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Is he really all that?

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I'm a 32-year-old, very attractive, very fit SWM living in NYC. I'm well-read and well-spoken. I march to the beat of my own drum. Friends tell me that my personality is intense. It must be true -- everyone concurs. I'm extremely idealistic, and I count myself as a romantic. I'm interested in an intense and consuming love affair with a woman. But friends tell me that my approach to courtship and my energy scare women off.

I'm tired of fouling things up and making myself lonely. Yet, when a lady friend of mine, in response to my most recent upset, suggested I spend a night out with her where she would act as my wingman, I recoiled. Prowling for random women in a bar doesn't fit my sense of romance.

Should I consider counseling to try to tame my personality? Should I just be myself and continue being lonely and misunderstood?

Wild Horses Drag Me Away

You don't give me much to go on, WHDMA. It would help to know, for example, what exactly you're doing -- besides being all intensely romantic and extremely idealistic and physically fit and stuff -- that scares women off. How does your "intensity" manifest itself? Without that info, it's difficult to whip up some advice for you.

But I can do a little decoding for you: When friends say "your personality is intense," what they typically mean is "you are an asshole."

Assholes who have friends sometimes conclude that there's something wrong with dating or bars or all the women and/or men on the planet because, hey, I've got friends -- and if my friends can stand me, why couldn't my ex-girlfriend(s)? But friending, if I may borrow Facebook's proprietary verb, an asshole is easy; dating an asshole is hard. (Or that's what my boyfriend tells me, anyway.)

A friendship involves a smaller time commitment; a girlfriend, if you could keep one, is required to spend much more time with you. Not only that, WHDMA, but people who are romantically involved with assholes come in for a higher degree of scrutiny. A person with an asshole friend is regarded as tolerant and/or indulgent and/or foolish. But a person with an asshole boyfriend is viewed as having a character flaw. Or several: lousy taste in men, the wrong kind of masochistic streak, low self-esteem, abuse issues, etc.

So, yeah, you should consider counseling to "tame your personality." Your alleged virtues -- extremely intense! extremely romantic! extremely idealistic! -- may not themselves be the problem. But if the people living outside your skull have identified them as impediments to your professed romantic goals, WHDMA, then there's something problematic about the way you're expressing them.

And that lady friend who offered to take you out and act as your wingman? I suspect she was trying to pull the stick out of your ass and trying to get you to see that dating -- at least at the outset -- is about pleasure, not intensity. I assure you that bars all over the civilized world are packed with "random women" as interested in intense and consuming love affairs as you are. You might want to give them a chance.

I am a 30-year-old female with a live-in boyfriend. While we're not without our problems, the relationship is wonderful. My only big issue is that I don't enjoy cohabitation. Before living with my boyfriend, I lived in a studio apartment, my little castle, and I relished having my own space. I would love to go back to us each having our own domicile, but I am afraid of losing him. And the thought of being "with" someone then going back to your own home has been met with such criticism by my friends that it makes me wonder if there may be something wrong with my relationship that I just can't detect consciously.

But I want my own space. Is it unusual to want your own space?

Independent But In Love

I know a nice, loving couple -- married, straight, with kids -- who each have an apartment in the same building. The kids' rooms are in mom's; the meals are prepared and eaten at dad's. They decided to live like this because, like you, they both liked having their own spaces.

You can do it, too, IBIL. But you won't be able to have what you want until you stop worrying about what other people think and start being honest with your boyfriend about your preferred living arrangement.

Apropos of nothing, Savage, you fucking suck ass.

You And Your Column Both Suck

Have I ever claimed otherwise?

And apropos of nothing, YAYCBS, I'm totally grooving on Garfunkel & Oates right now (www.garfunkelandoates.com), and everyone has to check them out; Perez Hilton was absolutely right about Miss California (she is a dumb bitch); Seattle-based artist Kim Graham (www.kimgrahamstudios.com) is getting centaur fetishists halfway there; and I recently visited the University of Georgia in Athens, where the kids asked me to come up with a dirty meaning for "between the hedges," which is their football stadium's nickname. Off the top of my head, I said, "The boy in a girl-boy-girl three-way could be described as being between the hedges." But upon further reflection, I think the term is a better description of going down on a woman with a particularly hairy bush -- and the tongue, not the boy/girl doing the tonguing, is "between the hedges."

Download the Savage Lovecast (Dan's weekly podcast) every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage. To ask Dan Savage a question, write to mail@savagelove.net.

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