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Dear Captain Awkward,

My family has managed to kill the buzz of new marital bliss…or at least I’m allowing them to in my mind.

After a decade-plus long marriage, children, and lots of misery, I divorced, and later married a long time friend.  We have a very solid relationship, my children adore him, and life is as good as it can be with our hectic schedules.  Other than my parents, there was no wedding for my family to attend.  Because this was my new husband’s first marriage, and he lives out of state, we were married there so that his family could all be present.  My family was aware that we were getting married, and explanations were made regarding the wedding location.  Our wedding happened, and life moved on.  The problem is, I haven’t….at least not in my mind.

Many families are “quirky”, and mine is no exception.  Heck, Hollywood seems to have a whole film genre for uncomfortable family comedies.  It’s all fun and games until it’s your own, though.  Since our marriage, exactly one family member (in my sizable family) has called to wish us congratulations.  Not a single card.  Lest you say this is sour grapes over not receiving money or gifts, or some obnoxious etiquette whinge…Maybe deep, deeep down there is a bit of truth to that.  I can’t imagine not giving my own sibling/niece/grandchild a wedding gift.  It is my second marriage, and there was no wedding for them to come to, so it is understandable.  My greatest concern is (in addition to the fact that his family now thinks mine must be pure evil and worries about what he has married into), my husband feels hurt and jilted, when he has moved away from his EXTREMELY, UNBEARABLY close-knit family to be here. He has inferiority issues regarding my first husband. He makes less than half of what the Ex made, he is missing the 15+ years of family history my ex had with us, etc.  He could use some friends here, or at least acknowledgement that he exists. 

No one has reached out, invited us over, or has tried to get to know him in any way.  In fact, I was told by my sister not to bring him with me (during our engagement) when I visited her out of the country, “because it would be like having a stranger in her house.” That trip to see her was taken at the cost of our honeymoon. (It was all the money I could save in two years, and all of my PTO from work.) I thought that was the final straw, until no one even acknowledged that I had gotten married at all.

My family does not still seem to be grieving for my previous marriage or Ex.  Our divorce was very friendly, amicable, and we still raise the kids together exceptionally well.  My divorce did not inconvenience the extended family in any way (not even so much as a babysitting request), so I just can’t wrap my head around what is going on here.  Yes, some cards of gifts for our wedding would have been nice, but having them welcome the man I love into the family would have been the best gift of all.  Too bad none of them can bother.

Can’t wait for Thanksgiving

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Hi Captain,

I’m worried about one of my friends, who I think is becoming depressed, a cycle I’ve seen her go through before. One of the things that makes me concerned is that she’s been lashing out at me lately and saying some pointed, personal, hurtful things to me. (Mainly being judgmental and critical about, say, my hobbies, or the way I approach my job, or asking how I am and then being very dismissive of my feelings.) As much as I’m worried, her meanness makes me really not want to talk to her or be around her at the moment. She doesn’t acknowledge the things she’s said as being hurtful, and hasn’t apologised which makes it hard for me to feel very accommodating – but knowing how she thinks, I’m sure she’s dwelling on it and feels awful, and bringing it up to clear the air will just feed the jerkbrain.

And yet, as much as I want to avoid her right now, and avoid the possibility of getting stung again, I’m still really worried. I’ve seen her seriously depressed before and I wouldn’t want her to think that if she’s really, truly desperate then she couldn’t reach out for me to help. I’m just not sure how to be supportive when I’m wary that even a message of caring and support could be met with an attack. Do you have any advice?

I do have advice. Surprise! :)

Call out the behavior as it happens. “Hey, that hurt my feelings.” “Hey, that was really out of line.” “Why did you ask me how I’m doing if all you’re going to do is be mean to me?” “That was rude.” And, I don’t think asking for an apology gets you a GOOD apology, but sometimes the act of asking for an apology can be helpful resolving an awkward conversation, in that it at least tells the person what a next step might look like. “That really hurt my feelings, I’d like you to stop saying things like that and also apologize.”

Being called out on crappy behavior might well start a jerkbrain spiral. Nobody likes hearing they are acting like a shitbeast, and if she’s already feeling terrible about herself, being called out on it won’t feel good. But if she’s acting like this because she’s having a depressive episode, she’s going to feel bad no matter what you say, and you putting up with mean behavior is bad for you and not actually helping her. It doesn’t actually feel good to take all of your filters off and just poop negativity onto everyone around you, and it can be a relief to have someone stop you if you can’t stop yourself. It’s honestly weirder and more alienating to have your bad behavior be totally ignored or coddled…like, “Can’t they even tell something is wrong?

Calling out the behavior is a way into the rest of the conversation, where you say “Friend, you’ve been really snarky and mean at me lately, and I don’t care for it. This kind of thing really isn’t like you, but it is like Depressed You.The only other times I’ve seen you acting like this, it’s been because something is very wrong. What’s really going on with you?” + “Can you check in with a counselor or doctor?”

You can make it clear that you don’t want to subject yourself to mean comments, while also telling her you care about her and are concerned for her well-being. It’s hard to be supportive to someone who doesn’t want your support, and it’s hard to be supportive and present for someone who is mean to you, so cut yourself some slack – if she responds to you with an outburst of mean things, it’s okay to get a little distance from her – give it a couple of weeks and then check back in to see if you get a better response, and then maybe go with short, easy hangouts in small doses or whatever you are comfortable with. Being honest about where your own boundaries lie is part of being a good friend.

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Ahoy there!

I have a 40-year-old friend who’s very open about his frustrations with internet dating in our geeky friend circle, and recently he went on a date with a 32-year-old woman who, during their date, said that she is looking to have a couple of kids in the future. She didn’t want them straight away, but she’s looking for a relationship that would ideally end up there.

He was appalled by this, and says he feels a) like he was being assessed for fatherhood, and b) that it was unfair that because he doesn’t want to have kids ever, (and I’m sure for other reasons,) she wouldn’t have another date with him – he thinks they’re compatible in other areas, so could have a lot of fun. Most of our friend-group seem to be commiserating with him, but I think he’s out of order. He’s saying that there’s time for her to have a fling with him, but if you’re looking for relationships where (for example) you’re planning to move in together in a year’s time, and start trying for a kid in two, bearing in mind you might not meet someone compatible straight away, you are completely justified in deciding you don’t have time to waste dating guys who definitely will never want children (or any other reason!).

I seem to be in an extreme minority – as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things. I suspect that being the type of guy with a long history of fixating on people and not wanting to change anything about himself, it’s convenient for him to decide she would be the next Only Girl In The World rather than look around for more dates. But he’s being given sympathetic suggestions like he should have said he wasn’t sure about kids, and string her along for a bit, or do that AND try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all, which is despicable to me, or that this woman was some kind of crazy person who was only after his sperm and he had a lucky escape.

Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys? I’m obviously not getting through – and given he only wants to date women in their early 30s (if a woman’s still single over 40, she’s got too much baggage, or something something? I KNOW! Why AM I friends with him?) this is unlikely to be the only time this will happen.

Why AM I Still Friends With Him

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Kate, intrepid organizer and Knitting Inspector has sent the details:

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

Knitting and other crafts – crochet, sewing, macrame, or anything else you want to do.  Please bring spare yarn/needles/whatever if you have them for people to try, or just come and chat to us while we knit.  I can teach knitting and sewing to intermediate levels, but not the other crafts, so anyone who can teach them would be particularly welcome.

Last time we knitted we also ended up casting a tension-filled Knitting Procedural Drama (I have omitted cast names other than me, but feel free to comment to add yourselves):

- Knitting Inspector, solver of knitting-related mysteries, and stash buster – me!

- Sidekick and comic relief to the Inspector
– Grizzled veteran of the team, traditionalist, insisting on 100% wool
– Criminal mastermind known as the Great Unraveller
– Evil Minion
– Informer, playing both sides against each other for money
– Expert consultant called in by the team for knotty problems
– Shadowy figure

If you would like to cast yourself in (or on) to this drama, or come up with tangled plotlines, go ahead…

This venue is working out really well.

They sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.

Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical).  If you have been to a meetup previously on the second floor, we are now in the equivalent place horizontally, but two floors up vertically, if that makes sense?

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

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

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets.

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

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(November meetup will be on the 15th.)

Cheers,

Kate

Have fun!

Dear Captain Awkward,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for about four years, and have known each other for about ten. We’ve known for awhile that we want to marry each other but extenuating circumstances, etc. have delayed it from happening. We’ve recently decided that we want to move in together, and soon, even if we don’t get married quite yet, both because we want to be together and live together and also because it would be a relief financially.

The problem is that both of our parents are traditionally religious, even though mine are not necessarily part of a denomination anymore (and lived together before they were married and before they were religious). Considering the “don’t have sex” talks I’ve gotten from my parents/family, I’m a little nervous about breaking the news to them that we’re moving in together.

I think his parents will be quieter about it, but mine will be pretty vocal. What are some talking points that I can use to break it as easily as possible and maybe soften the disappointment?

I’m honestly not sure what the reaction will be at this point, because they’ve asked whether we’d move in together if we were to move to another area to save money, and I think that they might be more open to it now, but I am still a bit worried about their reaction. Help?

- Moving In Nerves

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Hi Captain,

About six months ago, I had to move to the other side of the country for a new job. My now ex-boyfriend and I decided to try out the long distance relationship thing, but then he told me that he would never move to be with me. We kind of floundered for a few weeks after that, then had an ugly, terrible fallout, and I stopped talking to him.

We haven’t spoken since then, despite his attempts to contact me.

Losing him has really messed me up. I was crazy about this guy. I know this is probably going to sound silly, but I really do think he was pretty much perfect. He had this incredible super hero jaw line, a wonderful smile, gorgeous eyes, and had the body of a Greek god. He was smart, funny, and unbelievably sweet. He was the nicest, most helpful person I’ve ever met in my life. We liked all the same movies, TV shows, music, books, food…and the sex was insane. I never had an orgasm until I met him. He was so fucking perfect he didn’t even have morning breath when we would wake up together. I swear, our relationship was like something out of a romance novel. I thought we were going to get married and be together forever.

I’m in therapy and on antidepressants now, because breaking up with him left me in such a mess (like “almost getting fired from my new job” sort of mess). But I’ve been trying to do the usual stuff to help get over a breakup: staying busy, deleting Facebook, hitting the gym, etc., etc. Also, being in a new city where I know no one, I’ve been going to social events to try and make new friends, which has been going well, all things considered. And…I guess I should mention that most of these events have been kinky and BDSM related events because…I am kinky and into BDSM.

I’ve been meeting lots of guys at these social events, and a few of them have asked me out, or asked me to play with them. I usually stand there and quietly compare them to my ex before politely turning them down. Which is very clearly and obviously a sign that I should not be involved with anyone right now beyond platonic friendship.

A few weeks ago, though, I was at another one of these events, and started chatting up with this guy who was super cute. He has this big, contagious grin, and his eyes would light up so bright when he would find out we both liked the same obscure TV show or comic book or whatever. He was one of the first people to make me laugh really hard since I moved here.

We friended each other on Fetlife (a kinky social media website) the day after we met, and he sent me a message asking me out shortly thereafter. I wrote him back, explaining I not interested in dating anyone, but if he wanted to hang out as friends, that would be super cool!

He never responded to that message, but we’ve seen each other at a few more events since then and…I just get the butterflies something terrible when he’s around. He’s just so funny and sweet and so full of passion and life. I mean, he sang to me the other night in front of a bunch of people and it was all I could do to not swoon into his arms. We’ve spent some time talking about our kinks and fetishes and they line up so nice. And what I think is most important is that when we’re hanging out, I don’t sit there and compare him to my ex.

But part of me is worried that we’ll start dating, and then a bunch of old feelings about my ex will resurface. Or I’m worried that this guy will just be a rebound for me, and that doesn’t seem fair to him. Ooorrrr…you know, I start dating him, and nothing bad happens, and it helps me get over my ex more quickly, and everything will just be awesome.

I dunno. What do you think, Captain?

Sincerely,
Whips and Chains Hurt Less Than Heartbreak

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