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April 27, 2010

Your Relationship Questions Answered... Sorta.

Cosmo is famous for their one-size-fits-all relationship advice, but their 100 Relationship Questions (Answered in 20 Words or Less) by Mina Azod is just something else.

Why 20 words or less? What is this Twitter?
If you're like most chicks, you analyze your love life to death. Not so great. To help cut through some of the guesswork -- and definitely some of the BS -- we asked experts to respond to common relationship issues really, really directly.
Oh most chicks analyze their love lives to death? Even Cosmo's Fun Fearless Females!? Well, I guess we can't expect them not to generalize women chicks, when the entire article is based on generalizations... And well, over-analyzing relationships based on generalizations is pretty much Cosmo's bread-and-butter.

We're not going to critique all 100 of the questions/answers, because well, that would take too fucking long! Some of them were actually semi-sorta-kinda-not-so-bad, so here are just some of our personal favorites:
1. It's been four days since the date, and he hasn't called. Is he not into it? Maybe. Email and say you had a great time. If he doesn't take the bait, move on mentally.
Maybe? Way to answer that question really, really directly. Well, I guess they already proved with the very first question that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to questions like these.

Their advice isn't that bad, except that it relies on you knowing this guy's email address, which works if you met the guy online but if you met him in the "old fashioned" way? You know, like by using one of Cosmo's Fun, Fearless Ways to Meet a Guy (ordering the same drink as a guy at the coffee shop so you can proclaim him your "coffee soulmate" or chasing after him with a receipt that you he dropped) and didn't think to exchange emails on the first date?
2. How do I keep my husband's little quirks from driving me crazy? Focus on the flip side. For example, if he's messy, be hapy he's laid-back and not superanal.
First off, kudos to Cosmo for acknowledging that marriages are relationships too! We think it's good advice to try to find positives where you see negatives, but if his messiness really does drive you crazy, then maybe you wouldn't mind if he was a little more anal. Of course, this is the sort of thing that should have been figured out before getting married, no?
4. When can I start leaving stuff at his place? When you're consistently staying over for consecutive nights. Start small... like with a toothbrush.
Why does it have to be consecutive nights? I think they're right about the "consistently staying over" part... you don't ask for a drawer after the first time you sleep over, but what do consecutive nights have to do with it? Do you only need to brush your teeth on consecutive nights?

There was a point in time when I had been dating a guy for almost a year and had only once or twice stayed over for consecutive nights. (I was over quite often, but not usually on consecutive nights, because of our crazy work schedules.) If I had had to wait longer than that to leave some basic toiletries - like a toothbrush and deodorant - well, let's just say it would've been a pretty stinky relationship.
5. I think his friends are a bad influence. What can I do? Nada. Men are loyal to their buds. What matters is that his behavior doesn't change around them.
This is true... but it really depends on what kind of a bad influence they are. Are they just random douchebags or are they a really bad influence, like drug dealers or assassins or... Republicans?
7. He never plans anything. How do I get him to step up? Take him on a date he'll love, like to a sporting event. Then suggesting alternating organizing nights out.
Ah, of course, a sporting event! Because all men love sports and all women hate them, so it's a great way of showing your man how much you're willing to sacrifice to make him happy. Sure. Even if you're in a relationship where this stereotype is true - how does planning something he would love make him more likely to plan something you would love? You know what also works? Communication. Telling him how happy it would make you if he'd make some plans for you both once in a while.
8. It's been five years and he hasn't proposed to me yet. Bad sign? Not always. Unless you spell out when you expect that ring, he'll assume you're okay with the status quo.
Hm, there are a few things wrong with this. One, why is there a set schedule on something like this anyway? Two, why do you have to wait for the guy to propose? (Can't she propose to him?) And while we definitely think that it's important to be open and honest about what kind of long-term hopes and goals you have for your relationship, something about the phrasing "spell out when you expect that ring" just rubs us the wrong way.
11. He never admits he's wrong. How can I change that? Make a playful bet on the right answer, like winner gets a massage, so he'll have to fess up.
Yeah, okay. So if he's already got a complex about always being right, adding additional stakes is sure to help that problem.
13. What can I say to break the ice with a guy? "Hi, my name is ___________." Then compliment something, like the color of his shirt on him.
Wait a minute... that's almost crazy enough to work!!!
16. I went to college; he didn't. Can it still work? If you admire his intelligence and drive, then his degree level doesn't matter.
We're actually impressed by this answer. We agree that education doesn't necessarily have any correlation to intelligence. However, it's still a little annoying that this was included in the list of questions.
25. How can I tell if I like the sex more than I like him? If you text him only between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
Hm, that's really mature. You know that if a girl complained that a guy was doing this, Cosmo would trash-talk him as being a player or a jerk. But when the genders are reversed, it's totally cool.
26. He doesn't want kids, but I do. Should I walk away now? If you just started dating, no. But if you're considering marriage and it's a deal breaker, yes.
So you should keep dating him, hoping that he'll change his mind and then wait until you've been dating for a long time to walk away over something that you knew about from the start. But whatever you do, never have an actual conversation about it.
27. What's a guaranteed way to impress his friends? On his guys' night, call the pub they're at and tell the bartender their first round is on you.
This would actually be a really nice thing to do (it could come off as slightly stalky, but still nice)... However it's a logistical nightmare. It only works if they happen to be going to a pub, you know which one, you know the bartender - and more importantly - the bartender knows them. Otherwise it's just some crazy girl calling every bar in town saying she wants to buy drinks for a random group of guys.
38. We've been dating for a while, but I still haven't met his friends. Why not? He's probably not thinking long-term. Most men need the thumbs-up from their buddies before they get serious.
Or maybe he's just nervous to introduce you. Or maybe his friends are douchebags. Or maybe it just hasn't come up. Or maybe he's ashamed of you. Or maybe he has another girlfriend and can't let her know about you. Or yeah, okay, maybe he's just not thinking long-term. We've got a foolproof way of finding out... ask him!
39. What is the best way to get over an ex? Giving it time. And replacing his number with a friend's in your cell, so when you call, you reach her.
Why not just delete his number? If you know it's your friend's number then why would you bother calling it in the first place?
42. Do guys kiss and tell? Men bond by doing stuff, not by talking, so your sex life isn't being dissected.
Bullshit. Guys absolutely do kiss and tell. All of them? Maybe not, but the idea that men never talk about their sex lives is so ridiculous that I actually LOL'd.
43. I cheated, but I want to stay together. Do I confess? No. Figure out why you did it, then put your effort into fixing that aspect of the relationship.
Now, I do understand the idea behind the "don't tell" concept (the theory is that telling will make you feel better, but will hurt the other person). I get it, but I don't agree with it. Lying is lying. Cheating sucks, but to me, cheating is forgivable... if you actually confess and ask for forgiveness. The real betrayal to me, is the lying about it. The odds are that it will come out eventually and then it will be a huge secret you kept from him for an extended period of time, instead of a regrettable mistake that you owned up to immediately.

We definitely agree that you should examine why you cheated and try to correct that issue, but the odds are you have a better chance of fixing your relationship problems together.
44. We've been dating for a year. Can I bring up marriage? Sure. Ask a no-pressure hypothetical, like "Who do you think will be your best man?"
Is that really a no-pressure hypothetical? It seems like an obvious baiting question. It is possible to talk about marriage - really talk about it - in a no-pressure kind of way. But fake hypotheticals will never take the place of a real, mature conversation.
49. What does it mean if he says "I need some space"? "I want to break up but am too chicken to tell you."
Or... maybe it means... "I need some space"?
52. He asked how many men I've slept with. What can I say that's not specific? "My number is more than Mother Theresa's but less than Warren Beatty's."
Or... just be honest. By trying to avoid the question with some stupid riddle like that, you're probably just going to make him wonder what you have to hide. And what do you have to hide? This question is vaguely slut-shamey to me. If you're really sure that he'll judge you for your number, then maybe the problem isn't the number but him.

You're not under any obligation to tell him your exact number just because he asked (it doesn't say whether you've been together for a long period of time or if it's your first date). But there are more mature ways of being vague without resorting to a more-than-less-than copout answer. Of course, if you're having sex with him, here's hoping you've at least had some kind of talk about previous partners and STD tests.
66. We hang out, but he leaves at night instead of staying over. Does that mean he sees our time together as a booty call? Yes.
Or... he just doesn't want to stay over... yet. It doesn't say how long this relationship has been going on; it doesn't say whether their "hanging out" is just sexual. Isn't it possible that he's just not ready for over-night stays? (If it persists for a long period of time into the relationship, then maybe there's some kind of commitment issue - but at an early stage it really doesn't have to mean anything.) This behavior doesn't automatically mean booty call unless he's treating you like a booty call in other ways - that is, only calling you late at night for booty. (See #25 if you need an explanation.)
74. What's the definition of cheating? Anything you wouldn't want him to know about, whether that's a flirty text or a full-on kiss.
No, that's the definition of dishonesty. The definition of cheating, depends on what you both have previously established as cheating. That is, if you agree that flirting is okay, but kissing isn't, then that is the definition. This is the type of thing that a lot of people have different views on, so it's important to discuss it and come to an agreement early on.
90. Do open relationships work? No.
Fuck you Cosmo. (Guess you never read the Ethical Slut.)
92. How can I tell if my friend with benefits wants to date? He asks you to do other stuff too, like takes you to dinner.
Ah, well of course, didn't you learn anything from last month's "Cosmo Gives Us the Guy Truth? Dinner is just like a date! Okay, maybe I'm alone on this one... but aren't friends with benefits also... friends? To me, there is a difference between a purely sexual relationship and an actual friend that you have, um, benefits with. It's not totally crazy unheard of for you to do friend-like-things (such as, gasp, dinner) with a friend... even if you happen to also have sex with that friend.
99. Is it true you should marry your best friend? No. Being BFFs zaps the chemistry you need for the long haul.
So you can't possibly have chemistry with your best friend? In my opinion, the long haul requires that you care about someone on more than one level... what's chemistry if you can't also have meaningful conversations and casual fun hanging out? Passion can fade... if your relationship is based on that alone, you're not going to make it for the long haul. You need the whole package.

We saved the best for last. Cosmo has given some really specific time constraints for some important stages in your relationships. It's all based on a very scientific mathematical formula we're sure. Here is your very special dating timeline:
55. He gave me his number. When should I call? After 48 hours. Any later and it's a ploy; any earlier and it's desperate.
63. How many dates should I go on before sleeping with him? Four is a good number.
(Oh really?)
80. When is the right time to say "I love you"? Wait at least 90 days. It takes that long to know it's not just lust.

35. How long should we date before living together? A year.

84. How long should I wait to date again after a breakup? At least eight weeks. Any earlier and even a guy with long-term potential will be a rebound.
I hope you've all mapped out this schedule for your relationship!! Best of luck.


Anonymous said...

I moved in with my current guy after 2 weeks dating, incidentally also 2 weeks after a major breakup. Still together 5 years later... explain that, cosmo!

Fargo said...

Wow. Does anyone really believe men don't talk with each other about their sex lives? Certainly the level of detail varies, but christ, people talk. Just because I have a dick doesn't make me some grunting sociopath or narcissist, totally incapable of discussing relationships.

I absolutely love the bit about wanting kids. You can almost taste the ensuing bafflement and frustration.

Jezebel said...

I think "men bond by doing stuff, not by talking" is one of the great lines in Cosmo history.

Marika said...

I feel really, really sorry for the guys that date girls who read Cosmo.

I think his friends are a bad influence. What can I do? Nada. Men are loyal to their buds. What matters is that his behavior doesn't change around them.

Wait, what? what guy's behavior doesn't change around his friends, to one degree or another? I mean, I don't want my boyfriend's friends influencing him to do harmful or dangerous things, but I don't get offended that he acts, well, a little bit more like a guy around them than he does when we're alone.

Also, if you feel that your guy's (or girl's) buddies are that bad of an influence, there should be enough trust and respect between you to at least discuss it openly. My boyfriend has issues with one of my friends, and while I'm still friends with her, our discussions have led to me being in less frequent contact with her. Not because my boyfriend doesn't like her (which he does like her, to one degree) but because she has done some things with her life that I don't agree with, some of which I may have overlooked without my boyfriend pointing them out because you tend to overlook these thing.

Also, my boyfriend and I are best friends. Not the high school "BFF!" sort of way, but in the way that I love and trust and respect him to greater level than I do my other friends.

There's a lot more wrong here, but I'd have a blog post unto myself if I pointed it all out.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Marika! I couldn't imagine marrying someone I didn't consider my best friend. I don't really have a best friend, exactly; I have a collective of close friends, and I consider many of them my best friends. My boyfriend is one of them. We're closer than anyone; we confide in one another more than anyone else. That's crucial in a serious relationship.

And the timeline is ridiculous. I know a couple who moved in together after like 6 weeks, and it was really just a convenience thing; he was being kicked out of his place and needed somewhere to live, and she had a roommate who was leaving so she needed someone else to come in and help with the rent. It was just logical. A year later, they're doing great!

#43 is ludicrous. Yes, some questions can be answered in a quick one or two liner, but the issue of infidelity is way, way too complicated for that.

And open relationships can absolutely work, way to be open-minded Cosmo...