Friday, April 03, 2015

Questioning Mark

About six years ago, I posted a notice here on this very blog saying that I wanted to become an advice columnist, and opened the floor to questions.  I received a few from some friends….and then completely forgot to write the follow-up post.  Oops.  So, better late than never, here is the first edition of Questioning Mark!  The bright side about waiting a whopping six years to answer these questions was that I was able to ask for follow-ups to see how things turned out.

You can send your own questions, queries and concerns for future editions, which I promise will be coming before the end of the decade.  This batch ended up all being about relationships, though I’m open to answering any problem you might have (since lord knows relationships may not be my specialty…uh, I probably shouldn’t have admitted that before getting to the questions….oh well, who cares, nobody’s reading this anyways.) 

Q: I recently signed up for a dating website and was surprised to find my friend’s girlfriend with an active profile.  They’ve been going out for at least two years and were happy as far as I knew, but according to her profile, she had last been on the site just two days earlier.  Should I tell my friend or confront her about it?

A: It depends which dating site you’re frequenting, but some of them alert you when someone visits your profile.  If this is the case for your site, then she already knows you checked her out, so be prepared for some awkwardness the next time you’re all hanging out!  I wouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions that she’s cheating or that their relationship is on the rocks; for all you know, she might’ve created that profile ages ago and only just remembered it was still active.  It’s not a good look to keep it up while you’re in a relationship, granted, yet maybe she put a lot of work into clever answers and doesn’t want to delete the whole thing.  Or, maybe she leaves it up as an ego boost to see how many other guys still message her.  (Not that this is always a good thing, given how creepy a lot of dating-website dudes can be….um, myself not included.)  Or, maybe she’s one of those weirdos who just creates a dating website profile only to find platonic friends, which I’ve never understood.  Surely there has been to be a less confusing avenue to find a buddy.

I’d bring it up to her in a “uh, this is kind of a weird question, but…” kind of way and see what she says.  It also depends on how close you are with this woman and if you’re semi-friends yourself or if she’s just Your Buddy’s Girlfriend and have never spoken to her one-on-one. 

2015 follow-up: “They broke up a lot time ago, so maybe she was looking for a new guy after all.  I never ended up talking to her about it.”

Q: My ex-boyfriend and I still get along really well and frequently hang out (no backsliding, ha ha!)  We were both out at a bar with some of my friends and some of his friends, including a guy J he works with that I’d never met before.  J seemed nice at first but as the night went on, he started pretty heavily flirting with me, always when my ex was away from the table.  I let him know I wasn’t interested and then he did his best to ignore me for the rest of the night.  My question is, should I tell my ex about this?  On the one hand it wasn’t a big deal and J wasn’t being creepy or anything, yet maybe he should know just for the sake of knowing?

A: I don’t see the harm in bringing it up.  As you noted, it’s not like J was doing anything truly untoward, though it is a dick move to hit on a friend’s ex (and seemingly only doing so behind his back) and more of a general dickish guy move to hit on a girl and then pretend she doesn’t exist after he gets shot down.  I’m presuming that, since you didn’t mention the possibility, there was no chance your ex was actually trying to fix J up with you, right?  I can’t imagine that would be the case, since while being friends with an ex isn’t unusual, I’d imagine it’s a much thinner Venn diagram of exes who try to set each other up.  

2015 follow-up: “I’d completely forgotten this happened!  I actually did end up telling my ex and he was surprised since he thought J was a pretty shy guy.  He was also a little annoyed that J would hit on me since J knew we used to be a couple….big guy code violation!”   

Q: Dear Abby….or, Mark: I have a choice of two schools for my PhD program.  One program offers me exactly what I want to study, but it’s on the west coast.  The other program is not quite a perfect fit (maybe 90% of the other one) but it’s closer to home and more importantly, the school is in my girlfriend’s hometown.  We’ve only been dating for six months but it’s already pretty serious and I want to give it a chance rather than go long-distance right away.  Your thoughts?

A: Heart vs. school, the ultimate battle!  Keep in mind that a PhD will take up at least a couple of years of your life, so to you really want to put all that time and effort into it without it being *exactly* want you’re interested in?  Also, while things are going well in your relationship now, it would doubly suck if you broke up in a few months time and then you’re stuck with the sub-standard PhD.  I’d bite the bullet and go to the better school — for one thing, you’re in a much cooler location out on the west coast, so that’ll be fun unto itself.  It’s easier to handle long-distance relationships these days anyway thanks to the internet, so it won’t be *so* bad. 

2015 follow-up: “I went to my first choice school, which led to us breaking up since she didn’t want to do long distance.  It wasn’t fun at the time, though I honestly haven’t thought about her in a while until I got your e-mail, so thanks for the painful memories, jackass!  :)  The school was a lot of fun and my PhD indirectly led to my job, though, so it all worked out.”

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