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Dear John: He’s Slept With Everyone But Her

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected].

Dear John,
I recently graduated college and I am currently dating a guy who was known at school for hooking up with a lot of different women (including a few I know really well and consider friends). He was also reputed to be sort of a commitment-phobe.  He is incredibly charming and handsome and I really like him.  We have a lot of fun together and have many similar interests. I am not looking for a sexual relationship; as a matter of fact, I’m looking to build a friendship first. It’s not that I am a prude but I’ve been hurt before when sex happened early on in the relationship.  I have been dating my current boyfriend, the stud, for a couple of months and we are exclusive.  My friends from school cannot believe that I am dating this person.  They think that I’m just some sort of challenge because we haven’t slept together.  I’ve teased my boyfriend about his reputation and he claims that I am really special and that if there were ever anyone that he could make a commitment to, it would be me! He said that he is willing to wait for me to decide when I’m ready to have sex with him. Do I believe him or my friends?
Special Or Gullible?

Dear Special Or Gullible?,
Your friends could very well be right. On the other hand, maybe you are the woman he’s been waiting for. So in the face of these conflicting possibilities, you should listen to the one person who knows what’s best for you: you. Trust your own judgment, even if it’s just a gut feeling. For now, it sounds like what you’re doing is exactly right: you’re learning from mistakes you’ve made in previous relationships and taking your time, you’re talking with your boyfriend about what’s going on between the two of you and the expectations you both have, and you’re just taking it a day at a time. What’s wrong with continuing to do exactly that? From the sound of things, the only people I’d consider giving the heave-ho right now are any friends who refuse to take your relationship seriously. Their initial surprise is understandable, but insisting that your only appeal is in posing a “challenge” is not friendly at all.
Dear John,
I work in a creative field for a company that has offices all over the world. For the past six months, I have worked closely with a man from our office in Japan – he has been working in the US on a project our office is taking the lead on. I have learned so much from him. He is brilliant, funny, nice, and I have never met anyone remotely like him. No one here in the office knows it, but a few months ago we became romantically involved. But now it’s time for him to go back to Japan and I’m beside myself. I’ve really fallen for him. He wants to try to make our relationship work, but when I ask how that would be possible when we’re at opposite ends of the globe, he doesn’t really have an answer for me. He thinks with all the ways to stay connected now through things like Skype, the distance is something we can overcome, but I’m skeptical, to say the least. And I’m so sad at the thought of him leaving, I just don’t have the heart to feel optimistic. Should I be? If we both really want to make this work and we’re committed to doing so, do you think it’s possible? And I don’t mean will it be easy, but like I said, is it even possible?
Land Of The Setting Sun

Dear Setting Sun,
It’s true that people have more ways to stay in close touch than ever before, but it’s kind of ironic that it’s called staying in “touch” because the one thing it can’t do is provide the emotional sustenance that comes from actually being in someone’s physical presence. So yes, in the short term, Skype and its many variants can make being apart much more bearable than it used to be, but a relationship can’t live on such contact any more than you could survive by looking at pictures of food. If your relationship is to grow, you need to be together. How often can you get to Japan and how often can he visit the States? Will this be enough? If your feelings for each other deepen, what happens then? Will one of you relocate to the other’s country? To answer your question, yes, what you’re considering is possible, but only in the sense that it doesn’t break any laws of physics. Your only real hope lies in finding ways to be in each other’s presence, but with him in Japan and you in the US, I’m sorry to say that is an obstacle that falls just short of insurmountable.
Dear John,
I’m annoyed and I want to know if I’m being unreasonable. Three times now, my next door neighbor has taken things I have left on the curb to be picked up on trash day – three times I know about, anyway. He’s an elderly man who lives alone and he’s a little eccentric, and I certainly wouldn’t mind that he helps himself to my castoffs, but the things in question are all used outside, so I am stuck looking at this junk that I got sick of looking at in my yard, only to have them turn up in his. (In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about a chaise lounge, a big cracked planter, and a battered old grill.) I’ve thought of going over and asking him to please stop taking things out of my garbage, but I don’t want to be confrontational. But then I’ll drive by and see that ratty chaise lounge sitting in his yard like it’s Sanford and Son and I get so irritated. Is it too much to ask to throw something out and not have to see it again? Am I making too big a deal out of this, or is my irritation justified?
Trash Man’s Neighbor

Dear Neighbor,
One of the nice things about writing an advice column is that one gets to express a generosity of spirit one doesn’t always feel in one’s own life. Which is an overly stiff way of saying that if I were you, I would probably feel the same annoyance, but since I am not you, I can look at this situation with a niceness that is conspicuously absent when I’m the guy complaining.
The specific issue you’re writing about is pretty simply addressed: the next time you’re throwing something out, if it strikes you as being the least bit salvageable and you really don’t want to see it again, render it definitively unusable. Break the planter, flatten the grill, destroy the lawn furniture. (And by the way, where I live, things left on the curb are considered fair game for anyone, including neighbors, to claim because the city trash pick-up will leave it there.)
There’s another possibility altogether here, though, which I offer for your consideration: the next time you’re getting rid of something that you wouldn’t mind occasionally seeing again, perhaps you could bring it to your neighbor and tell him you’re leaving it on the curb and you wanted to give him first dibs on it. If only it were always so easy to brighten someone’s day.

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected].

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