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Dating

It is the return of the Winter Pledge Drive here at Awkward Enterprises, where I rattle the tip jar and invite people to throw in a few $ if you like what we do here. You can contribute via PayPalDwolla, or (new!) cash.me/$CaptainAwkward. Your generous gifts help me keep the site going.

Now to today’s question, which involves some mentions of hoarding behaviors.

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Hi Captain,

I’ve dug through your archives but haven’t seen anything specifically on this topic–apologies if I’ve overlooked something–but I’m wondering what advice you have to give for partners who make the decision to work through a mistake and rebuild confidence in each other.

Long story short: I’ve been dating my partner for a few months, but we’ve been very close & important presences in each others’ lives as friends for about 2 years before we began dating. About a month ago he made a very stupid, but not unforgivable, mistake involving an ex of his as they tested the waters to see if they could function as friends (turns out, no, they can’t). He has been nothing but honest and forthright about it since it happened, and although we were both unsure before this happened as to how seriously we could commit to each other (eg: neither of us felt comfortable using boyfriend or girlfriend as a term then or now, but agreed what we are is much more than just “seeing each other.” It’s somewhere in between), since this all went down we have both doubled down on supporting and prioritizing each other as a couple.

We are also both going through the joyful process of cutting an ex out of our lives, because in both cases they love us more than we can ever love them & cannot healthily function in a 100% platonic environment with us at this moment. So space and time is in order for healing. Which is giving us both anxiety (both for ourselves and for each other) and making us very sad. We are trying to balance that line of support–historically we have leaned on each other during times of anxiety and stress–and also take into play your “not my circus, not my monkeys” rule to manage our anxieties and control issues (eg: I think he’s taking the “typing http://www.google.com with one finger when he could just use Chrome” route to cutting his ex out, and desperately want to tell him to metaphorically scooch over so I can do it for him, but his path cannot be my problem so long as he handles it in a way that doesn’t hurt me).

We both lead full lives with hobbies that we share, hobbies we don’t share, friends we share, friends we don’t share. I’m doubling down on the self-care and detachment (from trying to control the way he handles his issue with his ex) and he is staying present and vigilant about executing his goals while also practicing self-care. Even still, it’s difficult. Now that the holidays are over it has been particularly hard not to ruminate, and while I’m journaling and working through several aspects of this within myself, I also feel the need for support. (Just today I emailed my old therapist to see if she takes my new insurance) After keeping it to myself for a couple days I finally confessed to him that I’m still struggling and feeling sad/hurt/anxious. He said he is too, but that we’re living with it as we work through it, which feels very accurate. And then I felt guilty for bringing it up at all, which is a whole different barrel of social conditioning worms (I am female, partner is male–late twenties, early thirties respectively).

I guess my question is: we’ve decided to stick it out and work through a difficult time… now what? Both of our ingrained reactions are to cut and run when things get messy, but we want to try (with the understanding that it could fail anyway) and I’m feeling a little lost for what to do. Is this just how it is?

Sincerely,
Longing For A Reset Button, Would Be Happy With A User Manual

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Dear Captain Awkward,

After a very painful marriage breakup and over 10 years of not dating (for many reasons including mental breakdown, SSRI sexual side effects and being too scared to go back into that shark pool – and yes, I’m currently in therapy) I’ve recently started online dating.

At the end of a recent (first meeting) coffee date, the man indicated that he would like to see me again, but then rang a few hours later to say that he had changed his mind. I am totally ok with him changing his mind, but the call made me feel quite uncomfortable because he seemed unable to just say what he needed to say then get off the phone. I assume he was trying to be polite, that perhaps he thought it was more chivalric than sending a text message or email or just dropping off the face of the earth, but I would actually have preferred one of the more impersonal methods in this setting, where I hardly know the man and am never going to see him again anyway.

My question is whether I should be upfront about my preferred mode of rejection while we’re still just emailing or texting, or whether it’s silly and preemptively negative to bring up how we’re going to end things before we’ve even met, and I should just learn live with the fact that all rejection will be at least a little bit painful.

Thanks,
Scared of the Shark Pool

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Hey Cap, ive got some girl troubles i hope you can help me out with. So a couple years ago i got the pleasure of meeting a girl, me and her would hang out almost daily and we became very close, we were extremely flirtatious and everbody thought we were together. But a few months into our friendship our communication went a little cold and we stopped talking for a little while. I then had a brief relationship with someone, and so did she. Its now a year later and we have been hanging out again and i brought up the courage to ask her out. If i would of done this when we were closest back then it would of been an instant yes i believe. But now she is really hesitant, scared of being hurt, and losing me as someone she can talk to. I want some cold truth here should i keep trying or move on?

Thanks!

I’m so sorry that you seem to have missed the window on this one.

You saying “Hey, I’ve always really liked you and I’m glad that we were able to get back in touch. Do you think we could give dating a shot now that we’re both single?” is brave & cool. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying it, and there’s nothing wrong with her hearing something like that from a good friend and needing some time to process and perhaps mentally reframe things a bit before committing one way or another. I think the smart thing for you to do now is to treat anything less than “Hell yes!” as “No, thank you” and give her some space. “I had to ask, I only want you to say yes if you feel 100% great about it, so why don’t you think about it and we’ll talk in a few days/weeks/whenever you like.” Giving her and the whole matter some space will be good self-care and good care for the person you like.

It’s also a good tactic for getting to the heart of the matter. If she does like you back, if she is just sort of processing doubts aloud because she wants to be convinced, I think it’s good for you to bow out while she comes to her own conclusions and refrain from trying to convince her. People don’t forget being asked out by their friends, phones and email work both ways, and if her answer to your question a week from now is “You know what, let’s go for it,” she knows how to find you. You being respectful of her reservations isn’t going to lose you any points if this thing is meant to be, and if it’s not meant to be bowing out gracefully is a way of assigning yourself some grace and coolness points even in the middle of something that feels sucky and awkward.

Hi Captain,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for 3 years. We are both in our early thirties. When I first met him, I thought he was very attractive, and I still do. I like skinny dudes and he was skinny when I met him. About seven months into our relationship he put on about 15-20 pounds, which I found less attractive. His stomach was no longer flat and he carried weight around his middle in general. I expected him to lose it quickly, but he didn’t. Eventually I brought it up and he said I should have just said so and that he hadn’t really noticed, and that he would start a diet and exercise more.

It didn’t stick for long and since then every few months I ask him if he is still on his diet (which is all I do, I don’t bother him about it otherwise) and he gets upset and says yes (and sometimes no) and we had a fight about it recently where he said he wants me to stop asking.

I have stayed the same size, and I know he would not be super happy if I put on weight, since his preference is strongly skewed toward very thin women. I feel that while I do maintain my weight for my own sake, I also do it because I know he likes the way I look and I want him to be maximum attracted to me. That it’s been over 2 years makes me feel that it doesn’t matter to him if I am maximum attracted to him.

I am having a hard time distancing myself from this and figuring out what is right. I am a very goal-oriented person and also a “pusher,” one of those best/worst qualities — on the one hand, I always try my hardest at everything and I’ve accomplished some good things because of that, but on the other hand I also find it difficult to just let other people go at a slower pace and not micromanage. I try to rein this in, but I can’t tell if it applies in this situation. I want my boyfriend to stay in (reasonable) shape as we get older, but when I looked in the archives, particularly at #284, I saw people calling this mentality terrible and controlling (although I don’t think I’m like that guy, who sounds like he wants a different girlfriend. I don’t want a different boyfriend, I just want him to look a little more like he did when we met). Should I just deal with it, or is there a better way to approach this issue?

Thank you.

– sad, possibly a jerk

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WordPress has changed the way that it displays these, but I have remembered to periodically collect the good ones. Let us now answer the search strings that people typed in to find this blog as if they are actual questions in the traditional way.

1) What does “I told you its over between us” mean

Rough translation: It is over between you, and the person would like you to stop doing whatever it is that you’re doing (calling them, hanging about, inviting them to stuff) because they want their relationship with you to be past tense.

2) My UK wife opens the front door naked

Sure she does.

On the off chance that this is a question and not a fantasy, a) does it bug you b) have there been strange consequences, like, with delivery people or neighbors c) have you tried asking why she does it?

3) When he criticizes your dress

“He” is being a jerk.

4) How to seduce a girl with chats

I don’t give seduction advice, but let me try to help you out at least a little bit:

Make friends with spelling and grammar and you will set yourself apart. Remember that dirty talk is fraught with peril and that one person’s sexting is another person’s staged reading of hilarious things out loud to their friends. Pay attention to what that particular girl likes and take your cues from her.

5) He mistreats me but his family loves me what can I do.

Mistreatment is never ok. I hope you can get away from him.

6) Boyfriend trying to make me better

Better, as in, no longer sick with the flu? Or some flavor of “improved” as a person?

One of these is acceptable. Hint: It’s the one that involves rest, broth, and marathoning Slings & Arrows.

7) How can u win a girl u love but have never met

Meet her and get to know her. Tell her you’re interested in her, but hold off on talk of “love” until you actually know her – that’s kind of intense out of the gate and it doesn’t work the way it does in movies. See what she says about that.

8) What does it mean when you only talk to someone when you’re sad

This may not apply to you, but one of the most common letters I get is a version of “Someone I care about is going through something really hard, and I want to be there for them, but I feel like their unpaid 24-7 therapist and it’s way too much for me. But I’m afraid that if I disengage, they will take it very hard because they don’t have anyone else to talk to.” Even people with the best of intentions can fall into unbalanced patterns and habits of communication. It’s great to have willing sounding boards and crying-shoulders who have your back in a crisis, but maybe re-evaluate this dynamic a little bit and call/text/chat/see this person when you are in better spirits sometimes. Seek out a therapist or counselor who is trained to really absorb and work with your sad feelings, or try a daily ritual of dumping your negative thoughts into a journal. See if you can leave some of your problems there so that you can be more present for your friend and have more reciprocity in your relationship with them.

9) My wife like to call me captain

Aye aye

10) Roommate repeatedly enters my room without permission

Animated gif of a girl riding an octopus and saying "nope!"

Install a lock. Say, “I do not want you to ever go into my room.” Start looking for a new roommate if this is not respected.

11) How to reply to a compliment from a friend

“Thank you” is the simplest and the most common/expected response.

“Please don’t compliment my appearance, it makes me uncomfortable” if you’re at work and it makes you uncomfortable.

12) How do you handle someone who invites others to your party without your permission

Tell them bluntly, “It’s not cool for you to invite people to my party without my permission, at least ask me!”

If they apologize and understand why you are upset, issue solved. If they try to explain to you why it’s not a big deal, don’t invite them to things anymore.

13) I’m not interested stranger facebook

If a stranger messages me on Facebook with anything remotely flirtatious –an overabundance of compliments, “I’d love to get to know u”, or most hilariously “hey” (as in, ‘I have done the work by reaching out, now, entertain me, woman!’), I don’t say I’m not interested. I skip straight to “Block.” In my experience, any attempt to say “Hey, do I know you/you’re coming on kinda strong” just leads to an annoying conversation where they get super-mad at me for not wanting to listen to their sales pitch. YMMV.

14) Become ambidextrous

Now you have me Googling this. Science seems to say “don’t.”

15) Sex with my captain

If you are in the armed forces having sex with someone in your chain of command is a very bad idea and could lead to career consequences for both of you.

16) When you see the real person and they are mean and 17) Someone whom always make u feel like shit

Disengage from them. Spend time with people who make you feel good.

Hi –

The subject line has most of the relevant details. A friend of a friend (Jane) presented me with a screenshot of messages my boyfriend sent her through a major dating site. The messages themselves are innocent enough (about radio shows and favorite desserts) but whyyyyyyyy are you sending strange women messages on a dating site when we are talking about who we would have in our wedding party? He’s been shitty and distant and “I don’t know if I want this” for a few months, so I’m pretty sure he won’t be upset that I found out. I’m expecting a “You’re right, let’s break up” response, which terrifies me, even though I am so fucking angry right now at him about this. (Super extra fun, the intermediate friend is my boss’ wife, so this is bleeding into work because the friend discussed it with her husband, the boss). I’m so mad, and I want to confront him, but I don’t know what to do or say. I’ve never been in this situation before.

He sent this message three months ago, according to Jane. She didn’t see me until yesterday and didn’t feel like she knew me well enough to get in touch specifically for that, I guess. She said as soon as her Facebook sleuthing revealed he was with me, she stopped messaging him immediately. No reason to doubt Jane.

Sincerely,

Not Good Enough, Apparently

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