RK Fire

@smidge NEVER FORGET

fondue with cheddar

@smidge I think Garfunkel and Oates should write a song.

meetapossum

@smidge I always revisit Bob and Eli! The comments are a goldmine.

purefog

@meetapossum I just went back for a refresher course. The all-time meta Hairpin letter-and-comments lovefest.

garli

Does anyone who writes to advice columns looking for permission (or support) to cheat ever really expect to find it? is it too idealistic to hope that they're looking for some one to tell them no.

Like when I ask my friends to remove that plate of cookies/cheese that I can't stop stuffing my face with?

P.S. Please don't hate me

@garli
Try thinking of the cookies' wives!

Judith Slutler

@P.S. Please don't hate me I am definitely going to think of the cookies' wives from now on.

garli

@P.S. Please don't hate me Are the cookies' wives also delicious cookies? They can be together on the plate, or in my digestive tract.

datalass

@P.S. Please don't hate me From now on, I'm only eating cookies in pairs. The thought of leaving cookie widows will have me weeping like Linda Radlett.

iceberg

@datalass CookieWidow - another excellent username opprtunity!

P.S. Please don't hate me

@datalass
What about the cookie orphans, then? (I'm assuming that you wouldn't be eating selfish, childless cookies.)

Better eat them all, just to be safe.

datalass

@P.S. Please don't hate me Good catch! I suppose I'll have to eat 5.5 cookies per cookie-eating occasion. (The 2 spouse cookies plus their 2.5 children.) To be extra safe, I will continue to eat raw cookie dough, i.e., cookie fetii.

BoozinSusan

@datalass I love that since everyone was replying to "P.S. Please don't have me" it looked like the preface to every statement was, "Please don't hate me."
As in, (in a guilty/hopefuly voice), "Please don't hate me! I'll think of the cookies' wives from now on!"

Danzig!

Has use of the term "pensioner" outed this dude as European??? More at 11

wee_ramekin

@Danzig! I feel like he's definitely a professor. He mentions working with young men who will be millionaires and who will die alone and poor in gutters. Total professor.

Nicole Cliffe

LW#1 needs to listen to the entire back catalogue of Ms Loretta Lynn before she goes any further down this path.

I mean, so should we all.

City_Dater

@Nicole Cliffe

I for one hope that someone takes her to Fist City real soon, y'all.

C_Webb

@Nicole Cliffe:
"No I didn’t come to fight
If he was a better man I might
But I wouldn’t dirty my hands on trash like you"

cinnamonskin

@Nicole Cliffe I just read "Coal Miner's Daughter" and I want LL to adopt me and teach me new chords on the guitar while we drink sweet tea. She's like the emblem of self-determination.

Nicole Cliffe

@City_Dater JUST AS CAUTIONARY TALES about the dangers of marrieds.. But I admire your Lynn recall. Of course, Doo was kind of a juicebox, so who knows.

katiemcgillicuddy

God, seriously, LW1, you make me so mad I just wanted to say it one more time.

Citizen Cunt

#3 - it sounds like there's something else behind this than just standard sexism. That's definitely also a part of it though. But he wouldn't keep bringing it up over and over if there wasn't some other thought behind it. Maybe he's sad b/c of no grandkids? I don't know. I think it's worth it to bring it up at an opportune moment, like when he has just said it. Just ask a question and see if you can get at him not from the standpoint of WHY ARE YOU BEING SO HATEFUL WHY CAN'T YOU RESPECT ME AS A HUMAN (which is a legitimate standpoint) but instead asking out of curiosity. Wow I think that's like the 10th time I have heard that, what's up with that? or Were you hoping to have grandkids by now? I don't know him or your relationship but if it bothers you that much I think it's worth asking about, by you or your bf because he's not off the hook for this. It's your problem, ergo it is his problem too.

KatnotCat

@Citizen Cunt I read it the same way. In my head he says "It’s good you have them as an outlet for your maternal feelings” with a serious emphasis on the "THEM." I am projecting though.

Megasus

Lw4 I was basically in this situation with my ex (minus the kids), and I am so, so much happpier now that I'm not with him. SO MUCH HAPPIER. We were also together since I was 19. It's hard, but I don't think you will regret it.
He also liked to tell me there weren't other girls but I knew for a fact that there were, and even heard him chatting with the girl that he found that led to us actually breaking up (although that is not what he said), and now she gets to be his maid, so I kinda feel bad for her.

fondue with cheddar

@Megano! I was also in a similar situation (more similar to yours than the LW's), and I wholeheartedly agree. It's hard, but totally worth it.

area@twitter

LW1 is awful (or to be generous, appears so from her letter). But all these comments are wonderful. God I love the Hairpin. I know you all won't hesitate to call out the bullshit we tell ourselves.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

LW1 is getting a lot of flack from this comment section - understandably, because she's got some issues - but come on. If these married dudes are asking her directly to sleep with them, as she says they are, it's not exactly like she's the life-ruiner here. Sure, she's got an inflated ego, which likely comes from being successful and getting attention from successful men. She's likely the female version of these men who are hitting on her.

And just because one person considers marriage vows capital-S Sacred, doesn't mean the rest of the world is obligated to think that way. If the married dude she's messing with doesn't respect his own vow, why should she?

Quinn A@twitter

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I used to think that way. Then I slept with a guy in a relationship - with his partner's explicit permission - and it still ended with both myself and her getting hurt because dudes who don't respect their relationships are terrible people. We should all respect the vows people made out of self-preservation, if nothing else.

C_Webb

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose: An admittedly quick scan of the comments suggests that, with the exception of some Loretta Lynn quotes, no one is actually judging this woman for considering adultery so much as they are judging the reasons why she thinks she might commit it: because no one single is good enough for her, because the wives might actually prefer it to their husbands being negged (um, WHOA), and because she seems more focused on money and success than she is on any sort of relationship, sexual or otherwise.

RK Fire

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose If she is simply a) looking for a hook up and b) can absolutely verify that the guy she is interested is in an open marriage, then I think it's totally okay for her to mess around with a Married Dude in an Open Marriage. However, the last part is a major factor that determines whether or not it's okay. Otherwise it seems pretty shitty to help someone in the destruction of their own marriage.

Tuna Surprise

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I am being 100% honest to tell her I think she should fuck whomever she wants. Just do it and don't care. I think there are real consequences from boning married guys - less along the lines of the scarlet letter and more along the lines of you may fall in love with someone who isn't available to be in a relationship.

The real reason people are harping on her is her narrow definition of a suitable mate. If she broadened her horizon, she will find plenty of single guys. But like I said before, if she doesn't want to look farther afield, then fuck away without an ounce of guilt.

noodge

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose yeah, I agree with all the others here - it's not so much that everyone is railing on her because MONOGAMY, it's more the shitty reasoning she's using and the apparent self-centeredness that is driving the reasoning.

i mean, there are a lot of people in marriages that are not open. to be so frustrated that you "can't" find a man who meets your criteria that you are using bullshit reasoning to shit on someone's marriage? that's unkind, and it makes people understandably react.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Quinn A@twitter I don't disagree with you, at all. I personally wouldn't sleep with anyone in a relationship, because of this and because I'm horrible and hurting people's feelings.

@C_Webb But, like, who cares why she wants to do? Do the means somehow make the ends more justified in this case? It doesn't sound like any of the dudes have permission from their wives, but maybe they do. Who knows.

@RK Fire Open marriages sound pretty tough to me personally, but yeah, it might make it easier for her to mess around. It just doesn't seem to me like she has the same moral set that most of us have - that sleeping with a married man is an automatic no-no - and frankly, I think that's what's riling people up so much.

sophia_h

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I tried not to give her flack (since I knew there would be plenty) -- I was mostly confused because her letter doesn't make it clear if she wants someone to date or someone to sleep with. I kind of get that it's hard not to hook up with someone you're into who doesn't seem to care about their marriage vows, and I also suspect it's one of those things you won't thoroughly know is a bad idea unless you've done it and had it end badly. (Which I suppose it might not!) The commenters are more upset, I think, at the judgmental value tone that comes across with the "can only sleep with successful men, all successful men are married, ergo must sleep with married men" theorem. Though I think unpacking the notion of male success and why we're conditioned to look for that in order to find someone attractive would be more useful.

alannaofdoom

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose - OK, I'll play: because I'd like to live in a world where we all honor the vows we and others make. Because the public nature of a wedding - you gather with your family and friends and pledge your troth in front of these witnesses - asks that the community honor those vows. Because, as Quinn says, people who don't honor their own commitments have few-to-no redeeming qualities, in my opinion. And because if/when I ever say "I do," I'd like to mean it, and having knowingly helped someone else cheat would make me (personally, ymmv) feel like a hypocrite.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Tuna Surprise I think that's more of what's bugging me. Why should we be able to tell her to broaden her horizons? I'd be pissed if she said I should do the same when picking a suitable sex buddy. You're clearly more eloquent about this than I am.

City_Dater

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

If you don't understand why it is karmically ill-advisable to become a bit player in someone else's relationship drama, there are a shit-ton of books and films out there that could clear it up.
Also, men who cheat generally don't do it because their wives are sooooo horrible and they are swept away by some fabulous "other woman"; they're usually just entitled types who have a hard time giving a shit about other people's feelings. Not unlike the letter writer, as she describes herself.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@alannaofdoom Ha, I'm not trying to troll here, like it's a game. I feel the same way you do about vows and promises and moral responsibilities, but that doesn't mean everyone else does. That's all I'm getting at.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@City_Dater I'm not saying I don't understand the karma, because I do. I'm just curious about why it would be so horrible for these "entitled types who have a hard time giving a shit about other people's feelings" to be together. Birds of a feather and all that.

C_Webb

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I've worked hard, and I'm more successful and make more money than most men my age, or so it seems. And I can't find anyone to date seriously. The people who've achieved the kind of success I find attractive — I'm not attracted to unsuccessful men, or women either, I suppose — are usually older than me, by about 10 years. At this point in the letter, she hadn't even mentioned adultery yet, and already all the qualities I'm ragging on were evident. I mean, does this woman actually read The Hairpin? Could she not foresee the response she'd likely get? Or is AMD just another married guy she's out to impress with her "success?"

C_Webb

@C_Webb And the implication that everyone would be successful and make more money if they only "worked hard," like she did? In this economy? Seriously, STFU.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@all I can see my thoughts aren't winning me any friends on here; I just thought it would be interesting to look at it from a different angle, is all. Carry on.

datalass

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Honestly, I reacted more to her silliness than her moral values. The only way her letter would really make sense to me would be if she had a specific married someone in mind and she was trying to justify getting together with him. As it stands, it's just so ridiculous that upon this whole globe the ONLY humans who are successfull enough to be attractive are married.

RK Fire

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Nah, I think I get what you're saying--why not let two shitty people be together--but I am having a hard time seeing past the consequences for the wife in the whole scenario.

On the flipside, I guess the hypothetical wife will have some sort of confirmation that her marriage is falling apart and can leave her cheating partner.. so I suppose that is a win? Maybe? I am not sure if that is the advice of LW1 is looking for though, e.g. "yeah, I guess if you're okay with potentially breaking up the marriage because even the married dude doesn't give a shit about his wife, then go for it." But maybe it is.

ColdFinger

@C_Webb I think this is so strange. (I haven't been following your other comments, so I'm just going off this one - sorry if I'm missing a crucial moment here.)

But, honestly. Why can't this be her idea of what she wants, both in herself and in her partner? She's worked hard, she's made money, her standards/desires are not yours - but so what? Can't a lady want $$$ and prestige and all the things that dudes have been taught to want for centuries? It worries me that women are supposed to be somehow above these things when our whole culture revolves around them.

I don't think it follows that if LW1 can't find someone to date she should bang married dudes, but why can't she want what she wants?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@ColdFinger That's what I've been getting at. Thanks, you said it better.

iceberg

@ColdFinger You can want what you want, but maybe you can't have what you want without repercussions. I can want all the Danish tiaras, but it doesn't mean I'm allowed to take them, and it doesn't mean I won't face consequences for taking them.

Tuna Surprise

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I sorta agree with you on the whole 'but just broaden your horizons' plea. She likes what she likes and, as a consequence, it involves older married men. But unfortunately for her, her only two choices are to bone those she likes or cast a wider net.

I get criticism for the dudes I like (who tend to be a bit crazy). I've been told a million times to not date the crazy ones. But you know what? I like em. So I just have to deal with the consequences. My latest beau is 100% nutter. He has never met my friends (can't handle the stranger interaction), he'll periodically withdraw from the relationship completely to deal with his mental issues, etc. etc. But I understand what the relationship can offer and I like what I get. Nuff said.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@iceberg I can want all the almond roca in my house and I did take all the almond roca in my house. The repercussions have been, in a word, monumental.

Quinn A@twitter

@ColdFinger But isn't it sort of terrible that our whole culture revolves around these things? No, women specifically should not have to be better than the surrounding culture, but why shouldn't we want that surrounding culture to be better?

And hey, if the LW feels good about having a prestigious job and lots of money, then more power to her! She probably did have to work hard to get those things, and so it's great if she finds them rewarding. But isn't it a little gross that she apparently only respects people who made the exact same choice as she did, even when she's not sure she likes their moral values?

Some of the best and most hardworking people I know make far less money than I do. I genuinely think that several of them are better people than I am. And I think it hits a nerve for me and for some of the other commenters when someone dismisses kind, hardworking people who actually are quite accomplished in their fields as being too unfuckable/unlovable because they're making five figures instead of six.

C_Webb

@ColdFinger She can want whatever she wants. But there are also consequences for expressing these desires in a forum that, in my experience, would say exactly what this forum has basically said. It's called "knowing your audience" -- and this column has a pretty established audience, no? An audience that as far as I know rarely talks encouragingly about boffing rich married guys because poor guys are unattractive?

So in short -- sure, she can want whatever she wants. And we can say pretty much whatever we want about it. This is an overwhelmingly kind, generous group of people, and you have to work pretty freaking hard to raise this degree of amusement/ire.

ColdFinger

@iceberg But you can have *a* Danish tiara, right, even if I think it's the silliest thing? And you can be frustrated when you want a Danish tiara, and you *can't* have one?

It doesn't follow that you should steal all the Danish tiaras within a 50-mile radius, or that you should go around breaking other people's tiaras, just because you can't have one of your own... But the idea that you should be disappointed/frustrated/unhappy doesn't make you a terrible person in this scenario.

(Sorry, this is a bit of a tortured metaphor, but you see what I'm saying.)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@C_Webb "And we can say pretty much whatever we want about it. This is an overwhelmingly kind, generous group of people, and you have to work pretty freaking hard to raise this degree of amusement/ire."

Yep. That's the beauty of this place.

ColdFinger

@C_Webb Yes, yes, this goes without saying. Free speech and all that.

But I'm a little befuddled that somewhere up above someone said "the only thing that makes me sad is that terrible LW1 is a hairpin reader." I mean... really? Someone who is ambitious and interested in money can't also like texts from a ghost and Jolie's cleaning advice? That seems a bit extreme.

RK Fire

@ColdFinger Yeah, but what she is essentially asking is "so, can I go out and steal a Danish tiara? am I just being a larceny-prone jerk?"

ColdFinger

@Quinn A@twitter I agree with you to a certain degree, but I also think we can't all be organic farmers, or freelance writers, or even non-profit workers, like myself. Money is one useful way of measuring things, and, in my experience, women are much more often criticized for using it as a measure than are men.

It makes me think of the whole "natural parenting" trend. Which, yes, it's great if you can breast feed and be with your baby a lot - but there's not just One Right Way, and women shouldn't have to give up the rest of their lives to be these exalted, "natural beings." (Sorry, tangent/pet peeve.)

C_Webb

@ Right ... Rose: Yep. @ColdFinger: I wasn't saying she couldn't read and enjoy The Hairpin, of course. I meant that The Hairpin has a very opinionated commentariat that an informed reader would recognize as being perhaps less sympathetic to how she expresses her plight in this letter than other advice columns might. Don't you have certain friends or family members you go to for certain reasons? Aren't there certain websites you read because you want to feel a certain way, with a particular community? Aren't there comments you might make in one place but not another? My point, before I respectfully bow out, is that I hope this woman finds happiness, but I think that some serious self-evaluation is in order. (I'm sure I can benefit from some myself.)

iceberg

@ColdFinger But maybe if she stopped fixating on the Danish tiaras and like, at least gave it a shot with a French tiara, would that really be such a bad thing? Someone else said, she has two choices, bang the married guys or cast a wider net, and I think it's valuable not to ive up on what you want but to see if you can find it in an unexpected way. Maybe she's just got her blinkers on a bit?

vunder

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose It's not a terrible point. I don't know what to make of wanting to have casual sex with married guys who just ask you like that. It all sounds rather gross to me. I sort of think it's important, in a broad way, to respect others' feelings and commitments (ie, the partner's), since the consequences don't involve you, even if the married dude doesn't?

ColdFinger

@iceberg Yeah, no, totally. It just seemed like people turned a bit hostile, rather than being like: darlin', you just need to get out there.

vunder

@ColdFinger But the stereotype is that women use money to evaluate a high-status mate, where men use beauty. If we criticize men for being fixated on looks, it's it valid to critique women for being fixated on money? I don't think it quite makes sense to criticize men for using money as a measure because - at least in the stereotypical gender normative world - they don't.

ColdFinger

@vunder But isn't it also a stereotype that money and success can actually count against you if you're a woman? That's sort of the vein in which I've been reading this whole thing. But maybe you're right, and I'm being a bit too "Sex in the City" about it.

I agree with what you're saying, though.

PatatasBravas

@iceberg "give it a shot with a French tiara" has made my day so much better, thank you!

ColdFinger

@C_Webb No, no, I didn't think you (or other people) were literally chasing her off. But I'm just surprised at the perceived divide here.

Anyway, definitely time for me to bow out as well.

vunder

@ColdFinger Yes, for sure. So when she's saying "I scare off potential mates because I am successful," it's not that I don't believe her. But I'm not sure that makes it right that gross married men are open season.

Blushingflwr

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I have slept with married dudes (and married ladies). I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that, provided that the spouse it okay with it. The one time I fooled around with a married dude when I THOUGHT his wife was cool with it but she wasn't, it did serious damage to my relationship with the wife and to her relationship with my other friends, because her bitchiness around me was noticed when we all hung out together, but no one knew the cause. And, also, guilt.
I don't think that everyone has to be monogamous, or that sexual fidelity is the be-all and end-all of love or devotion or good-person status. BUT saying "oh, I can't find any worthy single dude, I'll just fuck around with married guys without asking whether or not they are legit in open relationships and then justify it by some half-assed logic about it being out of empathy to their wives" is self-indulgent and bullshit. And even if you really think you have no obligation to respect the dude's marriage vows, there is still the fact that if you are helping him cheat, you will not be able to have a full-fledged relationship with him. Relationships are about more than just sex and presents, they're also about having someone who will spend his day off driving you to the DMV and who will hold back your hair when you drink too much whipped-cream flavored vodka at New Year's. Married dudes are unlikely to be able to provide that for you (and yes, that it was friends are for, but my point still stands).
I know what it's like to feel like none of the available dudes you know are right for you, I've done that line-by-line elimination of all the guys in my social circle before. And then a guy who'd been sort of at the outer edges of my social circle and who I hadn't even considered turned into my Gentleman Friend and he is wonderful and successful and there is no cheating required.

Lulu22

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I appreciated your perspective. I don't see anything terribly wrong with what LW1 said. She wants someone with similar values. Totally reasonable! She hasn't slept with any married men, though several have suggested they're DTF. Dangerous, but no harm no foul! Sounded more to me like she's just HAD IT with single life, and I can totally relate. Just because she hasn't found a good match doesn't mean she's a totally effed up homewrecking horrible person. And sure, she might have some blind spots (don't we all?), but she's human, and some of the comments here sound like posters are delighting in just being mean.

Lulu22

@Lulu22 Newly discovered blind spot, for example: overuse of "totally."

Lu2
Lu2

@Lulu22 --wow, your username is confusing me. It's like you're two of me.

KatnotCat

"And I can't find anyone to date seriously....Marriage is stupid, right? It's all just a mess....Can I go on a tear of sleeping with whomever I want and not tiptoe on glass about other people's husbands?"

Do you want to get seriously dated or seriously fucked? A married man will likely only provide you with the second, and an unemployed single guy could provide it just as easily, so the problem is unclear to me.

noodge

@KatnotCat but she only gets lady-boners from success!!!

parallel-lines

@noodge There is very low standards for what constitutes a "successful boner"

In that respect, I'm sure she could find many candidates who meet those qualifications, many of them unmarried and readily available.

KatnotCat

@noodge Does married penis feel different? I confess I've never tried it.

Ophelia

@KatnotCat I mean, it didn't seem to magically change on our wedding night, so I'm going with, "only in the movies."

thebestjasmine

@KatnotCat When she says "seriously date" she means someone who will take her out to a fancy dinner and pay, and then pay for the fancy hotel afterwards. A rich married man will do those things. An unemployed single guy will not.

antilamentation

LW1:

"It's on me for continuing to hang out with some of these guys, I know,"

Yes. It is.

"but I like to be around people who are good at what they want to do, even if they don't always have the most sterling marital rules or whatever."

You have awful taste in people to hang out with. It sounds like you're surrounding yourself with assholes just looking for a chance to cheat. This type of sampling will by no means give you a good sense of what a happy, healthy marriage can be like. So in answer to your next question:

"And should they, even? Marriage is stupid, right?"

Only if the people in the marriage play it as a farce. As with everything else in life, marriage is what you make of it. You seem to want to adopt this selectively cynical veneer (a cynical sneer?) so you can make whoopee with the married guys and not actually have to think about how they're hurting their wives and perhaps their kids in the process. Think about it though. Do you want a hand in that?

You like being around people who are good at what they do, right? But none of these guys are good at being husbands. If you were around married people who understood how to nurture loving, committed relationships that would be a different story.

For that matter, the people you surround yourself with are shitty at being friends. Because good married friends don't try to hit on single friends, thus sucking them into acts of deception, and possibly the disintegration of a marriage.

"It's all just a mess."

It is a mess. So now's a good time to stop and ask yourself: "What am I doing that contributes to my being in these messes?" Clue: look at the first bit of your letter which I quoted above.

"Am I being a lazy, reductive jerk?"

Yes.

So stop it. Instead of being selectively cynical, and surrounding yourself with horrible men, how about you work on developing more friendships with a wider base of people - women as well as men. Take the time you normally spend with these toxic creeps, and spend it on following up on the activities you enjoy which YOU do well, or want to learn how to do well. Eg: if it's cooking, take some cooking classes, and meet other people who want to improve their skills. If it's rock climbing, join a club. The idea is not to immediately set out to find the type of guy you're interested in, as you seem to be very locked into that idea. But to meet and make new friends who don't have to fit your romantic criteria because it's about the friendships for now.

Friends may later introduce you to possible new boyfriends. But even if they don't, you'll have learned new skills. And good friendships are worth a huge amount. When I started dating again after I got divorced, I came to a point where I realised that I had all this love and support from my friends that I was already in a good place in my life. If I met a new partner, then great. But even if I didn't, my life was already filled with good, kind, caring people. That is a great basis to then tackle the risky process of trying to find a new partner, because from that position I can only add to the wealth of loving relationships in my life. There is no need to be cynical, or to get involved in the drama and the demise of other people's marriages. That is a lose-lose proposition, and will only hurt you and others. Stop it. Try something different instead.

wee_ramekin

@antilamentation This is a great response.

sunflowernut

@antilamentation Yes to all this! If she just stopped hanging out with all those assholes, and found a better group of friends, her perspective on this issue would totally be different.

Danzig!

@Asher everybody needs a kitchen cabinet, as they say

supernintendochalmers

Since when are we not allowed to say that cheating is wrong? Lately I keep seeing advice columnists tiptoeing around this issue, afraid to "judge." I'm not saying LW1 is a bad person, but that's not the right thing to do, and she knows it.

Tuna Surprise

@supernintendochalmers

I think the issue for advice columns is to be sensitive to how anti-cheating advice usually takes the form of anti-lady slut-shaming/home-wrecking bullshit (even if the parties are single ladies and married men). Judge Judy frequently has tell ladies (it's usually always ladies) to stop keying the car/popping the tires/egging the house of the 'other' woman and to be mad at the gent instead.

I think cheating is wrong and the wrongness of cheating is solely at the feet of the vow-breaker. The other party has committed a wrong but just a different kind. More of a golden rule or karmic violation. If you don't want to be cheated on, you shouldn't cheat. But if you're single, cheating is not your sin.

vunder

@Tuna Surprise Fuck that. A woman who knowingly seduces a married man is doing a wrong thing. I almost (but no, not really) understand the married cheater's point of view more, because being and staying married is difficult in a whole other kind of way. But call it slut shaming all you want, but any person who intentionally seduces a married man is really taking advantage in my book. You can compare gradations all you want and there's room for argument, but the "other woman" at all innocent in my book.

paddlepickle

@supernintendochalmers I keep seeing advice columns tip toeing around it, and then commenters saying that cheating is morally neutral because 'we're just human' and 'almost everyone will cheat at some point in their lives'. It makes me so mad.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@vunder Also listed under "Fuck that": Assuming it's the woman who is doing the seducing here. Just because marriage is hard doesn't give the men shelter from being sluts.

Danzig!

@supernintendochalmers It's sort of like, have you ever seen that video by Jay Smooth about how to confront people actin-a-racist?* Basically, when it comes to these really emotionally fraught things, like someone saying something racist / sexist, or cheating, it's important that we delineate between the qualities of a thing that a person does and the qualities of the person that they are. It's important for different reasons - calling out an offensive statement successfully hinges on getting everyone to agree that it was wrong (not a mistake or a misstatement) and shouldn't have happened, which can't happen when it requires branding the offender with a scarlet letter.

With cheating it's more this awareness that people act on desires that hurt other people all the time, and it's a pretty significant exercise of power to ascribe those actions to an essential quality of who they are, ie a vindictive, predatory jezebel / slut. It's a big thing to imply that those people are fundamentally different from you or me. I mean I've known people who've stepped out on their partners and they were decidedly not demonic or spiteful, just conflicted and messy and occasionally negligent toward the feelings of others, ie a person. So I think writers are hesitant to go full-bore against cheating for that reason.

*It's-a-here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

Danzig!

@supernintendochalmers Thinking on it a little more I actually think this particular situation fits more firmly in the context established by Mr. Smooth than I implied above. I mean I think the best tack for an advice column to take would be to steer a person seeking advice toward better ways of living / acting, right? So even with something this baldly egregious, we have to be able to sit LW1 down, figuratively speaking, and say "this way you're thinking is out of line, this way you're acting is disaster-bound and you need to act right" and you can't really achieve that by saying "you're an asshole". That plays well to readership but isn't terribly responsible, to the extent that an advice columnist is responsible for anything.

I mean let's be real - LW1 is not being let off the hook in this response. I think the Dude called it more or less correctly by pointing out her self-delusion and suggesting she adjust her expectations. That conceivably should cause her to self-reflect (how likely that seems is up to the reader) and avoiding cheating w/ married dudes, and then hey, everyone's happy.

vunder

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I didn't assume that, but rather intended to present it as a case where the non married person is also clearly culpable (and for both genders, could have been clearer). Sorry if that wasn't clear. It was only intended as a response to the idea that the only person guilty is the one who made the vows.

vunder

I have so much to say on the topic of these successful men LW1 likes so much. Sometimes they are successful because they have wives who help them take care of shit while they work a lot. Sometimes those wives are successful and attractive too, but sometimes the husbands don't see it because they see the morning breath and the farting in bed and the arguing about the heating bill and crap. Marriage looks different from inside - even more so when there are kids in the mix - and it's not fair or right for LW1 to dismiss" marriage" because she happens to have some kind of disgusting expensive suit fetish or something. I'm really just so disgusted that anyone would be like this.

hands_down

Just want to add that I'm six months pregnant, cranky and exhausted most of the time, wondering why on earth a second child seemed like a good idea. Looking at that picture was a needed reminder that this shit is temporary and I can looking forward to smooching fat baby cheeks in just a few months.

iceberg

@hands_down Is the first one old enough to help with the second? also, CHEEKS!!!

hands_down

@iceberg Yes, thank god! He will be almost five by the time this guy is born. He's actually been compiling a list of things the baby isn't supposed to do (sample: Don't play with knives. Don't scream in the cat's face.). So I think he's got good brotherly instincts. :)

iceberg

@hands_down that is fucking adorable.

Ophelia

@hands_down So...that stuff they tell you about "Oh, you won't be so exhausted in a few weeks!" That's bullshit, huh?

BRB, napping.

hands_down

@Ophelia Total fucking bullshit. Well, ok, I know some women who have wonderful, easy pregnancies. And the second trimester is definitely better than the first, in terms of energy and mood. But overall, it's fucking exhausting and I hate it. I'm convinced I didn't experience PPD with the first one because I was so overjoyed to no longer be pregnant.

Ophelia

@hands_down Yeah. At least I can eat food now, which helps, though I'm cornering the market on Tums. I hit the 2nd trimester yesterday, so I'm still hopeful I'll get a little energy back.

theotherginger

@Ophelia ladies. i have read many thoughts on less awesome pregnancy at apw. you should too!

Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter

Man, I feel like LW1 is being vague about her endgoals, and that changes the dynamic so much.

If you're looking for sex, bang anyone. Bang the guy who delivers your burritos, if he's got those ropy forearms that drive you crazy. Bang officemates. Bang your downstairs neighbour. Whatever - you're just bumping genitals, you don't need a 401(k) for that.

If you're looking for dates/relationships, then married guys are actually too much hassle - they have to lie to their wives and they're often on a curfew, and if you actually like them, you're SOL, because your role as Girlfriend is being played this evening by Wife.

Go on dates with successful young men outside your social circle - I hear the internet is GREAT for this! - and expand your definition of "success" to include single young people who are running start-ups, who are in PhD programs, who Teach for America - guys who might not be able to take you to the Ritz right this second, but who are investing in their futures the way you have. Sprinkle these dates with single older men (divorcees, never-marrieds, etc) who fit your older/attractive/rich profile, and see what sticks.

And while it might seem easier to bang married dudes because they're pre-made in the mould you claim to desire, there's almost no way to take a relationship with a married man to the next level without taking apart your life or his.

adorable-eggplant

@Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter Seconded. Also, that married dude may be rich now, but he might not be so financially stable after he gets taken to the cleaners in a divorce proceeding when his spouse catchs on to (and documents) his infidelity with the LW.

She can't expect to swoop him away unscathed, even if he does eventually decide to run away with her to 'date seriously'.

cardiganboots

@Kaitlyn Kochany@twitter This. A thousand times this.

fabel

I keep coming back to this for LW1 & the responses at her, & now I'm starting to suspect she's ALREADY boned a married dude & is just looking for redemption. I can't stop my mind!

paddlepickle

@fabel I think it's more likely that she hadn't yet banged a married dude when she wrote this, but has by now. Like, she wrote it when she was thinking about doing it and I'll bet she did it like, later that night.

Dirty Hands

@paddlepickle Also, how fast is the writing-to-hairpin and getting-response-from-hairpin-stranger turnover? LW1 probably soooo boned the married dude (if she'd been wanting to for real) by now... sigh.

paddlepickle

As someone else who makes more money and is more successful than a lot of people my age, LW1's attitude pisses me right the fuck off. I worked hard, duh, but I also got lucky- a lot of other hardworking people are less successful than I am, and not any less deserving. Are you only attracted to lucky people? Or by 'success' do you just mean 'rich'? I, for one, like to be around driven, interesting people who are doing cool shit with their lives and doing it well, but that doesn't mean they have to be rich or in some high-powered corporate job. If you meant anything other than 'rich' this age problem would not exist, because there are plenty of successful men in their 20s. Just not so many rich ones.

Hellcat

@paddlepickle Amen. "Rich" and "having one's grownup shit together" are not necessarily the same thing, and the latter is good enough for me (though I will admit that "rich" would be a lovely addition to the "pros" column).

pearlforrester

LW2, I had to have this conversation with my partner about brushing his teeth at night. Here's what I said: "When you don't brush your teeth, I can smell your breath really strongly, and it's unpleasant. It's really important to me that you brush your teeth every night before you come to bed."
No, he didn't like it. Yes, he sulked a bit. But he did it, and now I'm not grossed out anymore (I'm not talking a little morning breath here. That's unavoidable. I'm talking about being enveloped in a cloud of our dinner even from the other side of the bed). It wasn't a fun conversation, but we got through it. Good luck.

pearlforrester

@pearlforrester why are boys so grooossss?

rianne marie

"if you can’t tell Grandma what you’re doing, there’s something wrong with your behavior." Is So Bullshit. I'm sure this got said a million times in the comments I didn't read yet. But seriously? Does anyone actually mean it when they say this? I do lots of perfectly acceptable things that I would never ever tell my grandparents about. Like lots of kinky sex!

Blushingflwr

@rianne marie Yeah, I do a lot of things (like kinky sex) that I don't tell my grandmother (or mother) about. Doesn't make them wrong. I think for me, the level is more "can I tell my best friend"? Because if you are doing something but don't feel you can talk to your good friends about it, THEN something's really wrong.

cardiganboots

Hey LW1,

I'm concerned that you're not going to hear any of the actually pretty good advice given to you here because it seems like a *whole lot* of us (including myself) reacted to the way you asked the question and the situation rather than your questions themselves. There is a whole lot of good guidance up there, but it may be hard to hear when we're all squicking over the way you asked it. It happens.

So. Let me first say that I totally get it. Older dudes are hot, especially when you're in your mid to late twenties and it seems like every bro around you is still drifting around in his quarter life crisis and you've got your shit together and you're sick of buying your date's beers. Ugh. At a certain point one begins to give up hope and you start noticing all these other men in your life-- Holy shit! They have JOBS! They are RESPONSIBLE FOR SHIT! They buy their own drinks and meals and others' too, and time can do a whole lot of good for some mens' faces. They also know how to talk to you without being a juicebox and know how to flirt. It makes the head spin. You get a proposition, it's hard to turn down. There are no single dudes your own age right now that you want to bother with and a girl's got to get laid, right? You have all kinds of questions and turn to the Hive Mind.

So, is it on you for hanging out with these guys and are you being a lazy reductive jerk? Well... kind of. It sounds like you really want to make a connection with SOMEONE and you're doing your best to make it okay in your mind. The horrible fact of life as you get older and better at stuff is that it can be hard to find people to connect with and sometimes you might get lonely. Now might be a good time to reconsider what you really want out of someone else. Do you actually want a relationship? Do you just need to get laid? What do you really think of these guys? I mean seriously, is success money or mental stability or just having a job, a degree and a car? It sounds like you have high standards and there is nothing at all wrong with that, but it's time to think about how these dudes align with your ideas of success. Also, take some time to think about why these guys are into YOU in an honest way. Is it because you're so amazing and hot that they can't help themselves? Is it because you might be throwing yourself at them a little because OMGPERSONWITHSHITTOGETHER? Is it because you might radiate a vibe that you think that they are perfect and wonderful and who doesn't like feeling that way? Is it because the dude might be a creep and less awesome than you thought? Do you want to sleep with dudes like that? It's a valid question.

Can you go on a tear of sleeping with whomever you want and not tiptoe on glass about other people's husbands? Another kind of. No, you should not tiptoe on glass around other people's husbands. You're your own person and their hitting on you is really their responsiblity. The real question here is do you want to be the girl who is sleeping with other people's husbands? That depends on you. Are you ready for all the potential shitstorms that may ensue? What happens if it doesn't become a relationship? Are you going to be okay with being someone's ex-mistress? Are you going to be okay with being someone's mistress at all? It is generally a good idea to go into a relationship without any pie-in-the-sky expectations, and I feel like it's pretty fair to think that if you get involved with a married guy it would be a pretty big deal for him to upend his world and get divorced to be with you. Don't go in with that expectation. If it's a one-night stand then that might be another deal entirely. But remember, there still might be shitstorms. I would suggest sitting down with yourself or a professional and really thinking about what you want from another person and why-- because you're not going to get a whole lot from a dude who is otherwise involved. But maybe you don't want a whole lot? I don't know, I'm not you. I think it's important that you do you, but you should really make SURE that it's you and not some idea you had of what you should be or what people want from you.

Whew! This came out a whole lot longer than I expected and now I'm out of gas. Hope you read this!

me

babs

@cardiganboots This is such a great response to LW1! I get really bummed out by the mega self-righteous bitchery that goes down in the comments whenever someone even whispers about cheating. People are human, and sometimes they think about doing, or do, shitty stuff, but acting like LW1 is Hester Prynne is too much. Fuck, y'all, she hasn't even DONE anything, she's just musing about it in a "I'm frustrated and can't find/don't know what I want, should I just give up and bone some married dudes?" (No, LW1, you shouldn't!) For a bunch of ladies who are usually so compassionate, it's disappointing most of the comments read like so much backhanded slut shaming.

Diana

@cardiganboots

Shaming somebody for bad behavior who also happens to be a woman does not automatically constitute slut shaming. People are shaming her for being an astonishingly selfish and inconsiderate person.

baklava!

@Diana ...she is being judged as being an 'astonishingly selfish and inconsiderate person' based on one letter she wrote, asking for help. Maybe she is terrible, what do I know... I do think it's a pretty selfish and inconsiderate thing she's considering, but do we need to be so mean when pointing it out? I'm not saying everyone should be niceypants in the comments all the time but I agree that it has been pretty heartless.

adorable-eggplant

@baklava! Meh, I think people have kept it mostly polite. If it were someone in my life who was considering using this weakass logic to justify being deceptive and callous to other people's potential suffering, I would've used MUCH harsher language. Because really, saying to yourself, "I can't get what I want in an ethical way, so I'm just going to take it, damn the consequences" is just really lousy, under any circumstances.

LW is clearly smart, successful and able to get shit done, life-wise, so I think some harsh, but fair assessment of the shitness of the behavior she's considering is not out of line.

Because the commentariat has a wealth of experience not accessible to LW: maybe she's never done this before, but I bet some of us have (and thus are more familiar with the potential fallout) or maybe some of us have had wayward spouses, so we're more able to weigh in on affairs than the strawman in LW's head. And some of us are the children of marriages that have been exploded by affairs, so we can add that perspective.

If I'm making a demonstrably bad choice, I'd hope that my friends (and anyone else I turned to for advice) would have the decency to tell me to get my head out of my ass. Anything less is patronizing.

baklava!

@adorable-eggplant I certainly don't disagree with calling out the bullshit and explaining why it is a terrible idea; I would hope for the same too! There were lots of ways that people put the 'oh hells no' that were eloquent and wise. Some, though, veered more toward "she is an awful terrible person"--rather than "what she is considering doing is awful and terrible"--and it hurt my tender internet feelings on her behalf. People can get into periods in their life where they really lose sight of what is ok and what is not ok to do with/to other people--my own parents included--but I think it's still ok to point it out without so much shaming.

cardiganboots

@Diana I get what you're saying but shaming someone isn't a good way of giving advice or getting someone to change or even really think about their fucked up behavior. Telling someone they're horrible because they're selfish doesn't really get them to think about why they're being selfish.

adorable-eggplant

@cardiganboots I'd say people are all selfish (solitary, poor, nasty, brutish) but we can all make a choice about whether to listen to the better angles of our nature. It should be a wake up call to LW that a lot of people were able to look at their moral compasses and say, "Whoa, that materialistic, callous attitude is way out of line."

And for the record, I have no problem with the sexual desire aspect. If LW had written: "I'd like to bang a bunch of older, rich married dudes. It's the only thing that lights my lady fire." My response would've been, "Get it, gurl. Find an older swinging couple (there are plenty of websites) who want a discrete third and chase that silver fox tail to your heart's content." I'm a slut, and I'm always happy to see people exploring the full range of their sexual fantasies in a safe and ethical way.

But instead what LW wrote was clearly a rationalization (therapy word, whut whut) and a cry for us to help justify some shitty behavior, which I'm not going to do.

cardiganboots

@adorable-eggplant Oh yes, LW1 is rationalizing until the cows come home. In my experience (more years than I care to admit in social work) when people, especially myself, are in the rationalization trap they don't respond well to someone telling them to snap out of it does not help. That usually results in a shame spiral "Eff those guys, I do what I want" reaction. Girl wants what she wants when she wants it. I think everyone is saying to her "Hey! No! This is effed up on so many levels! Get honest with yourself!" and in some ways reading a whole lot into her character based on one letter.

The rationalization feels offensive because it is so clearly out there and makes the reader feel like she's not lying to herself, but to us. Maybe she really thinks all these things are okay and really is lying to herself really hard? I always want a friend to sit me down in a chair and go "Whoa whoa whoa, you really have to ask yourself some questions here" when I get that crazy, which generally helps me get back around to sanity (while that friend glaresat me and refuses to let me get up until I have actually thought). I don't know. Different strokes for different folks or whatever.

Blushingflwr

Okay, LW 1 - as someone else said, there are a lot of responses to your letter here, and I'm gonna just go ahead and take this point-by-point.

You Married Dudes are driving me nuts! Or, I'm driving myself nuts, I don't know. I'm one of those women the Big Chatty Articles have been talking about recently — I've worked hard, and I'm more successful and make more money than most men my age, or so it seems. And I can't find anyone to date seriously. The people who've achieved the kind of success I find attractive — I'm not attracted to unsuccessful men, or women either, I suppose — are usually older than me, by about 10 years. And men 10 years older than I am are usually married. So, nope can't date him, can't date him either, or that one.

Define "success". As several other people have pointed out, there are lots of ways to define success, and there are lots of people who are successful in terms of having rewarding jobs, full social lives, stable living conditions who maybe don't have a lot of money in the bank or who aren't running around town in bespoke suits looking like they just walked out of a GQ shoot or a Gossip Girl episode.

I am very familiar with the problem of not having anyone in my immediate social circle to date, and it's frustrating when all the available guys you know are unsuitable for one reason or another (personalities don't mesh, you want different things, etc). I think you are on the right track in terms of considering opening up who you consider as date-able, but I think the way to do that is to meet more people, and be open to considering guys you hadn't thought about before. Perhaps by reconsidering your definition of "successful" or by joining a networking group or something.

But a lot of the Married Dudes I've come across have different thresholds for flirting/hitting on me/directly asking me to sleep with them. Lots of married dudes are also very flirtatious. My father, for one. I've known plenty of (AFAIK) happily married dudes who flirted with me all the time, but it didn't necessarily mean anything, just like I know gay guys who flirt with me and I know it doesn't mean anything. If they're directly asking you to sleep with them, that's another thing (though I've known guys who would say that but who didn't necessarily actually MEAN it). Maybe they're in open relationships, maybe they're cheaters (or both, the one does not negate the possibility of the other). The question is more about how you feel about it.

It's on me for continuing to hang out with some of these guys, I know, but I like to be around people who are good at what they want to do, even if they don't always have the most sterling marital rules or whatever. Two things here - it sounds like you're saying that your definition of "success" is "good at what they want to do" so that means that maybe the commentariat has made a mistake in saying that you're just looking for rich guys. The second thing is that yes, it is on you to choose who you hang out with and what your boundaries are, and then to ESTABLISH and ENFORCE those boundaries. I had a (married) coworker once who kept asking me when I was going to go out with him, and I replied "when your wife says it's okay". I thought this was a brush-off, on the grounds that of course his wife would never say it was okay. And then one day he and I were alone together on an assignment and he started trying to run his hand up my leg. Which is his fault, absolutely, but I hadn't clearly established where my boundaries were.

And should they, even? Marriage is stupid, right?
The way many people do marriage is stupid, yes. But if a person stands up before their friends and family and a duly authorized officiant and swears fidelity, then yes, I think they should obey that vow. Open marriages/polyamory/swinging/whatever kind of nonmonogamy you want are options, and they're valid ones and they work really well for many people. Cheating, on the other hand, usually ends in tears.
It's all just a mess. Yep, life's like that sometimes It feels like that line, I can't remember where it's from, but instead of the high school girls all staying the same age, it's the Married Dudes who — to me, at least, at this point — all stay the same. Am I being a lazy, reductive jerk? Possibly. It sounds like you're just frustrated and want to throw up your hands and give up. We've all been there. Can I go on a tear of sleeping with whomever I want and not tiptoe on glass about other people's husbands? Nope. And not because of their wives. Because up above you say you want to find someone to date seriously, and it will be MUCH harder for you to find that if you are enmeshed in an affair. And while there's nothing wrong with one-night-stands if that's what you're looking for, meaningless sex with married dudes (especially married dudes you regularly hang out with) will not help you find a relationship, and may also seriously damage your social life.
Because if I were married, I'd almost feel sadder if I learned that the only reason my husband didn't have an affair was because the woman felt sorry for me and said no. I think you're right in that it's not a comfort to know that the only reason your partner didn't cheat is because he couldn't find someone to do it with, because the intention is often as bad as (or worse than) the action. But you REALLY can't use that as an excuse to help a dude cheat on his wife, because she is not going to see it as a kindness.

halfheartedyoga

Just a very late addition here for LW1 - don't worry I'm not going to rip into you. For me, I try to focus on owning my actions. In fact, they are the only things I can control - my actions, and how I react to others. Sometimes I choose to be "good." Other times I make choices I know are "bad' or "naughty." But when I make "bad" choices, I try not to justify them to myself or to others beyond - I wanted to. I don't blame the alcohol, because I know that I do what I want to do. I try to recognize that my decision to do X was about my desire to do X - not about fate hurtling me uncontrolably towards some one, not about - sorry, girl- making imaginary people's pride not be wounded. No, if X happens its about my willingness for X to happen, and, if there's another party involved, their willingness. "Bad" behavior - any action, really, has consequences. As a rational thinking person, you can imagine some of them. And when you choose to do something, you accept this. So the only thing you can do is own your actions - to sleep with the guy, to not sleep with the guy, whatever - and stop trying to involve the Forces Of the Universe. You control you. You decide how you behave. And you decide how you feel about your behavior. Finito.

whateverlolawants

The other letters were more interesting than #1, and I feel bad for the writers that theirs were placed with such a bombshell. Best of luck to you guys, esp. #4.

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