Science Advice Goddess: Platonic Bomb
A guy I know grates on me because he only has female friends. He apparently tried to get involved with each of them at some point but got rejected. Why doesn't he find male friends instead of preying on women (under the guise of friendship) who probably trust him not to hit on them?
This guy probably lives in eternal hope about each female friend, dreaming of the day he can be of service when she drops something on his floor -- like her panties.
Though you don't mention him trying to roofie his dreams into reality, his behavior probably "grates" on you because you take a less sexually opportunistic approach to your friendships with men. We humans "are disposed ... to imagine that other minds are much like our own," explains anthropologist Donald Symons, and they often are. However, we're prone to assume they should be like our own, so when someone thinks differently, we tend to see them as wrong (and maybe kind of awful) and not just different.
Men and women (and male and female minds) are more alike than different. However, our differing physiologies -- like which sex gets pregnant and needs to guard against having to raise a kid solo -- led to the evolution of psychological differences, like women's greater choosiness in whom they'll have sex with. Though both men and women sometimes tumble into bed with their opposite-sex friends, for many men, the friendship zone seems to double as a "well, try your best to turn her into a sexfriend!" zone.
Evolutionary psychologist April Bleske-Rechek, researching sex differences in how people perceive their opposite-sex friends, finds that a man is more likely to define a female friend as someone he's attracted to "and would pursue given the opportunity," while a woman is more likely to define a male friend simply as "a friend of the opposite sex."
Maybe you think friendship should be a "safe space," guaranteed to remain endlessly platonic. And maybe that's unrealistic -- unless you avoid having friends who might hit on you. You could try to view this guy's behavior in a more compassionate light. Chances are he's a beta male who can't compete with the alphas in the normal mating sphere, like on Tinder or at parties. He's probably doing the best he can with the one edge he has, the scheme-y smarts to surround himself with a bunch of pretty ladies. (Living in a dude-filled monastery only works for a guy whose pet name for his beloved is "The Almighty.")
Hex And The City
My ex cheated on me and conned me financially, but before I realized this, I had really fallen for him. I miss him and keep thinking about him every day, and I can't seem to stop. A friend suggested I get a spell from a witchcraft store. She insists this helped her have closure after her bad breakup. I'm a rational person, and this sounds completely ridiculous, but nothing I've tried (from meditation to venting to total strangers to dating other people) has helped. Please tell me this is completely stupid.
It's a tempting idea, the notion that you can solve your lingering emotional issues via retail, a la "Curses: Today only, two for $19.99!"
In fact, a ritual -- such as casting a spell or hockey player Stephan Lebeau always chewing 20 to 25 pieces of gum and spitting them out two minutes before faceoff -- can have a positive effect. I know this sounds rather cuckoopants; however, it isn't because the ritual works in any supernatural way.
A ritual, explains Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, is some "symbolic activity" you perform in hopes of making something happen. Gino finds that performing rituals leads to "increased feelings of control." This can help the ritual-doer calm down and be more in control. Amazingly, even those who think the ritual they're doing is total hooey experience this benefit -- what I'd call the abracadabra placebo effect. Our psychology seems tuned to figure if we're taking some action, it's for a reason: to make things better.
You might create an eviction ritual to get the guy out of your head. I suggest writing the story of your relationship, including what you learned that will help you avoid entanglements with future Mr. Rottens. Psychologist James Pennebaker finds that "expressive writing" -- even 15 minutes spent describing the emotional impact of a bad experience -- helps us reinterpret and make sense of what happened so we can go forward instead of endlessly rechewing the past. Invite a friend over (or dress up your cat) to bear witness, and then say a few words, light the story on fire, and flush the ashes. This should help you accept it's over, though, admittedly, without the finality of the day of celebration you probably think the guy deserves: Casual Human Sacrifice Friday.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com). Follow her on Twitter @amyalkon. Order her latest "science-help" book, "Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence."