Thanks (?) to the nice Twitter friends who clued me into this horrible WikiHow on How To Stop A Wedding, or, as @KristinMuH put it, “a manual to help stalkers ruin their target’s special occasions.”
While I once joked that I would like to see this happen someday, it was, in fact, a joke. And the instructions to basically kidnap the person make my hair stand on end:
Take charge if things go your way. If he or she decides not to go through with the wedding, it is your duty to immediately escort the bride/groom away from the pressure of their family and friends. There is no doubt that friends and family will be angry or furious and will demand answers if the bride or groom doesn’t immediately flee the scene…Have a get-away car prepared so that the bride or groom doesn’t have to face the embarrassment of his or her friends and family.
So, if you find yourself searching for instructions on how to stop a wedding, ask yourself:
Has the affianced person been kidnapped? Is it a child? Then stop the wedding by alerting the appropriate authorities.
Is this someone you think should marry you instead? And they know how you feel? And yet they are still obstinately not marrying you, to the point where they have planned an entire wedding with someone else? Okay, here’s what you do:
- Find out when & where the wedding will be.
- Book yourself a vacation to “anywhere but there.”
- Block this person in all social media spaces so you’re not seeing photos and updates.
- Try for someplace with very limited internet access so you reduce temptation to watch it unfold on real time at the wedding hashtag or whatever.
- If you can, get a trusted friend to go along with you so that you are not alone and there is someone who can comfort and distract you.
- Remind yourself that soulmates aren’t real, and that other people get to choose who they want to be with.
- Or, if it’s more comforting, say to yourself “They are making a mistake, but it’s their mistake to make.“
- Wait it the fuck out and move on with your life.
And if someone pulls this whole shebang on you at your wedding, here is a script:
“This is inappropriate and I’d like you to leave now.”
Hopefully your friends and family and security will form a nice barrier between you and this person and make sure they are escorted from the premises.
Now it’s time for the monthly(ish) feature where we find out what search terms bring people to this site! Except for adding punctuation, these are unchanged. Enjoy!
1. “My sister in law hates me what do I do?”
You don’t really have the power to make someone like you if they don’t, but you do have some power here.
Do you know why, as in, does it stem from a specific incident or slight? If you were in the wrong about something, apologize once, and then go for distant-but-civil at family gatherings where you can’t avoid her until or unless she approaches you.
If you don’t know why, maybe ask her once (or have your spouse do it, if s/he is closer to her) about what’s going on. “Have I done something to upset you? If there is a way I can make amends, I’d very much like to know.”
If she tells you the truth, you’ll at least know what’s up and see if there is a way to make amends.
If she says something like “You should know what you did” then it’s a good sign that she’s not really interested in clearing anything up. That is good information; it means there is nothing you can really do, so go with distant-but-civil when you have to encounter her and spend your precious energy connecting with other people in the family.
2. “Should parents talk to kids about marital problems?”
Kids need to know stuff that 1) directly affects them 2) when there is something concrete to tell, like, “we’re getting a divorce” or “X parent is moving out for a while.” “We’re having problems and trying to decide what to do” = anxiety inducing!
Other than that, I don’t think kids are the right audience for marital ups and downs. Talk to friends, talk to a trusted counselor. Don’t lean on your kids about this topic. In abusive situations, safety comes first, and there might be no safe amount of contact with an abusive parent. But absent abuse, kids have a relationship with their parent that is entwined with but distinct the parents’ relationships with each other.
3. “What does it mean if a guy kisses you when he’s drunk?”
Do you like this guy? Try hanging out with him when he’s not drunk and find out if kissing is still on the agenda. Script: “I really enjoyed kissing you the other night. Want to try that sometime when we’re not drunk? I’d love to hang out with you again.”
There is a chance he will give you a sheepish “Yeaaaah, about that…” rejection, but trust me, it’s better than trying to read Weird Drunk Dude Cues for the next precious months of precious spring and summer.
4. “What does it mean when a guy kisses you when he’s drunk but not when sober?”
Aha! He likes kissing but not necessarily kissing you, specifically. Do you like him? See above. Just find out from the person who knows, aka, that specific guy and not Guys In General.
Do you know in your heart of hearts that these are meaningless drunken kisses? Are you okay with that? There’s nothing wrong with fun drunk makeouts. But if you aren’t feeling good about this, stop kissing him, drunk OR sober. Read this (sexually graphic) speech by Amy Schumer about how you are much cooler than making out with drunk guys who don’t really like you that much. Because you are.
4. “Girlfriend doesn’t sleep with me but has with others.”
This question is potentially the tip of an extremely ooky iceberg of sexism and entitlement, especially if you’re thinking about those Others, dwelling on them, imagining them, retroactively jealous of them, looking at them as proof that your girlfriend should be sleeping with you, etc. If you’re doing that, stop it! Each person, each relationship, each sex partner, etc. is a universe unto themselves. The clock on what you want to do with someone completely resets with each new person you are with, and having done certain things with someone in the past doesn’t make those things automatically “on the menu” going forward.
Your girlfriend will sleep with you (or not) when and if she is ready and wants to (or not). Do you like her and care about her? Do you want the relationship to go to a sexy place someday? Then make it clear to her that you’d be up for that when and if she’s ready. Don’t bring it up again until she does. And go on enjoying your relationship in the present moment for what it offers you.
If over a little bit of time you feel like the issue is one of attraction, as in, she is not attracted to you, or you do not want to be with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you, then consider splitting up so you can both find people who are more compatible. Don’t do it in a pressure-y way, though, like, “If you won’t have sex with me I’ll have to dump you.” More like, “I care about you, but I think it’s time we ended our romantic relationship.”
This is tricky to navigate. I hope you can both do it gracefully. And never bring up those Others! Never do it. They aren’t your business.
5. “My guy friend is dating a bitch.”
Does she treat him well? Is he happy? In other words, is she an okay girlfriend to him but the two of you don’t gel together? Then minimize how much time you spend with both of them together and otherwise ride it out. Things might get better, or they might break up, but there’s nothing to be gained from getting in the middle of it.
If she doesn’t treat him well, if she is mean and controlling, if he seems drained and diminished when he’s with her, then make sure you ask him how he’s doing a lot and make time to spend with him (away from her). Stay in his life and be a person who cares about him. If he complains about her or raises concerns about her with you, you have an opening to say what’s on your mind one time. Avoid words like “bitch,” just say “That story makes me sad, do you think it’s okay for her to treat you that way?” or “I don’t know her well enough to comment, but you seem anxious and sad a lot of the time when y0u’re with her, and that concerns me.” Or if she’s been mean to you, specifically, bring that up. “I know you really like her, but she is cold and rude to me so I don’t like hanging out with you both together.” Be specific and brief.
In my experience, when people are in love they don’t want to listen to advice form their friends about how to run their relationships, so if the friendship is valuable to you tread with caution. Don’t put him in the position of having to defend her to you. And don’t harp on it – if he gives you an opening, bring it up once, but end the conversation with “I want you to be happy and I trust you to know what’s best for you.”
6. “I’m a 28-year-old virgin. Will sex hurt the first time?”
I can’t answer that for you, since I don’t live in your body, but I can recommend:
- Masturbation. Learning to love yourself is in fact The Greatest Love of All.
- Advanced Masturbation: Experiment with toys and also with lubrication (go to a friendly sex shop like Early To Bed, they’ll talk you through what you need to know).
- Have your partner start with fingers/do lots of foreplay together, long before/many times before attempting penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex (if that is indeed the kind of sex you are worried/writing about).
- Choose a partner who really excites and turns you on and makes you excited to try things out with them.
- Choose a partner you can trust to go slow and/or stop if things do hurt you.
That will give you a head start on making the whole thing super-fun and enjoyable. It’s normal to be nervous before the first time you have sex. Even if you’ve had sex a million times, it’s normal to be nervous the first time you have sex with a new partner.
7. “What to do if I am in love with my best friend?” (there were many variations on this one)
Is this friend single? If so, try this: “Friend, I really care about you, and sometimes I think about what would happen if we dated. Do you ever think about that?” Or, “Friend, I think I am developing romantic feelings for you. Would you be open to going on some dates with me and seeing where it leads?”
See what they say. I would stay away from declarations of love to start out with. It’s too much pressure. Start with raising the possibility. Open the door and see if they walk through it. If they do, great!
If they say “I’m so sorry, I don’t feel that way about you” say “Okay, I understand. I had to ask.” Then, if you need to, take a little break from seeing them while you grieve what might-have-been. You can say that, in fact. “I want us to keep being friends, but I need a little time to knit my dignity back together before we hang out again without feeling weird.” DON’T interrupt their wedding or do big dramatic gestures to change their minds! A true friend might feel momentarily awkward or guilty for not returning the feelings, but the friendship can and will survive a moment of honesty like this as long as you don’t creep on them or keep bringing it up.
Is the friend involved with someone else? Maybe hang back and look for someone else to crush on.
8. “When boyfriend is unemployed and treats you like shit.”
Consider reading Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That?” (maybe not where your boyfriend can see it, though!).
Lots of unemployed men don’t treat their partners “like shit,” so see it for the excuse that it is and hopefully get yourself out of there before it gets worse. I don’t care what is going on with your boyfriend’s life; you don’t deserve being mistreated. <3 and best wishes to you.
9. “What does it mean if someone says,’Sometimes i feel lonely when you are by my side?'”
You can ask whoever said this to you to give you specific examples of things that would help them feel less lonely, but on the whole this is a request for more of your attention. So maybe look at ways that you can be more present with them.
- Are you on the computer or your phone when you spend time together? Or playing video games/watching movies? Try unplugging for a while when you spend time together.
- Are they the ones who are making the bulk of plans for you to spend time together? Maybe take on more of the planning/initiating of plans.
- Are you tuning out when they talk because you think you already know what they’ll say? Work on that.
Readers have said that getting some meaningful, close contact right when a partner comes home can make them feel more valued and loved, so see if it makes a difference to give the person your full attention (a hug, asking them how their day was, fully focusing on them) for a few minutes right when you first see them. These little things can make a big difference.
10. “What to do when a man slow fades.”
Fast fade right back! Don’t initiate contact with them, don’t keep time slots open for them. People who like you will act like they like you. Don’t prioritize someone who isn’t doing the same for you. Put your energy into people who like you and give you their time and attention.
11. “I graduated with a degree that I hate.”
No one believes me when I say this, but I’ll try again, since graduation season in upon us:
You are not your degree, or your college major. You can choose to work in an entirely different field from the one you studied in, and studying something at university usually does not lead directly to a job in that field.
Congratulations on completing a degree! That is an accomplishment you should be proud of no matter where it leads. If you are just entering the work force, look for companies you might like to work for, and try to get into them in any kind of entry-level position. Don’t worry about the title too much. Just start working and then see what interests you from there.
12. “Can rapists ever have redemption?”
Wow. That’s a big one.
I don’t believe in redemption (in the religious sense of that word). I don’t believe that survivors and communities have an obligation to forgive or EVER welcome people back just because that person has gone through the motions of trying to change. God (for people who believe in God) may forgive all sins, but that doesn’t mean that survivors have to tolerate or welcome their abusers or that communities have to allow known predators back into the fold. Which isn’t exactly motivating to the person who searched for this question. But, it doesn’t mean that rapists shouldn’t bother trying to reform their ways.
Any path to “redemption” for a rapist probably starts here:
- Admit what you did. To yourself. To a counselor. Don’t make excuses.
- If there is a criminal case, admit what you did to the court and don’t put the victim through the horrors of a trial. Accept your sentence and serve your time. “Technically Not Guilty because I put you through a trial, but really, really sorry” = “You are still a raping shitbeast.”
- If there is a civil case, admit what you did and pay reparations.
- Work with a counselor (or other program for violent offenders) to figure out what “making amends” would look like. A written apology and admission of the truth might help some victims and might terrify others because you contacted them. It’s up to the victim if they ever want to read or accept your apology and they have the last word about anything that happens next.
- STEER CLEAR of your victim and of social spaces where they are likely to be, FOR THE REST OF TIME. You gave up your claims to certain cons, certain parties, certain places/bars/pubs, and certain friend groups when you raped someone. There is no amount of apology or amends you could make that would make you welcome in those places or make your victim feel safe knowing you might be nearby. The best contribution you could make to the social scene you were part of when you committed the rape is your permanent absence from it. There doesn’t have to be a criminal case for this to be true. Seriously, GTFO of places where your victim will be. “You never have to see or hear from me or about me again” is a gift that it is within your power to give.
- Are you in college? Does your victim go to that same college? TRANSFER TO A DIFFERENT FUCKING COLLEGE. NOW. You leave. You find a new place to be. Consider online education where you won’t be around people in person.
- Do you and your victim work together? TIME FOR A NEW JOB, THEN. Quit your job. Today. The resulting economic stresses should be on you.
- STEER CLEAR of alcohol, drugs, and situations where you might conceivably harm someone again. Consistently and proactively treat your issues, whatever they are.
- Be someone who looks out for other people in sketchy situations. Be someone who doesn’t laugh at rape jokes. Be someone who believes survivors and who advocates for women’s health and safety. Don’t vote for politicians who trivialize or deny rape.
- Recognize that forgiveness from your victim or from the world is not a realistic goal. Recognize that some people may never trust you because of what happened.
This list is literally the least you can do to try to knit the world back together after what you did. Time will heal some but not all, and that’s how it should be.
13. “My mom is obsessed with my weight.”
Mine too, friend. Mine too. Tell her you won’t discuss the topic with her. It took me a long time to get my mom to stop bringing it up with me. I had to say stuff like “Just because you hate your body doesn’t mean I hate mine” or “This is not a safe topic for me to discuss with you” or “I don’t actually want or value your opinion on this topic, so stop now.” See also “That is something I discuss only with my doctor.” And then I had to leave a lot of conversations and rooms to drive the point home. I had to set and enforce rules that said “Bring that up after I’ve asked you not to and I will stop talking to you at all.”
I thought things were better, but on our last visit home this spring she ambushed my boyfriend with her “concerns.” He shut her down for me. (That happened once and won’t be happening again, FYI, because if it does we will leave). So I don’t have an easy, permanent solution. People are hard. She has so many of her own issues around this stuff, and I try really hard to be compassionate and remind myself that it’s not about me, but sometimes I just need to peace the fuck out and shield myself from listening to it.
As you learn to reset boundaries with your mom, shore yourself up with resources like: The Shapely Prose archive, Health At Every Size, and Fat Body Politics, to name a few (they will have links to many, many other resources). Look at fatshion blogs and beautiful images of people of all sizes and retrain your eye as to what is normal. It’s hard to love yourself in the face of body shame and harassment from people who say they love you, and I feel you. There are so many smart and inspiring people who talk about this stuff every day, and they helped me love myself, or at least defend myself better from the onslaught. Oh, final note, “Fat Acceptance” resources are helpful even if you don’t identify as “fat” or aren’t “fat” according to the scale. They are about loving your body the way it is and are broadly applicable in our diet culture.
14. “I led a guy on and I don’t like him.”
I’m assuming he likes you and thinks your attentions were sincere. My gut says extricate yourself but without using the words “I led you on.” It sucks to be rejected, no need to add the humiliation of feeling like a sap or plaything on top of it. “Guy, I’ve enjoyed spending time with you but I realize that I don’t want to be romantically/sexually involved with you anymore. I’m so sorry.” Own your feelings, make it final and non-negotiable. Then get out of there and leave him be.
15. “Letter to your uncle expressing your gratitude to them from all that he has done in absence of your parents.”
What a sweet note to end on. This is a great idea. I’m sure your words will be sweeter and better than anything I could come up with, but definitely write that letter! “Dear Uncle, I love you and wanted to tell you how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me…” is a good place to start.