A hat tip to both Paisley Pajamas and SarahHeartburn for this post. SarahHB told me of the Dear Mariella advice column in the British paper The Guardian that contained a seemingly obvious bit of advice to a woman hung up on emotionally distant men.

It’s long, so I parsed it, but this bit of advice from Mariella struck SarahHB, and me as well:

“It’s actually one of the issues I have with that much imitated chicklit bible, Pride and Prejudice. It’s a novel written by a woman who, no matter how socially incisive her penmanship, hasn’t yet grown up enough to understand that moody and unattainable means simply that.”

Ahhhh yes. Had only some wise advice columnist told me that when I was 21 and deeply, passionately in love with someone who withheld everything except when he wanted to sleep with me, and then he was very madly, loquaciously in love. I would have saved myself two long years of grief, confusion and heartache.

But this got me remembering something Paisley and I once talked about: if you could offer a younger woman a few pieces of advice based on everything you’d learned in life, what would they be?

Here are mine:

1. If he’s cheated before, and especially if he cheated with you behind someone else’s back, he will cheat ON you. On some level he will excuse himself, telling himself you’ve played that game yourself, therefore you don’t deserve any better. Believe it. He will. It’s just a matter of time.

2. Believe what a guy tells you about himself in the very beginning, before love and lust confuse everything. I remember a guy telling me the first time I met him that he was “messed up” and had trouble with  relationships. Of course this caused me to be wildly attracted to him as I told myself that he clearly had just not found the right woman yet — namely, me. And guess what? He turned out to be messed up and had trouble with relationships! 

3. Inner alarm bells going off? Got nagging doubts? Don’t marry him!! Also — don’t marry anyone when you’re feeling vulnerable. No no no.

4. If a man has reached the age of 40 without living with anyone or having a relationship that lasted longer than a year, there is something terribly wrong with him. RUN!