Subpar advice: Let’s talk about love

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Illustration by Shannon Kidd

Mixing Coffee with Pleasure writes:

I just got asked out to coffee by a recruiter via my LinkedIn. I guess he was looking for a connection with females that wasn’t just business-oriented. I’m pretty happy in my current relationship and am honestly freaked out by the not-so-subtle offer. I want to keep it professional but not lead the recruiter on. What should I do?

Heya Mixing Coffee,

Well, at first I was gonna say sometimes a coffee is just a coffee, but you’ve made it clear that there were some advances that went from When Harry Met Sally to the music video for ’90s British pop group Supersister’s “Coffee” (incidentally, one of my favorite gay line dancing songs…but that’s neither here nor there).

I would first like to salute you for your bravery in using LinkedIn in this day and age. It would be like someone admitting they still liked Sugar Ray long after TRL has gone off the air, though I would argue Carson Daly’s Last Call is one of the best late night shows you’re not watching (FYI, I’m watching it on the treadmill). I hope LinkedIn is actually super helpful in your career journey and not in the way you’ve described above. LinkedIn is not a business version of OKCupid and using it like that is just creepy.

Honestly, I think this recruiter should be reported to his company because who knows how many people he’s propositioned in this way. Recruiters have a lot of power because they are the gatekeepers to certain jobs, and it’s not okay to use that power to get people to “go to coffee.” I would call it coercion except there’s no way yet to know if these coffee dates are a decisive factor in whether he even looks at resumes or not (I have no idea if this recruiter is in your field, but I’m assuming with what information I have that they are).

At the end of the day, friend Coffee, you must be true to yourself. If you feel skeeved out, your gut is probably telling you something you should listen to. Use LinkedIn to your advantage. Place an anonymous call to this person’s HR firm and get a ball rolling. I don’t want this recruiter ruining business-and-pleasure-coffees for everybody else for however long to come.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru

Bigger Boy Trouble writes:

I’m getting to my one-year anniversary with my current beau, and it didn’t used to bother me that he was overweight. In fact, his weight gain was pretty gradual, and I didn’t notice it until I got a Timehop on Facebook from the beginning of our relationship. I don’t want this to be a deal breaker, but I’m having flashes of a 600-lb. man in my head. Should I drop hints or be less subtle about my concerns?

Heya Bigger Boy’s Other,

Before we go any further, I need you to have an honest conversation with yourself about how much of this weight gain is your loving year-long significant other and how much of this weight gain is weight that you’ve also gained. Clear that air of its stench first and let the perfume of righteous truth make it smell sweet.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, and assuming your motives aren’t superficial, let’s talk about my favorite place to reduce stress. No, not in a pole dancing class (close though).

Dance lessons.

I’m feeling romantic this week, what with V-Day being so close, and I want to give you some alternatives to the “you’re fat, let’s hit the gym” scenario other advice columnists would give you. Instead of making it all about them, do it as a group effort that doesn’t involve fat shaming or sweatin’ to the oldies. Did you know we have some primo dance places in Portland to learn new stuff? I’m not even talking tangos and ballrooms at Arthur Murray (it’s an option though).

Why not learn ballet together? Why not do a booty dance camp? It worked for the people in that Eric Prydz video. They were all having a really good time. Maybe too good a time. But hey, if one thing leads to another, aerobics are really everywhere you want to be.

If dance lessons aren’t your thing, get creative about it. Are you a competitive couple? Why not do laser tag together? Enjoy the cold? There’s an ice skating rink at the Lloyd.

I’m telling you, start thinking outside of the box and you can use this fear to jumpstart an opportunity and a new relationship both with yourself and with your partner. You know it’s a good plan too when The Simpsons does it—although I’m not sure curling is a very strenuous activity unless you count togetherness as strenuous.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru

Problems with Porn writes:

I have a kind of weird question and kind of wonder what even having this question says about me. You see, I used to be a very liberal person about porn. It didn’t bother me at all as long as it was consensual and positive. But all that changed after a bad break-up with a guy who was really into porn. And now porn only reminds me of him and it’s kind of awful now. I don’t want to sex shame anyone for enjoying porn and I would like to enjoy it in the future with my next guy. Should I see a therapist?

Heya PWP,

There are no weird questions, only weird answers. And before I answer your query, I’d like to address anyone that thinks a porn question should be in next week’s “Subpar Sex Advice” edition: Why? Why can’t porn be in the love edition? Though there are questions about the exploitation of women and youth culture in porn, if porn is something a couple enjoys and it helps to reaffirm a loving bond, why not talk about it? What about porn makes us feel less open and more icky?

That’s an article for another time, probably. Don’t want to get ahead of myself.

First, I want to say to you that your fears are founded in reality. Porn went from enjoyable and/or amusing to something triggering. It sounds like something you enjoyed was manipulated during some sort of “problem” with your ex. Now, not knowing the details of the problem, I will say it was a bigger problem than you probably want to admit to yourself. Even if was just ignoring you and tossing you over for the porn. That is a problem because porn should not be your all-consuming life fantasy. I think that’s where even I’d draw the line.

It may be that your attitude for porn may never be the same—and that’s okay. I won’t say you shouldn’t go to therapy (I’m a big believer myself), but don’t go into therapy thinking there’s something wrong with you. Therapy doesn’t have to be about that quick fix. Therapy can be a great tool for talking things out that you’ve been holding inside.
Make sure, though, that you find someone who won’t shame you. Even therapists can sometimes feel icky around porn. Make sure they are an accepting and affirming therapist, especially of queer issues. Make sure during the first appointment that you feel safe with them enough to do the work. Don’t obligate yourself to anyone who’ll do further damage to your belief in yourself and the goodness inside of you.

Getting back to the porn thing, though: Be aware that your feelings on this will change throughout your life. Everything from the way you feel about porn to the way you feel about how people grill corn will change. How you adapt and know yourself will help you to embrace these good changes, learn when a bad change is approaching, and take time to breathe and examine your heart.

I hope you can enjoy the things you love in life for yourself and hopefully with someone else when they come along.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru

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