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Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 03:32 pm

Give till it Hertz

For 10 years, this woman and I have had a hot-and-cold long-distance relationship, the temperature of which she’s always controlled. She’s 56; I’m 46. Last year, she felt ready to try for something lasting. She couldn’t afford to travel, so I paid for her flight. She stayed with me for two wonderful, passionate months, and then we vacationed together in February. I paid for her flight, rental car, hotel and meals. Again, it was very passionate. Last month, we vacationed together again, funded by me. The day she arrived, she declared her sex life a thing of the past. I was stunned and found sharing the bed rather challenging, but I’ve never forced myself on any woman and I’m not about to start. My friends are now fuming. I counter that in funding everything, it was never my intention to be paying for “horizontal refreshment.” Was she wrong to agree to this trip and then change the terms of our relationship? Am I in denial by not feeling angry? —Wondering

When you’ve been romantic with a woman for a decade and you’re taking her on yet another “passionate” getaway, it’s reasonable to expect she’ll be interested in doing more in bed than letting you watch as she does the crossword puzzle. (If she’s feeling kinky, you could be in for some mind-blowing sudoku.)

It cost you, what, $3,000 – the price of a TV the size of a small European country – to have her personally deliver the news that she wouldn’t be having sex with you? You’d be leading your friends in fuming if you hadn’t gotten all tangled up in your self-image as a gentleman. And no, just because a man buys a woman something – dinner, for example – that doesn’t mean she owes him sex. But, let’s be honest; we all know he isn’t buying dinner out of an overwhelming desire to feed hungry females free lobster, and it isn’t brotherly benevolence that’s behind an all-expenses-paid vacation from a man who does not earn a living as a game show host.

The question is, was this woman’s lack of pre-vacation disclosure a random act of jerkhood, utterly unpredictable, like a Russian satellite landing on some poor schlub’s beater Yugo? Or, more likely, was it utterly predictable based on years of your showing her you’d take whatever she dished out? Your lack of anger is telling. Anger gets triggered when you feel somebody’s shorted you on something you were entitled to — like the courtesy of a phone call (before you paid for yet another “passionate vacation”) informing you that the birds are taxidermied and the bees are dead.

Chances are, you’re a too-nice guy – a guy whose “niceness” is actually suckuppy-ness, who believes his perceived loserhood will be “cured” if only he can get into a relationship. Ironically, the loserhood is caused by the willingness to do anything for love. That doesn’t get you love; it gets you doing anything and everything for it and ending up with blue balls and a big hotel bill. In the future, even if you can’t quite believe you deserve a mutual relationship, you need to risk acting as if you do, and speak up and even bail whenever one turns out not to be. Everything won’t always be 50/50, but you and a woman you take on a romantic vacation should be on the same page about the proper placement of the “Do Not Disturb” sign: on the doorknob all weekend, as opposed to around her neck.
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