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Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Long-Distance Loving

In Dating on December 31, 2009 at 12:01 am

In the words of the great Bette Midler: From a distance, you look like my friend. Photo courtesy of CupidBlogger.com

Dear Yenta,

I am curious if it is healthy to desire having relationships across the world and yet not have one that is in my home area?

-Long-Distance

Dear LD,

What is “healthy?” Oye. The relationships we choose today aren’t necessarily our relationships forever. If right now, the intimacy and space you can handle with love is with an 8,000 mile gap, so be it. You sound self-aware enough to know if it is a problem.

The fact that you ask the question at all means you know you might, in time, desire a love closer to home, one that you can see and feel and have in your life in a more immediate capacity. But if this week, month, year you aren’t ready for that, it doesn’t mean you are “unhealthy” as much as maybe just not ready.

There are all kinds of equations for relationships. There are Manhattan couples who are married and live in separate apartments, Vermont Mommas who never leave their husband’s sides. There are people who make it work from Turkey to Costa Rica, and others who are married and live together in some perfect California town and absolutely hate their lives.

Healthy, to me, is attempting to be honest with yourself, kind to your loved ones, and true to your dreams. If you dream of sharing a home with your partner in France, but can’t seem to stop falling in love in Tibet, then perhaps seek some assistance exploring your fears of bringing love closer to your court.

Choosing a partner in a far off land might mean you are worried about being seen in your entirety and therefore rejected for your flaws.
As Tai and Cher put it in Clueless:
Tai: Do you think she’s pretty?
Cher:No, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s a monet?
Cher: It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.

Maybe just work on liking yourself more, positive affirmations, “I am cool, I am nice, I deserve a homeslice,” in order to cultivate either a stronger long-distance relationship, or to move towards one on U.S. soil. Intimacy can be a struggle, but there is a difference between fearing it and simply not having found a hometown lover.

For more check out “Long Distance Relationship: Love the Distance or Distance the Love?” from CupidBlogger.com.

Freeze My Eggs?

In Career, Parents, Sex on December 30, 2009 at 6:42 am

Dear Yenta,

I’m 27, I’m single, and I’m really busy with my career. Should I freeze my eggs now? If so, how much does it cost and how do I do it?

-Impatient

Photo courtesy of FreezeHappy.com

Dear Impatient,

According to a number of sources online, you are too young to be freaking. I do, however, like your forward thinking. The concept of freezing eggs means you don’t want to rush. Too many women flip out about the ticking clock in their uterus, and jump into loveless fear-based marriage.

As for freezing your eggs, women and fertility don’t necessarily follow some kind of code. As stated by the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago: “Every individual and couple is unique and could be more fertile or less fertile as compared to the average for their age. Some 30 year-olds already have significant egg quality and/or quantity issues and some 43 year-olds can be fertile.”

If you want to freeze your eggs now, go for it, but there is only a 50% chance of pregnancy and the price is steep, $10-$15,000 a frozen crop. For more on freezing eggs now to have babies later, read this article.

To freeze eggs and for more information about the whole ordeal, try Extendfertility.com. They have locations in Austin, Boston, New York, Beverly Hills and Seattle.

One friend said she would never freeze her eggs, because “that’s just like giving up.” Another suggested letting life take its course, and if time runs out, head for an adoption agency. Tons of children need mommies. In the end, though, know that you never know how long your eggs will stick around, possibly well into your forties.

You don’t know whether you even have any viable ones at this moment, and statistically, if you buy numbers, you are not in the “danger window” at 27. Even though the body is unpredictable, and infertility comes without forewarning, I would say write back when we are both 37, then those freezers might make a bit more sense.

Man On Plane

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Kenny from Milwaukee

I sat next to Kenny from Milwaukee on my Westward bound flight. He was wearing a floor-length black mink coat and giant puffy slippers meant to look like black and white tap shoes. I found him earlier, waiting for takeoff, pacing angrily because he was waiting on his fourth layover since the night before. At that point he was wearing alligator leather shoes and disappeared for a while. I thought he was a preacher, all these books in hand. I figured all that pacing was bible toting.

He came back excited like a kid on Christmas holding these giant puffy slippers which he quickly changed into, letting out loud sighs and oohs and ahhs of relief. I found out, waiting in line together to board, that he had been in those alligator shoes since the night before when he was kicked off a plane for misconduct. He was an antique trader and he made a friend on the flight who was also interested in antique trading. They began talking about Japanese snuff boxes and the man behind them asked them to “shut up.” Apparently he had been in the war and didn’t want to hear about Japan.

Kenny said he turned around and said “Man, this is America, and we can talk if we want to talk.” And that man behind him kept telling him, belligerently, to shut up, talking down to him. After enough shut-ups Kenny went a bit nuts on the man and all three of them were escorted off the plane by cops. “Well,” Kenny said, “he brought the black out in me.”

The man who was antagonizing Kenny and his friend was banned from the airline for life, and the other two were re-routed, hence Kenny and my time together in line. I was sitting alone in my row on the plane when there was suddenly a big to do and Kenny kindly gave his seat up so a family could sit together. He chose my row, of the many options, and continued talking to me. He told me all about smoking doobies on the beach in California and then all about how antique trading was where the money was at.

He pulled a bunch of valuable wooden pieces from his bag and handed them to me to evaluate. “This one was smuggled out of Russia, it is worth ten grand,” among others. I had my camera phone and asked him if I could photograph his hands. He was wearing gold and diamond rings and had on that mink. He said yes, but told me to wait, and pulled out a money clip with a wad of hundreds and posed proper before handing me a photo of himself in his other mink.

Somewhere soon after that I put on headphones and took a nap and Kenny pulled out a soggy Whopper from his leather briefcase, wedged between all those antiques. I was eating oatmeal from the snack pack and was a bit envious of the burger and coke to my left. Kenny asked me to make sure I put his photo on my website, and that I title it, “The Cool-Ass Man Who Sat Next to Me On the Plane.” I try not to ever break a promise.

Breaking Up Sucks

In Breakups/Divorce, Dating, Mental Health on December 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Dear Yenta,

I’m a 23 yr old man who recently got his heart broken after being in a committed relationship with a woman. We broke up after three months of being apart (when I went to visit her). Another month and a half had passed, and now she’s back and reaching out to me. To be honest, I’m feeling kind of scared – my instincts are telling me to avoid her, even though I know we need to talk and gain closure. Even tough the breakup was really hard on me, she was abroad having a great time, so maybe it’s not real for me. This is all uncharted territory to me. What do I do?

-Closing Up

Dear Closing Up,

To me, the post-relationship window is a lot like many other life crises. It is like leaving home, or graduating college, comparable to culture shock when moving back from a foreign nation, or perhaps it is more like going abroad alone. What all of these stages have in common is a loss of comfort zone and a stepping out into new personally uncharted territory.

Life can sincerely suck while we learn lessons, for example, how to re-open our hearts after someone stomped on them. I was so relieved to hear you admit how scared you are. That takes real guts and self-awareness. It is scary. Last night I heard a woman do a spoken word performance about leaving the comfort of her job as a second grade teacher. She described jumping out into the unknown, and how thrilling and terrifying and very important the whole process was to her.

In some ways being in a relationship is like building a ship. You and your partner learn to navigate life together and then when the ship sinks, you have to re-learn how to swim. Couple that with the life questions, career choices, etc that come with age 23. In your case it also sounds like this woman suddenly feels like a stranger, because of the loss of trust. That can flip your world view completely, when you deeply trust something or someone and suddenly you no longer can.

My advice? Worry about number one.

It is up to you to sew your heart back together, closure or no closure. You get to choose if now is the time to talk to her, or if you need to wait. You get to choose if you need space or if you need a hug. As hard as it is to stomach, post-relationship you don’t need to be worrying about what is best for her, just you. The only key, though, is being respectful of yourself and this woman as you decide what that is.

Leaving a loved one is all of the aforementioned, leaving home, a sinking ship, going to a foreign place. Be easy on yourself as you navigate this new space of pain and loss. A woman on a plane today told me, “If you only get your heart broken once in a lifetime, well, that’s some kind of achievement.” When we got to talking we agreed that a million broken hearts could also be a blessing, because with each we learn how better to love ourselves and in the end, how to better love another.

On an airport shuttle I asked the psychotherapist sitting next to me what he would do for a man with a broken heart. He suggested you seek the counsel and leadership of one Sparrow Hart, facilitator of Circles of Air, Circles of Stone.

Whatever you do, know that when put towards the next hearts that enter our lives, the lessons we glean from heartache yield a bigger, more swollen version of love.

Sibling Sex… and More

In Roommates, Sex on December 28, 2009 at 4:33 am

The following questions were placed anonymously in an Ask Your 27-Year-Old Yenta question box.

Is it ever right to sexually gratify one’s own sister?

Wow. Well, probably. Let’s say you are a guy and you two were the last people on earth and you HAD to procreate to save the human race, it would be better to enjoy the act. Or, let’s say you are a sister yourself, and she was dying on her death-bed and you were the only one around. Her final wish was “I need an orgasm,” maybe you would be a jerk if you didn’t manually deliver.

But generally, yes, incest is taboo. This means try not to tongue kiss, feel up, or make love to your siblings. For examples of people who might disagree, read Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, watch Brenda’s incest dream on Six Feet Under, or rent the racy sibling sex movie The Dreamers.

For more see this article on a brother and sister who want to be accepted for their dirty deeds, and this response from Jezebel.com. In the end, though, you are the only one who knows what your own personal taboos are.

Has giving head made you nauseous?

I would venture to say that many people find giving head sickening. Ie, gag reflex. Many people don’t like things shoved down their throats or putting their mouths in wet areas in close proximity to human waste. Others hate the taste, the smell, the heat of genitals.

If you feel like puking because you got down on your knees for your lover it may be the act, or it may be you need to talk about oral sex, respect, trust, and whatever else floats your boat. Maybe you need assistance, Hershey’s syrup, marshmallow whip, honey: pick your flavor. Communication is always crucial. Don’t silence your tastes and distastes out of fear. This is a sign of poor lovemaking.

Reactions to sexual acts run the gammet. Don’t judge yourself, and never force yourself to do something if it causes you pain, nausea, or distress. Unless, of course, you enjoy those sensations.

Does being a roommate with a female provide the privilege of sex regardless of affection?

Um. No. No. And no. The “privilege of sex” is never automatically granted. Sometimes when people are roommates and attracted to each other, they get it on. Sometimes, when a roommate crawls into his roommate’s bed, who clearly doesn’t like him and doesn’t want him there, it is called “rape.” Careful, my friend. Sex is a consenting act between two willing parties. Love or affection may or may not be involved, but be sure consent ALWAYS is. How did we say it in college? “Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go!” Oh, and “No means no, it doesn’t mean maybe, don’t touch me my name ain’t baby!”

Brain-Injured Coworker

In Mental Health on December 25, 2009 at 10:38 pm

General self-care, ie, good food, excercise and relaxation breed patience.

Dear Yenta,

There is a woman I work with that has a brain injury that affects her emotions. And even though she tries to be friendly and nice, she can be very immature and irritating. How can I, under no uncertain terms, tell her I am not interested in being her friend but still not crush her?

-Avoiding Disaster

Dear AD,

When we encounter challenging people in our lives it is often a call to develop new skills. Patience is a virtue, so they say, one that is hard to come by, particularly when people annoy us. You need to cultivate patience, grow it like a plant, feed yourself so you don’t lash out unexpectedly at this woman. Friendship or no friendship, she will be at your job day in and day out.

Cultivating patience basically involves calming your own system. This could come as cooking for yourself, buying yourself relaxing things like soaps and candles, eating healthy, lessening caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake. Maybe add more excercise, yoga or meditation.

Tranquility is contagious just like frustration. If this woman is getting worked up, she may be picking up on your irritability. If I ran your office I would ask everyone to take extra care to calm their bodies and minds so this woman felt safe to do the same.

Oddly enough, a rabbi just walked by me while I was writing. I asked him your question and he answered, “I don’t think she should abandon her, this is her time of need.”

Perhaps instead of working so hard to avoid this woman, you should work on finding ways to face her and communicate with her more effectively. You might need to simply find solid ways of setting boundaries so she can actually honor them and this might require learning to speak her language.

People frequently talk down to those with brain injuries and mental illness, addressing them as if they were children. Often times people solicit less energy from others when they really feel seen and heard, with equality and respect. Treat a woman, brain injured or not, as you would like to be treated and you might be surprised by how her behavior towards you might change.

www.schizophrenia.com offers tips for communicating with the mentally ill. They specifically address the need to focus on both verbal and non-verbal communication. See below for more details and/or click here.

Watch your body, your words, your general demeanor. Work on clarity, intention, patience and kindness. In the end, whether you want to sever a relationship, or fine-tune it, these basic approaches should help you deliver your message without “crushing her,” so to speak.

More on communication from www.schizophrenia.com:


Guidelines for non-verbal communication:

1. Stand close to your relative, but don’t crowd his/her personal space.
2. Convey interest, concern and alertness through your body posture and facial expression.
3, Maintain eye contact with your relative.
4. Speak calmly and clearly.

Expressing positive feelings:

1. Look at the person.
2. Say exactly what the person did that pleased you.
3. Tell the person how their behavior made you feel. (Bad ex.: “You are nice to have around the house.” Good ex.: “I like it when you do a nice job cleaning the kitchen”).

Making a positive request:

1. Look at the person.
2. Say exactly what you would like the person to do.
3. Tell how it would make you feel.
4. Use phrases like “I would like you to….” or “I would really appreciate it if you would…..”

Expressing negative feelings:

Look at the person. Say exactly what the person did that upset you.
Tell the person how it made you feel.
Suggest how the person might prevent this from happening in the future. (Bad ex. “You are a frightening person.” Good ex. “I get very nervous when you pace around the room.”)

Active listening:

1. Look at the speaker.
2. Attend to what is said.
3. Nod head, say, “Uh-huh”.
4. Ask clarifying questions.
5. Check out what you heard.

Christmas in Rehab

In Mental Health on December 24, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Dear Yenta,

This Christmas I am not going home. I am in rehab and not talking to my parents and am feeling pretty terrible about the idea of spending the holidays like this. Presents are a regular part of my Christmas routine and I am pretty sure I won’t be receiving any this year. At all. Cheer me up?

-Doing My Time

Dear DMT,

First off, congratulations. While rehab seems like a death trap or punishment, in some ways it is a beautiful sign that you are choosing life. One thing that is hard with quitting addictions is the sense that everything in life is new. You are re-learning, as you know, how to live in the world, through and through, without your old ways.

I have a friend who used to be a badass on a motorcycle. He was diagnosed with MS about ten years ago and his wild promiscuous daredevil self suddenly seemed like it had died. Paralyzed and ill for a long time he was deeply depressed because all he could do was compare his two lives, missing what felt like “real living” and freedom. Once he let this anger go and stopped comparing worlds, his new life, suffering and all, yielded different types of rewards. He was actually happy, despite the treacheries of his condition.

I only mention this because this Christmas you might have to forget your old life, all the routines you recall, and reinvent the holidays. I am sure you are familiar with the concept “Give it away to keep it,” or “Pay it forward.” This is the fundamental basic idea that by giving, you will receive. Buddhists, after every meal, every act of service, every sitting meditation dedicate the merit they accumulated then and there to the reduction of suffering in the world. The idea is that goodness doesn’t need to be held, but passed on, and in passing it returns to the giver.

So this Christmas, give. Forget money and forget gifts. Get a pen, get a napkin, see if you can make the other people in rehab feel less homesick. Make little awards, recognize people’s talents, give them gold stars. I used to do this while waitressing, hand a customer a star of the day for best outfit, or most beautiful pregnant woman. You would be shocked by how far mini compliments can go. Their smiles will be your Christmas gifts.

Bust your heart open and make a collage for your neighbor, a love note for the depressive down the hall, heck, write yourself one. Give and give and give some more, in ways you never tried to give and watch this Christmas be better than any you have ever had. And from your Jewish Yenta, I wish you a phenomenal holiday and a year unlike any you remember, full of peace, tranquility, and sobriety.

Love Lusting

In Dating on December 23, 2009 at 11:11 pm


Dear Yenta,

My heart is full. I am completely in love with someone, but for some
reason, I can’t let myself love him. I look for something, anything
that I can find wrong with him. So far the list includes: hairy back,
small penis, and his weight. These are all very vain issues, which
don’t really matter to me because his personality is above and beyond
perfect. I am searching high and low for something to be wrong with
this man so I have an excuse not to love him. Help.

-Lost in Love

Dear Lost in Love,

I don’t know about you, but I first learned about love from seventh grade sleepover parties. That’s where a group of young women would discuss what their limits were with men, how to give a hand job, and when the relationship went from making out to real steady dating. I think, for many women, it is hard to transition from this holy grail of sleepover party advice to adult relationships.

For one, it is always important to look at our definitions of “love.” If you are “in love” and you can’t “love him,” then there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture. Where is this relationship at in its progression? Are you in lust, soon to be in love? In like? Infatuated? Click here for Seventeen ‘s help figuring that one out.

One middle school crutch worth leaving behind might be how much the physical lay the grounds for the emotional. As adults I think people often forget that as ok as it is to have sex and get dirty, it is also so ok to wait, go slow, and let your heart lead rather than your genitals. This slowing down makes space and time for real intimacy, real safety, and real depth.

One thing we did do well in seventh grade, despite the hype, was set limits and go slow, enjoying the intricacies of kissing faces. It sounds to me like this guy might be awesome, but you might not be ready to be serious now. This is why you are finding reasons to push him away, because you might not, on a deeper level, be sure you trust this dude yet. Key word = yet.

This is not to say he might not be the one, it just might mean you need to rip a hole in the relationship for some personal breathing room. Whenever we invent phantom issues it is because something else is troubling us subconsciously. His small penis and hairy back might really be a metaphor for your own fears and issues; your own broken heart and a need for some time to re-open it fully.

A wise friend in Seattle once said, “You can’t rush God.” I would say the same goes for love.

Questions From the Bar Crowd

In Dating, Sex on December 23, 2009 at 8:06 am

Tonight I ventured out to The Cowgirl BBQ in Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. What started innocently as dinner with old friends ended in the sordid collecting of random people’s concerns. Yenta came out of hiding.

Here are flash answers to three men’s burning questions:

Man #1) Why is it that most women tend to react in a negative way towards a threesome?

Simple, deary. A) No woman likes competition, so if you are proposing introducing a third party into a monogamous pair, depending on how you breach the topic she will feel unlovable. B) Women rarely like to be objectified as a viewing station for some skeezy dude at a bar’s lesbian fetish. If she wanted to do another girl, she’d probably leave the man out of it. C) You might just be talking to the wrong women. D) It is all in the asking.

Man #2) Why are games part of most relationships?

Games are the things we play either for entertainment or to get our back’s. When people feel insecure about being abandoned or rejected, they will weave in and out of opening their heart in order to test the water and make sure they don’t get burned, again. ie, if you want to stop the games, approach everything with sincerity and try to ditch the bullshit at the door. The safer people feel, the less likely they will use games to protect their hearts from getting broken. Just don’t go breaking the heart after you eradicate the game. Then we are all back at square one.

Man #3) Why do women always go after men that don’t treat them well, and then when there is a guy that treats them well, they treat that guy like crap?

Hmmm…well, since I sat next to this guy and played wingwoman to help him pursue the hot blonde to my left, I will say this: nice guys with no game or confidence will get treated like crap because women like it when someone goes out of their way to snag their attention, for the guy to then be capable of holding it. This lovely sweet man asking the question will get walked on time and time again because he is too scared and insecure and has very weak conversation skills.

This leads me to part two of the answer: women go for men who treat them like shit because they have low self-esteem and don’t believe they deserve love. Others do it because they have low self-esteem and don’t believe they deserve love and because their Daddy’s treated them like shit so the discomfort is actually comforting, brings them home. They then treat nice guys like crap because either a) they don’t believe they deserve to be treated so nicely b) the nice guy’s lack of backbone is too obvious and the woman knows he won’t stand a chance against her dark side and c) many women like assertive men more than wet blankets. Unfortunately many assertive men are assholes and many wet blankets are nice guys. Ideal man: assertive, kind and confident.

Better question: Nice guy – why do you always seek out women who take you for granted and treat you like shit?

Jacked Up On Jealousy

In Drama, Marriage on December 22, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Dear Yenta,

My husband and I have been together almost 5 years. When we first met, my husband was embarrassed to admit he’d married his college sweetheart – a marriage that lasted about a year – so he described her as a girlfriend until his big, dark secret was exposed.
I was pissed, naturally, and forbade further contact with her. If he was unable to be honest about the complexity of their relationship then of course he lost his rights to pursuing any further relationship or communication with her. I’m sure she’s a nice enough lady – heck, she doesn’t even live in this country, but she needs to buy a
clue. She knows what happened, knows I’m uncomfortable with her attempts to communicate with him (including attempts within the past few weeks) yet continues to try to make this pair a threesome. No thank you. My husband has no ill will towards her and they share a number of mutual friends, but I don’t care. I come first and am allowed to be selfish about this one. He denies contact with her – which for the most part I believe, yet her subtle ways of trying to engage him in her life have become unbearable for me. She has even gone so far as to friend all of my husband’s siblings on Facebook – some of which were children during the time of their relationship. I know the harsh words of ENOUGH need to come from my husband, but if he’s unwilling say anything to keep the peace, well then what should I do? Is there the possibility that I’ve lost the battle on this win…should I hang my white flag high and let these two have their friendship, but he loses our marriage in the process?

-Down and Out

Dear Down and Out,

This situation has turned into a poorly directed spiral of jealousy, control and deception. When it comes to maintaining an honest relationship, it takes two. One person needs to be open enough for the other to want to share, and vice-versa. You say “I was pissed, naturally” but your anger sounds misdirected. You put it all on this other woman, turning your hurt into jealousy, rather than addressing the rift in honesty in your relationship. Jealousy does not foster this openness.

In the 2.2.04 Psychology Today article, “Advice, A Jealous Fiancée,” Hara Estroff Marano writes:

“A little jealousy is reassuring and may even be programmed into us. It’s very common. A lot of jealousy is scary, and has driven people to some very dangerous behavior. There’s no reason to believe that jealousy will improve with time or marriage … Because jealousy goes right to the core of the self and its roots are deep, it is not something that can be banished by wishful thinking.”

From all the angst in this question I have to wonder first about your own relationship with your husband. Ok, so he married a woman he said he dated. Is he still married to her? No. He left her, found you, and vowed he would be yours until he died. If you don’t trust that vow then you need to revisit your relationship.

You need to search yourself and your partnership for answers, rather than trying to control this woman’s need for reconnection. It sounds like that lie your husband told really hurt you and ruined some sense of security for your marriage. How about starting by addressing that? Click here for help.

It is one thing to be insecure while dating, but marriage is a whole other ball game. It is a partnership that takes sincere long-term investment. And unlike dating, this investment comes from deep within each spouse, rather than deflecting drama to outside parties. It sounds like rather than obsessing over this other woman, who may or may not be a threat, you should start by focusing on the things you can actually impact, which are the communication, honesty, and general feeling of love and safety in your present relationship.

For more help try: Love Busters: Protecting Your Marriage from Habits that Destroy Romantic Love, or His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, both by Willard Harley..

Couples counseling should come long before Facebook stalking. There are more complex questions to evaluate, like why did your husband feel embarrassed about that first wedding, and moreso, why in front of YOU, his supposed most intimate partner? Also, why won’t he close this woman out of his life? Is it possible that she is an important friend to both him and his family? And that, at the same exact time, so are you? Can’t a man have a woman friend and a wife without it being infidelity? After all, he left her and found you. And finally, let’s say he seeks more from her and is betraying you, you have to wonder why he looks in her direction not yours. Instead of hating her, you need a Cinderella-esque mirror on the wall to explain to you why you might not be, at present, with all this jealousy and controlling fearful behavior, the fairest of them all.

If it seems like I am picking on you, don’t get me wrong, it is only because you wrote in. It sounds like your husband deserves a real talking to and also has some major work to do.