Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

When He Is Too Loud

In Dating on August 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm

You say potato...

Dear Yenta,

I have been dating this guy a few times and he has an obnoxiously loud voice. Every time he speaks when we are at dinner I want to crawl under the table because everybody is staring at him. When is it too soon to tell a guy you have been seeing that he talks too loud?

To make matters worse, when he wants more water he waves his glass and shouts “hello, hello” to the waiter. Last night we went out for sushi and he demanded a spoon and started shoveling the sushi in his mouth. I am totally embarrassed. What do I do?

– Desperately Seeking a Normal Boyfriend in the Big Apple


Well, for this one I summoned the powers of my mother, who said flatly, “Get rid of him.”

My own first question would be to ask why you are dating him, what are his redeeming qualities? Do you like him for him, or are you sitting and enduring these dates simply because he likes you? Is there something fantastic about this rude boy that makes you want to overlook his flaws? Or, are they what take the cake?

My mother says that you can’t tell him what’s wrong with him. She says you need to find another man, or learn to love this one’s weirdness, you can’t change him.

I think it is important to look closely at the ticks that are bothersome about another person. Why does his loudness agitate you? His yelling at the waitress like a slave? Is it something in you, or something in him that needs to be changed? The insensitive details you listed lead me to believe that this man’s flaw is a basic lack of self-awareness and lack of respect for those around him. Why would you want to keep dating someone like that? What does he give you? Also, what kind of bozo eats sushi with a spoon?

There is, though, the possibility that he has something valid wrong with him, in which case choosing patience would be up to you. Again, a decision based on what he does that is positive and enriching in your life.

Only you know what kind of man you are looking for, what kind of things turn you on and off, and only you know if there is more to this story or if the buck stops here, table manners reflective of his general personhood.

Step one in finding New York’s finest dating prospects, in your case, would be drastically raising your standards and believing you deserve the very best in table manners, respect and general enjoyment. Also, knowing what you are looking for in a man makes dating less torturous. This way, if he doesn’t have what it takes you don’t have to agonize over it, you just know. Patience is key when searching for a worthy match. That, and remembering that you should have the very best.

Ask Yenta Anything!

E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

How To Seduce A Bisexual

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on August 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Dear Yenta,

I recently went out with a charming and cute young lady. However, up
until last week, I was pretty sure she was exclusively into other
women (from common acquaintances and context). But we hit it off
really well, and we have great chemistry when we dance. I’m sure she
could be bisexual in this day and age, but I don’t want to offend her
by trying to make out with her if she is really only into girls. I
also have no desire to ask her, “Are you gay?” Any suggestions?

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Chick chock? No. Slow and steady wins the race.

Dear Barking Up the Wrong Tree,

When you like a straight woman, how do you know she is into you? Would you just walk up to her and start sucking face to express your lust? My guess is, no. Bi and gay women aren’t politically correct specimens, waiting to be offended, they are just women.

List the signs in your mind that indicate a green light with a straight woman and then apply them to your relationship with this new woman. There isn’t a huge difference when a woman is or isn’t into you, if she is also into women. The same rules apply, your mind just gets more wrapped up in the possibility of rejection when all genders are competing.

Give this one time, test the waters, do what you do, gently, nothing too intense, to show her you are looking for more than friendship. Go slow and watch, like you might with any woman who you are truly interested in. If she takes the bait, then keep moving in the romantic direction.

Gay and bi and straight are just labels used for identity markers, politics and convenience. She might be gay, she might be bi, she might be into you, and she might not be. Treat her like a woman who you find appealing, and just see if those feelings are reciprocated. Also, “this day and age” is perpetual, you never know, never knew if a woman you were with initially wanted a woman more than she wanted you. Again, you never know. Just jump.

Ask Yenta Anything!

E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

The Perils of Genius

In Career on August 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm

"Mirror, Mirror on the wall, when I'm famous will I have it all?" Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

I am 27 years old and am famous. My art is hugely successful and I am slowly feeling miserable despite. I feel enormous pressure to create more art of the same caliber and am terrified that people will know me as an artist with a sick case of beginner’s luck. I find it hard to be polite or kind and am generally frustrated with this trapped feeling.

-Stuck On Top

Dear Stuck On Top,

Oye. This is the dilemma that no one warns you about, the pain of success. There is a saying that goes, “If people are jealous of you, then you are doing something right.” I am guessing that people are not easy to navigate when you already sparkle so brightly.

A few questions come to mind. Do you love your artistic craft? Does it fuel your day, inspire you, make you feel more beautiful? While many of your friends are probably choosing husbands, you are going to have to get busy marrying your work. This means being sure you want to keep going, that you chose this field rather than it choosing you. There is no rule that one must commit to their genius.

On the other hand, though, that commitment part is the most fantastic and arduous element of your bright gift. It is as if you just passed through the honeymoon period and are now committed to this thing you are unsure you want to wed. Forget what everyone is saying about you. Shut down the tabloids. If you love making art, then get busy loving it. Your art will evolve, with highs and lows, and even if the public can’t be patient, you need to try.

If you love what you do, chances are with time it will again reveal beautiful results. Be diligent, perseverant, and learn to engage even when there is no return. Try not to get attached to the spotlight, to the glory of it all, and link in instead to the basic animalistic fever of artistic dedication. Also, remember that you and your art are separate, and nurturing yourself and learning to love yourself even when the world thinks you are failing will eventually provide a stronger base to your projects.

Ask Yenta Anything!

E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Greedy Grubber

In Dating on August 1, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Yenta,

I have a friend who comes over for lunch or dinner once or twice a week. He never brings any gifts or offers to help clean up or takes me out to eat or invites me over to return the favor. While I do enjoy being generous and give without the incentive of receiving, I do expect some show of appreciation. Should I say something to my friend?


Dear Annoyed,

In the words of Mother Theresa, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” In the words of me, tell this guest to get cleaning or get out. I am not completely sure the gentle way around a greedy grubber, but I do know the feeling of giving until you are exhausted of all energy. There is no written law that insists you have to enjoy giving when the receiver begins to leave you drained.

Gentle suggestions, “How about you cook next week?” Or “Would you mind helping me with the dishes?” often suffice. Another option is to reel in the generosity. Sometimes when we think we are being generous we are, in fact, addicted to being needed. Figure out your role in this situation, as much as the free loader’s. Why have you been able to set up this dynamic continually, despite the energy suckage? What are you afraid of in simply asking for reciprocity?

Reciprocity and forced gratitude are very different. “Hey, could you bring lettuce for the salad tomorrow?” is not the same as, “You ungrateful shit, I can’t believe you have never thanked me, or even bothered to lift a finger. I am not your slave wife.” Be good to yourself by learning to ask for help. You might be pleasantly surprised by how willing your guest is to rise to the occasion.

If that doesn’t work, and this person continues to feed off of you, get nasty. You aren’t obliged to be generous unless it makes you feel good, with or without a thank you. Don’t cheapen your gift-giving nature by dishing it out half-heartedly. Create a scene where giving in and of itself makes you feel full.

Your 28-Year-Old Yenta

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

In Breakups/Divorce on August 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Dear Yenta,

My ex and I broke up a little over a year ago. While we’ve chatted here and there since, he has recently been trying to be a part of my life again. Specifically he has been inviting me to dinner dates and to his parties. I am currently dating someone else and its getting pretty serious, so I’ve been declining my ex’s invitations.

After my ex’s birthday party, which I didn’t attend, he told me that he realized that he still wants me to be in his life, even if we aren’t together. He said that I was the person who first made a big deal about his birthday, and he remembers the good times we had and even though we aren’t together he would still like to be friends and have me in his life.

The ex has invited my boyfriend to these parties now, so at least is not a secret ploy to get me back as a girlfriend. I miss my ex too, we are best friends, but can you be friends with an ex?


Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II,

Dear Conflicted,

Start by watching Sex and the City, Season 2, Episode 3, “Ex and the City” for food for thought. Next, weigh your own needs, emotions and general status with all of this. What role did the ex-boyfriend play in your life? Is your new boyfriend playing that role? Do you still need your ex, or for that matter, do you honestly still want him in your life? Is he really still your “best friend?”

If these questions are so hard to answer, it makes me wonder if you still have feelings for your first love. Is he the one you want around when things get rough, or the new “more serious boyfriend?” Also, are you getting off on the attention? Sometimes it is hard to cut old lovers out of our lives because they look at us and pine for us in ways that we miss.

You mention your ex’s voice a lot in your question. You seem concerned about how much he misses you, how nice it was that you made a big deal for him on important holidays. Maybe this guy needs to find someone else to pay attention to him, celebrate his birthdays, make him feel special, rather then crossing boundaries and yanking your love life’s chain.

Bottom line: friendship with an ex has to do with two parties and both of their intentions. If you both want “friendship,” then make “friendship” work. That means maintaining trust, maintaining respect, and not crossing the line repeatedly. It does not sound like your ex is being a good friend, it sounds like he is acting in his own, and only his own, best interest. If you want games and leftover lust; if you are having a hard time locating this so-called friendly relationship amidst your older more romantic feelings; and if you truly value your new man, then I would say be brave, cut the ex chord, and give your new boyfriend your all.

Your 28-Year-Old Yenta

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta


In Mental Health on August 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Dear Yenta,

I am not happy. I have an amazing son, good job, a beautiful home to live in, but every time I try to smile, tears fill my eyes. I try to blame this feeling on my divorce, my paranoia that my co-workers hate me, or the fact that I have given up on pretty much every dream that I have ever had because I am so tired all the time, but pushing the blame on things does nothing but remind me how pathetic my life has really become. I’m lost in a life that keeps spinning and piling up on top of me, and I don’t know which way is out. What do I do?

– Out

Dear Out,

Step one: take a deep breath. When life starts to strangle you, teeny tiny baby steps are the only way to dig out of the hole. I would say start by taking inventory. Pause after your darling son is asleep and take notes on a number of things. A) Who do you have in your life that you CAN trust? That you CAN lean on? Seeing who these people are on paper is a helpful reminder that you aren’t alone. B) What have you done right, and well? This can be things that seem small but are really huge, like sustaining the life of a healthy child. This is a giant accomplishment. Note the little things, he is clothed, he is fed, he is not ignored. You would be surprised by how important these things are.

An inventory is really a way of gently shifting a mindset. If you think you are falling in a hole, it will be easier to lose your grip. But if you believe you are grasping and climbing out, this will begin to happen. It sounds like you have had a real run for your money in the past few years. Another inventory you can take is on how to begin to be gentle and loving with your exhausted self. Keep tea stocked. Take baths, invest in bath salts. Find a massage school near you and get a cheap treatment while a friend babysits, maybe offer to buy them a massage in return. Money doesn’t buy relaxation, investment does. Treat yourself with care in those tiny in-between moments when motherhood and work are not taking the reigns.

Do you have health care from your job? Can you find a therapist to support you, while you are supporting your family? You would be amazed how nice 50 minutes about you a week can feel. Also, stop, notice, breathe and write. Write it all down. Get creative, get crazy, work out all that divorce angst bottled up inside what looks like a perfect exterior life. Purge the feelings so you can be present, and see how wonderful you and the life you have created are.

And finally, re-visit your dreams. You are not dead, honey, just raising a child alone. As shut as all the doors seem, you need to be patient and remember that time brings change. Think of Langston Hughes and “A Dream Deferred.” List those aspirations that you think you completely lost, and remember that in time your son will go to school and become more independent and your dreams, on layaway, will explode again. Also, remember how you once dreamed of having children, and now you do! Enjoy that precious child.

Your 28-Year-Old Yenta

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta