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how can i heal without closure?
I was been dating this guy for two months and He was the sweetest guy I knew. Things were great, and progressing. we were Making plans to do things in the future. We loved to go vintage shopping, so we were even planning a diving trip. He wanted to take me to the Florida Keys. Then everything changed. He said I had him thinking over the weekend, and with his new job training, and his time with his nine year old daughter, it's not fair to me. He was very cold, no feeling. From seeing each other and talking every day to this; I'm still in shock and do not know what happened! I really liked him and could see a future with him. He won't give me any answers or closure. I have to try to move on, but it really hurts. I didn't see this coming. I guess I wanted to see if I could get clarification from you. i'm So hurt and confused as to what just happened. I thought he liked me too. Or did he just put on a really good act?
I'm so sorry you're going through this, Kim. Heartache sucks the worst kind of suck. Sometimes, when a shorter relationship ends abruptly, it can be harder than when an LTR that has lots of time to unwind itself. Your relationship ended when it was still all about potential and there was no bullshit-reality stuff between the two of you (yet). When all you know is sweetness, shopping, and sex, it’s hard to let go. That being said, what you knew of him was in no way the whole picture. I’m really sorry that what you saw as his potential and the promise of what the two of you could share didn’t pan out.
I don't know why he ended it in the crappy way he did, but his reasons seem fair enough. Building a real relationship takes time, energy, and commitment; and if he wasn't available for something serious, it was on him to pull the plug in the first three months. And he did. The shitty thing is that he also talked about the future and led you to believe he was available to build one with you. Not knowing why a person pulls the plug on love hurts like hell, and having someone push you away without regard for your feelings is awful. I wish that people could be more generous and kind in matters of the heart. But here's the thing, Kim. Now you know. Now you know that he was not willing or able to be the sweet and available guy you knew him to be for more than a couple months. You know that when given the chance to be communicative and compassionate, he didn't take it. Often people can't be emotionally present when they know they're hurting someone, but that doesn’t mean that they never liked you. What it does mean is that he’s not the wonderful match you hoped he was. Nurse your wounds and don’t let this disappointment stop you from trusting again.
Ok, so I have a situation. I've had a crush on a guy at the gym I work at for a couple months. I finally worked up the courage to speak to him about a month ago and we had good chemistry. After one of these awesome talks he asked me to hang out! I seriously could not have been more excited! Then he left without getting my phone number. I thought it was strange, but then figured we would see each other again and he would get it. I've seen him twice and the "date" was supposed to be last week and he has said nothing to me. He seems to be avoiding me at all costs. I'm not sure what to do, so I've been avoiding him as well and I'm at a loss. I'm not sure if I should just bite the bullet and go talk to him, or just keep ignoring him. I read that intense attraction could lead people into sudden shyness, so I'm hoping it's this scenario as opposed to the other one, where he thinks I'm creepy.
What do I do? Ignore this guy? Or buck up and break the ice with him again?
I will first answer your question with a question, Help; why do you still want to go out with this guy? I mean, I get it that he makes you feel all sparkly and that you have good chemistry, and that's fun. But all you had was some awesome small talk before he got weird. He asked you out and didn’t get your digits and then proceeded to avoid you for weeks. What exactly is appealing about that? Why are you worried that he thinks you're creepy when he sounds like the creep in the situation? When you don’t know a person and the only thing they reveal to you is confusing and verging on mean, that should be all the info you need. Any person who’s going to pull that kind of weirdness is unlikely to be especially considerate or have great communication skills. I encourage you to not be so hung up on your fantasy version this guy that you miss out on the real deal evidence that he’s giving you as to who he actuallyis.
When you don’t know a person and the only thing they reveal to you is confusing and verging on mean, that should be all the info you need. Any person who’s going to pull that kind of weirdness is unlikely to be especially considerate or have great communication skills.
When you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s unavoidable that you'll have to decode things from time to time, but this is waaay too much work to do with someone you’ve never even gone out with. It’s not supposed to be this hard! If he’s this mysterious about following through with his own invitation, I can’t imagine how he’d be with something more pressing. Again, I encourage you to figure out what you actually like about this dude and why you care about him at all.
Assuming you have the biggest crush that ever crushed on this gym-goer, and you can't walk away from his sweet, sweet smile, I want to give you the advice to make the move yourself, but I just can’t. I believe in sisters doin’ it for themselves, but I read his bewildering actions as his way of saying he doesn’t want to date you. If your crush is that big there’s no point in trusting me on this — go find out yourself!
I think that continuing to ignore this guy you barely know is a solid move, because he’s clearly not available to connect for reasons we can’t, and shouldn’t, try to speculate on. Or you can break the ice and just say ‘hi.’ Although my instinct is that it would be best if you took his blatant cues and didn't treat him romantically if you do decide to talk to him. If you can be friendly and casual, you may be able to turn this dynamic into something less awkward, but probably not a stunning love connection.
Why do men cheat? I’ve been cheated on before and I am scared that it will happen over and over again. I want to believe men are good but my faith has been rocked by bad experiences.
— Scared in love
Wow, that's kind of a huge question, SIL, and one there's no simple answer for. Men are, of course, a diverse group of individuals, and there are different reasons people do shady things in various situations. Let's unpack what you're asking, but before we do, I think it's only fair to say that there’s nothing intrinsically superior about monogamy. Plenty of people aren't naturally monogamous, and that is what it is. But cheating is about a person making a sexual and emotional agreement, and then breaking it. This generally requires a bunch of lying, and that just sucks.
When a person is deceitful, it’s because they have problems with their own self. Never, ever blame yourself for somebody else's bad behavior, SIL. When someone does you wrong, that's a reflection of them, not you.
People (‘cause let's face it — all genders do it) cheat for lots of reasons. The primary one is being weak. Don't get me wrong — I don't mean they’re weak in the face of desire and temptation. I mean weak of moral character. Doing shit on the DL is an attempt to hide from consequences. Grown people get to do what they want, but there are repercussions to our actions. Cheating is an attempt to avoid these repercussions, and it’s a blatant disregard for the needs of the person who’s getting cheated on, and often the person they’re cheating with. When a person makes a commitment to be monogamous but does whatever they want anyways, that's a selfish and entitled call to make. It’s hella common, but it’s wrong. Infidelity can be a sign that a someone isn't happy, and it’s a common way to passive aggressively sabotage a relationship. Of course, sometimes cheating is a spontaneous, unplanned act, and the cheater is authentically remorseful.
There are countless theories about why men cheat, but the stupidest one I’ve ever heard is that they are driven by their need to propagate their damn seed. What total crap! Guys wanting to have multiple sexual partners may be about that (I totally don’t think so, but anything is possible), but being dishonest and untrustworthy just to procreate is a different matter altogether.
So let me tell you what a guy cheating for sure isn't about: you. A man doesn't cheat because their partner is bad in bed, or because their partner wears flats instead of heels. If a guy doesn't want to be with you because of those things, that's their prerogative, but to break promises or risk another person’s sexual health is a separate thing. When a person is deceitful, it’s because they have problems with their own self. Never, ever blame yourself for somebody else's bad behavior, SIL. When someone does you wrong, that's a reflection of them, not you.
If you find that you keep choosing to be with people who aren’t honest, or stick around after someone has proven them self to be untrustworthy, that’s totally on you, though. Don’t look for the reason why a person doesn't treat you with respect. Look instead at why you’ve been attracted to unavailable and disloyal people. Trusting is hard, and when we start racking up evidence that a situation isn't safe, it’s really easy to choose to hide from that fact, but that’s not the answer, SIL.
Try to focus on what you need to do to take care of yourself and live a healthy and happy life. Don’t let the unkindness of others shape your life! If a guy is making you unhappy and cheating on you, it’s time to leave and find a better, kinder guy. They’re out there, I promise.
For about nine months I dated a guy who was pretty abusive. It was never physical, but I found the USF abusive partner checklist you offered someone else and more than one fit the bill, including the "threatening suicide to control" one. That only happened once, but still, shitty move on his part.
I broke up with him and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I loved him but recognized the relationship was squashing everything I respected and loved about myself. It was tough.
Here's my question: I still love him now, and I can't stop thinking about him. I felt more connected to him than anyone I've dated since; the bond we had was real and special, despite all the shitty, shitty things. How do I put these emotions out of my brain? I don't want to Rhianna-ize myself. I don't want to go back to an abusive situation. What do you think?
Oh no, Big Bummer, this sucks! While you took the right action, your heart refuses to see logic. Such is the way with hearts I suppose. After 20 years of counseling people, I’ve learned that there’s a huge difference between feelings and compatibility, and that difference can be super heartbreaking. So here’s a little homework: write down all the things you like about him. Once you’ve done this, ask yourself if those are qualities that you want more of in your life, or if they are really characteristics that you believe only he possesses. Then write down a list of all the dynamics you enjoyed with him, the good stuff. After that, do the inverse. List all the crap you didn’t like, and finally, write a list of what didn’t work between the two of you. None of this will magically heal your aching heart, but it will help to get you in alignment with your (very wise) choice to have ended things with him.
The most painful thing is not what others do to us; it's what we consent to. Choosing a real and special bond that you know doesn't work is an exercise in futility.
No matter how much you love a person, the way they treat you and your compatibility as a team are the most important things. A healthy dynamic is arguably more important than feeling “connected” (although we shouldn’t have to choose one over the other). Sometimes in life, we’re connected to people just so we can learn to say goodbye or negotiate a healthy ending. Not all loves are meant for this world, just like not all tummies can digest dairy, no matter how delicious and organic the ice cream may be. If you allow yourself to honor the potential over the reality, you’re bound to have a world of pain, BB. But you know all this. And if your question within your question is how to deal with heartache, the answer is simple; give it time. Be patient. The most painful thing is not what others do to us; it's what we consent to. Choosing a real and special bond that you know doesn't work is an exercise in futility. Just like a fancy sports car without an engine is really just a pretty hunk of metal; it won’t take you anywhere. And a true love that makes you miserable will do the same.
I tried, and failed. Multiple times. Nothing I try — everything I want and believed I could do and achieve is impossible. Now what? How does one learn to accept a lonely, meaningless, and pointless existence? — R.A.J.
I wish I could ask you some questions, RAJ. Like how old you are, what you tried, and how you know it's impossible to get past where you struck out. I don’t want to be a Pollyanna and tell you that everything is great and you’ll be great, because the truth is that in life most of us don’t get health, love, money, and a rainbow with our name in it. Life will have its pains, its disappointments, and its failures, but they’re not meant to prime you for misery. They are roadblocks for sure, but there are almost always other roads. Failure does not need to define you; in fact, it’s your job to not let it. There are those who never know the crushing presence of failure. They are a lucky minority. Most of us struggle, and it is possible to accept failure as a call to look in new directions for your success and happiness. Do not accept a meaningless life, RAJ. Find meaning. Do not accept loneliness, and settle into it like it’s inevitable. Make yourself vulnerable, try to connect to new people, situations, even nature in new ways.
Start small and look for pleasure in something like movies or music. Become a pleasure seeker, even if only in superficial ways. When you're in such a down place it's really hard to get perspective and see the broader picture, so shift your position to see things differently. If you fake it till you make it, you will be able to figure out your next moves. Life is not pointless. It's a pain in the ass sometimes, but there is a point. We are here to experience love. Love of nature, of others, of ourselves, of "god," or enterprise. Love. Make it your goal. Find something to love; life won't be magically fixed, but it won't feel pointless either.
I recently started dating an amazing guy that I'm very into (yay!). We have fun together, the chemistry is awesome, and I'm very excited about where our relationship is going. However, shortly after we got together, we realized that he had given me an STI. He was asymptomatic, and it's an STI that is hard to test for in men (we were both tested before we started having sex). Soon after we had sex, I started having symptoms, and it's been a huge pain (the symptoms suck, multiple treatments aren't working, the doctors visits are intrusive and expensive, etc.).
While the medical symptoms of the STI are hopefully going to be resolved soon, what's your advice on how to move past this emotionally? We both feel sort of ashamed and sad that we have this STI; he feels super guilty for passing it to me, and I feel sort of resentful about the whole thing. I'm also struggling to resist passing judgement on his sexual history (he's had 3x the number of partners I have), even though I know that isn't healthy. What's the best way for each of us to get over these hurdles?
Additionally, is there any etiquette around giving someone you care about an STI? Do you offer to pay for treatment? Do you go with them to doctor's appointments? Do you send an e-card?
Thanks for the help! — Sad and infected
Shame is the absolute pitts, and I’m so sorry you’re both going through it! The thing to remember is that STIs are not different than other medical conditions. You can contract any number of uncomfortable or gross things (what’s with blowing your nose? Totally gross!), and have no problem expecting compassion from others or yourself. Why not with STIs? The shame you’re both feeling is because you have judgments about sex, or genitals, or both. That sucks but is common. Compassion is the antidote to shame, my friend, so you’ve gotta drum some up for both of you. Physical acts have physical risks, but don’t charge it up with judgments about your worth because STIs can happen to anyone who has sex ever.
It's appropriate for him to feel humble, but shame and guilt are a pointless waste. It's easy to languish in awful emotions when what you really should be doing is taking responsibility, and committing to doing better in the future.
Whenever you get down, you know what the risks and rewards are. If you don’t, you shouldn't be doing it at all. So while you know you got this STI from your partner, you willingly and with full knowledge of the risks chose to bone him. So you've gotta let your resentments go. If you don't want to break it off with him, then you’ll be healthier and happier if you forgive him. If he had risky behavior, then so did you by sleeping with him (especially if you weren’t using condoms, which are in town for a reason). He didn’t give you this STI on purpose; he didn’t even know he had it. The truth of the matter is that penises, with all the joy they may bring, also can get you preggers or give you STIs. So bag it up next time, SAI! No matter how lovely the person connected to the penis is, prioritizing your health should always come first.
To your questions:
YES, he should be coming to doctor’s appointments with you, and offering to pay for your treatments would be nice too. The etiquette for taking responsibility for harming another (on purpose or inadvertently) is that the responsible party should not focus on their own sad/bad feelings, but instead on some sort of amends (that may or may not take the form of an e-card or foot rubs). But as there is no true standard of etiquette for such situations, you may have to tell him what you need to feel supported.
The difference between guilt and humility is huge and important. It's ok if your BF feels shitty for giving you an STI; he put you — a person he cares about — in a bad situation and that sucks. So it's appropriate for him to feel humble, but shame and guilt are a pointless waste. It's easy to languish in awful emotions when what you really should be doing is taking responsibility, and committing to doing better in the future.
I’m stuck. I’m a woman in my late 30s and am totally in love with my boyfriend, or at least I think I am. I am a really positive person and I thought he was too, but he’s been really negative lately and it’s not only dragging me down but making me loose respect for him. I want to be supportive to him but lately I’m only annoyed and find myself snapping. Help! — Irritable in Chicago
The best way to handle your BFs negativity is with a multi-layered approach, IIC. If you’re going to be in a serious relationship with someone, you’re gonna need to be able to tolerate their crappy moods and vulnerabilities, even when they’re a total boner-killer for you. When an otherwise well-balanced or positive person goes negative Nancy on you, it’s generally because something is wrong. So step one is to have compassion, my dear. It’s hard to have that when you don’t really know what’s motivating your BF, so step 1-B is to be interested in your sweetie enough to try to find out what’s going on underneath the bitching. If you only ask after him when you’re secretly annoyed, he’s unlikely to feel comfortable confiding in you — that is, if he even knows what’s bugging him at all. So step two is investigate what’s going on with him. Let him know that you’ve noticed he hasn't quite been himself and that he’s seemed bummed lately. Ask him what’s up. Listen to him without trying to fix him or his situation. Notice if he asks for help or if he needs someone to just be there, and by god, just try to be an ear for him in that convo. You can ask him if he wants feedback, but this step is to try and understand him, not to fix the problem (even though he is technically your problem).
If you sit around like a martyr, not saying anything or taking care of your needs, you’ll end up resenting him for sure. So go for the middle ground where there’s room for everyone to be where they’re at.
Who knows? There may be a totally fair reason he’s been negative, and you may decide to suck it up for a while. But if that’s not the case, I encourage you at another time to let him know how his negativity is hard for you. (Enter step three.) Don’t blame him for making you feel bad, or make excuses for yourself, just the facts, ma’am. Then, my friend, tell him what you’re gonna do about it. You may need to take a bit of space, give him a raspberry when he acts like too much of a downer, or some other thing that allows you to distance yourself from his meh vibes. Explain to him that you’re not doing this as a punishment but as a way to try to take responsibility for your own reactions and for how you treat him. The thing about relationships, even ones with the most healthy and well-adjusted people, is that we need to have boundaries. You need to understand that your BF is entitled to his negativity, as equally as you are to taking care of yourself around it. If you communicate in a forthright and compassionate way, then he will have a choice to make: either he looks into the source of his woes and starts curbing his negativity, or not. To be fair, it doesn’t always feel possible to change your attitude just like that. If you sit around like a martyr, not saying anything or taking care of your needs, you’ll end up resenting him for sure. So go for the middle ground where there’s room for everyone to be where they’re at. Good luck!
Is it completely inappropriate to tell someone who is in a relationship that you have feelings for them?
Crushed Out & Confused Kid
Yes, it’s totally inappropriate, COCK (sorry, but these things can happen if you don’t give me an acronym).
There are exceptions to this rule, but here’s the thing: if you were in a relationship and some fool came up to your sweetheart and told them about their feelings, how would it make you feel? To do this is basically inviting someone to cheat on their date or to leave them altogether, which is kinda crappy. There’s got to be some kind of code of ethics that we all as a society agree upon, like leaving your contact info if you hit a parked car, not screaming at babies no matter how much they cry, and not making a move on someone else’s beloved.
I think this is open for interpretation, however, if you are very close friends with the object of your crush. If there’s a pre-existing intimacy with the person, it’s fair to share your feelings as a way to be honest about your motives with them and your behavior around them. When you have feelings for a pal it’s not always cool to not admit it, because you may be acting hecka weird, or just not being a proper friend. It depends on a lot of factors, but you’re for sure risking the friendship with an admission like that. It may be worth it to you if you like them that much, but be prepared for some potential awkwardness. A close friend deserves to know the truth, that’s kinda what friendship is based on. Another exception to this rule is with an ex. If you find that your feelings are reignited, it’s still kind of a dick move, COCK, but re-crushing on someone is privy to its own conventions. Your history with a person offers some entitlement to bypass the current lover to try to reconnect, but in truth it’s all sticky business, COCK. The old standard of treating others as you wish to be treated applies here and I encourage you to let it guide you.
Let’s say you don’t take my advice and you tell your crush that you dig them, even though they’re not an ex or a close friend. You’ll forever be the person who was wiling to break up their relationship, or to cheat with them. That is likely to create trust issues right out of the gate, which will color your whole union, assuming you get together. The other trouble with being ‘successful’ with this admission is that if you share intimate moments behind their date’s back, how can you ever trust them? I encourage you to find someone else who is single and available, and if you are totally infatuated with this person, to bide your time until they’re free.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years. We are both very serious about our relationship and we have been talking about marriage and we recently started living together. Things have been great except for one problem — he cannot handle my PMS.
We have talked about this many times and we've both tried to work on it. I sent him articles about PMS. I took herbal supplements. I gave him warnings a week before when I'm supposed to have my period. I even told him what he should do if I am having PMS. I told him the best way to handle it is just to listen and not argue back. Sometimes I just needed to vent. Most of the time I realized later how ridiculous the arguments were and I would apologize after the fact.
However, every time I have PMS he argues with me and is very judgmental. He told me that he is very afraid of me now because he now has to count down the number of days before my next "explosion." He said he doesn't want to deal with it and asked if it is okay to ignore me when it happens next time. He asked me to teach him what to do.
I didn't know how to respond. I feel hurt because I think what he said showed a complete lack of empathy. I don't know how to interpret what he said. I understand it really sucks to have to deal with an emotional mess every month, but I don't know what I can do to alleviate his pain when I am dealing with crazy hormones. I don't know what to do. —NJ
The good news is that you’re both trying, but this is a major problem that super sucks. Female to female, I totally get where you’re coming from. When hormones are driving you, emotions spike and everything feels so dire. It's awful, and no matter how many times it happens, it feels like the first time and like the most real and pressing thing ever.
It sounds like you’re trying to manage your PMS, and that’s cool, but here's the thing: when you get a cold, you know it's not OK to sneeze on your BF. No matter how much you’re suffering, it's not fair to ask your sweetie to get sick with you. Similarly, it's not reasonable to ask your BF to eat shit every month, no matter how crappy you feel. There's gotta be something in between you expecting him to take your moods and him expecting you not to have them. And because you’re a human person with feelings, his big strategy of ignoring you on a monthly basis will not work — it'll just give you more to feel awful and fight about.
It sounds like you’re trying to manage your PMS, and that’s cool, but here's the thing: when you get a cold, you know it's not OK to sneeze on your BF. No matter how much you’re suffering, it's not fair to ask your sweetie to get sick with you.
It’s not fair to expect him to just intuitively handle your mood swings, NJ, so I’m glad you’re willing to work on it, and here are some ideas to do just that. Follow the rule of Puppy Talk Tone; never speak to your beloved in a tone of voice that you'd think is too mean to talk to a puppy (cats and kids work too — insert whomever you like most). Curb your delivery, and when you can’t do that, know that you probably need some alone time.
When you feel like exploding, take a walk. Seriously, walk away. Make him promise not to follow you or press you to finish saying whatever you were saying. During your hormonal swings, you have to make an effort to only fight about real stuff. For his part, ask him to show you compassion without coddling. He can ask you if it’s PMS time and if it is, ask him to say he doesn’t want to fight but that you are pushing it. If you do push it, he gets to walk away. He needs to stop engaging with you when you’re not able to rein it in, and he needs to not take your PMS personally. While he’s in the business of not taking it personally, tell him to love bomb you. Hugs and playfulness can be the medicine that you need. It sure as hell won’t cure your PMS, but it’s a start for coping with your monthly relationships woes.
I have had a patchy, promiscuous past in my relationship history. I've been a cheater, I've had multiple fuck buddies at once, I've said I love you only to break up six months later, the works.
Currently, I'm living with an amazing guy who I've been with for just under a year. I feel totally different about this one — no feelings of restlessness that I've had in past relationships. He might not be "the one," but it's still feeling really, really good.
My question is: should he be privy to my rough past? I'd like to not damage my relationship by telling him I've cheated, but it sort of feels like I'm lying to him by not telling him, even though these things never directly come up. I want to be open with him, but should I just let the past live and let die?
We’ve all done stuff in relationships that we’re not proud of, and there are definite pros and cons to dredging up the past when the present is going so well. Making peace with your past is the real goal (as opposed to killing it off), DP, ‘cause it never really dies; it can’t because it lives on inside of us, shaping our reactions, our attitudes, our hopes, and our fears.
Excuse this digression, but I’ve gotta ask: did you lie to your fuck buddies and lead them to believe that they were more to you than just hook ups? ‘Cause my understanding of a fuck buddy is that there are no obligations, and you can have as many as you like, no harm, no foul. And when you told people in your past that you loved them did you know that you really didn’t? Did you intentionally screw with them, or did you think you meant it when you said it? Because as much as cheating sucks, the other stuff you mentioned doesn’t sound that bad, unless you lied your buns off in those situations. It just sounds to me like you’ve had a lot more sex then love, and that doesn’t make you a bad person, DP. Separate from answering your question, I encourage you to parse out what you did that was so bad from what you have judgments about ‘cause they’re very different things. Promiscuity is only a bad thing if you acted out of integrity when you did it, which is a personal assessment. So a little more contemplation of your actions might get you some peace with yourself.
If your relationship is going to fail or falter, don’t let it be because you held back the messy bits of your past, or because you’ve been acting weird from the guilt of keeping secrets. Real relationships are based on realness. You don’t have to tell him everything you’ve ever done, but it would be so much better for you if you stopped avoiding telling him the truth.
Now on to your Q: I say tell him. If you want this relationship to move forward, you have to get this off your chest. It’s not about right or wrong, (although a case could be made for either), but you obviously feel bad for omitting this information about your history. If your relationship is going to fail or falter, don’t let it be because you held back the messy bits of your past, or because you’ve been acting weird from the guilt of keeping secrets. He’s entitled to whatever reaction he has, and he may not really care. It might make him trust you a little less, or he may have a million reactions in between, but that’s OK. Real relationships are based on realness. You don’t have to tell him everything you’ve ever done, but it would be so much better for you if you stopped avoiding telling him the truth.
It’s only fair that you think about why you cheated before you open this can of worms, though, DP. Be prepared to let him know how you are different, not just your situation. The problem with cheating is that it’s generally either weak ass behavior from a person who doesn’t know how to deal directly, or there’s a sense of entitlement governing one’s actions. If you want to stay monogamous with your sweetie and share your heart with him, I encourage you to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of it, and give him a chance to love all of you.
I have been exclusively dating a young gentleman for the past three and a half months. When he started using labels and titles to describe us, I froze and told him I wasn't comfortable with that. I let him know that perhaps a few months down the line, if we were still seeing each other, we could discuss the topic of labels and how that can change our dynamics (labels come with different expectations and responsibilities).
But now I'm more comfortable with the idea of going by labels. However, I have no idea how to bring this up because I've been the one to ban it from conversations and I am fairly positive he is waiting for me to bring up the issue. I do not want to spring it on him in the heat of the moment, so how do I gently mention this or open it up for discussion?
Most ardently yours,
Afraid of Labels
I’m excited for you — you have a sweetheart you’re so into that you’re willing to confront your fear of labels!
There's a common misconception out there that in order to be a trustworthy lover/friend, one has to honor one’s word without flexibility. In order to be consistently honest, you have to be humble enough to say, “Remember when I thought the Dave Matthews Band was the coolest ever? Now I think they suck.” There’s no shame in changing your mind (more about some things than others, of course). So don’t be shy about saying, “Wasn’t it awesome that when you wanted to boo me from the start, when I told you to cool your jets, you did? I loved that. And now I wanna boo you. Will you invite me to be your girlfriend again so I can say yes?”
A gentle approach is overrated! Go for direct and flirty instead, I say. There’s no better way for a person to win your trust than by giving you the space that you ask for, and this guy did it. He was brave enough to trust that you would come around in your own time, and now you need to be brave enough to say what you want at this new point in your relationship.
The reason why it’s harder now is because this time you’re less in the power position. You don’t so much need finesse in bringing this up as you need balls, AOL.
The reason why it’s harder for you now is because this time you’re less in the power position. You don’t so much need finesse in bringing this up as you need balls, AOL. There’s nothing wrong with saying what you want in the heat of the moment — in fact it may be super hot. He’s already let you know that he wants more with you, so this is a super low-risk convo for you to initiate, and I encourage you not to overthink it. I’m not big on beating the drum for how tough it is to be a straight dude, but I will say that guys are generally responsible for making all the first moves, and that sucks. It’s hard to put yourself out there all the time because you’ll for sure be rejected at least some of the time.
So be the woman he fell for — firm and clear about what you want, even when it’s uncomfortable. And have a wicked-good time while you do.
My partner and I recently celebrated our 6th year together. But, to be honest, I responded to this occasion with mixed feelings. While he is my best friend and has brought so much joy into my life, the reality is that he has been financially unstable and indecisive about his career and life direction over the past couple of years. All of this (particularly the financial piece) has ultimately had a big impact on how I feel towards him. I feel that supporting him has really held me back. Not to mention his lack of clarity creates tension in creating a vision together. I struggle with resentment and am contemplating asking him to move out, so we can both be more financially self-sufficient and perhaps be more on our own life paths. This is a major decision, I realize, but would appreciate any insight.
What I can’t tell from your question, Anonymous is when you say you’re thinking of asking him to move out, is that really your passive way of slowly breaking up with him, or do you really want to work on the relationship, just from different apartments? Most people can’t be as deep into a relationship as you are and move their partner out without making them feeling demoted, which is a pretty bitter pill to swallow. And if you want to be more on your life path and be financially independent from him, be honest about it and don’t project those needs on to him. If you’re really thinking about breaking up with him, as I suspect you are, you’ve got to be honest with yourself before you can have any peace or clarity about this situation, my friend.
Break up or work on it, but don’t pretend to commit to the work when you’re really just done. As scary as it is to loose your best friend, don’t tell him you’re holding on to him while you’re really letting him go.
You have a right to be frustrated by your BF’s lack of moxie and self-reliance. You can’t make yourself love someone, and you can’t force yourself to have an emotional or sexual boner for him if you just don’t anymore. People change and feelings change, and it can suck. In most long-term relationships some sort of messiness comes up that’s a hybrid of your crap and the other guy’s, and it sounds like yours has caught up with you here. It’s totally understandable that you want your partner to be financially solvent, but if you’ve been supporting him when you didn’t really want to, that’s on you. The only person you can take responsibility for is yourself, and while I’m assuming you’ve talked to him about this stuff (PLEASE tell me you have!), your actions aren’t consistent with your needs here. Is it possible for you to live with him but be totally financially independent? If you assert some boundaries around what you are comfortable with and stop taking care of him, might it help you get those loving feelings back again? Or is it too late? The most important thing here is for you to stop doing things you resent, STAT.
Things get to a certain point in an LTR where the way your partner is living starts to feel personal, even when it’s not. As shitty as your boyfriend’s instability and uncertainty is for you, I wonder how much it sucks for him too. Or maybe he is OK with how he’s living, I don’t know. What I do know is that if you can’t accept his life choices and the circumstances they create, it’s on you to communicate in an honest and compassionate way about it. And not just with your words, Anonymous; with your actions too. If you want to work towards a seventh year with this guy then only give him what you can give freely. If that hurts his feelings, well, maybe they need to get hurt. But it is certainly time to shit or get off the pot about your intentions towards him. Break up or work on it, but don’t pretend to commit to the work when you’re really just done. As scary as it is to loose your best friend, don’t tell him you’re holding on to him while you’re really letting him go. Good luck!
I moved to SF three years ago from NYC, and I am blessed to have found a fantastic relationship with my boyfriend of 18 months. Last year was my first time experiencing Christmas with his family. I found it sweet (like in that classic holiday movie scene of gift opening and caroling) and extremely overwhelming (I had to sneak into a room to take a 30 minute nap). I really think I put on a good performance last year, but I don't want to do it again this year. Why? Because I just don't believe in making a big deal of buying gifts. And because I feel like such an outsider, watching a TV special about Christmas. When I was bored through the celebrations last year, I ended up in the yard with the dogs, so I guess I can do that again if that's what compromise means. I don't want to sound like the worst girlfriend ever, but I seriously find the whole thing weird and somewhat ludicrous. HELP!
I love love, and am so glad you have it with this guy!
There are some holes in your question that make it hard for me to know what the situation is. Does your boyfriend love Christmas? Is it his favorite holiday that he is super enthused to share with you, and if so, do you know why? Or is it a situation where he thinks it’s cray how TV special his family is, and he wants you to have his back through the cheer-fueled madness? Do you know if he cares at all, or are you just assuming he does? These details make a big difference! There is absolutely nothing wrong with you not wanting to spend this (or any other) holiday with your sweetheart’s family, or deciding not to celebrate Christmas at all of you don’t want to. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions about Christmas, and the holidays are high-pressure enough without driving yourself crazy with someone else’s family. No matter how much you love him, you do not owe him all of your Christmases. In the Big Book of Being a Fabulous Girlfriend, it says nowhere that you have to go to all holiday functions, but it does require you to communicate with your BF about your plans and needs well in advance. Any major event, especially involving your date’s family, needs to be talked about clearly beforehand. There is no universal right and wrong in these matters, but if you mislead your boo to think you’re down for stuff you secretly hate, you are passively paving the road for false expectations and possible resentments on his end. So just talk to him!
If you’re too successful at putting on your performance, you may convince him that you’re the kind of girl that’s indefinitely down for such merriment, and if things go well with him, you could end up spending the rest of your days in this Christmas debacle.
It sounds like part of you doesn’t like the way his family celebrates Christmas, and also like you are (understandably) overwhelmed by the intensity of being around someone else’s family and traditions. It’s totally fair that you don’t wanna do it two years in a row, and it’s pretty standard in relationships to spend every other holiday with your sweetie’s family. Let him know that you’re not into a big show of presents and that you aren’t down for hella holiday cheer. If he wants you to be there, you of course don’t have to do it; but if you do go, you should at least have a good reason for suffering through the festivities. If you’re too successful at putting on your performance, you may convince him that you’re the kind of girl that’s indefinitely down for such merriment, and if things go well with him, you could end up spending the rest of your days in this Christmas debacle. The horrors! Be honest about how you feel and what your values really are, and compromise from that place (if you compromise at all).
Happy Christmas & good luck!
P.S. To all of you out there who don’t celebrate Christmas for any and all reasons, I invite you to enjoy the time-honored tradition of Jewish Christmas: dim sum and a movie with people you love. See you again on January 7th!
My mom is dating a guy that me and my whole family hate. Her best friends despise him. Everyone she knows and loves dislikes this guy. He's cheated on her, is super rude to our family, and is just an all out loser. I've even been scared that he will physically hurt her. He seems like a complete crazy person. It makes me sick thinking that he has this hold on her. She is naive and sees the good in everyone — which isn't a bad trait until people start taking advantage of you.
Ok, so here's where I need advice. He is a known marijuana grower/dealer, but I think he does more than that. And by more I mean I think he's either involved with the mob or selling more than marijuana (cocaine, meth, not sure). I don't want to narc on someone dealing pot, not my thing. But because I think he is a danger to my mom I want to narc on him. I'm just not sure if it's morally ok for me to do that, considering many people I love and respect have a fondness for the green stuff. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this situation? I'm scared my mom is alienating herself. But I also respect that she is an adult and should be able to make her own decisions. I'm scared for her well-being. Any insight you can lend me would be greatly appreciated.
One Sad Daughter
This is a really hard Q to A. As far as I can tell, there’s the most important piece, which is how to help your mom, and then there’s the "to narc or not to narc" question. I’ll start with the latter.
You seem like you don’t really want to narc on this guy, OSD — you’re just desperate to help your mom. When you do shitty stuff to handle someone else’s shittiness, you end up in a shit storm. Don’t do things that’re out of integrity with your values because you’ll feel terrible afterwards (even if you also feel vindicated). (Also: Don’t narc on the mob, girl, have you never seen The Sopranos?!)
The beautiful and sometimes sad thing about freedom is that we get to make awful mistakes with it. You already know that your mom is a grownup and can do whatever she wants, but I don’t blame you for wanting to interfere. I’m going to assume that you’ve talked to her and that she’s ignored your concerns, but I encourage you to sit her down one last time. Tell her how much you love her and how scared you are. Express your worries for her safety without accusing her of naivety or unraveling your own theories about her man.
Focus on how hard it is for you to see her get less than you think she deserves ‘cause she’s more likely to hear that than talk of his awfulness.
Try to understand her; ask her if she ever worries about their dynamic, and what she gets out of it. Strive to understand what’s going on inside of her instead of convincing her that what she’s doing sucks. She knows it’s bad if he’s cheating on her and her loved ones can’t stand him. This will only be a constructive conversation if you can leave your criticisms at the door because people don’t tend to open up when they feel judged. Focus on how hard it is for you to see her get less than you think she deserves ‘cause she’s more likely to hear that than talk of his awfulness. If she insists that she’s in it to win it with this jerk then let her know that you are uncomfortable with him but that you will try to be supportive for her sake; ask her to make time for you without him too. Let her know that you’re there for her. If she isolates with him, she will do what most abused people do — lie, deny, and hide. Don’t give up on her, but you don’t have to watch the wreckage pile up either. Sometimes loving someone requires you to resist the urge to save someone. Have faith that she will save herself and keep communication open till she gets there.
I am dating a great guy who is responsible, attractive, fun and not a man-child. If he says that he is going to do something he always follows through and we have been dating for going on 6 months. The only problem is that I have been anxiously waiting to say "I love you" because I do mean it but I don't think he is ready to hear it; I am also hoping he will say it first. Also, he is not very great in the romance department and I would love it if he could step up his game. How do I encourage him to open up and show me some romance? — Needing Some Love in SF
Your guy sounds awesome but if you don’t know it by now, lemme hit you with some realness: when a man isn’t great in the romance department in the first six months it’s because he isn’t that kind of guy. The beginning is when people try their very hardest to make the best impression. It’s all cookies and crème (if you know what I’m saying, nudge-nudge). It’s when a person is motivated to lay out all the stops. So if he’s not romantic now, it’s probably because that’s just not his way.
You can change a man’s shoes, and you can get him a haircut, but if you have to change how he loves on you in order to be happy with him, he’s not your boo, my dear.
The thing about romance is that it’s a personal style thing, and as much as we live in a Hallmark card world where romance is super formulaic, how we are romantically is part of what makes us individuals. You didn’t give me enough information to know how he treats you, but I get the feeling that it’s sweet but not saccharine. So instead of giving you pointers on how to get him to be more romantic I will say this: you’ve got some choices to make. You can leave him because he’s not giving you enough sugar; it doesn’t seem like a good or necessary move, but it’s an option. You can tell him straightforwardly what you want and ask him if he’s being shy or if he’s just not much on romance. This is my preferred option because it supports you in having a real-deal adult relationship. If he tells you something you don’t want to hear that’d be a bummer, but good information to have. It’s possible that he just needs to know what you like. So tell him! Be upfront about your needs, and a big girl about it if you don’t like his response. You don’t have to stick around if he’s not what you want him to be, but being passive and expecting him to want what you want or intuit your ideas of romance is for sure not working. Which brings me to the last option — you can just accept him for who he is now. He’s a nice, caring, reliable guy who isn’t tres romantique. You can change a man’s shoes, and you can get him a haircut, but if you have to change how he loves on you in order to be happy with him, he’s not your boo, my dear.
And last but certainly not least, to the question of when to say that you’re in love. There’s no formula for this, and it’s always a huge risk — though a highly rewarding one when all goes well. I can only encourage you to trust your instincts; if they say he’s not ready, then don’t push it. And if it takes him too long to be ready you can cross that bridge. When in doubt, I encourage you to have a simple and direct conversation about love. Something to the effect of “So, are you looking to fall in love?” or “How are you about talking about your emotions? I’m really into it!”, and the old standard “I’m falling in love with you” works too. You don’t have to reveal all of your most vulnerable feelings to start the talk, any more than you have to be heavy handed and processy about it. The most important thing is to avoid playing games, NSLISF, ‘cause if that’s what you’ve gotta do to keep him, he’s probably not worth having.
I've been getting to know a fella for 10 months and we haven't met in person. We mostly text and have an occasional call. The odd part is he lives in the same town. He is making grand plans for us together, but still won't go on a date. I actually have a lot of feelings for him and if all the plans are true, I'll be very happy. Us not meeting is a point of contention and we've argued about it in the past.
At times I've wanted to call it off, but he always checks in and seems as interested as ever. I'm probably crazy for waiting this long with nada to show for it, but we do seem well suited, at least in text. Mind you I've been dating this entire time, so it's not like I've been saving myself. Will we actually ever be together in the flesh?— JMW
It doesn’t take a psychic to know that if you meet a guy online who lives in the same town as you and he doesn’t want to meet up after more than a week or two of flirting — then that guy is married. Or, perhaps he's trapped under a large piece of furniture. The point is that he has no intention of meeting up, and no matter what he tells you his reasons are for dragging this out for almost a whole year, they boil down to him being unavailable. The question that you’re asking me — will you ever meet IRL — is not the right question, JMW. What you should be asking is why you’re willing to give your heart and so much of your time to a fake person?
Never let a person fill a meaningful portion of your time, or worse, take up real estate in your heart, unless you know them off of your devices. What you’ve been doing with this guy is not how intimacy is developed; it’s how fantasies of intimacy are developed.
This is the thing that I cannot stress enough: texting, emailing, and even talking on the phone is not nuanced enough to develop true intimacy. We humans need physical contact (I mean being in physical proximity, although touching ain’t bad if you can get it) and emotional exchange for that to happen. Presence. Ideas and words are beautiful, but when that’s all you’ve got, there’s too much room for you to infer whatever you want from your dynamic. It’s easy enough to spin crazy romantic notions about a person under the most mundane of circumstances, but when all you have are words, it’s damn near impossible to avoid doing so. If you don’t know how a person moves, whether or not they can make direct eye contact when they're talking, how they smell, whether they keep their fingernails clean, or how they treat the person who serves them coffee, how can you really know them?
I think Internet dating is awesome in this modern world where meeting people can be such a pain in the ass, but there are also dangers in going digital with love. Never let a person fill a meaningful portion of your time, or worse, take up real estate in your heart, unless you know them off of your devices. For reals and in the real world. What you’ve been doing with this guy is not how intimacy is developed; it’s how fantasies of intimacy are developed.
Respect yourself enough to fire this guy from your man roster, JMW. If you just wanted to keep him as a fun waste of time, there’d be no problem here. But here you are writing to me. I’m sure he’s very interested in you, but that’s not enough; after this much time, he should be more than a collection of texts and voicemails to you. The role he’s playing in your life is like an energetic cock block to meeting a real boy in the real world, so quit his ass and find a fella who wants something real.
I reconnected with a younger person on a shared project. She came on pretty strong romantically, then sexually. We had fun times for about four weeks, but then she announced that she "couldn't do this." I was stunned by the sudden reversal but did not blame or shame her. I just told her, "You feel what you feel, s'okay," and assured her that we will remain friends. Why do people start out so hot and heavy, only to neck-snappingly change? (Hint: she is 19 years my junior.) I do want to trust younger partners, but day-um. — DS
The thing about hooking up with someone 19 years your junior is, what did you expect?
Not to be a jerk, but what exactly was your idea of what would happen with a woman so much younger than you? Were you expecting marriage? A more enduring love connection? Or maybe a more processy ending? She hit it, and then she quit it, as the kids are wont to do: and as much as that sucks, it can’t be that huge of a surprise. I’m not saying a May-December romance couldn't have worked, but since it started off so fast and furious, you shouldn’t be shocked that it crashed and burned. It doesn’t sound like you’re heartbroken — more shell-shocked — and I get that. If she hadn’t offered up why she was ending it, it would’ve been totally OK and non-pressurey to ask her why she was ending things during the “You feel what you feel” convo. If she used the specific phrase “I can’t do this,” it certainly implies that the reason why she felt it had to end was obvious.
The two of you are in different stages of life, and hers is — by definition — a more transient and experimental place than yours. It’s NBD while it’s all sex and flirting, but wait until something real happens before you decide whether or not it's going to last.
The thing is, in order for a relationship to become … a relationship, there has to be depth. The two of you are in different stages of life, and hers is — by definition — a more transient and experimental place than yours. It’s NBD while it’s all sex and flirting, but wait until something real happens before you decide whether or not it's going to last with a youngin’, DS. I’m not at all suggesting that young women don’t want relationships (nothing could be further from the truth) or even that they don’t want real connections with older guys, but I think that the situation you’re describing, plus the age difference, signals higher-than-average potential for neck-snapping changes in circumstance.
People change their minds for so many reasons, DS, but I don’t have enough information to know why she jumped ship in this situation. My attitude is that any person who is much younger than you, who comes on that strong, should be treated like a firecracker — exciting but hella dangerous and unpredictable. It can blow up in your hand, or give you the sickest light show you’ve seen in a long time; it’s the risk you take, and it’s totally worth it unless you lose your hand in the blast, amiright? The same can be said of any love affair, really, but the risk gets higher with an age difference that big. I think it’s fair to trust younger partners, DS, but trust is generally based, in part, on honest and forthright communication, and I’m not hearing that you two had a lot of that. So next time you’re on the fence about a person, ask them straight up what their intentions are with you; if you can’t really talk to the girl you’re screwing, you’re just upping the chances of getting screwed, my old friend.
So, my guy has past and current substance abuse issues. Recently I found out he's been indulging in meth and DMT (for about a year now). He holds a regular job and comes home every evening at the same time. He's functional but noticeably different. The shifts in him come little by little, just like aging or gaining / losing weight over a stretch of time (you would never know by sharing casual conversation with him or by seeing him on the street). He supports the thought that drugs are fine in moderation and equates my sparse few beers a week with his continued drug use. What I mean to ask is — am I trippin' or is he trippin'? 'Cause I feel like I took a trip to Crazytown and can't find my way home ... Thanks! Anonymous
Well, Anonnymous, the answer is simple: you’re both trippin’.
Meth is not the same as Molly, alcohol, weed, DMT, or methadone. What separates these substances is stigma, legality, and the actual effects and addictiveness of taking them, of course. Drugs that are highly addictive and destructive to the body are a much bigger deal than those that are not. Meth and DMT are serious substances, and no amount of either is equal to a few beers in their effect on your mind, spirit, or body. They are hella rough and meth is one of the more addictive drugs out there. But you have to know that! You can’t possibly be asking me if drinking an occasional beer is equal to the consistent use of meth. You have common sense, the Internet, and the world of modern medicine to ask about that, and they will all tell you the identical thing; not all ‘good shit’ is actually good, and not all drugs are created equal.
When you engage in a crazy dialogue it turns you crazy, Anonymous. You need to know when things have taken a turn for the cray and walk away. His lack of ownership for his behavior sucks.
So, yes, girl, you are trippin’. Why are you even having this conversation with him? The real question is whether or not you consent to staying with him given his substance use, not whether it’s comparable to yours. When you engage in a crazy dialogue it turns you crazy, Anonymous. You need to know when things have taken a turn for the cray and walk away. His lack of ownership for his behavior sucks. It’s manipulative to throw your beer use in your face as a way to defend his drug use, but it seems like it’s totally working. It’s important that he can use drugs and keep a job, come home, and live a pretty chill life, but is this the life that you want? It’s pretty clear that he believes it’s working for him at this point. Whether or not it works for you is the only thing that you’ve gotta figure out.
I don’t know whether he’s an addict or not, but the signs point to yes from your question. The fact that you had to find out about his drug use indicates that he had the good sense to try and hide it from you, ‘cause it’s not right and he knows it. Or maybe he was just concerned about your judgment, but you have the right to know who you’re with and what the risks are. Not many people can use those particular drugs routinely and not be addicts, but again, it’s not your job to decide or convince him of what his behavior means. You can express concern, you can express your wishes, but if he doesn’t want the same things for himself that you want for him you need to respect that.
Don’t persuade him of your perspective. Don’t fix him or insist that he thinks that you’re right. Decide what you can live with and let him know. It doesn’t sound like he’s open to quitting, so you need to either accept that and stay, or accept it and go. But engaging in this defensive dialogue needs to stop for your own good.
This may sound like a ridiculous question, but I am asking it seriously. I love my boyfriend, and we have a really great relationship, but we keep having the same ridiculous fight over and over again and it's driving both of us crazy. Here's the deal: he farts all the time, and I am disgusted by it. We live together, and he's constantly letting 'em rip. I've asked him to go into the bathroom to cut the cheese and he comes back with the fact that I shouldn't fart shame him. I've never had a boyfriend who was so gassy, and if they were, they politely went into another room. This gets into deeper issues I know of acceptance and control and respect. I don't like telling him what to do, but I also don't like being in rooms full of farts. So at the risk of asking a ridiculous question with serious undertones, where do we go from here? - Gas Masker
Everybody toots, GM, but your boyfriend sounds a bit out of control. I have never heard of ‘fart shaming’ but let me make this clear: when people talk of things like ‘slut shaming,’ they are talking about how there is not only a personal, but also a systematic oppression that they are suffering from. There is no such thing as ‘fart shaming.’ If you were motivating him to be more respectful of your olfactory senses through the fine art of shaming, that would be one thing, but as you astutely noted, this is more about control and respect than anything else.
You must both compromise. If he’s unwilling to meet you in the middle, you may have to accept that he isn’t a guy who’s invested in your comfort or in keepin’ it sexy in the home.
It doesn’t sound like he has a medical condition that makes him gassy, and that is an important point. If the issue was that he cannot control his farts, that would be one thing, but what I’m reading here is that he doesn’t feel obliged to try in your presence, which just stinks (I couldn’t resist). It’s fair that you don’t wanna tell him what to do, but where is the line between telling a person what you need and controlling their behavior? Ultimately, only you can decide how important this is to you. While cutting the cheese now and again is a human thing that shouldn’t be judged, farting as frequently as you describe is different and certainly a huge turn-off. I can’t imagine how this wouldn’t affect your sex life, GM, and that’s only in part because he smells bad. He’s not taking your feelings seriously, and that’s a real-deal lady bonerkiller.
So here’s a three-step action plan. First, agree that you two are each other’s MVP. You are on the same team and striving for the same goal in healing this rift. Secondly, you need to agree about what the real problem is; if you can’t agree on what the trouble is you’ll never find a satisfactory solution. And finally, you must both compromise. Neither of you should have more rights to air quality or comfort at home, but you both clearly need to give a little for the sake of peace. If he’s unwilling to meet you in the middle, you may have to accept that he isn’t a guy who’s invested in your comfort or in keepin’ it sexy in the home. Short of running far, far away from his offending buns, there’s not much you can do other than buy him probiotics and accept that your boyfriend is kinda shitty.
I have a tendency to be a perfectionist. I've been working on this a lot lately because I know it's not healthy or getting me to a happy place. One of the things I am continuously struggling with in letting this perfectionism go is noticing how much I compare myself to everyone around me. I have this fear of being left out or feeling like my friends are better friends with each other than with me. Or they are in healthier relationships or their bodies are fitter or they make more money etc. I don't know if some of this is even true! It leads me to this jealous nasty place I don't want to be in. Do you have any suggestions for breaking the jealous, comparison, always needing to be perfect cycle?
This is an excellent question! So many of us struggle with believing that others are happier, wealthier, cuter, or just better than us. And it’s probably true; there’s always someone, somewhere that’s finer than you, no matter how awesome you are, just like there’s always someone out there that’s worse off than you, no matter how badly things suck. But, Perfectionist, there’s no limit to how many people get to thrive! If somebody else is doing excellently, that doesn’t take anything from you, or reflect anything about you. This drive to compare yourself is really a gnarly symptom of your belief that there’s something wrong with your life or missing within. In life you will totally lose out on things; people will have more than you, do more than you, have fun without you, and maybe even wipe their asses with money that you can’t even conceive of. Life is hard, and wanting things makes it harder, but if you don’t want things you’ll be stuck in a stagnant rut. The trick is to have longing, but not so much that it hurts you. All you need to do is create the life you want to live, and know that the shit that other people have going on has nothing to do with you. Your jealousies are about you, not the people or things that you’re focusing on. You may be obsessed with your friends who take marvelous vacations when you’re in a work crunch, and then get jealous of people who are getting accolades at work when you’re out playing. Let your feelings instruct you about where you’re out of balance, and don’t fall down the rabbit hole of taking them literally.
What you feed grows, Perfectionist, and the trouble with striving to be perfect is that you’re only able to assess your perfection by looking for what’s not right. Ugh. It sets you up to feel awful, even when you have every reason to rejoice. So try to accept this hippie-ish fact: where you’re at is perfect. Every shitty feeling, mediocre experience, and even your failures, are exactly as they need to be so that you can be who you are. The most powerful influencers of change in this world struggle, falter, and fail, because no successful person is without failure. None. The thing that will define you is how you handle your crap, not the absence of it. Practice reveling in the achievements of others (whether they’re imagined or real doesn’t matter), and try to imagine their fortune being like a river that can flow towards you if you let it – ‘cause it can. The more open you are to thriving, the more likely you are to do just that, just like the more you focus on what you don’t have, the greater those deficits become.
The bottom line is that you’ve gotta accept who and what you are. There’s no magic to this, and no real shortcuts. In those moments that you’re plagued with bad vibes and you can’t accept yourself, have compassion for that. Ambition without gratitude is like having a goddamn golden goblet but nothing to drink.
My boyfriend and I have a bit of a tumultuous relationship. He bought me a (non-engagement) ring after we'd been together about 10 weeks, and we've gone through two iterations of living together in just over a year. We talk long-term: we have a five-year plan to travel the country together.
Here's the thing: he's got this "best friend" who's a woman. They're in a band together, and they perform together as a duo. In their duo it's all about unrequited love ... and in their band she strips and gyrates on/for him while he and another musician play.
She's also mean to me, although we were friends before he and I started seeing each other. And she's married, though poly.
Once, several months ago, she got rip-roaring (falling over) drunk at one of their shows, was hanging all over him and got handsy. I pulled him out of the club and told him I wasn't ok with how she was treating him, and he told me it was perfectly fine for him to look after his drunk best friend.
Later that night I questioned their friendship ... and dear boyfriend said, "Yes, we love each other ... but she's poly, and I'm too jealous to handle it. We can't let anything happen because we both know we'd screw it up."
WTF am I supposed to do here? — Signed, Not a (Second) Fiddler
There are so many problems here that I almost don’t know where to start; you mention that you have a tumultuous relationship with your BF and I can only assume it’s for more reasons than just this girl. It’s awesome that you love this guy and talk long-term with him, but rings and romantic plans do not a happy union make. You need trust to make a healthy relationship last.
I encourage you to set the boundary that your partner respect your feelings and needs around this humpy friendship. Unlike a previous questioner, you have a situation here where sustained sexual interest has been expressed between your beau and his friend. If your BF doesn’t take concrete steps to make sure you feel prioritized, then, based on what you’ve told me, there’s no reason for you to trust him. Take ownership of your own choices NASF; if you stay with a guy who doesn’t respect your boundaries that’s your choice to live with, and it’ll come with a heap of consequences.
Don’t get it twisted; this is not about the other woman. She can be a bitch who tries to hump on your BF while singing about lost love, because she’s not your date and she doesn’t owe you a damn thing. He does.
There’s not much mystery here; your boyfriend has pretty much told you point blank that he has feelings and boners for his friend, and that he’s not with her because he doesn’t want to share her (yuck). They’re friends, sure, but this friendship ain’t platonic. This guy is too jealous to be poly, but not so monogamous as to treat you as he’d want to be treated. His behavior isn’t considerate, and I can’t shake the feeling that he’s not great at prioritizing your feelings in general. He’s been straightforward with you about his feelings for this band mate though, and girl, you need to listen to that.
Don’t get it twisted; this is not about the other woman. She can be a bitch who tries to hump on your BF while singing about lost love, because she’s not your date and she doesn’t owe you a damn thing. He does. It’s on him to be emotionally and sexually monogamous to you (assuming that’s your agreement). It’s his responsibility to make sure that you feel safe, loved, and prioritized in your relationship, and if he fails to do that you’ve gotta deal head-on with that mishegas. So accept him for who he is proving himself to be. That doesn’t mean you need to deal with his shit, or stay with him at all, but if he proves himself to be a guy who pines over his friend and is keeping you around as some sort of filler, you need to respect your own self enough to bounce, STAT. Once a person reveals himself to you it’s your job to listen, NASF. Good luck!
I'm married with two young kids and I'm queer and closeted. It doesn't make sense — I live in the Bay Area, I have plenty of gay friends and family members, there is no reason why I should be closeted but I am. How do I come out? Do I break up my family because this nagging voice has only gotten louder with each passing year? I have no intention of ever cheating on my partner but a part of me is freaking out that I may be in this hetero relationship, lying to myself and everyone else for the rest of my life. — Scared in SF
OUCH. This is hard stuff, Scared, and whatever you choose to do is risky, so I understand your hesitation. But the reason to come out of the closet is this: our sexuality is connected to the whole of us. When you lock it away in some room inside your head, you inadvertently lock away other parts of yourself, too. There is no way to be an intact person while denying such a huge part of yourself. Your sexuality is not just about who you fuck, it’s about where your thoughts go in idle moments, how your heart leans, it’s braided in with your spiritual strength, your creativity, and so much more. It’s simply not possible that your sexuality is the only thing you’re repressing, because it’s not an isolated part of you. Being queer (just like being straight and/or other) is an essential part of the essence of what you are. Choosing to repress it is choosing a life of half-truths and sadness. Don’t deny yourself the right to be whole, even if it’s complicated.
You haven’t done anything wrong and your sexuality is not something you are doing to your partner, so don’t apologize for your queerness, even if you do want to apologize for what it means to your relationship. Your partner deserves to know the truth. Living a lie is not a kindness to anyone.
There’s only one way to come out to your partner, Scared, and that’s to sit them down and open your mouth to speak the truth. You can’t control what they do with the information or how it makes them feel, but you can take responsibility for what you know to be true. Be compassionate to how they feel without degenerating into guilt or martyrdom — this isn’t a negotiation, it’s a (understandably terrifying) sharing of your truth. You haven’t done anything wrong and your sexuality is not something you are doing to your partner, so don’t apologize for your queerness, even if you do want to apologize for what it means to your relationship. Your partner deserves to know the truth. Living a lie is not a kindness to anyone, Scared. You are lying to your partner, to your family, and even to your kids. Being inauthentic is not protecting them or you. You may choose to leave the marriage or to stay and make it work, but your partner deserves a say in the matter. I know this is super painful, but speaking up is not a selfish act: it’s the right thing to do on all counts.
With my background as an astrologer I’m of the mind that what we model for our kids affects them on a deep level — even the stuff that they only register on an unconsciously. Having a parent who is miserable because they can’t accept what and who they are is not a great example to set. They deserve the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable and messy, because they deserve to grow up to be whole, embodied, and happy adults, just like you do, my friend.
This crisis isn’t really about whether you choose to leave your marriage and date folks of the same gender or stay and work it out; it’s about self-acceptance. If you can’t embrace and love yourself, life will get more and more painful. Keeping secrets sucks, and you have the anxieties to prove it. Good luck and be compassionate to all involved!
My boyfriend is one of the most thoughtful people, and he makes me blissfully happy. We have the same fundamental ideas about life with enough room for differing opinions to keep things interesting. But there is one thing we disagree about that is driving me nuts.
It seems like every time there is an issue in the news that relates to women's rights — whether it's legislation preventing rape on college campuses, companies that fail to pay women equally, or, most recently, the D.C. judge that overturned the case against the man who was taking creeper photos up women's skirts — we are on opposite ends. I am always on the side of women, and my boyfriend will argue for freedom of speech or the rights of those who may be unfairly accused in rape cases.
A lot of these issues hit close to home for me as I and many people close to me have been assaulted. My boyfriend can be so compassionate in so many ways, but he completely misses the mark here, and it really upsets me and makes me wonder what would happen if we got married, had kids, and one was a girl (future tripping, I know).
How do I talk to him about this? Could this possibly be a deal breaker? — Torn
I don’t believe that the people we are close to need to share our values, or think the same as we do. There’s something exciting about a challenging debate, and engaging about having to really think about your beliefs in a critical way. But you’ve gotta be able to trust that the people you’re close to have respect for you and the lives of others, and that you have a shared definition of what that means. You need to decide if your boyfriend’s thinking is disrespectful to other people’s rights (including yours), because that speaks to his character. If he believes that men have a right to make more money than women, take “upskirt” pics (excuse me while I barf), and tends towards the rights of rapists, I’m not sure how you can trust that he thinks of females as fully equal humans. His attitudes suggest that he’s lacking in empathy to me, and that’s a total deal breaker — but hey, I’m not the one dating him. You need to make your mind up about what you believe, and not because of how he may raise your unborn babies (what he’d teach a son to become should be just as scary to you as how he would treat a daughter, BTW), but because of what it means about his character. Opportunity is just a test of your values, Torn, so make sure you’re standing up for yours.
If he believes that men have a right to make more money than women, take “upskirt” pics (excuse me while I barf), and tends towards the rights of rapists, I’m not sure how you can trust that he thinks of females as fully equal humans. His attitudes suggest that he’s lacking in empathy to me, and that’s a total deal breaker- but hey, I’m not the one dating him.
There are people who have the most ignorant and/or hateful attitudes towards all kinds of people and it doesn’t negate the good in them. Life isn’t black and white, and people aren’t “good” or “bad.” He may treat you like gold, have a soft spot for kittens, like the same music, and be a perfect gentleman on dates, but that doesn’t mean that he defines kindness and respect in the same way that you do, and that shit is key for any LTR to work, my friend.
I wonder what you mean when you ask about how to talk to him — are you asking me how you can convince him that your views (let’s call them our views, really) are right and his are wrong? As much as I agree with you, you don’t get to change him so you can continue to date him. What you really need to do is listen. It sounds like you’ve already talked to him about this stuff. He’s already told you what he believes and what his ethics are, but I worry you're not hearing him. If you really just want to talk things through then just be direct; let him know what you believe, and don’t candy coat how his attitudes make you feel. Be open and honest, but don’t try to "fix" him. Respect his right to his perspective as much as you want him to respect yours, but if you can’t get behind his core values you need to bounce, Torn.
My boyfriend is in his early 20s and a bit younger than me, but doesn't have a career path. He's smart, capable, and has a diverse range of talents — I believe he could do anything if he applies himself. However, when he tries something out and it doesn't manifest, he gets discouraged easily and questions his abilities. I'm established in my career and recently received a promotion. I'm also always busying myself with some side business or another in anticipation of having my own business one day. I rarely question my ability and know that if I put my mind to it, I can do anything. My question is: How do I support him through his current directionless career searching / self-taught cycle that he's going through? Our experiences are so different. My fear is that I'm getting in too deep with someone who lacks ambition or is going to rely on me to support us financially into the future. But, I don't know if this is the reality of this situation, or just a symptom of growing up and self-searching. —Ambitious
What a great question and an uncomfortable predicament! You didn’t really tell me anything about him, or about you, though. Is this guy absolutely perfect for you in every way? Are you in a place in your life where you’re ready to settle down and the only thing standing in your way is this guy’s lack of get-it-togetherness? The early 20s are the perfect time to not know what you’re doing, Ambitious; you’re no longer a teenager, but just barely so. It’s perfectly reasonable to be unsure about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life at that age. Trial and error teaches so many of us how to live and what we truly want. If there’s a time in life to not have a plan, play, and fuck off a bit, this is it.
Unless you’re fixin’ to get shacked up with him, I encourage you to figure out why his job and income matters so much to you. Is this about what your friends will think, or about some kind of check-off list? So many driven people need a partner who knows how to prioritize the emotional or creative sides of life.
It sounds like at his age you knew what you wanted to do, Ambitious, and were taking active steps to do it — and that’s freaking awesome. It’s reasonable for you to want a guy to partner with that’s got it together, but I wonder why it’s so important to you. Are you really only concerned that you will have to pay his way through life? ‘Cause there’s an easy fix to that: don’t do it. It’s on you to make space for your many goals and interests, and to impose healthy limits on how much you’re willing to finance your relationship. Unless you’re fixin’ to get shacked up with him, I encourage you to figure out why his job and income matters so much to you. Is this about what your friends will think, or about some kind of check-off list? So many driven people need a partner who knows how to prioritize the emotional or creative sides of life. If you date someone who’s making the same money as you, you’ll be able to afford a nicer car or better house quicker, but is that what will make you happy now? Is it what you need in your damn twenties? Sometimes a hand needs to date a glove because when a hand dates a hand it can be pretty self-congratulatory (if you know what I mean), and not necessarily right.
You’re only young once, Ambitious, so don’t let your goals compel you to take on a 40-year-old’s problems when you’re not even 30. If a guy in his early 20s doesn’t know what he’s going to do with the rest of his life you don’t need to support him — you just need to give him space to figure it out. Getting discouraged is normal and not a sign of a lifetime of failure, or even of being a slacker. People are not problems to fix or puzzles to solve. If this dude is sweet, supportive, loving, and kind, then cut him some slack. If you can’t do that then you shouldn’t be dating him at all, my friend.
I recently moved to LA from New York. The main reason for the move was for a change of pace, and to start fresh in a new place. A friend suggested I try Hinge (the dating app), and I actually hit it off (via text) with a cool and funny guy. We are supposed to meet up for drinks soon, but during a long conversation the other night it came up that he has been casually seeing another girl (we're talking multiple dates). I had a feeling this might be the case before he mentioned it. I know this is how casual dating goes (especially dating off of an app), and I really want to meet this guy. But I can't shake knowing that he is dating someone else. In the past I have definitely dated multiple people at once, and I can't be upset that this guy has been totally honest. Having said that I'm still kind of irked. Am I being too sensitive? – Irked & Confused
Whatever you’re feeling is valid and you need to listen to it, Irked, but I can’t help but wonder if you should be dating online at all right now. The dating game can go a bunch of ways, but it’s generally like this: person wants to date/fall in love/get ego stroked/get laid. Person goes on Internet and makes a profile. Person connects with others in hopes of achieving one or more of those goals. This process is a trial and error exercise; you’ve got to open your self up to countless others to see what happens. It’s unrealistic to expect that a guy, even an authentically awesome one who’s looking for love, is not mid-stream in the pursuit of connecting with other women. That he’s dating someone else doesn’t mean anything one way or another about him, and what he’s about. It does say something about you, though, that you feel monogamous before you’ve even met the guy to know if you have chemistry! Again, there’s nothing wrong with your feelings, but in order to get the best from your life you need to set yourself up in situations that are right for you, and I worry that this kind of dating won’t do that for you at this time.
It’s unrealistic to expect that a guy is not mid-stream in the pursuit of connecting with other women. That he’s dating someone else doesn’t mean anything one way or another about him. It does say something about you, though, that you feel monogamous before you’ve even met the guy to know if you have chemistry!
When meeting a stranger from the Internet it’s wise to trust your gut instincts. When it comes to dating (especially in the early stages) you need to honor your feelings above all else. So don’t ask yourself if what you’re feeling is “too much” this, or “not enough” that, and don’t try to force yourself to be someplace you’re not. You’re not being “too sensitive”; you feel what you feel. I only encourage you to check what’s motivating those feelings. I’m a fan of trusting one’s gut, but you need to ask yourself if your gut instincts say no to trusting him, or if you want an ideal romantic set up before you take the emotional risk of meeting a guy and letting things get real. It’s possible that your move to LA is destabilizing enough, and you aren’t ready for a big emo risk quite yet, and that’s OK. Nothing is perfect, but if you seek creative problems (ones that help you be a better you) instead of destructive ones (problems that make you feel bad and drag you down), it’s worth it in the end.
If you need your crush to be totally single before you’ve met you’re going to have a hard time with online dating in general, Irked. Be honest with yourself about what you can handle without judging him or yourself. I like it that this guy was upfront with you, and if the person he’s dating knows that he’s still actively pursuing other women, it all seems pretty kosher to me. Either way, dating and love is a game of chance, and in order to win, you have to take well-considered risks, my friend.
Does it ever seem like all long term relationships are doomed in one way or another? My parents are divorced. My friends' parents are divorced. Everyone is divorced, or breaking up, or in a dissatisfied relationship. And if they are satisfied now, it’s only a matter of months or years until a couple ends up practically hating each other.
How am I supposed to believe in lasting love (including both companionship AND attraction) when everyone is beating me over the head with stories of love gone awry? Why do we even try, what compels us to couple?
Yikes! Your question is a serious one and I think most of us have wrestled with it. But I must counter your question with a question, K; why bother to live if you know you’re going to eventually die? The answer is that it’s the journey, not the destination that makes life enjoyable and gives it meaning. Life is full of things that end, and they are still fully worth doing.
If you make choices out of fear you end up multiplying that fear, and that’s one of the many reasons why relationships don’t last. The only relationships that make it over the course of time are comprised of people who are willing to work through the shitty parts together; the differences, boredom, conflict, communication issues, whatever.
You are totally right that a ton of relationships end with two divorced people who can’t stand each other. Life sucks and is hella hard, but it’s also beautiful and fun. There’s seriously nothing better than letting someone really get to know you and finding out that this person loves the real you. It feels amazing to have a sense of home in another person, to know that you have each other’s back through thick and thin. So that’s why we do it; the risk is worth the gain.
If you seek out love and companionship it’s a good 50/50 chance that you’ll find the kind that will last, versus the kind that ends in tears. If you don’t try, the odds are about 100% that you won’t have love at all, K. If you were a person who earnestly liked being single, I’d think that’s awesome, but what your question tells me is that you are scared that there’s not enough love out there to go around, and that we are all doomed to failure, and that’s just not true.
If you make choices out of fear you end up multiplying that fear, and that’s one of the many reasons why relationships don’t last. There are no perfect couples because there are no perfect people. The only relationships that make it over the course of time are comprised of people who are willing to work through the shitty parts together; the differences, boredom, conflict, communication issues, whatever. Over the course of time tons of crap comes up and if you’re with someone who is willing to do the work, and loves you the way you want to be loved, it’s not enough. You have to do the same for the other person too, and ultimately, in order to truly take care of your beloved, you’ve gotta be able to do the same for yourself. And that’s the problem. We treat ourselves like shit and so it’s easy to miss it when another person treats us that way too.
You will want to kick your own ass if you see that you let other people’s misery become your own just because you were too scared to try. If your life is gonna suck, let it suck because you loved and lost, and not because you were too scared to try.
If you don’t try to be happy you’ll end up bitter, K, because when you stop trying, you stop truly living and the consequences for that are awful. The pain of losing someone is terrible (hell, falling in love feels alternately awesome and horrible), but the worst thing you can do with your life is to feel like you wasted it on fear based choices. You have so much potential in front of you, K, but I can’t promise you that life will be good or that you will end up happily married. What I can promise, though, is that you will one day look back at your youth through the lens of old age, and when you do you will want to kick your own ass if you see that you let other people’s misery become your own just because you were too scared to try. If your life is gonna suck, let it suck because you loved and lost, and not because you were too scared to try.
I've been with my boyfriend for about six months now and have known him for three years. When we started dating I fell in love with him very fast and deeply. At the beginning it was really rough and then things got better. The past few days have been hell again.
For the entirety of the time we've been dating he CONTINUOUSLY, without let-up, says I don't love him, that I hate him, and that don't really want to be with. I don't know what to do. It hurts me so bad and I've done nothing but try to be amazing to him. All this makes me feel like a P.O.S. girlfriend. It breaks my heart. Even today he got mad at me when I got upset because he said, "I can see it in your eyes that you don't love me," and left the house. I didn't do anything. He's still gone. Why can't I convince this man I love him? What do I do to prove to him I love him? Will it be an endless whirlwind of him making me feel like absolute shit?
Whenever we fight he says really nasty things to me, calling me (and my mother) a "dumb whore," addresses me as "bitch," he's hit me before pretty badly, told me he was going to run over this beautiful piece of jewelry he had a good friend of mine make for me after I was dead. I feel like he thinks I don't love him because he abuses me so badly and it's a reflection of himself. I love him so much, and sometimes I think he'll actually seek help like he says he will and things will get better. Sometimes I feel so depleted and drained I don't know if this relationship is going to make it. I spent two years single before this, to make sure I was emotionally ready to be an amazing girlfriend. This isn't at all what I expected my next relationship to be like. Please help me.
Dazed and Confused
I get it that you love this man, but let me mince no words in telling you to run, not walk, away from him. If you stay in this relationship it will absolutely be at the expense of your happiness, self-esteem, and, very seriously, your health, DC.
Don’t explain, defend, or justify your feelings to your BF when he’s being antagonistic. When you try to reason with an irrational person, it makes you crazy! The man you’ve described is a classic abuser, blaming his bad behavior on you. This situation is likely to degenerate, especially if you try to compensate for his meanness. You can be the best girlfriend in the world, but if you’re dating an abuser none of it will matter. You can’t fix or heal him. There is no amount of “proof” of your love that you can (or should have to) supply that’ll satisfy him and make him act right.
This situation is likely to degenerate, especially if you try to compensate for his meanness. You can be the best girlfriend in the world, but if you’re dating an abuser none of it will matter. You can’t fix or heal him.
Love is supposed to improve your life, not deplete it, and you shouldn’t stay with a man that treats you like shit. Whether his insecurity is a reflection of his bad behavior or not doesn’t really matter; love is not a good enough reason to stick around for this kind of cruel treatment – even if he’s truly a sad and broken puppy in need of love that (you think) only you can give. You say you did lots of emotional work, but it’s futile to be a "good girlfriend" to a blaming and aggressive boyfriend. Never love another person more than yourself, DC. Love is not enough – your quality of life should equal your emotional connection to your partner, and this is certainly not the case with your BF. For as long as you stay with him and try to convince him how much you love him, you’re consenting to his insanity (and bringing a whole lot more unrest into your life).
No one can get you out of this toxic situation but you. Your challenge here is not to fix your relationship or to prove your love; it’s to face reality, and get the hell out before your bad relationship turns tragic.
There are a number of resources to help people who are concerned they may be in an abusive relationship. USF's Counseling and Psychological Services has a checklist called "Am I in an Abusive Relationship," with a number of great resources for help at the bottom of the page.
The other night my boyfriend and I were loosely discussing his birthday. He informed me "Jane's" day of birth was coincidentally within days, so why not celebrate them in unison. Right? Wrong! I contested it, because it makes me uncomfortable. And he was a bit flabbergasted by me putting my sneaker down. I mean they have grown up together. Maybe I'm self centered and egotistical, but birthdays are that person’s special day, so why divide it? Especially with a member of the opposite sex? I don't think it’s a jealousy issue. Or maybe it’s because my birthday is under celebrated by my group of friends. But I don't like the fact that my boyfriend's name would be attached with another female's.
Am I crazy for thinking this way? I wouldn't want to put a damper on his day for my insecurity, but my goodness. I would never celebrate mine with a good friend of mine that was a male — a female, yes, but that's different. Is it because we have different values or is it that he's so blind to female reactions and emotions? What if he actually disregards my feelings? Am I just supposed to go along with it as he would probably want?
An Avid Reader and Possibly Crazy Girlfriend
First let me thank you for reading my column. You rock! But I’ve gotta say that I’m with your BF on this one, my friend. You are being jealous – as in totally, completely, and for sure. And possibly a little crazy too, but aren’t the best of us?
I believe that women can be friends with men and vise versa. Because of this belief, when you tell me that he has a female friend that he’s known since daycare, all I hear is ‘friend’, not ‘female.’
His connection with this girl sounds perfectly innocent. Everyone is different on this topic, but I believe that women can be friends with men and vise versa. Because of this belief, when you tell me that he has a female friend that he’s known since daycare, all I hear is ‘friend’, not ‘female.’ And if the Birthday Boy wants to share his special day with his besties (even the lady ones), you kinda do need to go along with it. Being supportive and having fun wouldn’t hurt either. This is an issue of principal for you, but for him it’s about a real life, long-term friendship. I’m not sure what your feelings about your own birthdays have to do with any of this; you clearly understand that it’s a special day, so why would you contest his desires to make it special for him? This should be about his standards, and not yours. If he had vibes with his friend I’d see your point, but what I’m hearing here is that you two hold fundamentally different beliefs about friendships – not that he’s disrespectful for seeing things differently than you do.
Asking someone to demote a friendship without an excellent reason is a huge no-no. I don’t think your boyfriend is blind, CG, but you clearly have a conflict. You totally have a right to your feelings and perspective, but if you make a big deal of this you’ll be making it all about you and your shit, which is not a great girlfriend move. If you’re going to date this guy long-term, you’re going to have to trust him.
Only you can decide if this difference in values is a relationship deal-breaker or not. This isn’t a right/wrong issue. All you can do here is take responsibility for whatever you choose; if you try to get between him and his childhood friendships, it may cost you his trust and affection. If you can’t be OK with him being that platonically close to other women then you need to own that, even if it means realizing that he’s not the guy for you. Plenty of guys out there would see it your way.
I may have an Tinder problem. Seriously, it’s become like a video game I play. It’s getting to be a little weird. I’ve probably been out on over 25 dates in 2014, and hooked up in one way or another with almost all of them. It’s becoming a fetish in and of itself. I don’t even think about serious relationships anymore. I just want to score more and more points, and by that I mean get naked with more and more women. These are people I’d never even have considered at the end of my last real relationship. The real problem is that it’s not just one-nighters, I’m kinda leading a lot of people on with like mini relationships. I’m suddenly all quantity over quality, and I just don’t feel like stopping. Am I broken or just having a real long rebound?
Possibly Broken and Having a Blast
You had me confused about whether you were bragging or asking a question until the end, and with a sign-off like that I’m still not completely convinced that you’re not just boasting, but let’s just assume you have a problem that you need advice for.
It sounds like you’re concerned with your behavior, and I think you should be, PBHB. There’s a compulsive edge to it that is not likely to bring you to a happy place. I think the rule is that if you’re unable to control your conduct, you’ve got a problem. So here’s what I propose: try a Tinder purge. Take the app off your phone, (no need to close your account) and don’t use it for as long as you can; seven to ten days is a good start. Notice your urges pressing at you and commit to redirecting your energy to something else. In your break from lady-collecting investigate what’s driving you, and reroute your sexual and romantic energies into whatever you can. It’s possible nothing much will happen, but more likely that you will learn the answer to the question you’ve asked me. Spoiler alert: I think you’ll find that you’re beyond rebounding and caught up in a rut.
Unlike Tetris, you’re dealing with real people who have hearts, and messing with them is a weak move, my friend. It sounds like you’re creating the illusion that you’re available for intimacy just to get your ego (and other bits) stroked.
One of the many problems with social media is that it’s super addictive. There’s this feeling that we’re connecting to people, and in a way we are, but it’s pretty one-dimensional. Because it’s not emotionally taxing in the same way meeting people IRL is, we can find ourselves both more connected and less intimate at the same time. It can be like playing blackjack and wanting the dealer to keep on hitting you so that you get that elusive high of winning. But getting likes/stars/right swipes from how you present yourself online isn’t a satisfying feeling for long. Neither is living life without people really knowing you, only what you choose to show them, especially if it’s not especially genuine.
Dating is not a video game. Unlike Tetris, you’re dealing with real people who have hearts, and messing with them is a weak move, my friend. There’s nothing wrong with wanting casual sex or mini relationships, but it’s terrible to lead people on to get those things. It sounds like you’re creating the illusion that you’re available for intimacy just to get your ego (and other bits) stroked. Now don’t get me wrong, I think sex is the bees knees and should not be underrated by advice columnists or friends and family. I want you to have as much of it as you can, but to do it right. So here’s the second part of my advice: be upfront. Be honest with the women you’re hooking up with, but also with yourself about how long you can go through life without emotional intimacy. It’s easy to like yourself when you keep on seeing yourself through the eyes of strangers who are falling for you, but it’s not real. Or rather, it’s real, but only in the most limited of ways. If you want a glorified glory hole I’m not here to judge, but you’ve got to tell your partners what you’re available for and get their consent first.
I’m a SF native and a total California girl. I’m close with my parents, who are from Korea and pretty conservative. I am getting married next spring (yay!) and my parents want me to have a traditional wedding. I want to do the right thing because I know how important it is to them, but it’s not my vision for my big day. How can I give with them what they want without letting go of my quirky Cali wedding dreams? -FT
Mazel tov on your upcoming nuptials!
I don’t think you’d be writing me if you wanted to gift your big day to your parents, but I also don’t know how traditional you are – or more accurately, how traditional you’ve led your parents to believe you are.
When faced with choices it’s easy to get locked into either/or thinking, but it’s rare that we only have two options, FT. We can’t all be like Kim and Kanye and have several elaborate weddings, but you can do a more humble version of that. I’ve known couples to have one wedding for family that is traditional (and where the most of their money goes), and to also do their own romantic, private ceremony amongst friends, usually in advance of the bigger affair. This is can be a city hall thing, done under your favorite tree, in a friend’s back yard, or some other meaningful and low profile locale. That way no matter what happens on the ‘big day’ with your family, you’ve already had your own special ceremony to make up for the compromises. It’ll take more creativity and energy to plan, but it can be done super cheaply and help you to feel good about having the traditional wedding that’ll make your family happy without giving up on your dreams. I think it’s wildly romantic, too!
Being a child of immigrants can be hard because as much as you may wish to respect your parents’ values, they may not be your own. Growing up in ‘Merica with its staunchly individualistic ideals can make honoring your parents' traditional expectations of you feel schizophrenic, no matter how much you love them.
Being a child of immigrants can be hard because as much as you may wish to respect your parents’ values, they may not be your own. Growing up in ‘Merica with its staunchly individualistic ideals can make honoring your parents' traditional expectations of you feel schizophrenic, no matter how much you love them. This isn’t good or bad, but it can be wicked complicated. There’s value in giving your parents the traditional Korean wedding they want, especially if they’re paying for your ceremony. You have to weigh out how important it is to honor their desires against the drama it may cause if you don’t. You also need to consider if it will harm your fiancé's relationship with them; if you decide to go California dreamin’ style on your wedding, will they blame him, thinking that their daughter would never dream of acting against their wishes? As a married person you have to consider how your actions will impact your partner, and make sure they don’t put him in the doghouse with his new in-laws.
I admittedly have a very Western perspective, and from my point of view getting married is a major step in paving your own road in life. It’s messy to start off on that path pretending to be happy with something you really don’t want. If ever there were a time to do things on your own terms, this’d be it, FT. If you want a close relationship with your folks you’ve got to let them know who you are, and I don’t see how this is possible if you’re not forthright with them. Even if you decide to have a traditional wedding I encourage you to respectfully tell them how and why you’re compromising. Don’t be a martyr about, but do be honest. This is unlikely to go over well, but sometimes it’s better to be real than easy. It just might start the ball rolling for a new, more adult relationship with them. No matter what you choose, once you decide how to celebrate your love, promise that you won’t second-guess yourself. Enjoy your wedding and the start to this new chapter in your life!
I've been in a very casual long distance relationship for only a month, but this person and I really hit things off. I've been in a dry spell for years and suddenly this amazing gal arrives out of the blue. And even better, she says she's going to move here from Chicago next month! While I'm really excited at the prospect of having this person closer to me (so we can have real sex instead of embarrassing phone flirtations), I'm also terrified of having someone move to San Francisco for me. (She made it clear she would be moving here for me, not for a job or some other external deal). This is such an expensive city, and it's not really the kind of place here you can just "land" and figure things out, you know? So I worry that if things don't work out she'll be stranded here and resentful of me. On the flip side, I'm obviously stoked to be able to get to know her better and see if I can break my dry spell with someone who believes in commitment. I know we can only figure out if this will work over time, but is there any advice you have about making a LDR to no-distance thing work, especially when one person moves for the other? – Stoked but Scared
Congrats on hitting the honey jackpot, SBS!
I have a crazy question for you, though: in what world does a woman move out of state for a “very casual” relationship? Lemme tell you that she does not think of your relationship as ‘a little’ – let alone ‘very’ – casual. She’s leaving her friends, job, and whatever else she has going on in Chicago to see where things go with you, and darling, that shit ain’t casual by any definition of the term. So before we can get to your question I must beg you to rethink what you’re doing with this lady. She’s jumping in headfirst and it seems to me that she’s either falling in love with you, straight-up crazy, or a wildly impulsive person. I hope that’s your type! In any case you should be prepared to set some real-life boundaries with her before she gets here, and throughout the course of your love story, too.
If you don’t want her to move in with you (please, Lord, tell me you’re not moving her in after a month just ‘cause you need to get laid!), you have to tell her that before she gets here. Let her know how long you’re willing to have her stay with you; and SBS you need to be hella firm about this point.
I trust that you’ve warned her about the insane cost of living in the Bay. If you don’t want her to move in with you (please, Lord, tell me you’re not moving her in after a month just ‘cause you need to get laid!), you have to tell her that before she gets here. Let her know how long you’re willing to have her stay with you; and SBS you need to be hella firm about this point. Let her know that even if everything is perfect between the two of you you’re going to need her to get her own place. Be perfectly clear that the housing market is awful and unless she is independently wealthy or makes lots of money, she’ll have a hard time affording it here. By talking to her about your worries honestly before she gets here you’re setting a good precedent of honesty and trust. If she doesn’t handle real talk well, you need to know that in advance (so you can run far, far away). If, on the other hand, she’s able to talk about the tough bits with you, you’ll start to build a foundation of excellent communication for when scary stuff comes up (which it will). You’ve only known her for a month, so I advise caution over romantic blind faith.
Your friendships, hobbies, and alone time are key pieces of being a healthy adult. So talk to your sweetie about your need to maintain space in your life, even if she doesn’t have too much going on here yet. If you don’t feel like you owe her your time and aren’t obliged to become her full time tour guide, then your relationship can have a pretty normal trajectory once she gets here. Make sure she knows what she’s in for, and that’ll help you know what you’re in for, friend. Good luck!
My last serious relationship ended really badly. There was definitely a lot of emotional manipulation that bordered on abuse and it was just over all toxic. This partner cheated on me multiple times with people I knew, including some people I considered friends. Even though I have moved on, that relationship has left me with lingering trust issues in my current relationship, which is otherwise fucking great! I love this guy and this relationship is really nourishing and awesome.
How can I take those final steps to truly heal? I don't want to be anxiety-ridden and worried about things that aren't even actually happening. I want to get rid of this terrible feeling that this guy I'm falling in love with will suddenly lose interest, because that is all my past relationship has really prepared me for. I'm pretty good at keeping these insecurities to myself instead of projecting them onto my partner, but I don't know how long that will last. -LL
I suspect that the person who you really don’t trust here is you, LL. I’m sorry that your last relationship was so awful; sometimes the people we love show us how low we’re willing to go and it absolutely sucks. But the truth is you can’t control whether or not a boyfriend will be kind, honest, or even stay in love with you. All you can be in charge of is how you participate and take care of your self. You don’t need to know that he’s perfect for you, or that things will last. You can’t know that. But you can set up a plan for being accountable to your heart so that you never stay in an unhealthy dynamic again! Be honest with yourself, and ask your friends to be direct with you too (and tell them you need them to be really honest). Promise that you will take care of you if the shit hits the fan. I’m not encouraging you to believe that it will, but I want you to know that you can count on yourself. Make sure that loving him helps you to better love your self and to have the life you want to have.
If you see signs that this guy is not respectful of your feelings or is acting shady, speak up. If you don’t like how he responds, promise yourself right here and now that you’ll bounce. While you can’t stop the rain from falling, you can pack an umbrella just in case.
When you date a person’s potential, you’re not accepting them for who they are. The way to stay away from scary relationships is not to avoid them, but to honor yourself over both him and over your ideal of the relationship you hope to be in.
There’s no magic to overcoming fear; you simply have to be brave in the face of it. They call it ‘falling in love’, not ‘stepping carefully and gracefully into love,’ because there’s no way to do it without getting at least a little bit hurt, LL.
Don’t get so attached to your vision of who you want this (or any other) guy to be that you stop taking in who he is IRL. He may seem like the best guy ever in the first six months but if that changes at any point, be truthful about it. When you date a person’s potential, you’re not accepting them for who they are. Acknowledge his shortcomings and your problems as a couple, even if that makes things less romantic. The way to stay away from scary relationships is not to avoid them, but to honor yourself over both him and over your ideal of the relationship you hope to be in.
If you’re going to worry about your love life, you may as well be freaking out about the real stuff instead of your personal archive of What Ifs.
A few months ago my ex and I started dating again. We have been going really slowly and a lot has changed since we broke up a few years ago (we are communicating better, he's doing his work, I'm being more honest about my feelings). And at the same time, a few fundamental things haven't changed –namely he still doesn't want to have more kids. There's so much love between us that part of me thinks maybe I can have kids with someone else and we can rock some sort of poly and/or multiple parent thing down the road.
What do you think Jessica? Is it crazy to be with someone who has different life goals around family when your heart is so in it? We live in the Bay and we are both pretty queer so maybe it could work? What is the line between knowing what you want out of a relationship and not future tripping and staying present? –CP
Congratulations on finding love! It’s the greatest feeling around and you totally deserve it. It’s wicked romantic that you broke up and then found each other again, years later. For all that and more I wish this were an easier issue. I firmly believe that having children isn’t something one can or should compromise for another person, though. It’s too big a deal. It’s also time sensitive, especially if you’re a lady person who wants to give birth with her life-giving parts. I’m sorry to say you may be in some serious trouble here, CP.
If you’re hungry for a salad, why would you go to a greasy spoon, order a burger, and pick off the meat and buns to get to the veggies? Regardless of how open you are, it doesn’t make sense for you to not be able to get your core needs met from your life partner. Loving someone enough to consider having kids with them is a huge deal, and should be not only romantic, but also viable. It’s not honoring your present or your future to pretend he can give you what you want, or that you don’t want it.
If you’re hungry for a salad, why would you go to a greasy spoon, order a burger, and pick off the meat and buns to get to the veggies?
Being polyamorous and/or queer is apples to the oranges of parenting. If you have a kid, your beloved will be thrust into a parental role whether he wants it or not, and what will that do to your relationship? When you have a child, you deserve to fall madly in love with it, and to have your partner feel the same. Your life will need to revolve around that pooping, crying, and needy baby, so where does that leave your relationship? On the outside of what should be the biggest and greatest part of your world, it seems.
Loving someone should improve your life and broaden your path, not disperse your energy away from it. If you wanted to be in some sort of multiple parent thing before you fell for him it’d be different, but here’s what I think: there’s no wisdom in entering into a union that you know will not meet your needs. Love may be the absolute greatest feeling in the world, but it isn’t enough, CP. Compromise is king, but you should never have to ignore your needs to be with someone you love.
I made friends with someone I assumed was quite openminded based on the depth of our conversations. We are twentysomethings of two different races and both come from parents who immigrated to our hometowns from different countries. We're both living away from anything familiar, but she has the added task of coming from a different culture with different standards in regard to race relations. One example: After searching for part time work for a long frustrating time, she finally picked up a spot bartending at a solidly busy restaurant/bar. After her first day, she told me the place was horrible and she wasn't going back. When I asked for her reasoning, she responded by saying the people were all Arabs and that made it "really scary." I haven't spoken to her since because I have a zero tolerance policy for this kind of mindset. I asked a few friends about this situation and they seem to think I'm being extreme. They're showing more patience for her.
Do you think there is a better way to deal with her? I just feel as though explaining is a waste of time and a bit beneath my level when she lives in a diverse city and in 2014 surrounded by people, ideas, literature, etc. all pushing us in the direction of acceptance and understanding.
I totally agree with you Blindsided; there really is no excuse for intolerance like that in this day and age. We have access to the whole world through the magical forest of the Internet, and through that access we can know that people are people, regardless of race, class, or whatever else. It’s hard to claim ignorance, but the truth is that sometimes people are unaware. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad people (though of course it can). If your friend is uneducated, her ignorance can be overcome through education and compassion, if you’re willing to try and help.
Being racist is certainly en vouge with shitheads, and she may be one of them, but her attitudes may also be less nefarious than all that. Maybe no one has talked it through with her and encouraged her to get past her discomforts and helped her regurgitate whatever Kool-Aid she drank.
You’re entitled to your perspective, but here’s the thing. When you stop talking, there’s no possibility for change or growth. It’s not your job to teach this woman anything, and you’re not responsible for her shitty attitudes, or life choices. But by not talking to her you’ve missed an opportunity. It’s possible that no one has ever questioned her assumptions about Arabs, or whatever other group she has decided is scary. Being anti-Arab, or racist in general, is certainly en vouge with shitheads, and she may be one of them, but her attitudes may also be less nefarious than all that. Maybe no one has talked it through with her and encouraged her to get past her discomforts and helped her regurgitate whatever Kool-Aid she drank. Your twenties are about having your first adult experiences, and that means making adult-sized mistakes. She may look back with embarrassment about how screwed up her thinking was on this topic one day. Or not. But for sure that’s less likely to happen if the only people she rolls with agree with her, or don’t talk common sense to her. You’re too young to be so jaded that you believe that change is impossible, Blindsided; being in your 20s is all about change!
It’s totally reasonable to not be friends with people whose values are offensive to yours, but I agree with your friends that how you’ve dealt with her is extreme. It’s never fair to break up with someone (friend or lover), without telling them why. In fact, it’s downright mean. She deserves to know why you’ve real-life unfriended her, Blindsided. So step up to the plate and be honest and direct with her. She didn’t do or say anything to be intentionally hurtful to you, and she deserves to know what her ignorance has cost her. It might not change a damn thing, but it’s the right thing to do.
My older sister hasn't talked with me or invited me to family events for six years and won't tell me why after innumerable letters. She says she doesn't want to talk about it. We had to see each other at my nephew's wedding. I tried to engage with her and she walked away. After that she got breast cancer and contacted me. So I responded. I did what I could for her during her surgery from a distance. She seemed content with my response to her needs. We had been staying connected by phone, until recently. In all our calls I listened to what was going on with her health, work, and family. Last time we were on the phone I attempted to share a little from my life, and she immediately wanted to get off the phone and we have not spoken since. How do you have relationship with people who won't tell you what they feel or need? I am not sure where to go from here. Any ideas?
I’m so sorry, CT. It sounds like you have done your best (and then some) to heal things with your sister, who won’t meet you in what seems like a pretty damn reasonable middle by the simple act of communicating. Yuck.
She has, however, made it clear over the span of six whole years that she is unwilling to be communicative, respectful of your needs, or emotionally generous towards you. She has been consistently alienating and punishing. It may be unclear why she’s doing all this, but what I’m more fascinated by is why you keep on coming back for more? I have a hard time believing that this dynamic wasn’t already in place on some level before she decided to push you away. The problem with taking on the role as the long-suffering victim, CT, is that others will step forward to act as a perpetrator for you. Stop playing out your role and the dynamic has to change. If you demand to be treated with respect, you will either force her hand and make her step up, or it’ll end things altogether. I understand that she is your sister and you want things to work, but with sisters like yours, who needs enemies?
In love and war there is wisdom and grace in turning the other cheek, but we have only two cheeks (four if you want to get technical), and you’re way over quota. There’s a meaningful difference between showing compassion and letting someone walk all over you. At what point did you start turning away from your own needs in order to keep up your relationship with your sister? Because that’s what’s happening, and has been happening for years. A healthy relationship should never require you to abandon yourself.
If you want to know the secret to dealing with someone who won’t tell you what they feel or need, here it is, CT: you can’t.
Whatever you did – and it’s clear that in your sister’s mind you did some terrible thing – it wasn’t conscious. I don’t know your situation, but I can only assume that somewhere along the way you hurt her feelings. What she is doing, however, is on purpose, and without any expression of remorse or humility. I am pretty outraged by her treatment of you, but you don’t seem to be. Why do you want a relationship with a person who treats you this way? You can’t fix a relationship that your counterpart doesn’t want fixed. Relationships are a two-way street, and if one person is expecting the other to put in all the effort, it’ll never work. Period. Stop trying to take 100% responsibility for a situation that you can only control 50% of. You shouldn’t need a psychic to have a relationship with someone you love!
So let go, CT. Let go of trying to make your sister change, and of trying to convince her that you’re a good person who’s worthy of her kindness. It’s time to show your self some and walk away. Losing her can’t be worse than what you’ve got now. It’s time to accept your situation so you can move on from it. And who knows? Maybe change will happen from there.
I have a few close friends who have problems with drinking too much. I haven't found a good way to bring it up without feeling like a judgmental nag or making them feel bad about it, especially because I'm a total non-drinker. It's gotten to the point that I've decided to not say anything and have stopped going out with some of them to avoid the issue. What can I do, if anything, to help them? -Amy
This is a major quandary; never was there a person who liked to be confronted about their drinking, so if you’re looking to win popularity contests, you should by all means continue to keep your opinions to yourself. If your ambition is to be a good friend, however, you have some serious thinking to do.
The pain in the ass about free will is that me, you, and all of our friends get to use it any damn way we please, even hella stupidly. It’s your friends’ prerogative to do whatever dumb things they want (if that is in fact what they’re doing), and you must be prepared to respect that, even if it means that you have to adjust your expectations and investment in them.
I notice you say that a “few” of your friends are drinking “too much.” So what’s a few? Three? Five? Or is it your whole crew? And what’s “too much”? Are their lives messed up because of their drinking? Are they doing harmful things to themselves or others? Are you concerned that they’re dehydrating before your very eyes? (Because let’s face it people, alcohol is terrible for the complexion.)
It’s possible that you and your community have grown in different directions and they have simply become career drinkers, which may not be super healthy or awesome by your standards, but isn’t an uncommon or demonic choice. But if your worries are valid, if there’s even a spot of truth to your concerns, then here’s what I think: a true friend speaks up. That’s it.
Friendship is not just about having people to chill with when times are fun, it’s about having people in this big, bad world who have your back.
If you really are close friends with these people then they deserve your respectful candor. You never know if they’re thinking that their drinking is a problem too. Maybe they just need someone to reach out and make it more real for them by talking about it.
The thing you absolutely should not do is judge. Don’t enable, fix, or reprimand your friends. Don’t tell them what they’re feeling, doing, or thinking. All you should say is your perspective. Own it that you don’t drink much, and so you likely see things differently than they do. Express your concern about whatever you think their drinking is doing to them (it may seem different in an unhappy way, more excessive, or more consistent), and ask them if they ever think that their drinking is problematic too. Asking questions about what your friend thinks and feels will keep the conversation a two way street and not an “I’m sober, superior, and worried about your drunk ass” monologue.
Let’s face it; it’s hard for people to hear criticism, especially when it hits home, so it’s unlikely that these chats will be particularly comfortable, even if they go well. Friendship is not just about having people to chill with when times are fun, it’s about having people in this big, bad world who have your back. If you’re in trouble, even if it’s just a possibility, it’s a huge deal to have someone who will go to bat for you. That’s what friends are for.
That said, it’s important that you bring this up only once. Don’t nag or get co-dependant about other people’s healing process (or lack thereof). Advocate for the wellness of your pals with honesty and compassion. Say everything you feel needs to be said, and then let them live their lives as they choose to. Free will may be a bitch but she’s a bitch we love here in ‘Merica.
Whatever you choose to do, Amy, you may have to find new some new friends. It’s a side effect of growing, I’m afraid. Sometimes we outgrow things and people we love, as much as that sucks. Be kind to all involved as these changes play themselves out.
I'm really lost in my life journey and cannot sense what my future holds. I recently graduated and plan on going back to school but I don't know anymore if it is what I really want to do. I also have been having issues with my love life and don't know how to approach men, let alone let them into my life. I am scared I will end up alone and unsuccessful because I am so uncertain about everything. I have been trying to find work and I am living with my mom who is a student as well. Do you have any advice for me about where I should be focusing my time and energy? – SR
Life is terrifying sometimes (OK, maybe often), SR, and it sounds like you are allowing yourself to get crushed by uncertainty. So here’s a trick: don’t focus on what you don’t know, because that will only make you feel awful. You know for sure that you are scared about work, school, money, men, and your relationship to intimacy. Duly noted. The more you obsess on what you don’t want, the worse you will feel. When you’re scared and overwhelmed, it’s not the time to figure things out, SR. The way I see it, there are two major issues at play here; there’s how you’re handling the stress of your plight, and then your actual problems. The first requires greater self-care and constructive kindness to yourself, while the latter requires a plan!
There are no assurances in life, but if you act in reaction to your fears you’ll have a hard time being happy. All actions (including inaction) have their consequences, and you need to tone down the panic and listen to your heart.
I know you’re in a rush for answers, but if you look for them while you’re in a whirlwind of fear, you’ll only see things from that vantage point. In other words, get calm before you try to fix your world. Step off the cliff of what-ifs and onto more stable ground. Focus on what you do know. For instance, you know that you’re committed to getting work. You know that your mother is supportive of you and working to better her own self, which may be hard right now, but is ultimately awesome. You know that you want to have intimacy with a man, and that you are not quite ready for it yet. That may be super simple, but it’s a start, and you should add to this list. Repetitive focus is like prayer, and it’s always better to pray to what lifts you up, instead of what holds you down. If you can train your mind on certainties, it will help you cope with the unknowable. There are no assurances in life, but if you act in reaction to your fears you’ll have a hard time being happy. All actions (including inaction) have their consequences, and you need to tone down the panic and listen to your heart. It’s way easier to be decisive if you’re not thinking several steps ahead. Stay present, because you can deal with the here and now! The future is a crapshoot, but it’s also not your responsibility yet. So that’s step one.
Step two is the easier part, believe it or not. Don’t go to school until you feel confident about what you want to study, SR! Student debt is no joke, so don’t spend your money or time unless you’re certain about it. Keep on taking consistent, practical steps to securing a job. This isn’t easy, but it is simple. Put one foot in front of the other until your basic needs are addressed, and refer to step one as frequently as possible. Abundance is built on a secure foundation.
This is not the best time to be worrying about love, SR. Your life is in such an unsteady place that you are unlikely to have the confidence to put yourself out there, so don’t. Wait until you have a job and feel more comfortable with where you’re at before you try to heal your intimacy issues; just because you’re alone now doesn’t mean that you always will be! Confronting your insecurities never feels great, but this is a particularly bad time to go about it. Focus on being kind to yourself for now and let the rest follow.
For the past year I was involved with an emotionally unavailable man. We were never an official couple although I wanted more, and I settled for the pittance of attention and, frankly, phenomenal sex just to get by.
I would develop feelings for him and then call it quits. After a month or so he would do something very romantic and thoughtful to pull me back in. He's a charming, good-looking man who I know sleeps with other women. I was sleeping with other people too throughout the duration of our time together but emotionally I had fallen in love with him over and over again. His other relationships hurt me and made me crazy but I couldn't express myself to him for fear of losing what little I received from him. I played behind the mask of being a liberal free love kind of gal, but it's not what’s really in my heart with him. He has this magnetic pull over me where I feel enchanted or drunk by his seduction.
He recently moved a few states away, so I am physically no longer around him and I've done my best to have little contact with him by way of text and a couple of phone calls. I still care about him and want to be his friend but he always brings our friendship back into a sexual nature. I don't know if I can keep him in my life casually because my heart and body really ache for him. Is it possible to be his friend even when I harbor very serious feelings for him, or should I just cut the cord (as much as it will SUCK) and move on? And how can I help my heart heal? – Tender Hearted Lover
GURL. Your question reads a little like a Penthouse letter. You are not friends with this guy. He was, in fact, horrible in the friendship department of your yearlong relationship, and only truly good in the give-a-girl-a-bone department. So what’s your motivation for holding on for a friendship? I think it’s a flimsy cover for trying to keep the door open for things to happen again with him, even though you have never gotten what you need and there’s no evidence to support the idea that you ever will.
Friendship cannot be had by people harboring long-term boners (lady-boners or otherwise) for the friends that they are secretly kinda super crazy in love with.
When things end with a lover it’s hard enough to be friends. But if A) you never were friends to begin with and B) the part of your connection that didn’t work was how he treated you as a human being, then you’re really SOL. You weren’t honest and direct with him, so I don’t blame him for assuming that you are down for whatevs now that he’s out of state. He isn’t totally innocent of your needs, though, because he knew what to offer you every time you went away last year. This union is a damn mess, my friend, and you are not any more casual about him now than you ever were. What you’re doing will not get you want you want, THL. Friendship cannot be had by people harboring long-term boners (lady-boners or otherwise) for the friends that they are secretly kinda super crazy in love with.
So here’s my advice: rip the band-aid off. Stop wasting energy on this guy and find someone else who can make you happy sexually and emotionally. Don’t be so willing to settle for less than you desire! It will suck to go through this loss but it can’t be much worse than wasting more than a year on a man who hurts your feelings all the time. Make choices that make you happy, and bring that tender heart of yours to someone who can treat it right.
One of my oldest friends has been getting on my nerves and I don't know how to bring it up with her (or if I should at all). The main problem is hanging out with her in group scenarios. She's very sarcastic, and likes to push my buttons/make me the butt of the joke in front of others. Other times, she'll completely take over group conversations, interrupting others to talk about how the topic applies to her life. Lastly, she can be very judge-y, deciding someone isn't smart/political/cool/weird/punk enough, etc. and will dismiss them for it. Based on her judgments about others, it's made me feel self-conscious about what she privately thinks of me. I've stopped hanging out with her as much, and it's caused a huge rift in our relationship, but I'm not really sure how to talk about this without hurting her feelings or causing deeper resentment. – Frustrated Friend
If your goal is truly to avoid deeper resentments and unnecessary hurt feelings, it’s time for some real talk, Frustrated. Tell her that you don’t like being teased by her in group scenarios. You don’t have to write a poem about it, just let her know that it’s been hurting your feelings and you need it to stop. Let her know that you’re having a hard time trusting her, and you worry that she’s judging you behind your back. If she reacts angrily you can stop right there, but if she’s open to an honest conversation, healing can occur. If it goes poorly then at least you know where you stand; you may need to demote her in the hierarchy of your trust, or fire her altogether, but you’ll have tried to change things first.
I can’t help but wonder if she’s always been this way or if this is brand new behavior. Either way, it’s possible that she needs a friend intervention, and who better to serve that slice of humble pie than an old pal who can cut through her crap? If this is how she is and you’ve finally had enough, that’s a different story; in that case it’s you who has changed, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but again, she deserves to know about it. Two bad-friend moves never make things right.
What’s for sure is that if you can’t have a direct conversation with her then the two of you are not really friends anymore, anyways. If you no longer want to be her friend for whatever reason then own it. It’s sad to outgrow a long time friendship, but it happens to the best of us.
The point of friendship is not only to hang out and agree with each other. When you act like a jerk it’s a friend's job to let you know. When you cross a line from funny and teasing to insensitive and hurtful, you want a friend to give you a chance to correct your mistakes. She won’t change if she doesn’t realize what she’s doing, which she may or not – especially if you laugh along with her when you don’t actually think she’s funny, and never let her know how you feel about her acting like a modern Judge Judy. It’s totally possible that she has become a straight-up bad person, but giving her the benefit of the doubt is a better move than just ditching her. Just because she’s hurting your feelings doesn’t let you off the hook; stand up for yourself, Frustrated! This status quo is not worth maintaining and the only reason to not mention it would be because you’d already written her off, which it doesn’t seem like you’ve done quite yet.
Avoiding your friend is a terrible strategy for not hurting her feelings, or to get her to stop pushing you around. Even if she totally sucks she deserves to know why you’re evading her, and unfortunately there’s no way around some hurt feelings for both of you at this point. What’s for sure is that if you can’t have a direct conversation with her then the two of you are not really friends anymore, anyways. If you no longer want to be her friend for whatever reason then own it, Frustrated. It’s sad to outgrow a long time friendship, but it happens to the best of us.
I'm a girl-loving girl and I am having such a hard time with dating. I've tried online, going to clubs, asking friends to set me up, and nothing seems to be working. I am tired of being alone and I don't know what to do. I am friendly, caring, and love people. I think I'm pretty physically attractive. Maybe I just don't have any "game?" How do I get "game?" How do I meet girls to date me? Do you have any advice? Please help me! – Looking for Love
You don’t need "game"; you need patience! The problem with having excellent game is that it’s likely to land you nothing but players, my friend. If all you’re doing is looking to hook up, then that’s aces, but it sounds like you want something more serious than that. If you’re hoping to date women of quality then, as the maxim goes, “being yourself” is truly the best strategy. People are attracted to people who are true to themselves. It doesn’t matter what your quirks are, it only matters that you wear them with pride. The less you focus on how people perceive you (different from how they receive you), the easier it is to be honest and open, which in turn makes it easier for others to do the same with you.
I wonder if you’re so fixated on getting someone else to like you that you haven’t been looking for someone who you like. If you’re desperately trying to get someone to want to date you, then it's likely that you’re not being yourself and trying too hard.
Nothing slows down a person’s dating life more than urgency, and it sounds like you are panicking, LFL. I wonder if you’re so fixated on getting someone else to like you that you haven’t been looking for someone who you like. The difference between the two is subtle yet huge; if you’re desperately trying to get someone to want to date you, then it's likely that you’re not being yourself and trying too hard. Don’t guess at what another person likes and try to morph your self into that. It’s an unnecessarily complicated, albeit common approach (let’s admit it) to manipulate a girl into digging you, all before you know if you dig her. Figure out if you like the other person first and foremost, and you’ll already be coming from a more empowered (and attractive) place. That’ll make it easier for you to be yourself because you’ll be trying to get to know if she is a good match for you, not the other way around. This strategy will absolutely turn some girls off, but you don’t need them all to like you, just the one(s) that are a good match. Not every date or flirtation needs to end up as an LTR, so try and take it easy as you get to know the women you meet.
Now back to the mysteries of having “game.” Rushing toward people because you’re sick of being alone is like anti-game, and it doesn’t work at all. Healthy game requires some simple tools, which I will share with you now. The first is eye contact. Never underestimate the power of looking a person directly in her eyes. You can do it shyly, and as long as you communicate interest, a move has been made (you player, you!). Once a connection has been made don’t overwhelm her with texts and calls; let things happen a little slowly at first. Being too available can overwhelm your crush and be the dreaded anti-game. Make her laugh, be a good listener, and be confident, and it’s only a matter of time, LFL. Live your life with meaning; don’t look for meaning in a person that you haven’t met yet, no matter how tired you are of being alone. If you enjoy your life then at least while you’re waiting for that special person to come along you can be happy with who you are.
There’s no magic to meeting women, I’m afraid, and if there were I’d be on Oprah preaching the lady-finding gospel to all who would hear it. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things, and going to all the right places. As old fashioned and boring as it sounds, the best way to meet people is to talk to them, and if a connection is there the rest will just flow.
I have a wonderful boyfriend – very affectionate, cooks me dinner most nights, tells me how much he loves me, deals with my dysfunctional family with grace, and in every way but one is off the charts. The problem is that he doesn't seem to care about having sex. And I care very much about having lots of sex. After being together for five years, we only have sex a couple times a month, and I am always the one initiating it. When I try to talk to him about doing it more often, he gets very defensive and seems hurt, like I'm criticizing him instead of telling him what I need. I love this man in every way, so it's not a deal-breaker for me. But at the same time, I am a very horny person. So how do I get more of what I want without turning sex into a chore for my man? Or, am I asking for too much to have all this and tons of sex too? –S.H.
You are totally not asking for too much, SH. Sex is awesome and you deserve as much of it as you can get with the person that you love!
The problem I’m hearing from you is actually not just about sex. It’s not only that you’re not getting as much as you’d like, but the fact that your BF is not open to talking about it, which totally sucks. It’s like you’re in it alone, which isn’t fair to you. It’s hard talking about desire and sex in a way that isn’t guilt inducing, but most long-term relationships require it at some point.
After years of counseling people about their relationship issues, I have learned this truth: you can repress your needs, but they’ll end up cropping up somewhere. Not having your sexual needs met can lead to resentments that are intimacy killers
Are you certain that he doesn’t care about sex? I mean, have you asked him? It’s totally possible that he’s not as into sex as you are, but it’s also possible that he’s just not as into initiating it. You don’t mention the quality of your sex life when it’s active, but if it’s good and the problem is frequency, it’s possible that he simply isn’t hot for getting things going. Has it occurred to you that your boyfriend may be a bit of a bottom? Being a bottom is in no way synonymous with being sexually passive, but he may get off by being seduced. I encourage you to consider that your beloved may be a catcher and he may really need or like you to keep on pitching. If this is the case, you need to ask yourself if you’re down to be the full time pitcher for your team. If the answer is yes then you can stop feeling like he’s not into sex just ‘cause he’s not initiating it, and you can put the moves on him more regularly. Hazzah! More sex for you!
Either way, your man has to make himself more open to talking about sex. Try making the conversation about what you both like and what’s good about your humping rather than what’s gone wrong. The act of communicating more about the deed can loosen him up to the topic. But it’s essential that he is willing to hear you out and be compassionate about your feelings. It’s not fair or healthy for him to shut you down when you talk about your needs, and he needs to know that. Any long-term relationship takes work and while he sounds like an awesome guy, you can’t ignore this issue. I’m glad that this isn’t a deal breaker for you, but at what cost? After years of counseling people about their relationship issues, I have learned this truth: you can repress your needs, but they’ll end up cropping up somewhere. Whatever we repress eventually comes up in some way or another, demanding to be dealt with. Not having your sexual needs met can lead to resentments that are intimacy killers. Don’t shut your sexuality off for someone else, no matter how much you love him. If in the end you find that you just can’t get as much play as you’d like, try to find a healthy outlet that doesn’t compromise the agreements you have around monogamy. Good luck!
When it comes to good advice, Jessica Lanyadoo has it in spades. The Mission’s resident psychic/astrologer/badass gets booked months in advance by San Franciscans seeking help with everything from figuring out their love lives to communicating with their pets. So we asked Jessica if she’d come on board to do a weekly advice column for The Bold Italic. If you have a burning question for Truth Talk with Jessica Lanyadoo, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check back on Wednesdays to see if she has an answer for you.
A while ago, I slept with a coworker. I'd had a crush on him for a few months and when I was finally single, I decided to sleep with him. I was drunk. When we got back to my place he let me know we had to keep it a secret. Sounded perfect to me. The thing is, he was dating someone we both worked with. She was younger than me and really looked up to me. I ended up having an affair with him for a few months until I realized how crazy he was. I regret it immensely and I never told her. I feel bad because she texts me to hang out and frequently visits my Facebook page. I know what I did was wrong, and I hate that I did it. They are still dating to this day (it's been over a year since he and I ended it). Should I tell her? –OOPS
One of the great joys of being newly single can be hooking up with that cutey you were eyeing when your relationship took a nosedive. I would say huzzah for you, but of course it’s not that simple here. It’s like you gave yourself the joys of a fun and dirty rebound, but you packed it full of negative consequences that were guaranteed to haunt you. Regardless of what you do here, I encourage you to make sure that the next time you give yourself a gift, it's one you can actually enjoy.
I’m not sure it matters at this point, but I’m curious if you knew he was dating your co-worker when you first slept with him? If you had drunkenly hooked up with this guy and didn’t know that he was dating a friend of yours, that’d be innocent enough. If you did it just the one sloppy time knowing that they were an item you might even get a pass. But you didn’t just bone him once, when you were half in the bag. You must have known that you were having a secret affair while it was actually happening for all those months. You’ve clearheadedly been lying to your young friend for more than a year, so why the need to tell her now, OOPS?
You say that you realized how crazy he was somewhere at the end of your affair. I hope that you aren’t pissed at him and wanting to get some sort of payback. If that’s the case, even a teeny tiny little bit, you need to be careful. You aren’t an innocent party here and it’s not fair to drag his GF into this mess if your true motivation for coming clean is for him to have to suffer the consequences.
But ultimately it sounds like you feel appropriately awful, OOPS and that you’re trying to make things right. I’m afraid my advice is the same, though. Don’t do anything! It’s not fair to sleep with a girl's boyfriend for a few months and then let more than a year pass just to spring this stuff on her. What you’ll be telling her is that you’re not really her friend because you've let her think her boyfriend was her own when you knew he wasn’t for all this time, and that her boyfriend sucks. How’s she supposed to feel about all that? I would imagine it would make her feel beyond terrible. It might abate you of your guilt but I’m afraid that you missed your chance to tell the truth in a way that would actually help the situation and be fair to her. I encourage you to deal with your guilt but please oh please don’t just dump your dreadful feelings in her lap. Your guilty position is only helpful if you can allow it to humbly guide you to make better decisions in the future. Life isn’t about being perfect, so learn from your mistakes and move on, OOPS.
I recently found the husband of my closest friend at work on Tinder. She is pregnant and had just flown abroad the same night I spotted him "active" at midnight. I'm conflicted as to whether to tell her or not. On one hand, I feel like she should know about his "extracurricular" activity. On the other hand, I don't want to get involved in a couple's private matters, especially when an incoming baby is involved. It's a tough decision to make and either way I feel like it will affect my friendship with her. Do I tell her so she can at least investigate for herself, or do I not tell her so she can go on preserving the family she is about to create? – To Tell or Not
Everyone is different, but personally I think there’s little worse than a friend knowing something potentially ground-shaking about my relationship that I don’t know. It’s awful and kinda embarrassing. It’s not possible to anticipate what kind of hornet's nest you’re stepping into when you get involved in someone else’s love relationship, so only do whatever you can live with, no matter the consequences. I don’t advise you to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” though. Don’t project your desires onto your friend and her relationship because you can’t know that she’d feel the same. She may not be monogamous, they may have an agreement of sorts, or she may just be your opposite in this matter. All you can do is take a risk (‘cause let's face it, no matter what you do here, it’s a risk), and hope for the best.
While some people just use it to look, we all know how easy it is to hook up something quick and dirty on there (especially at midnight the night your wife leaves the country). You’re involved because you can’t unsee what you’ve seen.
Doing nothing is an action, TTON. Sitting on this information is not exactly ‘not getting involved,' it’s harboring a secret, and in some ways being complicit in this guy’s questionable behavior. Tinder is more of a petting zoo than an anthropological study of the Bay Area wilds. While some people just use it to look, we all know how easy it is to hook up something quick and dirty on there (especially at midnight the night your wife leaves the country). You’re involved because you can’t unsee what you’ve seen. The weight of hiding this will be with you even if you choose to keep it secret, which sucks.
This would be complicated if your close friend was a friend in any context, but because she’s your work friend it’s even more touchy because you can’t really take space from each other. No matter what you do this will impact your friendship for sure, and there’s no telling how she’ll react. So why not ask her? You can’t, of course, say, “Hey Jane, do you want to know if your hubby has been on Tinder while you’re growing a human being made from his seed in your body? ‘Cause I know the answer!” but you can find out what she would want theoretically in this situation. Tell her you saw a friend’s boyfriend on Tinder and you don’t know what you should do. Tell her you don’t know what their agreements are or if your friend would even want to know about it, and that you’re scared of getting involved in her personal matters – all the stuff you told me. Ask her what she would do, or what she’d want in a situation like that. If she tells you it’s none of your business then it is your official homework to butt out, case closed. If she says she’d want to know, then you can honor that by segueing into the truth. Good luck!
I hang out in a group of good friends, and last month two of these friends got in a huge blowout fight and no longer speak to one another. Most of my friends have since drifted away from one of the instigators, but some of us still want to be friends with both people – myself included. Their argument was personal between the two of them, but the people who have pulled away say there are too many warning signs that one particular party here is emotionally crazy. All this feels so silly to be dealing with in our 30s, but my question is serious – is there any harm in trying to remain neutral in this situation? The people who think one friend is crazy are good judges of character and I trust them, but on the other hand, I've never had a bad interaction with the "crazy" party and would feel terrible dropping them as a friend. Do I trust the instinct of a couple people and drop the friend, or do I stay a loyal friend until specific instances prove I should walk away?
– Cray or Nay
Yikes! Nobody likes drama like that, but we’ve all been around it in one way or another. How you handle this situation says more about you than it does about the two fools who had the blowup, or the rest of your circle, CON.
What I notice about your question is thar you didn’t tell me what ‘crazy’ behaviors you’re on the lookout for from this friend. Did they do something really atrocious? Did they cross a line that should never be crossed, or is it impossible for you to imagine how and why they behaved as they did? We’ve all had fights and done or said stupid things. Every person, no matter how wonderful or sane they are, annoys someone, somewhere, and has hurt someone’s feelings. That’s life. So what if two of your friends don’t like each other? What I’m interested in is why you would let other people dictate who you’re friends with. Are your alliances stronger than your convictions? Because you said something in your question that I totally agree with: you don’t want to take on someone else’s drama, or treat a person as though they’ve let you down when they haven’t. A lot of folks walk around pulling what I like to call the George W. Pre-Emptive Strike (or just the George W. for short); that guy had a reeeaallystrong feeling that he acted on before he found any proof, and we all know how that turned out. If a person is scared of being hurt it’s easy to justify an anticipatory strike to cut off pain and suffering at the pass, but the bummer is that you can end up generating a whole slew of consequences that you never saw coming. Making a call based on your fears instead of evidence sucks. It’s not fair to you or the other people involved.
So here’s my advice: find out if your friend is emotionally unstable or not the good old-fashioned way – let them reveal their self to you through their actions during the course of your friendship. You don’t need to get involved in these peoples' conflict, or to even talk about it with this person if that makes you uncomfortable. Unfortunately, taking sides in the way your friends are advising you to is a passive form of involvement, at least partially based on hersay. If in the end you find this friend to be unworthy, or unstable, then by all means unfriend ‘em. I encourage you to trust your first instincts in the matter to not take on someone else’s drama, or abandon a friendship over a rift that doesn’t involve you. Live in accordance with your values, so you can be the kind of person that you feel good about, CON, even if it’s a bit of an emotional risk.
I have a friend that I think I might be outgrowing, and I feel terrible because she's going through a legitimately tough time – a breakup, the death of a loved one, a long-distance move. But throughout these events her reactions have been really hard for me to stomach. I've been going to counseling for a while, working through my own depressive feelings and thoughts. Through cognitive behavioral therapy I'm learning a lot: to see happiness as a choice that can be reinforced by certain behaviors, to create space around my negative emotions, to manage my expectations, and to create healthy boundaries. And I guess that's what's so hard about our friendship right now: she is mirroring the behaviors and thought-habits I'm trying to kick. I want to feel more empathetic, but the past handful of times we've seen each other, I find myself crawling out of my skin. I see that she is engaging in a cycle of victim-thinking and really intense anger. I want to be a supportive friend, and I try to react to her pain in an understanding way, but she responds to everything I say with more anger. She wants a commiserater and I'm trying hard not to view the world that way for myself. I don't agree with her perspective on things (and maybe as a friend I don't have to) but it takes me a while to recover from spending time with her; I am shaken and angry myself for hours. How long do I keep this going in the service of "being a good friend" when it feels destructive to my mental health? – Worried I'm a Fair-Weather Friend
I love therapy; I love getting it, I love counseling others, and I love the potential payoff of working hard on oneself to change, grow, and become a better person. Its limitation is that it doesn’t replace real life experience, though. So while you may have gotten to a new place with some old and negative patterns in your thinking, that doesn’t mean that your life automatically reflects those internal changes, or that you’ve been able to practice embodying them in trying times. The life you built before you were all healed up is still ticking, and the friendships that once resonated with you still need your attention. I know it’s hard, but this is really just a great opening to put all your hard work and understanding of healthy boundaries into practice.
If this friend of yours is stuck in a self-pitying rut, you don’t need to stay there with her. Be supportive in whatever ways you can, but stick to the boundaries you need in order to not get sucked dry. It’s on you to hold your own boundaries.
Your friend is going through what sounds like a spectacularly awful time. I don’t want to encourage you to suck up your needs and feelings to take care of hers, but bailing on her is not a great option either. Have you considered asking her what kind of support she wants? It may be that she just needs someone to listen to her and not try to make anything better. Oftentimes when shit gets deep we don’t want advice, we just need a person to see our struggles and acknowledge how hard it is. If you have a hard time tolerating her pain, that’s a good thing to look at in yourself. When you can’t empathize, showing compassion is a skill worth having.
If this friend of yours is stuck in a self-pitying rut, you don’t need to stay there with her. Be supportive in whatever ways you can, but stick to the boundaries you need in order to not get sucked dry. It’s on you to hold your own boundaries, WIFWF. This is a great (albeit unpleasant) opportunity to see where another person ends and you begin, and to better manage your emotional expectations in real time. Don’t count on your pal to be OK right now, or for her to come to the same revelations as you have. It’s possible that no matter what you do, you’ve outgrown this friendship, but I encourage you to rise to the occasion to be there for a friend and to embody all you’ve learned in therapy. Being able to create space around your negative emotions kicked up by other people’s crap is an invaluable ability. Getting healthy doesn’t empower you to only consort with happy people. Confront the things you are trying to outgrow so that you can truly outgrow them.
I recently found out that the love of my life and father of my child is a sex addict and has been texting, emailing, and hooking up with people for years.
I love this man, he's an excellent husband and father, and he's voluntarily in therapy and going to 12 step meetings. He says sex addiction has made him feel trapped in guilt and shame but that he felt powerless to change it until he was caught. Since then, he says he hasn't engaged in any of the behaviors that were so destructive.
I want to believe him, and he is trying very hard to win back my trust, but now that it's been shattered I find it very difficult to believe that even his recovery isn't a giant staged farce.
Am I crazy for trying to keep our relationship and help him emerge from the other side of this addiction? – Sad and Shattered in San Francisco
Holy crap, SASSF, I am so sorry that you are going through this. I can’t imagine how fucked up it must have been to catch him, and then to find out that he’s been at it for years. It’s awful and I have a lot of compassion for all three of you. And no, you’re not crazy for trying to make things work with the man you love. Brave, but not crazy.
Addiction sucks and being cheated on is the worst, but life is complicated and there’s no wisdom in being rigid in the face of its trials. You don’t need to leave him right away any more than you need to have faith in him right away. The fact is that his actions made it impossible for you to trust him for now, and it’s only through time and hard work that he may be able to win that trust back. If you stay with him, you need to be patient with your process of healing, and wherever that takes you in the end.
Make commitments to yourself about what you’ll do if his lying or various forms of infidelity continue, and then keep your word. The only thing you can control is how you handle yourself, so promise to take care of you, even if he doesn’t.
So try to forgive him, but you must protect yourself. You need some clear boundaries to stick to if the going gets rough(er). I’m not talking about ultimatums for him, but you do need to know what you’re willing to work with and can handle in a healthy way. If you’re still sexually active with him and don’t trust his fidelity, by all means use condoms and make him get regular STD tests. Make commitments to yourself about what you’ll do if his lying or various forms of infidelity continue, and then keep your word. The only thing you can control is how you handle yourself, so promise to take care of you, even if he doesn’t, SASSF.
The thing about addicts is that sometimes they relapse. Sex addiction, like any other addiction, inclines people to compulsively do things that hurt themselves and others. It’s usually not an intentional ploy to harm the people they love, even if that’s exactly what they end up doing. Addiction makes people act in disassociated, selfish, and impulsive ways. If you decide to stand by your partner as he works on his recovery, you need to honor your own needs for recovery too. Make sure you’re putting yourself before him in this, or you may find yourself on a slippery and martyred slope. If you can’t forgive him and find yourself drowning in resentments, then you need to honor that too. His lies changed everything between you, and nothing can undo that. Give yourself a timeframe to work within to heal your marriage, but if you’re miserable and can’t move past this, then you need to leave him. There is no easy choice here, I’m sorry to say.
If you aren’t already, I encourage you to get involved in your own 12 step program (Al-Anon or S-Anon are good places to start) and your own therapy. This is a shitty but real opportunity to learn your limits, have strong boundaries, and learn to let go. Only time will tell what you need to let go of, but whatever you choose, make sure it’s a choice you can live with.
I met someone a few years ago and had a feeling about her like I've never had about anyone else before. Since then I've had a series of strange synchronicities with her, as well as dreams and psychic feelings about our future together. Even my close friends, who are very intuitive, have had dreams about the two of us being together. The trouble is, this person has been involved with someone else since I first met her, and now they are engaged. I've tried to forget about her and move on, but whenever I begin to, some weird synchronicity happens again. It's as if the universe will not let me forget about her.
I'm now involved with someone else, and she's great. I want to be present in my current relationship and wonder how I can do this when I feel haunted by this other person? I feel guilty even thinking about her. I want to know why I've had strange synchronicities with the other person for years now. What does it mean? Have I read into it too much? Is love at first sight real? Is this connection significant or just a fantasy/escape? I would like some relief from it so I can live my life and be present but wonder the meaning of the commonalities we've had. Help! I'm very confused.
– Lost & Confused
I’m sorry that your heart strings have been pulled in such a complicated way, and I’ll do my best to help you out here – although I’m not sure you’re gonna like what I have to say.
I believe in love at first sight, but I think it can only be verified in hindsight. The trouble with allowing yourself to believe that you love a person that you don’t actually know is that you’re in love with your fantasy of them. It may turn out that your fantasy is accurate, but the only way to find that out is to break the spell and get to know her, in the real world. When we project shit onto people, even if it is beautiful, hopeful, and sparkly shit, it’s not healthy. It’s highly unlikely that your vision for your future together is a shared one and that you’re seeing her as she truly is.
Why haven’t you tried to get to know her over the past few years, before she got engaged? It seems like the most simple approach to take – have a crush, and then pursue some sort of relationship with her to see if she is in fact a heart throb or an intensely emo pants throb. What I don’t know from your question is if you’ve attempted to get to know her. If you have and she wasn’t into connecting with you, you’ve got to respect that and emotionally untangle yourself from your fantasies of her. Pronto.
The trouble with allowing yourself to believe that you love a person that you don’t actually know is that you’re in love with your fantasy of them. When we project shit onto people, even if it is beautiful, hopeful, and sparkly shit, it’s not healthy.
Signs are not always what we think they are! I work as a psychic, but I believe that intuition and serendipity only help us get to a certain point; it’s not meant to replace human interaction, LC. Asking questions and listening to answers is key in relating. I encourage you to quit trying to understand the why behind your feelings, and instead deal with your reality. The object of your affections is getting married, so it’s appropriate to assume she is happy in her love life. You’ve had years to try to break up her relationship and get your happily-ever-after with her if that’s what you wanted, and you didn’t do it; after she got engaged is certainly not the time to try.
There’s no magic bullet for getting over heartbreak, LC, but I’m afraid that’s exactly what you must earnestly try to do. Take some alone time to nurse your heart, but do let her go. Try to focus on the woman that you do know and have chosen to be with, even as you traverse the loss of a different dream. If you can’t do that, do her a favor and let her go too.
My partner and I started our relationship by cheating on our girlfriends 7 years ago (not recommended!). My relationship was only a few months in the making, while hers was a partnership of almost a decade. Since we got together, I never expected or wanted her to end her friendship with her ex, though at times it has been hard to hear her refer to her as her best friend and her "heart."
Our relationship was obviously devastating to her ex, and has been a large part of the reason they have fallen out of touch over the last few years. But recently they have reconnected. And now my girlfriend, along with her sister, and her sister's partner, want to take a group trip to visit her ex. I am not invited.
If I say I don't want my girlfriend to go, I will most certainly be told I am denying her a significant relationship and her autonomy. If I go along with it, I will feel left out, resentful, and like my feelings don't matter. Where is the middle ground? What is the appropriate ex/new partner etiquette after all this time?
-Stuck Between An Ex and A Hard Place
Ouch. I don’t need to tell you that your significant other is putting you in a terrible position; she’s not only requiring that you be cool with her having an intimate relationship with someone who threatens you, but she’s treating this ex kind of like a current.
I don’t know something about your relationship that’s important – do you travel without each other often? Is it a common thing for her to go on trips and leave you at home? Because if so, it’s not so weird that she isn't inviting you on this trip. Not so weird. If you always travel with her and this exception is being made for the ex, then I have to say an emphatic Oh-Hell-No, and I encourage you to as well!
If you always travel with her and this exception is being made for the ex, then I have to say an emphatic Oh-Hell-No, and I encourage you to as well!
It worries me that she’s alienating you. The worst part about cheating in my mind is not the sexy times and sweaty bits; it’s the lies. It’s having precious experiences that you hide from your partner. And while I in no way think your GF is cheating on you, she is essentially going on a double date vacay that you’re not invited to. How are you supposed to feel OK about that? It’s messy and inconsiderate of your feelings, as well as your place in her life. It concerns me that she seems to be protecting her ex from having to deal with the fact the she has super-hecka moved on. Like seven years on. My guess is that she feels guilty and is compensating for it by treating this woman with kid gloves. And if I’m right about that, then you’ve already discovered this unpleasant nugget of truth – when a person feels guilty and acts from that place, they are defensive in protecting their actions. It’s not because they’re necessarily doing something wrong, it’s ‘cause when we act out of guilt we’re not dealing with the root of what we did that was so ‘bad’ in the first place. We’re just trying to shake it off and fix it by being ‘good.’
I think that this problem requires more than etiquette. It calls for some vigorous honesty. You deserve to have your partner prioritize your feelings, and to hear them out with compassion. If she chooses to say screw you and your stinking feelings, then you need to be honest with yourself about what that means about your place in her eyes. The two of you need to talk about the two of you because that’s what’s important here, not what she is or isn’t doing with her ex. In the end she might want you to go, and make you feel wanted while you’re there, but still focus on her ex. Maybe you could bring a friend of your own to chill with while she catches up. The real problem here is that she is not prioritizing you, and if that can be remedied then I encourage you to suck up your jealousies and be a supportive partner, even if it stings a bit.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for about four years. I'm really in love with him, but lately I feel really bored too. I feel so guilty, but I just can't shake it. He still tries to be romantic, takes me out on dates, buys me flowers, etc. Our sex is fine, as fine as it's ever been. When I think about seeing him in the evenings after work, though, I just feel like, ugh. Boring. Same old. It's horrible, and I'm afraid if I don't fix this feeling, I'm going to sabotage the greatest relationship I've ever been in. What do I do?– Margo
Uh-oh, Margo. While your problem is not uncommon, it’s a serious one without an easy fix.
Are you sure you’re really in love with him and not in love with who he used to be, or just with being in a relationship? If you’re not in love with the guy he is here and now, there’s nothing you can do to change that. You can change your dynamic, your attitudes, and your actions, but you can’t force yourself into love with someone or change them back into the person you fell for.
Either way, your feelings are totally valid. Guilt is a four-letter word, Margo. You have the right to feel however you do, so stop feeling guilty, STAT! And while you’re at it, make sure you’re not overcompensating for your feelings by acting overly nice, promising him that everything is OK when you know darn well that it isn’t. You don’t have to tell him that the sex is meh and that you’re bored to tears, but you certainly shouldn’t try to convince him otherwise, either. Lies, even ones told in the name of sparing peoples feelings, are shitty, especially when they mess with people's hearts.
If you adore sex, then it’s no surprise that after four years of “fine” relations you’re bored, bored, bored. Guilt and boredom are boner-killers extraordinaire. You’re not going to want to bone him if you’re not happy in your life with him. So I encourage you to start with you.
Here’s some good news: boredom can be fixed. Are you tired of him, or is it your life together that feels stale? Do you have friends you enjoy, and are you seeing them as much as you need to? Got any hobbies and interests outside of work and your sweetie? Don’t blame your boyfriend if you find it boring to come home straight after work every day! There’s no rule stating that when you’re boo’d up you can’t change your lifestyle. It’s unrealistic to expect all of your happiness to come from one person. Try to go out more, with or without him, and see if that improves things. Make your life more dynamic and interesting for yourself and see if it rubs off on your feelings about him.
And now about the sex, my friend. How important sex is to you is part of what makes you an individual, Margo. If it’s NBD, that’s fair, but if you adore sex, then it’s no surprise that after four years of “fine” relations you’re bored, bored, bored. Guilt and boredom are boner-killers extraordinaire. There is no emotion less sexy than guilt, and none less passionate than boredom, so don’t punish yourself for your feelings about your otherwise lovely bf. You deserve an awesome, sweaty good time (hopefully with the guy you’re committed to)! Of course, you’re not going to want to bone him if you’re not happy in your life with him. So again, I encourage you to start with you.
One of the most common problems I see in long-term relationships happens when one person stops having an independent fantasy landscape. That's the place where all bets are off, there’s no such thing as boredom, consequences, or obligation. If you don’t have an active fantasy life, then all of your sexuality gets run through your bf, which can be hella boring, especially if he doesn’t rock your world in bed. Make sure you’re exploring what you like as it evolves over time, in sex and elsewhere. It’s on you to let your partner know what you like and what you want to try out, and, of course, it’s on him to respond like a champ.
I've been an activist for as long as I've lived in the Bay Area – almost a decade now. I'm passionate about equal rights for all, fighting unfair evictions, LGBT protection under the law, and reducing carbon emissions, among other things. The thing is, I'm just so tired of being poor. I got offered a job doing some design work for a startup and it pays really, really well. The start-up is basically a parasite of the tech boom, though; their product is totally unnecessary for the furtherance of humanity, and I seriously doubt they'll be around this time next year. But I have the chance to make my entire 2013 earnings in the next three months with them. This could give me time to work on the things I'm passionate about later in the year. I'm torn. On the one hand, this company is part of the machine that's crushing SF's micro cultures. On the other hand, I haven't been handed much in life, and this opportunity just got handed to me. What do I do?
There’s a gold rush in this town, Alec, and there’s no use in denying it. There’s so much money to be made and there’s more than enough for everyone, but of course we both know that’s not how things shake down. There are countless ways to promote change and live ethically, just as there are countless ways to create and hold on to wealth. What we all must do is find the ways that work for us as individuals, based on our needs, and for those of us so inclined, our ethics.
I encourage you to do what you have to in order to support your activism’s longevity. The reason why a disproportionate number of activists tend to be younger people is because it gets exhausting to go into the world and fight for what you believe, and then come home and fight for your own survival. It isn’t always sustainable and people burn out. So by all means, use your design skills to make as much money as you want, live a great life, and continue to do the work you believe in! Just don’t sell your soul to do it.
I have a hard time telling from your question if this start-up that offered you a job is a symptom of the cultural problems you see, or a creator of those problems. There’s a huge difference between the two and you may need to reexamine your attitudes in this quickly changing world.
I have a hard time telling from your question if this start-up that offered you a job is a symptom of the cultural problems you see, or a creator of those problems. There’s a huge difference between the two and you may need to reexamine your attitudes in this quickly changing world. Technology is part of our future, Alec, and like it or not, it's where more and more jobs will be found. Don’t put all tech companies in a bucket named “Culture Killers”; it’s a shortsighted view of things. Whenever we look at things in an “us versus them” perspective it provokes judgment and leaves the door open to hate. In the wise words of Ms. Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, “us hating them because they have money is the same thing as them hating us ‘cause we don’t.”
The truth is always more nuanced than good versus evil. There are startups and tech companies that strive to do well in the world, and even more that are benign, but the same is true of any old fashioned jobs. Wherever you work, you’ll have to compromise something. If this company is in opposition to your value system, don’t work for them, but if not, I say get in there, make beaucoup bucks, and get out. We’ve all done work that stretches our ethics. We've all gotta pay rent, and there’s a season for all things, including getting in the black. You just need to weigh the psychic dollars against the cash money dollars of your choices, Alec, and come out in the balance on the side of integrity, even if you choose some compromise for the next three months.
Four years ago, I lived in SF, was about to head to NYC for b-school, and couldn't ‘see’ what I was doing in my life. Well, I'm 30 now, unemployed, $200K in debt because of my fancy degree, and more lost than I was at 26 – and I'm jobless. Aside from building a time-machine, which would be uber cool, how do I get unlost at my age, when it’s no longer "cute" to not know what you are doing? -AR
The pain in the ass about being in your thirties is that you’re accountable for your choices in a whole new way. Unfortunately, many people respond to that pressure by taking the conservative route. While you may feel desperate for a quick fix, be wary of taking the kind of “practical” advice that may have gotten you in this mess to begin with! You don’t say in your question if you spent $200k to find out that you hate business, or if you’re inspired to use your schmancy degree. Luckily, either way my advice is the same.
If you’re not independently wealthy, you most likely need to secure a job that may not address the question of your life’s purpose, but will help you pay off some of your debt and get your survival needs met. So that’s step one. Let your ego go and get a job that’ll pay the bills until you figure out the big stuff. That will also take some of the urgency out of your investigations.
You’ll never be as young, and with as many possibilities in front of you, as you are now! Don’t waste time feeling like you’re running out of it.
Here’s the hard part – what to be now that you’ve grown up? I kind of hate it when people say to “follow your bliss,” partially because of how vague and weird that sounds, but also because after almost 20 years of counseling people, I’ve learned that most of us are not driven by the desire for bliss. We are stubborn animals driven by our fears and our needs around survival. Ask yourself what you are being motivated by, and what motivated you to get this degree to begin with, AR. If fear is guiding you, beware! I wonder if your decision to go to business school was driven by your own vision or somebody else’s prescription for what your life is supposed to look like. Go deeper than your upset over not having the answers yet and your desire for time travel to get the kind of answers you can live with.
Now for the money shot: you have to figure out the single most important thing for you to get from work. Is it money, power, respect, happiness, satisfaction? There are many reasons to work, and you need to know yours. Don’t figure this stuff out because you’re 30 and want to look good to your peers. Do it because you deserve a life that you really want to live!
My close and personal friend the Dalai Lama says that the meaning of life is happiness, and that the journey of life is uncovering what makes you happy. Take the time to take risks that will lead you to happiness, even if it takes you your whole thirties to figure it out. You’ll never be as young, and with as many possibilities in front of you, as you are now! Don’t waste time feeling like you’re running out of it.
When it comes to good advice, Jessica Lanyadoo has it in spades. The Mission’s resident psychic/astrologer/badass gets booked months in advance by San Franciscans seeking help with everything from figuring out their love lives to communicating with their pets. So we asked Jessica if she’d come on board to do a weekly advice column, Truth Talk, for The Bold Italic. If you have a burning question for Truth Talk with Jessica Lanyadoo, email her at email@example.com, and check back on Wednesdays to see if she has an answer for you.
From an astrological perspective, why is everyone being so short-tempered right now? Over the past few days it just seems to be getting worse: snippy coworkers, random disagreements, road rage, increased pedestrian accidents in the news, and a general uplift in meta-anger that everyone I talk to in SF is noticing. What gives??
Well, I’ve got a few answers for you, JC. The first one is in the form of a question. Have you ever rented a car, let's say a convertible, and when you were driving around all of a sudden noticed a million other convertibles on the road with you? We tend to notice things that resonate with us. So if you’re feeling in love and overjoyed, you pick up on the sweet things all around you. Call it the law of attraction, Murphy’s Law, or Law and Order, but it works. So part of what you’re experiencing is about you. If you are confronted with, or noticing upsets at every turn, you should take that not-so gentle nudge from the Fates to see where you stand on the topic. How you hold and express what angers you is important, but it sounds like you are also being tested by how you hold your own in the face of other peoples’ crappy or even dangerous moods. Rise to the occasion by striking a self-appropriate balance between standing your ground (California style, NOT Florida style. Keep your guns in their holsters, please) and being able and willing to go to battle if need be.
In our culture there are such mixed messages about how OK it is to express and experience anger. Here’s what I think; anger is energy. It isn’t good or bad. When harnessed creatively it can be a powerful force that motivates, protects, and ignites. When it's repressed or used with destructive intent, it becomes a thing to be feared. So don’t resist all confrontations or dances with the very human emotions that you’re feeling crowded by. They’re up for a reason. Being interested in what you have to gain by consciously interacting with even the most annoying or upsetting aspects of your life will only make things more fruitful for you.
Mars, the planet of fucking and fighting, who governs short-tempers, anger, assertion, ambition, and yes, even your car, driving, and road-rage, has gone retrograde.
And finally to my astrological response, the answer you’ve been waiting for, JC. Mars, the planet of fucking and fighting, who governs short-tempers, anger, assertion, ambition, and yes, even your car, driving, and road-rage, has gone retrograde. This means that it appears to be going backwards in the sky, and is thereby screwing with everyone on the planet, not just our fair city. So yes, you and the rest of us lucky sods are likely to be dealing with issues related to the aggression, ambition, and/or passions of others and our own selves, which can lead to all kinds of trouble (both the fun and awful kinds). Mars went retrograde this month and will remain so until July 2014, so there’s plenty of time for us all to be confronted with whatever we need to deal with. The key here is to not shrink away from it. There’s something to be gained from this and it would be a waste to let your own temper or fear of conflict inhibit you from refining how you interact with Mars’ fierce energies. A good channel for Mars and anger issues in general is your body; exercise, dancing, growling, sexing, and fist pumping (you don’t have to be on the Jersey shore to do it, my friend) are easy ways to express your excess or repressed Mars energies without causing a kerfuffle.
Now, there’s another, more complicated astrological happening that is coming for us in April that I won’t get into here except to say that repressing your energies won’t work. We are living in an astrological pressure cooker, which means that I’m living in it, and so are you and you and you and you. So show us all patience. Don’t engage when you know you can’t be constructive, and don’t take it personally when it’s obvious you’ve gotten caught in the crosshairs of someone else’s bad vibes. Pick your battles wisely and focus on your own participation instead of monitoring anyone else’s.
When it comes to good advice, Jessica Lanyadoo has it in spades. The Mission’s resident psychic/astrologer/badass gets booked months in advance by San Franciscans seeking help with everything from figuring out their love lives to communicating with their pets. So we asked Jessica if she’d come on board to do a weekly advice column for The Bold Italic. If you have a burning question for Truth Talk with Jessica Lanyadoo, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check back on Wednesdays to see if she has an answer for you.
My girlfriend really wants me to move in with her, and as a concept, the idea sounds awesome. We’d save rent; I’m practically at her house all the time anyway; and we wouldn’t have to plan when we’d be seeing each other as much. But then, this being San Francisco, I’m really scared to leave my rent-controlled place. Like, what if I move out, she and I break up six months later, and I’m out on my ass looking at places that are three times as expensive? —Alyssa
Good lord, Alyssa, hold on to your rent-controlled apartment!
There’s no reason to move in with your GF other than because you adore her and want to take your relationship to the next level. Moving in with your sweetie is not a conceptual thing. Living with someone is hard; it requires consideration and compromise, and if you’re not careful, it can be a total lady boner-killer. Mad rents aside, this is not the kind of decision you should make lightly or just because she wants it. If you love her, I encourage you to be in the 90-percentile range about how much you’d like to live with her. Then, and only then, is giving up your precious rent-controlled apartment a good idea.
I’ve been sleeping with the same guy pretty regularly for a couple of years. He’ll never be my boyfriend, but he’s an excellent booty call. Sometimes I wonder, though, if I’m doing something wrong by having sex with the same dude, who, I know, is a dead end. Should I cut him off because I know there will never be more or enjoy our bangin’ sex life while we have it? —Laura
This is a hard question to answer because I know so little about you. Do you want to be in an LTR? Is this guy a jerk who knows how to make real-good sex, or is he a lovely guy who’s just not right for you? Because let’s face it: having sex with the same guy for years on end is on some level a cock-block to attracting someone worth investing in. How would you be behaving differently if you weren’t getting your needs met on the regular? My guess is that you’d be trying harder to make things happen with other guys if this one wasn’t so available to you. If you want to be in a serious relationship, it’s better to keep your tricks truly casual so you can focus on making connections with quality guys. But if you don’t really want a BF, I say get it, girl. There is no shame in having a good time. (But please, oh, please tell me you use condoms. And not, like, usually, but every single time. Otherwise I change my answer and advise you to take a vow of chastity and get an STD test – for reals.)
Tuth talk with jessica lanyadoo was originally written for and published by the bold italic. it ran there from march 2014-april 2015.
Astrologer, psychic, medium, intuitive counselor, and tarot card reader Jessica Lanyadoo shares her wisdom and magic from San Francisco to the world.