Captain,

I was wondering if you could help me sort something out with my friend S. My life has gone through the wringer the past 2 years, in terms of friendship dynamics turning scary and unhealthy, being assaulted/ stalked, my emotionally abusive/ homophobic parents, and the basic drama of becoming an adult. My friends have been an incredible support for me, and balance the acts of being there for me and still just hanging out and having fun.

I’ve been in therapy for these issues, and am working really hard on my anxiety and depression. I am working hard to ensure that my stalker (who has a history of violence and threatens harm to himself and others) does not threaten my physical or mental safety. I am proud of how assured I am in how to do self-care and how I am able to doubt myself less. My biggest issue has been trust issues and worrying that the people closest to me don’t believe me.

S. has been there for me, even when we were in different countries this past couple months. Now that we are back in the same place things have gotten… weird. Her new attitude is “question everything”, because she wants to be a teacher and apply that philosophy everywhere. Yet to me, her questions don’t seem to be coming from a place of wanting to know or understand, but to get me to self reflect. She has also said it is important for her to question me so I can “have a better understanding of the larger situation”, especially because I tend to “overreact”. It may sound dramatic, but I feel like I’m being interrogated a lot of the time. I don’t want a life coach that inadvertently victim blames me (which is why I go to my super lovely therapist), I want nerd out with my friend.

I told S. that I love her ability to ask good questions, because it means we have really excellent dialogues, but that sometimes just jumping into questions about my personal issues without starting with validation or support is too much for me, and she responded with “I can’t change who I am.” She also brought up my previous request for verbal affirmation, and told me it was annoying to tell me she loves me all the time.

I love her to pieces. She has been an incredible friend. But this new shift in how she communicates/ treats me is bringing up major trust issues, yet I feel like I am asking for way too much. She has also been talking a lot to my friend G. about me (something she told me, not something I am “overreacting” to), and all of a sudden G. isn’t talking to me. My immediate move has been to step back and let them initiate contact, because managing this group dynamic feels really hard on top of taking care of myself.

I don’t want to change her, but I also want to feel safe hanging out with her. Is this my anxiety/ just my problem? Or do you have any suggestions for scripts that I should use? Are there any paths of action to get my relationships with S. and G. back to mutually healthy places? I really love them and our histories together, regardless of the tensions now.

- Questioning the Questioner

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Organizer Kate has sent the news:

February London meetup as follows:

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 21st February, 11am onwards.

Time for another colouring in meetup. Please bring stuff to colour in, or colouring pens and pencils, if you can. Or come anyway, we’re not fussy!

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).

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

(March meetup will be on the 21st.)

Cheers,
Kate

Have fun, London! If you are interested in planning a meeting of Awkward Army folks where you are, there’s guidance here.

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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The Emperor from Star Wars saying "Be My Pal-Patine." 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:

Hi Captain!

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,
OortCloud

Hi Oort Cloud!

Use the day to:

  • Han Solo: "I'll be celebrating Valentine's Day Han's style...Solo." 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.

Hello Captain!

Something has been bothering me for a long time – I have been accused of “leading guys on.” When this happened in college and grad school, I shrugged it off because the guys who would accuse me of this were always ones that took any female attention as romantic interest in them or they had a crush on me, but I had told them, usually several times, that I was not interested in them romantically, only as friends.

I am a friendly, smiley person who is easy to talk to/confide in (which is good since I am a healthcare provider now), so I am guessing that helps lend to their idea that I am romantically interested in them. But if they paid attention, they would see that I am like that with everyone! However, I do make a point of not flirting at all, not touching them in any way, and only meeting with them in groups to avoid any accidental messages going through to guys that I suspect have interest in me. 

But I feel like it keeps happening! And it is really starting to make me angry because I am trying to make professional connections (and hopefully friends!) and I am so tired of guys coming onto me out of nowhere or when it is clearly inappropriate.

For example, I went to a business lunch with two professionals. The second person never showed up, so we had some drinks and chatted. We talked about our relationships a bit (me = my boyfriend is awesome, him = having a child completely changed his life and marriage). We went back to his office to talk more (business, I thought), when he said, “if I was younger, I would have thought that you coming back to my office meant you wanted to sleep with me.” I was shocked. I wrapped up the conversation and ran.

Something similar happened with another healthcare provider. We were exchanging treatments, and because he was so easy to talk to, I ended up confiding much more in him than I usually would with someone. He ended up confiding his marriage problems to me and a few sessions later, he stated that he “could not be alone with me” because he was “afraid something he would regret would happen.” I assured him that I would never cheat on my boyfriend, so he had nothing to worry about from me, but I respected his wish to stop our exchanges. I was upset about this for a few weeks because I thought I had finally found a new friend to talk about our practices and daydreamed about double dates with him and his wife.

There is a third guy with the same basic thing of us hanging out, him coming onto me when I thought we were just friends, me having to leave ASAP, and then never talking to him again AND actively avoiding seeing him (which means I have to skip professional events I would like to attend but not enough to risk seeing him).

Both times, these guys were married AND we had talked about my wonderful boyfriend. I know they are unhappy with their marriages, but I am clearly happy with my relationship, and even if I wasn’t, I would never cheat and I really resent the implied accusation that I would do so. With the unmarried third guy, the same still stands because he knew about my boyfriend.

My boyfriend only knows about what happened with the third guy because I was so distraught over it (it was actually the first event). He said that I am too nice and naive. I know I can be pretty oblivious when reading signals that are related to me (it’s so much easier to observe what’s happening with other people!), but I am actively doing everything I can think of to avoid sending misleading signals and avoiding “compromising” situations.

What am I doing wrong? I can’t possibly be leading every guy on, can I?

Thank you for reading (and thank you for all of your previous posts!),
Not Leading Them On (On Purpose Anyway)

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Hi Captain,

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
pathetic?
- 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
work.)

Yours,

The Last Turkey In the Shop, UK

Dear Turkey:

I have thoughts! on your question.

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