Ask The Advice Goddess #24

I am a 30 year-old woman. About five weeks ago, at a party, I met this guy who just blew me away. Not only was he attractive physically, but mentally as well. We hit it off, and even though he is only 22, I have very strong feelings for him. He calls me and leaves long messages on my answering machine. He is very perceptive about what I am feeling, and talking with him for hours seems like just minutes. We have spent time together on a couple of occasions and we both had great fun. It's my opinion that he likes to be friends before he pursues relationships, but I am not sure how he feels about me. He supposedly talks about me all the time to his friends and has mentioned me often to his mother, saying she has to meet me. I don't want to screw up our growing friendship, but I just have to know if he sees a future with me being more than his friend. How do I find out what he is feeling without making a fool of myself or losing him as a friend? --Shy and ConfusedIt's human nature to want definite answers: Do you love me? Is there a God? Paper or plastic? The problem is, in certain situations, direct questions are likely to cause explosions. Yours is one of those situations.Don't despair. If your description of Boy Wonder's actions is even halfway accurate, he's one small step away from polishing your shoes with his tongue. In other words, to borrow from effervescent Academy Award-winner and self-help graduate Sally Field, "He likes you! He likes you! He really likes you!" Even if it turns out that he doesn't share your boy-girl feelings, he sounds too attached to you to forgo your friendship.In lieu of wire-tapping equipment and magic eight-balls, your best bet for fact-finding is to provoke him into acting upon his feelings. When you're talking to him, touch his arm or shoulder every now and then. Doing so will break down physical barriers between you and subtly let him know that it's okay to touch you back. Instead of getting together for lunch at high noon, or for other activities which offer scant opportunities for him to lose his head and throw you up against the wall and kiss you, invite him to activities that say "friend," but spill over into evening. Get together around dusk, go out for drinks, invite him to join you at a party that will go into the wee hours. Remember, alcohol and moonlight are the jumper cables of romance.If he's interested in you, he will eventually jump all over you and try to get acquainted with your tonsils. If he isn't, inaction speaks louder than words.***I live in a brand new apartment building with four units. Last night, I was kept up until 3 a.m. because my next-door neighbor was having marathon sex with her boyfriend. I was too embarrassed to complain, even though this has been an ongoing problem. What's the best way to discreetly let my neighbor know that her loud love life is keeping me up at night? --Sleepless Just Outside Of SeattleMurphy's Law holds that the decibel level of one's neighbor's sexploits is directly related to the paper-thinness of the drywall separating your apartments. Had you moved into an aging stone fortress, your next-door neighbor would more than likely have been an elderly first-grade teacher whose loudest daily activity is the opening of a can of Whiskas.You have a number of options. Passive approaches include smothering yourself with a pillow, investing heavily in earplugs, and moving. More confrontational tactics include banging on the wall with a hard-soled shoe, writing to your neighbor or landlord to complain, and screaming wildly in protest. (Please note: screaming has the potential to backfire; either leading your neighbor to stop the ruckus just long enough to call the police in your behalf or to knock on your door and ask if you'd like to join them).Instead, try a solution that's active, but relatively anonymous. Clearly, your neighbor already owns the life's work of Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross. The next time her nude triathalon keeps you up at night, use the opportunity to supplement her collection of recordings with a little ... uh, spoken word. Something very personal. As in, get a tape recorder and slip an earful of her own medicine under her door.If that doesn't stop her, once you get a few nights of beauty sleep under your belt, go out and look for a man of your own, and ask him to do his part to help you drown out all the noise from next door.Got a problem? Ask Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, box 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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