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A still of the Hulk in a pile of rubble from The Avengers

“HULK WILL NOT FEEL GOOD ABOUT THIS TOMORROW, HULK CAN TELL.”

Dear Captain Awkward,

One of my friends gets angry a lot. To be more specific: one of my friends gets angry at things that are not me, and vents to me a lot. I don’t mind being available to vent to in the general case, but.

Bruce, let’s call him, gets especially angry when anxious. When he gets angry, it generally takes the form of explosive swearing. Even though I know where he’s coming from, there’s only so much tirade I can handle before getting anxious (in-person anger scares the crap out of me, online anger not directed at me takes a while longer to do that) or exasperated. I don’t feel this is something I want to abandon this friendship over, but I also am pretty sure that I do not need to let him expound on how enraged he is over some mishap with something he’s nervous about for extended lengths of time.

My question is one of diplomacy: How can I ask him to calm down without pissing him off more? I just want a little less freakout time here. (I think he would benefit too, but that’s really not within my control.)

(For the record: This is an online friendship, so I am not getting any of this in person, and I do not feel threatened or unsafe; no threats are even being made, just a lot of directionless swearing. I’m just not especially comfortable with it past a certain point.)

–Frets in the face of Frustration

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I am mentally ill, to date I have spent 23 days on involuntary psych holds. Most of this wasn’t warranted but that is a whole other thing. I am also a stand up comic and when I am hanging out with comedy peers everything is fair game and no one really shrinks from your dark stuff. You’ve been 5150ed me too lets compare notes. I am looking to date through online sites and assume that this dynamic is not universal. I like to get stuff out in the open as quickly as possible but is this something that warrants first date discloser? 2nd Date? 

I haven’t even started replying to posts of people I am interested in yet and panicking over what to do when this comes up. Therapy and medication have helped a lot but being committed had me feeling like I am a piece of shit and not worthy of love for a long time. A large part of me just wants to never bring it up, but that doesn’t seem fair. I have PTSD and I want any potential partner to know why something might suddenly upset me out of the blue or cause me to immediately need to leave a certain environment or situation. 

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Hello! Let’s ease back into things with some short answers to some questions that people didn’t ask so much as typed into their friendly neighborhood search engines.

1. “My foot feels like it is slipping but it isn’t.”

Whoa, that is a terrible recurring dream I have, and I hope you solve this mystery for yourself because it is the worst. I can’t even imagine this being a daytime, awake sort of phenomenon. Or, I can. In chilling detail.

[Edited to Add: It’s doctor time, as this may be the sign of a neurological condition. Hopefully a treatable one.]

2. “Boyfriend doesn’t let me masturbate.” and 3. “My husband wont let me dye my hair.”

These aren’t really things where you need permission from another person to do them.Your body belongs to you!

Let’s all back away from dudes who think they get a say in these things.

4. “Does it mean she done when she cut off all ties?”

She is done. As always, I am incredibly confused by what possible other interpretation of “I am cutting all ties with you!” exists.

5. “How to cope with contact from a needy ex who wants to keep a friendship.”

Be honest with yourself about whether you really want a friendship, and think about taking a break of several months with no contact before you even attempt being friends.

6. “How to make crush jealous at school.”

Don’t? It’s a lot of work, with no guarantee that the audience will even notice.

7. “How to deal with silent treatment from mother.”

The silent treatment is cruel and abusive. My first suggestion is to find a counselor or other safe, trusted person to help support you so that you are not depending on your mom for anything.

8. “How to tell your date they have bad teeth.”

Don’t?

Your date probably knows and feels really self-conscious about it.

9. “I told him I love him and messaged him am I a stalker.”

Stalker is a strong word, though, if “I love you” was your opening line, and if “he’s” not answering and/or seems to be avoiding you, maybe, back off and cool off? Your watchword in future interactions with crushes is going to be “reciprocity,” where, it’s okay to ask someone out or tell someone you like them, but then you gotta give them some room to react and show whether they feel the same way.

10. “I want to fuck my old friend but he won’t talk to me.”

So, that’s a no-go, right?

11. “When your spouse makes jokes about your shameful past.”

YIKES. “Sweetheart, those jokes aren’t funny and they really hurt my feelings. Please stop joking about that time in my life. That whole subject is not really up for discussion unless I bring it up.

A good person who stepped over the line will recognize what they did, be very sorry for hurting you, and most importantly, they will stop doing it. A no-good-very-bad partner will explain to you at length why it was objectively funny and make you feel like there is something wrong with you for being upset.

I hope with all my heart that you have the good kind.

12. “My platonic friend said he dreamt about me.” 

This is not necessarily deeply meaningful, but if the context of the dream or the fact of him bringing it up makes you suddenly think, “OH LOOK AT THOSE INTERESTING PATTERNS IN THE CARPET. AND THE CEILING, HOW HAVE I NEVER LOOKED AT THE CEILING BEFORE?” then decide if you want to learn more about the dream or if you want to ADMIRE THIS BEAUTIFUL SOFA AND ITS INTRICATE UPHOLSTERY.

HEY, IS THE WOODWORK ORIGINAL TO THE HOUSE?

13. “What to do if I fall in love with my cousin sister and she hates me.”

I’ve read this a few times and there are a few scenarios where your cousin’s sister is not also your cousin but HOW NICE, A CHARMING BUILT-IN BOOKSHELF AND A WINDOW SEAT. WHO CHOSE THIS WALLPAPER?

Maybe this cousin sister isn’t the girl for you, if she hates you, or if your cousin will hate you as a result?

[Edited to Add: Thanks for fighting ignorance and helping me understand the translation, nice commenters! Person who searched for this, if you are out there, falling in love should be a mutual, participatory act. If the person you love is not in love with you, grieve for what might have been and give yourself some time to move on and find love with someone who doesn’t hate you.]

14. “How to tactfully tell people to clean up urine.” 

What tact there is to be found in this task is found in directness and brevity. “Please clean up the floor/toilet seat/_______, etc., there is still some urine there. Thanks.”

15. “Why would a man break up with me through a mutual friend?”

He’s really lazy? He’s terrified of confrontation? The person I am honestly the most curious about here is the mutual friend and why they decided to be the messenger. We (and more importantly, you) will most likely never know. I hope time moves quickly to the future, when this will be a funny story you tell.

16. “Is it possible to see a person’s faults and still like them?”

It’s possible to see someone’s faults and love them, even.

Dear Captain,

My straight friends will not stop talking about boys. Specifically, if they have boyfriends: How awful their boyfriends and sex lives are (in excruciating detail). If they don’t have boyfriends, it’s all stuff like the latest japanese dating sim they’ve found, and how hot the (disturbingly, rapey) plot lines are and dick in general, to me, a Lesbian.

With the boyfriend thing, it’s always about how condescending/annoying/lazy/useless their boyfriends are, or how horrible they are in bed, how much vaginal sex hurts/is boring, and when I say: Then why don’t you break up with him? They gasp and clutch their pearls and subject me to another tirade about how he is really a Nice Guy and he’s been getting SO much better since they told him all his problems and he folded one whole shirt this week! Without being asked! So I’m being cruel/judgmental/I don’t know what I’m talking about, telling them to break up with him. Yet, next week, they’ll have the same complaints and no matter how much I try and change the subject, I have to hear about how she is allergic to his semen and also, can’t walk right for days after they do it because it’s so excruciatingly painful (but it’s okay, she really wants it! Not having a horribly painful experience/vaginal sex, isn’t an option because she wants that /connection/ with him).

My straight friends that don’t have boyfriends make dick jokes constantly, talk about how hot guys are, try and show me nude pictures of dudes they’ve drawn, etc. In one-on-one conversations with me! A lesbian! Who has said many times, I do not care about that stuff or the entire, 20 minute plot description of the anime episode you just watched, where it’s really cute/funny when main male character sneaks up behind female characters and grabs their boobs. Not only am I disgusted, I am bored out of my mind, and feel extremely alienated.

The few lesbians I’ve talked to about this online, say this is exactly the reason why they do not hang out/are no longer close friends with straight woman, because stuff like this always happens eventually, and no matter how often you tell them that you don’t want to hear about their disturbing heterosexual shenanigans, they will not listen to you. But I love so many of these crazy woman dearly, and I find I can hardly accept not-being-friends with any straight woman, ever again, because most woman are straight woman! Do you have any advice how to handle this without starting a whole new social group from scratch? And excluding myself from caring about the majority of woman in this country?

Sincerely,
Confused And Grossed Out

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Dear Captain:

During the past couple of years, I have been growing apart from “Joy,” one of my best friends for more than two decades now. I’m godmother to her children (whom I love deeply), we share many mutual friends, and we have a lot of the same interests. But she really, horribly failed me about two years ago, and it seems like I cannot get over it.

What happened: After about three years of expensive, emotionally grueling fertility treatments, I went in for one final “hail mary” attempt. I’d tried hard not to vent all over everyone about the psychological ups and downs of this, but I had definitely told Joy that this was the last try, that I was pretty scared about it, etc. She was supportive, though not on a very close level–which at the time I wrote off to her being really busy with work concerns, and not trying to “get my hopes up” or something like that.

Well, the final treatment failed too. That night, I texted her to tell her the bad news, and said something like, “I’m feeling really blue and would appreciate it if we could spend some time together tonight.” Her response — and I am not making this up — was “Oh, poop.” Then she said she’d helped her son fix some stuff in his room and was kind of tired, so she didn’t want to get together that night.

Probably I should’ve been angry at the time. But I was so miserable that it hardly even registered. I spent the night alone, crying.

A fairly significant depressive episode followed, but through therapy, drugs and plain old making peace with never having kids, I’ve pulled myself together again. As I’ve done so, though, Joy’s total failure to reach out to me that night or at any point thereafter has loomed larger and larger in my mind as being Not Okay At All. I try to rationalize it–like, I know I’m not the best at asking for emotional support, etc. — but dammit, that was one of the times I actually did it right! And how emotionally numb do you have to be not to get that the last fertility treatment’s failure would be devastating?

What makes it worse is that I had been a person she called on during past significant troubles in her life. After her husband left her, I sometimes spent an hour a day on the phone with her, for a couple of months, letting her vent. When she miscarried a baby years ago, while her then-husband was out of the country on business, I was the one who picked her up at the hospital, took her home and settled her in. What I’m saying is, I showed up for Joy when it was really rough, a lot of times, and the one time I needed that from her, I got “oh, poop.”

I’m not the best at dealing with conflict ever, but I’m okay generally. In this case, I was so devastated by the fertility failure that I didn’t even have the emotional energy to focus on this until so long after the fact. Now I’m really resentful of it–and I know Joy has sensed my greater distance and displeasure. But only last week–where we were at a girls’ lunch and she blithely started talking about how she thinks would-be single moms are “all crazy”, that I realized she didn’t even remember that I’d tried to have a baby on my own. I mean, the information is in her brain, but apparently she had so completely disregarded my experiences that she saw no reason whatsoever not to spout off. (She’s not a deliberately hurtful person, generally — I think.) Whatever reason she thinks I’ve backed off–well, I have no idea what it is, but she obviously hasn’t recognized the truth.

So now I’m like, do I say something this long after the fact? Is that going to wreck the friendship? Because I don’t think this is like an issue where we “work it out” — I mean, I think she just totally fucked up and would need to apologize and try to do better. And I don’t know that I trust her to do that any more. The worst part is–you know, I love her kids. I’ve been a babysitter/chaperone/adult friend to both of them throughout their lives, and we are all three very close. If I confront Joy about this and she pulls back, do I lose them too? (They are no longer small, but also not quite old enough for me to feel sure we’d continue our own independent relationships.) I feel like I haven’t spoken up for so long that the scar tissue can never really heal, and maybe I should just … accept that she’s a hang-out friend, not a truly deep friend any longer. But am I wrong about that? Can you bring up something so long after the fact and work on it constructively?

I’m trying so hard to learn how to talk more about what I need, but this one has me depressed and confused. Any thoughts?

Not-Mom

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Kate has sent the news:

June London meetup as follows:

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 20th June, 11am onwards.

Knitting, crochet and other crafts this time.  Please bring projects, or stash, or come and talk to us while we knit.  I can teach knitting to intermediate standard if you want to learn, but others who can teach knitting and crochet are particularly welcome, and please bring stash etc. if you can.

This venue is working out really well.

They sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical).

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/  One time I forgot it but I will do my best this time, however if I forget again I will put up a sign. I have long brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets.  Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/.  There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(July meetup will be on the 18th.)

Cheers,
Kate

Enjoy yourselves!

Hi there CA and screeners. Long-time reader, first time writer. I’m writing to ask for some advice on how to get my extended family to treat me like an adult.

I’m 21 years old now, about to graduate from college and start my life in the real world and I’m starting to find that my family is still treating me like I’m part of the “younger crowd.” As background, my parents waited until much later than any of their siblings to have kids, so my younger brother and I are both in a weird place where we’re actually closer in age to the next generation than ours (my next oldest cousin is in her 30s, while the next youngest after my brother is 14 now). As an example of what I’m talking about, at Christmas my grandparents have a stocking for every descendent of theirs, all the way down to the youngest great-grandchild, and there are two sets of stocking gifts: the “adult” stockings, which have things like lottery tickets and kitchen utensils, and the “kids” stockings, that have stuffed animals and coloring books. Every year I’ve gotten a kid stocking, which didn’t bother me…until I turned 18…and then last Christmas, when I was 21 and *still* got a kids stocking.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this lately is because my cousin’s wedding is coming up, and I’d really, *really* like it if I got my own invitation to it instead of being lumped in with my parents and brother (maybe even with a +1 but I totally understand if that’s not possible), but I don’t know what to say to the family at large that isn’t rude. My parents treat me like the adult I am, but what do I say to people like my cousins and my grandparents? I’m an adult, I pay taxes, I have a stable romantic relationship, and I’d just like a seat at the big kids’ table these days, you know? Or is it like being a king, where “if you have to say you’re an adult, you’re not an adult?”

Yours in awkwardness,
Sick of Coloring Books

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