Sounds Like a Plan

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:15

    Dear Mark, The guy I’m seeing told me from the get-go that he wanted to take things slow because he’s been in serious relationships, one after the other, for years. Of course we have moved along at the pace of a 747. The thing is it’s fun and I really, really like him. Should I slow things down to keep him from repeating his pattern or just enjoy what seems to be the beginning of a great romance?

    Maybe it’s because I’m writing this from my parents’ house in Tennessee, but it sounds like you’re in the beginning of a country album. More specifically, it’s like you’re at the start of the new Sugarland record, Love on the Inside. The third track is an Appalachian foot-stomper called “We Run” that’s about the giddy rush of early love. Singer Jennifer Nettles ignores her better judgment about a cute, dangerous boy when she sings, “Hands are tremblin’/ Swore I wouldn’t... Hundred reasons/ Why I shouldn’t/ But I lost my heart and wanted him to win.” See where I’m going here? Right now, it’s easy to dismiss red flags because everything feels fresh and fun, but this guy has already been upfront about where he stands.

    His “slow it down” impulse isn’t going to magically disappear; so while you’re enjoying your honeymoon period, try to learn more about his patterns.What is it that keeps him bouncing from relationship to relationship? How does that stack up against your own issues? That doesn’t have to be a romantic buzz kill. In between your fun nights out, just carve out a few minutes to talk honestly to each other. The more you lay on the table, the less you’ll be blindsided by down the road, and that means the bubbly good times can last even longer. It could also mean you won’t wind up like the end of a country album, crying about the boot in your heart.


    Dear Mark, A group of my friends is planning a summer getaway to France. We’re all hoping to take a moderately priced trip for a week (going as a group reduces the cost for everyone). The problem is one pal who can’t afford it but refuses to be left out. How do we explain, without sounding bourgie or mean, that staying in a hostel and cutting corners left and right isn’t anyone else’s idea of fun? We’re all saving up to go enjoy time away from recession mania, so we don’t want to worry about anything while we’re there. Nobody wants to cut him out, but nobody wants to go all the way to France and not have the vacation of his or her dreams.

    What would you do?

    As usual, the answers lie with Cyndi Lauper, Delphic oracle of our times. As she says, “Money! Money changes everythiiiiing.”

    That song is awesome not only because of Cyndi’s paint-peeling vocals, but also because it acknowledges an uncomfortable truth: Finances get in the way of the best relationships.But by identifying money’s power, the song also kind of lessens it.When you get things out in the open, they’re much less intimidating. So follow Cyndi’s lead, and tell your friend the truth. Let him know what this trip means to you and the rest of the group, and how part of the joy will be treating yourselves to some creature comforts. Stress that it’s not about spending money as much as it is about celebrating.

    Then see if you can work out an arrangement that makes him feel comfortable without making you resent him. If you guys cover part of his costs, can he be responsible for something like making all the travel arrangements or cooking for everyone? Obviously, this is going to take some pride-swallowing on his part and some grace on yours, but if everyone agrees up front that you want him to participate in the ideal version of the trip, then it doesn’t have to be a big deal. If you all decide it’s not weird, then it won’t be. Also, it’s possible that once he realizes you guys will include him no matter what, he’ll relax about his finances. Personally, a lot of my anxiety about money is emotional, not practical; and when I calm down, I realize I’m better off than I thought. If he sees you really want him on the trip, he might react the same way.


    Dear Mark, Everyone thinks me and my best friend are a couple. In reality we’re just a guy and a girl who get along famously and have zero (honestly, no) sexual chemistry. The problem is that I feel like going places with him makes me less likely to meet other dudes, and when I do meet them they act like he is some sort of threat. Obviously any guy who can’t accept the bestie isn’t worth keeping around, but how can I explain to him that sometimes a gal needs her space in order to snag a man?

    Two crucial questions: Is your friend gay? If so, then just tell all your crushes about it. Trust me, it works every time. But if your homeboy is straight, I need to know: Have you already told him you want some solo time for bagging studs? If you did and he flipped out, then you could have some dependency issues to sort through.

    But if you haven’t told him and you’re just worried about it, it’s time to fess up.To paraphrase Destiny’s Child in “Jumpin’ Jumpin’,” he’ll probably understand why his lady needs to leave her man at home. And remember:You’re keeping him from getting laid, too.What’s good for the goose is good for the bestie.


    Mark Blankenship also runs The Critical Condition ([](, a groovy website for pop culture reviews.