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It Came From the Search Terms

Now and then it’s interesting to see the search terms that bring people here, and, since they are in the form of a question, give some short answers. I’ve added punctuation but otherwise left the texts unaltered.

“Pushing someone to accept something they aren’t ready to.”

Is doomed. You can maybe get someone to say they accept whatever it is in order to end the argument and get you to go away, but you better believe they’re still stewing inside and now have some extra angst that’s directed at you for pushing them.

What if your boyfriend’s parents want you to call them mom and dad?

It sounds like you don’t want to call them Mom and Dad, so, don’t. Say, “That is a very sweet suggestion and I am glad you want us to be close, but I only want to call my own parents that. Can we come up with something else, like, Mr./Mrs. ______ or first names? Thank you.

This is not a normal thing, especially if you guys are unmarried, so stand your ground.

“Speed-friending London.”

GO! And tell us all about it.

Seducing my friend’s girlfriend advice.

Don’t seduce your friend’s girlfriend. That’s my advice.

“How to tell if my best friend’s girlfriend want to have sex with me?”

Assume she doesn’t until you hear the words “Let’s have sex!” come out of her mouth.

“If I send a face book message and they read it and its marked read then why does the read status disappear when they block themselves from me?

Ok, to answer the question you didn’t ask, stop reading over those messages looking for signs of this person’s attention to what you had to say. To answer the one you asked, blocking you severs that relationship on the interface level. Suggestion: Delete the messages. Block them right back. Anything so you aren’t spending one more precious day of your life pouring over communications from someone who clearly doesn’t want to talk to you.

“Making your girlfriend do what you want although she might be busy.”

Ask her to spend time with you. If she’s busy, do something else with your day. If she’s consistently too busy, ask her to talk about how you guys spend time together and tell her how it makes you feel. If she’s still consistently too busy, break up. There is no “making” here – she’s either enthusiastically spending time with you or she isn’t. You can make requests and make decisions about whether that works for you, but that’s where your making powers end.

Girlfriend willing but doesn’t want to have sex.”

Then you don’t have sex with her, and you let that be a thing she initiates.

“I want my nude pictures on the internet.”

From all reports, the Internet is ok with that.

“10shart fuck only vidios opan ok

It’s out there, somewhere. 10 sharts! Be steadfast in your quest.

“Will a guy test you by being a jerk?”

The guys who do this are probably failing your personal “That guy’s a jerk” test. Rather than seeing it as some test that someone eventually passes (um, yay?), maybe see it as a guy acting like a jerk and make decisions accordingly.

How to write a letter to my boyfriend’s jealous ex.

Do not write  a letter to your boyfriend’s jealous ex. It will not make her go away, it will just show that whatever she’s doing is getting to you. The only thing that will make her go away, eventually,  is if both of you starve her of attention.

“Boyfriend not interested my life.”

Let me correct that for you. “My ex-boyfriend was not interested in my life.” Roll that around on the tongue a few times. How does it sound?

“Only depressed before and during work.”

No guarantees, obviously, but a new and different job might clear that right up.

“Should I breakup with my boyfriend if I don’t love him any more?”

Do what you want, but this is literally THE most airtight reason to break up with someone.

“I can’t break up with my boyfriend because he was my first.”

You can break up with someone for any reason. “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore” is a good reason.

The connection with a first love and/or first sex partner is very intense and lovely and wonderful, but having that connection with someone & making a long-term happy life with someone are not necessarily congruent. Breakups are hard, even when they are for the right reasons, but with time you will bounce back and so will he.

If your high school sex-ed was all about previously chewed gum, plucked daisies, used Kleenex, etc. I am here to tell you those people were sadistic lying assholes. Get thee to Scarleteen.

“Should I pretend to drunk text him?”

What is it that you want to say to him? What if you said it completely sober and completely sincerely?

“How to text a drunk girl.”

What would you say to this girl if she were sober? Try that.

“How to apologize after drunk text.”

Text/Call/Say in person: “Sorry, I was not my best self the other night and am feeling pretty embarrassed.”

Go forth and text, and drink, responsibly. An occasional drunk text can be funny/flirtatious. A cycle of oversharing & apology? Gets annoying really fast.

“Drunk texts to let guy know you like him.”

Okay, okay, I get it. It’s awkward to make yourself vulnerable, and being drunk lowers inhibitions and also gives the illusion of an excuse if the person doesn’t respond the way you want – “Ha ha, no, I was kidding, I was drunk.” I too have made out on the Couch of Plausible Deniability Where We Are Going To Watch A Movie, I Swear.

Drunk texts are not wrong, and if you’re having fun with it, text away! Get your flirt on, people! But if you’re strategizing about this? Maybe it’s time for a “I think you are handsome and cool and would love to go on a date sometime. Have you ever thought about it?

“We made out drunk and he texted me next day.”

Unless he’s sending you insults, it sounds like he’s nice, actually, and making an effort to reach out while sober. There’s no obligation, but if you wanted to hang out again, it sounds like he’s at least open to the idea. Biggest question right now is what do you want to happen now?

“How does being an introvert affect communication?”

Not that much, in my opinion. Introverts need a fair amount of alone time to recharge their batteries and may prefer hanging in smaller groups/quieter spaces. But they CAN and DO communicate just the same as anyone else, including doing very people-centered jobs very well and having an active social life. Introversion vs. extroversion is about preference/style/feeling energized by social contact vs. depleted, not ability, and knowing someone is an introvert is not a predictor or prescriptor of anything. Individuals have differing communications styles, so take your cues from your own preferences or from how a specific person responds to you.

“Do professors like their students to thank them?”

Who wouldn’t like to know that their work affected someone for the better? It’s not necessary or expected that students thank us (the best thanks is you doing your best work and going on to do well), but “I really enjoyed your class” is a very nice thing to hear, especially after grades are in, and especially when it contains some info about what you are currently working on/doing next.

“I fell in love with my professor.”

I’m not going to tell you those feelings aren’t real, but I am going to tell you there’s too much yucky power differential stuff for this to be a good idea to pursue while you are a student at that school. I have a massive side-eye for any professor who would respond positively to romantic or sexual advances from a student. Holy abuse of power and trust, Batman!

“I want to have sex with my therapist.”

This is a REALLY bad idea. Illegal in some cases, the stuff of license-revoking in others, for a good reason. A therapist who has sex with patients is a NO GOOD VERY BAD THERAPIST who is abusing trust and power. Being able to trust and open up to someone compassionate can bring up all kinds of feelings, especially if your therapist is also foxy. But not all feelings need to be acted on, and a good therapist is going to set an ironclad boundary here.

“My mom doesn’t want me to masturbate.”

Good thing it’s not up to her. It’s completely none of her business, in fact, and is strictly between you and you. Masturbation is awesome. Rock on with your sexy self. Also, get thee to Scarleteen.

“What if a guy says it’s awkward and might want to break up.”

When people say stuff like this, believe them. He’s giving you advance warning and telling you that breaking up is on his mind. Start to make your peace with ending the relationship.

“How can I tell my daughter I found a partner for her.”

If you’re from an Arranged Marriages Are A-Okay culture, how did your parents tell you this stuff? I feel like there will be some rituals and scripts around this that are widely-known and your daughter will be expecting some conversation like this to take place.

If you’re not from that kind of culture (and honestly, probably even if you are), I would not talk in terms of “partner” or “husband” or “wife.” At all. That’s putting the cart waaaaaaaaaay before the horse about something that is ultimately not your decision.

Possible script: “Daughter, I met someone who I think you’d really get along with and would like to put you in touch. Can I give you his/her contact information?”

Then you drop the subject. Forever. And you do NOT give your daughter’s contact info to this person, or try to sell them on your daughter. No hinting. No pushing. No inviting the person over for a “Surprise! You two should probably mate!” dinner.

“What does it mean when someone says you have a heart of a bullet and a mind of a boss?”

Take it as a compliment, because if it’s not, your bullet-heart and boss-mind don’t have time for that anyway. Maybe write a song about it.

“Am I a bitch for leaving my boyfriend to take care of myself?”

From where I sit, you are a person who made a hard decision and I wish you all the best. Get on with the job of taking care of yourself, part of which is forgiving yourself and being gentle and kind to yourself and not calling yourself mean names.

Love,

Captain Awkward

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95 comments
  1. This is the most perfect.

  2. mandaray said:

    Reblogged this on Note To Self and commented:
    I love everything about this post. (Also these search terms are way better and less weird than the ones my blog gets, lol)

  3. To the London speed friender: come to an awkward meetup!

    Today’s one was really good, and the next one is January 4th.

  4. “How can I tell my daughter I found a partner for her.”

    Build a stable for the cows and goat that the partner will give in dowry. Obviously.

    • Smi said:

      :\

      I was going to leave a funny anecdote about how my parents basically used the script the Captain provided above, but now I’m just insulted.

      • Mary said:

        If you haven’t been totally put off sharing, I would really like to hear your funny story! Completely understandable if you’re not feeling like it now, though. :(

        • Smi said:

          It’s not that funny now that I’m typing it out. ;)

          My parents asked me when I was in my mid-twenties if I was cool with them sending me “We met someone at a party who we think is your kind of person, can we give you his contact information?” emails if the situation ever arose. I accepted the offer and the handful of guys they got me in touch with were always really awesome and SO on the same wavelength as me… except there was minus 100 pantsfeelings EVERY TIME. Eventually I realized that my parents weren’t considering the potential fuckability of my suitors (and I don’t blame them! But fuckability is high on my list of needs!) so I had to let them know their radar was way off and I’d find someone on my own. :D

          • Emmers said:

            I know a guy (in passing) whose parents basically used the same strategy as yours (“we’re going to suggest people you might be interested in”), but it sounds like their instincts are better!

            I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding of how arranged marriages work (or, possibly, how they’ve adapted to the modern era? I don’t know how they were historically so I can’t comment on that for sure). And I definitely understand the kneejerk anger at the *idea* that people are enforcing their business transactions on someone else’s body, possibly/probably over that person’s objections. But when that’s not what’s actually happens, that kneejerk anger is misplaced.

            tl;dr Not all arranged marriages are that 9yo girl in Yemen.

          • Mary said:

            Ha, also a slightly difficult problem to explain to your parents! “No, no, I really liked him! I just didn’t want to … Um, hey, so, how’s work?”

      • JenniferP said:

        I also want to hear your story, if you’re still willing to share it.

      • I’m sorry. Apologies all around.

    • Mary said:

      That was pretty horrible. Millions of people in the world have arranged marriages, including in urban areas, and they don’t need to be mocked or belittled for it.

    • JenniferP said:

      This is not actually funny. At all. Since there are responses, I don’t feel good deleting it, but yeah.

    • Laboratory Unicorn said:

      Whoa, no. :/

    • staranise said:

      If someone’s treating livestock as a form of currency they already have holding facilities because that’s what’s relevant to them.

      • Uh no, actually; not everyone has shelter or takes good care of their livestock…

        • staranise said:

          This is sooo not the thread in which to have that discussion.

      • Kathleen said:

        Linden wood University, in St. Charles, Missouri, still accepts livestock for tuition payments.

        • That is honestly awesome. Because I bet a lot of people on farms still have an easier time producing another livestock animal than a sufficient amount of cash. Especially on years when the market price for livestock happens to crash. Neat!

        • staranise said:

          :D Where I grew up, bartering with farm products was still a pretty common practice. I still miss it. I’d totally take payment in deer parts or fresh eggs.

          • Kathleen said:

            I make and sell skid boots and fur tug toys for dogs and I happily accept trade in goods or services.

          • Suzy said:

            VENISON YES ABSOLUTELY

  5. Gine said:

    Dang, searchers. Step off your best friend’s (or, as I imagine is actually the case, your “best” “friend’s”) girlfriends.

    • emily_of_athens said:

      Unless everyone involved is polyamorous and okay with it! (Which I am sure these searchers are not, but from my point of view, dating my husband’s best friend is pretty awesome.)

      • Gine said:

        Oh, definitely! But yeah, I’m guessing anyone who searches for “how to seduce my best friend’s girlfriend” isn’t exactly a master of open communication and healthy expressions of sexuality.

        • emily_of_athens said:

          Yeah, the word “seduce” is rarely a good sign.

          • gallantqueer said:

            Yeah, using the word seduce in anything but a joking context is manipulative in a way that makes me imagine the person using it twirling their mustache ominously, but then its not even funny because its just too gross.

      • staranise said:

        In which case I would tell them that the best source of information about their best friend’s girlfriend’s sexual preferences and proclivities is their best friend. :) Kind of like double-checking what you think you should get somebody as a Christmas present.

        • Vicki said:

          Right. Even if one or more of the people involved is too shy for the more intimate sort of question (or considers it too personal), for this to work you either have to tell your best friend “I’m attracted to your girlfriend. Would it be cool if I asked her out?” or talk to her and, if she is interested, wait until she talks to your best friend about it.

          If that person really is his best friend, not just “guy he hangs out with over beer or video games most often,” he’s going to care what his best friend thinks about the whole thing. If you care about the other two people involved, “I could do this, but even asking will damage or ruin her current relationship and my closest friendship” leads to “No, that’s a bad idea.” If you have no idea of whether they’re poly, either you’re not really his best friend; they’re not; or they are but haven’t told you because you’re not one of the people they’d consider getting involved with. When I only had one partner, I didn’t tell the whole world I’m poly (with three, it comes up in “thanks for the invite, but my other partner is visiting that weekend” sort of stuff), but anyone close enough that they even might have called me their best friend knew.

  6. kappa said:

    A boyfriend’s jealous ex is not necessarily going to be a she.

    Good post, though.

    • JenniferP said:

      You’re right!

  7. These are so great!

    Re: “I want to have sex with my therapist.”
    Me too! But that would be a terrible idea for everyone involved for all the reasons the Captain listed and then some, so it’s never going to happen and I’ve pretty much erased it from my mind. I feel you though, search term stranger!

    • tessiselated said:

      Yup. When I first started going to therapy I kind of wished that I’d met my therapist in a different situation. But I had to remind myself that the whole “she’s so great and intuitive and calls me on my shit and really sees me” thing is probably not what she wants in her relationships if that’s her work persona.

      So yes, those thoughts are as locked away as they can be.

  8. E said:

    I love these answers. <3

    I have an Alternate Possibilty for one of the less urgent search queries: "What if your boyfriend’s parents want you to call them mom and dad?“

    I like the Captain's script a lot, but when I was a teenager in a similar circumstance I really didn't have the guts yet to say precisely those words. What I did instead was a tactic I used (and still do as an adult, because it just sorta stuck!) with my closest friends' parents. If first names or "Mr./Mrs." didn't feel comfortable, I'd split the difference and nickname them "Mama J" or "Papa J," with "J" being their surname initial. It struck a nice balance, for me and for them, between formality and closeness. To this day, over 30, I still have lots of friends (and a few exes) who say, "Hi, Mama E!" when they greet my mother. So depending on the comfort level and degree of closeness present, that might be a helpful bridge if the searcher is still feeling a bit awkward about her SO's family's request. :)

    • I don’t know if it’s a northern thing, a southern thing, or just a thing with my family, but everybody’s parents become Ms First Name, Mr First Name. It isn’t off-putting in its formality, but still respects the different social levels and ages.

      • Jessica said:

        It’s a Southern thing, definitely. I don’t know what state you’re in, but when I lived in Texas, some of the schools there had their younger students call their teachers Ms Firstname and Mr Firstname, which actually sounded kind of cute. In the years since then, I’ve heard similar examples from other Southern states.

        • Jayem Griffin said:

          It might be a Canadian thing? Living in Buffalo, I’ve heard people use it pretty often. I was Ms. Firstname to all the little kids when I helped teach riding lessons, and I was quite fond of it.

      • peregrinations said:

        I definitely ran into it in the US South when I lived there. But I first picked up the “Ms/Mr First Name” thing from a Canadian, and now that I live in Canada I hear it here as well. My impression was it seemed a bit more formal in the South, while it’s done more in a friendly way here.

        • I teach in Canada and it’s definitely a thing we do with the younger kids. In my experience public schools tend to be a little more formal and Mr./Mrs. Lastname is the norm; in the private school where I am now it’s entirely up to the teachers preference which means some people go by their last name, some by Mr/Mrs. Firstname, and some of us just go by our first name (I do.) I know one teacher who goes by Mr. Lastname in the classroom, but with the kids he coaches on teams he goes by Firstname. Happens in French as well.

          • MamaCheshire said:

            I live in Upstate NY.

            Kids’ actual classroom teachers are Ms. Lastname or occasionally in the youngest grades Ms. Lastinitial if Lastname is difficult to say; Sunday School teacher, scout leader, camp counselors, etc. are all Ms. (or Mr.) Firstname; the actual pastor of our church is Pastor Firstname or just Firstname.

        • staranise said:

          Growing up in Canada, Mr./Ms. Firstname was the go-to form of address for a friend’s parent you were on good terms with, since Mr./Ms. Lastname was seen as really formal. If kids from my childhood couldn’t recall the parent’s given name, we resorted to things like “Mr. Sally’s Dad” or “Mrs. Eric’s Mom” and you did your best to look cute and endearing so they’d overlook the fact that you’d forgotten their name.

          • Copcher said:

            In my Canadian neighbourhood, my friends and I all called our friends’ parents by just their first names if we called them anything. Sometimes I would do the stand right in front of you and start talking if I felt uncomfortable actually using the name, but parents always introduced themselves as Firstname and that’s what we called them.

            In high school, I felt uncomfortable using my boyfriend’s mom’s name for some reason. It wasn’t a matter of last name or first name; I just didn’t feel comfortable calling her anything, so most of the time I just got in her line of vision and started talking. I do remember one occasion when her back was to me and I used her first name to get her attention, though.

            Since undergrad, I’ve referred to some of my friends’ parents as Mama or Papa Lastname, but generally not to their faces.

          • Baha, my friends and I are all grown up and they still all say “Oh hi, Mrs. Allegro’s Mom.” There are still some friend’s parents whose first names I don’t know because that was just…what we did.

        • Smi said:

          It’s so weird, I’m Canadian and I feel like I’ve NEVER come across the Ms/Mr Firstname before!

          I sort of have the opposite problem; about a year into dating my boyfriend I was so close to his parents that I had to start biting back from calling them “mom and dad”. My BF’s BIL calls them Mr/Ms Lastname-Initial so I follow suit for now, but it feels tragically formal compared to how dear they are to me. But on the other hand, calling them by their first names seems suuuuuuper weird (I’m Indian, so every parent that isn’t YOUR parent is ALWAYS Uncle/Auntie).

      • I have friends in Massachusetts who do it, and I have no idea where they got it from since nobody else seems to do it. I find it charming.

        • BookLady said:

          From Philly suburbs: I don’t think I ever heard anyone say that when I was growing up; it sounds Southern to me. Maybe it missed the mid-Atlantic states?

          Cute, though. And probably more helpful than what I did as a kid – which was half the time try to dance around it and avoid direct addresses for all but my closest friends’ parents, or use Mr./Mrs Last Name (and just really hope the parents had the same last name as the kid!)

          • curious86 said:

            Living in the Philly suburbs now and I’ve not really heard anyone from here do it. However, I grew up in the south (North Carolina) and it is definitely common there! I think it strikes a nice balance between formal/casual address.

          • attica said:

            I am routinely addressed as Ms attica by children and adults. even though I’ve never suggested anyone do so. Even my mother used to call me that. (I live in NE US, fwiw). I think there must be something about me that inspires that bit of formality, but I’ve never been able to put my finger on it.

    • Just Plain Neddy said:

      Oh God, this is a big one in my life. My husband’s parents want me to call them mum and dad – in fact my father in law randomly dropped it into a conversation when we got engaged as an “I insist that -”. I love my inlaws SO much and in many ways have a much better relationship with them than my own parents – my relationship with my mum is particularly difficult. They’re lovely and they’ve been incredibly good to me. But I still don’t feel comfortable addressing them as mum and dad. Among other reasons there is the fact that my mum is already threatened by my relationship with them and if she overheard this she’d throw a massive tantrum and scream at me. I generally avoid addressing them as anything now – I just leave names out of it – and it’s kinda dragging along. At some point I’ll have to resolve this somehow but it’s just getting more difficult. “Hey, you know how you asked me to call you mum and dad about two years ago and I never actually do? Well about that…”

  9. Copcher said:

    “Should I breakup with my boyfriend if I don’t love him any more?”
    Do what you want, but this is literally THE most airtight reason to break up with someone.

    Rock solid advice, as always.

  10. I pretty much never address my partner’s parents by name because I’m not sure what to call them! Even after ~11 years I talk to them very rarely, so it isn’t a big deal, but I feel awkward about it. They haven’t stated a preference, but I’m in a point where mom/dad doesn’t feel right at all, first names seem too casual, and Mr./Mrs. lastname seems to distant!

    Any time you get to the point where you’re wondering how to MAKE a partner do something… that’s a good sign that there’s some sort of problem.

    Also, thanks for linking to Scarleteen! I cordially invite anyone in the under-25 set to swing by, read fantastic articles, and ask questions at the message boards or other direct services if y’all want to talk about any aspect of sex/sexual health/sexuality without being told that you’re de-stickied tape, chewed-up gum, etc. =)

    • I say Mum & Dad, but I’ve been living with them on and off for three years, and we’re super-close – they really are like a second Mum & Dad to me (my own mother (5’11″) has helpfully suggested that I refer to her as MaxiMum and Mr Goldfish’s mother (5′) as MiniMum).

      However, even with this closeness, and even having referred to either Mum as “Mum” and either Dad as “Dad” for a few years in conversation between Mr Goldfish and I, the transition from first names was super awkward. It was something I wanted to do, and it felt entirely natural in principle, but doing it… for several weeks I stopped calling them anything for fear of it sounding wrong.

      Meanwhile, Mr Goldfish calls my mother “Mum” but it doesn’t feel right for him to call my father “Dad”. Fortunately, I suspect my Dad is oblivious to such things, but anyway, this is a world of awkward, even when you’re living with these people and everyone’s very close.

      In other news, I’d swear there were only 9 sharts in that video the searcher was looking for. I’ll have to count them next time.

      • Utter East said:

        “(my own mother (5’11″) has helpfully suggested that I refer to her as MaxiMum and Mr Goldfish’s mother (5′) as MiniMum). ”

        A++++++

    • Phospher said:

      My grandfather wanted my father to address him as “Father-in-Law.” My uncle by marriage actually did this; I always thought he was just being twee. My father, however, thought it was ridiculous and refused to do it. So he did not call my grandfather anything at all… for forty years. After my grandfather died, my dad confided this was logistically quite difficult, as he was never able to, say, call him across a room, but always had to walk right up to him to say “dinner’s ready!” or whatever. I’d never even noticed.

      • Oh wow, that’s some real dedication to not directly addressing someone! Probably if I saw or otherwise interacted with my sort-of-in-laws more often I’d come up with a different solution!

      • Laughing Giraffe said:

        I teach ESL to international students, and apparently in Korea it is perfectly usual to call your parents-in-law “mother-in-law” and “father-in-law”. So there’s that. :)
        With my first boyfriend, his parents were hippies, and he himself called them by their first names, so it was really easy for me just to call them that too. (Now, his grandparents were a slightly different matter, because they were Grandma and Grandpa to him, but they wanted me to call them by their first names.)
        My current boyfriend flat-out refuses to call my parents by their first names, even though they’ve asked him to and he has no problem at all calling my aunt by her first name. It’s led to some situations like the one you described above. When I asked him about that, he said, “But your mother and father are so very, very much your parents, whereas your aunt [who lives in the same city as me and takes me out to dinner and to the theatre and stuff] is more like your middle-aged friend. Anyway you only call her Auntie when you’re annoyed with her.”

        • Mary said:

          One of my exes and his brother both called his parents by nickname versions of their name which were slightly different from what their friends called them. That was loely: all their schoolfriends and partners always adopted the same nicknames, and it wasn’t as personal as calling them Mum or Dad but it was distinct from what people who knew them socially would call them. I always loved that.

          I do call my in-laws by their first name if I absolutely have to, but I never feel comfortable doing it!

  11. staranise said:

    But Captain, CAN’T YOU JUST MAKE THEM DO/NOT DO THE THING?

    • M Dubz said:

      SADLY NO :(

  12. Pterinochilus murinus said:

    Am I the only one a little tempted to try to think of the weirdest search strings I can manage that will still turn up Captain Awkward as a response?

    Like
    “boyfriend is a nose-picking flautist advice”
    “what to give llama-collector in-laws”
    “my cat gave my girlfriend the cut direct”

    • sgoch said:

      I do not think even your preferred deity can help your girlfriend if your cat is giving her the cut direct, let alone an advice columnist.

      • staranise said:

        Actually no, there’s a TV-documentary show called My Cat From Hell that contains much excellent advice about cat behaviour, and how to make your cat more friendly with new people coming into its space. Like, they take cats who are literally attacking visitors and sending them to hospital, and get them to be happy and sociable and curling up on visitors’ laps.

        I used to be super dubious about cat behaviourist advice, but it turns out that once you accept that cats can’t be trained like dogs can, and change your tactics, you can see a lot of change happen with cats. Watching that show was I survived my cat getting sick, because he was literally impossible to give medicine to before; but now I give him several injections daily, and he’ll remind me when it’s injection time, come when I call him, and sit patiently through his treatments.

        • sgoch said:

          My goodness.

          I suspect I have a particularly negative view of cat behavior — my father is a veterinarian, and while I’m sure an owner who sees their cat every day can institute some sort of behavior modification scheme, it’s very difficult to do when you only see the animal for brief periods of time. :/ There have been many horrifying Incidents, particularly around medication-giving.

          Must look up the cat behaviorists . . . maybe we can discourage our teenage kitties from opening the food bin and sitting there munching all day . . .

          • staranise said:

            *g* I think the secret is, people actually assume cats are smarter than they are. (I know, Cat Person heresy) It’s really hard to train cats to ignore their basic instincts, even just to do the trick of “don’t eat the treat until I say so”. So a huge secret to cat behaviour is to design the environment and your behaviour so you’re not setting them up to fail. If your cats can get into the food bin they will, so cat-proof the food bin. Or, my cat is always going to feel scared and unhappy at the vet; so I bring a towel to let him hide under when he doesn’t need to be touched right at that moment, and otherwise distract him with a toy he really likes.

          • sgoch said:

            We have been cat-proofing the food bin! . . . sort of. Slowly. One of the cats is smarter than the other two*, so what is cat-proof for them is not cat-proof for him. >_< My dad keeps moving the bin to a new place he hopes will be inaccessible, and then being surprised when it's not. . .

            Though I don't really know how we would be able to distinguish "comes when called" to "comes WHEREVER THERE ARE PEOPLE OH BOY PEOPLE PEOPLE WE LOVE PEOPLE" with these particular cats.

            * We have three cats that live in our big exterior building together (it was my dad's prior vet clinic before it flooded, so now it's just a finished space for storage and workout stuff) because we raised them from three-day-old kitties and we could only find The Perfect Home for one of the four brothers. :/

          • FlyBy said:

            My in-laws solved the cats-can-open-the-food-bin problem by putting a large book on top of it. Between the athletic cat and the lazy-but-persistent cat, nothing else was stopping them!

        • apricity said:

          Brb googling this show. Comes when you call?? Omg.

          • The thing I love best about that show is that the thing to do with almost every problem cat is “play with it. No seriously, play with it more. Play hard, and then feed it. Cats do play, kill, eat, wash, sleep.”

            To get a cat to come: Treats. Every time. Doesn’t work as well with a cat who’s not food motivated, but often the answer is “find a better treat” and “give it only when training”. Clicker training does work with cats, because it works with everything with a brain, but if all you want is a cat to come when you call, you don’t need to learn it, you just start by giving treats when the cat’s sitting with you while saying the name, and gradually working up to longer distances (by gradually I mean like six inches, ten inches, etc.)

            My food motivated, anxious cat has been summoned by name to terrible things like the vet, and so sometimes comes with that straight vibrating tail of nervousness…. and she still comes because of the treat! It’s amazing. (her anxiety, the poor kitten; she has been forced to move house too many times. she was not so anxious before the last move, and then went from a wide open space to a normal house with rooms. A couple years in and she’s still anxious, but getting better.) She self-trained to her name, though, because I am the source of all food.

            The other cat, who passed away last year, did not care about food at all. But she had bonded well to me (laser pointer love) and sometimes came anyway… still, one day I found a stinky cheese that she went nuts for. If I’d needed to train her to something, I’d have used that.

          • gmg said:

            We could summon my childhood family cat at will by running the can opener. He could hear that can opener from every room in the house. FUDZ!!

          • Is that the one with Pamela Bennett-Johnson (or Johnson-Bennett, I forget). I read her book Cat vs. Cat. Though it didn’t help me integrate my cats as I’d hoped (one old cranky buzzard and one young “let me tackle you!” dude), I feel like I learned a LOT.

            Carbonated Wit: The straight, shaky tail is in fact excitement (the “I’m just glad to see you” tail), so you are doing something very right. Cats. They are so counterintuitive.

          • Dangerous Crafts for Girls, I wonder if it’s both? Sometimes it seems like she’s excited and sometimes it seems like it goes with things that I think she does not have positive feels for. It could also be that I see the shaky tail of excitement when she’s so desperately glad to see me, and I read it as she has been so anxious that I’ve not been there, and both are true.

            Reassuring my cat with dehydrated chicken treats: it’s a thing.

          • Xenophile said:

            Yay for food-motivated cats! My last cat was affection-motivated and would come whenever I called him because he wanted ALL THE HUGS. My current cat is food-motivated and we accidentally taught him to roll over for a treat! Although sometimes I think he’s the one who taught us to give him a treat when he rolls over on his own…

          • apricity said:

            Thanks for the info, carbonatedwit!

        • Oh my god I wish I’d known about this show last year! It would’ve made such a difference with my old housemate’s cat! Only cat I’d ever met that I didn’t get along with. Awesome show!

        • Goat Lady said:

          Cats can absolutely be trained like dogs, at least if you’re using humane training techniques for the dogs! I train all the critters on my property (goats, chickens, dogs, cats, the turkey, and (accidentally) a wild rabbit[1]) using the same method: a verbal marker for the behavior plus tasty snacks.

          You can’t teach cats anything but avoidance using the fear & pain based training techniques that were popular for dogs, but then honestly you shouldn’t be using them on any animal. Fear & pain are a terrible base for learning.

          [1] Every night when I go out to give the goats their dinner grain, I sing-song “goatgoatgoat gooooaaaaties!” to let them know I’m coming, because I like seeing their happy faces waiting for me. One of the local wild rabbits figured this out, and now lines up with the goats at night.

          • sgoch said:

            ARGH my family has the worst time with accidentally reinforcing the wrong behavior, either by unclear physical signals or wrong treat timing. We taught our dog to sit by the door when he needed to be let out and scratch when it’s time to come back in by giving him a treat when he comes back in, but then he realized that if he wanted an extra couple treats he could just go in and out without doing anything outside.

            Also I think that if a dog is jumping on you and licking you, you’re supposed to push them off and walk away, but I always yelped and squawked, and dogs tend to interpret this as “Yay! Person LOVES it when I jump on them!”

          • apricity said:

            “accidentally a wild rabbit”
            That is gold. Also I love the image of all the happy goat faces.

          • staranise said:

            The really big difference is, dogs really care about human affection/interaction, so you can say “good dog!” and it counts as a reward all in itself, even when not paired with a treat (though it’s of course easier when you do pair it).. Cats aren’t so social, so their reinforcers need to be really concrete. Like, food. I see a lot of people trying to go, “C’mere, here kitty!” and then complaining that cats are “impossible to train.” No, you can train them; you just can’t train them the way you train dogs.

        • Nerdlinger said:

          Oh I love that show so much!

      • Amy said:

        DYING.

    • unlurking said:

      I have totally written “thank you”-esque notes of appreciation to Captain Awkward into the search strings, haha!

  13. ThatHat said:

    “Ask her to spend time with you. If she’s busy, do something else with your day. If she’s consistently too busy, ask her to talk about how you guys spend time together and tell her how it makes you feel.”

    That feels…timely. My best friend is having troubles with his fiance. She just started a new job as a manager, and they just opened and are crazy-busy. Which is understandable. And she’s made new friends at the job, which is nice, because it’s good to have friends. The primary friend is a guy with a house arrest anklet, and that’s…um…troubling for BFF and me, because what on earth do you do to get 3 years of house arrest, but he’s sober now and lives with his girlfriend, and it’s BFF’s fiance’s life, so okay.

    But she’s always over there. She’ll give him a ride from work (same schedules) and then the three of them will hang out for hours and hours. Like, seven hours. And when she does get home, she’s pretty much exhausted and just goes to bed, maybe BFF gets a little cuddle time. Two weeks, and he’s had maybe one day to spend with her for more than a “hi-cuddle-sleep.”

    It’s pissing me off a bit, because I think she knows it’s hurting his feelings, to be treated like, I dunno, a low-maintenance pet or something, but she also doesn’t want to acknowledge it (when I joked about her “new best friends” she made a sadface and said, “oooh now I feel guilty!” etc). And we were expecting her to be busy with the new place, and understanding of her exhaustion, but now it just feels a little like being taken advantage of, and I worry a bit, because the three of us just signed a year lease together and, well, that’s stress.

    But BFF hasn’t really talked to her about it (hard, when she’s always tired when she gets home). I’m hoping they do get to talking and she maybe comes home more often. Job and new friends are exciting, but it’s kind of a crap way to treat a person. But yeah, it’s not like he can make her Not See New Friends, but I hope that if he just phrases it as, “This is what *I* feel when you *do* this…” maybe it’ll make for a sanguine conversation and a happy result. God willing.

    • Oh that one’s hard. I hope they can have the conversation soon.

      She may be having OMG ENGAGED NEW LEASE SETTLING DOWN SUFFOCATION feelings, if this is the first time she’s lived with her fiance. She’s not dealing very well, if that’s what’s going on, but when it happened to me it was pretty intense and scary.

      Since you live there too, you get to talk about it in a non-jokey way, and you don’t have to let her blow it off with making you the bad guy for making her feel guilty. If you want to. You don’t want to talk about the bits between her and her fiance, obviously, but the “hey, we just moved in together and you’re never home. Is something going on? Anything wrong?” conversation may be okay.

  14. Anisoptera said:

    …how did 10sharts questioner end up here with Captain Awkward? How? I now have weird curiosity for what volume of people are sent here by really strange, non relevant search terms.

    Also, search term dudes – almost anything that starts with “how do I seduce” ends with “don’t”.

    • JenniferP said:

      Did other websites offer only 8 or 9 sharts? So many questions!

      • apricity said:

        Maybe you should change the site’s tag line to “Advice. Staircase Wit. Faux Pas. Movies. All 10 sharts.” :)

    • gallantqueer said:

      I really want to google 10sharts but I’m at work and ahhhhh its such a bad idea. But I am sending the search Jedi manna to help in their quest.

    • Light said:

      Also, search term dudes – almost anything that starts with “how do I seduce” ends with “don’t”.

      Oh, God, this.

      Please, Search Term Dudes (and I’m so not abbreviating that) try “How do I meet single girls with common interests?” Or even “How do I meet girls who like one-night-stands?” Both of these are honest and don’t involve potentially blowing up a friendship or feeling like a jerk.

  15. To the person who feels that they are in love with their Professor — or any other people in the same boat — please, DO NOT PURSUE.

    I had a relationship with a tutor at my university which was incredibly manipulative and destructive. We went on dates and talked on the phone every night for hours and I became so infatuated. He would get drunk and call me and talk about how we should go away on trips together (locally! but also to Argentina! [we live in Australia]) and how I was the star of his life at the moment and he would scale barbed wire fence for me. But how he was still in love with and sleeping with his ex! who was dating a friend of his! and they all worked in the same journalism news room together! blah blah blah. I was already clinically diagnosed as depressed / anxious before we met, and he was the first person in ages I felt connected to, and even without the significant power differential of our ages / university positions I was soooo not able to stand up for myself or make good decisions for myself in the relationship. We had a sexual encounter the night we met at an industry Christmas party thrown by the Head of Journalism at my uni = AWKWARD AND UNPROFESSIONAL. We had a sexual encounter at his mother’s house which felt very painful and disrespectful and showed me how little he sincerely wanted or cared about me = AWKWARD AND HURTFUL. He gave me a creepy, out-of-the-blue warning from nowhere about how if I heard rumours that he had raped a female journalist I wasn’t to believe them because they’d had consensual sex one time and chickz be crazy, which pinged my “oh the fuck no” radar something awful. When he was going away on a work trip and I asked to cut contact because I thought that I was way more invested than he was and it was time for me to move on, he said, “Sure, I understand – but can I call you when I get back?”

    LONG STORY SHORT: I ended up even more depressed and anxious. I was so anxious that I couldn’t take public transport without fear of having a panic attack, and public transport was the only way I could get to uni. I bombed out of my journalism degree, for various reasons — but this relationship was definitely a causal factor. I ended up making amazing decisions and being super strong and turning this cluterfuck into an incredible life for myself — but I felt very unsupported and alone and it was definitely a clusterfuck that messed with my self esteem and mental health for about three times as long as the relationship itself lasted.

    When I told a friend of mine the full story for the first time this month (years later) she contacted the Coordinator of the Journalism program at the uni to tell the story with my name redacted, and express concern that these things happen at the uni. Before my friend gave the name of the professor, the Coordinator suggested FIVE other names of male professors who could have been involved with a student, despite all tutors and lecturers having to sign an agreement not to cross professional boundaries. The Coordinator compared the systemic problem to that of the Catholic Church and its abuses. I am not even fucking kidding, not even a little bit.

    TL;DR: If you are so inclined in college, have flings with people who you feel like you’re on an equal playing field with. Have crushes. Feel infatuations for smart, hot people in your field (including professors). Use those to DRIVE your academic success. Don’t let some fucking older guy on a ego and power trip derail your awesome, brilliant, capable, attractive, lovely, brave young self. Give yourself all the chances to have an unforgettable college experience — but unforgettable in the GOOD way. Please. XX

    • griffykate said:

      Whoa. I am so glad you got yourself out of that. Jedi hugs to you.

    • Mary said:

      It makes me so angry that people can do that. Not all relationships between staff and students are going to be abusive or unhealthy (I know a huge number of couples who met when they were on different sides of the lines between undergraduate/graduate student – graduate student/fixed-term staff – fixed-term staff/permanent staff), but a significant proportion of them will be totally messed up and potentially very destructive for the more vulnerable party. The people who regard people lower down on the ladder as an endless source of tasty playthings are just despicable.

      They introduced a policy at my organisation that any relationships between staff and students had to be declared to the staff member’s manager, and the staff member and their manager were then responsible for making sure that staff member had zero responsibility for teaching, marking, moderating or any other formal assessment of that student. I quite liked that: it allowed for actual relations to start for that to be managed in a way that didn’t mean secretiveness and didn’t compromise anyone’s academic integrity, but it was a powerful disincentive to having serial short-term relationships with strudents.

  16. Light said:

    “Will a guy test you by being a jerk?”

    If he does, he’s just told you that he really is a jerk. Time to flee.

  17. Oh, I love when you do this! I do hope some of the searchers stuck around and see these.

  18. Lori said:

    Brilliant as ever!

  19. ReanaZ said:

    I’m actually really happy that people who searched for “How do I seduce/make person X do something” ended up here where they might get some humane advice, rather than on pick-up artist websites or some other nonsense. Thank you, search engine, thank you.

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