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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dear Captain Awkward,

I recently broke up with my partner. It was actually the best breakup I’ve ever had, if such a thing can exist: mutual, honest, open, and with what we hope will be a genuine friendship remaining. I’m still sad and I miss him terribly, but I know that it will be okay. For now though, I am often sad and lonely, and so I’ve been leaning on my friends a lot. Which has become weird since a few of my friends have begun expressing interest in sleeping with me.

Many of them identify as polyamorous, and some seem to have no friend zone. I don’t have a problem with casual sex, but what I need from my friends is friendship and company and hugs, and what I’m getting is flirtation that makes me feel both guilty for saying no and angry that they can’t see that this is not the time. I’m scared to accept those hugs and company for fear of sending the wrong message, and I’m even more scared that I’ll relent in a moment of vulnerability and loneliness and do something I really can’t handle. I have blatantly told them that I only want friendship right now, but I still feel paranoid, like I am being set up for the polyamorous edition of this XKCD comic.

So I guess I have two questions: first, how do I keep boundaries so that I don’t seek validation from people I like, but don’t find supermegafoxyawesomehot? And second, how do I stop getting angry at friends who are attracted to me, or questioning their motivations for friendship?

Thank you,

Fresh Meat

Dear Fresh Meat,

Congratulations and condolences on your good breakup. I’m sorry that it has done strange things to your mojo and that your friends are choosing this way to “comfort” you.

There is one phrase that can throw cold water on the intentions of people from the planet of no friend zone.

Thanks, I don’t like you that way.”

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The Hulk

The Hulk is my patronus.

We’re going deep into the Jerkbrain today, so let’s start with nice things that I love.

First, a safe-for-work, short animated film, Address Is Approximate. It’s so simple and beautiful, and it punched me right in the heart (in a good way).

Next, Holly’s post about Consent Culture:

A consent culture is one in which the prevailing narrative of sex–in fact, of human interaction–is centered around mutual consent.  It is a culture with an abhorrence of forcing anyone into anything, a respect for the absolute necessity of bodily autonomy, a culture that believes that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs.

I don’t want to limit it to sex.  A consent culture is one in which mutual consent is part of social life as well.  Don’t want to talk to someone? You don’t have to.  Don’t want a hug? That’s okay, no hug then.  Don’t want to try the fish? That’s fine.  (As someone with weird food aversions, I have a special hatred for “just taste a little!”)  Don’t want to be tickled or noogied? Then it’s not funny to chase you down and do it anyway.

 I think part of the reason we have trouble drawing the line “it’s not okay to force someone into sexual activity” is that in many ways, forcing people to do things is part of our culture in general.  Cut that shit out of your life.  If someone doesn’t want to go to a party, try a new food, get up and dance, make small talk at the lunchtable–that’s their right.  Stop the “aww c’mon” and “just this once” and the games where you playfully force someone to play along.  Accept that no means no–all the time.

…It’s good to practice drawing your own boundaries outside of the bedroom, too.  It can be shockingly empowering to say something as small as “no, I don’t want to sit with you.”  “No, you can’t have my phone number.”  “I love hugs, but please ask me first.”  It’s good practice for the big stuff.  Simply learning to put your mind in the frame of “this person does not want me to say no to them, and they will resist me doing it, but I’m doing it anyway” is a big, important deal.

Go read the whole thing, obviously. She lays out a beautiful case that boundaries make life better and sex better, and that there are a lot of small things we can do to make the world better for each other. She also sets us up beautifully for today’s question.

El Capitan!

I hope perhaps you might have some advice — or the crowd might — on how to stop being obnoxious. See, I’m pretty laid-back up until someone does something crummy to me. For instance! Once a dude forgot about a date with me, and when he remembered, went snowboarding anyway. Objectively douchey, but that’s not the problem — the problem is that once someone does a thing like that I WILL NEVER FORGET. I will obsess over it, picking at what happened like it’s a scab. I will quite likely resent them and want them to suffer, up till I forget who they are. Which does happen — bad memory — but takes too long to achieve. Leaving scorched earth behind doesn’t work that well in a smaller community as I’m likely going to have to interact with these people in the future. Or at least I’d like to interact, in a nice blasé way, and with none of the perpetual RAWWWWWWWWWWWWR that goes on in my head (and sometimes escapes my lips). It’s embarrassing to feel so strongly about stupid things from the past. I don’t want to lose the Dignity Game. Also, it’s tiring to keep the perpetual motion hamster wheel of resentment going in my head. It takes up so much space in there, which could be better used by remembering fun sex or something.

So! The question is: How the hell do I stop my brain from going over this stuff? How do I turn it off, or retrain myself? I’d like to keep my feathers unruffled, and stop embarrassing myself.

Yours sincerely,
Shut Up, Brain

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Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show

These are not the people who should be writing Internet policy.

Do you like all those awesome pop culture references and movie stills we use around these parts all the time? If you’re in the USA, here are some good links for you to check out today:

Mother Jones’s coverage of the SOPA/PIPA Issue

ProPublica’s tracker of individual congresspeople and where they stand on the issue.

A very no-hassle way to contact your particular congresspeople about the issue.

Sorry, rest of the world! We’ll resume normal activities soon enough.

Daisy & Mrs. Patmore in the kitchen at Downton Abbey

Your mentors want to give you the respect you've earned, but sometimes you have to ask directly for it.

Hi Captain Awkward

I have a casual job, working at a holiday camp. This job is about 4 hours away from home, and involves going and staying on the property while I work. I spent a couple of years after I left school living and working out there full time, but now I’m based in my home city, going to uni, and I work some weekends and holidays. I’ve known my boss since I was 10 years old – I grew up going to the camps myself. She’s a really lovely lady, who I’ve gotten close to over the years, and I’ve learned so much working out there over the years. Recently, though, I’ve had trouble balancing working out there and having a life back at home.

My boss is always asking me when I can come and how long I can stay, and… she’s hard to say no to. I always end up promising more time to her than I want to, and sometimes missing out on things I’d wanted to do. If I’ve told her I’ll work, though, then I think that I need to follow through on that commitment, unless someone breaks their leg back home.

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I am a twenty-five-year-old introverted, socially-awkward, geeky fat girl who has never been kissed. I feel weird about this, because it feels like there is something terribly wrong with me, and all of my friends are way more experienced than I am.

I don’t really know if I have the energy for a relationship right now, and have had terrible luck in dating — mostly I end up meeting guys who have fetishes for inexperience or fatness or smart ladies, and I am the only fat/virgin/geek girl they ever met, and they MUST HAVE ME or they will be ALONE FOREVER! and they tell me that clearly they are the only person who could ever like me anyway, and then I block them on AIM and don’t answer their calls. Or people who I am into are clearly not into me, and if they’re nice about it we end up as friends, and if they’re jerks about it I’m magically not into them anymore, because I’m not into jerks.

At any rate, sadness often causes me to whine to my friends about how awkward I am and nobody loves me except for creepy dudes, woe, angst. My friends are lovely, but usually they pull out the old story about how I’m just really intimidating, because I’m smart and funny and awesome, and CLEARLY dudes don’t ask me out/get weird and distant or jerky after I’ve asked them out because I am JUST TERRIFYINGLY AMAZING.

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Jerry Orbach as Lenny Briscoe

Protip: If you are feeling sad about a breakup, stare at this face for approximately 125 hours of Law & Order reruns and you'll be on the mend in no time!

Dear Captain Awkward,

I have never been in a relationship and yet somehow I often wind up being among the first people told about break-ups of others. Today a friend I haven’t known for long (couple of months but we hit it off right away) send me an email to apologise for not replying to my emails because her boyfriend had unexpectedly broken up with her. I don’t know what happened, but it doesn’t sound like it was a good break up!

I was at a complete loss what I should say and eventually merely said that to let me know if she wants to go for a meal sometime and that I find keeping busy helps. I suggested a night in w/ film/pizza/drinks (the usual) but I am not sure how to handle the situation should she want to do this. What kind of film? Preferably no rom-coms I guess. I don’t generally hug people although this feels like a situation in which I probably should…  My flatmate recently broke up with her boyfriend and we never spoke about it although I made sure to be around plenty for meals and stuff so she wasn’t alone.

As life goes on, I can only assume that as break ups are part of life, I will be in this situation again. What would your advice to awkward geeks be on how to handle other peoples problems?

Thanks,
Not-Sure-How-To-Help-People

Dear Not-Sure:

As someone who was recently a member of Team Sad Panda, I have a lot of thoughts about this. Well, one run-on sentency sort of thought like usual.

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