How to let your fall-back guy off the hook

March 18, 2010

Dear Reid,

This guy I dated casually about 5 years ago popped back into my life the day after my ex of several years and I broke up. We started hanging out, and he told me how he wanted to date me, how he’s more attracted to me than any other girl and how he thought about me all the time. We dated for like 6 weeks, and then he started to get distant. I was getting clingy and seemed confused and insecure because it was so soon after my breakup.  I’d usually start acting over-analytical and confused when we did something sexual…

I told him I needed to be single awhile and take a break from guys, but I wanted one last fling. He turned it down, and said he wanted to date me in the future. That was 3 months ago. I hadn’t heard from him for about 1 month but now he’s poking me on Facebook, called me/texted me once when he was drunk and left a message. I returned the call and never heard back. I text him back and he’ll respond once, but not keep the convo going. Ran into my ex of 3 years, who told me this guy came up to him and introduced himself out of nowhere.

He texted me on my birthday, but then didn’t respond when I said thanks. I’m confused, we really got along and I dont’ know why he doesn’t act like he wants to be friends. Or why he contacts me every so often “just to stay in touch.” Should I be pissed at being the fall-back girl? Or should I be flattered he is waiting for when I’m ready to date him again?  He also went up to my ex and introduced himself at a bar- I don’t know what to make of this behavior.

Signed, Confused & Annoyed

I know how you feel. You’ve kept this guy on the hook for so long that it’s quite a shock to discover that he has finally grown a bit of a backbone. The poor guy has been waiting in the wings for you for years… probably hoping against hope that you’d eventually dump your jerk of a boyfriend and give a nice guy a shot for once. Then, when he finally saw his window and made his move, you told him that you weren’t ready to be with him right now, but you’d sure be happy to have a little fling. Hardly what he was looking for, and it seems to me he was quite clear about that.

Take a good look at the situation here: you’re not his fall-back girl, he’s your fall-back guy. And if you like him at all, you have two humane choices: date him for real, or let him off the hook once and for all. It seems like you’re ready to date again, or you wouldn’t be so confused and annoyed at his recent behavior. So, if he’s a candidate, let him know you’re back on the market and ready to give it a shot. If he’s not for you, and never will be, just let him know so the poor schlep can get on with his life. But please, for the love of Pete, no matter what you do, don’t tell him you just want to be friends.

Just one of the guys

July 1, 2007

Dear Reid,

So I am one of those girls who has all guy friends and hardly any friends that are girls. One problem with is i have no ability to tell if a boy is flirting with me because he actually likes me or if he just wants to be friends. I always get this part wrong but there is this boy and I really can’t tell.

He is a coach for this baseball team and I am a nanny, so we are always at their games. The first time I met him was at the boys’ camp, and from then on when he sees me at the games he always stops to tease me and say something. But then when my boys started going to the camp I would sit watching from a distance he would always come over (out of his way in a sense) and talk to me, or ask me why I wasn’t somewhere. He also started to joke around with the boys I watched.

I haven’t really had a real conversation with him except the day before my birthday but the moments we see each other are moments that are hard to really get more then two words in but to the point (sorry) the other night was my birthday and me and the boys I watch were at his game and he turned to me and mouthed “Happy birthday,” but then only talked my boys for the rest of the night and kinda ingored me. So is he ignoring me to try to get me to like him more or is he playing hard to get? I just want to know if he likes me or is there something that I can do?

Thank you,

Baseball Confused

I know how you feel. First, let’s get one thing cleared up: this guy likes you in a “more than friends” kind of way, without a doubt. So, in all likelihood, do the vast majority of the other guy friends you hang out with, but they’re all in an impossible situation.

It sounds to me like you’re one of those girls who confuses and confounds the hell out of guys. You’ve got a talent for flirting with them and getting them interested in you, but then you never give them the opening they need to take the next step. Thus, you have all kinds of guy friends hanging around all the time, but no boyfriend.

There’s a big misconception out there that guys always have to “make the first move.” In reality, guys NEVER make the first move. Guys simply react to the circumstances they have in front of them. If you want this guy to ask you out, give him an opening. If you want him to kiss you, linger in one of those long pauses to set him up. It’s a biological, deeply ingrained ritual we follow here. If you’re waiting for some magic movie moment when the guy spontaneously sweeps you off your feet, it’s not going to happen. You have to fall into his arms first, then and only then will he carry you off into the sunset.

I’ll leave you with one closing thought. If you think a guy might be flirting with you—even if it’s just a slight feeling or a hunch—he almost definitely is. Guys, on the whole, are not good at the whole romancing thing. We need a little encouragement, even if it’s just those subtle non-verbal cues. You have to do your part to move things along, or you’ll spend the rest of your life as just one of the guys.

How to be (platonic) friends with a guy

November 12, 2006

Dear Reid,

I recently started hanging out with this new guy I met, and I really like him—just not in “that way.” I know that he wants something more, but I just want to be friends.

I’ve often heard guys say that men and women can’t be friends, because there will always be sexual tension. I’m not wild about hanging out with someone who constantly wants to get in my pants, but I would be happy to hang out with this guy as long as we don’t cross the line.

Is it possible for a guy to be friends with a girl? And how can I be sure that I make it clear to him that friends is all we are?

—Jane Don’t

I know how you feel. Or, perhaps more importantly, I know how he feels. But before we get into what that is, it’s important that we establish a key difference between women and men. For a woman, a “friend” is a person she hangs out with but doesn’t have sex with. For a man, a “friend” is a guy. So, while the boundary between “friend” and “boyfriend” is fairly simple from the woman’s perspective—sex—it’s much more complex and confusing from the guy’s perspective.

As we’ve discussed ad naseum before, men are simple creatures. As such, we are very easily confused. Therefore, while a male-female friendship can certainly go on for years without incident, and there is only one key rule guiding the friendship in the woman’s mind (“Don’t have sex”), there are many more ground rules a woman must observe in that situation to avoid confusing her guy friends.

An excellent article on this very subject recently appeared on This Is By Us, a collaborative blog with a clever URL. For the sake of simplicity, I will paraphrase the most salient of those ground rules here:

  1. No hugging or kissing for greetings or salutations. Hugging is only allowed for personal tragedies or blessed events when the emotional significance of the situation blocks out the knowledge that your boobs are pressing against him. Kissing means sex. Always.
  2. No sleepovers. Men think of all women who sleep in bed with them as potential sex partners. He spends much of his free time trying to coax women into that bed, so if you get in there, he can’t help but think you want some.
  3. No seat sharing. When girls sit on a guy’s lap or next to him in a one-person seat, the proximity is arousing. A possible exception is fitting an extra person in a car that is filled to capacity. While he’ll suffer any indignity not to be the designated driver, it might not be the seat belt poking you.
  4. Try to avoid incidental contact. I can’t outlaw this since there are times when the brush of a leg or a sleeve is purely accidental, but try to be careful. You can take steps to not put your arm in his while walking or lay against him on a couch or other things like that. Those things lead to thoughts about sex.
  5. As the man said, you never give another man’s woman a foot massage. In fact, absolutely no neck/foot/back rubs or massages of any kind are allowed in a platonic friendship. That’s a lot of foreplay to waste on someone who doesn’t want the main event.
  6. No passing judgment on any girl that he dates. Good or bad, it’s the guy friends’ job to belittle and pick apart girlfriends. If a woman does this, it means she wants the guy for herself. So you think she is trashy and dumb? Well, you could have dated him but you just wanted to be friends.
  7. No judgments on any of his behavior. This could lead him to think you care a little too much about his well being. No telling him to stop smoking, drinking, or using women. If he is truly being an asshole in some situation, however, feel free to clue him in—that’s what friends do.
  8. No asking for man favors such as furniture moving, yard work, or car trouble help. Men don’t like to waste displays of extreme masculinity on women who have decided not to sleep with them. In a pinch you can bribe him to do man chores with beer.
  9. No flirting. So if you laugh at his jokes, they better be funny jokes. There is nothing that says “I want you” more than laughing at jokes that aren’t funny.
  10. No being attracted to him. He is going to be as attractive as possible in pursuit of other women, so this one may be difficult. In fact, don’t even tell him that he looks good, as that will torment him for days wondering if you’ve changed your mind about him.
  11. No confiding in him about boys. While you may not be able to grasp the difference, he is not your girl friend; He is your reluctant man friend who officially hates all men that you date now or in the future. Asking for hypothetical guy advice is okay; just don’t slam him with details about particular guys you are sleeping with.
  12. No dating any guy who treats you badly, disrespects or neglects you in any way—that’s just a slap in your friend’s face. He must truly adore you in order to suppress all those natural man urges for your friendship, so at least respect him enough to date someone who respects you as much as he does.
  13. You have to let him know immediately if you want to be more than friends. He’s only doing this to respect your wishes. If you ever want more—and he hasn’t moved on to someone else—rest assured that he will too.

Some of these rules may sound harsh, but they are imperative in order to keep the situation clear in the mind of an easily-confused man. As long as these rules are observed, he will not constantly think about getting into your pants, and you should enjoy a comfortable, uncomplicated friendship.

Please note that these rules only apply in a situation where there was initial, obvious attraction on the part of the guy. Almost all rules are moot if he never wanted you in the first place, or if you are already romantically attached to one of his guy friends. In either of those situations, you are essentially a guy to him, so be understanding of this fact if he calls you “gay” for offering him a hug or a neck massage.

Thanks again to moreanonymous from This Is By Us for first putting these ground rules into words.

Bikini-waxing best friend

November 8, 2006

Dear Reid,

What’s your real job?

My boyfriend’s best friend wants me to get a bikini wax. What kind do you recommend?

-Betsy C

I know how you feel. Selecting the right haircut for your pubic region can be a challenge. Are you looking simply to clean up those unsightly strings that peek out around the edges? In that case, you may simply want to wax around the edges and use clippers or a small pair of scissors to trim up the rest. This is the classic look, made popular by Playboy models of the 70s and 80s.

Or are you looking to make a statement? Today’s wax is extremely malleable, and it’s become increasingly popular to wax a clever shape into the bush. Some examples: a lightning bolt, a heart shape, a question mark, or the ever popular “landing strip” first seen in Penthouse magazines of the late 80s and early 90s. When in doubt, however, I always recommend the classic “Brazilian” style so popular among today’s adult film stars. There’s nothing cleaner, and more pleasing to the touch. It’s a little too much for some women, though, given the obvious suggestion of youth it conveys.

In the end, you should really look inside yourself to determine the kind of bikini wax that’s best for you. Your boyfriend’s best friend, however intimate you may be with him, would traditionally have little say in the matter.

As for my real job, as luck would have it, I’m a professional bikini waxer. Shoot me an e-mail and we can set up an appointment!

The poo-smearing friend

October 18, 2006

Dear Reid,

I have a problem. My “friend”, let’s call him “Abe”, recently visited my house. I was very excited to see him, had a very nice time, and was honestly sad to see him leave. You can imagine my suprise and horror, however, when I checked in the guest bathroom after his departure and realized that it had been smeared wall to wall with poo.

I guess what I’m asking is: Do you think Abe ‘likes me’ likes me? Or does he just like me? And if I think I like him back, how should I proceed considering the poo incident?

Mixed up in Poo

I know how you feel. Smearing poo all over someone’s wall can really send mixed signals. On the one hand, it might be a desperate cry for attention: “Love me! Look at my poo!” On the other hand, it could be a sign of intense disrespect: “I hate you! Look at my poo!” Interpreting the message all depends on the quantity and intensity of the poo smears.

If the smears appear to have been carefully and gently applied, perhaps in long, swooping curves, it’s probably a good sign. It’s even better if the poo is smeared into shapes, such as hearts and rainbows and unicorns. A lovingly smeared poo is certain to convey a message of admiration and, perhaps, adoration.

Contrarily, if the poo smears seem violent and angry—in short, slashing strokes—it’s not looking good for the possibility of romance. Poo that has simply been spread quickly on a wall with abandon, having been given little care for even dispersement and symmetrical presentation, is generally intended to convey a message of dislike. Even in this case, however, you need not necessarily take it personally. Perhaps he was simply offended by the pink stucco and bunny-rabbit trim in your bathroom.

Hawk your faux hawk

September 8, 2006

Dear Reid,

I’m having trouble coming up wi a way to get rich quick and I was wondering if you have any ideas. I know they say you have to spend money to make money, and I’m willing to do just that… starting with a $10 per week allowance. How can I turn my pittance into prosperity, prefrerably without having to wait? Please help.

Penniless in Pennsylvania

I know how you feel. I too have felt the pain of an empty wallet, and occasionally have trouble making ends meet. Why, just the other day I had to settle for buying a new 40″ flat screen TV, when I really wanted a 50″. But what’s a man to do? Being a world-renowned fake online advice columnist can only get you so far in life.

faux hawkSo I, like many others, have turned to the classic pyramid model business plan for help. The way it works, see, is that you take your $10 allowance and use it to send out 100 letters to people asking them to become your business partners in selling some sort of product; it doesn’t really matter what. (Hell, sell styling gel guaranteed to help you sculpt the perfect faux hawk, if you can’t think of something else.)

Anyway, you ask each person to send you $10 for the rights to act as a part of your sales force, and send the letter on to as many people as they can—each of whom is to send $10 to the one who sent them the letter. That person, then, must kick $5 back up to you. Those people then send out more letters, more money gets kicked back up the chain, and then eventually you’re rich.

Thankfully, in today’s modern world of e-commerce all this happens quickly enough that you can flee the country without ever having to deliver the goods. So, there you have it—a fool-proof way to get rich quick with minimal investment. And you owe it all to the faux hawk.

How to conquer the world

July 6, 2006

Dear Reid,

I’m bent on world domination. I was wondering if you could give me a tip or two on where to start. Also, I think my girlfriend is cheating on me. Any advice on how to tell if my suspicions are correct?

Thanks in advance,
Anonymous Destroyer of Worlds

I know how you feel. You’ll be surprised to hear this, but there’s actually a common solution to both of your problems. And a simple one at that: kryptonite.

You see, you seem to have some of the same personal issues in common with Superman‘s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor. For those who aren’t familiar, Superman is an evil super-powered alien from another planet. (I think they made a movie about him once.) Superman is always getting in the way of brilliant businessman Lex Luthor, mucking up his honest attempts to achieve the American Dream. (You know, the inalienable rights granted to all men by the Declaration of Independence? Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, yada, yada, yada.)

Every plan Luthor comes up with to make a buck—mostly real estate deals—Superman is there to stand in his way. And, Superman is always trying to steal Lex’s girlfriends. Miss Teschmacher was all over him in that swimming pool scene; in Smallville, Clark can’t stand the fact that Lex is giving the time to Lana Lang; and I’m pretty sure Superman stole Lois Lane from Lex during a story arc from Lois & Clark.

Anyway, you were pretty non-specific in your question, but your problems sounded so similar to those of Lex Luthor that I can only logically conclude that Superman must be standing in your way as well. And I tell you this in confidence, but it’s a little-known fact that Superman’s only weakness is a fragment of radioactive material from his home planet of Krypton. Luckily, the material is freely available on Earth, disguised in the form of U-shaped bicycle locks. Apparently, Superman spent much of his youth stealing bicycles from other children and joyriding past speeding locomotives, and doing doublepeg grinds on top of tall buildings (in a single bound).

So, get yourself a Kryptonite lock, wear it around your neck, and go conquer that world, baby!

Introducing your boyfriend to your girlfriend

April 21, 2006

Dear Reid,

My boyfriend and my girlfriend are supposed to meet next week and neither of them knows that the relationship with the other is not platonic. I can’t go on in secrecy, and besides, i want them both in my life. Since you have all this threesome experience, can you advise me on the best way to approach this meeting?

Two-Timing Tottie

I know how you feel. It’s always an awkward situation to come out as a bisexual to your heterosexual partner, or your homosexual partner, however the case may be. Fortunately for you, there’s a simple three-step process I recommend to all of my clients.

Step One: introduce pornography into the relationship.

Step Two: ???

Step Three: polygamous harmony for all involved.

Unfortunately for you, I can’t give away Step Two for free. To learn this valuable information, you’ll have to participate in one of my “How To Successfully Cheat On Your Significant Other And Then Turn It Into A Threesome That Makes Everyone Happy For Ever And Ever” weekend seminars. There’s one in Vegas on May 13. In the meantime, feel free to visit the Dear Reid Store, where you’ll find a wide selection of products sure to help with your situation.

The five-second rule

February 21, 2006

Dear Reid,

I need your help to settle an argument between my boyfriend and I. You see, he claims that food is still edibile within ten seconds of being dropped on the ground. Bacteria and germs, he says, can’t move that quickly, so it’s perfectly safe to eat, say, a potato chip if you are able to rescue it within ten seconds of ground contact. I, however, think that is disgusting.

Everyone knows that the rule is five seconds! That’s why they call it the five-second rule! Imagine all the bacteria and germs and other creepy crawly things that can climb onto a potato chip in ten seconds—you can’t! It’s unimaginable! Five seconds is a totally different story. Am I right?

Prissy about Pringles

I know how you feel. Unfortunately, though, there is no hard-and-fast rule about how long it takes for a potato chip to gather creepy crawly things when dropped on the ground. In fact, it’s more about the condition of the ground on which is dropped. Observe:

Enough said?

Using someone to lose your virginity

February 20, 2006

Dear Reid,

So I got a boyfriend, but I don’t love him. I think I just want to use him to lose my virginity. I know it’s bad—I know that I should break up with her—but I want some experience in sex before I go into a real relationship. I think he doesn’t love me either.

My real problem is that I think I’m in love with my gym teacher. I’m 18 and he’s 8 years older than me. I think he likes me, too, in some way. I’m feeling weird when I’m around him, and today we talked on MSN and we got along pretty well. So I don’t really know what I want, or what should I do. Please give me some advice!


I know how you feel. It’s hard being a virgin, and I should know. No, not because I am one (really, I have had sex, I swear!) but because I’ve seen The 40-Year-Old Virgin like 5 times. Regardless, it’s not really that uncommon to use someone for sex; especially if they’re getting paid for it. The going rate, I believe, is something like $200 an hour—not that I’d know from first-hand experience. (No pun intended.)

But, Susie, it appears as if you’re confused about a lot more than just your gym teacher here. It appears that your real confusion is with gender identity. You say you “got a boyfriend” but you know that you should “break up with her.” And, in 10 years of giving utterly useless advice™, I can’t remember a single time when a girl was worried about using someone for sex.

Come clean, Susie, are you really a male? I think you need to sort out your gender and sexuality issues a little bit before you go hopping into bed with the first person who’s willing. And definitely before you go after someone much older than you. Finally, are you sure this gym teacher is even gay? (You know how I know you’re gay? Because you like Coldplay.)