The beautiful thing about ineptitude is its constant ability to express itself in new ways. The Bush Administration, for instance, manages to embarrass itself in ways that a dozen Daily Show writers could never dream up. The Detroit Lions always find creative new ways to lose football games. And at least once a week, I step on some brand-new love-life land mine. There’s a girl named Laura I’ve been into for a little while, and last night was her birthday. By three in the morning, we found ourselves on the sofa at her place, pleasantly drunk, watching old episodes of Flight of the Conchords, along with another friend of ours named Pete. Laura, sitting between us, seemed to be making eyes at me. But Pete seemed to be making eyes at her.
There’s two types of guys-the kind that have a certain ruthless focus with girls and go after them with the vigor of that escaped tiger in the San Francisco Zoo, and the other type, like me, who’d rather try to hook up their friends than try to hook up themselves. We do this partly to circumvent the chance of being rejected, and partly because we love our friends and want them to be happy and get what they want. Pete is such a great, great guy, I figured if he ended up with Laura and I ended up back at my house with the Flight of the Conchords DVD and a pizza, the world would be all right. But he never made a move, and Laura finally booted us both out into the frozen night.
Today, of course, I learned that Pete has a girlfriend. He was only showing Laura the chummy affection you show a longtime friend on their birthday. My efforts to hook him up were wasted, and my failure to react to Laura’s friendly vibe doomed me to another night cuddling with only my Alf pillow. The moral of the story? As Eric B. and Rakim said: Know the Ledge. A little mild detective work and I could’ve sorted out the angles. The more information you have about any romantic situation, the better armed you’ll be to make the right moves.
OK, enough of bungling my own love life, time to screw up yours! Thanks for all the fantastic questions y’all sent in, clearly there’s plenty of folks out there as muddled about love, sex, and relationships as me. Let’s go to the mailbag:
I’m 35 years-old and I’ve lived with the same guy for 5 years. Our relationship is stable and we both know we love each other, but I sometimes wonder if he’s really happy to see me at the end of every day, or if he just comes home because this is where he lives and I just happen to live there also. What I really want is to know that I’ve still got him as interested in me as he was in the beginning. What would a girl have to do to keep you interested after so long? You see? My heart’s an idiot too.-Christine in Montreal, Quebec
Hi Christine! How do you keep the initial spark and intensity of a relationship going five years in? You can’t. Every relationship has its honeymoon period where every moment of separation is anguishing and every moment together is golden. This usually lasts about a week to a year. Then the honeymoon fades and reality hits. Lasting romance is built on deep friendship, shared interests, and physical attraction. If you don’t have that, or at least two out of three, there’s bound to be some disenchantment.
It always seems kinda sad to me when couples try to spice up their ailing marriage with gimmickry, like a Florida cruise, say, or S&M play. If I flay him hard enough across the back with this cat-o’-nine-tails, maybe things will be like they used to be! A dose of unpredictability here and there is great, but I don’t think you need to play courtship games at this point. If your man doesn’t seem happy to see you these days and it’s killing your buzz, try talking to him about it. He needs to make more of an effort to convey how much he loves and appreciates you. Let him know.
I think part of the reason my heart is such an idiot, Christine, is because I’m always chasing that high that comes with the first days and weeks of falling in love. It’s a hell of a drug. Once that part of it is over, though, I just feel kind of hazy, sad, and hungover, like Elliott Smith at the Rose Parade. The good news is that the best relationships evolve and deepen with age. You can’t necessarily recover the fireworks of your relationship’s early days, but in lieu of Roman candles, you can build a steady, enduring fire, and nothing’s healthier for the heart than a nice warm hearth.
My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years now, and when we first got together he cheated on me with some girls online. I know it was only online, but I still consider it cheating anyway. One of the girls even called his house while we were in the middle of having sex. He still plays on the computer all the time, and when we’re on the phone together he never talks because he’s too busy typing. It really pisses me off, but he says he’s just playing his PC game Age of Mythology, and every time I confront him he yells at me about it. What should I do? -Sarah in Ohio
Hi there Sarah. According to Wikipedia, there are four major resources in Age of Mythology: food, wood, gold, and favor. Sounds like your boyfriend’s been getting wood from other girls’ favors. Look, a lot of guys are hungry for sex, but he needs to gather his food from you, not random girls (or guys pretending to be girls) online. You need to be firm with him: no online sex with strangers, and no playing computer games while he’s on the phone with you. I suspect you’re afraid he’ll choose the Atlantean admiral Arkantos over you. Try meeting him halfway. Create your own character and play Age of Mythology with him. Have sex with him online if you can’t be together some nights. But if he keeps cheating on you, even online, then the dude is fool’s gold, and you need to find another Zeus.
OK readers-keep your love, sex, and relationship questions coming, and I’ll keep providing the misguided advice; I respond personally to every question I receive. All right, peace-see you in two weeks!
Davy Rothbart has gained much wisdom from his years and years of romantic misfires. So while his heart might be an idiot, he can likely help you if your heart is acting like a jerk. In addition to being the subject of a documentary film titled My Heart is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart is the creator of FOUND Magazine, a frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life, and author of the story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas.