Advice from an “Expert in Failed Relationships”

Note from editors: Every since our editor-in-chief’s book, Harlots Sauce, was published, she has been receiving dozens of emails and Facebook messages each week from people seeking her advice on their life and love problems. About this she has said, “People seem to feel comfortable asking my opinion, even if they haven’t met me. Maybe it’s because after reading my book, they learn that I’m someone who, in my past, has failed miserably at every possible relationship – that of being daughter, wife, mother… even friend. You go to an expert when you have a question, don’t you? Well, I’m an expert at failure.”

Text, Love, and Marriage

Dear EFR:

I’ve been with my husband for nine years. He lost his job and took one as a security guard out of town for one month. Five months later, I picked up his phone one day and saw a text from someone saying, “Hi love, how are you?”

Then I found two photos of an ugly redheaded woman saved on his cell phone. I took his phone and messaged this girl, pretending to be my husband. At one point she asked if this was really him. I said it was. I told the girl that ‘my wife’ found her message and wants a divorce, and that I didn’t know what to tell her. Her advice was, “Well she’s p*ssed off already, so tell her everything or tell her nothing. It’s up to you. Why didn’t you delete my sh*t, did you want to get caught?”

I confronted my husband and asked him who this woman was. He told me he met her while doing that security job, but that they were just friends. My husband denied sleeping with her, but in later conversations I was having with this girl while she was still thinking I was my husband, she sure knew enough about me, the wife. My husband is usually a quiet, closed person, and I can’t believe he didn’t sleep with her, with the knowledge she has about me. But my husband says she’s just a drunk and he won’t talk about it anymore.

For the last two years of our marriage, I haven’t paid much attention to him, due to working on growing my own business. I know that’s not an excuse, but I think he slept with her, and don’t know how to get the truth from him. Now he is all lovey-dovey and wants our marriage to work.
How should I handle this?


Security Guard Impersonator

Dear SGI:

From my perspective, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume something happened between your husband and the “ugly redheaded woman.” Maybe it was just a flirt at a bar one night while he was away for a month, maybe it was a one-night stand. You’re asking me how to handle it, but that is something you need to decide, because it’s your marriage.

However, I don’t know what you mean by “not paying much attention” to your husband for two years. Do you mean you haven’t had sex with him in that long, or do you mean he’s been eating a lot of turkey sandwiches and having to wash his own socks?

If it’s the latter, this text romance that he didn’t delete (as pointed out by the redhead herself, who is maybe a bit smarter than I give her credit for being fooled by your impersonation) was a red flag to you — “Hey- if you’re ‘too busy’ to have sex with me, I’m going to get it somewhere else.”

But if you have still been a wife to him in the ways that matter most in a relationship — i.e — you sleep with him, you listen to him, you make him feel that he means something to you — then he sounds like he might be pouting because your focus is on doing something for yourself for a change.

Which is it in your mind — pouting, or a legitimate gripe? Once you determine that, you must then determine how you feel about it. Do you want to salvage the relationship? If you do, do you know what you’d need to do to work towards that, do you want to do what needs to be done, and is he willing to do his share?

In other words, what I’m trying to say is there is no right way or wrong way to handle this. You or he do not need to have an explanation to anyone but yourselves on why you’re staying together after this, or not. But if you want to fix the relationship, both of you need to make it a priority. Otherwise, I commend you for starting your own business. Nothing makes us think more clearly about our options than having financial independence.

Good luck.

Shallow Hallie

Dear EFR:

I am a 36-year-old woman who has never married, because I could never seem to find a man who was up to my standards. By that I mean I exercise daily, am in great shape and — not to brag — am very beautiful. I recently started dating a man who measures up to all of that — he seemed my ideal physically, actually, until we had sex for the first time. It was then that I saw he has what looks like a third nipple, right next to his real left nipple. I have to say I was horrified. I can’t help it— it really grossed me out. We did have sex, because I didn’t want to be rude, but needless to say, I didn’t really enjoy it. He was good at it and all, in fact, he was really very sweet, but my mind mostly was focused on that third nipple looming over me. Now he wants to know why I keep making excuses not to see him, and I don’t know what to tell him. As I said, I don’t want to hurt his feelings. What should I do?


No Nipple Nookie

Dear NNN:

How many mosquitoes do you have swarming around you that have been hatched in your shallow water of a spirit? I can’t help you, but I hope a good psychiatrist who deals in narcissism and obsessive body image problems can. Find one, please, before you next cross paths with any more unsuspecting male victims. Your last one was handsome, sweet and a good lover, but you were grossed out by something that a caring woman might find adorable and even sexy in a man she loves, or maybe just likes. That is, if she were capable of as deep an emotion as ‘like’.

Are you really 36 and not 16? Because, if you are, it’s quite possible that a psychiatrist will be unable to help at this late stage. So if I were you, I’d prepare myself to be alone forever, just you, your mirror, and eventually, your plastic surgeon.

Do you have a question for me about failed (or failing) relationships? I’m happy to read your questions and answer them in this column. Keep in mind that I’m a writer and licensed teacher, but not a therapist or a lawyer. However, I do consult these experts to answer my letters when necessary. Leave your questions in the comment box below, or e-mail and put “advice column” in subject line. For more information about me, visit

Please note: Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Patricia V. Davis is the author of Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece.

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