Rubbed Raw by Lover

Dear Dategirl,

Nothing rubs me the wrong way more than people who use the word "lover" without any sense of irony. I don't know why, but I find it one of the most unappealing words around—right up there with "moist." Ugh.

My unscientific study seems to suggest that the majority of people who use "lover" regularly are middle-aged women. (I am currently middle-aged and retain no "lovers.") What's the deal and why do they need to say it? Is it some sad grasp at vitality? Why not just say my "bang buddy" or my "hookup" or something less skeevy? WHY?

—Skeeved in the City

Perhaps if you were to take a lover and engage in some sweet, sweet lovemaking, you wouldn't be quite so buttsore over such a rich, descriptive term for ones one is schtupping. "Lover," especially delivered with an emphasis on the "r" at the end, conjures all sorts of images. At first glance, that dumpy middle-aged woman might just be Mindy from accounting, but once you learn she has a lover, she's now Mindy who's capable of wrapping her ankles around the back of her neck, am I right? Mindy who may smoke clove cigarettes (or perhaps a little pot) on weekends. Mindy who likes it a little rough. Mindy who knows how to get down. So allow the lady her lover. It's not just a word, it's an adventure.

Dear Dategirl,

Some men are dogs and will run around no matter how good you treat them, while others are doormats who'll stick around no matter how much they get treated like dirt. What about the guys in the middle? I imagine you've had access to many dark secrets and confessions. What would drive an ordinarily faithful guy to stray, and what can us ladies do to keep our men happy and coming home?

—The Boy Is Mine

Blow jobs. Blow jobs, blow jobs, and more blow jobs. Offered by a stranger or cute co-worker (I'm talking to you, Mindy in accounting), they'll cause a guy to stray. Regularly served at home, they'll keep a guy happy. Compliments are also fairly effective at refocusing wandering eyeballs. Anything from "Damn, you smell good" to "Nice ass, hot stuff" will work on either gender. Avoiding conversation starters like "You always do . . . " or "We need to talk" go a long way toward keeping the peace and thus keeping your piece at home.

Other advice that goes for both partners: Don't fall into the sweatpant trap. Bathe regularly. Cycle out the skid-marked/period-stained underpants every couple of months. And try to keep a little mystery when it comes to pooping and plucking wayward hairs.

My accountant Harvey advised me to always let my man think he's smarter than me, even if he isn't. I forget how this came up, but for the first time in 10 years I don't owe the IRS any dough, so the guy knows what he's talking about. I can't say I've particularly mastered this last one, but I do see the value in showing my appreciation regularly. With blow jobs.

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