Once a month I try to answer the things that people typed into search engines to find my blog as if they are questions. It’s an exercise in mixed results.
Here’s a few things about me to help you understand my story. I am 23, a virgin, and have never had a romantic relationship with a man besides a date.
A few weeks ago I recently went for a night out drinking with three guys that I work with. One of whom, Greg, I invited along because I’ve had a slowly developing crush on him for the past few months and wanted to hang out with him outside work. The night was fun, but took a different turn than I expected once Greg started getting really drunk. We’d flirted earlier in the night, but once he was drunk he started hitting on another girl, clearly hoping to go home with her. She ended up leaving and when I approached him to say he should get home he asked me if I would go with him and sleep with him. I told him no because he was really drunk, but said I would give him a ride home. On the way he started talking about how it’s better to remain closed off because he’s opened up in relationships and put in a ton of effort and only gotten hurt, but wasn’t sure why he was telling me this because nothing would come of it. When we got to his house he invited me in and we talked for a while before we kissed. We started making out eventually and he asked me to spend the night. I did, but we didn’t have sex. The next morning was awkward, neither one of us saying much, and we agreed to just see each other at work.
The following week we had a discussion about it at his place and he said he didn’t want a relationship. I told him I’d like to get to know him better and to try to be friends and he agreed. We spent the night talking and watching movies and I slept over again, though nothing physical happened. A few days later he sent me a flirty text and we spent the night flirting, agreeing to meet up again. I went over later in the week and we talked, watched movies, made out (I initiated it), and played chess until 5 in the morning and I spent the night again.
This last week we’ve had conversations via text about personal things, getting to know each other. A few days ago we had another work outing at a bar and each of us said how it was a possibility we would go home together again. As we left the bar he texted me to say I should come over if I wanted, so I did. At his place he shared personal things with me and eventually we went to his room. We almost had sex, but I stopped it. He respected my decision, but I think he was upset and we did other stuff (which I enjoyed) without actually having sex. I wanted to have sex with him, but wasn’t sure if I should because we’re not dating and he doesn’t want to date me. He said he hasn’t fooled around with anyone besides me in a year and half, but said that we’re not exclusive, which definitely bothers me.
When I asked him what he would call us he said that we’re friends and that he is someone I can talk to about anything I want if I need to. He did however say that he doesn’t form emotional connections, which is confusing because it seems like that’s what we’ve been doing. I am a major overthinker, something he knows and has been trying to help me with. I struggle with opening up to him because I’m afraid of what he’ll think and he has been really great with trying to let me know I can share things about myself with him. He’s been very open with me.
We’ve left things saying that we’d like to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s fun and he told me I “shouldn’t ruin a good thing with my overthinking.” I want to enjoy this without obsessing about it too much, but I’m not sure how. My questions are:
Should I just relax and enjoy this despite the fact I want it to be something more?
Does Greg seem like a good guy?
Thank you for reading!
The Goat Lady, who sorts my inbox, kindly created a tag called “low intensity” for questions such as these.
I am in a fairly recent relationship with a wonderful man I’ve been infatuated with for years (…on and off – we weren’t Firthing!). When we first started dating, I was nervous about a whole host of potential pitfalls (long distance, exes, contracting Oneitis) that delightfully turned out to be illusory, and at this point, we’re comfortable with each other, communicate regularly and openly, and have a lot of fun together.
So, my question is this:
While we’ve been friends for years, this isn’t a BEST Friends Fall in Love Story, and I’m sometimes surprised by how different it is to talk with him than with most of my close friends. Other than the boyfriend, the kinds of friends I stay up all night with are huge readers and unabashed lovers of pop culture, and we love nothing more than to conduct elaborate feminist critiques of Game of Thrones or debate the literary merits of fanfiction. I don’t expect (or want!) my boyfriend and I to like all the same things, and I know we’re still in the process of figuring out what we like to talk about when the “how was your day”s are done. And to be fair, he’s offered some pretty interesting feminist critique of Game of Thrones himself, but such discussions don’t seem to fascinate him in the way that I’m used to, with each of us tumbling out thoughts faster than we can speak and getting caught up in the joy of endless critical analysis. So even when we DO like the same things, I don’t know that we like to talk about them in the same way.
Since there’s the whole “I’ve been infatuated with him for years” thing going on, I can’t tell if this is something we’ll probably get past as we recognize not just the WHATs but the WAYs we like to talk about things, or if it’s a bigger problem of mismatched perspectives and ways of engaging that I’m choosing to ignore because LOVE.
How important is a similar conversational dynamic to happy, healthy relationships? I am currently very happy and in love, and I love that we have comfortable silences as well as witty repartee, but I’m constantly taken aback when conversations I expect to last ages seem over quite suddenly and would love to hear your thoughts on the role this plays in life/love/etc.
Not Awkward, Still Silence
Dear Not Awkward,
I don’t know what to tell you. Some possible explanations for what you are experiencing:
1) Your Jerkbrain, unused to contentment, is looking for something to worry about and has decided that this is it.
2) The years-long fantasy of this dude was better/more interesting than the reality of life with this dude, who is kind of boring when you get right down to it.
3) In long-distance relationships you can’t really coast on proximity, so the quality/quantity of conversation is looming larger as a factor as you try to find an equilibrium.
Since things are good, why not keep enjoying yourself and let time sort it out?
Not a huge crisis, but I wonder about your perspective on an etiquette issue.
I have a lovely set of in-laws who are chronically, perpetually, and often extremely late. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, as I see arriving promptly to be a matter of respect, and I function exponentially better when my life is carefully scheduled. This is annoying enough when they are late on me. But my question is when we have a plan as a group and there is a danger of them making me late.
We have a family event coming up soon, where my husband and I will be staying with them for a period and attending a series of events in their company. I dread the idea of arriving continually ten minutes, thirty minutes, an hour late to the people who are expecting us, and to events I am looking forward to. I worry that being too insistent on timetables and getting after them too much to keep moving will make them think I’m a nag, or too controlling. Do you think it would be okay if, when the appointed time to leave has past, I cheerfully tell them that Husband and I are heading out and will meet them there when they arrive? Or do you have a better idea to keep to a respectable time table without coming off as rude or inflexible?
- Early bird
Dear Early Bird,
You nailed it when you suggested that you and your husband should make your own way to these events. Treat that like it’s Plan A, not a sacrifice you are making because of their lateness. Only mention your plans when you have your coats on, your keys in your hand, and are heading out the door – you’re informing them of the plan, not discussing or negotiating it. If you need some handy excuses, try: “We want to get there early/make a stop on the way/we might want to stay longer/leave sooner than you/we’d just rather take separate cars, thanks” and keep your tone friendly and light as you glide out the door.
Everyone in their extended family knows exactly how they are, you know how they are, your husband knows how they are, and I’m pretty sure they know how they are. They are of an age to have raised an adult child and are not suddenly going to change their habits. This is one of those times where you have the chance to just do what you need to do with the least amount of friction possible, so take the easy way!
Moderation Note: Thread closed. Turns out that my budget of fucks for reading contentious, self-righteous discussions about lateness and rudeness = zero fucks.
I’m a recent college graduate and was interviewed yesterday on national TV about the field I’ve started working in. The other people on the panel were way more experienced than I, and some of them are are moderately famous. The program wanted a young voice/perspective, and I was so honored to be asked to do the kind of TV appearance a more senior colleague would normally do. I was also a little terrified and worked really hard to prepare.
The interview went great, and I left the studio walking on air. I felt I came across as confident and informed and that I had represented my employer, my field, and my generation (corny as it sounds) extremely well. I’ve never been so proud.
Then the interview aired and I stared horrified at my screen as my eyes narrowed in on the noticeable sweat marks under my arms. I can’t help but feel that what should have been such a professional joy is ruined by… armpit sweat. I feel so stupid for wearing a color that really showed it. Rookie wardrobe mistake. Rookie, sweat-inducing nerves.
The interview aired at a time most people I know were at work, but it can be streamed online starting today. Now I have a long list of proud friends, family, and former professors/mentors who are expecting a link to the online clip. My grad school program wants to share it on their social media account. I’m so embarrassed at the idea of all these people seeing it. I didn’t tell my parents I would be interviewed, because I wanted to surprise them with a link to the clip in clever email (note to self: not everything has to be clever). Now I’m just dreading my mother’s comments about what a shame it is I didn’t wear a darker color. Surely I’m not the first person this has happened to, but I also can’t recall having ever seen armpit sweat on TV, so part of me is also convinced that this was a uniquely stupid thing to let happen.
I’m also beating myself up for being so obsessed with my appearance and not able to get past it to be proud of my ideas and composure. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? How can I convince myself that my professional awesomeness trumps my sweatiness? How can I get past the feeling that the interview is ruined or somehow embarrassing and send it to friends and with pride?
Smart and Sweaty
Dear Smart & Sweaty,
The interview is done, and the clip is out on the internet now, and it can’t be undone or taken back. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t make reassuring “it’s not that bad!” noises your way, but I suggest that you show it to a trusted friend or mentor without mentioning the stains and see what they say. We all search our own appearances for flaws in a way that most other people do not.
I think you should share it and encourage others to share it without commenting on the stains at all and focus only on the content of the work. If anyone brings up the stains, a) that’s a pretty weird, rude thing for them to do, and b) I think you will feel much better if you find a way to play it off if it happens. “Wow, thanks for noticing! I was worried no one had.” “Would you call it a stain, or more of a river?” “Next time I’m going to wear that old bridesmaid’s dress, so that the stains really pop against the seafoam organza!’ “Yeah, thanks for pointing that out, Mom.”
You have nothing to apologize for. You didn’t know it would happen. Your words were still your words. TV lights are hot. Sweat happens, you are a human being with glands. People who go on camera for a living have teams of paid professionals helping them look perfect. I feel gross for linking to this listicle on Celebrity Sweat Incidents especially since the tone is “they should take better care of this issue,” but I want you to have some visual aids that show that even people with tons of camera experience and teams of staff devoted to how they look are human and have glands. I also found this media training PDF for how to prepare yourself for a TV appearance from the University of New Haven that has, literally 100 separate tips for how to look and behave during a TV interview. I don’t want to panic you further by making you memorize 100 new things you should have done, but the takeaway is: Being comfortable on camera is complex and there is a learning curve to doing it.
Please stop beating yourself up! I suggest that you do some more TV appearances as soon as humanly possible. The more you appear on camera, the better you will get at it, the more variety of clips there will be, and the more you will become recognized as an authority who can handle themselves on camera. Please do not let this one quirk of biology shame you out of the excellent career you just beginning.
Dear Captain Awkward,
So yes, this is a happy problem. You’ve written well on work matters in the past, so I’m hoping you can help with this.
I have spent a few years in a frustrating job/environment, but started an excellent new job about three months ago. I am now a senior manager, with only two people above me in my specialism – the Exec Director, and the Deputy Director who is my line manager.
The job has been full on from the start, but I’m really enjoying the new opportunities and the trust, and as far as I can tell I’ve done well so far.
However, I just found something out which has thrown me slightly.
I thought I was one of four equal senior managers, with the others having more time in post. But this turns out not to be the case. Both of the Directors have told me that I am third in command, and that they appointed me with the intention of grooming me for the Deputy Director job in a few years. I can have (nearly) any training I want.
Woohoo, yes? And part of me really wants it, but part of me is petrified with the fear of failure. I am a nerdy/dorky/socially awkward woman – (still with substantial privilege, cis and white, and I read as upper middle class despite having grown up very poor). I have worked hard on the social awkwardness but it is still A Thing, and I have low confidence in my ability to be socially smooth. And the previous frustrating job has knocked my work confidence.
Social smoothness, and leadership skills, negotiation and influencing, and change management and all that stuff, are more and more important in the senior jobs. That’s what I need to learn in the next few years.
But how? I can do the technical part of my job, and standard line management, but….?
I am pleased they see potential in me, but I don’t see it myself. How do I avoid holding myself back?
How do I learn something so nebulous? How do I know if I’m getting better at them? How do I learn to get over my awkwardness and my assumptions that I am crap at these things? How do I develop a model of myself as a (nerdy, female) leader?
I don’t even have the tools to start to learn, or know what to look for in myself.
Not A Leader
Dear Not A Leader,
Your mentors have offered you training, which is wonderful, because it demonstrates that:
1) They don’t expect you to already be an expert in leadership/communications/management, etc.
2) They recognize that these are important skills unto themselves in addition to the technical competencies you possess.
3) They are building in time and a budget for you to level up these skills so that you will be ready when the time comes.
In other good news, there is training out there to be had. Since I don’t know exactly where you are, I did a Google search on “professional communications management training” to give you an idea of what kinds of things might be available.
You could study online (though I think you might find this very basic).
Harvard University has a ton of continuing education-type courses and seminars in the very subjects you want to learn, with titles like “Advanced Executive Communication Skills,” “Communicating With Influence: The Art of Persuasion,” “Cultural Competence for the Global Workplace,” etc. What’s the fanciest pantsiest business school closest to you, and do they offer such things? There’s no reason not to make this both a learning and a professional networking experience and get something shiny for your resume. There are tons of non-university affiliated training organizations that do this sort of thing, too, at every intensity and budget level. In addition, you could ask your mentors if they’ve ever taken courses that they think were particularly helpful in developing their management skills.
Conclusion: You’ve got this and you’re going to do great. This also seems like a good idea to watch & read a lot of epic sci-fi and fantasy stories where humble people who are convinced that they are not leaders become leaders.
Theme of the day: Don’t work harder at someone who isn’t working at all at you.
So me and this girl met and started talking, at first she thought I was a jackass then she saw the better side of me. We became best friends for the better part of a year and then one of my friends suggested we date. After that my feelings only grew for her incredibly. I’d hang out with her more often then finally asked if she would be mine. We dated happily for a couple months and then things started going downhill. She would always blow me off to hang out with friends, never hang out with me, I seriously believe I’m at the lower list of her priorities. This girl is my everything, but she just treats me awfully. Anything I can do to fix this?
Sorry, dear heart, I think your choices here are 1) a soon-to-be-ex girlfriend who never hangs out with you and treats you awfully or 2) an ex-girlfriend. The wonderful fantasy girlfriend you had during those few happy months is long-gone. Script: “Girlfriend, I don’t feel like you actually enjoy spending time with me, and it hurts my feelings. Let’s just end this before it gets worse.” I *just* got this, hopefully we’re in time to save you from buying her an expensive Valentine’s Day present. Keep your receipts.
Here’s a poem:
What Cowboys Know About Love
Last night on the sports channel
I watched the rodeo.
Those cowboys have it right;
the best and the beauty of it.
You cannot win, so you ride
for as long as you can and enjoy it.
When you dismount,
whether it be on your own or not,
it won’t look pretty. You’ll limp off.
But you’ll feel good; your heart
will be pounding like it never has,
and walking away, one crazy step
after another, your ears will ring
with the loud approval
of those who never felt so good.
This pertains to my close friend, S. S and I have been friends for a little over a year, got closer over the last half a year and, four months ago, became casually physical as well (we had a bit of an FWB-style holiday fling). However, in the last few weeks, S has become increasingly emotionally distant, both in terms of “quantity” (going from talking every day to much less frequently) and “quality” (actual conversations to “how was your day” fodder). At first I thought this was because we’ve both been rather busy but S’s event ended and he’s still behaving this way.
The few times I’ve tried to talk S about this have come up short. His explanations are usually things like “I still like you and care about you but things just feel off” or “I feel like we’ve drifted apart”. When I asked about how exactly things feel off, like if I was doing anything wrong, he’d just say “idk, they just do”. It’s been vague and confusing. That said, he has indicated the physical dimension our relationship has adopted as something that, now, has made things quite weird. For him, the reality that it can’t be continued (to preserve the friendship, to concentrate on studies etc.) came crashing down pretty hard. This is fine – while I enjoy the physical intimacy, I’d give it up just to keep him as my friend.
My approach thus far has been to attempt to initiate Talks About Our Friendship to figure it out together (though he says “there’s nothing to figure out” ??). I have since found this post and realized I probably shouldn’t, especially with S who does not communicate very well/tends to avoid difficult situations.
1. Is there anything I can do to hold on to S and prevent us from “drifting apart”?
2. Can I follow the advice you gave the aforementioned LW (accepting S’ priorities/feelings have changed, letting him initiate rather than the other way around etc)?
3. Unfortunately, problems with S a. coincide with a period of Unwellness and b. come at the end of A Year of Personal Crises and Losing Many Close Friends for Different Reasons. So his problem with S has been wrecking me emotionally and given my jerkbrain seemingly valid ammo against me (HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOU! NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU! YOU DO NOT DESERVE FRIENDS! YOU’RE DESTINED FOR LONELINESS! is basically on loop in my head). Is there really something wrong with me and if not, how do I remind myself there isn’t?
Would greatly appreciate any advice you have, Captain!
Feeling Like A Castaway Lost At Sea
You read the right post on here, so, in answer to your questions:
1. No. He’s making it very clear that things have changed for him within the friendship. The unambiguous message isn’t “try harder,” it’s “stop trying.” You say “with S who does not communicate very well” but actually he is communicating pretty directly. He’s just not giving you the answers or explanations that you want.
2. Yes, and realize that he may not initiate contact for a good long while, so disengage, disengage, disengage.
3. I am so sorry that this is happening to you during an already difficult year. Jerkbrain gonna jerk. Please see: Counter-Intuitive Friendship Fixing Advice, which is all about loving yourself and being good to yourself, and The Kwisatz Haderach/Golden Retriever of Love which is about mourning after breakups, which this sort of is. You’re not broken, you’re just dealing with rejection and other hard things.
You also get a poem:
The Stupid Jerk I’m Obsessed With
by Maggie Estep
The stupid jerk I’m obsessed with
stands so close to me
I can feel his breath
on my neck
the way he would smell
if we slept together
because he is the stupid jerk I’m obsessed with
and that is his primary function in life
to be a stupid jerk I can obsess over
and to talk to that dingy bimbette blonde
as if he really wanted to hear about her
New Age ritualistic enema cures and
truth be known, he probably does wanna hear about it
because he is the stupid jerk I’m obsessed with
and he’s obsessed with doing anything he can
to lend fuel to my fire
he makes a point of standing
looking over my shoulder
when I’m talking to the guy who adores me
and would bark like a dog
and wave to strangers
if I asked him to bark like a dog
and wave to strangers
but I can’t ask him to bark like a dog
or impersonate any kind of animal at all
cause I’m too busy
looking at the way the stupid jerk I’m obsessed with
has pants on that perfectly define his well-shaped ass to the point where I’m thoroughly frantic
I’m just gonna go home
and stick my head in the oven
overdose on nutmeg and aspirin
and sit in the bathtub reading The Executioner’s Song
and being completely confounded by the fact
that I can see
the stupid jerk I’m obsessed with’s face
defining itself in the peeling plaster of the wall
grinning and winking
and I start to yell,
Get the hell out of there
You’re just a figment of my imagination
Just get a life and get out of my plaster
and pass me the next painful situation please
but he just keeps on
grinning and winking
he’s the stupid jerk I’m obsessed with
and he’s mine
in my plaster
And frankly, I couldn’t be happier.
Finally: Here’s a poem for both of you, Letter Writers. Neither of you did anything wrong by caring about somebody. Be nice to yourselves.
Hello there, Captain Awkward,
I’m a young person and I recently ended my first relationship. We did truly love each other–even though I’m young, I can say that with absolute conviction. But there were many serious problems in the relationship: they had a horrible, rude friend who would flirt with them constantly (one time she actually kissed them on the cheek while in front of me) and despite my begging they refused to do anything about her. They were into Nazism, which I know sounds bad but they were more into the German Nationalism and never hated anyone, so I convinced myself it was “okay” even when it gave me the heebie-jeebies. However, that wasn’t even the biggest problem in our relationship, which was that they never seemed to care. They would say that they loved me, which I’m sure was true, and yet while I was fighting constantly with my semi-abusive father about them (who yells and feelings-shames me), they refused to even tell their family about me. They would go on and on about their interests and never asked about mine. We went on two dates during the whole two years that we dated, and I had to initiate both of them. They never had time to talk to me and they never could just spend time alone with me, despite how willing I always was to make time for them.
Yet, looking back, I can’t help but think that I didn’t do as much as I could have. Sometimes, they were just worth it. Sometimes they would be sweet and I could really understand why I fell for them. They certainly wouldn’t mind taking me back; they told me that they would always love me and in the week it’s been over they’ve been radiating Cher Lloyd vibes. And I don’t think I could ever really find anyone else who loved me and understood me like they did, since I’m very geeky and I have hobbies many people would consider weird. They were really the only person that I can ever imagine tolerating every part of me, and I don’t know what to do now that I broke it off. Not to mention every person that I’ve been going to about this has been hinting to me that maybe I made a mistake, which I can’t help but start to wonder as well.
What should I do? Did I make a mistake?
Am I walking away from Sephiroth or Cloud?
There’s an Awkward Meet & Geek this Thursday at Geek Bar Beta in Chicago. Games! New people!
This guy who wrote into Carolyn Hax sounds FUN and definitely does not remind me at all of someone reading a consumer report trying to find the best smartphone. “What if I find something with great battery life and an intuitive interface, but the color I want is not available?” :flashes Bad Advisor signal in the sky:
And now a question:
Any thoughts about surviving St. Valentine’s for a single-and-never-ever-been-on-a-date-much-less-had-a-SO student?
Many thanks! And thank you for the whole site.
all the best,
Hi Oort Cloud!
Use the day to:
- Do something nice for yourself.
- Do something nice for a friend or family member. There are lots of kinds of love, and there are lots of people in your life who might like pancakes or a new book or a card or a mix tape.
- If you’re feeling down, ask your friends to be nice to you. “I’m feeling a bit blue about Valentine’s Day. Anyone feel like having Palentine’s Day?“
- Do something nice for a stranger – paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, volunteering somewhere, shoveling sidewalks in your neighborhood.
- Do you have a crush on someone? Perform this outside their window.*
It’s a perfectly good Saturday, so:
- Don’t beat yourself up for not following a certain script in your life. If you read the site, you know that the “haven’t had a date or a significant other yet” club is large and adorable.
- Don’t buy the necklace made from 2 butts stuck together.
Sometimes it feels better to make cutting remarks about how it’s a stupid made-up holiday created by advertising executives and greeting card companies and nurse your fierce proud cynic’s heart. Do what you feel, but try to do it without pooping directly on someone else’s fun, ok?
*This is a joke. Do not play this, or any music, outside someone’s window.
I am a single man who, after the end of my last relationship, took a
few years out of the dating scene to really rethink what I want out of
my love life and learn to be happy with myself. (For context, I’m 32,
my divorce was 5 years ago.) I feel ready to come back onto the
market, but I’m finding it hard to meet single women who actually
inspire my interest. I’ve tried online dating and singles events, but
they don’t really work for me.
Far from sitting idle, I have become more and more active in the past
couple of years about pursuing my hobbies and interests, which has
helped me extensively expand my social circle. However, it seems that
every time the circle grows, the women I meet are either happily
attached, gay, or just folk I’d rather have as platonic friends than
romantic partners. I’m thrilled to make all these great new friends,
of course, but there’s more I want out of life than my platonic
friends can give me.
Cutting back on my hobbies and going to more singles events would be a
false economy; I’m at least making new friends through hobby events,
whereas singles events have given me nothing. At the same time, I
don’t have time to cram in even more regular social activities – not
without ending up with such a busy schedule of commitments and
responsibilities that there isn’t actually space for a relationship in
my life anyway.
This being the case, I’m thinking about outsourcing the problem by
asking trusted friends to try and introduce me to single friends of
theirs. Since I’ve put in the work to expand my social world in the
first place, why not enjoy the benefits of that expansion? Plus I’d be
more confident making contact with someone a friend has recommended
than a total stranger.
That said, how do I:
- broach the subject in a way which makes it clear that this is a
serious request I am making of my friends without sounding needy and
- make it clear that if people don’t want to play Cupid for me we’re still cool?
- make the point that I’m not up for “blind dates”? (I’d like to know
a bit about the person in question before meeting them so I can
politely decline suggested matches which clearly aren’t going to
The Last Turkey In the Shop, UK
I have thoughts! on your question.