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Omar from the Wire, "Indeed."

From Wire Inspire, a worthy Tumblr.

Hi Awkwards!

My boyfriend and I have been together for around 2 years. We’re incredibly compatible and this relationship has done a lot for me. I was in a pretty shitty situation before we met, and he’s done so much to encourage me to accomplish the things I want, I feel very lucky.

Basically, there are several shows that I love dearly and want to share with him. He’s done the same for me – He’s a huge fan of Joss Whedon so we are working our way through the Whedonverse. We’ve completed Buffy and Angel and are now on the second season of Dollhouse. The original deal was that I would watch Buffy if he would watch The Wire. 7 seasons later… he’s watched the first episode and wouldn’t continue.

When we first started hanging out I tried to get him to watch Battlestar Galactica, but the explosions in space were too annoying for him to continue. I tried to get him to give Game of Thrones a try, but he was turned off by the fantasy setting. Several months later, he must have encountered something that made it finally sound interesting, because he’s now a huge fan of the show and we gush over new episodes together. The same thing happened with Deadwood, I wanted to watch it together but he wasn’t into it, and then he ended up watching all of it by himself sometime later and loved it.

I only really care about The Wire. The other shows I can enjoy on my own without wanting him to share them with me. I have pretty strong feelings about it, I think it’s an amazing example of storytelling and I think there are a lot of things he would really enjoy about it. It feels like he’s blowing it off without giving it a chance. We’ve talked about it and he knows that watching it would mean a lot to me. He says that the subject matter is too depressing and since he is already depressed it isn’t a good show to watch right now, but has promised that he is interested and will watch it in the future. I don’t really believe that, though.

Really I’m just writing in to find out if I’m being reasonable, and if it’s worth bringing up to him again. Forcing someone to watch something they aren’t interested in won’t make them suddenly like it. I don’t want to turn him off it forever, but I am feeling sad about this. I just don’t know if it’s justified. I do have a lot more tolerance for things in shows that I don’t like than he does. Do I just need to chalk this up to personal differences and get over it?

Thanks for reading,
Long Live Omar

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What search terms are leading people to Captain Awkward? Let’s add punctuation and answer them like questions.

1. “What’s wrong with me? My boyfriend wants to be with me all the time but I don’t.”

Nothing is wrong with you, it just seems like you want different stuff. If this is about the amount of time each of you wants to spend together, try renegotiating a schedule that works for both of you. If this is about differing levels of affection and commitment to the relationship, maybe take it as a sign that it’s time to move on, or at least seriously rebalance expectations.

2. “Am I a Nice Guy tm”

Depends. Do you think The Friend Zone is a real place, and that you unfairly live there?

Do you lament that your female friends always date jerks when they could be dating you?

When you talk about how nice you are, does it actually sound really angry?

Is every female friend you have someone you have a crush on?

Prescription: Read lots of books and watch lots of movies and look at lots of art and listen to lots of music made by women. It will be fun, educational, and get you into all kinds of cool conversations because you have great stuff to recommend. And it will help you see women as protagonists in their own stories rather than the Female Romantic Lead in yours.

3. “How do I tell him he’s cute without it being awkward?”

Try complimenting a specific thing or make it specific to today. “I think you’re really cute” is harder to pull off for amateurs than “You look great today, that shirt really suits you!

Complimenting people – not just people you want to bone, but people who are all around you – is a nice habit to get into. It builds confidence and makes people feel good. To do it well, keep it focused on stuff they chose, like shoes/clothing/taste in books/jewelry, rather than body parts. “I like your bag, it looks really sturdy” is good; “I like your ass, it looks very grabbable” is creepy.

4. “My married ex is always calling me and texting me to say hello. Does it mean he’s missing me?”

The fact that you call him your ex and not a friend is what we call a telling detail. You could ask him “What’s up with all the texting, dude?” but the chances that this is a bored dude looking for validation and flirtation in familiar territory are high. Do you want him to be missing you, is the better question. Do you want to be dealing with this at all?

5. “Masturbation support hotline.” 

If you’re looking for information instead of, you know, fodder, get thee to Scarleteen.

6. “Can espresso make you horny?”

I am not a scientist, so I don’t know. Maybe you could do a controlled experiment, where you get a group of people to not drink espresso and look at sexy images, and another group to drink espresso and look at images of birds or cats or dining room furniture, and see who is hornier? I’m not a scientist, so I’m probably not good at designing experiments, either.

It’s probably not the coffee, tho.

7. “What to do in a situation where a coworker is really trying to be your friend and psychotically won’t leave you alone?”

Keep conversations to just work. Refuse all invitations to do stuff outside of work. Do the get up and walk thing when they linger by you work area.

If they refer to you as friends or ask you to be friends, be blunt. “We’re not friends. We work together, and I’d like that to be a pleasant, easy experience for both of us, but I don’t want to be friends.

Then be consistent about it. I just got a letter from the other perspective, where sometimes the coworker was super-friendly, wanted to have lunch all the time, etc. but other times just completely froze the letter writer out, like, not even “good morning” or whatever. Don’t do that. Pick a lane and then be professional.

Since you use the word “psychotically” maybe we’re past all that. If they do harassing stuff, invade your space, keep pushing the issue, etc. tell a supervisor or HR.

8. “What is a song from a girl to a man saying she loves him but the long distance isn’t working?”

I don’t have anything that perfectly fits the bill. This, from the year of my birth, comes to mind:

And it looks like there is a Tumblr devoted to exactly this. Other suggestions, readers?

9. “What does it mean when a guy likes you and then ignores you?”

Could mean a lot of things, from he changed his mind to he’s nursing hurt feelings from a rejection or perceived rejection to he’s really young and still figuring out how to feelings. Do you want his attention, is the question? What happens if you ask him to spend time together?

10. “What does it mean when a friend with benefits tells you they love you when drunk?”

Probably your first step is to figure out how you feel about what they said. Was this a welcome, hoped-for declaration, or “oh crap, now it’s ruined” kind of news or more of a “Huh, hadn’t thought about it” thing?

You could just wait and see if they say it again, while sober or outside the throes of, um, benefiting. If it’s not something you are also feeling, and it never comes up again, you could chalk it up to Extremely Good Benefits/Booze and not really worry about it either way. Or you could say “you said A Thing the other night, and I have been thinking about it ever since” and see what happens.

11. “How to reject people politely on Match.”

Rejection doesn’t feel good, no matter how politely it’s delivered. Reactions vary from “Ok, good luck” (good) to silence (good) to “I spend all this time crafting a cool message and never get any responses! Why can’t people at least respond and tell me they don’t like me?” or “Why write back at all if it’s only to reject me?” or “Why don’t you like me, exactly?” being among them.

You don’t know (just like you don’t know if someone will respond positively to a message). This was my personal rule:

No one is obligated to reply, so if the message or profile was creepy in any way, I didn’t answer at all.

If it was HILARIOUSLY, APPALLINGLY creepy I reported it to the Annals of Online Dating.

If the message was thoughtful and the person seemed basically cool, I answered the way I would want to be answered: “Thank you for the thoughtful message. I don’t think you and I would be a good match, but I hope you meet someone great.” Most people I encountered sent something very polite in return. “You too, thanks for acknowledging my message.” Anyone replying with any shade of “whyyyyyyyy” got blocked for their own good and mine.

12. “How do I write a letter to my husband telling him that I’m pregnant by someone?”

Wow. Okay. Do you want to keep a) the baby b) the husband c) both d) neither? Because there is an order of operations here. Like, “I’m leaving you for ______” is maybe news that can stand on its own, and the “and _____ and I are having a baby!” can come later, like, when a baby comes out of you after you’ve left your husband.

Whatever you write, keep it short and, not sweet exactly, but 1) clear about what you want and 2) focused on giving your husband information that would help him make a good decision about what to do next. “Dear Husband, I am pregnant. This would be incredibly happy news, but because of (shenanigans), I am not sure about paternity. I realize that this is a lot to take in, and that we have some serious thinking and talking to do. I love you and hope we can work through all of this together, please think about it and come talk to me when you are ready.

What the shenanigans (cheating vs. I went to the fertility clinic without you vs. my poly partner and I had a little condom oopsie, etc.) were controls how much “I’m sorry” is in the letter, but a good rule for apologies is to own your part in what happened without trying to make the other person feel sorry for you.

A letter has the advantage of giving the recipient time to react. Write it, send it, let go, and hope.

13. “How do I leave a social group without hurting their feelings?”

If you want or need to leave the group, do you have to make it known that’s what’s happening, or will unsubscribing from a Meetup or Facebook group or just not coming to events anymore get it done? If you need to actually make it clear, tell the organizer what’s up. “Can you take me off the invite list for x events for the next little bit? I’m feeling over-scheduled right now. I’ll let you know if that changes.

You don’t have to give reasons, though the organizers might ask why. This isn’t bad, it’s because they LIKE you and want you to be welcome/comfortable. You can decide what you want to tell them, anything from “It’s just not fitting in my schedule right now” to “X Person behaves inappropriately and I’ve decided not to be around them for a bit.

They are going to feel what they are going to feel. You can’t control that, so take care of yourself, be as polite and sincere as you feel you can be, and do what you need to do.

14. “Pull my finger princess.”

Han Solo smirking

Princess Leia smiling

Darth Vader pointing at Princess Leia with text "MY FINGER. Pull it."

Darth Vader: Not really that fun at parties.

Ahoy Captain!

My boyfriend grew up around people whom he describes as ‘hateful and angry,’ who would call you [insert slur] if you pointed out their racism and misogyny. Later, he fell in with some really scary addicts. When I met him, the hard drugs and more violent people were gone, but he’s still friends with the non-violent ones.

My problem: Boyfriend’s BFF, ‘Jerkface.’ In no particular order:

1) He’s racist.

2) He’s fat-phobic.

3) He hates anyone who’s not an atheist.

4) He’s sexist. When I call him out for telling rape jokes, he says I’m overreacting. 

5) He mansplains. A friend once told him “Don’t be so condescending,” and pushed him through a window. Bystanders shrugged and said, “To be fair, he is really condescending.”

6) He used to hit on me constantly, in front of Boyfriend. He’d angrily mention how he called dibs on me, tell obscene jokes about me, ask me out, and lie about hooking up with me.

7) He encourages Boyfriend to drink WAY too much.

Much of this happens when Boyfriend is drunk, and he (a) does nothing and (b) doesn’t remember anything afterwards. Many people avoid Jerkface whenever possible; one even asked, “How does he get invited places if no one likes him?” I’m afraid people will assume Boyfriend is also a horrible person and avoid us too.

I confronted Boyfriend, and he acknowledges that Jerkface is a bigot, but says he’s just a product of their environment. If they were to meet for the first time today, he wouldn’t become friends with Jerkface, but they’ve been friends for 15 years and he’s like family.

However, Boyfriend also said he wants to be an ally. He’s been very receptive to the reading material I’ve given him. I told him I don’t want to be around Jerkface, and if Boyfriend wants to be with me, he needs to go to counseling and learn to confront Jerkface and his ilk.

Consequently, I haven’t seen Jerkface in months, Boyfriend spends much less time with him, and drinks much less. However, Boyfriend has admitted that he still can’t find the words to confront Jerkface because he’s worried about derails, like “You didn’t mind before” or “Girlfriend is just like Yoko Ono.”

Our relationship depends on Boyfriend’s either African Violet-ing the asshole or learning how to tell him off. So,

1) Can you suggest a script my boyfriend can use to talk to Jerkface?

2) Jerkface is engaged, and Boyfriend will be their Best Man. I don’t know if I’ll go to the wedding. I don’t want to cause stress on their big day, or put Boyfriend in the middle. What do you think?

Thanks so much!

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Darth Vader beckoning to Luke in Empire Strikes Back.

“Everything’s more dramatic and exciting on the Dark Side of the Force!”

Before we dig into today’s letter, I really like this “Ask Polly” piece at The Awl, I Miss My Maniac Ex. The Maniac Ex is what we around these parts would call a Darth Vader boyfriend.

So you focus on that one magical night, in the middle of a sea of terrible nights, where he held your hand and treated you like a person and you drank too much and that awesome song was playing and you imagined, in that moment, that you two were destined to be together forever, and your whole life might be this good. Lucky for you, your whole life turned out even better than that, it just doesn’t feel like it because you’ve become acclimated to love the way you used to be acclimated to suffering. Those highs you miss are the sorts of highs that occur in a life mostly made up of lows.

There are plenty of different kinds of bad partners. A Darth Vader, to me, is one who strings you along with tiny bits of your heart’s desire at carefully controlled intervals. Not enough to actually sustain you, but enough to keep you hooked. Enough to make you abdicate everything you know about what’s good for you.

Her advice about how to refocus these pangs and get past it is quite good.

Today’s letter, the first to come into the new inbox, is also about exes and regretting the past.

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Luke Skywalker

We’re all pretty sure he’s a virgin, but does it ever come up?

Here is  a reader question and corresponding guest-post from Commander Logic on the subject of losing your virginity after most people around you have lost theirs, but really it’s like a manual on dating and respecting the shit out of yourself, aka, universally applicable.

Dear Captain Awkward:

There are a lot of awkward conversations going to be going on in my future. Hopefully, at least.

Here’s the story:

I’m a 27 female post-graduate student at a German university (I’m German.).  I’ve never had a boyfriend (I may never have) and all the guys who were ever interested in me (not many) were sadly not my type. There was one I really liked, too, but he was as shy as me where feelings and touching were concerned and in the end another girl (who was a lot more outgoing) dated him and I was not interested anymore. Another guy I met on the internet actually kissed me on our second (and last) date – right in the middle of the lively market place of my little university town. He never called again – me neither.

Other than that I had some three crushes. One of those I actually tried to talk to (I had a crush on him for two years). We flirted a lot in class – he actually sat next to me on purpose (I think) and touched my hand “by accident” a lot. I really liked that. But when I tried talking to him I totally felt stupid and couldn’t really impress him, I guess.

Last year there was a Japanese guy I totally found hot and we had many nice dates with talking and walking. But when he confessed that he liked me a lot, I totally panicked. I wasn’t happy at all!! I went home, cried and was totally disturbed. I wrote our university counseling because now I was absolutely sure that I was a whacko and not right in my mind. Since then I’ve been there for a few times and it really helps me, but basically there is nothing much wrong with me. (Thank god.) The Japanese guy turned out to have more problems than me and we try to stay friends but sometimes that is really hard, too, because he wants me to adopt every opinion he has about certain things I feel very strongly about. Read More

A lovely reader alerted me that “Subscribe in a reader” function  is broken, and I can see that it is broken, but I don’t know WHY it is broken or how to fix. Any smart nerds want to help me out?  Is it affecting those of you who already read it via RSS, or just new subscribers?  Thanks!

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you...duel it to the death? Wait, that can't be right.

Good day Cap-i-tan!

I come to you now with the story if my current relationship, which is very very….. very awkward.

Bit of information to note. She was 19, is now 20, I am 24.

We met through friends, and first started out to be roommates cause mine was leaving me in a month and change. After a few weeks of talking we gave in to the sparks that where there. So she moved in as my girlfriend. By this time I had already learned so much about her that told me the time was not right. But, stupid me, I went ahead and did it anyways. She was currently with two other guys, and seeing another two on the side. She was in the process of getting rid of them all. However the most immediate boyfriend stayed because he was in another city.

Fast-forwarding…

She is moving down to the other guy in September for schooling, and where a large portion of her friends reside. They know nothing about me other than I am the roommate.

I have taken the time to learn her needs, what she loves and how she likes to be treated, and I know that I cannot try to hold onto her. Yet she says she will come back to me when she’s done her classes in 8 months after September. I don’t know what the chances of that are, and it’s biting constantly at me.

Some final notes, she suffers from depression a bit and is on meds for it. The meds have cause her libido to drop. To nothing. We have had sex once in three months and in our 11 month relationship, at least 5 have been dry spells.  To cover one loose end, it was defined as a open relationship at the beginning.

What I ask you is simply for a woman’s view of this, feedback, assessment, thoughts. I’m just curious. What do you make of all this? At the end of the day it’s a messed up story that I’m sharing with you. Cause I can. That’s about it I guess.

Thanks!

Mike

Dear Mike:

Let’s say I am magic and I can predict the future.  Let’s say that when this girl goes away to school, you just let her go.  “Of course I’d love to see you when you get back, but let’s not commit to anything.  Let’s enjoy the time we have, and then you should go live your life and have fun.”

You’ll miss her for a little while.  Things will be sad and gray for a month or so.  Someone who can successfully juggle five guys at a time has a lot of personal charisma, and you’re going to miss being around that charisma.

And then after a little while you will start to feel relieved.  It will be like you’ve woken up from being under a spell.

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Dear Captain Awkward:

OK, here’s a bit of an awkward situation for you: Very elderly folks, at the symphony or the opera, with one of those oxygen tanks that gives a very audible puff of air every three seconds, and makes a noise like a clockwork sniff.

I’ve been at many performances when one of these was in the audience, and it is incredibly annoying and very hard to ignore. I was at a concert just a few days ago, not even sitting near the offender, and yet I could hear it loud and clear, especially during quiet moments in the music, and it really did keep me from enjoying an otherwise flawless and moving performance.

What’s more, all the people who were sitting near the elderly man (in this case) were making faces and shifting uncomfortably like someone had farted, for most of the first half. Only some of them moved for the second half, and Mr. Oxygen Tank continued right on sniffing for the entire show.

My instinct is to report distracting noises like this to the ushers and/or management, but at this concert, as with the other concerts, I was 1) comped, and 2) busy during the intermission with work-related socializing. I also assumed someone sitting near the guy, given how uncomfortable they looked and how egregious the noise was, would have said something.

But also, I felt a little bad for him. Unlike people who talk or unwrap candies during concerts, this is something that is presumably unavoidable and medically necessary, and also, for the theater, an accessibility issue.

It must suck to get old and not be able to do so many things that you once enjoyed, and I feel like a bit of an asshole for snarling at an old guy for carrying his life-giving oxygen with him. Does he even realize how annoying the sound is, or has it become invisible to him? Or does it ruin his enjoyment too?

The Oregon Arts Commission has a discussion of this, and they don’t really seem to have a solution, but think theaters should come up with one.

What are your thoughts?

Your question made me play these two YouTube videos at the same time to gain a greater understanding of the problem.

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Sometimes Darth Vader is a girl.

Dear Captain Awkward:

So, it’s like this. I met a great guy, and get this, it’s one of THOSE love stories where the girl winds up with the guy she went to school with, it was him all along! Hurrah for fairy stories!!!

So, all well and good and life is great with us, but the snag is he has an ex-girlfriend with whom he shared 20 odd  (druggy) years. After they split they stayed friends (without the benefits) and were very close. She’s got some fucked up Bonnie and Clyde fantasy going on, romanticizing the good old days when they robbed book stores to feed their habits (yuck!) and, while she says she wants him to be happy with someone else blah blah, in reality is making all kinds of noises (via Facebook comments and sending cards in the post) to let me know that she and he were the golden couple and will be forever.

I can’t help but get jealous about their obvious ‘history’ but as we are in a (new) relationship I feel weird that she sends him cards saying how much she loves him, and sends them addressed from the love nest they once shared.  She posts that she loves him all over his FB page, KNOWING that I’m going to read it. (Hello, we are over 40 btw not school kids!)

Is she trying to send a message to me? and how do I deal with it? We aren’t in the same country for a start, which helps, but I feel as if there are three of us in the relationship as he messages her and texts her EVERY day.. I am getting pissed off but don’t want to act like a needy jealous whinge-bag..

Thank you Captain.

Signed,
Not Needy or Jealous (well ok, a bit)

Dear Not Needy, Definitely Jealous:

I feel comfortable saying that this woman is trying to send a message.

People don’t go to the Post Office on purpose and stand in line to get the special stamps that will send letters to other countries without taking a little extra effort to work that into their day.  If you and your boyfriend lived in the same area as this woman, she would send you both a lot of messages, like sneaking into your house and peeing in all the corners and dressing up in your favorite clothes and rubbing her crazy all over your pillow so that you will go nuts trying to figure out why everything in your life suddenly smells like crotch.

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The Emperor

"So....you have a twin sister..."

Dear Captain Awkward,

I currently have a kind of weird situation going on with my sister that I really don’t know how to deal with. My parents and I are estranged, and after many years of denial and telling myself that it was always my fault (when in fact, it never was, it was just abuse that I was chalking up to my “parents loving me”) and countless hours of very expensive therapy to get me to the mental Promised Land, I have realized the danger my sister is in.

She lives very close to my parents, both of which are very controlling and constantly manipulative and emotionally and mentally abusive. My father, especially, feels the need to meddle in everyone’s life, and always try to “one up” people with his resume of great accomplishments and how much money he makes. He recently decided that I wasn’t good enough to talk to anymore (almost verbatim said this) and the only thing I can deduce is he hates that he is not in control.

Additionally, this means that I have to have an issue with my sister. She’s constantly thrown in the middle, or feels the need to place herself in the middle and whenever there is an “issue” with my parents, there is seemingly a problem with her. I kind of want to shake her by the shoulders and tell her to get the hell away from them and try to find her own place in life with her husband, but it’s seemingly impossible. I know I can’t tell her what to do, or offer her advice when she’s not seeking it, but things are getting very strained, and we were doing so well at starting an adult relationship.

I’ve noticed also that when she is not surrounded by our parents, that she behaves much differently. At my wedding last month, she kind of made a “joke” in front of everyone when I mentioned that one of my best friends is going to be the usher for a bigger ceremony my husband and I are doing this year, and she practically yelled in the restaurant, “Oh really? I didn’t know that. I just thought Usher was an R&B singer!” To which there was nothing but awkward silence and me really trying not to stab her in the face with a fork.

Could you by any chance offer some advice in how to handle the situation without stepping on her toes? She’s very protective of our parents and feels that a life without a close relationship with your parents isn’t a life at all. I’ve realized that this is just something that has been beaten into us since we were little, and I really don’t want to tell her that I *don’t* want a relationship with her.

Sincerely,
Desperately Seeking Sister

Dear Desperately Seeking,

Oh man, your letter kept me up last night.

Let me address the small , easy stuff first:   Here at Captain Awkward Dot Com we can’t get behind getting all Stabby McForkInEye at your sister because she once blurted out something that sounded much funnier in her head.  When people are nervous or uncomfortable, they blurt.  They laugh at inappropriate times, and then they try to stifle that laughter, so it turns into more of a strangled bleat, and the strain of suppressing the laughter makes them fart. They pull a pen out of their purse to hand it to you, except it’s not a pen, it’s a tampon.  This is a safe space for blurts, farts, giggling in church, and inadvertent tampons.

When this happened, were you embarrassed FOR her (Oh man, my poor sister, she doesn’t know anyone here and was just too hip for the room) or BY her (Oh man, now all my friends will see what a n00b my sister is)?  Be honest with yourself about this, and then cut your sister some slack.  Of course in my family, “cutting slack” might involve staged retellings of the joke for the next 20 years and also calling into the local radio station to dedicate Usher songs to each other on birthdays and anniversaries, but do what feels right to you.

Now, the hard stuff.  It’s below the cut because it is full of stuff like photos of Bret Michaels and descriptions of abuse.  This has been your trigger warning. Read More

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