Q: I fear I’ve already turned off the new guy I’m dating because of a ritual I can’t seem to give up. I sleep with a stuffed bunny. I’m in my mid-30s, but I’ve had it since childhood, and I just find sleeping with it comforting. For the first month of dating this guy, I didn’t bring it to bed. But now that I’m feeling more relaxed with him, I grab for it after we’ve finished our intimate stuff. He seems rather unimpressed, to say the least. The other night, he said something like “Now, how old are you again?” Is this something I need to stop doing, or something that somebody who cares about me should just accept?
—Can’t Let Go Of Floppy
A: Back when they couldn’t show sex in movies, they’d let you know it’d happened by showing a couple having drinks and kissing, then cut to one of them in bed smoking a cigarette — not sucking a thumb and cuddling a bunny.
The guy you’re dating has an image of you in his mind — probably as a sophisticated, sexy, sensual adult woman. Surprise, surprise, after doing unspeakable things with you in bed, he finds it unsettling to see you spooning Floppy, and maybe worries for a moment that he just committed a crime. He might feel different if you just had the bunny on the shelf as a souvenir of your childhood. For a lot of guys, that’s no big deal. There are even some who’d be okay with the bunny in the bed — like the mid-level manager who attends Comic-Con in a Klingon suit and goes to sleep afterward in Spider-Man footsie pajamas.
In psychology, a stuffed animal is a “transitional object” — a thing that helps a child work through his or her separation from Mommy. (It seems you and Mommy are running a few decades behind — something you and a therapist might give a look-see.) Like your current guy, a lot of guys will be turned off when, after sex, you turn away from them to make sleepies with your bunny. To give yourself the widest selection of dating partners, you’ll need a new bedtime ritual. My suggestion? Put Flops on a shelf and fall asleep thinking happy thoughts about how you’re making room for a very special new friend — one who might be missing fur on his head, but not because the neighbors’ dog used him as a chew-toy when you were 5.
Q: I’m online dating again, but I’m now a vegetarian and gluten intolerant. Should I mention this in my profile, or just break the news gently on our first date? I think I can accept a man who eats meat. (I’d say my desire to find a great guy is greater than my fear of the occasional bloody steak on the barbeque.) But, is it reasonable to request a man who only eats meat once or twice a day, four times a week, max?
A: Why did the Tofurkey cross the road? Of course, to beg somebody to eat it. And, of course, they had to call that vegan dessert “Soy Delicious,” yet nobody has to sell steak by calling it “Steak Delicious.” Not surprisingly, there are a lot of animal lovers out there who especially love animals with a side of potatoes. Can you sit across from one while he tears into a nice, juicy piece of cow, and are you really looking forward to that long, slow, hamburger-flavored kiss goodnight?
You do say you “think” you can accept a man who eats meat, but that’s about wanting to widen your dating pool. Two sentences later, you’re narrowing it back down, suggesting that a meat-muncher should feel free to make you sick, disgusted, and morally outraged, but only “once or twice a day, four times a week, max.” Come on. If all you can stomach is a man who eats a diet fit for a sheep, say so in your profile. But, whatever you do, omit mention of specific dietary issues like gluten intolerance, or you’ll sound picky and annoying. And, quite frankly, nobody needs to know the intricacies of your bile duct or small intestine before the first date.
As for news to break “gently” on the first date, that would be stuff like “I have five months to live,” not “I can’t eat wheat.” Don’t worry — nobody’s going to force-feed you a cookie. Just order your tofu patty “no bun,” and move on to finding out what you and your date have in common — beyond being the sort of people who not only stop and smell the flowers, but enjoy grazing on them afterward.