OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS 

OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS

MULTIPLE CHOICE Listen: Guys do it all the time, so what's the big deal, right? Here's the skinny: I think I'm dating three men. I know that in the minds of most men you're not officially dating until you've said as much, but I'm getting the distinct impression that I'm cheating -- on all three. I started seeing all three at almost exactly the same time (obviously "exactly" isn't possible, but within a day or so of each other) and I like them all -- a little bit. I'm not completely drawn to any one of them but I'm a little bit drawn to each. I definitely haven't used any words that would imply that I'm in a relationship with any of them -- but I find myself dodging calls and rearranging plans so as not to get my lines crossed. The worst part is, if I met someone else interesting today, I'd start dating him too. Maybe if I met Mr. Right, I'd end it with the others, but so far I can't even narrow it down to two, much less one. I like them all, and it's wearing me out. I think of myself as a decent person so I definitely don't want to hurt anyone, but in fashion terms I'm still in the dressing room and not at all ready to move on to the cash register. What do I do? Signed, Triple-booked Okay: First of all, just because you’ve said yes to a cup of coffee doesn’t mean you’re getting married. Or, to use your analogy, just because you’ve picked up a shirt off the rack doesn’t mean you have to buy it. But you know all that. Or at least rationally you do. Now what you’ve got to work on is your guilt. To go back to that cup of coffee, you wouldn’t feel bad about ordering an “iced chai” instead of your usual “black, no sugar,” would you? No, because you’ve never made any particular commitments to that cup of joe. And this is fairly obvious, but I think important: how will you know you even like the chai if you always stick with the old standby? Actually, I think a lot of this comes down to your end goal. Are you looking to score a marriage? Or are you just playing the field for the heck of it? If you’re just playing the field and so are they, I wouldn’t worry about winnowing them down exactly this second. I know enough about guys and enough about relationships to know that they don’t always last; you might as have fun while you still can. They (the guys, not the relationships) will say something stupid sooner or later and that will be that. And if you don’t feel comfortable about rearranging plans and that sort of thing? Invest in caller id and a palm pilot. And voice mail (answering machines are bad, btw). That way you can make plans once and that’s it -- listen, these guys don’t expect you to be there only for them. They’d probably like that, but they might be seeing other women, too. Really, until you say the words “relationship” “you and me” and “in one,” most people consider it a free for all. I didn’t make the rules, I’m just saying. But if you’re end goal is marriage or you really can’t date more than one person at a time (listen, I have a hard time dating one person at a time), end it with all three. It’s obvious none of them meets your perfect standard of maleness or is Mr. Right or whatever. So make another selection and see how it fits. For the record, however, you might want to cool it on the woe-is-me-I’ve-got-guys-coming-out-of-my-ears; some people might get jealous. Listen: My brother is driving me insane. We’ve always been close -- he’s about a year younger than I am and we were in the same clique in high school. I always dated his friends; he always dated mine. We went to different colleges and have subsequently began different careers in different cities. The problem is that he calls me every day or so. He’s not that talkative of a guy, so he doesn’t have that much to say, really, but he’ll want to stay on the phone for hours. It’s not that I mind him calling, exactly, but I’ve got other things I need to do instead of babysitting him via Ma Bell. I want to tell him to buzz off, but he’s my brother. What should I do? The Bad Sister Okay: There come times in our lives when we’re all a little clingy. Or most of us. Maybe it’s because we just moved to a new city or our longterm sweetie dumped us cruelly or we were abandoned as children to the care of our toothless, deaf grandmothers. It happens. So it’s happened to your brother, for whatever reason. I’m guessing that since he wasn’t driving you crazy before that his neediness is relatively new. On the one hand, you can take a firm stance with him and tell him, as you say, to buzz off. I think, however, that the best way to handle this would be to gently tell him to get a life. Maybe suggest he find a hobby or join a club or get a dog, something that will take up his phone time ... has he thought about getting cable, per chance? But at the same time, I wouldn’t hang up on him every time I heard his voice. Really, I think you should spend some time listening. He’s obviously calling you for a reason; maybe he’s trying to come out to you and hasn’t worked up the nerve. You just never know. (Gotta problem? Wanna make it my business? Write cashiola@memphisflyer.com.)

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