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The Advice Goddess: Blarenaked ladies
Monday, 15 February 2021 10:57
Syndicated columnist

Whenever I feel like I click with someone, I want to be upfront and tell them I like them right away. My friends all say this is dating suicide (and that’s how it’s been working out for me). But if I’m looking for emotional honesty in a partner, shouldn’t I lead with it?
— Confused


If we’re arrested, we have a right to remain silent. Ideally, we don’t just confess: “That was me, robbing the 7-Eleven. See — there on the video —- that’s my hair.”

 Best practices for criminals are also helpful for dating. In short, leaving some mystery as to whether you’re all in will make you seem more desirable. 

Consider that we value things that are hard to get, which is why people spend thousands of dollars on rings with sparkly rocks chipped out of African mines when there are very pretty sparkly pebbles that can be picked up all over suburbia.

 Psychologist Robert Cialdini explains that the less available something seems, the more desirable we perceive it to be. This doesn’t mean it is more valuable, but fear of losing access to it kicks off a motivational state in us: a drive to get it that we don’t feel when we hear, “More where that came from! Our supply’s basically on the level of ‘plague of locusts.’” 

 The thing is, you can tell somebody you’re into them through how you look at them and touch them. 

Consider where your longing to be immediately “honest” in spoken-word form might be coming from. Holding back information causes psychological tension, as does the suspense when we’re left wondering how another person feels. This tension is uncomfortable, so we long to relieve the pressure, like by exploding our feelz all over the person who inspired them. Tension released! Uh, along with the message that we’re probably deeply needy and “not all that.” 

 Try an experiment: With the next three guys you date, make a pact with yourself to tough out the discomfort instead of flapping your lips to make it go away. 

In practical terms: Don’t confess. Just be. You’ll ultimately have a better chance of finding the “emotional honesty” you’re looking for than if you try to rush the process — like by calling the guy up and blurting out, “Hi... I really love you!” 

A strangely familiar male voice responds: “I’m sorry, Ma’am. This is the gas company.”


Tender mercenaries

 I’m a 30-year-old woman. My ex is an extremely wealthy and successful Wall Streeter I found to be a charming sociopath: lying, manipulative, and willing to do anything to win. I was curious about the woman he was with before me, so I Googled her. Like him, she’s in her 40s and very good-looking. She’s really accomplished: an Ivy grad and founder and CEO of a successful company. I was surprised to see she’s dating a guy who’s a construction manager. With all she has going for her, why would she move from my ex to this man?
— Curious

Dating a sociopath lets you experience what it’s like to go temporarily insane. You scratch their back; they’ll stab yours and then somehow get you apologizing for how rude you were to leave those big blood stains all over their rug.

 It’s not surprising that you and this other woman were drawn to Darth Trader. Research finds that women (from the Amazon to the, uh, are driven to try to land high-status, high-earning men. 

But evolutionary psychologist Norman Li observed that, in some studies, this priority sometimes ranked surprisingly low on research participants’ wish lists. 

Li attributed this to how a good deal of mating research gave participants “sky’s the limit” options that don’t reflect the real-world constraints on people’s choices; for example, the “trade-offs normally made when people select mates, whose traits come in bundles.” (“Good earner” is packaged with “looks vaguely Neanderthal.”) Context also matters, like whether a person’s own mate value, on a scale from 1 to 10, is “Little Engine That Could”-ing its way to 6.

 Research by sociologist Yue Qian, among others, does find that high-earning, highly educated women tend to go for higher-earning, more highly educated men. 

However, it’s possible that, for this woman, feeling burned by a “great on paper” guy who treats others as vending machines for his needs provided powerful “context,” motivating her subsequent choice of boyfriend. 

I see that women in their 30s and 40s who previously snubbed men who weren’t power-brokers often start putting more weight on finding a loving man with good character. 

For this particular woman, a manly-man urban cowboy on a bucking earth mover might be just the change she needs — even temporarily — from a selfish, sociopathic Wall Street pretty boy.

 Ideally, if a woman describes the man she’s with as “amazing,” it shouldn’t be because he’s living proof that a human being can survive for decades without a heart.
(c.) 2021,  Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (



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