Opening doors, picking up tab about courtesy, not gender
Q: I am 29 and single. I have a very strong mother, who raised me to treat women with respect. I was taught women are strong, intelligent and independent. And that women don't need any special treatment.
When I go on dates I treat them that way. I respect them, but I don't offer to hold their door open, or always take my car. I ask if they want to drive. And I always split the check rather than pay for them. I think it's insulting to think women are fragile and we need to treat them as if they are.
As you can imagine, I don't get very many second dates. And most of my female friends say I act like a jerk. Am I a jerk? Should I change my way of thinking, or stay strong to my beliefs . . . and remain single?
B. from Maine
A: Your mother instilled in you some valuable beliefs, but either she or you fashioned them into a needlessly blunt instrument.
Dates have nothing to do with scoring political points. If you ask someone to dinner, you pay. Not because your dinner companion is financially dependent upon you, but because you are the host and the pleasure of someone's company is more than worth paying the tab. If you get to a door first, you hold it for the next person. Not because that person is too frail to handle the door, but because it's the courteous thing to do. If you are amenable to giving your companion a ride, then you offer a ride.
Note that none of these is gender-specific. Each is one person showing kindness to another — and people of all varieties appreciate kindness, even the strong, intelligent and independent ones.
You have female friends, so presumably you enjoy their company. So, dating women needn't be any more complicated than your friendships. Try being kind, not right. See if that helps.
It's not your job to give medical advice, suggest cures to friend
Q: One of my friends has had fibromyalgia for the past year. It makes me sad, and so I like to find alternative treatments and cures and tell her about them. She has gotten really annoyed with me for doing this, but I am only trying to help and I think she should be more willing to listen to what I've found. She has a doctor she sees regularly and takes medication, but I don't know why she brushes it off when I give her my advice. I feel really unappreciated and am starting to wonder if she even wants to feel better.
A: She takes medication and has a doctor she sees regularly. Would you please respect this as her way of handling her illness, and stop trying to force your way down her throat, just to make yourself feel better?
Wanting to help only works if you also want to listen — that's what makes your efforts about her illness, and not your sadness. Her message to you is that she doesn't find "alternative treatments and cures" helpful. On behalf of everyone who is struggling with health problems, and who therefore doesn't need to take on a whole other battle against unwanted advice and suggestions about his or her own body, please don't presume to judge anyone's drive to be well.