Wednesday, January 26, 2011

She Had an Affair with Her Personal Trainer

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please send any questions you may have to

DEAR JIM: My situation is similar to the woman whose husband is overweight and a couch potato [see previous blog entry, dated 1/17/11]. In my case, though, I became attracted to one of the personal trainers at my gym, and wound up having an affair with him. It was wonderful for a few weeks, but then I learned through the grapevine that he was also seeing at least two other women from the gym. I don't want to be part of someone's harem so I broke it off, but I'm still fantasizing about other guys at the gym who have great bodies. Do you think it would motivate my husband to lose weight and get in shape if he knew that I'm turned on by guys who take pride in their appearance? ("Anonymous")

DEAR ANONYMOUS: I suppose some people can be motivated by fear and jealousy to change their behavior, but I wouldn't bet on it in your husband's case. In fact, knowing that you're attracted to other men may produce the opposite effect: he could become so depressed that he winds up eating or drinking even more.

I would also caution you not to blurt out a confession that you've been unfaithful. Unless your husband is certain to find out some other way, a confession is only going to hurt him and threaten your marriage, especially if you're not 100% determined that it will never happen again. Given how turned on you are by the men at your gym, I think it could easily happen again.

Your best bet is to try to motivate your husband in as positive a way as you can. At some point in your marriage he probably looked better---maybe a lot better---than he does now. You could show him pictures of himself when he was slimmer, and tell him how great he looked. If he used to work out or play sports, you could talk about how much energy he had, and how sexy he was in bed. And, as I told the other woman, you could try to help ease his way back into exercising by inviting him to go on walks with you.

I sympathize with your situation, "Anonymous," but if you truly want to save your marriage you've got to stop fantasizing about the guys at the gym. Affairs, like drugs, are usually nothing more than a quick escape from reality. Once the initial high wears off, you feel worse than before, which just makes you crave it again. It's a vicious cycle, and if it goes on long enough it will end badly.

Good luck, and please let me know what happens.

Monday, January 17, 2011

She's Into Nutrition and Fitness, He's Not

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please submit any questions you may have to

DEAR JIM: I was seriously overweight for many years, but I've managed to lose over ninety pounds in the past two years. I could still lose a few more, but basically I like the way I look and love the way I feel. I walk at least three miles whenever the weather is good, and do weights at the gym several times a week. My problem is that my husband is a classic couch potato and likes it that way. He's 310 pounds and hasn't exercised regularly since he played football thirty years ago. He hates the nutritious meals I try to prepare for us, and often stops off at McDonald's on the way home from work to have burgers and fries. I'm sorry, but I just can't stand the smell of fried foods any more, and I don't want to be responsible if my husband has a heart attack. Any suggestions? ("Annie")

DEAR ANNIE: I'm not saying your husband is right and you're wrong, but if you genuinely want him to live a healthier lifestyle you've first got to look at things from his perspective.

He probably feels that you've changed the rules in the middle of the game. For most of your married life, it sounds as if you were both couch potatoes and both enjoyed eating fatty foods. But then you woke up and realized that you didn't want to live that way any more, and you actually did something about it. You deserve all the credit in the world for losing the weight and keeping it off, but your husband probably feels he's lost a wife---or at least a sympathetic wife.

If you want your husband to adopt your eating and exercise habits, you'll need to do it gradually. If you take him out of his comfort zone too quickly, he'll just rebel and dig in deeper, which is what he's doing when he goes to McDonald's. So, despite your aversion to them, you should still cook some fried foods for him, but in smaller portions and without as much gravy or other toppings. I'm not a nutritionist, but I know there are plenty of cookbooks, and magazines such as Cooking Light, that are full of tips on how to make meals that are filling and satisfying, but not loaded with calories.

As for exercise, you'll also want him to go slowly. If your husband tries to make up for lost time by doing some of his old football workouts, he really will have a heart attack. Urge him to come with you on one of your walks, but start with just a mile or so. And when he does start losing weight or walking longer distances, be sure to praise him. Tell him how much better he looks. Show more interest in him sexually. Reinforce your message in a way that's positive, not preachy.

Good luck, Annie, and please let me know what happens.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Women Tell Lies Online, Too!

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please send any questions you may have to

DEAR JIM: You made it sound like the only liars, losers, and scam artists in online dating are men [see previous Q&A dated January 4, 2011]. What about the women who post pictures showing all sorts of cleavage, and then act offended when you mention sex? Or the women who will order the most expensive things on the menu and have no intention of ever seeing you again? Or the women who spend hours putting down their ex, or talk only about themselves? I think you owe an apology to men. ("Disgusted")

DEAR DISGUSTED: The purpose of this column is to answer specific questions submitted by specific readers. The woman who wrote to me was asking about "red flags" that she might encounter in her online dealings with men, and I told her. If a man had asked me the same question, I would have given him a different answer (and then some woman would probably have complained that I was being too easy on men).

Yes, some women do mislead men, or take advantage of their generosity or gullibility, or are totally wrapped up in themselves or consumed with the need to get revenge on an ex. Women are definitely not perfect, but very few people active in online dating---male or female---are innocent when it comes to revealing the entire truth about themselves or their motivations.

Both men and women will lie in their profiles about their age or weight or education. Both men and women are often guilty of self-deception; they cling to an image of themselves that has no basis in reality. And, even if they do have a degree of self-awareness, both women and men are fearful that no one will write to them unless they present themselves in the best possible light, which can lead to all sorts of exaggerations and half-truths.

I've written before about how men need to be careful about over-committing emotionally to women they haven't even met in person, or over-spending on first dates, or reading too much into the fact that a woman's picture shows some cleavage. Men need to be both optimistic but realistic, and---just as women should---they need to pay attention to red flags.

On a first date, a man should never have to spend hours listening to a woman drone on about herself or her ex, because a first date shouldn't last for hours (unless both people are hitting it off tremendously). Nor should a man be fretting about the big bar or restaurant charges the woman is running up. A first date should be in a casual, inexpensive setting such as a coffee shop, where it won't be difficult for either person to cut the date short if things are clearly going badly. And a first date should carry no expectations whatsoever of sex happening that day---no matter how flirtatious the e-mails have been or how much skin the pictures showed.

I hope that you can put your negative experiences into perspective, and not lose hope of meeting the right woman. She's out there somewhere, but you'll never meet her if you view all women with mistrust.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What are the Red Flags in Online Dating?

(NOTE: Jim's blog is now devoted to answering relationship questions submitted by readers. Please send any questions you may have to

DEAR JIM: I've been a widow since 2005, and I'm finally ready to start dating again. I'm nervous, though, because I haven't been on a first date since 1966! I keep hearing about all the "red flags" to watch out for on line dating sites, but I'm not really sure what they are. Can you enlighten me? (Peggy)

DEAR PEGGY: First of all, congratulations on having the courage to take the plunge.

In my opinion, the reddest of the red flags in online dating is a request for money. And I'm including not just a request for money, per se, but also requests from far-away members for you to pay for their airline tickets, hotels, or other travel-related costs in order for them to meet you.

If someone asks you for money or travel expenses, don't even respond; it's a scam of some sort, or at the very least someone who's desperate or looking for a "sugar mama." Most dating sites will allow you to block e-mails from people you don't want to hear from again, and you should do that immediately. You should also report the person to the site's administrator (there's usually a way to do that), so that other innocent people aren't victimized.

Another common red flag is a premature or inappropriate reference to sex. Unless your own profile indicates that you're interested in "casual encounters" or other sexually-oriented relationships, I would avoid men who come on too strong in this area. Although it's probably true that most men you correspond with will be hoping to have sex at some point, a man who's truly interested in a long-term relationship should be mature enough to want to get to know you first.

I would also be wary of profiles that suggest that the man has had bad experiences with women. If someone talks about having been dumped by past wives or girlfriends, or how he's looking for someone who can restore his faith in women, he's probably a man who is mistrustful, bitter, or clueless as to his own role in the failed relationships. Unless you're looking to rescue someone or serve as his unpaid therapist---and I hope you aren't---I'd avoid people like that.

In general, you need to read carefully what people say and how they say it. If something just doesn't sound right, or if someone makes you feel uneasy, don't bother reponding. When it comes to online dating, there's always someone else.

Good luck, Peggy, and please let me know what happens.