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Relationships

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.

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Hi Cap’n,

A very close friend of mine is starting to drive a bunch of us crazy, and we’re not sure we’re being irrational and bitchy about it. Our friend, J____, is a single mom with a job and does not have a ton of money for babysitters. Nevertheless, for the past 8 years, (since she became a mom) she always seems to find a babysitter to go on dates (usually about once a week) — but never to hang out with us gals. Now, we know it’s normal for gals to blow of gal friends for romance. And we know it’s super important to her to find a beaux. And she’s operating under some constraints that none of us can imagine. Still, it’s always on us to come visit her in her home if we want to see her. Not a problem 8 years ago when we were all in the same neighborhood. But it grows more inconvenient as we grow up and move out the suburbs and away from each other. Meanwhile, she feels lonely and sad when we can’t find the time – and will tell us so.

So – when might it be reasonable, if ever, to call J out on this? When/how can we ask her to get a babysitter just for us? Note – all of us have, fairly regularly, served as (free) babysitters for her so that she can go on dates.

Or is this just too bitchy and insensitive to even bring up?

Thanks,

Worth a Babysitter?

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Captain and Crew,

I’ve been married to a wonderful man for almost 5 years now. He and I have worked hard to have a marriage based on openness and honesty.

We decided fairly early on we weren’t in a hurry to have kids, if ever. We wanted to have time to be just us. Then I had some medical issues which required a snip of the tubes, so it hasn’t even been an issue for many years.

The second question my MIL ever asked me was if I was going to give her grandchildren. To the point she stopped talking to us for a year after the marriage when we told her it wasn’t happening.

My husband has always, always handled her and stood up to her on our (and my) behalf. He’s never tried to make me do what she wants even superficially for “family harmony”.

Adding to the tension is the fact that for ten years her ex husband brutally abused my husband. When my husband finally talked to her about it and asked why she didn’t allow him to live elsewhere, her reply was “I didn’t want to admit I was wrong. I would rather you be abused and hurt than hear ‘I told you so’ from my mother”. She has also Whitewashed the abuse and makes it like they had a Rockwell childhood.

There has been therapy for all of this, don’t worry. And continues to be.

Husband and I are now talking about having kids in the next couple years, especially now that we have found out My body has reversed that surgery all on it’s own (super mutant Fallopian tubes for the win).

We will need to set boundaries, probably All over again. Going into it this is what We would want:

1. She would never be left alone with any of our kids. Ever. She has a history of poor decision making and drug use.

2. We would need to restrict how much time she is visiting for our own sanity, and to be honest, mainly mine.

3. That she will not argue every aspect of our parenting choices.

So when is the best time to establish these? What’s a good script that doesn’t involve my overprotective tendencies an easy out? Can I just hide being pregnant until the kid is like 13?

We are not telling anyone I am fertile again, but we are discussing all of this potential madness.

Thanks for your advice

Not yet a momma but already dreading grandmomma drama

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Hello awesome awkward people!

I’m in a poly relationship, my partner (of four years) has a wife of 20 years (her & I have been really close but have grown more distant the last nine months or so) who has really been struggling the last couple years with what she feels is depression (I’m phrasing it that way because there’s no official diagnosis it’s not to invalidate her). We thought it might have been menopause/hormonal but everything with the docs has checked out. She is seeking finding counseling now but more so because things really got to a crisis level. Her husband gave her an ultimatum to go. He ended up rescinding it but being explicit in things are bad and for his own well being if she doesn’t take getting herself better seriously he’ll have to eventually do what it takes to keep himself healthy.

We typically work very well together and in the 20 years of their open marriage they’ve never had issues like they’re experiencing now. About two years ago there were some serious life stressors (job, money, health etc) and she broke up with a very toxic boyfriend just prior/about this time.

We’re coming out of those things and everything is moving forward and looking so promising but she is struggling. We are working VERY hard to be supportive yet set healthy boundaries.

Through all the transitions and upheavals the last couple years I can’t help feel it has almost been a trigger for a midlife crisis type event for her. There’s no doubt she’s a people pleaser. She’s always happily gone in the direction her husband was going. He’s a strong personality but not manipulative or abusive. His friends have always been her friends, his interest and hobbies became her interest and hobbies. I’ve maintained and continue to cultivate life outside of our relationship and he’s always been 1000% supportive in that. He tries to do so with her but she lacks drive/motivation.

He and I were discussing this, the whys etc and he had a lightbulb moment of she’s such a people pleaser and he doesn’t think she even knows what she wants. Today I’ve done sooooo much reading about P-P and it’s so text book! I’m not going to tell her this is what’s happening but I’m wondering if there are healthy ways to help guide her in exploring this concept. I feel like it’s made doubly tricky because of the P-P attitude. More than anything we want to support her. We really want her to have opinions and to KNOW what SHE wants.

We want her to accept and believe we love her and value her because she’s awesome not because she does everything we’re interested in or that we want to do.

We know that ultimately that is on her to realize that but we would like to be supportive as best we can while maintaining healthy boundaries for everyone.

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Theme of the day: Don’t work harder at someone who isn’t working at all at you.

Hey Cap,

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

-Louis McKee

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.

Dear Captain,

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.

So…
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!

With love,
Feeling Like A Castaway Lost At Sea

Dear Castaway,

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
and smell
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
manicures and
pedicures and
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An antique brooch with a woman being bored by a man in art history (a la The Toast)

“Eugene, dear, why don’t you run and get your lute? Definitely go away. I mean go and get it. Your lute.”

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?

Sincerely,
Am I walking away from Sephiroth or Cloud?

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Hi Captain,

I was re-reading post #247 about highly difficult people (they will not change!) which I have found very helpful and I have a question. I have a highly difficult person in my life (my Mother-In-Law) who blessedly lives very far away (yay!). So most of the time I live my life like she doesn’t exist. Until…there is a visit. It seems like a lot of your advice is try to be nice, and when shitty people get shitty, leave. You also advise for the offspring of the highly difficult person to do around 50% of the visits alone. But what do you do when visiting involves an airplane flight. I feel like “Suzie couldn’t come because she had to wash her hair” won’t fly.

Also what do you do when you are staying in their house or they are in yours, for like multiple days? I think you are probably going to say hotels, but hotels are like a huge deal for my husband’s family. They don’t do them (I know crazy right). They would rather sleep on the world’s most uncomfortable sofa bed than pay for a hotel. Do I lay down the law and say we are staying in a hotel when we visit? What about when she comes to us? I am all about boundaries and keep setting them in relation to her as time/need arise and my husband is mostly on-board with these. He still suffers from a bit of the ‘don’t rock the boat’ syndrome. And staying in a hotel would like capsize it.

The other piece that I’m not sure is relevant is my parents happen to be Amazingly Wonderful People and we love when they come visit and they do stay with us and it is all rainbows and unicorns. So I am asking then to treat our Moms in very different fashions (I know they are different people duh, but I feel a need for evenness – get over it right?).

I guess I’m looking for either a magical solution to multi-day visits of awfulness or permission/encouragement to rock the boat and let it sink??

The Ship is Going Down Anyway

Hello!

The ship IS going down anyway, so talk to your husband so he’s not blindsided and you both have some scripts ready to go, and go ahead and rock that boat! PERMISSION GRANTED.

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