Q: I’m in love, and I just said yes to marrying the man of my dreams. We’ve only known each other for two months, but we’re in the Peace Corps. You really see the core of a person when conditions are not so comfy. We’re planning on traveling home to get married on our next monthly break. We get two days off. Afterward, we’ll have a big celebration back here with all our local friends. My best friend’s begging me to slow down, but my parents married two weeks after meeting, and that worked out. Marrying now feels very romantic and like the most right thing I’ve ever wanted to do. What’s wrong with saying yes to romance?
A: It’s easy to find a lot in common with a guy when you’re both living thousands of miles from home: “Wow — you live in a mud hut?! I live in a mud hut! You have a hole for a toilet? I have a hole for a toilet!”
This could very well be the voluntourism version of two 14-year-olds deciding they’re the second coming of Romeo and Juliet because they like EXACTLY THE SAME MUSIC AND MOVIES! Eventually, the 14-year-olds hit their 20s. (Life in one’s 20s, like life back home, includes a few more complexities.) A mutual obsession with geeksta rap suddenly matters lots less when one turns militant vegan while the other has problems with hunting, but only because she prefers her meat already killed, skinned, and cooked, and delivered to her with a side of asparagus on fine china.
You say you’re in love, but it’s the part of love that can’t be trusted — the infatuation stage. Wave hi to your hormones, because they’re in charge here. Anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher and her colleagues found that infatuation correlates with a surge in the neurotransmitter dopamine, and Fisher told Psychology Today that infatuation shares elements of a cocaine high — “sleeplessness, loss of a sense of time, absolute focus on love to the detriment of all around you.” In other words, getting married now is like signing a binding lifetime contract while on an extended coke bender.
It doesn’t help that the human brain is like a grabby toddler, prone to go for immediate rewards without weighing the consequences. Later, it comes back around and does the adult job of justifying all of its unwise choices. For you, even the absurdity of marrying somebody you barely know becomes a justification: “I’m not an idiot; in fact, I’m bright! So marrying somebody I just met isn’t idiotic; it’s romantic!” You also turn your parents’ marital impulsivity into precedent. Guess what: They were dumb — and lucky. They turned out to be compatible, as you two may — or may not — two years from now, once you’re back in the land where chicken is something sold in shrink-wrap, not something that hops across your head at night.
Waiting to get married doesn’t preclude you from throwing a party. Use those two days back home to invite your friends to celebrate with you, to witness you experiencing the joys so many of us take for granted — hot showers, doing laundry in a washing machine, and encountering enormous bugs, but only the kind that come with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty.
Q: I’m a 31-year-old guy, a part-time model, newly single, and scared to talk to women. Yesterday, I saw a beautiful woman checking me out at Whole Foods. I didn’t know what to do, so I unlocked my bike and rode off. This happens maybe three times a week.
A: The roof of Whole Foods will not open up while you’re shopping, and a beautiful woman will not fall into your cart and say, “Oh, wow — I’ve been waiting for a man like you to take me home and smear me with cruelty-free peanut butter.” Sadly, this means you’ll need to approach a woman, open your lips, and make words come out about something she’s wearing, doing, or carrying: “Kelp steaks! They’re even better than the tofu T-bone!” The way to get comfortable doing this is by actually doing this. For two weeks in a row, give yourself a weekly quota: You have to make moves on 21 women you’d be interested in dating — three per day — even if it takes going out expressly to find women to hit on. If you fall short one day, make it up the next. Come up with a punishment, like giving $50 to charity, should you fail to meet your weekly number. Every woman you talk to isn’t going to go out with you, but you’ll certainly get more dates than you do with your current strategy: “A beautiful woman is looking at me! Quick, unlock the bike and speed away!”
Advice Goddess Radio: Dr. B. Janet Hibbs on how fairness is the key to happy relationships and saving relationships in trouble.“Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — here — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code)