Dear Patrick, You seem to have led a fairly abysmal love life-what makes you think you’re qualified to answer the campus’ questions about relationships? -The Lawrence Campus Good question, Lawrence Campus; thanks for your concern. Also, way to be glib and dismissive about my relationship history; I like that. Here is what I perceive myself as bringing to the relationship advice table: a complete lack of pretension and absolutely no delusions about my own wisdom. Hell, I’ll share that I had to spell check three of the words in that last sentence. Relationship advice is never about finding an answer-it’s about hearing what other people have to say and measuring your feelings against that. I plan to be cavalier regarding people’s feelings and offer overly simplified solutions to complicated problems. My reasons for doing so are twofold. First, I hope to garner cheap laughter from my fellow Lawrence cynics (there are tons of you), and second, I hope that the questioner will have some sort of gut reaction to my sloppy advice and use that to examine his or her real feelings. It’s tough love, only without the Dr. Phil self-righteousness and without the Dan Savage politics.Dear Patrick, Why am I so awkward around the person I’m interested in? -The Lawrence Campus Lawrence Campus, you’ve identified this problem incorrectly. You are awkward around everyone. Look around-next time you talk to the people you live with, the people you take classes with, or any of the people you work with every day, take a second and realize just how awkward this interaction is. Man, we’re awful. The only thing that makes the whole debacle livable is knowing that whatever interaction I’m entering, the other participants will be just as socially inept as I am. So, Lawrence Campus, I say proceed without fear. Other people are like bears-they’re just as awkward around you as you are around them. Get in there, tell a joke, mess up the punch line, and then talk about your inability to tell a joke. Works like a charm.
Dear Patrick, I’m having trouble with a long-distance relationship. I live on the third floor of Colman and she lives on the fourth floor of Trever. She always wants to go to Downer and I’m content eating at Lucinda’s night after night. What can I do? Long-distance relationships are always hard. Ask anyone who’s been in one-there’s just no skipping through the tough parts. What seems to be crucial to making these things work is becoming part of the other person’s world. I suggest next time you make it out to Trever that you become friends with some of the people in the building. This way you’ll know who she’s talking about on your next phone date. Oh yeah, the phone date’s important too. If you just leave the phone calls up to whimsy, she’ll be hurt by how little you call or overwhelmed by how frequently you call. Conventional wisdom tells us that most long distance relationships fail, so you have to stop and evaluate what you’re doing. You have to be sure that it’s worth it. You have emotional needs and putting them on hold to maintain this relationship is a huge commitment. On the other hand, Trever is really only five blocks away. In retrospect, let’s disregard my sensitive, understanding tone. My advice? Eat at the grill.
Do you have questions you’d like Patrick to answer? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org