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April 25-May 1, 2007

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Ask Sydney

This advice column is penned by a Sonoma County resident and our new weekly sage. Go ahead! Ask her anything.

Dear Sydney, I recently went on a date with a *very* attractive woman. Things seemed to be going well, we were getting along great and after a good dinner we ended up in bed together. I was thinking, "Wow, what a lucky guy I am, gorgeous chick, good sex,' etc., when she looks over at me and says, "So, how much money do you make?" We've just finished having sex, and these are the first words out of her mouth. So my question is, how come guys always get criticized for objectifying women, but it's OK for a woman to pick her men based on how much money they make? Maybe she was just making pleasant conversation, but somehow I doubt it. Also, should I keep dating her despite her questionable motives?--Sick of It

Dear Sick: Whoever said it was OK for women to pick their men based on how much money they make? And whoever said that it's any more (or less) superficial to pick a man based on how much money he makes than it is to pick a woman based on how attractive she is? When it comes to dating and sexual relations, most of us are driven by a certain level of superficiality. Granted, upon occasion, true love can break down even the strongest wall of superficiality. Your attractive gold digger could end up falling for a guy who lives in a trailer, and you could end up finding true love wrapped in a package that you might have originally overlooked because it does not live up to your preconceived notions of beauty. But usually, people date and fornicate within their spheres of comfort. For you, this may mean you only date women who meet a certain physical criteria; for her, this may mean only dating men she knows she won't end up having to support or who will end up supporting her. One is no worse, no more superficial, no more shallow than the other. But as far as tact goes, your attractive chick gets an F. As for going out with her again, that depends on how much you like her. Maybe she was just trying to be funny?

Dear Sydney, lately, I've been increasingly nervous. I keep feeling like something bad is going to happen. I'm not sure if I'm just freaking out for no reason or if I could be having real premonitions of something terrible. I made the mistake of telling my mother, and now she's calling me every day and pressuring me to go in to the doctor and go on anti-anxiety medication (she says this has been working great for her). I think medicating your anxiety is bullshit, but I'm also tired of being scared all of the time. And what if my premonitions are real, and then I medicate them? How do I know if I'm just having a nervous breakdown or I'm psychic? And what about the pills?--Freaking Out

Dear Freaking: Cut out all caffeine and stick to herbal tea. Get up a little earlier in the morning and spend 15 minutes sitting cross-legged and deep breathing. Get some extra exercise, preferably out of doors. Sure, something bad is going to happen. Something bad always happens. On this we can count. Life goes well for a while, and then it takes a dive for the worse. This is the cycle of life, and you can go around feeling afraid all the time, waiting for that inevitable plunge--the relationship ending, the incurable disease, the highway car wreck, a loved one's hurt or injury, bronchial irritation caused by Santa Rosa smog--but ultimately, this fear will get you nowhere.

So maybe you are psychic and something bad is on the horizon. So what? What good does it do you to know this if you can't change the outcome? Focus instead on what you have going for you right now, in this moment. Try to have fun, do exciting things, go more places, turn up your stereo and dance. This is really the only defense any of us has against the ultimate tragedy of life, which is that we're all going to die. Big bummer, I know. But there it is. As for the pills, that's a personal decision, one that you should never let anyone else pressure you into. Try every relaxation tactic you can before giving in to the fuzzy gray haze of pharmaceuticals. They may make you feel better for a little while, but they won't make the world any safer of a place than it already isn't.

Dear Sydney, my boyfriend loves to watch porn. Early in our relationship, I started watching it with him and pretended to like it because I didn't want him to think I was a prude. But really I think it's gross, and I hate watching it. But now I feel like I have to keep pretending to like it because if I admit I don't, he'll think I'm a liar *and* prude, which is even worse. How do I deal with this?--Tired of Fake Tits

Dear Tits: Wouldn't it be nice if our lies would just leave us alone and not come back to haunt us? Persistent little beasts, those lies, like termites really, even after you fumigate the house, there always seems to be one or two left leaving their little shit droppings on the bed. In the scheme of a relationship, yours is such a small lie it almost doesn't even qualify as such. It's more of an accommodation. You, partially out of love, have accommodated your boyfriend's proclivities for the porn world by being accepting. And like all accommodations, there comes a point where one has to draw the line. It seems as if you have reached that point. No big deal. You're not a prude. Porn is not for everyone. Lots of people have peculiar tastes when it comes to sex, and what works for one person very often does not work for another. That's what makes us interesting! We're all different.

There's no reason for you to burst your boyfriend's "my girlfriend loves to watch porn" bubble by breaking down and admitting that you've been hating it all along. Rather, politely tell him you are ready to try something else. After all, just because you liked watching porn yesterday doesn't mean you do today. Tell him that you're not feeling the allure. If he's totally crushed by this, maybe try looking into some different kind of porn, or even erotica, something that *you* like; don't let him pick all the movies. On the other hand, pornography can be an addiction. If your boyfriend falls into this category, then this is something you should not have to take on as your own. Someone else's addictions are no reflection on your adequacy, nor should you feel obligated to partake. And in the future, be sure to let him know that while you are willing to try new things, you aren't willing to pretend that you like them. If he loves you, he wouldn't want it any other way.

'Ask Sydney' is penned by a Sonoma County resident. There is no question too big, too small or too off-the-wall. Inquire at

No question too big, too small or too off-the-wall. Ask Sydney.