Love Advice? Just for Me? I'm So Flattered!

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By Frank Ahrens
Sunday, February 12, 2006

We humans have an endless capacity and desire, apparently, to have other people tell us what to do.

At first blush, the trait seems obsequious, submissive, indecisive.

But a deeper dig reveals the need is actually narcissistic. It is, after all, us we want other people to talk about.

Which is why advice-dispensing is perfect for the Web. After all, you can't spell "Internet" without a capital "I."

With that in mind, we bring you a Valentine's Day edition of Web Watch.

Don't expect a survey of well-known dating sites, such as Match.com, or the Yahoo or Salon/Nerve.com personals.

Oh, no. Instead, just in time for V-Day, we bring you http://www.shouldidumphimornot.com/ .

Just because the sprawling Web Watch staff is soft at heart.

Should I Dump Him? was recently conceived by three Ann Arbor, Mich., Webbies -- Kimberlee Roth, Dan Romanchik and Mary Cronin, mostly as a joke over lattes. Then, they had an it's-so-crazy-it-just-might-work moment and the site was hatched. The cost, such as it is, is borne by the three. The site has some advertising and the three founders get a cut if you buy a book from Amazon advertised on the site or click through one of the ads.

But part of the site's genius is its low-cost, low-tech simplicity, as was the case with the two women in Manhattan some years ago who set up a sidewalk table and sold advice. Or Lucy in "Peanuts," for that matter.

Please! Tell us what to think and do!

Anonymous guests at Should I Dump Him? post their romantic quandaries, which pretty much can be summed up as: I'm with this guy and he's done this, which is not nice, but sometimes he is nice. Should I keep him or dump him?

Other anonymous guests post their advice alongside. Some are earnest, others are snarky. Appropriately so. For instance, "LisaKr" asks (edits for length are marked with ellipses):

"I am 31, and recently . . . started dating after several months' hiatus. The guy seems very happy with me and is clearly interested in moving our relationship along quickly, and in seeing me often. I am unsure; we get along well in many ways, but he is much older than I am (47) and is also a TERRIBLE kisser. . . . Should I give him more of a chance, or call it quits right away?"

"Lovelady" cuts right to the chase in her answer: ". . . The fact that you mentioned age is a red flag. Sharing like experiences is important, unless you're looking for a 'daddy.' Also, if he's not improved his kissing by 47 -- ick!"

(Hmmm. Web Watch still has a few years left to practice.)

Each posting lets readers vote: "Keep Him," "Give it time. There might be hope" or "Dump Him." Interestingly, most voting -- including on the posting above -- breaks down pretty much equally for each suggested outcome.

Some do not. It's astounding that some are not unanimous for "Dump Him."

To wit: "Lizzy" writes that her live-in boyfriend picked on her friends, told her she could lose a few pounds, plays video games as she cries herself to sleep (sometimes, to the point of nosebleeds), and pushed her down and bruised her, "but only once."

Amazingly (or maybe not), only 56 percent of the posters said Lizzy should dump this slug. Twenty-two percent said she should keep the loser, presumably because he hadn't stolen her credit cards, impregnated her best friend and burned down the trailer in a meth rage. Yet.

To answer your next question -- yes, guys are allowed to ask about women. (Presumably, guys are allowed to ask about guys, as well.)

"RockStar" (Okay, fella. Whatever.) politely inquires if it's all right for a guy to ask a question, then launches in: He's been dating his girlfriend for a year, but now she wants to break up. He doesn't understand. She gives vague reasons. But he stayed by her hospital bed for three days when she was sick! "She told me that it's not me, it's just how it is." (Woo, boy.) He is "confused" and "heartbroken." He wonders: Should I keep after her or try to move on?

A couple of posters answer sensitively, but "freddiebhotfoot" finally dispenses the correct advice: "Dear Rockstar, I don't wish to be insensitive, but stop crying like a wimpy puppy dog! That's why she wants to break up with you."

RockStar actually writes back in, thanking everyone for the advice and proving that it's okay to get slapped silly on the Internet as long as people are talking about you.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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