Meet our friend Tom. He’s a married guy with tons of relationship experience, and a skilled advice giver who’s here to answer all your pressing sex, dating and relationship questions. Have a query for Tom? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure he gets it! All questions will be posted anonymously, unless otherwise requested. First up…
“I’m thinking of moving in with my boyfriend. But the past two times I’ve lived with someone, we fought too much and it fell apart. Any advice for how not to let that happen again?”
Yes. Get a cat.
There has to be something in that apartment that is loved unconditionally, all of the time. It’s not going to be you. Or your boyfriend. When you live with someone, you will hate them about 5 percent of the time, and just generally dislike them about 60 percent of it. It’s like baseball: if one in every three days is good, you have a Hall of Fame boyfriend.
In relationships, hate is normal. That’s where the cat comes in.
When you guys disagree about something huge (e.g. work, or family, or how crazy you are), you need something to agree on, right there in the moment, to defuse the tension. “Isn’t our cat cute?” is that thing. The only possible reply is “yes” or some baby-talk aimed at the cat. You can’t baby-talk AND fight at the same time. It’s science.
The other secret to happy relationships is apologies. Men love a strong apology. Not a whiny, floppy apology, where you bat your eyes like a puppy who made a poo-poo. Or the one where you pretend to be seven years old. Deliver an apology that is clearly DIFFICULT to make, but you know MUST be made.
Here’s why. The consensus among men is that women never apologize within a relationship. Worse, we think women take no responsibility in relationships at all when they don’t want to. You can disagree, but that’s the perception. Ask around. Show men this column. The honest ones will confirm it. Men who won’t? They just want to sleep with you (note to them: dude, she’s delusional: so keep it up – you totally have a shot).
My advice: don’t give any man the satisfaction of being proven right. Whenever you fuck up (and you do – a lot), straighten your spine, push your shoulders back, and give yourself both barrels. “I am angry at your behavior, but I know I contributed to this fight by doing XYZ. I am disappointed in myself. And I am sorry.”
Men love and respect that so much, he’ll be eating bon-bons out of your knickers quicker than you can say “Dr. Phil is a fraud.” Plus, you’ll get your way in the end (whatever the fight was about), because men are only furious until they get hungry. A once-monthly apology and a good selection of take-out menus will save more relationships than therapy ever has.
Of course, you can’t be a pushover. You need another tool in your kit. I call it the “Kim Jong Un Mind.” Every now and then, when your boyfriend pisses you off, go nuclear. Channel your inner dictator and threaten total war. Use phrases like “utter annihilation,” “fascist pig,” “I will make you rubble and then burn that rubble,” and “I will skull-fuck your soul, you dickless insect.” Don’t think too much – you’re going for words-per-minute, not accuracy. If it helps, buy a collarless pant suit and a little red book, and get in his dirty imperialist face. He will cower and cave. It sucks, but it works. Look at North Korea: they’re wrong about everything, yet somehow we give them free rice and money. But this has to be random and infrequent. Do what Kim does: blow up about once a year, right before scheduled talks about something important.
So there you have it, the secrets to happy co-habitation: cats, apologies, and Kim Jong Un Mind. Be sure to thank me at the wedding.