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It Came from the Search Terms, 14 for 2014

These are edited slightly for punctuation, but otherwise unchanged. Find out how people find this blog!

1. “Do I tell my son’s teacher he has a crush on her?”

No. What possible good could come of this?

2. “How to react when your cousin brother loses his mom.”

Tell him you are very sorry for his loss. While it’s tempting to ask “Is there anything I can do?” grieving people are often too overwhelmed to think of anything they need. It’s emotional “work” they on top of everything else. But they still need the love & support of family and friends. So see if you can bring dinner over/take him to the movies/spend time with him/otherwise let him know that you care.

3. “Why doesn’t my husband like for me to masturbate?”

We covered this, so I hope you found it, but the short version is: Learning to love yourself is the Greatest Love of All. It’s none of his business.

4. “Someone called me “girlie” in not a nice way..is it condescending?”

Fuck yes it is.

5. “Feeling sad and lonely inside a relationship.”

This sounds like a relationship that is profoundly Not Working, and I’m so sorry.

Maybe it’s time for a little journaling. What’s going on in your life, overall? Are you generally feeling a little down? Do you need to call in Team You (could be a therapist, friends, family, partner, mentors) and take some steps around self-care and feeling good? Is there something you wish your partner was doing that s/he’s not that you could ask for specifically? Is it time to end this thing and focus on taking care of yourself and being around people who don’t make you feel “sad and lonely”?

6. “Why does my my girlfriend keep inviting a guy with us to hang out?”

This is one of those “ask her” questions, and if it bothers you, then also “tell her.” Don’t torture yourself with possible reasons. Script: “I’ve noticed that ‘Steve’ has been coming on a lot of our dates, what’s up with that?” Who knows, maybe Steve is lonely and she’s trying to do him a solid. Whatever the reason, you are allowed to say “Could we have some one-on-one time next time we go out?

7. “Advice for one who has been abandon by the man coz of his family and yet she is pregnant.”

That’s a heavy one, my friend. My advice for you is to sit with the idea that he is never, ever coming back. Make your plans for the future knowing that he will never be a part of your life the way you want him to. In that world, what do you want?

8. “How to control your girlfriend that’s too sensitive.”

Wow. Scratch a situation where a person is “too sensitive” and you’ll usually find someone who makes mean, belittling comments and jokes that aren’t really jokes and violates boundaries nearby.

Is that person you? Because as soon as you are asking “how do I control this other person who is separate from me” you have gone far, far, far over to the Dark Side. Maybe it’s time to break up with this fragile soul and find someone who can take what you’re dishing out.

9. “My boyfriend doesn’t come to watch me perform.”

Oof. My ex-boyfriend didn’t like to come watch me perform at storytelling events, and while I was mostly okay with it (I’d rather have someone not come than come grudgingly and not enjoy whatever it is), it was such a good feeling when The Gentleman Caller’s attitude to such things was “Of COURSE I will be there!” Like, oh, this is what I need and deserve. Oh.

There are limits, of course – a working performer is going to perform way more than even the most dedicated partner wants to sit at the table with the band-spouses until Last Call, and nobody wants to be in the “fan” position all the time. But wanting someone to like your work and be there for you at least some of the time is not wrong, pushy, needy, diva-like, etc. If you’ve been playing it off like it doesn’t matter, it’s time for a serious talk about this. Tell him how important it is to you that he support you in this, and see what his attitudes are.

10. “My friend is cheating on me.” 

Like in this short film?

Content notes: Made by a former student for my class! Has some non-realistic parody violence & references to popular horror movies that may not be your jam.

“I didn’t know you didn’t want me seeing other friends.” 

Your friend gets to see other friends, Friend! So if you talk about this, I would stay away from accusations of “cheating” or mentioning the other friends and keep it to wanting to spend more time together. More on rebuilding fractured friendships here.

11. “how 2 tell my new gf that i want 2 hav sex with her.”

“Girlfriend, would you like to come back to my place and have some sex?”

Or “I would really like to have sex with you, what do you think about that?”

And then really listen to her answer.

Also, talk about this when you have your clothes on long before the intended moment. You’ve got logistical things to work out. What are your safer sex protocols? Is this the kind of sex where contraception is needed? When was the last time y’all got tested for STDs?

Taking care of yourself and the other person around sex IS romantic and sexy.

12.” after two dates do you still keep online date options open?”

It sounds like YOU do, so do!

And if you’re really into the two-dates person and not so into meeting other people, then don’t.

When I met the Gentleman Caller, after two dates I had no time for anyone else and cancelled any other plans I’d made. He had also been dating around a bit and had some things scheduled with people who he’d met before meeting me and it took a few weeks for that all to wind down. Which we mutually learned when we had a conversation about being exclusive.

Sometimes keeping options eternally open is a habit, sometimes it’s a sign you’re “meh” about someone, sometimes it’s about wanting to feel like you have options in case the other person isn’t as into you as you are into them…but it’s not hugely meaningful on its own and if something is really working it will find a way to work.

13. “Not wanting to be burden on therapist.”

Oh, sweetheart,  make your appointments, keep your appointments, pay for your appointments in the agreed-upon manner, and freely unload your troubles = being a good patient. Your therapist is there to listen to ALL of your worries, and does not think you are a burden.

14. “How to say no to a second date nicely.”

“No, but thanks!”

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About JenniferP

Chicago filmmaker, teacher, and blogger.

29 comments on “It Came from the Search Terms, 14 for 2014

  1. If you are, in fact, trying to control your girlfriend, then it sounds like she’s not too sensitive after all.

    • She’s correctly sensitive!

      • Even if she is a real jerk, if she’s biting people’s heads off for no reason and then saying “guess I’m just sensitive,” the answer still isn’t to control her–it’s to make her aware this is a problem for you, give her an opportunity to decide whether she’ll control herself, and if she can’t or won’t, part ways.

        But frankly, that’s the less likely possibility when someone says their partner is “too sensitive.”

  2. Oh hells yes to the answer to #8.

    If I think about it, it would be helpful to know what the question asker believe their gf is too sensitive about. Like, if she is very anxious about social situations and thus has a hard time going out to events even when she wants to go, that has a different answer than I’d give to someone who’s prone to poking at their loved one’s vulnerable spots for shits and giggles. Or, I guess, maybe not, since the answer to both is “stop being critical and start being supportive.”

  3. Things that definitely aren’t a burden to your therapist: You talking about yourself and not hearing about his/her own life. You correcting them if they’re mistaken about you, letting them know if something they said hurt you, or telling them you don’t want to see them anymore/asking for recommendations for another therapist that might suit you better. Becoming emotional or crying in session. Telling them exactly how bad you feel. Asking them to keep most of your secrets.

    Don’t want to be a burden on your therapist? Then listen to the boundaries he/she sets, and follow them. That’s all! Maybe an added bonus would be the unspoken “don’t physically assault him/her and don’t destroy or damage any of her/his property, other than facial tissues,” which is usually unstated but assumed. If you’re meeting with your therapist in a pre-scheduled appointment that ends when it’s scheduled to end, it is super unlikely that you are anything like a burden.

    Some things you’ll need to negotiate with your therapist: How long are sessions? Do they end right at the 50 minute mark? (A lot of therps do this because we don’t always have the ability to go over time, and consistency is important.) Under what circumstances can you go over, how long can that happen, and will you be charged for the extra time? When you speak to them on the phone, can you discuss anything other than scheduling? (Some therapists won’t discuss confidential matters over insecure lines like cell phones; others schedule phonecalls between sessions to see if you’re okay.) If you’re in a crisis and feel you need help before your next scheduled appointment, can you reach out to them, or would they rather you contacted a crisis service?

    Things your therapist should be able to tell you in writing: When they can’t keep your secrets or when they have to tell someone else something you’ve told them. Usually this is because they have to break confidentiality if you pose imminent risk to yourself or someone else, or if you tell them about a vulnerable person in danger of being abused or neglected, or if they’re ordered to release their records by the court. But many different places and people define all those things differently, so it’s worth asking.

    Even if you feel like you’re too much, this person’s role in your life is to be able to deal with it. Their whole life is structured to make sure they can take the weight when you need to lean on them. As therapists, we have to ask ourselves: How can I make sure I cope with some of the heavy things I’m hearing? Where are my boundaries? When am I willing to say ‘no’?”

    After all, you don’t pay a therapist to care. They do that on their own, or they don’t; money isn’t part of that. What your money actually does is help them live a life that helps them care, without it hurting them. It’s so they can take care of themselves before and after they take care of you.

    • ”Do they end right at the 50 minute mark? (A lot of therps do this because we don’t always have the ability to go over time, and consistency is important.) Under what circumstances can you go over, how long can that happen, and will you be charged for the extra time?  ”

      Excellent tip! Thanks for expanding on the subject. This was crucial for me with my last therapist. In our first sessions she had a knack for bringing Big Stuff up in the last few minutes. I would then look at the clock, panic inside and not tell her my real feelings because there wasn’t enough time (or so I thought). Eventually I got up the courage to ask her to save the Big Talks for when we had the time and it made a world of difference.

      As a side effect it also stopped me from carrying the fear of a (one-sided) conflict with my therapist in the days between our appointments. It was a relief to be able to go from ”Oh shit, not enough time, is she doing this on purpose? She must be, right? Why does she hate me?” to using my words.

      • Yep, it’s good to get an understanding with the person you’re working with. Some therapists don’t watch the clock very closely, while meanwhile I was trained to structure the rhythm of my sessions in a deliberate way. While I work with my clients to let them trust me to handle when we ended instead of always holding back, other people handle it differently.

    • After all, you don’t pay a therapist to care. They do that on their own, or they don’t; money isn’t part of that. What your money actually does is help them live a life that helps them care, without it hurting them. It’s so they can take care of themselves before and after they take care of you.

      This is awesome! <3

    • Some more that sometimes cause conflict:

      - giving presents to your therapist is a boundary issue, specifically because it’s an ethics issue for them, Some therapists are more relaxed about cookies at Christmas or whatever, some aren’t.
      - arriving early can be a thing, particularly if they don’t have a waiting room. It’s good to be able to discuss with them ahead of time how early it’s acceptable to arrive, and what to do if you’re earlier than that.

      Also, sad fact: some therapists can’t take the weight. They are unequipped to cope with your particular issue. Not because you’re too broken and beyond help, not because your problem is too petty and trivial to bother them with, not because therapy just isn’t for you, but because this isn’t the sort of issue that specific therapist is good at, or your personalities don’t fit right, or the tools they prefer to work with don’t suit your needs, or they’re burning out or their last supervision session was way too long ago or whatever. This can be really, really traumatic for the client, and it is NOT YOUR FAULT and just means you need a different therapist, not that there’s a problem with you.

  4. #10–I love everything about that short. Especially the last second or two. Mostly I just love tacos and can relate deeply. I also think it’s great you’re sharing you’re students’ work!

  5. I’m just popping by to say that these search terms posts are excellent. Maybe because they don’t bum me out as much as the regular posts, which are excellent, but they’re usually so detailed that it’s actually harrowing.

  6. Holy god, I know a guy like the guy in that short film.

  7. Am I the only one that can claim #5? That was totally me… lol

  8. God, I really identified with #13. The solution for me, funnily enough, was to mention it to my therapist. I just told him “this is going to sound silly, but I actually feel bad about dumping on you”. He was really receptive to that and didn’t dismiss that feeling at all. So we used it as an “in” to unearth and explore other insecurities I had about always feeling like I bothered people by being alive.

    It’s weird, but I told myself the guy gets paid to help me sort out my troubles, and at that moment the thing that was troubling me was that I felt bad about “making” him do that. Brains can get funny on you like that. It’s not something to be embarrassed about at all, it something to explore together.

  9. #3 — that was me and my ex, and one of maaaaaaaaany reasons he is an ex!

  10. So, um, several months ago there were probably a slew of search terms about “sweet machine sex husband” and similar. I’m not fixated on Sweet Machine, I was looking for a comment I think she made about how she and her husband handle it when one of them wants to have sex and the other doesn’t. That is all. :-)

    (Though if anyone remembers what post that was on, do let me know! I never did end up finding it. It may not even have been Sweet Machine, though I think it was.)

    • Sweet Machine is in a non-marriage partnership, so “husband” might be the problem in your search. I hope that someone can recognize and point you to the right post!

      • Then I may well have misremembered who wrote the comment, because I’m pretty sure the writer referenced her husband. No wonder my searches didn’t turn it up!

  11. Oh god, #1 gave me a massive flashback to high school. My mum told *every* male teacher of mine that I had “such a huge crush on them”. I didn’t at all, but she figured that it would make them like me or treat me more favourably or whatever. All it did was make me SOOOOOO self-conscious and tbh encouraged slightly overfamiliar behaviour from the teachers.

  12. For #10 that video is great!! I have a friend like that, except it is not about me spending more time with her, but her jealousy that I might be spending time with friends who she also knows, but not including her – sometimes when I’m out, she’ll text me over and over (and over! Until I reply) asking who I’m with. The idea of friend cheating totally reminds me of her!

    • Your friend sounds like she’s a carrier of Geek Social Fallacy #5: Friends Do Everything Together
      I’m sorry that she is dealing with it by pestering you, that’s not cool.

  13. […] More advice to questions posed via search terms. I love Captain Awkward. So much, so hard. […]

  14. #1 takes helicopter parehting to a whole new level.

  15. #6 also seems like a very bad case of GSF #5 as well.

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