Self-Help Books Can Actually Be Helpful???

Okay I’m sorry, I didn’t fall off the planet, I’ve just been shirking my duty as your faithful advice blogger for… Well for long enough to risk falling off the planet, I suppose.  I haven’t really done much, apart from the usual going to the gym, going to work, and eating food routine that most people seem to have.  So exciting.

One thing I have done is finish reading a book.  An advice book, no less – something I normally avoid like a cat avoids water.

I’m not usually one for self-help books. I tend to find the advice therein trite, condescending, and in some cases enabling of the behaviors the person reading needs help with. Of course, when my mom handed me this book I went, “Yeah, sure, I’ll read this. Eventually.” Because my mother likes to hand out advice, wanted, warranted, or not, I really just rolled my eyes. And then my girlfriend read the book first. And then something ridiculous happened – she told me it was good. Not just good, but something that I should be reading.

Thus, I just finished reading, The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay, PhD. The book is broken down into a few sections, on love, work, and being a grown-up. Really, the whole book centers on acting like an adult now instead of later, and getting your act together before you’re 30. There are a lot of examples that Dr. Jay uses to describe exactly what she’s getting at, whether it’s the twentysomething boy who was essentially homeless because he grew up in an unsettled divorced parenting situation, or the young Korean American woman who had grown up being teased for being different and a virgin in high school, so she never stopped to consider the sort of qualities she actually wanted in a partner – she just wanted to be wanted.

I wish I couldn’t identify so well with each of the people in this book. I’m way overeducated for my current job. I know this, and I know what I want to be doing, I just don’t know if I can actually put in the work to get there. I just keep assuming that everything will fall into place, because that’s what I’ve been taught to expect. I’ve also been hearing, “You’re young, this is what you’re supposed to do” an awful lot, too.

I think, contrary to popular belief, “YOLO” (you only live once) is part of this problem that leaves folks screwed over in their thirties. The twenties are apparently to be spent partying, traveling, working as a barista at Starbucks, and generally not giving a shit about the future because you’ll think about it “when you’re thirty” or “way later”…. Draw a timeline of how you want your life to go. If you have a picture like that, and “babies” and something like “medical school” are in the same place… You might have to reconsider what you’re doing.

What resonated most with me, for a silly reason, was the entire section on love. Every time my girlfriend and I have had problems of any sort, I have been advised by at least one person to break up with her and find someone else. I’m always told that I will have plenty of time to find my perfect someone, because my girlfriend and I are “so young” (I’m almost 24, for the record). I think getting together at a pretty young age, relatively speaking, is seen as a thing of the past. I have a friend who just got married, and she’s a couple years younger than I am. Do I think that’s too young? Maybe. I don’t know.

The point I’m trying (and failing) to make is that I feel really lucky in love. I don’t think I care if my perfect soul mate life partner match from heaven is out there in the world somewhere. There are another 7 billion people on this planet, of course. But, at this point, I think instead of stressing over whether or not my girlfriend and I are completely 100% totally perfect, I am going to focus on all the great things about being with her. At least in this respect, I feel like I have my shit together.

I wish I had an idea of what I want to be when I grow up. I wish I knew what I wanted to DO with my life. I want to do a million things, and I’m so afraid of all the possibilities that I don’t know where to start, and so I’m just paralyzed by all of them.

This paragraph I just wrote isn’t in the book, but there are a bunch like it. It makes me feel less bad, being as concerned as I am about my career future, because Facebook and the media seem to keep telling me that I should be gallivanting around Europe half-naked and fucking my way through hostels or something to that effect. Those same institutions tell me that I should drink more and do stupid shit because, after all, “you only live once”.

While that’s all probably a good time, I will take my amazing girlfriend, our tiny apartment, and a half-cooked plan for the rest of my life over drinks in an English pub any day. I may not know where I want to go, but I know who I want to get there with, and I really think that’s a big step in the right direction.

I’m not advocating for or against settling down at an earlier age, and I’m not even knocking working for Starbucks.  All I’m saying is that this book is pretty great, I recommend it, and I think we could all stand to get the ball rolling on the rest of our lives a little faster than age 30.

A little ambition never killed anyone.


Help Someone

So hey, here’s a radical idea for that whole “charitable and giving” sentiment that’s floating around this time of year:

HELP OTHER PEOPLE.  Who?  How about this guy, who got the crap kicked out of him because he’s gay?

You can always donate to a coats for needy kids program, or donate toys to needy toys.  Volunteer in a soup kitchen.  Buy some turkeys for a food pantry.  Some thrift stores have programs in place that help charities, such as the Goodwill chain and Savers.  If you want to be a personal hero of mine, check out Heifer International or Oxfam or

Do I realize times are tough and other such platitudes?  Of course I do, I’m not exactly rolling in dough over here.  But I do know that there is a wealth of good to be felt in donating, and in helping people who really need it.  Some people always have it a lot worse, and while that may not be especially comforting, it’s an unfortunate truth.

The flipside of this is that we can DO something about this.  Check out the links above, talk to people about charities or helping others, just do what you can.  It matters.

How to Deal: Hobbies

Hey dudes, I got a really good question from a friend and former coworker the other day.  How do you go about introducing a new lady to your hobbies and interests?  What’s really great is this can also translate to some of the more, erm, adult activities as well.

The best answer I can give to this question is “Go slow”.  If you’re into baseball cards, if you’re into fishing or stamp collecting or model building or even taxidermy, don’t talk about it constantly, don’t DO it constantly (unless you’re a professional fisherman or taxidermist, I guess!)  Relationships are hard, no doubt about that.  They take a lot of work and compromise, and unfortunately a bit of sacrifice.  For those of you gentlemen who haven’t managed to snag a lady that loves everything about you and your weird habits, this can cause some friction (bad friction, minds out of the gutters please).

My friend Q has a particularly interesting hobby.  I don’t even know if calling it a “hobby” is the right term, but anyway, he spends a lot of his spare time preparing for the end of civilization as we know.  One way or another he’s convinced modern civilization will end and we’ll all be thrown into a Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic world.  He and a couple friends of his take secondhand sports equipment and whatever else they can scavenge (literally, scavenge) and make armor preparing for just such an occasion.  I’ve been to these parties, it’s actually a pretty neat gig.  But, neatness aside, I am guessing it’s hard to walk up to a lady he’s interested in and ask her what she’s doing for the end of the world.

I think this is one of Q's roommates... Could be wrong.

So, if you’re reading this, Q, here’s some very personal advice for you.  If she is into movies, which most people these days are, ask if she’s ever seen Mad Max or Waterworld (or both), propose a date night where there’s popcorn or mixed nuts or whatever.  Cuddle up on the couch, and then pop these movies in.  During the course of viewing, but maybe not when there’s essential action, mention casually that you love this stuff and make costumes – I would totally go the casual route, so as not to seem, you know, nuts.  Since Q throws big shindigs at a local club every so often, mention that too, and invite her along.  Establish this hobby as a not-totally-serious thing (like you don’t REALLY believe this is how things will turn out… Right?)  If she seems willing to go along with it in a casual sense, then use your best judgment to see how much farther she’s willing to believe.

I partied with these people once

Okay, I teased you with this earlier and I should probably address it now before I get angry letters – what do you do about sexier subjects that might be a little off to most people?  If you’ve got a kink and you want to date someone and be happy, you gotta tell someone.  For instance, if you like being spanked, bring it up.  The best approach is always honesty, and always be up-front if you’re ever asked.  Obviously using your best judgment is key here, since doing this wrong could lead to some serious lack of sexytimes for you.

You know what?  Now that I think about it, this should really be addressed more fully, probably in another post of its own.  So that’s what I’m gonna do with that.

If you’ve got problems, which I’m sure you do, email me!

Til next time, boys!


So, hypothetical situation.  Let’s say you’re still friends with an ex-girlfriend on Facebook.  Because, of course, everyone is friends with everyone on Facebook, and something as petty as being dumped is no reason to un-friend someone, right?


This hypothetical ex just gained a new job.  Let’s say she becomes manager of a bank branch.  But, here’s the issue – she keeps openly posting on Facebook about how much she needs to get laid, or how badly she wants to smoke a lot of weed.  And she doesn’t use creative euphemisms!!!

What’s a guy to do?  Do you politely say something like, “Maybe you should be a bit more judicious about what you post on here – your boss may end up seeing this”?  Or, do you just leave it alone, because, well, they’re your EX after all and she probably stomped on your heart while wearing 4-inch heels?

Well, the Advisors have a variety of responses to this one, so let’s get into those.

Flannery said it’s not your problem; even if the relationship ended on good terms, the ex is an adult, and their judgment and their issues are their own problems.  Katie actually said something similar, but took it a step further.  She said, “Remember, an ex is an ex for a reason!”

I thought these were pretty interesting, not because of the vague “everyone for themselves” tones I got out of the conversation, but because it showed me that I even have a line that I don’t cross with my exes.  I discovered that I don’t give unsolicited advice to my exes, so why would I tell other people they should do the same?

Then there’s the majority of my friends I spoke with, who said, “Nah, the right thing to do is to kindly point out the potential for a problem.”  That, unfortunately, also appeals to me.  I’m kind of  big on looking out for others (my momma raised me that way!), so with an issue like this, I definitely consider giving this advice.  With my friends, most will tell you that I give advice like it’s going out of style.  As I stated before, I just learned that I draw the line at exes.

However, that’s not really the point.  The point is the answer to the question, “What should you do?”  I lied at the beginning of this post – this is not a hypothetical situation.  A coworker of mine (who reads this blog, SHOUT-OUT TO HIM HERE!) asked me what he should do.  What did I say?

I said, “As long as you’re nice about it, and you make it clear there are no insidious or ulterior motives for saying it, there’s really no problem with giving a little advice on decorum.”  Because really, when you break it all down, it’s a good thing to do.  This could literally be a job-ending, potentially career-destroying thing.  As we have all heard, you CAN get fired for things that appear on your Facebook page.  So, why not try and help someone avoid that?

To summarize: while you may have bad feelings from a breakup, that does not mean you should hold your ill will over someone if it can possibly ruin their life.  Don’t be a douchebag.  Tell someone (NICELY) if you think they’re being inappropriate.  If something ends up happening and you didn’t say anything, you’ll end up feeling like a dick.  Save them, and save yourself.