Q: I have been ‘dating’ this guy for about two weeks now. He’s very nice, smart, good looking, fun, etc. basically all the things I look for in a male companion. We enjoy each other’s company, but he isn’t the touchy type at all. It seems like he doesn’t want to be all that close to me; he doesn’t even hold my hand. When we watch movies together, he sits far enough away to make a nun happy. Needless to say we haven’t kissed. We haven’t done anything. I tried to nudge him in the right direction, but he seems uncomfortable doing anything that involves physical contact. I’m starting to feel more like just a friend than an actual girlfriend. Is this just an awkward phase he’s going through until we know each other better? Is it normal? And is there anything I can do to get him over his phobia?

A: I'm not trying to poop in your Cheerios, but I don't think he thinks you are "dating", and he is probably not interested in it. I mean, if you feel more like a friend of his than a girlfriend, that is probably what is going on. Oftentimes, dudes will kinda play it casual in order to not hurt your feelings, and force friendship rather than a relationship by the way they act instead of saying so outright.

Young dudes looooove fooling around and touching on chicks (or dudes, whichever is their particular bag.) It's just their thing, you know? In the off chance he is a guy who doesn't like affection, or sexual activities, he's probably not someone you'd want to be dating anyway. You're too young to have to worry about some guys weird affection issues, especially if you are barely dating. Now is the time to go get some. Preferably with someone who wants to get some from you. If you just can't believe that he either doesn't like you like that, or that he is bizarre and doesn't like touching girls, next time you are alone, just lay a super-hot make out-style kiss on him. You will figure out what is going on in about .2 seconds.

Q: My boyfriend's mother recently gave him a large plot of land behind her house. He works a minimum wage job, but seems to think he's going to manage to build a house on it in under 2 years. He is also insisting on building a shed with just a bed and a woodstove (we live in frozen-ass upstate new york) to live in until the house is done, and walking to his mom's house for all other basic needs.

How can I tell him that rushing into this and living in some crappy shed is going to result in a house that isn't all that great?

A: Frankly, if you guys aren't married, I wouldn't say anything to him at all about it, and just help him haul wood if he needs assistance. I mean, how many dudes have big plots of land to do whatever they want with? Plus, learning a skill like building a house is pretty awesome. Even if he isn't able to finish it in two years, he will still have something to work towards, which is more than a lot of young people have. Not to mention, even if it took him 10 years, the satisfaction of building something functional and worthwhile with your own hands would more than make up for whatever slight shortcomings the house might have when compared to generic, professionally-built homes. Handmade things with character are ALWAYS more charming and valuable in my book. How much would his children and grandchildren value a home built by their father/grandfather, even if it wasn't beautiful and perfect?

Besides, even if he fails, he is not hurting anything by trying. Even if he doesn't know anything about building houses, how else would he learn besides giving it a shot and researching the steps involved as he goes? You never do anything worthwhile without trying first. There's no reason to look at something like this in a negative light.

Q: What is your opinion on wording wedding invitations when it is a cocktail reception with hors d'oeuvres, not a sit-down meal? I think putting 'cocktail reception to follow' is perfectly adequate, but my fiance is convinced that his entire family will be confused by this and show up with feed bag attached, waiting in vain for the buffet to commence. Should we be calling each relative and explaining the concept of 'cocktail reception'?

A: I think that would depend on the time of your wedding. If it is an evening wedding, and the reception is after the time one would typically have dinner, I think it would go without saying. To me, "cocktail reception" seems self-explanatory. However, if your fiancé's family is not too sophisticated, you can let him just explain it to a couple close relatives, and let them spread the word if they find the concept needs explaining to everyone else. Personally, I think that if you make note in the invitation, you can just play dumb to anyone who shows up and wonders where the entrees are. You know, kinda half-apologize, and blame yourself for not making it clearer in the invitation.

I think it might be kinda gauche and half-insulting to the people who DO catch your drift already, to call them to remind them that they won't get fed that much. You know, like RING RING OH HELLO, I AM JUST GIVING YOU A CALL TO MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT "COCKTAIL RECEPTION" MEANS. OH, YOU DO? GOOOOOOOOOOOD.

Q: I have this friend and we're always brutally honest with each other. Like brutal. If I asked her if I was fat she would probably tell me that my only fat part was my butt because "your genetics are messed up and you have no boobs because they are in your butt". But recently, I feel our relationship is getting strained. I get annoyed with her sometimes and yell at her and then I feel bad but i don't know how to apologize when i do that. It just feels tangibly awkward and electric around us sometimes and it makes me really nervous. But I don't know what to say when that happens. Any advice on what to say or do when those awful silences and feelings come between us?

A: I don't know if this friendship sounds that healthy. Being brutally honest is telling someone something they don't particularly want to hear, with their best interest in mind. Like, telling your friend her boyfriend is cheating on her, or that her drug problem is ruining her life. Itemizing every aspect of someone's outward appearance, and going down the list of everything that isn't perfect, just seems mean-spirited. If this way of talking to each other goes BOTH ways, no wonder your relationship is strained.

I have had friendships like this, and the only thing that has ever worked for me is to just cut my losses and make that person a smaller part of my life. I'm not sure if it is low self-esteem, or competition, or what that makes girls act like this (I have never seen dudes act this way to each other), but if you just have that kind of chemistry with someone, it is really hard to fix. Again, I've tried and it just doesn't work. Yelling at each other and insulting each other and dealing with the post-fight awkwardness is just too much drama. I would either talk to your friend and let her know that you want to start acting like grownups, and treating each other as friends rather than adversaries, or move on and spend more time with friends who are supportive, and not intentionally hurtful towards you. Friends enrich you life, and make the nice parts nicer, and give you someone to lean on when times are not so good. Having someone around who just fights with you and pulls you down for no reason is just bad news.

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