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Shall I Compare Thee To a Summer’s Day? July Search Terms

It’s July, so time for the monthly “let’s answer the stuff people typed into search engines” post. It is, as always, a very mixed bag of topics.

1. “Is my partner’s family using my family for money? Help!”

I feel like there is a lot of backstory and context here that would be valuable to know, but one suggestion is to revisit and renegotiate current arrangements around money, and see what happens. It sounds like that you (or your family) are already uncomfortable with something about the financial arrangements that are taking place or requests that are being made, and that’s a good enough reason to pull on one of the threads and see where it goes. Do you feel like you are allowed to say “no, we can’t help with that, sorry?” Does it change how your partner’s family treats you?

2. “Should I be upset with a coworker who didn’t donate to a fundraiser in my name?”

Feel however you want, but I don’t think addressing it with the coworker, complaining to other people, or changing the way you interact with them at work is a good idea at all. Be grateful to the people who did donate, and assume the coworker who didn’t had completely understandable reasons that aren’t really your business. Let this one go.

I don’t feel shame about asking for donations here periodically, or for boosting charity stuff or crowd-funding campaigns for friends or causes I’m close to, and I don’t mind at all when people in my life ask me for help with their stuff, but that only works as long as everyone understands that a request is not an order and that gifts are voluntary. For real, the quickest way to make everyone you know go “fuck you and your cause” is to act like they are obligated to give. I also think, personally, that bosses should never ask their employees for charitable donations. Get some friends, boss. Get some friends.

3. “If someone with depression apologises for something they did, do u tell them its not their fault?”

Well, maybe it is their fault. Depression dulls and blunts a person’s ability to function within relationships sometimes, but it’s not an excuse for mean behavior, and we are still ultimately responsible for how we treat other people. If you want to say something comforting in response to the apology, howabout “Apology accepted, thank you.

4. “How to hide your shyness on a first date.”

Don’t hide!

Sometimes from questions and comments I read here, I get the sense that people who are really leery of dating think that it’s an activity that is a) extremely performative and b) involves doing stuff that you wouldn’t normally enjoy in order to impress the other person, like it only “counts” if it’s somehow far outside your comfort zone and resembles what people in movies do on dates.

On a date, you should try to wear clean clothes that fit you. You should have cleaned yourself recently. You should not unload all the problems and stresses of your life on this new person as if you were in a therapy session, but neither should you be a robot. “I’m happy to be here, but I’m feeling a little shy” is good information for the other person to have. And remember, you can’t make other people like you, so focus on your own reactions. When the person finds out that you are feeling shy, do they react in a way that makes you more or less comfortable to be around them?

Here are some fun, low-cost first date (or friend-date!) activities that might help a shy person relax and give you something to talk about and/or do with your hands:

  • Gamers, what happens if you each bring your favorite 2-player game to a cafe and play for a while? Or go to an arcade? It doesn’t matter if you or the other person is “good at” whatever game it is. This is about having fun, learning a new game, and seeing if your styles mesh.
  • It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, so that means 10,000 free exhibits, concerts, festivals, and events. Sack lunch + free show = low pressure. You can talk about the performance or the exhibit, and if the thing sucks you wander away from it and do something else.
  • We’re past this year’s Free Comic Book Day, but I once had a date on Free Comic Book Day and it was awesome. Meet at comics shop. Browse comics. Pick out comic for each other. Go to park with comics and read them. Commander Logic did this with bookshops that were also coffee shops (not free, but, fun). See also Record Store Day, World Book Night.
  • Taco walk! My old neighborhood had a lot of taquerias, so a fun thing to do is to each get 1 taco at each place and compare. If you aren’t having fun on the date, get super “full” after Taco #2 and get out of there. If you are having fun, find local bar or cafe and stay up late talking and then eat more tacos or tamales or whatever. If you live in a city, a taco walk could easily be a dumpling walk or scone walk or a tour of food trucks. Or gelato! Mmmmm gelato.
  • Is there a museum of science or a planetarium near you? Go look at science!

Do only stuff that sounds fun and interesting and appetizing to you. Do stuff that you would do with a friend, even if it wasn’t a DATE sort of date. Do stuff that gives you something to look or do. Fancy sit-down restaurants are great, when you are date-ING someone and already know that you won’t run out of stuff to talk about, but it’s all too much the first time you go out with someone. I realize I live in a major city with a lot of options, but people in smaller towns also do casual stuff for fun in their free time, and somewhere there is a park/book shop/ice cream stand/free concert/odd history exam/roadside attraction/place outside your house to spend a little time at. You are trying to find someone who has fun with you, who makes things fun for you, and who enjoys doing at least some of the stuff you like. The right person for you won’t mock your shyness and will help you feel relaxed.

5. “Shy guy now ignoring me.”

If this was someone you were attempting to get with, he’s giving you some “nope!” signs, so believe them and steer clear.

6. “How to convince your parents that you need to go to the hospital for suicidal thoughts.”

Say “Mom, Dad, I need you to drive me to the hospital, because I am having suicidal thoughts and I need immediate help and treatment.” Also, if you search for “suicide hotline” wherever you are, you might be able to talk with someone fairly immediately. Here’s what you can expect when you call a hotline. You could ask the volunteer for help in speaking with your parents.

When it comes down to it, if your parents won’t believe you or won’t take you and you feel like you are in danger, please call emergency services where you live and ask them to come collect you. You being alive is worth making your parents mad. In fact, it’s worth ANY amount of money or fuss or trouble.

7. “How to seduce a girl to do sex chat…”

This site will offer you much guidance, young Padawan learner, mostly of the cautionary tale variety.

8. “GF left me when I needed her the most mental illness.”

Oof. Okay. I’ve been sitting on a lot of letters from the opposite side of this story. The Letter Writer is unhappy for many reasons (like the ones in this recent post) and wants to leave but feels guilty because the partner has severe depression or other mental illness going on and they don’t want to make it worse by leaving (but they also don’t want to stay). So, Your Worst Fear, meet Their Worst Fear! It sets up a really perverse kind of waiting game, where “I want to leave her but I can’t until she gets better, so I hope she gets better (so I can finally leave her), so for now I guess I’ll just stay (and hate it, and grow to resent her even more than I do already).” Yaaaaaaaaay! None of these people are looking for reasons to leave or doing it lightly, but they have come to the end of their own desire to fight to stay.

My question for you is, if your girlfriend was unhappy in the relationship, if she didn’t see the relationship going anywhere that she wanted to be, would you want her to still stay under those conditions? Because you needed her? Out of guilt? To fill your need rather than her own desires? Was your relationship 100% happy and great aside from the mental illness stuff, or was that just the most readily identifiable reason or the straw that broke the camel’s back? It sucks beyond the telling of it to be dealing with a breakup on top of dealing with a mental health crisis, and you have my entire sympathy. Grieve for what you lost. Get angry if you need to, be as sad as you need to be, and when some time has gone by see if you can try to reframe it. “My girlfriend was unhappy with the relationship, so she left.” 

9. “Poem about reasons why am no longer interested in dating u?”

Howabout a bad haiku? No reasons necessary.

“We had a good run/

But I have come to the end/

Please have a good life”

10. “I have been fucking my best friends wife with his consent and his wife stopped it why?”

She didn’t want to fuck you anymore, is my guess. Her consent is the trump card of consents here, so go with that. Maybe hang out with different friends for a bit until you can go back to some kind of normal with these folks?

11. “How to make a guy jealous on Skype.”

Please, for the sake of everyone, when you start to feel like this is a thing you might do, log off of Skype and go do something else with your time. Go learn to paint or some shit.

12. “What to say to a guy to make him feel sorry for you.”

Why, why, why would you do this. why

13. “Will my crush come back to me if I refuse her friendzone option?”

If you were actually her friend, you wouldn’t be thinking of it as a “friendzone option,” so I think you should go ahead with that refusal and let the outcome be whatever it is. Probably she will not come back, but that’s cool, because you will get over her with a little time and space rather than torturing yourself and weirding her out with constant hopeful proximity.

14. “The guy I am dating always lectures me & turns every single conversation into a lecture.”

I hope you found one of the many “how to break up” posts on the site for Tedious Dude. But if you’re not quite there yet, what happens when you tell him that you don’t like this? “I don’t want to be lectured right now, let’s change the subject.” “Did you realize that you’re lecturing me? I don’t like it.” (Probably what happens is a lecture on why interrupting is rude and how he wasn’t lecturing you in the first place is what.) Someone who does this is immune to hints, so if you’re going to stick around, don’t be afraid to be very, very blunt and direct.

15. “She likes my Facebook pictures but doesn’t respond to my messages.”

Stop messaging her and see if she messages you, but don’t fixate on her and what she does online.

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108 comments
  1. Cactus said:

    #14 has some bright red flags waving.

    • JenniferP said:

      He waves them and then gives you a detailed verbal description.

      • the cat in the mask said:

        Along with an explanation of how they’re not actually red, but vermilion, complete with long and factually inaccurate history of vermilion, because of course you wouldn’t know about that sort of thing.

        • misspiggy said:

          oh yes… any tips on how to deal with this man when they are a dear friend of your husband, and when you are booked to spend the weekend at his house? (obviously he wouldn’t dream of telling a man what colour his flags are, and when women get angry around him, he loudly wonders why women find it so difficult to have rational discussions…)

          • Mary said:

            Keep interrupting, “…with YOU”?

            “Why do women find it so hard to have rational discussion?”
            “…with YOU.”
            “No, I mean it. Women always seem to get angry -”
            “…with YOU.”
            “You seem very hostile -”
            “…to YOU.”

            (I do not think I would actually manage to do this, especially with the whole “husband’s dear friend” thing, but doing it in my head would make me feel better!)

          • I would have a VERY serious talk with my husband about how I can’t stand this guy and maybe future invitations need to happen when I have a ladies’ weekend planned, or a family thing sans husband, or a very serious case of 48-hour Ebola.

      • He waves them, gives you a detailed verbal description, denies they’re red flags and asks you if you’re stupid for not even seeing the PURE EMERALD of the green flags he is waving, and then tells you in great detail about why your flag-waving techniques are inherently inferior and how could he put up with such a poor flag-waver as yourself, but reassures you that it is very lucky that such a useless waver-of-flags has such an inspirational waver to look to, as himself.

        Yannow. Maybe. A little.

      • Cactus said:

        But the flags aren’t red, mind you, they’re crimson, and don’t ever forget it. [Insert an hour-long lecture on different shades of red.]

        • Oh, this brings to mind the ~blood orange~debacle of Project Runway.

    • He is my father, and even setting the Oedipus-Elektra stuff aside, I would not want to be dating him. Or one like him. Avast! Depart!

      • Weird Carpet said:

        Oh hey, it looks like we have the same dad. And here I thought I was an only child.

  2. GERTI said:

    re #2: always a tricky subject. My workplace(s) put a lot of pressure on employees to participate in these kinds of things, with goals, incentives, etc. It just always feel really weird to me, more like the goal is meeting some metrics so the company can brag about how they raised X dollars and get some good publicity, rather than emphasize the good peoples’ donations actually do. I don’t like the idea of donation just so my employer can spin some good publicity for themselves. Also, you never know what your employees financial situations are- someone may not have donated because their choice was between donating and eating that day, they don’t support the cause or recipient of the money for personal reasons, they already give to charity, etc., and you should never hold those choices against them, especially in the workplace.

    • JenniferP said:

      I’ve worked at places like that before, and I tend to go all Bartleby the Scrivener in those situations. “I prefer not to.” I don’t say why, I just say “I prefer not to” or “I prefer to handle any charitable contributions I make outside of work” and if people have salty feelings or it leaves a weird hole in their graph, okay! Like, for example, blood drives are great, but there are a million reasons someone might not want to give blood and might not want to go into reasons about it AT WORK, so put up the sign, send the email, and then STFU.

      This spring my employer asked adjunct instructors to donate to student scholarship fund, and I was not best pleased about it. The “savings” of hiring us at very low wages is not passed onto the students, and most of us were going into 4 months of no paychecks for the summer, so, really? We’re supposed to donate? This is when and how you ask us? No way in hell.

      • BookLady said:

        THAT IS BEYOND OBNOXIOUS. Holy fuck.

      • That is just head-explodingly awful, Jesus. Fucking academia.

      • Darcy Pennell said:

        My employer, a non-profit, just decided to start asking employees to donate. They think it will demonstrate to major donors that the staff are committed to the mission. I think any major donor with any sense will know what it really means: staff are committed to keeping their jobs.

        • JenniferP said:

          AWKWARD

          • Darcy Pennell said:

            I’m sorely tempted to tell them that working for a salary below market rate for my skill set is my way of donating to the organization. But I know that would be overly confrontational & the appropriate response is yours, to just say no without elaboration.

      • Jake said:

        You should write them a letter “I have already donated the difference between my salary and an associate professor’s salary. Please feel free to return it to me if you are not able to use it appropriately.”

        • espereth said:

          I have the most ridiculously easy bulging fat blue veins in my pasty white arms. I walk into the public loos where they have blue lighting to confuse people who might shoot up by making all the things blue, and think “uh, nope. wouldn’t make a difference to me if I was. Still looks like a river on the moon.”

          I used to donate blood like it was water, every weekend. Not squeamish, either; I liked watching my blood go up a tube. Also we got free biscuits after.

          Basically any medical professional who can’t draw a coke can of blood from my bulgingly obvious veins needs to seriously rethink their career path.

          I have never had unprotected sex in my life.

          But now I can’t donate because of sex with a bi dude. what.

          • My girlfriend has, and she does.

            I am ineligible because I’m on warfarin — I can donate just fine, I just can’t stop.

          • A. Y. Mouse said:

            Does anyone know if, “not as far as I know” will be met with a refusal?

            I’m not sexually active, but plan on rest any men I may have sex with to please not tell me about any previous contact with other men, because I want to keep my blood donor status if possible.

      • stellanor said:

        I have such guilt about blood drives. I’ve tried to give blood, but I have such terrible veins I cannot. I tried to give blood specifically for a rare blood typed relative who was having a major surgery and was going to need it. THEY COULD NOT GET THE BLOOD OUT OF MY ARM. They struggle to get enough blood from me for medical tests.

        It sucks because I’m O- and everyone wants my blood. Especially my body, apparently, because it won’t share.

        • Darcy Pennell said:

          stellanor, I have the same problem! I have 1 decent vein so I can give blood, but they want my platelets and I don’t have enough veins to give that. I’ve been turned away from the platelet donation center twice because of my sad puny veins. Yet they keep calling and asking me to give platelets! It makes me sad when they call, because I really wanted to donate.

        • Anothermous said:

          I legally cannot donate blood–I found out because I went to a drive, and one of the questions was if I’d spent more than 6 months in Europe. I used to live in France, so the answer was yes, and it turns out that apparently Mad Cow Disease is enough of a “threat” that you can’t donate blood in the US if you’ve spent more than 6 months (in one go) in Europe. So anytime someone tries to guilt me about donating blood, I just tell them I’m a risk for spreading Mad Cow Disease.

          (and then they give me a look like I just told them I *am* in fact, a mad cow, and I laugh about it later, haha)

          • Mercy said:

            Hee hee! I was so glad when I spent 6 months in England as an exchange student so that I could tell the blood drive people that and get them to leave me alone! (I’m another exceedingly bad vein person –sometimes it takes as many as six tries, and then it’s either drop by drop or the vein blows, as well as for most of my life having this little problem of fainting with blood draws –and if I tried not to faint I’d throw up and THEN faint.)

          • PBnoJ said:

            Canadian Blood Services is the same – and BOY HOWDY is it awkward to be made to feel guilty about this when it’s THEIR RULE that I’m obeying by not donating!!

          • Xenophile said:

            I grew up in Austria so I can’t donate blood in the US. Thing is, mad cow disease has a 10-15 year gestation period. I haven’t eaten beef in 16 years. Of course, they have no way to verify that, so no one wants my blood. Which is too bad, because when I’m broke I wish I could sell plasma.

          • Ali said:

            Australia has the same rule. It’s less that you’re at any risk and more that there is no test available to detect prion diseases, so we can’t perform any screening. Yet. Tests are being developed, but we’re not close to reliablility. /blood banker hat

          • SarahTheEntwife said:

            It does depend on where in Europe and how long it’s been — I was in Germany for 10 months, but it was long enough ago that it doesn’t count.

          • thathat said:

            I think it was if you were there during a particular times? Because I spent about half a year in England five-ish years ago, and they still let me donate.

            I’m very bad at donating, apparently.

          • Jane said:

            Yeah, I looked at the American Red Cross rules and they are sort of complicated. Sadly living for two years in Switzerland probably doesn’t give me a free pass to never donate blood. :( This makes me slightly sad just because having blood drawn makes me feel sick. I have fine veins, I think, I just don’t like it.

        • vass said:

          The blood donation one is so frustrating, because it’s a medical procedure which a lot of people might not just not want to undergo, but cannot undergo for medical reasons, and should reasonably be able to expect confidentiality about those reasons. So nagging people about why they’re not donating and forcing them to explain their ‘decision’ is like an end-run around medical confidentiality.

          • Cactus said:

            Seriously. There is no way I would have wanted all of my judgmental co-workers knowing if I had HIV or Hepatitis.

          • golden peanut said:

            I’ll preface this by saying that no one should have to do this. Here it is:
            Blood donation places know that people are sometimes essentially coerced into donating blood. All blood donation places in the US have a point in the process where you can tell them not to use your blood after they’ve drawn it.
            It’s horrible for so many reasons. But if anyone is in a position where they are able to donate blood but should not for whatever blood related reason and their ability to make decisions about their own bodily fluids is compromised, know that you can keep up appearances by donating without contaminating the blood supply.
            I hope nobody has to do this.

        • DUDE I want to give blood but I can’t because I have sex with a MSM (man who has [had] sex with men) and our blood drive laws are dicks about bisexuality. SO YES there are so many reasons as to why you might not want to donate OR might not be able to donate, and an employer’s right to know about this (in my opinion) is somewhere between SQUAT and a BIG FAT ZERO.

          • mintylime said:

            Yes, THIS.

            Though I’m comfortable enough with it that I’m fairly comfortable telling people that I even have an official letter from the Red Cross saying that I should *never donate ever again*, because someone didn’t tell me they were a bisexual male until *afterwards*. That was over twenty years ago, and even if the rules changed I probably still wouldn’t donate because I never developed the habit.

        • G said:

          Please do not feel guilty about that. It’s a medical condition!

          I’m in the US-won’t-accept-my-blood-because-of-mad-cow-in-Europe group too and I got the US blood bank to stop calling me about donating after several increasingly impolite requests. They have decided (incorrectly, I think) that they don’t want it so they should leave me alone.

        • Blue Meeple said:

          I was getting blood drawn for a lab test once and the guy told me, flat out, to never donate blood. My veins are too deep or small or whatever and it just wouldn’t work. Which makes me feel bad, because I actually have no problem with needles or blood and would totally do it…except yeah, every time I get blood drawn or IVs put in, even by people who do that all the time, they always have trouble. So he was probably right.

          • Anothermous said:

            Yeah I’ve had that problem in the past too. I recently had surgery and the poor anesthesiologists had so much trouble getting my IV in that one of the surgeon’s aides came over from the room to ask what was taking so long; they were all prepped and ready to go–the only thing missing was the patient! Eventually they had to go get an ultrasound to find the vein in my arm. Blood draws, man. /shakes head

        • Kade Azkyroth said:

          I like to give blood, but I feel ambivalent about it because they have that idiotic blanket ban on donation by MSM. I experimented, including oral sex, with a same-age friend when I was 14 (well after 1979), and I resent having to lie about it to donate. I wish they’d fix it.

        • gmg said:

          I have the wonky-vein problem too, and the ONE and only time I attempted to give blood, many years anon, the nurse got only half a pint out of me and then said the drip had stopped. Her body language at that point made it VERY clear how irritated she was that I had wasted her time. When I asked sheepishly, “Does that mean you can’t use it?” she snapped back at me in this no-duh voice: “Well, yes, the bag isn’t full!” I went around the partition to the check-in desk, was handed my cookie and cup of juice and, overcome by a combo of blood loss and embarrassment, burst into tears. Mean Nurse popped her head around the partition and in an EVEN MEANER voice said, “God! What’s the problem NOW?”

          I still get mad thinking about that and it was at least 10 years ago. My mom is an RN and has volunteered at a gazillion blood drives and would never, ever, EVER treat someone that way. If that happened to me now, instead of in my timid-mouse mid-20s period of life, someone would have been effing reported to her Red Cross point person.

        • Q-chan said:

          Yeah, I can donate just fine…it’s just that I’m quite prone to getting dizzy afterward if I’m not VERY careful. Which, I mean, is fine, except…I don’t drive. And most of the bus stops in my area are several blocks away from the places I need to be, so that requires me to walk quite a distance. NOT a good idea after you’ve just given blood.

          What I’ve done in the past is just wait until days when my boyfriend has the day off so that he can drive me, but those are pretty few and far between. And his schedule isn’t that predictable, so I never know what to tell the folks from the Red Cross who call me to set up appointments. Hence, I’ll go pretty long stretches of time without donating.

          I might try using Lyft or some other such thing, but I don’t want to have to do that every time.

      • anon this time said:

        I work in the academic world as well at Big State School, and every year when the big Support the University drive comes around, with its endless harassment of employees for donations, I politely employ the Bartleby response. Sorry (not sorry) I prefer not to donate money to a large university that is run like a corporation and underpays the people who work the hardest, cuts funding to heavily-utilized and important departments, while simultaneously providing ridiculous perks to the extremely well funded Big State Athletic Program and retaining faculty long past their expiration date at ridiculous salaries. The student scholarship thing would definitely grind my gears, too, for all the reasons you mentioned (but especially since I was never eligible for ANY of the university-funded scholarships, despite paying my own tuition and working nearly full time while I was in school due to zero family financial contributions.)

      • JHS said:

        I was fundraising this year, and did the rounds at work. One guy told me he made his own donations elsewhere but wished me luck, so my reply was ‘That’s cool! Moral support is equally appreciated!’ because, as good as my cause was, I don’t have a damned bit of right to tell anyone what they do with their money.

        On the topic of forced donations at work, at the college where I’m a postgrad, they’ve started looking into us the students as donors for the student scholarship funds. Despite our paying fees, being given nowhere near the amount of hours to live on when we are given work (not actually our department’s fault as their funds have been cut), and having no guarantee of receiving any help from the scholarship, we are being asked if we think students should donate. You can imagine the big fat no they got from me on that question…

        • monologue said:

          Ugh I totally feel you on this one. My hospital research Institute just built a new building and during the fundraising drive they repeatedly asked graduate students and postdocs for money.

          • JHS said:

            Gah, that sounds annoying. At least my place only investigated the possibility (so far). But seriously, do they think we’re all independently wealthy? Especially with the ‘oh, you should totally work three other jobs outside the college but still make all deadlines’ attitude the upper levels seem to have…

      • Seriously, I always feel like “you’re paying me less than you should be paying me, and now you’re asking for some of that paycheck back? Nope.”

        • KTB said:

          Ugh, this whole situation is my job reality. I’m in charge of fundraising (and business development, and social media, AND managing a project…) for a tiny nonprofit. I end up having to donate to every. single. damned. campaign in order to encourage participation from our Board and supporters. I cringe when I donate every time, because I’d like to donate less (or not at all), but then that would lower my total and make me look less successful.

          I need a new job.

      • crow said:

        Oh geeze, blood drives. The one time back in high school when I tried to donate blood I practically had a panic attack… not when they actually tried to draw my blood but when they pricked my finger for a test. When they saw how upset I was the blood drive worker told me that maybe I shouldn’t donate blood after all and that it would help me if I rested for a few minutes and ate some of their refreshments that they had put out for the people that donated. I felt awful, did not eat the refreshments, and went back to class as soon as I could. Luckily no one asked me how it went (probably because I had next to no friends), but I was still upset with myself for not being help out.

        It’s possible I could do better now but I have to get my blood drawn every few months for tests and nurses/lab techs give me a bit of a hard time about how uncomfortable it makes me. Luckily they save this for until -after- I’ve had the blood drawn and I’ve never had any serious problems with getting the tests done, but I doubt I would do very well if I had to have a whole pint drawn.

        I am not so embarrassed about all this that I don’t mind sharing it with strangers on the internet, but it would be very awkward to be expected to explain it on demand. And what if my reason was something heavily stigmatized like that I had HIV? Having to get into that on cue would be so much worse.

    • Blue Meeple said:

      I’ve never been in this situation, but a friend of mine has been shamed for donating to the “wrong” charities. Like, her workplace had a fund drive for a Cure That Disease charity, which she didn’t participate in because her donation allocation for the year went to a Help These Animals charity, and as a result people were nasty to her for “thinking animals were more important than people” or something. Gah, people.

      • KellyK said:

        Wow. I’ve seen some of that (indirectly, fortunately), and it never fails to make my blood boil. Everybody gets to make their own charitable donations to whatever cause speaks to them. Period, end of story. It doesn’t necessarily mean you think animals are more important than people, or that you think This Disease is more important than That Disease or That Social Problem. It just means that there’s only one of you, you can’t do everything, so you focus your energy in a way that works for you. It’s all important.

        • Erin said:

          Not to speak of the possibility that you may have given money to a different cause because you found out that the charity they want to donate money to is shady (keeps most of the influx for running the charity itself).

          • I have a knee-jerk reaction around charities that want to cut your hair for exactly that reason, and being someone with attractive natural hair who likes to grow it out makes it so much worse. I’ve been tempted to cut pieces of it off and then make the people who harass me watch me throw it on the ground and stomp on it.

    • About being asked for a donation– When I am employed for pay, I research a bunch of charities each November and give a set percentage of my next year’s income to five of them. This means charitable giving is a part of my budget that’s already spoken for when someone is asking for money.

      A person who is fund-raising is welcome to try to convince me that an organization should be among my five for next year. But I am at peace with the percentage of my income that I donate, nor will I short-change an organization that I’ve already earmarked money for because a Worthy Cause that I haven’t researched came along.

      But my goodness, is that not a conversation I would like to have with a supervisor.

    • A mini-inarticulate rant brewing re#2 – I also get a bit grumpy about birthday cards with cash, leaving cards etc. at work. I am part time, and it’s my bill paying job, and I need ALL the income from it as everything else is unreliable. I.e. I’m not skint, but at any future moment I could be. And if I donate to one, I must donate to the next and so on. There’s no compulsion, but I hate being made to feel guilt I shouldn’t. Yes, it’s probably all in my passive-aggressive teeth-grindingly polite head any way.
      But as a viewpoint from a non-donater/supporter of fundraiser when I can help it: I don’t dislike people if I don’t give them money, I’m friends with several. But I want to choose charities I support. And I don’t buy anyone but the closest of friends cards/gifts – I’ve no interest in giving or receiving from colleagues. Even colleague-friends.

      But I’m a bit over sponsored things anyway. When I do them, it’s always the same people paying up (family, parents) not for the charity, but because they want to make sure I don’t look bad. I’d rather people just supported things they cared about. Or kept money, if they need it, or supporting something I’m doing might make things tight for them.
      I now try to bow out of doing things ‘for charity’ as I hate pushing demands for sponsorship on people. If I can DO charity work – that’s a different thing (e.g. Crisis at Christmas; or building stuff; or helping run stuff) and so on. I’ve just started to dislike the idea of doing something fun and/or challenging, and other people paying for you to do it.

      … um. That’s kinda grumpy for my first CA reply. :-S

    • miss_chevious said:

      I worked at a place where it was culturally mandatory to donate to a specific cause. Fortunately, no one knew how much you donated, just whether or not you did, so I skirted by with the bare minimum, but it’s really gross to coerce employees to give, even to “neutral” causes.

    • JenniferP said:

      The “innocent” greeting and then the abrupt segue seems to NOT be working, shockingly!

      • thegirlfrommarz said:

        A good 50% of the time they don’t even seem to bother with the greeting… :(

      • HAHAHAHAHAH! Although I wonder if some of those are fabricated?

        • Maybe, but it’s not like there’s not enough of that nonsense without making some up, right? I still get messages like that while playing Yahoo games or online poker. “hi ur cute want to cyber?”. “cn i see ur boobs?”

          I’ve also been following this one, by the way: http://onlinedatingisliterallytheworst.tumblr.com/

        • miss_chevious said:

          They could be, but as a current online dater, I can tell you that I am unsurprised by them. If I haven’t gotten each exact message, I’ve certainly gotten that message’s skeevy cousin.

        • I answered an online dating ad from a guy one time who ended up standing me up (not a gigantic deal, but nobody gets a second opportunity to stand me up), and then texted me every 4-6 weeks for over a YEAR afterward, even though I NEVER ONCE RESPONDED. So…yeah, maybe some of them are fabricated but please PLEASE don’t commit the error of thinking there are not a lot of hella thirsty jerks out there.

      • AutumnFire said:

        My favorite (and I can’t find it again) was when some SWB asked a girl for her bra size and she told him 4KB. When he said, “Wow” she replied, “yep, the storage is bigger.” Her point was guys had no frickin’ clue what the letters and numbers for bra sizes meant. I wonder if some girl could get away with convincing some clueless hornball that 14AAAAA is the BEST size to be!

  3. sara said:

    Science museum first dates! This is what my now-fiance and I did for our first date, and it was the BEST EVER. Plenty of cool/fun things to look at and talk about so we never ran out of conversation. So much better than sitting in a bar/restaurant. Highly recommend!

    • KTB said:

      Also, TACOS! Captain, you are a freaking genius. I need to have that date with my husband, like, tonight.

  4. espritdecorps said:

    I love my children’s school, but every couple of months they send home a new catalog of overpriced items no one wants with a coercive prize structure and helpful hints on how to extort our friends and family. I can’t stand it when it’s done to me, and have no interest in doing it to anyone else.

    After several crying bouts of disappointment at not getting to go to the party/get the prize/etc., I just started sending in a check made out for half the sales amount required to the PTA rather than the sales company and a note asking that they get to participate, it’s worked so far.
    No hassling of co-workers necessary.

    • jdrives said:

      Brilliant!

    • Jane said:

      OH MY GOD BLESS YOU.

      Sorry, I remember those fundraisers with a feeling of sick dread — there was wrapping paper, and pre-made cookie dough, and candy bars, and all of it was TERRIBLE and so expensive. . . basically my little socially anxious, awkward, shy little kid self could fathom nothing worse than being forced to talk to people I didn’t know, and not only that, ASK THEM FOR MONEY. Ugh. I always sold one item to my mom and that was it.

      • Awkially Socward said:

        Ohhhhhh yes, and you can bet the school recognised absolutely none of this. Always, always, always, those that raised the most money got the most praise.

        I was lucky that my mother was a well known figure at her place of work and had access to 300+ people, but that didn’t make the door-to-door type fundraisers any less difficult. The confident kids who could fly out the door the same night would suck up all the ‘customers’, setting the scene for those of us that need a day or two run-up to repeatedly fail to make ‘sales’.

        No prizes for guessing which people were praised “for effort” every year.

    • Cactus said:

      Ugh, I HATED those things when I was a kid. It was always such a big competitive thing: who sold enough to get a pizza party, who got a gift certificate to the mall, who got some other random prize. I wish schools were funded in such a way that shit like this was never necessary.

      • Laughing Giraffe said:

        I saw a t-shirt somewhere once that said “It will be a great day for our country when the schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber”. This is a fairly American sentiment (I’m Canadian and one thing you can’t accuse us of is overfunding our military), but it still rang true. There is money in the system, but it never seems to end up where it should.

      • JenniferP said:

        True story: I sold mass quantities of Girl Scout cookies to the local pot dealer because it was less creepy/awful than walking door to door in early March in New England in a small town that looks like all the ones in Stephen King novels.

        • I love this story so much.

          -a former Girl Guide

        • Glorificus said:

          oh my gosh! I got booted from girl scouts for targeting dealers & stoners to make sales.

          • JenniferP said:

            Entrepreneur ^5

          • A. Y. Mouse said:

            but… dealers have money! and stoners have a need! for cookies!

            and most of them are really quote mellow!

        • espritdecorps said:

          I wish I had been that smart! If I could have ‘saved’ him at the same time it would have been perfect.

          If your religion forces children to knock on doors and explain religion they aren’t old enough to understand, the chance of your children moving far, far away from you increases by 300%.

      • I just flat refused to do those at all, because the parents are the ones that have to do all the selling and no thank you. I either wrote the school a check, or for several years I donated DVD players to the classroom.

      • Dove said:

        I hated them too. The *only* reason I ever wound up getting the “most cookies sold” badge (several years in a row) was because my brother and dad would, inevitably, eat sufficient quantities of the Girl Guide cookies my troop sent home with me to sell…and then mom would have to write out a check to cover what got eaten so that I didn’t get in trouble for “stealing” the cookies.

        This happened nearly every year that I can remember, for as long as I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide. I rather doubt my brother or father were doing it to help me get past the issue of sales, considering that dad would take me and/or the order forms in to his workplace to try and flog some Thin Mints; I think they just tended to, I don’t know, forget that the cookies Mom had shoved onto the top shelf of the hall closet weren’t *our* cookies to eat.

    • mintylime said:

      I’ve always wanted to do that. Because SO much of the fundraised money in those schemes goes to the third party company instead of the thing that needs the funds raised. I salute you for actually doing it.

    • uttereast said:

      Our school band always did that and put pressure on everyone to sell at least one case of pricy chocolate bars. One of my sisters sold mass cases by bringing them out during the class period at the end of the day when people would be getting hungry.

      • Ethyl said:

        My band sold boxes of fruit. I think it’s really good for teenagers to have to explain things like “I am selling boxes of fruit — oranges, grapefruit, etc. — for my marching band to go to Disney World. No no, it’s not a fruit basket, it’s just a big box of oranges. Or you can get the citrus mixed pack. Anyway, it’s definitely way more fruit than anyone would or could possibly want, and more than the average family can consume before it rots, but shall I put you down for a box?” Character building.

    • Erika said:

      I get so angry at this one, because kids who sell X number of items get to go to a party and kids who don’t have to sit in the classroom. It’s all designed to make kids who don’t sell for whatever reason feel sad and left out and make their parents feel guilty. I feel so badly for my kiddo, but I also won’t waste our money or let grandparents waste their money on the crud they are selling. I also donate directly to the PTA, but have never thought of sending the note asking for kiddo to participate in the party. I always thought it was the company throwing the party, not the school.

      • JenniferP said:

        Glengarry Glenn 4th Grade: PARTIES ARE FOR CLOSERS

        • miss_chevious said:

          Great, now I have salad dressing on my keyboard. Thanks A LOT. :)

  5. Zara said:

    Not related to this post in particular so much but kind of a general thanks a bunch really.

    I wanted to say thank you to the Captain Awkward crew and all you lovely commenters, for making this one of a handful of truly safe havens in the often difficult and infuriating terrain of the internet.

    This site is one that has some of best responses,strategies and espouses some of the healthiest attitudes and perspectives to challenging and relatable situations, that I have come across. In particular those around creepy, abusey, icky stuff that, generally, are discussed in a reductionist, stupid, unhelpful, and upsetting, way.

    I am so very cheered by the fact that these viewpoints are being expressed and supported by such an awesome and smart bunch of writers and commenters, and it’s one of the few places I can come on the internet and find opinions that I go ” Yes at last someone fucking gets it”, and when the bastards start grinding me down, you all remind me of the good.

    I really appreciate the hard work you guys obviously put in, it is super helpful to have a bunch of smart people tackling the delicate and challenging junk, and sometimes when I feel weird about maintaining my boundaries, or wonder if I am overreacting I imagine writing to you for advice, and think about what you guys might say, it’s a super helpful reality checking strategy!

    In conclusion to my rambling fan-girling, you rock, I hope that you take over the internet and overpower the asshats with your intelligence, humour and general awesomeness. Let us smother them with common sense,decency, and sass.
    Long live captain awkward and the awkwardeers!

    • I like it. And a Happy INDEPENDENCE day to you, too.

    • Kate said:

      Seconded!

    • misspiggy said:

      Thirded!

    • bunwat said:

      Fourthed!

    • Ziv W said:

      Likewised!

  6. Muffin said:

    I reeeeally wish the searcher on #12 gave more details, because to me that’s a red flag for a thing I did many years ago, which is: “My partner is hurting me and I need him to be aware of my hurt, even if I have to displace it on a separate cause rather than forcing him to deal with his own terrible behaviour.”

    It could be a million things that are not that thing, but if it is that thing, I really hope the searcher runs far away from that guy.

    /end weird tangent

    • pinkpeony said:

      I can see what you mean. It could be writer trying to get pity, BUT it could also be writer trying to appeal to a guy for sympathy/empathy for something that has happened to the writer (admittedly in a poorly worded way, “feel sorry for me” could mean “feel sympathy for my situation” or just “have some empathy”).There are definitely times I’ve tried to get a male partner or friend to understand something I’ve been through or get it through to them that they’ve done harm to me.

  7. ZerKo said:

    #8 is just really really sad cuz I have been the one afraid of driving ppl away w/ my mental health stuff (I am better talking about it thanks to Captain Awkward now) but also I kinda have trouble supporting other people too? I’ve been forced to be emotional caregivers for adults growing up, so ppl coming to me w/ heavy stuff can kinda twig that. And they’re not bad people at all. So I feel guilty about not being there for them more. Is just all around not great cuz no one is doing anything wrong- everyone is being honest about their needs! But it is lonely.

    • espritdecorps said:

      I have wonderful friends who will stalk me respectfully when the brain weasels start tunneling around my head. Because of said weasels I’m not always reliable for day to day supportive type things.

      I love bargain hunting, so when I find something in my price range that X friend needs/wants I buy it.
      I’m not always shoulder to cry on friend, but I’m let’s go play paintball friend, and I found this gorgeous blazer at the resale store for your interview outfit friend, and this esoteric crafting equipment that you were wishing you had for that project last year was only 15 dollars on Craigslist friend.
      Surprise gifts are my way to show love and not feel like an emotional parasite.

      Instead of trying to force yourself to be the supportive friend, maybe you could use your strengths to show love in a way that’s not draining to your emotional resources?

  8. Pear said:

    #8 – That’s so, so sad, and I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t fear this happening to me. But I also know that it’d be entirely terrible if he stayed out of guilt and pity. There’s no joy in that, truly. And if I tried to make the relationship stick no matter what — that would be manipulation, and it wouldn’t be okay no matter how much my pain is sharpened up by anxiety and how much my sadness is dragged down to impossible depths by low mood.

    I’ve definitely heard of people being like ‘I’m dumping you ’cause you’ve got depression and are sad all the time,’ to their partners, which is a jerk thing to say I think, because mental illness isn’t some kind of neatly defined personality flaw, or a definite action you do to someone. It’s so different to say, ‘I’m breaking up with you because I’m unhappy with our relationship, I can’t give you the support you need right now.’

    People do certain things because they have needs, and of course it isn’t usually isn’t wrong to have those deep, core needs, but the actions they take to deal with said needs can be emotionally destructive. Wanting to feel safe & loved = okay, but conflating safety & love with controlling others (FEELINGSBOMBS) = Not Okay. And people generally get to set limits about how much they can take of anything at all.

    #10 – omg I “””enjoy””” (in an ‘um, no’ way) how this person mentioned that the Best Friend was okay with it. That’s the important part here. : \

    • Helen Damnation said:

      #10 But it is though? I mean, not like “But Best Friend is fine with it, so why won’t you sex me, Wife?” because that would be fucked. She’s not a present from Best Friend to LW. But it is rather important when you’re sleeping with your best friend’s wife to note that it’s with the consent of all three parties.

      • Pear said:

        ‘But it is rather important when you’re sleeping with your best friend’s wife to note that it’s with the consent of all three parties.’

        Of course. Didn’t say it wasn’t. I didn’t think it was THE important part, because the woman’s consent is the trump card.

        Rather, it stuck out to me that the searcher didn’t appear to find the woman’s dissent a good enough explanation in and of itself and so googled for further possible BUT WHYYYY WON’T THE LADY DO THE SEX reasons. But it may well be trying to soothe the shock of the end of that particular sexual relationship and then becoming worried about what that means for the relationship as a whole.

        Lack of context is what makes these searchterms what they are, innit. (◡ ‿ ◡ ✿)

        • espritdecorps said:

          Yeah, maybe with 400 words they could ask that question on a way that sounded less like they thought their friend’s wife was like a car they could borrow, instead of a human being with their own agency.

          I’m with you, the friend’s consent does not supersede hers. It doesn’t matter if they’re cool with it if she’s not.

      • Mary said:

        The fact that he’s defining her as “best friend’s wife” rather than “person who I have sex with (with the knowledge and consent of her husband, who is also my best friend)” is the seriously icky part to me.

  9. Helen Damnation said:

    #10 – As with any break up, the thing to do here is accept that you’ve been broken up with and not hound the ex-whatever for “closure.” However, due to the continuing relationship between all three parties, I’m sure the LW is feeling a lot of anxiety about whether he’s done something wrong or the arrangement has grown awkward in a way which is going to damage his relationship with either or both of them, or their relationship with each other. I’m sure it’s especially tempting under those circumstances to, well, hound them for closure. I agree with the Captain, though. I think it would be counterproductive. Just back off a bit and let it heal, even though it’ll be hard.

  10. #13 sort of terrifies me. I don’t know what “refusing the friendzone option” looks like in this guy’s world. Does it mean honoring her rejection of his romantic advances and staying away and not trying to be friends? (that’s the good outcome) Or does it mean continuing to pursue his romantic agenda anyway?

    • G said:

      Yeah, this “friendzone” thing really means: “Will this woman, who is most definitely not my friend because I don’t have and don’t want any women friends, learn to love me if I pretend to be her friend?” Ugh.

      • Anothermous said:

        This is the best translation of “friendzone” I have ever heard.

    • Kade Azkyroth said:

      Unfortunately, based on the fact that he’s using the term “friendzone” apparently unironically it probably doesn’t mean “okay. Well, I respect that…but I’m still attracted enough to you that I think it’d be awkward to try to have a platonic friendship, especially right away.” >.>

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