Help! My Boyfriend Is Suing Me!

Dear E. Jean: My boyfriend and I have been together two years. In the beginning, he asked me to give up my job, come work part-time for his company, move in with him, take care of him, and run the house. Well! We recently had a fight, and he said he was going to “make my life a waking nightmare.” He stated he was going to “sue me and garnishee my future wages for all the money he wasted supporting me,” which he estimates to be $25,000.

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He promised me that he’d get back every dime he spent on me and all his exes!

Frankly, it scared me. I did not sign a contract with him of any kind, but he did pay some of my bills. He’s a very smart man who will be a successful attorney someday (he’s going to night school). I don’t have any money saved. My family is not wealthy, and I certainly don’t have the money to pay him back immediately or hire a lawyer to defend me in court. Now I’m out of a job! What do I do? —Am I Just Screwed?

Miss Screwed, Sweetheart: Nothing but an extreme love of nonviolence hinders me from taking this guy outside and lashing him with stinging barbs. However, I read your letter to the illustrious Dallas, Texas, contracts attorney Sherlyn Wiggs, and she assured me that you may rest easy. Here’s Miss Wiggs’ advice:

“Your boyfriend will find out in his first-year contracts class that his threat is legally unenforceable. Furthermore, he cannot garnishee your wages without a court order. Nor can he recover any money that he gratuitously spent on you or other girlfriends. In short, his bark is much worse than his legal bite.”

Note: In the future, if you ever waver at a boyfriend’s job offer, remember these numbers: The $25,000 Mr. Night School claims to have spent on you (i.e., did not actually pay you) to work in his office, clean his toilets, vacuum his carpets, run his errands, cook his meals, wash his dishes, and entertain his business associates breaks down to $12,500 a year, and (based on a 10-hour day and five-day week) bottoms out at $4.81 an hour. So if the scoundrel ever again dares mention garnishee anything, smile, hand him an invoice listing each category of task you performed for him accompanied by dates and times, and tell him: “But darling! What a marvelous coincidence! I’m turning you in to the U.S. Department of Labor for paying less than the minimum wage!”

The best thing that could have happened to you was being “fired” by this addlepated jerk.

This letter is from the E. Jean archive.

I’m Really Not Comfortable With What My New Boyfriend Wants Me to Do in Bed

Dear E. Jean: I’ve started dating a wonderful man. He has a great job, a wicked sense of humor, and a cute smile, and he treats me with respect and dignity. We met through a mutual friend and have been going strong for a month. We haven’t been intimate yet, but while we were cuddling in his bed the other night, we started discussing our sexual histories. All of a sudden, he pulls up a chain with handcuffs on my side of the bed and says: “I have to tell you—I love being tied up.”

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If we didn’t have the lights off, he would have been able to see the shock on my face. Handcuffs—they were just so…there. I’m not a prude. But I’m not in a place right now to escape my sexual comfort zone. Do I continue the relationship if this makes me feel so uncomfortable? —Not Ready for 50 Shades

Not Ready, My Rhododendron: Though the eminent members of the Advice Columnist Whips & Chains Committee will conceive the vilest opinion of me—I mean, have you ever read an advice column that didn’t urge a correspondent to “experiment”?—I say to hell with it. If you don’t want to handcuff the chap, don’t do it. He seems to be a good man, patient and respectful. So tell him if he promises not to pester you, you may come around in time and go so far as to allow him to escort you to a screening of the Leonardo DiCaprio handcuff scene in Titanic.

My Boyfriend Isn’t Intellectual Enough For Me

Dear E. Jean: I’m a physician—ethnic, well traveled, and the daughter of Berkeley intellectuals. Unlike a lot of the pretentious NYC types I’ve dated in the past, my new boyfriend is a little bit hillbilly, with a goofy sense of humor, a simple vocabulary, and even simpler tastes. He’s Midwestern, has great values, an excellent career in finance, and I’ve jumped on board with the country music and the football. But our last fight happened because I was incredulous over his love of wrestling on WWE. I absolutely panicked! I can’t imagine the father of my children watching WrestleMania.

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I know this is snobbery. He’s good to me, and I wish I could be a simpler girl who doesn’t love obscure references and librarian glasses—it would have made my life a lot easier in high school! What should I do?—Not Into the SmackDown

Doctor, Doctor! Bah! What woman doesn’t feel superior to a man? But you’re in New York. This is the Big Time. You make a mistake with a sweet chap in this town, girl, and you forfeit your right to chase men and are remanded to California.

Anyway, you’re wrong about wrestling. Your Auntie Eeee once spent a mythic summer-long odyssey following a small town troupe of professional wrestlers, and I defy the faculty of Berkeley—hell, I defy the whole of the East Bay—to produce such violent, intellectual combat, such heroic rewrites, such Shakespearean dialogue, such Freudian costumes, such Kafkaesque plots, such Homeric sulks in dressing rooms, and such broken kneecaps in audiences. Wrestling is the Louvre for dudes.

Put on those librarian glasses, Doctor! Look at what you’ve got here: a fine, goofy, high-earning chap, an absolute flower of manhood who would be, in all likelihood—oh, lovely chance!—a wonderful husband and father. If I seem a little short-tempered, it’s because I lost one half of the morning answering e-mails from women clinging to chumps who are no good for them and the other half answering women dumping chaps who are good for them. I don’t need to tell you which category you fall into, do I?

This letter is from the E. Jean archive.

Dressing Up for Boyfriend – E. Jean Advice on Putting Effort in Appearance Once You’re in a Relationship

Dear E. Jean: My boyfriend asks why I don’t dress up like I once did. He says he longs for “the good old days” when I showed I cared about him. But the truth is, I’m just so comfortable with him that I feel I can be myself. E. Jean, must I put on a dress and mascara?

E. Jean: Yes, you must. You’ll look great in the dress. He’ll feel great that you dressed up, and nothing will be as great as you both coming home together and putting on your old pajamas.

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