My boyfriend is a professional photographer. His work is just amazing and is the reason I originally fell in love with him. We met at a gallery showing of his work and he asked me to model for him. I know, it sounds like a come-on, but honestly, I really did model for him (non-nude) for about a year before we went on our first date. Now we're living together and things are really, truly wonderful, in every way, including the bedroom.
Or, they were. Since the economy went to hell, he's been having a hard time finding work. He's even done a few weddings just to make ends meet. You have no idea how soul-crushing that can be for an artist like him. But he did the work, and I'm proud of him, plus the pay was good.
That's not my problem. Or maybe it is. Because of lack of work, he's been spending a lot of time at home. I have a regular 8-5 job. The other day, they closed the office early because of the snow, and when I got home, he was asleep on the couch. His laptop was open, so I sat down to check my Facebook and found his Photoshop program open with a picture of a nude guy. There were lots of pictures of this nude guy, and as I found out, lots of pictures of lots of different nude guys. They're really cute and Oh My Lord, but that's totally beside the point.
My boyfriend says that he has been shooting soft porn on the side. He says didn't want to tell me about it because he's embarrassed. But I can't help thinking if that's what he's really doing, he should have some pictures of naked women, too. Honestly, it wouldn't bother me at all if that was what he was really doing, but I don't know when he's been going on these shoots. He's always home when I call. And if he's been making extra money, I haven't seen any of it.
I'm afraid my boyfriend is gay and downloading gay porn. I don't know what to do.
—Heartbroke in Hickory Hill
Be at ease in your heart. I don't think your boyfriend is gay. He probably just has latent bisexual feelings that he's been exploring in his abundance of boredom and free time. Chances are, he will never act on them. But he may. That's a risk we all take, no matter who we're with – straight, gay, or bi. By making it unsafe for him to look at pictures of nude men at home, you might force him out of the house and into the very thing you most want to avoid.
I'm going to offer something a little radical here. First of all, does his attraction to the male nude form make you uncomfortable? If this is something you can live with (provided he doesn't act on it), maybe you should invite him to share his fantasies with you, instead of hiding them. You said the photos were hot. Maybe the two of you could get off together. Crazy, I know.
And maybe, just maybe, with your blessing he could actually do some male model photography and start earning money. Idle hands, as they say, will find something to play with.
I am having an affair with my neighbor. She is 20 years younger than me and is also married. We are desperately in love and have decided to blow up our lives and be together. I know it sounds like I am "that guy" but it's not like that. I've never felt this happy in my whole life, now that we have decided to do this. She is amazing on every level.
My problem is that my wife is a good person and will be devastated when I tell her. Is there a good way to handle this? My mind is made up.
-- Living the Dream
An acquaintance of mine, who I'll call Mack, was in your boat a while back. Married to the same woman for 25 years, he met a much younger woman and decided to chuck it all – wife, kids, house, even his job – so he could be with her. He said he had found his soulmate. I thought he just found someone who blew his mind in a way he'd never been blown before, if you know what I mean. In honor of the place they met, we'll call her by her World of Warcraft name - Tonguestud.
Desperately in love, Mack leaves his wife, apologizes to the kids, and moves three states away. A year later he sends me some pictures - of his wedding, Mack and Tonguestud on the beach on their honeymoon, etc. This was the first time I'd ever seen a picture of Tonguestud. When Mack told me he was running off with a 24-year-old woman, I figured he was trading up for a newer and sportier model. Middle aged guy grabs the trophy wife, that sort of thing. Boy, was I wrong. She looked like Shrek on steroids, at least a foot taller than Mack and shading him a good hundred pounds. It still pains me to think of it.
The thing is, Mack really had found his soulmate. I never believed him until that moment.
Is there a good way to handle this? Tell her you've found your soulmate and her lawyer will only smile and whet his knives, knowing you will do anything and give up everything to get out of your marriage to the old ball and chain.
The answer is – no, there's no good way to sugarcoat your betrayal. If it's really over, don't try to spare her feelings by being anything less than completely honest, because all you will do is create doubt about your commitment to your decision. Don't hang around forever. Don't try to soften the blow by letting her talk you into counseling. It won't soften the blow. It will only drag out the inevitable.
At the same time, don't be a dick. Don't just up and leave. Don't send her a text or an email. Be a man and face her. Quietly suffer everything she throws at you, because you deserve it. When she's taken out her fury and the ice cold hate starts to settle in her heart, then you can pick up your suitcase and make yourself scarce.
You say you are desperately in love. If I may offer a small piece of advice – never do anything permanent out of desperation. Divorce lawyers buy their trophy wives with the money of desperate men.
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My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. I have a five-year-old son from a previous relationship. My boyfriend recently started going to church and now he wants me and my son to go with him, even though he knows I'm not a religious person. I'm not exactly an atheist. I just don't know, and really, I don't care to know. It's not that important to me.
I've told my boyfriend how I feel about this. I liked our old Sunday mornings together, sitting around the house in our pajamas, but I didn't get upset when he started going to church. He's disappointed that I won't go to church with him, but he still wants to take my son. He thinks it's important that my son receive a sound moral base on which to build his life. As if he needs a church for that.
My boyfriend is really good with my son. I totally trust them together. I'm just not sure about sending him off to church. I mean, what's the point? And what if he comes back one of these little brainwashed zombie Jesus kids you see on Youtube?
--Having Zombie Nightmares
If my sainted mother were here, God rest her soul, she would say, "He wants the boy to have a sound moral base? Then tell the fornicating SOB to marry the boy's mother instead of living in sin for three years!"
You don't sound like you feel strongly one way or another about religion. You're just a little nervous about letting go of your son.
In my opinion, a five-year-old has no concept of church and isn't going to obtain any kind of moral base, zombified or otherwise, on which to build his life by squatting behind a high church pew scribbling pictures of dinosaurs on the back of donation envelopes. Unless the church in question has an advanced zombification program (and some do), your son should be safe from their clutches until the age of eight or nine, at which point you can revisit this issue.
If, at that point, your boyfriend is still your boyfriend, I suggest listening to my mother's advice, to be sure.
Bottom line - you're the boy's mother. If you don't want him in church, don't let your boyfriend take him. A kid's moral base is built upon the daily living example of his parent or parents, not the sermons that put his parents to sleep once a week.
But if it were me, I'd seize the opportunity to have an hour or two alone on Sunday morning. This could be a blessing.
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I'm a senior in high school. My girlfriend, who is also a senior, goes to the same school. We've been together for almost a year now and we really love each other. We've even talked about getting married some day.
This year, my uncle gave me and my mom a wonderful Christmas present — a two-week trip with him to France and Switzerland. This will be my senior trip after I graduate this May. This is like a dream come true for both of us. Mom always said, if she ever won the lottery, we'd go to France. That seemed like the only way we'd ever get there. She is so excited, she can't stand it.
My girlfriend isn't so excited. See, before this happened, we were planning to go on our senior trip together to Florida. We've been working and saving up for it. My girlfriend says that if I go to Europe, she will go to Florida with someone else. I'm pretty sure she means another guy, and believe me when I say she would have no trouble finding one. Although this is a trip of a lifetime, I would give it up for her, except for one thing: I'm planning to go to college in California. She's set on attending the University of Memphis. If I get an offer from USC, as I hope and believe will happen, is she going to threaten to break up with me if I leave Memphis to go to school?
I don't want to give up my trip or my dream of USC, but I don't want to lose her, either.
-- Lost and In Love
Do I even have to answer this question? Of course, she's going to leave you if you go to USC. You are in love with a manipulator, and I seriously doubt she is in love with you. She's in love with controlling you. Five-to-one you never know if you're going to see her until right before you see her. How many weekends has she left you hanging while she tried to make up her mind who will be more fun — you or her friends?
Take the trip. While you're there, meet new people. Fall in love. Expand your horizons. Learn something new. You'll come back older and wiser than just two weeks, and that probably scares her to death. She won't be able to control you anymore. When you come home, she'll either be there or she won't. If she's still there, enjoy your summer together, then go to USC and meet someone new. Don't let anyone hold you back. There's a million girls out there.
If you give up your trip, if you stay home for this girl, if you end up marrying her, you're going to be divorced in five years. Guaran-damn-teed. Either she will leave you for someone more exciting, or you'll get fed up with her games. At the end of those five years, you'll have nothing but heartbreak and regret, and maybe even the crushing financial burden of child support payments. If you go on this trip, and if you go on to USC, five years from now you'll have a degree and your whole life ahead of you.
And when you're my age, you can hook back up with her on Facebook, or whatever they have by then, and thank your lucky stars (and your uncle, and maybe even old Jack here) that you got out while you still could. Trust me. Now go have fun. I wish I were you. Got a problem? Jack Waggon will set you straight: email@example.com
I've known you for many years and I'm hoping my daughter will see this, recognize herself, and do something about her life. She hasn't worked in two years, her worthless husband hasn't had a job in over three years. Neither one of them is even trying to find work, nor do they have any marketable skills thanks to their decision to quit school and have babies. I've offered to hire them both to work at my business, but neither one of them even want to work. They'd rather live off unemployment and food stamps while mooching off my wife, who gives them money behind my back.
I know how hard it can be for young people, but to be perfectly honest, it isn't that frigging hard. I managed to make something of my life without a college education, and you have to admit I'm a pretty successful guy. There are places to work for those willing to knuckle down and to what it takes. I've told them both that if they want to keep receiving help from us, they are going to at least have to try to find a job, somewhere, anywhere, but it's killing me inside to cut them off because then what will happen to my grandchildren? I don't want to take custody of them because I've already raised my children. What can I do?
— At My Wit's End
This is going to piss you off, but here goes. You have zero idea what it's really like in the world. You see yourself as some kind of bootstrapping hero of capitalism, a self-made man who lifted himself up from nothing to become the successful businessman you are today. Don't get me wrong. You've done well. But the man you think you are is really your father.
You've only ever had one job in your life, when you went to work for your old man straight out of high school. He'd built a modestly successful business and you worked like a slave for him, but you did it knowing you were going to inherit the business one day. He was already on his second heart attack before you were 18, so you knew you wouldn't have long to wait. And you didn't, did you? So there you were, not even 30, and in charge of the business your father built, living in the paid-for house he left you in his will. You've never had to find a job on your own. You've never been without work or without means. You've never had to make a mortgage payment. You tell your daughter to find a job – any job, but just any old job won't even pay the daycare bills. You never had to pay for health insurance, either, much less go without it. Your biggest expense is taxes. Taxes are the least of your daughter's worries.
Now you're middle-aged, healthy as a horse with a good 20 or 25 years before you retire. That's 25 years before your daughter and her husband can even begin to hope to inherit the family business, years they'll have to slave for you, and slave for you they will, I have no doubt. I wouldn't work for you, either, pal.
There's no good solution here, but don't make it worse by cutting her off. The two of you are going to have to work together to find a way out. She's needs to do some growing up, but you need to open your eyes to the reality of her world. It's much, much harder than anything you've ever known. If you can see things from her point of view, she might surprise you by growing up right before your eyes. Keep treating her like a spoiled and ignorant child and that's all she will ever be.
Got a problem? Jack Waggon will set you straight: firstname.lastname@example.org