02/03/2012 03:22 pm ET | Updated Apr 03, 2012

Single Ape Advice: Light-Switching

For the past five years, Steven has been shoveling advice at The following is a weekly selection for the readers of The Huffington Post. Feel free to give opinion or send in your own questions.


Ape -

Yet another digital request for your harsh but honest opinion. Guy says I'm the love of his life...his best friend...wants to spend forever with me. Our kids meet and get close...talks about plans for retirement together...all over the course of six months. Abruptly, he changes his mind, with the explanation that a "switch" seems to have flipped, he cannot explain it or make sense of it. He claims to still love me and miss me, but that continuing our romantic relationship wouldn't be the right thing to do. He would like to remain friends -- since I have become one of his best friends -- but realizes that will be tricky and will take time. What gives?

My instinct says the initial euphoria phase has ended, and maybe he's bolting. Or the financial issues his ex left him with are weighing on him. But in addition to the love part, we have mutual respect, connect on all levels and hold the same values; honesty and good communication...up until this revelation. So the relationship had more than your average chance of succeeding in that extraordinary way.

Why would he toss this away? And, is it futile for me to remind him that every relationship loses the "fireworks", and having a stable relationship with a supportive woman can help a guy get through anything?


Whoa, back up. Are my opinions really harsh? I'm trying my best here to be polite, I really am. That was half the purpose of the nopes -- to burn off the excess steam of critical opinion. The yin to the ape-advice yang. I wish I could possess a Gandhi-like disposition -- seeing nothing but good in every soul and action -- but the truth is I'm just a frazzled sucka' like everyone else. But I do believe people ask me the questions to get the reality-slap a friend will rarely give, understandably. Ever tell a friend their girlfriend sucks and they later marry her? I can tell you it makes for some awkward dinners.

No harsh for you though, as yours is a good question. Also common enough that I just mentioned it the other day when I was saying the problems come in waves. Just another boy whose flipped the off switch. It's something us boys do really well which we can call light-switching. Turning off faster than we turn on. In the last answer I gave some rambling stab at sociology with theories about the death of the hunter and other modern woes. Today I'll expand on that to give an even fuller picture as to why modern man has the attention span and activation of a light switch.

Truth is, the world is a messed up place and the residual effects of this oft-depressing capitalistic society are all around us. This idea as it pertains to woman is often spoken of in the form of low self-esteem and an unrealistic view of their physical appearance. With men it's a little more external. Our 'perfect body' tends to be more about what we don't have and other's do. It's the stuff that many a mid-life crisis are made of. Everyone wants what everyone else has without appreciating what was already in front of them. If you want to make a hit movie, just follow that plotline to the character's eureka moment of appreciating what they have. Money in the bank, as they say, because people can relate to the plot while fantasizing about the outcome.

I really believe this is the fuel for whatever motor flips the man-light off switch. As men, we are great at wanting, but terrible at having -- mostly because we are still so busy wanting. It's no mistake commandment number ten reads: thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. Translation: Off mah shit, dawg. All. Of. It. If that's not proof 'The Ten' were scribed by man, I don't know what is. What was bad in Bible days has only gotten worse with an endless barrage of Cribs, WAGS*, Ads, and mags. Because a man with wants is a man who spends, capitalism figured that out long ago with no care for whatever rippling effects travel through his pond.

My advice? Stay rad. If that's his trip, let him take it. Because -- honestly -- he is going to take it no matter what you say. The fireworks sell is a hard one, but you could try. Mostly though, I really think this is where you hold strong. Maybe even have a little sympathy for a great guy that might be having a terrible Olive Garden** moment. Instead of explaining the fireworks/great woman theory, give him a taste. But do it in a way that doesn't undermine your own feelings -- i.e. don't let him turn you into his 'best friend', that's bro-code for fuck-buddy. Most of all, keep your train on the tracks. Not only is it the only way to move on, but it's also what makes a lost man find himself quickly. Dude's forgotten why he wanted you, all you gotta do is remind him. Stay rad, sista...

*Wives and girlfriends (of athletes). So coveted, they have their own name.


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