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Ask Auntie Dote
The Auntie Dote for what ails you...

From: Marti DB
Date: March 8, 2009
Subject: Fuck-up when it comes to love

Dear Auntie Dote
(sounds so formal..)

I ‘m 42 going on 12 and I just seem to jump from one bad relationship into another. I worry that I am going to end up alone and the thought doesn’t worry me so much,

REALLY??? Then why did you mention it.

but I want to try to have a ‘good’ relationship at least for once in my life.

That is fair enough.

Because although being alone isn’t that scary a concept to me, I’m not stupid either and I realise that everybody needs love and that it’s always more fun and rewarding to share your life with somebody.

Well, I always think, it's handy to have someone else around should you fall off a ladder, slip in the bathtub, etc. "Fun" and "love," oh yeah, that...you can have fun and love without living with someone.

I’m trying to figure out why I keep fucking-up

Maybe, because you are not sure what your reasons are for being in these relationships?

and why I always seem to go for guys that end up ‘not being that into me’.

Maybe these relationships are not very well motivated on either end.

I feel like I am missing the basic tools and that I don’t know how to play ‘the game’.

Well, ma'am, there's your leaky faucet. I really don't think it is a "game."

Whatever the fuck the game is - I admit, i have always hated games and i don’t have a competitive bone in my body. But it definitely seems to be a game and when I ask the advice of family and friends, who are in successful relationships, they always tell me the same thing. They tell me it’s a game of "strategy"

Yeah, that is a crock, isn't it?

and that I need to play hard in order to ultimately get what I want and hook a man for life.

Ummhhhm. Oh gosh, hooking a man for life, oh joy...it really DEPENDS on the man, dear. Haven't you ever been just DELIGHTED to toss one back? If you haven't, you're not living.

This concept goes against everything I am about – I am open and honest with my feelings, Im not afraid to show my affection and Im loyal and devoted when im in a relationship.

I'm going to be honest here. You may be rationalizing just a wee bit. No judgment here, just thinking objectively. You're awfully proud of being "open and honest with your feelings, not afraid to show affection...loyal and devoted" etc. and you complained that your dudes seem to be "not that into you." There's a bit of a disconnect there. Loyalty and devotion SHOULD be earned, not just applied. What you are calling "showing affection" if it is not reciprocated, seems a little unwise. Honest is cool, but not showing devotion to guys who aren't that into you. And that's NOT about being strategic, it's about honest WITH YOURSELF. You can't induce harmony and reciprocity into a relationship, no matter how "loyal" you are.

It feels cruel, unjust, unnatural and like Im just downright lying if I am anything other than myself with these men.

As I said, check your baggage for self-foolery. "Being myself" should not equal "throwing myself." That's not about lying to MEN to get the upper hand, it's about having some boundaries that work for you. Sounds like maybe you have trouble figuring out where yours are when you are in a relationship. So the problem (may be) with YOU. Since this problem keeps recurring, I consider it likely.

More-so, I have tried that strategy a couple of times and it only made me anxious and terribly uncomfortable.

Well, clearly you don't want to do anything like that. I don't recommend "strategy" so much as wisdom; restraint; calm; having healthy boundaries in your dealings with others; that's not lying or pokerface. You can be perfectly honest about having boundaries in a relationship. You'd be surprised, people respect you for it, why? Because they have boundaries to. Make sure YOU are respecting THEIRS.

I split up a with a lovely man a few months ago. It was his decision in the end, even though I couldn’t even admit to myself that I was terribly unhappy in the relationship because I hate to admit defeat and/or be ‘the bad guy’ who ends things.

Well, you have red-flagged your own character. Are you paying attention? FIX that shit. You seem passive and "devoted" to the end, and congratulate yourself that that equals honest, faithful, true. You're "devoted" to partners who make you unhappy, why? Because you are afraid of the alternatives? That word "defeat" sticks out at me, it should you, too. A relationship not working is not a "defeat" for either of you, any more than it is "victory" to bag a man for life, as if that alone could ensure an end to loneliness. It can't. You can be with someone and be lonely as hell.

Not long after, his friend started to pursue me, heavily. I had been quite good friends with this man for 3 years and there was always a bit of a mutual attraction brewing beneath the surface. But i never went there because i am the adamantly loyal type.

Blech. Boring. You don't sound like you are very "loyal" to your gut feelings. Being loyal to a romantic ideal that makes you miserable...at least stop congratulating yourself on what a loyal person you are.

This guy wasted no time in seducing me.

It takes two to tango. Take some responsibility for your own your agency in this.

Because i was on the rebound, and with a bruised ego, i didn’t even think to fight him off.

"Fight him off"? Oh my, what romance novel diction we are using.

He is ridiculously good looking, so that also made it almost impossible.

Hm. Yeah. Almost. (Not impressed.) If you can't fend off the advances of a man just because he's good looking, I have no sympathy for your predicament. Just ADMIT and OWN that you WANTED this to happen, to soothe your ego perhaps, to satisfy curiosity, and it isn't something that passively happened to you. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your choices, in other words.

It soon started as a casual love affair where we would go out to a bar every weekend, get drunk and then shag ourselves silly, as if he’d had all these pent-up sexual feelings for me the entire time.

That sounds GREAT. So? Was it not mutual? It sounds like it. If not, I can't imagine why not.

It was hot and heavy, bordering on obsessive, even addictive. I think in hindsight, I was just in shock and I just went along with it, without any real thought about what was actually going on, let alone the ensuing consequences.

In shock? This happened EVERY weekend? and only HE had pent-up sexual feelings? Riiiiight...

After a few months, things started to develop and get a little more ‘serious’, more intimate (or so i thought). We didn’t have to be at a bar or drunk anymore to have sex, and we could actually just hang out and do ‘couply’ things together. I think at this point, i started to develop real feelings for the guy and so i would invite him to this or that, but he would always turn me down. I soon realised that I was very much playing by his rules and his rules alone – he would call me and see me when he wanted to and when it suited him, or when he felt like having sex. Never when I made the call.

Yeah. Not a good sign.

When things started to get more emotionally intense, i found him pulling away. And then he wouldn’t see me every week anymore – it became more like once a fortnight and when i would eventually see him, it was fraught with aloofness and uncomfortable tension on his part. He wouldn’t email or text for the entire 2 weeks and he very rarely picks up the phone to call me.

Yeah. That's tough. There's really no magic advice stick I can tap you with. I think you have it perfectly well figured out.

My friends told me he was freaked out or felt guilty because i was his mate’s ex – they gave me a list of reasons to excuse, explain and/or justify his behaviour. They told me to play hardball with him. Which i did a couple of times. I wouldn’t return his messages and i found that it worked – he would come running, literally the very next morning.

Hm. Interesting. Did you want that?

I thought this was bullshit and i didn’t want to play that game.

Good for you. You have identified your own problems. (People almost ALWAYS do.)

He completely dodged me on Valentine’s day, didn’t even return my messages.

Well, can you blame him? That's a horrible day to stage some kind of phoney, pressured romance just for your benefit. What in his behavior led you believe that he was your dream man, coming on a white horse any day now to carry you away?

What’s worse, a few days after valentine’s, he dodged my birthday and my birthday party as well.

Well. He's a heel.

When he sent a message to apologise the following day, i ignored him. I was pretty much at my wit’s end by this stage – i thought, this is definitely a fucking deal breaker – im done with this jerk! He waited a few days and then sent an email saying he’d bought me a birthday present, as if to suck-up. I sent him some sarcastic thing back. He knew i was pissed.

Yah. I would try cool straightforward talk instead of sarcasm. You made it pretty clear what you EXPECTED (a gift), and when he tries to meet these expectations, albeit in a lame, belated way, you shoot him down. Just WHAT are you getting out this, putting him through some kind of romantic paces? You sound a bit of impossible yourself, dear. Just HOW is he to please you? Perhaps you can put a blueprint up online where he can find it. What that has to do with the "love" you supposedly feel for HIM, I can't imagine.

The following 2 days he menaced me with texts and emails and they got worse because i wouldn’t respond.

Ho hum. This lover's tiff is really boring me. What do you need me for, again? I liked you two better when you were getting drunk and shagging each other's brains out.

I eventually agreed to see him and thought, im going to have it out with him and tell him exactly how i feel.

Oh, gosh. Well, next time: Make this your #1 plan of action! Don't wait until all the fun has been squeezed out of your passive-aggressive lover's tiff! This is called "honesty."

Sure enough, he came over (forgetting the present, mind you)

This symbolic giving seems to mean a lot to you. What could a gift possibly mean to you from someone you have such ambivalent feelings for.

and we had a big lover’s spat where i pretty much told him everything and how pissed off i was. He said i was ‘reading too much into things’.

Uh--yeah!

I told him i had feelings for him and he was writhingly uncomfortable with this and then proceeded to tell me he was probably too busy for a relationship at the moment – using the excuse of work as his biggest one.

It could also be true. He TOLD you he's TOO BUSY for a relationship. You asked, you got your answer. That's life. We don't always get the answers we would like. So suck it up and move on. You already had suspicions, surely, that this guy who blew off V-day and your B-day might, perhaps, possibly, NOT be in deep bonding mode, right? RIGHT?? *knocking you upside the head with clue stick, just to see if anyone's home...*

We agreed to stay friends, or maybe fuck buddies, but i don’t know about the latter.He said he likes calling in to have a “chat” and would like to continue to do so.

You sound skeptical. He seems to like you but not want to be in a "loyal and devoted" mode with you, and you seem to want to force this on him anyway. Because, like, that's the "way you are." Well, your way of being comfortable in a relationship may have nothing to do with the person you are in it with. Did you think about that? It's about you and what you need. Not about him and who he is, what he wants, and what he is willing and able to give you. You haven't said word one about this guy--his interests, talents, why he is so damn loveable, except he's good looking, drinks and shags. I don't really get the sense that you "love" him, just that you want love FROM him.

Im a bit annoyed at myself - mostly for blurting everything out as i did. I blame the wine.

Again, you pinpoint your own problems better than I probably can. So try it without wine once in awhile. You know. This is all about you taking responsibility for your actions. Not "blaming" him for seducing you, or "blaming" the wine for you exhibiting the same-old, same-old relationship behavior you always do.

But im not the most patient girl in the world. I know i could have played the game better,

It's not a freaking game, I thought we agreed on that!

and i could have been a real bitch and kept him interested and kept stringing him along if i really wanted to. Im just not into mind-fuck games.

Yet you keep thinking this is the one true path, the skill you don't have. If that were true, it would save you from the pain and agony of having to face up to your own choices and their consequences.

And im really at a loss here. Im starting to think that you really do have to play this bullshit game in order to get the prize at the end. I just don’t know if i can do it. And i don’t know if i want to.

You really know better than this. Quit making another excuse for future failure. "I don't know how to play the game," poor me, that's why I'm getting screwed. Maybe you got SCREWED because you don't take responsibility for your choices, and you also don't respect that this guy has feelings and choices of his own.

Since our uncomfortable ‘moment of truth’, i thought for sure he was going to run for the hills or at least pull away for a while. but confusingly, it’s been the opposite. He has been emailing me every day now and i don’t know if it’s the guilt of his rejection why he’s doing it or if it’s just another ‘strategy’ he’s playing with me, to keep me close for his own selfish needs.

Wow, girl. You are a headtrip. You can't keep this up, the drama is killing you. You are also, may I point out, never satisfied. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

Im also a bit upset that I have potentially ruined our friendship of 3 years in the process as well.

The best way to handle these things is head on. If you feel that way, you can always say so. It doesn't sound like you've come anywhere near close to ruining your friendship.

I wish i didn’t feel anything

Oh suck it up. You don't feel nearly as much as you think you do. You sound numb, frankly, and looking for a relationship "fix." A feelings fix. He's not your drug. He's insert name here.

- i wish i was ruthless and that i could just use him for the sex at least.

Quit lying to yourself. You aren't this naive. Acknowledging that you wanted MORE from him was ok, but you laid your cards on the table (despite AMPLE evidence that he wasn't likely to reciprocate). Now, you MUST accept the consequences. Consider it time saved. And quit making excuses for yourself, that if only you were a hardened vixen, instead of such a care-soaked individual, wouldn't life just be grand. Learn to accept an ego grazing, but geez, no reason to put yourself in the line of fire so unnecessarily. You can be honest without throwing an emotional tantrum. But take the answers you get like a grownup.

Cos the sex is pretty fucking good, i must say! Now, what the fuck to do with this situation? Do i just fuck him off completely? Do i try to act cool like nothing happened and salvage the friendship? Do i turn mean and nasty and play the game, hoping that he will eventually succumb and that i will get what i want?

You said you're 42 going on 12. I recommend you grow up. You really don't need me to tell you what you want, or what to do.

-A.D.


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