Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I did the unthinkable, or rather, performed the ultimate cliche, I
hit on a bartender. In fact, I didn’t even have the balls to do it
myself, so my more forward friend did it for me. It worked and
perhaps I should have had more faith. In any event, we have hung out
once already. But the question remains (having dated bartenders
before): are all bartenders boys (as opposed to men)?
Essentially you are asking if male bartenders are perpetual boys. I am hesitant to make a blanket statement here, after all, some of my favorite men have been barbacks.
To begin, what are the qualities of a good bartender? What gets one hired? They need to be friendly, or at least feign friendly with stellar people skills. This is one thing to remember when you meet a man behind a bar. His amicable nature may or may not have anything to do with liking you, as much as being damn good at his job.
They need to be tough enough to handle a loud room full of drunk people. This means that, depending on whether you frequent a dive bar, a hotel bar, or a sports bar the staff will be as hard as the customers, in order to create balance. So, toughness means bigger walls means less odds of getting through to their soft side quickly.
A bartender needs to not mind being around alcohol, all the time. When I was a waitress at a bar it wore on me. I didn’t drink much and felt weakened by handling liquor, giving it to people who clearly had an unhealthy dependency: ie, the man who needed five margaritas in two hours just to write a term paper, or the couple who got drunk on a couch and nearly made a baby in the middle of the restaurant at 11am. A bartender, a good one, needs to have a callous against the addictions and poisonous behaviors of others.
This might be indicative of a troubled past that conditioned him for this environment, a smart internal self-imposed division, or a strong attachment to perpetual adolescence. Because of the variety of venues, the good pay, and the pull from all different directions, bartenders run the gammet. I’ve known PhD students, cheerleaders, photographers, punk rockers, hairdressers, architects, activists, musicians and philosophers all who tended bar.
Also, keep in mind what a bar is. It is not a temple or a silent retreat. It is a place where people go to enjoy liquor. Some enjoy it for the art of the beverage, connoisseurs of fine tastes. Others arrive, en mass, to blow off steam. Bartenders can be therapists to these people. Some people go to bars for fun, for long late hours, and others go quite specifically to get laid. This is the fast-paced money-making environment your bartender beau chose to enter for work, with rough hours and lots of people hitting on them into the wee hours of the night.
So, this idea of man as boy might just be your witnessing all of these qualities in an individual who, again depending on the bar, may live at a perpetual party. I know solid married bartenders, monogamous bartenders, and bartenders who might as well be teenaged boys attempting to screw as many people as possible before they die. Choose your bartender based on bar, clientele, his outside interests/well-roundedness, and your own basic instinct. And remember, there are no rules. After all, Miranda found the father of her child in a lovely bartender.
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March 16, 2010 | 7:42 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
My husband left me and my son 6 months ago. His mother was a great
help to me and friend during and after the divorce. However, I found
out about 2 months ago that all her help was covered by lies. She was
trying to take my child away from me and telling people who live in
our small town that I am an abusive, neglectful mother who is ruining
my son. I confronted her about this and she did not deny any of it.
Since the confrontation, I haven’t seen her, or her husband. We
haven’t spoken, but she still tells people that I am a horrible
mother. Her son, my ex-husband, finally stood up to her and told her
to stop, but it hasn’t.
I feel like my son is going to miss out getting to know that side of
his family, but every time I try to mend the bridge between us, it
blows up in my face. I have quit trying, but feel like I should do
something. I am not a bad mom. I am neither neglectful or abusive. She
has not seen my son in 2 months, and I feel guilty for it every day.
In Judaism there are strict laws about preserving life and health. I would apply those laws here, and be mindful of your own well-being. While it is sad for your son to lose his grandmother’s attention, it would be even sadder to lose the balance of his mommy.
Your mental and physical health are what should come first, so that in truth, you can put your son above yourself. If some woman is lying and cutting you down and trying to take you from your baby, and if you really are not neglectful nor abusive, then she is not a good human to keep near you or your son.
What happens now does not have to dictate what happens later. Perhaps after solidifying your role as mother in the midst of this divorce, and with time, this psycho mother-in-law will turn a corner and learn to re-enter your life with respect and self-control. Until then, maybe focus on the good figures in your son’s life.
When I was little and my grandparents couldn’t come to school, my mother’s cousin always came with me for grandparent’s day. Having an older woman who loves your child is the next best thing, and having your own dignity is priceless. Use all that wasted guilt energy on locating and luring in the many women in your life who I am sure adore your kid. Grandmothers come in all shapes and sizes. In these early years of your son’s life what is important is returning to the preservation of love and security in your home. That includes working hard to maintain your own mental health.
March 14, 2010 | 7:35 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I read my boyfriend’s e-mail. What started innocently enough (he
asked me to check his email for him when he didn’t have access to a
computer) has manifested itself into a daily obsession. Part of me
likes keeping tabs on what he’s up to and who he’s communicating
with when I’m not around. Quite often he tells me a story of an
e-mail he received from so-and-so and I have to pretend like it’s the
first time I’ve heard about this although I’ve already read the
If I read something upsetting about me in one of his e-mails (like him
telling a friend how we got into a fight, etc.) I get pissed off. Of
course I can’t tell him outright that I’ve been reading his e-mails,
so it manifests in some other way.
I know I should stop this ugly behavior, but I can’t. What should I
-Nosy and Out of Hand
Lady, you need to stop and you need to stop now.
You have taken reading emails to a grand new level. It sounds complicated and intricate, all the information you are gathering, and it reveals a lot about your relationship. You have built dishonesty and evasive behavior, embedded it into the walls between you and your boyfriend. This is a loud screaming red siren if I ever saw one.
What we need to wonder in trying to get you to quit, is why this is so alluring. Sure, reading diaries and looking into the lives of others is fascinating. According to an article by the UK Daily Mail, “One in five couples admit to ’snooping’ by reading each other’s texts and emails.” But you have turned “snooping” into an obsession. This obsession is grounded in a giant power trip, one that hands you a giant emotional upper hand invisible to your man.
What happens if you quit? What would make discarding this habit so difficult? For one, you would lose the power dynamic you have now, possibly leaving you starving later. What does this show you about you and your boyfriend? Why don’t you trust him? Why is lying so comfy? This habit reveals some deep-seated insecurities that might need to be solved with some time away from your lover.
How to stop? Quit. Cold Turkey. I presented this problem to a young Chabadnik girl and she suggested hacking into his account and sending an e-mail to him from him saying “you have been hacked.” This way he will quickly change his password and wedge you out of there.
Also, talk to him. Address your fears and insecurities about your relationship, stop the giant game you are playing. Get him to change his password. This is a big one. Tell him to change his password, that you are tempted to read his mail all the time and that you would rather not have the temptation. That is a little honest and a lot better than always, forever more, having the option to dip back into his pool of information.
You need your ticket confiscated, stat. Evaluating your ties to this bad habit might make quitting easier, that, and you might learn something about what put you in this awful position in the first place. Something about your own personal problems is being glaringly revealed by this scenario.
This sounds like no fun at all. It sounds hard and painful, all that you know each day. The question remains, as with any addict, where does your rock bottom lie? When will the torture of being in a deceptive relationship outweigh the thrill of probing into someone’s every email and then lying to their face while you tell them you love them?
Or, your boyfriend already knows you read his e-mails, and lets you enjoy the pleasure. That changes the power dynamic for sure.
March 11, 2010 | 6:30 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
In regards to Summed Up By His Size, one “Ben M” writes:
Re: “A well-trained woman can come without even being touched”
Isn’t this oversimplifying things? Some women have trouble O’ing because of psychological and biological issues. I heard 30% can’t orgasm at all, let alone without being touched.
Thanks for your comment. I don’t think this is oversimplification, just blind faith in the female body and its ability to reconnect with itself, no matter the hormonal or psychological explanation for orgasm blockage. Despite what modern medicine tells us, women have a profound ability to heal.
Contrary to popular belief, regardless of the many factors cited for a woman’s inability to orgasm, I believe that with the right help every woman can come. This might mean needing psychiatric attention around emotional issues related to sexual abuse, religious shame, or any number of other issues related to the mind and body. It might involve getting in touch with a body that was underattended for years, or learning about her own parts. This could involve giving oneself permission to feel pleasure, or finding a trusting partner.
Citing the possibility that some women can come without touch is to raise the bar on a woman’s expectations for pleasure. Medical rationale for a life without orgasm often sells women short, way before they begin teaching their body and training the muscles involved in orgasming. For some it takes time, patience, and practice.
I give every woman a 100% guarantee that she IS capable of achieving orgasm. It is a lot like learning yoga. No, not everyone can do a headstand on the first try, or even sit cross-legged for that matter. But through training the mind, strengthening certain muscles and learning about the body these positions are eventually possible.
March 9, 2010 | 6:28 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I recently started seeing a very nice man. He is sweet, kind, has a
job, and is wonderful with my child. We get along really well and have
a great time when we are together, but there is a problem. He has a
very small penis. When I say small, you must understand that it is so
small that I can not feel it inside of me. I am not even sure it was
inside me. This is not an issue for me because I can not reach orgasm
through intercourse, only oral, but it is an issue because I feel like
faking it during sex is a lie, and I want to be as honest as I can
with this man.
Dear Little Bits,
I don’t understand? What, exactly, are you not faking? Sex is way more interesting, complex and expansive than how you are viewing it.
I believe Samantha coped with the same exact problem on Sex and the City when she was sure she had finally met the man of her dreams. She ended up leaving him, devastated.
But this is real life and you are not Samantha. Some might tell you to skip town on this man and his tiny package, but I don’t believe in quitting without putting up a solid fight.
This being said, when a man puts a finger inside of you, do you feel it? Probably. So this man’s thing is detectable. There are plusses and minuses to every penis size. Some people are never satisfied, it is always too big, too small, too thick. What is important is a) that you like this guy and b) that you attempt to learn to love his parts.
This is a great opportunity for slower more sensual moves on your end. Or even speedy, but the key is noting the nuance of sensation. Rather than focusing on your attachment to the last giant you screwed, focus instead on your own nerve endings, making a point to feel any and everything so that when the edge of this man even brushes your insides, it makes you insane.
A few other tricks: try a vibrating cock ring ($12-$79), although note this warning. Also try new positions, for example, one woman suggests to try it with your legs squeezed shut, and be patient, your body will readjust to his size over time. For more positions and ideas on making love to a smaller man, click here.
In fact, this dude is the perfect opportunity for you to exercise those kegels and get to learning how to train your vaginal walls to come from intercourse alone. I believe Freud refers to this as the true maturity of a woman. Although, he was mostly offensive and sexist.
It is lazy lovemaking to depend on the man’s size for satisfaction. A well-trained woman can come without even being touched, a shaft simply a bonus prize. In fact, it is almost rude to give up because of some preconceived notion that size is the only byway to pleasure. Pleasure comes in all shapes and packages and it is up to every single individual to learn to grow per partner.
March 7, 2010 | 6:27 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I introduced my friend Jane to my larger group of friends, helped her get a job and a place to live and still keep in fairly close contact with. We share a
mutual friend, Sally, who is upset that Jane does not spend enough time with her and make enough “effort” in the friendship. Jane talks crap about Sally when I see her and Sally talks crap about Jane – down to intimate opinions each one has about their significant others. I find both of these friends have a troublemaking, frenemy side and try to keep my relationship on the surface, but find these point-blank attacks by one friend on the other difficult to deal with. I don’t want to take sides…even if I agree with Jane that Sally’s bf is not a good match for her or agree with Sally that Jane needs intensive counseling.
How should I deal without taking sides or looking
like I’m in cahoots with one over the other?
Lady, just don’t take sides, period. There is no rule in life that you need to be sucked into other people’s drama. This from an expert at drama suckage.
You need to set some limits for Sally and Jane. Try being HONEST and saying you would rather have some sort of pact that you don’t talk about each other. Just be frank, explain that you love both of your friends and would like to not hear about them. It is an awkward and uncomfortable limit at first, but I guarantee that phase will pass. Soon you will find you can talk to Jane and Sally about OTHER things.
When I was a waitress a customer once told my coworker that whenever you talk about other people it is for a reason. The reason could be boredom, lack of interest between you and the conversant, any number of things. Rarely when we talk about others does it come from a sincere space of need. As Buddhist Dharma Punx master Noah Levine once said at Rebel Saint Buddhist in LA: “Whatever people are saying behind your back is none of your business.”
Build yourself a new spine and evade this perpetual cat fight. The world is your oyster.
March 4, 2010 | 6:25 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I can’t believe I’m asking you this, but here goes.
I spent years of my life depressed, anxious and unhappy. I had few
relationships, mostly with unavailable, emotionally stunted partners,
just like myself. Now I’m in a healthy relationship and I am truly
I realized at a certain point in my life that things would not get
better if I didn’t deal with it. About five years into therapy, I was able to recognize that clinical depression had a hand in my difficult years, and I started taking antidepressants.
And the problem is this: antidepressants have eliminated my ability
to have an orgasm. Oh the irony! I had a decent sex life back in the
day, but now sex is really just an activity, like running or yoga.
I’ve adjusted the medication and been over this with my doctor to no
avail. But as fulfilled as I am now, I feel like it ultimately limits the
connection I have with my partner. Gratifying sex is what set our
relationship apart from all other relationships. And I like yoga, but
I miss the orgasms. What do I do?
Things Could Be Worse.
I applaud you for taking your emotional growth and general sanity into your own hands. This dedication to well-being is admirable and is what builds positive communities around the world.
But things, my dear, could still be better.
I am going to treat this question under the presupposition that you are male, by standard American definitions. If you are female, and need help with the same, see: Trouble Coming in addition to reading below. If you are neither, improvise with those two answers.
There is hope, yet.
Antidepressants work in a number of ways, one way being to sever the connection between body, mind and spirit so that your life experiences are more manageable. Sometimes we are poorly programmed, so this split or cap on experience helps avoid the poor programming. With this cord cut, you might need to re-wire your own body, something that can be done with a little effort.
Basically, now that you are happy a number of things have shifted – your center of gravity, your attachment to misery, your ability to stay positive and your overall physical balance. One thing, psychologically, that this may have done is complicate your sexual drive. You may, quite simply, be maturing.
Young sex is often driven by nerves, fear and anxiety. There is a possibility that you have eliminated these things and now need to approach sex and sexuality from a new angle. Tantra could be a calling that this new shift has beckoned, particularly if you are already practicing yoga. This has to do with spiritually infusing your bedroom, and learning to make love without working towards orgasm. You might find that this has a profoundly positive turnaround for your sex life.
Meanwhile, these medications only control part of your chemical makeup. Have you taken inventory on diet and substance abuse? Cigarettes and alcohol can drastically affect your ability to ejaculate. Check out Dr. Weil’s page on natural treatment for erectile dysfunction for more ideas.
Ultimately, I heed caution when it comes to psychotherapeutic drugs. There are other ways to treat depression, see: Woe is Me. There is also a LOT that can be done with the body and mind to work around medications you do choose/or need to take. Don’t be too quick to fold if Prozac says its boss. Chances are you can use this medicated emotional leg up to begin to explore your body, mind and spirit from new angles. Caution: you might find your next orgasm, grounded in a healthy lifestyle rather than an anxious exit, to be far beyond those you ever experienced before.
March 2, 2010 | 6:23 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I find myself dreading visits home. I love them but
time with my family can be SUCH an emotional drain.
Do you have any suggestions for establishing and maintaining
boundaries? Or quick answers for people asking you to justify your
One woman once said you should never go home for more than two days. Two day visits rock, no space for conflict, just long enough to really enjoy every minute. But, if you need to be home longer…here are some pointers on how not to regress to age thirteen.
1) Spend a night reflecting on what you are doing with your life and why. Make sure you have some semblance of an answer before going home. This answer does not need to be shared with anyone out loud, it is the one you hold on to as the questions start firing.
2) Look at all of this as if you live inside a shell. Inside is all mushy and sweet, outside is the veneer you show people. Another word for this is learning to live like a Washingtonian. Use your best political face to show love and white lies.
3) Only answer when you feel like it. You have every right not to answer a question. Or, what people hate, is “I don’t know.” This is a great answer if you can stand by it and the frustration it will provoke. People who have made commitments they resent, will then resent you for your lackthereof.
4) Learn to see yourself with two sets of eyes, theirs and yours, and train yourself to know the difference. What they can’t see can’t hurt them, and what you remember of who you are is crucial. Don’t confuse their eyes for your own.
5) Boundaries. The only trick here, again, is pre-meditation. Know in advance how far you want to go with information, and set the limit. People hate boundaries. They will try to trick you and knock your walls down. Stand firm if those walls are there to maintain your sanity.
6) Trust your gut and give away only what serves you. Exiting a Buddhist retreat and entering family life from your own independence aren’t such different experiences. One retreat leader explained that you might want to run home and tell your husband or girlfriend or mother everything and then find, upon arrival, that they don’t get it or don’t care. They taught us to guard our experiences and to be slow in unfolding information about the time we spent in silence. You might feel like telling the girl in the checkout line all about your retreat, but never want to reveal a word to your own children. The moral here was learning to trust one’s voice. You might find your mouth cemented shut in some cases, without warning, and running wildly in others. Just listen to your body and proceed with the questions and answers from there. Pain = negative. Warm lull = positive.
So, whatever you have made of your life was done so for a reason. Family sometimes understands, and sometimes does not. They sometimes want to put a leash on you in fear of losing you to the new world you have entered. So spend some time remembering who they are, what their needs and hang-ups are, and also recalling who you are and what you stand for.
For example: One brilliant friend of mine went home to her evangelical parents and they all looked at her, shaking their heads. “Aren’t you worried about rotting in hell for all of those tattoos you have?” they asked. And she calmly answered, “I appreciate your concern, but these tattoos mean a lot to me and connect me to God as I understand it.” Boom.
As you approach each conversation go into it with awareness and self-respect, watching your words and theirs, knowing that everyone’s attempts to cut you down to size have to do, 90% of the time, with their own insecurities.
For family it is even harder, because they were once closest to you and the shifts in intimacy levels as we age unnerve some people. Keep this in mind as they get rough, remembering the origin of their words. Be protective of you. Whatever you have become is probably gorgeous, and needs to be revealed at its own rate.