Robot Hearts: Wash that man right out of your hair (and then be careful how you go about getting it dirty again)

OK, reader who submitted the second question! Let’s go ahead and treat the reader who submitted the first question as a cautionary tale, not an inspiration. Just to be safe.

Question #1

I have an interesting situation and I wanted to hear some solid advice (Susan) and some so-absurd-it might-just-work-advice (Jack) on the topic. Recently I met a man over the internet. We both belong to a book forum where members exchange book reviews, insights, and other nerdy types of things. I’ve been emailing with this man, we’ll call him “Jason”, for a few months now. At first we really hit it off on a very deep, intellectual type of level. I enjoyed his personality and intellect, and we even started to go as far as exchanging insights on sex and dating. In the past month we have escalated this internet courtship and began sending naughty pictures to each other via email and picture text. At first the pics were somewhat innocent (me in a bra, his naked torso, etc.), and then after awhile we started sending full nude pics, including pictures of our faces. I admit, “Jason” turns me on. We send dirty texts almost hourly now and often I find myself fantasizing about him.

He lives two hours away, and now, after 4 months of emailing (1 month of sexual emailing), he wants to meet up. He has even offered to get a hotel room and meet for a one night rendezvous. I consider myself the adventurous type, but should I really be meeting a complete stranger in a random hotel for a filthy sexual encounter? This isn’t the movies and I’m pretty sure that he isn’t going to be as nice as Tom Hanks. I’m scared, intrigued, and sort of wondering if this is all a bit slutty. What would Robot Hearts do?

– “You’ve Got (Dirty) Mail” in the Fan

Susan: Here’s my worry with all of this — I mean besides the obvious safety issues, which I will address in a second. Maybe I’m just supremely awkward, but it’s easy for me to imagine heating it up via the internet and texts and whatnot, but the idea of actually meeting someone face to face in a hotel room to whom I have bared my naked self over the internet makes me squirm. That sounds bad. I don’t mean I’d rather have electronic relationships than real face-to-face ones, I’m just thinking of the actual first hour, which in my imagination would be so painfully uncomfortable that actually going through with it would be rather daunting. But perhaps you are talented at steamrolling your way through awkward situations involving naked internet pictures, so if you’re OK with that, let’s move on.

Maybe the reason you’re concerned suddenly about this fantasy becoming a reality is that it sounds like at some point there was a shift from “He likes me, he really likes me!” to “He likes my naked pictures, he really likes my naked pictures!” I’d say full speed ahead if it sounded like all you were interested in was a quick night at a hotel, but you mentioned his personality and intellect — the first things that attracted you to him. Before any pictures were exchanged, you dug this guy, and all of a sudden it’s gone from a possibly promising connection with another human being to yet another guy who wants you to lose your clothes. It’s not really anyone’s fault. Hormones are powerful things, and it doesn’t mean that all that banter and shmoozing he was doing in the beginning was some clever ruse. I’d say you need to propose a scenario that is comfortable for you. How about “Why don’t we get dinner and see how it goes?” or “Hey, there’s a special event happening, would you like to accompany me to it?” or “Why yes, I would love to see you! Within the customary wrappings of denim and cotton that we call clothing!”

If he jumps at that chance (and probably takes that hint to reboot his system and approach this all from the dating angle), then go for it. Just please, please tell at least one person about your plans and your whereabouts, and check in with that person at a previously agreed-upon time. If he loses interest, he’s one of those dudes. Discard and move on.

Jack: You done putting me to sleep, Susan? Okay now that Mom has put in her two cents, let’s talk turkey. Clearly you have some sexual interest in addition to the intellectual interest with this guy. So where’s your Lewis and Clark spirit here? Okay so you should be somewhat safe (bring mace, condoms, have your will prepared) but c’mon!? There is no rule that says a meaningful relationship can’t begin with a depraved session of awkward, “Ouch, ouch, you’re sort of biting me”, somewhat decent sex in a sleazy motel room. If that’s a rule, then I want a sit down with the rulebook-maker guy.

It’s clear from the tone of your email that you are excited about this situation. You like the attention and the danger of it. Is there anything wrong with that? Is there anything wrong with breaking free from the bore of dating “bores” and being, well, a bad girl? If you are currently unattached then no, there is not. It’s healthy to take a few calculated or, in this case, completely blind risks.

As for Susan’s advice to change the sexual rendezvous to a “dinner meeting” or a “special event”, uhh yeah, I hope you enjoy emailing with this guy because it’s highly likely that you will never be meeting him in person with that move. There are plenty of women who try to pull moves like that and you know what we call these women??? Cat Ladies. They got lots and lots of cats. Cats have replaced men in their lives. Tell ’em Suze.

A side note here: You may want to look for the ol’ tan line on the ring finger when you meet him. This setting screams “I’m married!!!”

Susan: You are so despicable sometimes that I can’t even respond to you. I’m pretty sure you just said that women who want to be taken out are women who are doomed to cat-hood. Oh, or a relationship. I just realized that you think those two things are the same.

Question #2

OK, I won’t bore you with too many details about my cliche relationship problem. Let’s just say that I’ve been with this guy for almost five years, we’ve never been happy for more than a couple of months at a time, and we’ve broken up probably fifteen times. Even my closest friends are starting to refuse to listen to me complain anymore, and I don’t blame them. I’m sick of it too. It just needs to end so I can move on with my life. That’s the problem, though. I think I have a little trouble with that part. I’m not the kind of person who handles these things well (hence the fifteen breakups), and it’s extremely difficult for me to run headlong into something that’s going to cause me pain. We break up, I feel miserable and lonely, he cries a little and I tell him to come back, just to make the pain go away. Repeat repeat repeat! Any tips on how to break this cycle and get me over the hump?

– “Tired of My Broken Heart” in the Museum District

Jack: This is a question I can actually relate to. I know the vicious cycle of break ups to make ups. There were a few weekends where I broke up with a girl on a Friday afternoon so I could go out that weekend, but then we would inevitably be back in bed saying “I love you” over and over by that Sunday’s eve. It sucks to be caught in that vortex and it simply is not good for one’s mental health. How can you really love this other person yet still want out of the relationship so badly? And more importantly, how do you finally break free?

This is my answer for pretty much every question on Robot Hearts, but I’m sure any sane person would say the same. You have to get back out in the game and have some fun. Through the fun, you WILL meet someone new. I promise you will, and while this new person may not be the next “love of your life”, or even someone you would even cross the street for, they will take your mind off of the ex and help you to move on. It’s not even important who the new person is, it’s just important for them to be that wedge in the door, or that signal to your brain and to your ex that it’s finally over.

Time and separation are the only ways you will really forget about the ex, but to speed up the time-space continuum and get this shit over with, return to dating even if it feels forced. Also, sleeping with a few of these rebound dudes or dudettes is purely optional, but I highly recommend it. Nothing tells an ex-lover that “you’re over them” better than finding another guy’s boxers and/or condom wrappers on the floor of your apartment when they come to pick up some of their stuff. I found that one out the hard way.

Susan: Well, OK, I’ll forestall the dry heaving that your last answer brought upon me (although every time I close my eyes I see the words “have your will prepared” swimming in the darkness) so that I can tentatively agree with you on this one. The answer is other people, ladyfriend. I mean maybe not use guys as “practice sticks” or “whiffle bats” or what have you, but you need to find somebody, anybody, who does at least one thing better than this dude. Because otherwise you will dwell on all the good things (even if the only good thing was one nice comment he made after you took care of his phone bill for him) and conveniently forget the bad things, because at that point the bad things won’t seem nearly as bad as sitting in your apartment and watching old episodes of Seinfeld while you convince yourself that he is having the time of his life based on some comments on his MySpace page by girls who are six years younger than you and have names like “Emileigh.” Well, guess what, sister. Your suspicions are probably correct. He’s probably nailing Emileigh and her friend Jessikaa because guess what, he’s finally free from that terrible relationship.

I don’t mean to imply that you weren’t a magical princess of a girlfriend who he was lucky as hell to be with. But you yourself admit that this relationship is sucking the life out of both parties, so what you need is someone who can make up for everything that dude lacked. Maybe he’s hotter, maybe he’s a better kisser, maybe he smells nicer. Those things are legit! Go have fun with that for awhile. But at some point there will be a guy who’s maybe funnier, maybe easier to get along with, and maybe doesn’t make your life anything but easy and beautiful. At that point it make it a lot harder to look wistfully back into the past and say, “But…but…he did once thank me after I made dinner for all of his friends that night he invited them all over to my house to play video games and keep me awake all night.”

Seriously, I feel strongly about this. I can’t say I’ve been in You’ve Got Dirty Mail’s situation, but I can definitely say I feel Tired of My Broken Heart’s pain. If you make quick with the business of living your life and not somebody else’s, you will severely cut short your grieving time, and soon you’ll be looking back on that train wreck and genuinely wondering what took you so long. Not one of us is getting any younger. Do not stay at home. Do not brood. Do not even think about scoping his internet presence. This guy is dead to you, and a million other dudes are not.

Jack: It’s clear that Susan and I are in agreement here. But there is nothing, NOTHING wrong with girls who are six years younger and have names like Emileigh and Jessikaa. In fact they’re what you call….umm, what’s that awesome term that I coined?? Oh yeah, they’re “practice holes” – huge, gaping practice holes in which to work on your sexual motor-skills and to try out new dirty talk lines with. But I guess that doesn’t help your particular situation, Broken Heart.

Suze is right. We are certainly not getting any younger (unless you’re Ben Button and god damn is he a fine one) and time is of the essence. Get back on the horse, emotionally and physically.

Would you like to be similarly fulfilled?? Send your relationship questions to and start the argument. Check out past columns at Robot Hearts, and keep tabs on Jack at Jack Goes Forth.

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