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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Three letters in one today. This will get long, but bear with us, ok? There is a soundtrack and a lot of talk about crushes and what they mean and what you should do about them.

First, a little song from one of our Awkward Patron Saints to get you in the mood.

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A scene from the movie gaslight, with Ingrid Bergman looking up at a flickering lamp.

Why is the light flickering? And why did I marry this abusive fuckstain?

Hi Captain,

I am a twenty-something girl who has absolutely no clue how to act in social situations. My partner of 5 years refuses to take me to restaurants or pubs, because I always ruin the mood by saying something stupid or embarrassing. I’m big on social media and connecting the conversation to recent events, which is what I presume most people do. I know myself to be very childish and young-minded, I do prefer the company of children, who don’t judge, than to adults.

Whenever my partner and myself are invited to attend one of his work functions, I usually sit quietly at the table and enjoy my food and wine, not talking unless someone directs a question at me, which is rarely. We also attend a ‘work holiday’ once a year, which is paid for by my partner’s boss, and which all members of his work attend. Again, I mainly stay clear of everyone, as my partner does not want me to embarrass him in front of his work colleagues. This usually leads me to sitting alone in the hotel room with a book, while everyone is out at a bar or exploring the sights. This is not a choice, it is what I do to keep my partner happy. I always try to make people laugh, but my jokes come off too offensive sometimes, and I have no filter between my brain and my mouth. I am horrible in interviews and even chatting to people in the checkout queue. I have never been good at social interactions, and I am desperate to know what to do, other than keep my mouth shut.

It’s official: Your letter breaks my heart.

You may in fact be really socially awkward. You may have a diagnosable condition that makes it hard for you to read social cues or causes you social anxiety. You may be too hip for the room sometimes. You may be a practitioner of the ancient Japanese art of Fart-jitsu. Whatever’s going on? You just found your people. Come inside where you don’t have to ever make small talk and we already like you and think you’re great. Because you? YOU ARE GREAT. And the way you deal with social situations, by being quiet when you don’t know what to say but responding when people engage you shows some basic good manners and a decent level of self-awareness. “I don’t have anything to say right now so I will be quiet and listen” is like the pearls-and-conservative-tasteful-dress of behaviors: Sometimes a little stiff and boring? Rarely inappropriate.

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Miracle Max from The Princess Bride

"It would take a miracle for this guy take you out for an M.L.T."

Hello, Awkwardeers, I’ve had the good problems of paid freelance work, social fun times with friends, and trying to get a movie project off the ground, so posting has been and will continue to be spotty.

First, I’d like to signal-boost this post which perfectly sums up everything I hate about the idea of the Friend Zone. We all get crushes, right? And sometimes those crushes are on our friends, or we get crushes that turn into friendships. If your friends are awesome, and you’re with me on the “don’t date people who aren’t as cool as your friends” train, it’s bound to happen to you sooner or later. Describing that as “The Friend Zone” implies that you feel a sense of entitlement towards that person and think they owed you something different. If it’s not a friendship that sustains itself once the possibility of getting laid/loved is off the table? Simple. Don’t be friends with people you don’t value for their own sake.

Second, this question came in as a comment on the “A Shy Guy Caught My Eye” post, but I think it deserves its own answer.

Hi Jennifer

I read all of this and thought you gave great advice. So i wanted to ask for your advice. I really like this super awkward shy guy. I’ve liked him off and on for 4yrs. I’ve tryed to talk to him threw text and facebook, for about a year. but he only gives me a few word answers and doesn’t convo back to much. Also last summer we hungout one night and drank a few beers and ended up making out. Well we sat there for alittle bit talking and he was so nerves he keep ripping up the grass we were sitting on. And he told me he liked me for the last 6 months. Well i made the mistake of saying i had liked him for the last 3 years. But i ment to say i liked him off and on for 3 years lol. He was like “Really that’s along time” then i ended up writing him the next day and pouring out my heart (like you said not to do above) (I pretty much did everything above lol). Well he never wrote me back. So I can’t tell if he likes me.

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Feminist cookie with icing that says "thinks women are people."

Photo by Flickr user sajbrfem, click image to see entire set.

Oh Captain! My Captain!

I have what I hope is a quick question.

Background: Back in high-school, I was (and still am, to an extent), an incredibly awkward dude. The more I learn on the internet, the more I realize that I was a Nice Guy™. I wasn’t an egregious Nice Guy™, but it was still there. I also followed the GSFs (not so much #4; even I realized that some circles just won’t get along), even though I didn’t know what they were.

As a result of all this, I was very much a Nice Guy™ to this girl I liked. She was kind of nerdy, and for some odd reason, hung around with me. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I kind of avoided asking her out in a real way, and did it in that passive-aggressive way that avoids any real rejection. We grew apart for various unrelated reasons, and haven’t talked in years. The thing is, looking back on my past, I realize I probably made things quite uncomfortable for her.

The question is, should I send her an e-mail detailing these things and apologize, or should I just let sleeping dogs lie and know that I’ll do my best to avoid being a Nice Guy™ in the future?

A Slightly More Self-Aware Nerd

Please, I beg you, let the dogs sleep.

Look at it this way:  “Hey, remember when I was incredibly passive-aggressive and weird because I really wanted your approval and it made you totally uncomfortable? I’ve figured out that was wrong and am trying to stop doing that. So….can I have your approval now?

Do you want to be that guy?

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A flyer for a lost velociraptor, very bitey.

Sometimes when you make a list of someone's qualities, you discover they lack redeeming ones.

Dear Captain Awkward,

There’s been something that’s been really bothering me for the last year and a half or so, and I really think you might be able to help. Two years ago I met a cool girl, let’s call her Marla, and we became good friends.

So, I’m a 24 year-old gal in college and I work really hard to finance myself. I come from a rough home life, so my friends are my support network, and we all look out for each other. I’m outgoing, independent, and most of the time I feel like I strike a good balance between school/work/play. I feel great about my life.

Marla and I met during a lab project. She hated this college/this town/her classes/everyone who attends our school right off the bat. It took a while for me to spot certain things:

1) Marla always remarks that she’s better off not knowing many people (because all people are terrible and boil bunnies? WHO KNOWS!).

2) Marla repeatedly calls my friends ‘crazy’ and is very vocal about it in front of others. She doesn’t approve of how certain friends explore their sexuality outside the boundaries of a traditional hetero-monogamous relationship (having safe, respectful, honest sex with other cool single people they meet but might not see a future with). Sometimes even when I say something like, “Oh, my friend’s boyfriend is taking her for granted a little bit and I wish she would stand up for herself more”, Marla will turn it into “YOU have weird friends, YOU attract crazy people”. She acknowledges that she is very judgmental, and doesn’t intend to do anything about it.

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An embroidered sampler of Smeagol loving the Ring

Sometimes love is really awkward and weird.

Valentine’s day is tomorrow, right? These are pretty much still my thoughts about that. It’s a terrible night to eat out. Don’t buy anyone an expensive necklace that looks like two butts stuck together. People like to be told that they matter.

Today’s question is also a love story.

Dear Capt. Awkward,

I have depression. It’s diagnosed, I’m on happy pills and everything. It varies, sometimes I’ll be completely fine, other times I’ll have a sobbing emotional breakdown in the middle of a bar. The breakdowns don’t happen very often, and I’ve talked to my drug!shrink about my medication. Unfortunately it appears my options are to be more drugged during the good times in order to compensate for the bad times, which are sporadic and unpredictable. Since I don’t really like being on drugs in the first place, we decided to continue the meds I’m on and cope with the bad episodes.

 One of the (few) really good, awesome things I have in my life is a group of friends that is nurturing, loving and completely sympathetic to my issues. Several of them have either been diagnosed with depression or had depressive episodes following breakups or extreme stress, so they understand what I’m dealing with.

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I’ve been in a relationship for over four years now, initially long-distance but much closer for the past year and a half. We went from long-distance to living together in my mother’s house, and then, when she went to university in another city, living apart on the weekdays and back together on the weekend. This is the first proper relationship either of us have been in, and a lot has happened in the four years we’ve been together. We’ve broken up twice before, both times initiated by her, although they were apparently facilitated by her mother, who was becoming more and more mentally ill towards the end of her life. Her mother died in 2009, while my girlfriend was living with her uncle. Obviously this was a terrible time for her, but I did my best to support her through it.

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Dear Captain Awkward:

I have a coworker diagnosed with bipolar. Let’s call her Cosette.

Cosette and I work in the same field, and share many colleagues. When I moved to my current job with Cosette, our colleagues told me about her diagnosis. Some did this in a really ableist sort of way (“Look out for Cosette, she’s crazy”), and some did this in a helpful specific way (“Cosette has certain problems with boundaries, here’s what worked well for me.”)

I also know about her diagnosis because our former boss disclosed to me. This was all kinds of HR and ethical wrong, I know, but context: I and another coworker witnessed Cosette having a pretty serious and disturbing psychotic break. Because we already knew something was up, Former Boss put us in charge of the cleanup of client fallout (Cosette had called our clients while hallucinating, and continued calling them from the psychiatric ward when she was briefly committed), and running interference with Cosette at the office (Cosette called the office constantly, and we wanted to keep her location and current state as private as possible from other coworkers who might answer the phone first).

Cosette is not always easy to deal with. She has serious boundary issues, like calling your home number for work issues at midnight, or standing WAY too close (like boobs against your back close), or grabbing things off your desk or out of your hands if she wants to look at them. She sometimes gets very “up”, talking extremely fast, with trains of thoughts that are difficult to follow, making group projects very problematic sometimes. She can also get very snotty during the “up” times – if you don’t understand what she’s saying, or ask for clarification, she will repeat herself in the kind of voice people use when they mean to insinuate that you are a dumb child. You know, this very slow, “What. I. Said. Was. Get. The. Widget. Do we all understand now, hmm???” She will also do this with clients, becoming very hostile and overbearing at them. During these snotty times, she also tends to try to rope some coworker into being her assistant, dropping many tasks on them, calling them at all hours, etc. Each request, in isolation (and with difficult to parse explanations), can be considered reasonable, but taken all at once, it’s like being hijacked.

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Captain-

I’ve been keeping a secret from everyone I know. My husband, my best friend, my family. I haven’t even written it down until now.

I want a divorce.

I met a great guy in high school, and we started seeing each other. Things got serious fast and we moved in together, and that was it. I’ve never dated anyone else. Hell, I haven’t ever been sexy in any capacity with anyone else. Kissing, heavy petting sex, you name it. We didn’t marry until about a year ago, but we’ve considered ourselves married for a long time. Until recently, we were trying to get me pregnant. I really care about him and love him and want good things for him. But I also want good things for myself, and more and more it looks like that’s not going to happen with us together. We’ve been over these things in the past, they’re still problems and they’re problems I can’t swallow anymore. I don’t know if I’ve changed or simply reached my limit, although I guess it doesn’t really matter.

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Batman begins poster

Stoicism is overrated and may lead to cosplay.

Dear Captain Awkward

I am currently going through the tail end of a massive crisis involving my Dad having an affair, leaving our state and moving across country, effectively running off and abandoning us for his now girlfriend. This has left my family and I stuck up financial poop creek without a paddle. As you can imagine there is much aftermath to be dealing with, and I am admittedly not coping well.

Before this happened I always tried to be there as much as I could with my friends, helping them and listening to their problems, offering advice and alcohol where appropriate and they have always expressed their gratitude in my doing so. However now I feel I cannot always bring my best self when helping friends.

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