All posts tagged: Relationships

My Search for the “Oh Yes!” When Sex Was a No-No

Sexual education in my conservative, southern, Christian upbringing was strictly on a need-to-know basis: I needed to know what I should avoid. An entire sexual revolution swirled around me, giving not thought at all to my existence, yet it was I, I, who madly sought it. My curriculum was carefully curated so that I might be informed, but still avoid the rising tide of desire. Too much information would no doubt trigger the awakening of the wanton sexual temptress hell bent on besmirching my family name with gonorrhea and out-of-wedlock children that ignorance had allowed to lay dormant. I dubbed my sexual curiosity my white whale — an obsession that consumed every waking moment I spent away from the Bible or Knight Rider, sure to lead to my undoing. I had to use context clues for everything else. I asked my parents where babies came from when I was six. They gave me a splendidly clinical “a-man’s-sperm-meets-a-woman’s-egg” spiel. “How? They rub stomachs or something? Does he feed it to her?” It wasn’t until a year …

Before We Ever Met, He Tattooed My Name on His Hip

When he got my name tattooed on his hip, we hadn’t met yet. He was 50. I had just turned 30. He had a big job in the city at a law firm, lived on Long Island, and wore tailored suits to work. I assumed he was rich. He sounded rich. I was working as a telephone dominatrix from my ramshackle apartment deep in Jersey City and had just filed for bankruptcy. His voice was measured, wise. I liked him more than the others and more than I was supposed to. My voice on the phone, was confident, lulling — often just a whisper. It was one of my trademarks and how I controlled them. I was good at it. The other women on the line thought the guys would spend more money on you if you yelled at them. They were mostly wrong. One of my best clients, a shy music professor from England who had six pet rats, left me five stars and this comment on my site one time: “I’d sell my …

He’s 25. I’m 53. What Could Go Wrong?

“Make my day go from good to great and tell me you don’t mind that I’m 25, not 45.” Oh, this old trick. Present yourself as a Gen-Xer when you’re really a millennial. I understand of course; my age, in the universe of dating apps, is a moving target. I have the slightest amount of empathy. Slight enough to answer him back at 1:30am instead of falling asleep. Like middle-aged humans do. “You’re closer in age to my daughter than you are to me.” Dating-wise, the formula I’m fond of applying is half my age plus seven. I’m 53. Even with my Bumble age — 46 — this 25-year-old doesn’t make the cut. Unless I make an exception. We’re playing the same game, after all. The liberal age gap. He generously adds 20 years to his age, I’m mindfully lowering mine and we’re both hoping that somewhere along this sliding scale we’ll each get what we want. “I find you very sexy. I don’t care about your age or mine. I want to get to …

The Magic of the Bitch and Swap

Long ago in the 1990s, when I was a freelance magazine writer, I never had enough of anything — money, love, other people, and of course, clothing. I worked alone in my West Village apartment and most of my reporting was done by telephone. I rigorously scheduled social engagements at night, from dates to drinks with a friend, or a book party or reading or a real party or a fake PR party at a handbag store. If I didn’t speak to a real person face to face at least once a day, I felt myself fading from the human race. It was a time of living between no money, some money and family-begged money. I was actually fairly successful as a writer, but felt like an abject, obvious failure. I was consumed with fear that I would never meet a man whom I could marry and who would marry me. The latter was the bigger fear. It was a terribly lonely and scary stretch of years, despite the many, many parties. It was good, …

25 Years Later, Adventures with My Husband Are Just Getting Started

“What’s the Australian equivalent of Ibuprofin?” I asked my husband, handing him Band-Aids out of a medicine chest in a hut in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness. “Is it paracetamol?” I said, flipping through various tiny white medicine packets stored in a Dixie cup. My husband winced and limped back to a bench to tend to his blistered feet. He’d been pretending they weren’t bothering him, but four days and almost 40 miles into our traverse of Tasmania’s Overland Track, his feet weren’t playing along. “Hey, your legs are still bleeding from the leeches,” he said, pointing to the rivulets that traced their way down my left calf. We’d learned that leeches secrete a chemical to prevent your blood from clotting while they fill up. You can’t feel them latch onto you and it doesn’t hurt to have them there, but once they fill up and drop off it, it takes ages for the bleeding to stop. “I know,” I said, dapping at the blood with a tissue. “Those little Tasmanian bastards.” It was the …

How to Lose at Wife-Carrying, and Win at Marriage

Author and journalist Jo Piazza had no idea what to do when she got engaged. She was terrified of taking on the role of someone’s wife. To figure it out, she traveled to 20 countries on five continents for her new memoir, How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage. Told in honest prose with astute reporting, the book is a survival guide for the first year of marriage. The following is an adapted excerpt from the book. Most dating advice given to newlyweds is horrible. Maybe not horrible, but at least not terrifically helpful. It’s like the people writing the advice wrote sitcoms in the ‘80s where the laugh track covered the sadness and every problem was fixed in 28 minutes, including commercials. There’s a lot of “don’t forget to have a date night,” and “never go to bed angry,” and “say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.” In other words, there’s a lot of bullshit. In the …

How NOT to Find a Mentor

I had just gotten off the phone with a friend telling me how her mentor recommended her to a new job that she was thrilled about. Just the same week, another pal described her amazing lunch with her mentor who gave her feedback on her business plan and introduced her to potential investors. Another friend was going to a book party for her world-famous mentor. The idea of a mentor sounded great! How could I get one? These same friends told me varied acquisition stories, from being assigned a mentor during their stints at big corporations to reaching out to industry leaders cold (and then somehow magically transforming the acquaintanceship into a mentor/mentee arrangement). No place where I had worked offered those programs, and, if they did, they weren’t geared for those of us in editorial. And as for the reaching out cold, I just didn’t see how that was going to work. I considered my job history. Maybe I had a mentor and didn’t realize it? Thinking over my early years in the job force, …

25 No-Bullshit Things I Wish Someone Had Told My 25-Year-Old Self

We live in a cult of youth. This is nothing new, especially if, like me, you grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s and every bit of our pop culture pointed at old people and laughed. I always assumed I would never be one of them, or, as Deanna Carter sings in the 1995 country song “Strawberry Wine,” “I still remember when 30 was old.” Not much has changed these days except semantics. Now it’s all about the millenial demographic…but why? My high school days were so bad that I used to say, “If anyone offered me $10 million to be 16 again I’d punch ‘em in the throat.” While my 20’s and 30’s were better, I still feel the same (minus the physicality) because, despite my back starting to ache and my body breaking down in ways I’d only ever read about, I finally realized that I get better as I get older. When I was 25, I was a brash, bold, smack-talking, I-can-do-anything kind of girl on the outside. But in reality, I was insecure, …

Pain in the Present Tense

For me, failure is a feeling. It’s a heavy weight in my stomach. I get hazy and lightheaded.  Things start to slow down. Lately I feel very heavy. When I feel this, I retreat. I isolate. I pick apart all the moments, actions, words that led to this particular moment and I evaluate them, polish them, put them in a line like dominos and knock them all down with one touch, only to pick them up and reorder them again. Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of Love Warrior, wrote something that caught my attention the other day and resonated with me. She said: “We have to choose carefully where we do our truth-telling… If you are going to share widely – make sure you’re sharing from your scars, not your open wounds….When we truth tell widely in real time, it’s alarming to people because it can feel more like a cry for help than an act of service. You have to be still with your pain before you can offer it up and use it to serve …

He Said, She Said: What Adulting With Money is Really Like

Honest hour: Adulting isn’t easy. And when it involves a significant other and money, it becomes a thousand times harder. Let me give you an example: In 2016, the self-improvement industry raked in almost $10 billion, according to neuroscience site Brainblogger. My purchases of podcasts, books and membership sites accounted for 10 percent of that figure. I’m may be exaggerating a little, but one thing is for sure: Advice books tell you to keep communication channels open and discuss issues, concerns and, most importantly, “feelings” when navigating your financial map in marriage, but they don’t tell you how wildly different your perspectives on spending can be from your spouse. Seth Herzog is a successful NYC comic, actor and producer. He is also my husband. I am an author, built a booming retail research business and have a production company.  What follows is an oral history of a week’s worth of spending and financial transactions in our household: What does it mean to be “poor?” My take is very different from Seth’s. Seth: You are talking …

How Making More Than My Husband Almost Ruined Our Marriage

Growing up, my father controlled the finances in our family. And when I say he controlled the finances, I mean that he left my mother completely in the dark. Though she had a good job as a special education teacher, he had a higher-paying job as an attorney. That created a power dynamic that allowed him control over their finances until the day he died last year. It was only a few months before his death that my mother realized he had spent most of their savings, taken out a second mortgage on their house (without telling her, forging her name and spending the money without her consent) and had made no plans for her financial well-being after he was gone. She’d allowed the discrepancy in their earning power to give him control over her life, and it cost her dearly. Watching the two of them provided my first lessons in financial planning and marital survival, but not before I had the chance to make mistakes of my own. When my husband and I got …

In Praise of Friends That Don’t Last Forever

When I was a girl, I believed wholeheartedly that in order for best friends to be for real, they had to be forever. And I know I’m not alone. Want proof? Just look at any girl’s yearbook. The acronyms may go in and out of vogue, but the sentiment remains: B.F. F. Now that I’m resting solidly in the middle of my 40s, I wonder if there’s any such thing as a “forever” best friend. We all change so much over the course of our lives, I barely recognize the young woman I was in high school, much less the kid whose prized possession was a Donnie and Marie Barbie play set. So why do we believe that the friendships we made back then should survive the dramatic overhauls and upheavals we traverse on the way to adulthood? I’m still in touch with many of my earliest friends; we wish each other happy birthday on Facebook and exchange holiday cards decorated with photos of our children. But we no longer tell each other our deepest …

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Mr. Knightley Is Not on Tinder

Newly single, I have, at the urging of friends, downloaded dating apps on my iPhone. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in some dark hole of the internet and wondered if I was an unknowing participant in a secret Cindy Sherman project where she’s disguised herself as red-eyed, heavily jowled men sitting next to sedated tigers or at the finish line of Tough Mudders. Those first few swipes felt odd. Throw in a married dad from my son’s elementary school and a few minutes of swiping left made me want to wash my hands. I’ve been guilty of having a few laughs at the expense of these dating prospects. I’ve screenshot their most awkward profile photos to share with friends, and I’ve attended Lane Moore’s Tinder Live Show. When I was first single and my friends would ask me what I was looking for, I would tell them straight up that I wanted someone with integrity. A strong moral compass. Their replies were varied versions of “Good luck with that.” I’ve also mentioned this …

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Margit’s Note: An Affair to Remember

A fling means nothing. A dare. A tossed-away kiss. A happy mess you got yourself into. Temporary and mindless. It’s just a fling, after all. In the very last year of the 1980s, right after college was over, I had a purposeful fling — an oxymoron, but so it was. C and I stuck around State College. He waited tables at Ye Olde College Diner (that’s really the name); I worked at the college paper and the local department store — and we had no idea what we were going to do for the rest of our lives. We were both in the mood for temporary. Somehow we knew we weren’t made for each other, but a fling is a chance to be someone else. What a delight! Several mix tapes, deep kisses, boozy nights at Zeno’s and a month-long bout of mono later… A fling is exciting until it’s not exciting. And then, yikes. But even if the result of a fling is feeling a little too flung, the lasting memories  — and at the …

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What a 60-Year-Old Politician Taught Me About Being Single

On July 15, 2015, a long-shot candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination was asked in a radio interview whether he could be taken seriously as a contender for the leader of the free world with his unorthodox lifestyle of…never having been married. His response, calmly, in a contemplative Southern drawl: “Married people have screwed up the world.” And, with those seven words, I was smitten. Sixty-year-old Lindsey Graham, the senior Republican Senator from South Carolina, was clearly winning at life (even if his pull numbers sucked), and he was my new hero. At the time, I was 30 and was going through the worst breakup of my life. It was a situation that I largely blamed on myself because I had kept the whole thing going out of the impulse that, well, someone in her thirties ought to be able to keep a relationship alive even through the rough spells. In fact, the whole thing was a thoroughly unhappy coupling of two incompatible people, and we’d been in denial over our incompatibility for some time. …

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A Conversation with My Teenage Son About Drugs

When my 16-year-old son came into our family room to play a video game, I was delighted. I don’t get a chance to sit and talk with him often, so I quickly turned off the episode of Intervention I’d been watching. He sat down beside me. “What do you think makes a person try their very first drug?” I asked him. “Been watching drug addicts again?” he asked in return. I admitted I had. “After however many years of saying no, they one day say yes. What makes them do it?” “I have no idea, Mom,” he answered, taking off his sneakers. “Of course not,” I countered, “but try anyway.” Tactics I’ve used with middle school students in my classroom for 14 years work just as well on my son. First, acknowledge they may not have an answer, and then demand one nonetheless. I’ve learned you can’t assume to know what’s going on inside a teenage brain. “Okay,” he said. “I guess they want to escape and feel good.” He chewed at the edge of a fingernail. …

What It Really Feels Like To Be 25 in 2016

Before you get swept up in the nostalgia of your own quarter-life crisis (crap bosses, three roommates, teeny tiny apartment, bottle service clubs, falafel at 4 a.m., hot dates), there are some women I want you to meet. These girls are living the 2016 version, where hookups are negotiated on Tinder, the boss is just as likely to be a girl who graduated a year ahead and likes using her newfound power to make you feel small and there’s not a single boozy brunch that isn’t documented on Instagram to elicit FOMO among all your followers. So while you’ve been there, there are a few things that 25(ish)-year-olds want to clear up for the older generation about what their lives are really like. It’s Sorta Lonely “On a recent, teary phone call with my mom about feeling stuck at work, I said, ‘I need to let myself cry about this, and when I’m done crying, I need someone to pick me up and help me figure out what to do. But I don’t know who …

Madonna’s Most Beautiful Love Song

In 1985, I was 16 years old and spent my weekend nights cruising the streets of Kansas City in my 1979 Fiat Strada. I realize now that a four-door hatchback is not every teenage girl’s dream, but I loved that car because it was mine, because it gave me freedom, and because it had a really great stereo system. I spent most of the money from my part-time job on cassette tapes that would become the soundtrack of my teenage years—The Bangles, the Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I was a straight girl back then, though my interest in the women of pop music should have probably been a clue. It wasn’t, however, and it took me years to figure it all out. Now, when I look back on my deep feelings for each of those women, I ask myself one question: Did I want to be them or did I want to do them? This is a very important distinction. Upon much reflection, I can say without a doubt that I wanted to do …

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Your Nag Hath Made Me Stronger

“Why do people who least have their shit together always want to give you advice?” my friend John said to me with an exasperated sigh. I had called John because I was dealing with some family issues, and we share some common family dynamics. He was lending a sympathetic ear and sharing the latest advice from his born-again brother, who persisted in being John’s self-appointed life coach. “He has been divorced twice, he goes to church, but he hates poor people and can’t hold down a job. And he has the nerve to give me advice on how I should be living my life.” This dynamic has always puzzled me: the compulsive need to give advice when none has been asked for. What is this dynamic all about? I have seen it so many times in life, with micromanager bosses, overly critical colleagues, overbearing friends and well-meaning family members. Who actually welcomes this hypercritical and unhelpful feedback? And when does it actually help? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this – my interaction …

The Affair: Cheating on My Fiancé with a Work Husband

This is an updated version of a piece Lauren wrote at a previous employer, several work husbands ago. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’ve been cheating on my fiancé with someone from the office. Well, it’s not exactly cheating. And it’s not exactly a secret, either. I currently have not one but two leading men in my life at work. Alas, you may be a bit disappointed to know that my relationships with both of these men are strictly platonic. First and foremost, there is Frank, who sits next to me day in and day out at the office. Frank will HATE that I am writing this. He despises attention. But let me tell you, Frank is pretty much the most excellent person I know. I always say that if the building is burning, I’ll take Frank out with me because he is a Jack-of-all-trades who can solve any problem in the office — and often in life. Frank has helped me buy a computer, set up a new iPhone, …

I’ve Never Wanted Anyone Like This — and I’m Still Looking

I still listen to the radio often when I drive, mostly for the rush of stumbling across a song I love among the commercials. Missing in our current world of all-media-on-demand-all-the-time is the element of surprise I found when I was flipping stations the other night and came across Madonna’s “Crazy for You”. It’s high on my mental list of songs I have to listen to all the way through; I’ll sit in the parking lot and sing to the end before I’ll go inside. It’s 30 years old this year. It’s the power ballad from Vision Quest, a movie I recall nothing about except for the snippets I can remember from the video – Matthew Modine doing pushups, wrestling, then kissing Linda Fiorentino and her enormous hair, like a knock-off Kevin Bacon from Footloose destined for trouble, dissonantly interspersed with Madonna in her best tousled hair, black bracelets and scarves as a bar singer emoting the crap out of “Crazy for You.” I was 14 in 1985, a huge fan with a single huge …

I Got Dumped – and Madonna Made It Okay

In the summer of 1989 just before our senior year of college, my friend Jen and I confessed to each over the phone that we were really loving Madonna’s song “Express Yourself.” This was a confession rather than a plain old conversation because we both fancied ourselves cooler and more indie than your average pop music fan. But nobody sang about girl power and washing-that-man-out-of-your hair better than Madge did, and we both had men in there that it looked like they might need to be washed out. I hate to say it but, musically speaking, “Express Yourself” hasn’t held up for me. The song was remastered and heavily smeared with ‘80s horns somewhere along the way, which hasn’t helped matters any. But that song meant a lot to me that summer, and its sentimental value has endured. [pullquote]School breaks were no good. Love died over them. This had apparently been proven by science.[/pullquote] The song came out when I had my first serious boyfriend, whom we’re going to call Chad. The guy I’d dated …

She Must Be My Lucky Star

For the first 12 or so years of my life, I was the good girl. My first act of rebellion came in seventh grade when I threw a bunch of baby carrots in the bathroom at church. (I have no idea know why I did this.) Before I could even be accused of the carrot caper, I confessed. Bowing down to authority seemed to be inked into my DNA. While other middle schoolers were experimenting with smoking, I could be found in the school band. I didn’t even play a cool instrument like the drums or the saxophone. No, I played the oboe, and the oboe is just about the nerdiest of the nerdy instruments a junior high schooler could play. Then in 8th grade, MTV came bursting into my room. That year, I spent every afternoon glued to the TV. I was enthralled by Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf. I escaped through a-ha’s comic book-styled world in Take On Me. I spent hours learning the moves to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. But the song that captivated …

How I Caught My Cheating Fiance and Changed My Life Forever

Please don’t feel heartbroken for me when I tell you my breakup story. I assure you, I am happy. I assure you, I know with certainty that it was best that we broke up. It happened 20 years ago. My heart has long since healed. One other thing I feel like I should preface with: The bad boyfriend is an elected politician in a major U.S. city. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call him Mr. X. There was a lot at stake for me 20 years ago when we dated, when I knew that he would eventually run for office and I felt confident that he would win. I knew how persuasive he could be. And I was already feeling like the lifestyle of a politician’s wife would be too much. But his charm was overwhelming and made me doubt myself and my own instincts over and over again. But the fact remained, I was already dreading being the wife. I didn’t want to have to smile through every event while the press scoured …

One Engagement Ring, Three Divorces

Two months salary. A girl’s best friend. A gift that lasts a lifetime. Our family diamond has been called many things, but it will no longer be called an engagement ring. I’m heading to the jeweler’s to pick up the shard of stone that’s been passed down in my family for three generations, sowing havoc and heartache wherever it landed. Humans have always attributed enormous power to rings. Think of popes, kings, seniors and Lords of — no one ever kissed an earring or bowed to a bracelet. And so, I’m having this ring deconsecrated. It is ready for a new incarnation as a sparkly bauble, no longer a promise of eternal love. After three failed tries, our diamond will be reincarnated as a harmless charm. The diamond was originally purchased by my father, hastily, in 1964. Not long after he thrust it at my mother, I was born in a manner that had the aunts and uncles counting on their fingers and nodding knowingly.  But despite its rocky start, the marriage endured for 14 …

Dumped But Not Demolished

It goes without saying: No one wants to be the dumpee in a breakup. So it’s no secret that some of us are very proactive about dumpee-proofing our dating lives. I won’t say that I’ve been running a 24/7 patrol for dumpee prevention and preemption, but I do like to boast that I’m “dumpee-free since ’93!” Now, that’s dumpee-free with a slight technicality — I haven’t been on the receiving end of a bona fide breakup since I was 17. And by “bona fide breakup” I mean this: The ending of a romantic relationship that has been firmly established. And by “firmly established” I mean this: The guy and I have titles. It doesn’t matter what the title is — maybe he calls me his “girlfriend” and I call him “my man” — but there is some kind of designation that says, “We are officially with each other and no one else.” Another crucial component: We both adhere to our shared identity as a couple. So not only do I say that we’re a couple and he says …

Margit’s Note: I Break With Thee

As kids, my sister, brother and I used to listen to Steve Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guy album nonstop. (Thank you, Columbia Record and Tape Club.) One of our favorite quotes was his Wild and Crazy Guy Czechoslovakian character from SNL who described breaking up with his girlfriend thusly: “You just walk up to the girl and say, ‘I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee’ …and then you throw dog poop on her shoes.” We’d fall onto the floor in hysterics. Poop humor never fails. But to this day, when I hear the phrase “break-up“ I think of that sketch every single time. (Those were some formative latchkey years). And, for a minute, I think, if only it were so easy. So final. So stinky. More often, there’s ambivalence and avoidance and anything but a definitive doo-doo drop. You wait and mull and consider whether you’re making a colossal mistake. Or you wonder if there’s something better or simply different out there. But you’re safe here. You’ve been safe for …

The Recently Divorced Dude — Is He Dateable?

Welcome to of our new advice column where we try to answer all of your confounding “What The…?” questions. We’ll be getting advice from experts, but we may not always have the best answer. Feel free to share your own advice in the comments below . [dropcap]Q: [/dropcap] I really like this man and would like to date him seriously. We’ve been friends for a long time — decades in fact, but he was married and therefore off-limits. Not anymore! Everyone tells me not to be his first post-divorce girlfriend because it won’t last. Myth? Truth? Signed, Rebound or Romance? [dropcap]A:[/dropcap] Upon dissolution of his relationship, the long-married man could behave in a variety of different ways. Some go completely apeshit-horndog, sliding their penis into any and all willing receptacles. After decades of mundane marital life, they can’t believe they’re suddenly in demand. They see vagina around every corner. They are the binge-eater at the buffet, gorging themselves on an abundance of boobies and beav at their collective fingertips. After all, these once longtime married guys …

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People Used to Write Letters! And I Have a Box to Prove It

I have a green box. It is filled with dusty old letters, organized by names and folders. Ex beaus. Lost friends. Professors who kept in touch with me after college. Grandparents. I haven’t looked at this box in probably 20 years. I mean, I’ve seen it sitting way back in my closet, every time I shuffle shoes around. I’ve used it as a sticker repository it over the years (Black Flag! AOL! Obama! Biden ’08!). And it remains. I know it’s there. But I never open it. Too much old emotional artifact bound to swallow hours of my life. Who has time? For some reason, this year, I went excavating. I dared to have a peek. Inspired, perhaps, by my parents who have been downsizing and doling out old letters, photos, diaries, books, and matchbook collections to us kids. While going through that old stuff you unearth buried treasures, and, of course, a few rusty nails. [pullquote]I’d imagine my own shoeboxes of unorganized, dog-eared letters disintegrating, and that over a century their context could be …

Why Do I Blame Everyone Else?

I’m Lauren Young. I am the oldest of four children. I am a mother. I am an ex-wife. And I am a blameaholic. I blame everyone else when something bad happens to me. I blame others when I break a nail, lose my Metrocard or driver’s license, when I hurt my shoulder or when I find a brownie shoved into my rug after a holiday party. (All of these things happened in the past week, by the way.) Several years ago, I got laid off from a job that I loved during a takeover – I naturally blamed the acquirer, even though some of my colleagues moved to the new company. When my boyfriend moved in with me for the summer, I rearranged my closets so he would have more hanging space. During the closet switch, one of my favorite Kate Spade dresses was impaled by a wire hanger. I blamed him for the giant hole. Speaking of my boyfriend, he is terrified of being blamed. It’s gotten so bad that he prefaces everything with: …