Monday, September 08, 2008

H&R Advice Column #5: Listen To Us, Or Pay the Price

Hello, little chicklettes of the interwebs. As you're well aware, if you've got lots of feelings, Riese & Haviland have lots of answers. Today, this fine September week of homelessness and seasonal allergies, we bring you eight questions. Feast on the fruits of our opinions, and you will never be hungry. If you're interested in receiving advice 1-6 weeks from when you need it, you know where to go:

Dear H&R,

I recently transferred to a new city for my job and moved in with an old friend. One of her new friends lives in the same building and I'm interested in her. Howevs, my friend & her friend are super-tight, and I'm afraid that initiating anything might make it awkward if things don't work out, as we're all basically living together. I don't want to ruin anything for my friend. Advice?

-Living in Sin

Riese: Haven't you seen Melrose Place? There's only one way this story can end, and it's hot hot hot! How else do we meet people if not as friends of a friend? Take the plunge. Worst case scenario, things could get awkward. Best case scenario, naked sex in the pool. Clearly the bad outweighs the good, my work here is done.

Haviland: I second that emotion. In all seriousness, though, talk to your friend and ask her. Just feel it out and see how many feelings everyone has about it, and if they're less than say, five-ish, you're good to go.

Dear H&R,

I like feeling needed so I tend to attract users -- jumping from close sexless friendships with girls who need help ($20, emotional support, someone to pick them up and drop them off, an audience for their drama, money for food). Theoretically, I know that sounds so "Duh, bad idea!" But I feel like there's more to it than that ("I let it happen" or "she's not doing it on purpose") it is with my current bff. Her jerk boyfriend dominates her life, I never see her anymore, and distance has brought perspective. On one hand, I want to let her go. On the other, I wanna disentangle her from the mess. She uses me -- for sure -- but it doesn't compare to how he treats her. And she's a good person. I want to be her friend. I think. Idk. Maybe I'll just move sooner than originally planned.

-Used & Abused

Haviland: This is really hard, and let me say I completely empathize with your situation. First, you need to know that nothing you say or do is ultimately going to change her situation. She chooses to be with this guy, and she'll have to make the choice to stay or go. Having said that, you have choices, too. Here's what you can do: sit her down, tell her that you love her but you're concerned about how she's being treated, and that you miss the time you used to spend together. Be gentle. She will most certainly react very defensively. Assure her that you are on her team. Try to make plans, and ask her if she can be there more for you, the way you try to be for her. If she is truly a good friend, and is in a place right now that she can accept your friendship, she'll buck up and figure it out. Just remember you absolutely cannot do any disentangling. She'll only resent you for it. The best you can do is love her, let her know how you feel, and handle your own life.

Riese: Agreed. I think for me one of the hardest things about growing up was realizing that although my friends have often 'saved' me from bad relationships, not everyone's as open to that as I've been. And ultimately when it's the two of them alone in the room without your opinion front & center in her mind, your feelings are gonna seem like what they actually are -- just feelings from outside.

You need to ask yourself if her behavior is fucking up your life logistically (work, finances, your friends & family). If you've got nothing else to do besides pick her up, and you do love & care about her and want to offer support regardless of reciprocation, then go for it. But don't ever put her priorities above yours, that's when resentment starts, and if she never leaves him, that's how you're gonna start feeling like you've fucked up your life for someone who won't UN-fuck up their life for you.

Hey there ladies,

As you know, you're hot. Hot.I want to know EXACTLY what your diet/exercise regimen is -- how two normal twentysomething girls eat and stay fit. My girlfriend and I have "let ourselves go" and we don't like ourselves anymore. We wanna be fit and look good again.

Let's Get Physical

Riese: Firstly, let me say that it's never as easy as it looks, and it's definitely never as easy as people say it is. I've been blessed w/good genes. Several years ago I freaked out for a number of reasons, started eating like a 35-year-old mother on a diet, counting calories, etc., and the results were unpretty. I lost track of listening to my body and it took years to get that back, and that's the number one key to losing weight. Your body knows what you need 95% of the time, listen to it.

Now, I eat more or less whatever I want to. I know I definitely have it easier than other women and my advice isn't necessarily what will work for people more prone to weight gain than I am.

My Mom's a nutritionist and she always stresses how every body needs something different, you have to figure out what works for you. I know that when I'm depressed and starving, I get emaciated fast, and when I tried to 'diet' (1600-1800 calories a day) I kept putting on weight 'cause my body went into "starvation mode." If you're gonna count something, don't count carbs or fat, calories is the one and only thing that matters. But fat'll keep you fuller longer, so stay away from fat-free cookies and shit.

I eat probs about 2500+ calories a day -- a lot of eggs, toast, frozen yogurt, english muffins, peanut butter crackers, string cheese, Nature's Valley granola bars, gardenburgers, salad, candy, alcohol, green tea, Coca-Cola, yogurt, cereal -- and I never ever consume aspertime. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I enjoy many small meals.

There's some things that i just know are ridiculous calorically that I stay away from except for special situations, like empty carbohydrates (muffins, bagels, danishes, etc). When I snack, I mix protein and carbs (string cheese, nuts & dried berries, peanut butter crackers, etc) 'cause carbs alone won't keep you full as long.

I stay active as much as I can -- walk not drive, work out 4-5 days a week, about 40-60 minutes of cardio (elliptical or stairmaster). I do some crunches and leg exercises maybe once or twice a week.

Also when in doubt, I suggest Newman's Own air-popped popcorn, fat-free Jello, cigarettes, coffee, diet coke and amphetamines. I believe that's the diet of the stars.

Haviland: First of all, thank you for saying Riese and I are "normal" 20somethings. There is no normal - we all have issues, health challenges, body image bullshit, and hunger. Listen to your body. Everyone is different. Celebrate the things you like about yourself. I'm very specific about what I eat and how I work out, and I wouldn't suggest my way to everyone, because it's what works for me, but probably not for most people. If you are concerned specifically, or would like some suggestions, i'd be happy to refer you to a nutritionist or a trainer, who may be able to advise you on your specific situation. In general though, whole foods are better, starving and bingeing are not good ideas, drugs and alcohol are poison, and you should move in oxygen every day! Take care of your body. It has a big job to do!

Riese: Good point about drugs being poison. I'd like to change my answer from "amphetamines" to "a good multi-vitamin" or PHENOMENOL!

Hav and Riese,

I'm a boy and I've met a boy I like -- how do I get him to sleep with me? Not even sexually, but when I stay at his apartment, I sleep in his bed and he sleeps on the floor. What do I do? I'm afraid that if I'm too up front, he'll think I'm a ho, but why should he sleep on the floor of his own apartment?

-Sleepy Sloos

Riese: Is this boy gay? It kinda sounds like he's not. If he was gay, he'd probs be a ho ready to ride the hobby horse all over the Niagra Falls area. I mean, sleeping on the floor is serious. I might have to say he's just not that into you. The best way to tell is to make a lot of sexual references whenever possible and try to feel out his response. E.g., "can I borrow a pencil? Ooo, you know, this reminds me of my ex-boyfriend" and if he's like "oh ew," then it's a no-go, but if he's like "well, I have an even bigger pencil in my pants," then pull down his pants and stick it in. Then you can make a joke about Sharpies.

Haviland: I think we can all agree that if you have to "make someone sleep with you," it's the beginning of a bad night/morning/afternoon/whathaveyou. Don't worry about what he thinks of you. Are you a ho? If not, then you have nothing to worry about. If so, enjoy it! Contrary to what Sarah P would say, use a condom!
Hey hey,

There's a new girl at my work, and I feel like she's bi or gay but my friend is convinced she's straight. How do I raise the point or ask without being rude or offending her, but also without making it sound like I'm coming onto her? I don't want her to feel it's too awkward, how do I let her know it's cool.

Dear Haviland & Riese,

I'm only 15 but I know I'm gay. It's taken three years to get over my first crush on my straight as an arrow best friend, but we still hang out and it's tough to forget her entirely. Luckily, I've got a new crush I really like -- and I think she might actually be gay! How do I approach her without being creepy if she turns out to be straight? I don't wanna get hurt or feel like an idiot.

-Go Fish

Riese: Kids! Listen up! The best way to find out ANYTHING about ANYONE is to ... (drumroll!) ... talk to them!!!! There's no secret code or special handshake. You just talk to them. See if they talk about boys, Shane, Tegan and/or Sara, or Melissa Etheridge. Feel out the vibe. Most people don't know where they stand on the Kinsey scale, especially at that age, so don't stress so much about placing your crush object into "straight" or "gay." Sometimes girls with boyfriends fall for other girls, and sometimes lesbians won't be that into you, and sometimes bisexuals will get their own show on MTV. Most girls are straight until they're not, obvs, but worrying about orientation distracts from what you should really be sussing out -- does this girl like YOU? If you're open about who you are, chances are she'll feel comfortable opening up about her sexuality to you if it's relevant. And if she doesn't, then it doesn't matter if she's gay or even gayish ... she's not ready. Which means it's time for you to check out OURCHART!

Haviland: I couldn't agree more with Riese. There's literally nothing else I can add.

Dear H&R,

My girlfriend's addicted to all things Susan Powter -- she spends a million hours watching the outdoor shower video and perusing Susan's site & forum. And okay, my ego can handle it 'cause I know my cherubic butterbutt (as adorable as she is) hasn't got a real chance with the statuesque exercise queen. I can handle my gf eating Doritos in her Powter-made coffee sleeve bracelet while the yoga mat sits unused in the middle of my living room.

What I can't handle is her insistence that Powter's videos play while we're making love! When she's lovingly playing with my hair, she's actually trying to twist it into dreadlocks! My birthday gift? VS bras and A-line tees. My sports bras are nowhere to be found.

The other day, she asked me to yell at her for eating Twinkies. "Make it real," she said. "Tell me how white men and white flour are destroying me!" My Susan apparently lacked the proper authority and she retreated to a corner pouting, Twinkies in hand.

This morning Home Depot pulled up with outdoor shower materials.

So my question, dear autowin, is how can I make this obsession go away? Should I try to do Susan to make my butterbutt happy? If so, how can I do Susan more convincingly without actually exercising? Where do I draw the line?

So Truly,
Stop the Insanity!

Haviland: This whole thing seriously makes me LOL. I'm having trouble giving actual advice because I'm LOL-ing.

Riese: HAVILAND! GET IT TOGETHER! YOU MUST! You know who does an amazing Susan imitation? Haviland. Maybe she could teach you.

That being said, it sounds like what your girlfriend is attracted to is having one-way conversations. As in; she sits and Susan yells. This is what makes Susan, Susan.

Here's what I'd do. When your GF leaves the house, you need to get rid of all the Susan stuff, like hide it in the backyard (if you've ever buried a hamster or something in the backyard, that's probs a good spot for the Susanialia). Then when she comes home and asks where it is, you go "What stuff?" and look confused. If your GF's like, "Oh, my Susan videos, where are they?" then you just give her a blank stare, like you've just had your mind and memory zapped, as in a sci-fi movie or teevee series. Or if you're not that good at faking a mind-sweep, just be like, "omg, we got mugged." For this plan, you'll need to prepare before she comes in -- I suggest being huddled in the corner crying, gripping a stuffed animal and going "at least they left Tinkerbell Junior!" Then she'll be too busy comforting you to think about refined white men. Insanity = stopped.

Dear H & R,

I've been seeing this gorgeous 28 year-old girl. She's got everything I want; looks, wit, functioning cerebrum, and she's not an alcoholic! there's something wrong though -- when it comes to sex (which's great btw), she doesn't want me to do anything. No touching. I just hug her, and she cums before I do, which doesn't bother me but I wanna share my oral skills! Love goes both ways, and I'm good at it! Tell me what to do, how to make her feel comfortable. Or, Riese; come down here and marry me. I'll show you my skills first hand, seriously, you're the girl of my dreams!"

Great Taste in Women

Riese: Firstly, I think you might have me confused with Haviland, she's the hot one, and I'm the cool one. I hope your dreams have candy in them. I love girls and candy. Or sex and candy, like that annoying song. Also I need a passport so get on that stat.

I'm confused about your situation. As I see it there are two things possible:
1. Your girlfriend is a total weirdo and has been faking orgasms, probs has issues.
2. Your girlfriend comes super easily without even being touched. So, she knows that if you touched her, she'd just explode everywhere like the Uh Huh Her song explode, or like a 14 year old boy. 'Cause like ... if she gets off just from hugging, I feel like your skills could probs push her over the edge.
3. I bet Haviland's gonna say something about the importance of communication, take it away, Hav!

Haviland: Well yeah. I mean, it sounds like she has something psychological going on that probably has nothing to do with you. Oh, girls. I could try and tell you how to make her feel comfortable, but it depends on why she feels uncomfortable, you know? Having said that, maybe she just has her way and thats what she's into, but if it bothers you (like if you feel like you're having one-way sex) then talk to her. Yay communication!

Dear H+R,

For seventeen years I assumed I was straight but over the last two, I started wondering if I liked girls. Then I started watching
The L Word, and I noticed myself finding women more and more attractive, checking out women. I'm hesitant to consider myself bisexual.

While I'm intrigued by the idea, the thought of actually being with a woman is a little je ne sais pas. I really do enjoy looking at women, thinking about them, and all the like [here's where I start confessing my love for both fictional characters (such as Carmen de la Pica Morales) and real people that I don't actually know (such as certain people [as in more than one person] who may or may not be associated with this blog)] but for some reason I just can't bring myself to say for sure that I like them.

At only 18, maybe this isn't an issue that I really need to focus on but I can't help but wonder. I'm one of those people who just needs an answer because the uncertainty is more than I want to handle.

All Girls Are Straight Until They're Not

Riese: I think I need a keyboard shortcut to copy-paste, "Don't worry about labels, just be what you are!"

We're trained as American females to fall in line w/what mass media dictates as "sexy." The L Word impacted many lives 'cause it's the first mainstream program to display girl-on-girl relationships (rather than male-oriented girl-on-girl hookups or flings) as being just as hot and sexy as the hetero kind. It definitely changed my life, too. So that makes sense.

When I was your age, I'd had one girl hookup and one serious man-relationship. I went through three more serious boyfriends before exploring the other side. You're growing and changing, and you'll figure out what you want. Don't let labels stress you out. That being said, I think bisexual sounds like a safe label. It's cute like Tila Tequilla, my number one hero.

I know it's easier said than done to just go with the flow, and it'll be really strange I know from experience to suddenly start thinking of girls as girlfriends instead of just friends, but have faith that in time, the answers will come. I think I've written a bit on my struggle with this a little bit here and here.

Haviland: I used to have serious anxiety over this very issue. From age 13 to about 18, it really plagued me. It was the uncertainty - as many of you know, I am a little Type A, and a planner, and not knowing something like how to explain to myself or to others what is happening in my head and heart is extremely uncomfortable and anxiety-producing to me. There was this one enlightening day that I remember thinking, "Why do I have to have an answer?" Sweetie, you do not have to have an answer. Most likely, you'll change your mind again and again. Try to really focus on the person/people you're into, rather than their gender. Be honest with yourself and never feel ashamed. This is a fun process - an excitant one! Embrace the fun in it. When people ask you to define what category you fit into, be a little flirty and deflect. There's no reason to tell everyone your business. Bring out your inner Blanche Devereaux. I cannot possibly explain how many times I have flirted my way out of answering something.

And as far as how to deal with yourself, really try and relax. You're going to figure it out, but in the meantime, just enjoy all the possibilities!

Riese: Word. 'Cause she's so Type A, Haviland's open-mindedness about my bisexuality and "label-free" living is something that really surprised me about her when we first met, and also her attitude really helped me to feel more free spirited than I had before. Now I'm like a bird! Rock out to Ani DiFranco's "In or Out" and let your inner goddess sparkle. That's my blanket advice for everyone actually: listen to Ani and sparkle!


caitlin said...

good job guys. excellent advice per ush. first comment, yeah yeah.

eric mathew said...

you ladies never fail to amaze me. as always honest and great.. the issue was solved... he did not want to come on too strong. he was actually annoying me the other night and i almost slept on the floor... but anyway... i'm not sure if i like relationships. for the longest time i wanted one and now that I have one, I am like man I wish I was single... which makes me think why do people even have relationships... i'm feeling very carrie right now. OH... another issue he said he wouldn't come on Rosie Cruise... but my fake husband Brian said he would... it's sad but my boyfriend has to be into Rosie cruise... I mean what could be more fun? Anyway.. back to John and Kate + 8.

p.s. Havs...
a.) OMG. you know I use protection.. I am like ALL about that... S.P. is redic... but the v-logs by Sarah are great.

b.) Officially in LA next Thursday... so yeah...

eric mathew said...

OH! and might I say that the little drummer girl did a great job with the new banner.

supr said...

this is fantastic. riese, your blank look idea was priceless. and i shall always hold havilands flirt your way out of it advice close to my heart.

autumn m said...


Vashti said...

So... I pretty much love you, haviland, and the advice column. I was wondering when you were gonna start it up again. Obvs cuz I always have a lot of feelings and love to share them via the interwebs. That being said, thanks for the advice. I've pretty much already adopted Haviland's way of thinking about the whole shebang [no pun intended.. well, maybe. =P]

Mercury said...

RE the last one - I just tell people I'm "Flexible" because labels suck in that they don't really cover the fluidity of the matter.

The word slipped out when my best friend asked, "So you're bi?" I was like, "I'm flexible."

Now that I'm dating a girl and my entire work is finding out she's helping the whole process by sort of... seeding the word. People ask her, "Is Rachel a lesbian?" "She's flexible." It works well.

Haviland Stillwell said...

"Flexible" is FABBBBULOUS.

EMC: get ready, player. LALA land awaits.

Vashti said...

Damn, Haviland took the words right out of my mouth/keyboard. "Flexible" is great and probs the most accurate in this case. Good call.

dewey said...

I have to admit you advice came like 4 days to late, you were close to getting in there first but not cigar.

However on the bright side i have already done what you suggested before you even suggested it :D And my gaydar is on form!

Conversation is the way to go, it was just waiting for the right time.

dewey said...

Also also...i feel like i havent commented in ages.....just wanted to say liking the new page banner!

stef said...

oohhh i like "flexible" a LOT.

a;ex said...

Thanks for the banner compliments guys, I appreciate it for real.

The Susan Powter thing was amazing. I miss her so much.

Also, you're homeless and yet still funny and amazing and this is why I love you.

riese said...


eric mathew: relationships are tough stuff, but you know it really depends on the person. relationships can take over and ruin your life, or simply consume it without ruining it but just consuming it but carrie bradshaw says the most important relationship you can have is with yourself. right? my ex girlfriend didn't want to go on the rosie cruise either, um, i think that's all i have to say about that.

supr: that's not all you'll hold it close to! HEY O!

autumn m: hi autumn this is tinkerbell. interesting. love tinkerbell.

vashti: Yeah we just like to take a lot of time to do things, and then it gets even harder when there's not much time and she's all the way in california. Haviland knows how to thnk, she's a relativley smart puppy. I only sometimes take her advice, that's why my life is a mess.

mercury: flexible, like spaghetti! I like it. You've coined a term! I like it 'cause it has HR connotations (as in actual human resourcs). Like can you do part time or full time? i'm flexible. Can you get along with all kinds of people "flexible." etc.

haviland stillwell: hiiI! i love you!

vashti: Nice shoulder!

dewey: Fuck! I always miss the winning shot by just a hair! waaaa. But EXCELLENT work with the gaydar. I like it when my advice works before it happens, then I feel like a psychic. (yes, semi made a new banner!)

stef: Better than "heterosexual tendencies" or "straight-ish"?

a;ex: Who are you? Are you a duck? Are you a monkey? Monkeys are not chickens. Tinkerbell says HEY-O farmer in the dell! love you! oxxoxoxoxoxoxxox gossip grrrrrl.

DAV said...

We should become roommates. Then we could start the Same/Diff Advice Column, where lesbians ask serious, thoughtful questions, you give sensitive, deep answers, then my answer is always, "You guys should kiss." It'd be a hit.

Chrissy said...

so i'm just popping in to say hello auto-winners!

i fell off the face of the earth for a bit (aka moved to florida), so i kinda lost touch with the real world. disney magic can do that to a person.

i probably won't be commenting on every single entry on here anymore, but i will keep reading!

Lexi said...

Awesome advice!

As a side note, when asked my sexuality I give the most random answer I can think of (once I described that my sexuality changes hour by hour in great detail) the person asking the question normally looks at me like i'm crazy and then drops it.

You guys rock!

Razia said...

Great advice, guys. Just re the first one. Maybe homegirl needs to double check that her and the friend's friend are on the same page w/r/t marriage. Let's just say I recently had a bad experience that had me running.

Also, that banner is hawt.

a;ex said...

An additional comment: I love love love how you put the pictures with the question on it. It's so graphic and excitant - like you!

April said...

I also have to add that subway stairs are good exercise, too. Especially when you're like me and no matter *where* you are going, the train stops at the lower level. That's like at least four flights of stairs a day, not including those oh-so-fun trips into midtown which transferring happens every nine seconds.

laia said...

hi guys, great post.
i haven't been able to read you in a while, and it's been good to come back. it's always refreshing to read you and remember that we're all accompanied in this auto-acceptance process. you make me remember that not being hetero can be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
take care. greetings from your wonderful city