“I wrote 63 songs this year. They’re all about Jeter.” Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls’ Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don’t forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: July 2, 2008

Submitted by on July 2, 2008 – 3:03 PM60 Comments

Hey Sars,

I met a guy a few months ago and we fell hard and fast for one another.Things have been terrific except for one thing.He doesn’t think I’m sexy.He loves me, thinks I’m attractive, smart, fun, et cetera but we’ve definitely been having bedroom problems.We talk about it regularly and he thinks that he doesn’t respond to me sexually because I don’t think of myself as a sexual being, or something.

I understand his point — for years and years self-esteem issues definitely drove me to work focus more on my intellectual and professional sides, and I either neglected or deliberately hid my more sexual nature.I dress very casually (although I do get dressed up when the occasion warrants), I socialize a lot with friends but I’ve never been one to go out on the town for the purpose of picking up guys, and I get uncomfortable when strangers flirt with me.I understand why I do all these things, but I don’t really know how to change.

I know that sexy is all about attitude and my boyfriend insists that there’s no particular way that he wants me to dress or act, but these vague reassurances don’t really help me figure out how to be sexy.I try to project confidence in public, I stand up straight, I’m not particularly shy or awkward in normal conversations, so I can’t really figure out what kind of unsexy vibes I’m giving off.

Any help would be much appreciated.


Dear Un,

You’re unsexy to him.That doesn’t mean you’re unsexy generally; it means that he’s not attracted to you sexually for whatever reason, and he chose to make that your fault by telling you you don’t “think of yourself as a sexual being.”I mean, maybe he’s right — and the fact that you didn’t call him on that obnoxiously precious phrasing indicates that perhaps you do still have some self-esteem issues — but it doesn’t mean it’syour responsibility.It means you’re sexually incompatible, and should end your romantic relationship.

“But –“No.If you want to change, you should change for yourself, not because you’re trying to guess what will turn a guy on who isn’t into you that way.You already have regular discussions of your problems in the bedroom when it’s only been a few months; he has no specific suggestions as to what you should do differently, but the real problem here is that, if he did, you would probably implement them, not because they feel natural to you but because he told you to.This is a Svengali, not a boyfriend.Break up with him, and see a therapist to talk about your sexual side, either why you’re not in touch with it or why you would let another person define it for you.

This isn’t working, and that won’t change no matter what you do with your hair.


I’ve found myself in a strange situation and I have no idea what to do.

First, some background:I have a (summer) job.As a result, I have a boss.Let’s call her “Emily.”Emily was once married, but got divorced when she discovered that her husband was sleeping with her best friend.

Emily is now over that whole thing, mostly, and in a relationship with Ed.Ed is awesome, always fun to be around, can always say the right thing, and so on.

Then there is Sarah.Emily gives lessons in a sport, and Sarah is one of her clients.A client that is only 17. She doesn’t often act like 17, though.She’s fairly responsible and extremely attractive but has never really been interested in boys.However, she does tend to carry a torch for older men.

And when I was attempting to get Sarah’s phone to STOP MAKING NOISE ALREADY, I discovered text messages from Ed on her phone.Text messages discussing their relationship, and how he doesn’t think it is just about the sex, though he really does love the sex. And it was great to see her last night, but he wishes he could have kissed her.And he loves the way she looks when she wakes up in his arms in the morning.In short, Sarah and Ed are having an affair.

Do I tell Emily?Do I attempt to talk to Sarah and/or Ed?Do I do nothing and pretend that this never, ever happened?Do I talk to the assistant boss?(Realize that since we all work 6-7 days a week, and long hours each day, we all know each other pretty well.And we’re all pretty much good friends, or else we’d want to kill each other more often.)

Since my only “evidence” exists on a phone that is not mine, I feel that I have no ground to stand on if I attempt to bring this to the light.I’ve known Emily since I was little, and love and respect her like crazy.She doesn’t carry grudges, she doesn’t take her anger out on you, she just deals with life the best she can.

I did realize that you can look at your text messages and see when you have sent/received messages, and I also just found out that Emily is the adult on Sarah’s online account for her cell phone…so Emily could easily go in and see that Ed and Sarah are sending each other a lot of text messages at strange times.Times that he was probably supposed to be in a meeting or at work.

To make things even MORE confusing, Ed is also divorced, and has three kids from that marriage.One is old enough to be out on her own, but the other two are only in middle school and Ed just won a custody battle for his son, who asked to move and live with his dad and Emily.

I have no idea who started the affair.Sarah is one of those people who tends to go along with what people want from her, because she wants to make everyone happy.Of course, she also tends to fall for older men.But…in fall-outs between Emily and her clients in the past, Sarah has always expressed great respect for Emily and I’m sorry, but you can-NOT respect someone AND sleep with their man.

Advise me, wise Sars.I’ve got to deal with all these people for the rest of the summer.

Didn’t want to know, didn’t mean to know

Dear Know,

I’m a big fan of staying out of it, especially when it’s going on at work and has that much greater potential to blow up in your face, but Ed is not just cheating on Emily; he’s doing it with a minor, while at the same time expecting Emily to take responsibility for one of his children at home.I wouldn’t want to get mixed up in it either, but then, Emily is your friend, and she’s better off without Ed whether she knows it or not.

What to do?Well, you could keep your mouth shut, because Ed doesn’t seem too interested in covering his tracks and neither does Sarah (Emily can probably see not just the times texts were sent, but also the contents, if she’s on the account).If you found out by mistake that easily, eventually Emily’s going to, and you could credibly pretend you knew nothing about it, because why would you?Who would conclude that you’d seen Sarah’s text messages?(I do wonder myself how, if you were just trying to shut the phone off, you managed to read multiple text messages, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there at this point.)

Your second option is to tell Ed that you know what’s going on; you didn’t mean to know, but you do, and if Emily asks you directly, you’ll have no choice but to tell the truth, so he might want to put an end to this smarmy situation now before it really gets bad.Depending on the statutory laws in your state, what he’s doing may be illegal; if it is, that should be pointed out to him.Seventeen is old enough to make those decisions, I think, usually, but Sarah’s parents may not agree, and unless Ed wants to register as a sex offender, he needs to learn to get it up for gals his own age.

Your third option is to tell Emily exactly what you’ve told me and let the chips fall where they may.

I can’t tell you which option is best for you, but again, I think the extenuating circumstances in this situation — the fact that Sarah is 17; the fact that Ed’s son is coming to live with him and Emily — mean that Emily is better off knowing than not knowing.If this were me, I would give Ed a week to end things and come clean to Emily himself, otherwise she’s hearing it from me.A one-time slip-up when he’s had too much tequila, I wouldn’t think she needs to hear about, not from you. An ongoing romance with a high-school girl, when Emily’s making waffles for his kid?

I know you work with these people; I wouldn’t judge you if you just decided to pretend you didn’t see it.But if Emily’s more than a boss to you…it’ll save her a lot of heartache later if she dumps Ed now, is my point.Just make sure you’re certain of the facts before you say anything.

Hi Sars,

Jersey girl to Jersey girl, I really need your help. I’m confident the anonymity of the internet and your infinite wisdom are the answer to my problem.

I live with my boyfriend, who is fantastic. He is loving, successful, and fiercely loyal. He grew up in a small rural town and has known his closest friends since the playpen. The group is almost entirely made up of great guys who made me feel very welcome in a new city. There is one exception and that is the problem.

When I first met J., I liked him. We always had a good time. However, as I learned more about him, especially the facts that his sole source of income is selling drugs and he has a child that he does not support, I began to withdraw my membership from his fan club. Maybe I’m a bitch, but that is how I feel. I never really said anything to myboyfriend as I am a live-and-let-live sort of girl.

Things started to get worse about 6 months ago. To be blunt, J. stopped being any sort of friend to my boyfriend. It started with stupid things, like not showing up when we had plans or tickets to a game. Then he borrowed a large sum of money from my boyfriend which he has recently said he does not think he will ever be able to repay. He started a several fights at bars and baseball games, most times running away to leave my boyfriend and other friends to deal with the aftermath which was always either a brawl or the police. Finally, we asked him to watch our dog while we went away for the weekend. She was returned to us with her femur shattered and barely breathing. She requiredthousands of dollars of surgery and a long recovery. He still claims he does not know what happened.

This is obviously a problem, but I do not know how to fix it because it affect me indirectly. The only money I have had to shell out was for my dog’s surgery and the worst I have had to deal with is an angry or bruised boyfriend. I just feel so bad for him. He knows his friend is being awful to him, but he doesn’t know what to do. We don’t really discuss it that much but when it comes up he gets upset and just says J. was such a good friend for so long. I wish he was out of our lives but I don’t feel like I have the right to make that request. It also seems like this would require a big confrontation, which would cause problems in the group dynamic. We have been seeing him less and less, but it is still an issue and still weighing on me so much that I need some advice.

How do I talk to my boyfriend about this? What can I do?


Dear B,

You can really only control your own behavior; you can’t control J., and you can’t compel your boyfriend not to see him.But you can set boundaries for yourself, and you can let your boyfriend know what they are.As far as I’m concerned, what happened to your dog means J. goes on the permanent “you see me, you better cross the fuckin’ street” list, so tell your boyfriend, “Look, I know your friendship with J. has meant a lot to you, but between the dog, the unpaid loans, the fights he leaves you topunch your way out of, the drug-dealing, AND THE DOG, I’m done.I do not want him in this house.I do not want to socialize with him.Your relationship with him is for you to work out; my relationship with him is over, and this is not negotiable.”

J. doesn’t come over.If he’s at an event with the whole group, you’re not hanging out at his table and you’re probably going to leave pretty quickly.He’s never to be around your dog or anything else you value ever again, and he’s not getting any more money.These are reasonable standards to set as a member of the household; you’re not controlling or dictating the friendship between the two of them (such as it is), but when it comes to stuff that affects you or your joint finances, you will have to draw the line.

Your boyfriend may get upset; that’s okay.Stick to “I” statements and stress that this is about what you’re comfortable with, to wit: he takes that friendship away from you and keeps it there.I mean…shattered femur.Anyone returns Hobey to me in that shape, the friendship is not the thing what’s going to end, if you know what I mean.J. is a piece of shit.Your boyfriend does not have to act on that knowledge, but he does have to respect that you’re going to.




  • K says:

    Oh my god, the DOG thing. I would have shattered HIS femur for letting that happen to my dog. I mean, it would have been on and it would have been nasty. It really, really bothers me just to read about it… Poor dog getting caught in the middle of that craziness.

    Yeah, it sounds like (from my own experience with ex-friends) that the guy is seriously into drugs and not just into dealing them. He’s acting like, well, a crackhead. Cut him out of your life, Jersey. Cut him out quick and fast.

    Dude…the DOG. :(

  • btdt says:

    Hey unsexy,

    I dated a guy like that once. He tried to make it all my fault too. But at the end of the day, I was never going to be sexy to him until I grew a pen1s. Watch out.

  • Cara dB says:

    Sars! The exact “do I tell Emily?” question was sent to Mamapop’s Advice Smackdown column here:

    and was covered a couple of days ago. Whoa. Do you think Dan Savage got a copy, too? Is it a widespread practice to send your burning question to several advice columns, or could this be false?

    … sorry. Just thinking out loud.

  • Jess says:

    That’s not the first time I’ve seen the same question come up in more than one advice column – Cary Tennis and Dear Prudence had some overlap about six months ago, and I know I’ve seen Sars beat the advice pants off of Dear Abby, Dear Margo, or the like. I think it’s pretty common, actually, for people to send their question to every columnist they can think of in hopes that one of them will notice it…and, inevitably, sometimes more than one does.

    Did I just out myself as an advice column junkie? I think I did.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @btdt: I was thinking it.

    @Cara: It doesn’t usually happen so close together because of the way I select the letters (i.e. randomly without regard to the date), but people double-dip The Vine with Hax, the Ethicist et al. all the time. In this particular case, I’m not surprised the author sent it to everyone she could think of to get a quorum (or postpone the inevitable; heh). Generally speaking it doesn’t bother me, unless it’s Cary Tennis. Do not like.

  • Cindi in CO says:

    My God, Jersey, your dog! I”m incoherent just thinking about it!

    Dump that asshole now, today. If he ever sets foot in your house again, hit him in the femur with a baseball bat.

    Sweet Jesus.

  • MrsHaley says:

    You know I love ya, Sars. Your dislike of Cary Tennis clinched it — as if it needed clinching. Can’t stand that one.

    @BDTD: I dated him, too! It wasn’t my fault I didn’t have the right plumbing, even though he tried to make it about me.

    @K: I agree — the part about the dog is the worst.

  • Erin says:

    Unsexy: it is not YOUR PROBLEM. What kind of guy gets in a relationship with a woman he doesn’t find sexy? A closeted gay guy, or a guy that likes being controlling. Either way, RUN. Once he comes out of the closet you can meet for brunch.

    I would report J. to the police. He goes to jail (deservedly) *and* he’s out of your life. But I’m a bitch like that. Anyone that moronic (THE DOG!) is probably not hiding his drugs well.

    And yeah, I’d give Ed a week to come clean. And after that tell him I’m telling Emily AND his ex-wife, who will then win custody, the house, and two weeks in Bermuda. (See above, re: Bitch, Like That)

  • Sara says:

    Hee. I saw that second question on The Advice Smackdown, and I remember thinking, “I wonder what Sars would say about this?” I am very reassured to know that you would say what I was thinking, and ALSO that you wondered how she managed to see those messages if she was “just turning the phone off.” I wondered the same thing, but I felt kind of mean pointing it out.

    Um. And now I’ll finish reading the column. Sorry. I get all excited when my Internet worlds collide.

  • Krista says:

    I too dated that guy. I even had myself convinced it WAS because of my hair. Bottom line, there is nothing you can do except walk away and call him a fool.

  • Jessica says:

    My husband and I have two dogs. One could technically say that one is “my” dog, since I found her before we moved in together, and one is “his” dog, since she grew up in his family’s house.

    I make this distinction to say that: if one of my friends had babysat the dog who could be construed as my dog, and not even the dog that could be construed as his dog, and the dog’s leg was broken (it makes me cringe just to consider it), and I still wanted to hang out with this person, my husband would be seriously considering divorce. Because he would consider my putting the destructive friendship above our dog’s health as a serious character flaw on my part.

    I know old friendships die hard, but if the boyfriend can’t understand this, then… good luck to the letter writer.

    Also, have Hobey and Joe sack out on the keyboard and leave only the M and the comma, and Sars will still write rings around Cary “Done No Favors by the Salon Caricaturist” Tennis.

  • Jean says:

    If he did that to our dog my husband would have pummeled him. I wouldn’t have had to lift a finger.

    @Unsexy – count me as another one who was convinced it was all MY fault until he discovered he preferred penis. Which… actually made me feel even worse about myself, before it got better. Please don’t let that happen. Whatever the reason is, it has nothing to do with YOU.

  • LTG says:

    Unsexy – I think Sars is right. And I say that having been the guy who’s dated someone he just didn’t find sexually attractive. Everything about the other person can be right, but if that spark just isn’t there at the outset? It’s never going to be there. You owe it to yourself to find a guy who digs you. In every way.

    B – This isn’t really germane to your questions, but why would you ask this irresponsible fuckwit to take care of your pet? I don’t mean to blame the victim… but the victim here is your dog, and he’s certainly not to blame. But you have to share some of the responsibility for asking this guy to take care of your dog.

    And Cary Tennis is an idiot. On that we can all agree.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Erin: I’m sensing it’s time for a resurrection of “HM/WB.”

  • Alison says:

    Unsexy – I agree with everyone else–and I have to say it’s nice to know so many other people have been in this situation. Dump the guy–the anxiety and misery and wondering what you’re doing wrong is just not worth it. I had some of the same issues as you–tended to hide and see myself as ‘asexual’ when I was younger, and have a hard time getting out of that. It’s especially frustrating to see other people getting so much sexual attention, and not being able to define *why*…but in general, if someone is telling you you’re doing something wrong but doesn’t know how to fix it, it’s a recipe for self-esteem issues to get worse.

  • JenK says:

    @Jessica: I’m glad you pointed this out, because I was also thinking that B should consider dumping both J and the boyfriend. Anyone who does something like that to a dog–and let’s face it, a shattered femur and breathing problems aren’t things that just “happen” but things that are “done”–is an obvious asshole…but I have to question someone who can shrug that off, too. If somebody did that to one of our cats and my husband was like, “…eh whatever, I’ve known him for a long time,” I don’t think I could ever respect him or look at him the same way again.

    Shattered femur. WTF?

  • Linda says:

    While I wouldn’t reject outright the idea that some people do see themselves as unsexy in a way that limits their ability to express their sexuality, blah blah, so it’s not impossible that what the boyfriend is saying could have a kernel of truth, blah blah…

    The fact that the boyfriend is expressing it to you in this way speaks to a different problem, as Sarah says. There’s room for some very difficult discussions in the world, which can sound like “it turns me off that you just lie there” or whatever, but if the guy is like, “I can’t tell you anything in particular and don’t want to try; I think it is you not being sexy that is the problem,” then…he’s not trying. The point isn’t for you to figure out how to be sexy, the point is for the two of you to figure out how to have a satisfying sex life, and if his response is to hit you on the side of the head and yell “Be more sexy!” like Homer Simpson, then seriously? It’s not happening.

  • JenV says:

    Man, the dog? That’s effed up. I mean, OK, accidents happen sometimes even when you’re being really careful. But if you’re taking care of your friend’s dog and something happens, you a) TAKE THE DOG TO THE VET, b) call your friend, and c) feel AWFUL about it.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I was not as harsh on the author’s boyfriend as I might have been, because it’s not he who wrote to me, but…what everyone else is saying, kind of. I feel like the whole thing about the dog got glossed in a way that’s odd; “she was returned to us”? Like…COD? What exactly happened? On top of everything else, J. just left her on the doorstep like an orphan in a ’30s movie?

    And then there’s this: “He started several fights at bars and baseball games, most times running away to leave my boyfriend and other friends to deal with the aftermath which was always either a brawl or the police.”

    Maybe we’re just old, but at this point in the proceedings my friends and I would be calling the cops on J.’s ass ourselves. I feel like you can do that shit once, and then you can go to the drunk tank like a big boy from then on if you need to throw punches.

    Not to generalize about what people put up with at what age or anything, but my own experience has been that, with the exception of the animal cruelty, I would have felt differently about this sort of egregious drama ten years ago. I would have made time for it, because it was drama and therefore it must have some worth or interest inherently. And we would have had conversations about how J. is so troubled, and what should we do, wah wah wah drah-mahhhhh!

    I would be interested to know how old this group of friends is, is my point; again, this is just my experience, but by the time the cohort is 30, this kind of guy has worn out his welcome.

  • B says:

    I appreciate both the well thought out answer provided by Sar and everyone’s comments. I have no problem expanding on what I wrote earlier.

    J. has watched my dog (who is more my boyfriend’s dog than mine but is still my dog) since she was a puppy and has always been very good to her. He also been like a brother to my boyfriend. And while we have been distancing ourselves I feel that it is hard to severe ties totally. Their mom’s are best friends. J. used to stand up to bullies when they picked on my boyfriend. No one hates this dude more than me, but I know how much he has meant to my boyfriend for so long.

    Neither my boyfriend or I were “eh” about our dog’s situation, but to be honest I think we were so focused on her being okay that nothing else really mattered until now. And now that she is on the mend I want answers and then I don’t want to see him again. Other answers- a friend stopped by J.’s place, saw my dog, and demanded she be taken to the vet and while I am a few years younger both boys are 30.

    Also, I would like to report that my dog is well on her way to a full recovery and is sitting at my feet begging for people food as I type this.

    Finally, I do think this has more to drugs than anyone (especially me, I’m sort of a little sheltered about all of that) realizes. And I think it has gotten worse, which has caused the crazy behavior and general asshole-ness. And I sort of don’t care because I don’t want that around me either. It is only going to cause more trouble.

  • Joe Mama says:

    Sars: You know, that’s a useful point. “Stand by your friends,” sure, but standing by your friends can and does include calling them on their bullshit. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by letting them go crazy and destroy their lives; enablers are as much a part of addiction as the user. B might have a better chance of making things happen if she put it to her boyfriend in terms of “he needs help, and either he gets help and shows that he’s being helped, or you don’t see him again.”

    And pathological conflict-avoidance won’t help either. “It also seems like this would require a big confrontation, which would cause problems in the group dynamic.” Damn straight it’ll require a big confrontation! But this is a situation that will not be resolved with a small confrontation.

    When an airplane is in a flat spin, it’s actually in a stable condition. Taking your hands off the controls does nothing to stop the spin; instead, you have to forcefully grab the stick and shove it around and make the aircraft stop spinning. This is similar. The situation must be corrected, not merely endured.

    And you cannot make it never have happened. This isn’t something that you can just wish away to the cornfield. Take that hope off the table right now. I’m not saying that you’ll have to dwell on this forever and poison your life, but it’s also not as though you can just have one conversation and then this guy vanishes from history.

  • ferretrick says:

    Wow, I’d never heard of Cary Tennis until tonight, but I just looked him up and, uh:

    Daaaaaaaaaamn, that is some overwritten shit there in the response. “The resignation of hitchiker [sic] in winter…”??? Dude, can the Robert Frost wannabe shit and just answer the question.

  • Carole says:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to explain what the deal with Cary Tennis is for a long time. Where do those answers come from???

    And to B, maybe you should re-examine what’s going on in your life where everything just seems sooo dramatic. I mean, your boyfriend is 30 and still going out with people who “brawl” and get the police called on them? I feel like this is someone writing in from “True Life: I Have a Summer Share on the Jersey Shore.” I’m kidding, but really, I’m just glad your dog is better.

  • D says:

    Sounds like the dog was hit by a car, in case that is of any value to you, B. Perhaps while J. was busy with his drug habit (whether dealing or taking), poor pooch got out into the street where she wasn’t meant to be? I imagine your vet has a more complete picture for you than I do, but my hunch when an animal has shattered bones is that there was a fast, hard impact – which means car.

  • Jennifer says:

    B, everyone’s pretty much said it, but I would add one thing. As bad of a friend as J has been to everyone on the planet? Your boyfriend and his friends have been equally crappy “friends” to him. I don’t have a friend in the world who I would just watch piss their life away while we all go, well, I’ve known him for so long, I don’t want to make him mad, what can I do? I would much rather have a friend never speak to me again because they’re pissed, not because they’re dead. So maybe the way to go is to point out to your boyfriend that if he really cares about J as much as he says he does, it’s time to take some action.

    (Also, perhaps y’all ought to watch a few episodes of Intervention. Because your entire letter reads like a typical episode, right up until Jeff VanVonderen steps on the scene and lays the smackdown.)

  • Jen S says:

    Thanks for the update, B. And frankly, I’m with everyone here. No matter how tight the webs are that bind you to people, especially when you’re in the middle of their self generated shitstorm, after a while it’s time to just cut your losses and go. No matter how you love them or need them or remember how they used to be. My personal cutoff age is 25. After 25 you need to be a)sleeping in a real bed, b)regularly washing everything you use, be it clothes, dishes, or body, and c) doing something in the way of a real, responsible job. You are NOT dealing/using drugs, STARTING BAR BRAWLS (OMG how frat is that crap?) or letting a dog you agreed to watch get hit by a car or whatever happened and NOT TAKE IT TO THE VET. (Along with everyone here my eyes flattened out with rage when I read that.)

    In your update you pointed out the complicated and close relationship you both have with this man and his family, but “complicated” is done. Complicated has gotten you into your present situation. What need to be done now is some simple and terrible things: cutting this guy off, arranging an intervention with his family, and/or breaking up with your boyfriend. ALL this shit has to be out of your life, yesterday.

    And I’m not trying to be smug or superior in any way. I can’t imagine going through this with my husband, and someone giving me similar advice would probably be screamed at–but they would be right.

  • Miranda says:

    I’d never heard of Cary Tennis until I read this. And now I can say about his column with absolute certainty, “Wow, whatever.”

  • CurlyQ says:

    Unsexy, I married that guy. And divorced him after 12 years of thinking all that sexual dysfunction was my fault for not being thinner, prettier, a better wife.
    As far as I know he’s still deeep in the closet, but it’s not my problem anymore. I’ve moved on. That’s what you need to do.

  • La BellaDonna says:

    Jersey B: (Hey! Also from Jersey!) To illustrate the difference in behaviour, my own brother, who at the time had a little problem with alcohol and weed, was visiting a girl he was seeing. Said girl’s old-enough-to-know-better child let the dog get out (walking dogs should ALWAYS be on a leash, especially in New York). Dog darted into traffic, got hit. My brother is the one who took not-his-dog to a couple of different emergency vets; he was the one who paid thousands of dollars that he really didn’t have for the vet’s bills (she “didn’t have the money”), an expense that follows him to this day and affects his credit. He doesn’t care, because: Dog Hurt. Fix Dog.

    The real problem is that this J. is not the J. your boyfriend knew. That person’s gone. And if it were MY dog, J. would have both his knees broken, and would be nailed to a tree as a warning. The fact that your boyfriend can accept that kind of behaviour towards his dog, instead of Cutting It Off There – not acceptable to me as an animal lover, and I would worry about whether or not this guy would stand up for me, if it would be necessary.

    Unsexy, IT ISN’T YOU. First of all, what kind of fruitloop sets out and beds a girl that he thinks is “unsexy”? What, were you sexy at the time, but … you’ve lost it? Left it in your other pocketbook? Left it on the subway? NO. It isn’t you, it’s HIM. And, based on personal experience, in this instance, it’s all about control, rather than his really preferring body parts like his own. Think about it: he’s already got you in a mental whirlwind, wondering what’s wrong with YOU; he’s already got you trying to modify your behaviour to please him. Once that’s in line, he owns you. How many things do you need to change, what is it you need to do, to “become sexy”? It’s all about controlling you, and controlling your behaviour. And the great thing is, if he has you convinced, not that HE finds you “unsexy” (now), but that YOU are “unsexy,” you won’t be leaving him for someone else who thinks you’re just fine the way you are. YOU ARE JUST FINE THE WAY YOU ARE. I’m sorry for shouting, but I married that asshole. Even though strangers on the street found me appealing enough to snap photographs, no matter how accommodating I was, he preferred reruns of I Spy to coming to bed with me. Big surprise: it was All About Controlling Me. And now he watches his reruns by himself. I’m not saying, if you happen to have issues that YOU choose to take to a therapist, that’s a bad idea; by all means, do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. But the first thing you need to do is get away from that asshole. Otherwise, I guarantee you that your life will be an unmitigated misery.

    And, B.? Even my asshole ex would have been right up there kneecapping J. and pegging him to a tree. You may choose not to make an issue of “friendship” with your boyfriend, but it doesn’t keep you from dropping a dime on J. with the cops, as in, “You may want to watch this guy, since I know he deals.”

  • La BellaDonna says:

    I got so upset that I forgot to give props to Joe Mama for “This isn’t something that you can just wish away to the cornfield.” It’s a good comment.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Jennifer: I just love these comments like crazy.

  • jslo says:

    Unsexy- just to be another one chiming in… maybe your own self-esteem/feelings contribute to how you come off to this particular guy… but the right guy will get *you*. Never thought i was sexy. still have a thrill of “really? me?” every time my fiance tells me I am. To other guys, I’m still not sexy, and I can’t even keep a straight face thinking about being “seductive”. But with him, I’m not self-conscious- I feel comfortable enough to believe it.

  • Pegkitty says:

    Just wanted to say, re: Unsexy’s “Friend” – man, this guy gets around. I lived with him for several years too.

  • Abigail says:

    Oh, Unsexy. Oh, how I have been there. And oh, how dreadfully painful it was.
    The thing is: if you get along great with a guy, and love to talk and hang out and rely on each other for emotional support, but you’re not having sex (or if it’s the main thing you’re fighting about), then he’s not your boyfriend, he’s your friend. Yeah, he may be a controlling asshole and he may be gay and you may want to think about why you found a relationship that reinforces your views of yourself as unsexy (I say, as somehow who’s spending valuable therapy minutes on the topic). But the main point is: y’all are 100% better off as friends, if anything.
    Also, when I’m feeling particularly unloveable, I like to go to AAA baseball games and check out some of the couples in the crowd and think, there’s someone out there for everyone.

  • Diane says:

    @Sars – *High fives* on my baby (“HM/WB”)!

    Also loving: Dog hurt. Fix dog.

    On a tangent that will possibly turn into a really interesting discussion with my Love Unit later on, I am fascinated as much by the concept of What Is Sexy as by everything else about these letters. Speaking as a girl who loves flirting, makeup, and FMPs, I am still surprised – and really saddened – that these surface things are still the go-to concepts in sexuality. The physical and visual are important to many of us (more than admit it), but to reduce one’s entire sexual being to such specific terms dismisses the million different kinds of effects “looks” can and do have.

    “Dressing up” appears, above, to have a fairly specific definition; the instant pic in my mind was heels/little black dress. But there are billions of people in the world, and for some I have met, visual stimuli vary from the guy I used to know who was extremely turned on by his wife-to-be wearing Keds and a skirt, to women and men who like big burly types, to those who prefer a long, lean metrosexual, to those who aren’t attached to shape or gender but aurally prefer a certain type of laugh, or blond hair, or furries, or even the guy I’m *with*, who occasionally likes me dressed soft and hippie-like, and occasionally likes it when I wear shitloads of black.

    Without posting a whole essay about this unrelated topic, its role in (“Un”-though I don’t like this prefix)Sexy’s letter arrests my attention. I am fascinated by these things.

  • RJ says:

    B –

    I was going to post a raging, shrieking, “Kill the bastard” bit after reading about your dog, and then saw your update.

    So, you love your b/f, you know that “once upon a time” J was someone who meant a lot to him. But one important lesson I learned in my 20’s was that toxic people should be allowed only so much time in your life, and they then have to go. J is beyond toxic – he’s dangerous, and I’m not just saying that because of your dog (I’m so, so glad your dog is okay).

    I wish you all the best in getting through (and hopefully away from) whatever mess he creates in future, because until b/f realizes he’s got to go, y’all are going to have plenty of mess in your lives.

    @Jslo – Oh, GAD, if I try to think of myself as “sexy” or “seductive,” I have this vision of me lumbering around – I can’t keep a straight face thinking about it. I’m with you… and good for you for having found someone wonderful!

  • Kona says:

    I don’t even know what to say about B’s situation and her “clarification” in the comments just confuses me further. Like B’s boyfriend, I also have a dog that I brought into the relationship and if I had some drug-dealing friend who “returned” the dog to me with a broken femur and an “I don’t know what happened,” there’s a good chance that my boyfriend would break his legs. Okay, not really, but still. The point is, that is our dog and I don’t care how long they’ve been friends: that is not something you just let roll off your back.

    After I gave my boyfriend a rundown of the letter, I told him if he had a friend like that, I would not fuck around. I know ultimatums aren’t healthy or whatever, but I would flat out say “it’s him or me” at that point. My boyfriend said he’d do the same thing if the roles were reversed. However, he wasn’t even sure if he’d let it get to that point because a friendship like that would have had him questioning my judgment and character much sooner.

  • Georgia says:

    I’d never heard of Cary Tennis until today, nor read him until today, but I’ve got to say, his writing style is eerily reminiscent of the letters “Intern George” writes in response to the crazies who send incoherent e-mails to

  • Jean says:

    @Unsexy – I want to chime in with one more thing, in the interest of giving your boyfriend the benefit of the doubt: it’s possible there’s a medical issue behind his lack of sexual attraction, and he just doesn’t have much of a libido, and won’t unless/until he gets it checked out and does something about it. My husband and I are going through a dry spell right now because health problems have pretty much demolished his libido. Of course, he’s actively working with his doctor to fix it and constantly reassures me that it has nothing to do with me.

    It might be worth checking into. Of course, if he’s not willing to see a doctor, or even to entertain such a notion, then it’s probably worth moving on, because that’s a pretty good sign of where his priorities lie. If pleasing you is not a priority for him, then you deserve better. Period.

  • Another Diane says:

    I have to chime in with Jennifer on intervening, especially after reading B.’s expanded version of the long history of the friendship between these men.
    Confrontation is really hard, but watching someone you’ve been close to for so long go down the tubes is much worse, and dealing with the guilt of not having done something isn’t so hot either.

  • Deirdre says:

    I agree with Jennifer and Diane that intervention might be the way to go, if B. is comfortable with that.

    Aside from the damage he’s already inflicted, there’s another lurking danger if these bar fights are a regular occurrence: it’s not unheard-of for people to wind up with police records or even doing time because they stepped into a fight they didn’t start and got left holding the bag. Not to mention the fact that fights started by drug dealers have a nasty way of turning deadly (depends on how big-time J is and who he’s fighting with, I guess). This is not something your boyfriend wants a part of, no matter how close they are.

    It really does sound like J’s using his product, which is stupid on any number of levels, and needs some help. But if your boyfriend isn’t interested in that, and, more importantly, if you’d rather J was just out of your life, then J needs to go, pronto.

  • meltina says:

    Unsexy: I’m right there with you. Don’t like attention from random guys (but I get it regardless: just last weekend a guy from my building tried to chat me up, must not have seen the wedding ring, or must not have cared), don’t think I’m sexy, when I dress up I would rather do it for me, not for others to think I’m sexy. I’d rather be thought of as an intelligent and poised person, not some piece of ass. There’s nothing wrong with that. My husband finds me sexy anyway, and it hasn’t waned after he’s seen me in my rattiest clothes (I joke to him that not even wearing a nun’s habit would turn him off). So, as about 50 other people have already said: it is not you. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you not wanting to be sexy is actually a turn on for plenty of other men. So stop wasting your time with this guy, and go find one of them.

    B: I wouldn’t care that J. has housesat your boyfriend’s dog since she was a puppy. As Jennifer has pointed out, it is not the same guy you, the boyfriend and the dog once knew. A lot of small time dealers are not smart enough not to start using, which means they slip up not only in their dealing (maybe the fights he’s getting into are part of that), but also in the “acting like a decent human being” department. I surely hope your boyfriend told himself that he would never entrust the dog to J. after this. As for what you tell the boyfriend: “There are no positives in this relationship anymore, and for all you know, he’s been just as shitty to all your other friends, but they don’t want to drop him because they don’t want to upset you. I know he’s been a good friend before, but if that is the case, you owe it to him to be the same in return. If you tell him that you, as his oldest friend, are worried about him and which direction his life is taking, he might turn himself around. And if he doesn’t take that seriously, you might have to walk away from him to drive that message home. But if you stand by him and let him do whatever he pleases, and hurt others and himself, then you become his enabler.” Honestly? Taking care of his messes, whether by paying for his carelessness with the dog, or by staying behind and getting into fisticuffs for him, your boyfriend is already an enabler, and you have to decide if you can tolerate that.

  • MEgAN says:

    I just have to point out that finding your opposite-sex partner unsexy is not an automatic indicator that you are into the same-sex action. I’m not saying Unsexy rule out the possibilty that her man might find his fellow fellows sexy, but maybe he just isn’t that into her and they should be buddies.
    In any case, whether he digs dudes or not, he is mean. Unsexy should go listen to some TLC, dump him, and go pick out a new boy who will think her jeans and a ponytail are hot.

  • jive turkey says:

    Kind of late to the party here, but @ferretrick: THANK YOU for posting that link to Cary Tennis (didn’t know who he was either). That was easily the funniest/most infuriating thing I’ve seen all week.

    I mean, “Pain may be no teacher but pain is reality and reality is a teacher.”

    WHAAAT?! Who let David Brent in here?

  • Jo says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks “Unsexy” is going to need to lose the boobs and grow a penis before her boyfriend finds her sexy. I’ve had friends of both genders go through similar situations — my best friend’s high school boyfriend went back in the closet and is still there after breaking up with her for boys, and another close friend realized that the reason she’s not attracted to her husband is that she doesn’t like dick.

    Question for B: Why are you not dragging J into court and suing his pathetic, lying, douchey ass for every fucking penny of your dog’s vet bills?

    Re: Seeing texts while trying to turn a phone off. I can see why, when trying to make the damn beeping stop already, you’d accidentally open one text and accidentally see who it’s from … but it seems difficult to accidentally read multiple messages.

  • meltina says:

    I have an iPhone. If you accidentally manage to pull up the text message screen, you get a listing of ongoing conversations rather than each message listed separately. If you then click on a number you recognize, you can see the whole entire conversation unless someone erases it wholesale (I have five month old files of mundane text conversations to the effect of “can you pick up some milk on the way home?”). So Know may have seen Ed’s number or name, and gotten curious/suspicious about it.

    And as Dan Savage said in his advice column recently, it is not an affair unless two people out of a triangle are married. So essentially this is a case of someone’s boyfriend sleeping around on her. Since the woman has already been burned like this already, she might not shoot the messenger. She might actually be relieved not to make the same mistake twice (marrying a lying and cheating guy). That said, Know should consider how much she respects and value her boss vs. how much she wants to coexist with her coworker.

    There is one more option, Know. Talk to Sarah. If she’s as mature as you say she is (assuming mature does not mean “sleeps around with older men as a matter of course” because that signals both self-esteem problems and a lack of maturity), you could probably tell her what happened: that you tried to turn her phone off and stumbled on one of her text messages by mistake, and realized who it came from and went from there. Ask her how she ended up sleeping with a man who is (a) divorced, (b) involved with someone else and making no plans to leave her, and (c) has children who are her own age? Tell her that you consider her mature enough not to do this kind of thing to herself, and that therefore you are concerned about her (i.e., don’t turn this into “how dare you sleep with Emily’s guy?”).

    See how she responds. It might just be that she’s in over her head, knows it, and needs some help in sorting this all out. If she tells you that she knows what she’s doing and it is her own business, then you might want to tell her how it’s not fair to Emily, and you’re not sure if you can keep it quiet, which is why you came to her. It is up to her to come clean, but regardless, she should end things if she’s a decent person.

  • Dani says:

    @Jo I think it’s easy enough to see one text on accident. If it was suggestive enough, I know I’d keep reading. I’m not about to blame the letter writer for that.

    It does make things sticky though, but I think ultimately the best plan is to talk to Ed, give him a deadline to ‘fess up and then talk to your friend yourself.

  • Yubi Shines says:

    The femur thing made blood shoot out from my ears. What.

    Fuck lawsuits, why is this weaselly runtbag not WITHOUT SKIN.

    Regarding Sarah, I’m a complete idiot with phones, so if it were me, I’d be mashing any sequence of buttons to turn the thing off, which could pull up a recent text, and incriminating data on that would prompt me to glance through others.

  • Maxie says:

    Is it just me, or did anyone else get lost at the part about Emily being the adult on Sarah’s online account for her cell phone? Not that it matters – there’s plenty of clusterfuckery going on there – but it seems like that indicates some other long-term, parent-y kind of relationship between Emily and Sarah that just compounds the ick-factor of the Sarah/Ed relationship.

  • Nysha says:

    **And as Dan Savage said in his advice column recently, it is not an affair unless two people out of a triangle are married.**

    Actually, what he said was that it wasn’t adultery unless one of the two people involved was married. It’s still an affair in a boyfriend/girlfriend situation.

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>