About these ads

Archive

Tag Archives: family

Dear Captain Awkward:

My 27 year old son has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for about 18 months. He was living with a friend until a couple months ago, when he and his girlfriend moved to an apartment. Before the move, his friend came to see my husband and I to talk about the situation. He said that the girlfriend is a total loser and the two of them fight constantly. He said many of their friends can’t stand her, and that the two of them drink and smoke weed, i.e. enable each other’s recreational drug use. They are both broke most of the time, although they work full time at low level jobs. My son was barely able to cover living expenses before, and asked us for financial help from time to time. When we heard about his plans to move in with her, we were not happy but came to grips with the situation, accepting the fact he is an adult and has to make his own decisions. Since then, we have stopped all flow of cash to him, hoping the living situation and the relationship will eventually fall apart and he will start over.

We do not want the girlfriend attending all our family gatherings. It’s too stressful for me to converse with her because I feel she is a terrible influence on him. The problem is, she’s manipulative and puts on a very phony act around us. I see right through her, as my son can also be that way. I can see how they feed off each other and it drives me crazy. She seems to rule his life and is very self centered. I’ve wondered if there is some sex addiction going on, because for the life of me I can’t understand his attraction to her otherwise. I just see a toxic relationship, like his friend told us.

I am struggling with how to handle a family gathering at Christmas. She was with us at Thanksgiving and that was too much for me. Should we tell him it’s family only, or should I just decline to attend????

Read More

About these ads

Dear Captain Awkward,

My bedroom is the house guestroom, and has been as long as I can remember. Usually this isn’t problematic, since I’m up at school most of the year. However, during the holidays it becomes a bit of a problem, when my sister and BIL come to visit. Her old room has been absorbed as storage space, so they stay in mine, while I sleep out on the recliner in the living room.

This comes with two problems for me, though. One, my dad and BIL usually stay up well past midnight talking and watching movies in the living room. This means that I can’t get to sleep until they finally turn in. Second, my clothes are stored in that room, so I can’t actually get dressed until they decide to get up, which ranges from a reasonable hour through almost noon. I’ve tried taking out the next day’s clothes ahead of time, only to have my mom put them back, saying that I shouldn’t “clutter up public space with guests over.”

Now, I love both Sister and BIL dearly, and I don’t want them to stop coming over, and my bedroom is really the only logical place to put them at this point, and I don’t want to begrudge Dad and BIL bonding time, but this situation gets more frustrating every year. What reasonable boundaries can I set there?

Thanks,
Not a night owl

Read More

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am a 15 year old male and I’m engaged to someone that I met online. I have been dating him for about a year now and he has cheated on me once. Sometimes I get paranoid and ask him if he’s seeing anyone right now.

I know that I may be too young/ “not know what love is,” but rest assured, I do. My love for him is unconditional and he is definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I am making him come out to his friends because I don’t want to be just a little secret. He is too scared to tell his parents because they will disown him. He is bisexual, just like me. Talking about liking the same sex in his family is forbidden.

My parents know that I am bisexual so it really isn’t too much of a problem for me. They don’t know I am engaged though. Like I said before, I’m scared he will like someone else too someday.

What should I do Captain Awkward?

Read More

Dear Captain Awkward (And Awkwardeers),

I’ve been in a fantastic relationship with my partner for a few years now. He’s incredibly supportive of my mental health, and

Kinky and Healthy are two different - but not mutually exclusive - things

Not an effective fighting strategy.

complements my personality perfectly. However, and this may seem a silly concern, I’m worried about the fact that we never argue. Basically, I’m concerned that this might mean that we aren’t communicating well enough.

We have had disagreements, but usually that happens when I say something that’s concerning me and he agrees with whatever I’m saying. It’s not really an argument because he quickly turns around to my way of thinking. Or, less often, he would air an issue and I would see it as reasonable and agree to help fix it. And for a while, this was great! I felt that our relationship must be going amazingly because we never argue!
But the thing is, I’m now sort of scared about what will happen if we ever do fight. Because when we haven’t even really had any of the little arguments, who knows what will happen if we end up in a big argument? Because surely it can’t always happen that we just agree with the other person’s opinion. What about when we have to start making big decisions like whose job dictates which city we live in? Whether we have kids?
And I’ve noticed that I’ve started avoiding conflict because it’s got to a point where I’m scared of The Fight. The Fight seems to me to be this big inevitable thing looming that sooner or later we both have to deal with… and I don’t know how I’ll handle The Fight. So sometimes, I don’t mention things that upset me because I don’t want to lead to a fight. And that means I’m kind of bottling up grievances which I know full well isn’t healthy. We have an amazing relationship, but I’ve always thought that good relationships were about dealing with the bad as well as the good, and what if it takes us years to realise that we can’t handle the bad?
It’s not like everything’s been sunshine and roses. As I mentioned earlier, he’s been great with my mental health, but that means that he does the majority of the housework, as well as working, and although I’m working hard to be able to contribute more, it’s something that definitely hangs over me. I think the guilt from knowing that he basically just cares for me a lot of the time also means that I’ve stopped talking about things he does that sometimes upsets me, because I feel like I don’t deserve to be unhappy with anything he does when he’s great and supportive and puts so much time, and effort, into making our home a safe place for me. As well as trying to avoid The Fight. And I feel like, hey, I’ll have forgotten the bad thing he said tomorrow, so why argue about it now? It’s probably just me being over sensitive anyway, right? But what actually happens is that it still hurts tomorrow, just feels too late for me to bring it up, so just gets added to the pile of Things That Hurt Me. 
(Note: the things he says aren’t generally actually nasty things but just things that are badly worded and hurt my feelings. For example: “you’re looking beautiful today! I think that dress makes you look thin” and like I’m certain he means well but I’d rather be able to accept the fact that I’m not thin rather than feel like his image of me on beautiful rests on his image of me as thin, y’know?)
Basically, how can I call him out on things that make me sad at the time? I kind of need a method to use when usually I’d just lose my nerve and stay quiet because I’m now kind of really fearing conflict. 
And what if The Fight does happen and we end up having a big argument, either now or in the future? How will I be able to convince myself that this isn’t the end of the world and that our relationship has the potential to survive that, when so far it’s been built on a foundation of mostly harmony and agreement? I feel like we’ve been constructed by all our friends as The Couple Who Never Fight, The Perfect Couple, and I’m scared of realising that we’re not.
~~Conflict Avoidant

Dear Cap’n,

I don’t know how best to help my DH. This message follows us having a long, slightly drunk but happy and loving chat about his life.

DH’s family history is complicated. His upbringing includes some things which, when we talk about them, he agrees were “probably abuse”, but explains that he’s somewhat normalised what happened to him, and tends to say it totally matter-of-factly, as though this were just how things are. His feelings – or lack of – are complicated by guilt. DH was born a sickly child, with complex medical needs that put a lot of strain on the family. His parents divorced partly due to the stress of it all. He did not cope well with his deformities or medical needs and his childhood was a mixture of being a bullying victim, being a bully, having serious anger issues and acting out. I’m sometimes amazed by the wonderful, loving, mentally balanced person he’s become without therapy or help.

DH doesn’t seem to know what sort of relationship he wants with his parents. He is amicable with them, visits his mother about once a month, enjoys talking to his father… but he won’t initiate contact, and he gets anxious if, for example, his mum tries to ask him to visit on short notice. At the same time, he’s just naturally bad at maintaining relationships and has asked me to help him keep in better contact with his gran and siblings. He’s never confronted either parent and even apologised to his father recently for being a “difficult child”.

At the same time, the abuse has only come out over a long time in small parts. and by the time I started to get the picture, we’d been together years and had started to build closer relationships with his parents. His mum in particular, who is always very kind and concerned and helpful, and I don’t know how to feel about her, or the FIL, or any of it. To be fair, DH doesn’t isn’t certain how he feels. He’s given me permission to ask his big sis for more info on their childhood, because his memory can cause him problems. She lives abroad though, and I’d feel weird asking by email.

Because of his relationship and memory difficulties, it’s my job to help him maintain contact with loved ones. But I don’t know how to do this where his parents are concerned. I don’t want to pressure him to get closer than he feels comfortable, but I also don’t want to be the woman that drives him from his family into hers, as his father’s second wife has started doing with him.

I’d love some advice please!

This statement: “Because of his relationship and memory difficulties, it’s my job to help him maintain contact with loved ones.” from your letter set off my Yikes-o-meter. Yikes!

Here is my advice:

Do not volunteer to be the carrier for his communication and relationship with his family, or to sort out these memories. Do not email his sister. It is only “your job” if you choose it, and you get to choose to not make it your job.

You can be a sounding board.

You can be a listening ear.

You should not be an ambassador or a manager. And you don’t have to feel any particular thing. HE doesn’t have to feel any particular thing.

Even in much less extreme situations (history of abuse, memory problems, disability) men sometimes expect that women will do the emotional work of the relationship, up to and including remembering everyone in HIS family’s birthday and buying presents/sending cards/keeping in touch. I think this sets a bad precedent, where his messed up family issues are now something that are the present stuff of your relationship. I’m sure he feels great after this chat you guys had; he just transferred all responsibility for sorting out his messy past over to you and now you’re writing me for advice on how to do it when really HE could write in for advice (not necessarily here, but somewhere) on how to do it.

This is HIS family.

This is HIS history.

This is HIS thing to solve.

I think it is admirable that you want to help your husband, and admirable that he wants to get back in touch with people and start sorting things out. And I think there is no one perfect way that he has to feel about a history of abuse. It is possible for people to have very dysfunctional relationships as children that grow into much more mellow relationships as people age, get power and autonomy, and create a series of positive interactions to build on.

But it is on HIM to contact his sister, sort out his memories, and deal with them (with the help of a professional, if necessary), and keep in better touch with his gran and his siblings. “Terrible at maintaining relationships” isn’t an actual condition, it’s a series of choices that have turned into a habit.

The best way to get in touch with people you haven’t talked to in a while is to send a greeting. People love getting mail that isn’t bills, so maybe write a postcard. “Dear _____, I hope you are well. I read/saw/ate/experienced this thing recently that made me think of you and remember the time that we _________. (Wife) and I are doing well, here is a thing that is new with me. Have a happy (upcoming holiday, season of the year), Love, Husband.” Keep it light, and remember, if communication has really lapsed, the other people don’t know what to say or how to begin either, and will be grateful for you breaking the ice. Make the effort, say something brief and kind, and then keep sending responses when they respond back. It is honestly that simple: If you want to, you will do it. If you don’t want to, then don’t do it, but don’t expect your partner to magically make it happen for you. Either admit that you don’t want to do it and make peace with that, or work on the “I want to want to, I just haven’t figured it out yet” stuff with a therapist.

You can help by dropping stuff in the mail, or picking up postcards, or hunting down addresses, or even helping him come up with things to say, but you shouldn’t manage the entire process.

The problem of making an adult relationship with imperfect relatives is not unique to this guy, it’s something we all have to figure out for ourselves.

My advice is that your mantra becomes “I am always here to listen, and I will support any decision you make, but I am not comfortable (emailing your sister, sorting out your past, taking the lead on how you interact with your family).”

I’m sure the community will have alternate perspectives to my initial “AW HELL NAW” reaction, I hope it will be helpful.

Dear Captain Awkward,

My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly 2 months ago. My parents had been married almost 40 years. A month after her passing, I accidentally discovered that my dad has been sleeping with multiple men he meets on the internet, at the gym, etc., and that he is also having sex in public restrooms. I don’t believe that my mom knew that this was going on, but I realize that that is a possibility. 

It was not a complete shock to me that my dad is gay or bisexual, as the thought had crossed my mind before, and after my mom died I had even considered that he might bring home a boyfriend in a couple of years. I imagined myself being very supportive and understanding in that scenario, but this sudden discovery at such an emotional time has really thrown me for a loop. The high-risk behavior is freaking me out and making me angry, if I’m honest. I just lost one parent, and I don’t want to lose another! Furthermore, the thought that he was likely putting my mom at risk, too, really upsets me.

I cannot stop worrying about how this might play out. I’m worried that he is putting himself in harm’s way and risking arrest, etc. I’m worried that the community that has been supporting him through the loss of my mom would disappear if this came out in the wrong way. Similarly, I worry about how my mom’s extended family, to whom we are very close, would react if this were suddenly revealed. I feel like I’m not able to progress through the normal grieving process for my mom because I am so wrapped up in the stress of this situation and keeping this secret. So, here are my questions:

1) Should I tell him that I know? Should I tell him how much I know?

2) If I do tell him, how do I do it and what do I say? Is it even appropriate for me to share my concerns for his health and well-being considering his sex life is not really any of my business?

Sincerely,

Daughter with a Dilemma

Read More

Reminder, monthly London meetup is tomorrow. Sorry for not posting this sooner, guys! It’s been the week of 1000 meetings.

Dear Awkward Army,

London meetup this weekend, 23rd March!  All welcome.

11:00 am onwards, Leon restaurant, 36/38 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TT.

The venue so far has worked out well, so I’m sticking with that.  They’ve also offered us 25% off all our food and drink.

Map: http://goo.gl/maps/i9COr

Leon have a variety of good food at very reasonable prices – for central London, anyway!  Menu here:http://www.leonrestaurants.co.uk/menu/

This branch has an accessible toilet, and we’ll be on the ground floor in the back (around behind the food service counter).

I have long brown hair and glasses.  I will bring my plush Cthulhu to use as a table marker.  It looks like this: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/7cb0/

My email address is kate DOT towner AT gmail DOT com

As discussed at previous meetups, I am happy to teach people to knit, so if you want to start or want help, bring something along!

By the way, I think it’s likely the April one will be on the 20th rather than the 27th, sorry about any confusion.

Cheers,

Kate

 

And now, a letter.

Hey Cap (and friends!),

There’s a little bit of background to this, but I’ll try to keep it short.

I have issues with my family. I guess you could say I’m the “black sheep” in a way. I’m the middle child, the only creative person, the only one who could be described as liberal, and (perhaps most importantly) the only one to inherit my mother’s bad depression, with a side of social anxiety. Add to this a big old heap of emotional abuse from my father and, later, my stepmother (who is thankfully gone now).

When I was in high school, I went through a lot of trouble, including self-harm, that was more or less ignored, and I didn’t do very well in school despite having clear potential. It was only later when I asked my parents about it that they said yeah, they always sort of knew that I had depression, and knew that it was holding me back, but they didn’t want to bring it up with me at the time because…they haven’t given a solid answer. As far as I can tell, they kind of sacrificed my academic future on the altar of not having an awkward conversation with me.

A few months ago, I moved out of state to live with my boyfriend and see about continuing into college now that I have things more under control. But every time I talk to my parents or my brother and sister, it seems like they have nothing nice to say at all.

I love my brother and sister, but every time I chat with them, they seem to be always upset with me. “Why haven’t you called us? Why haven’t you called Dad? You need to call us more and not be so ungrateful. You don’t even want to be part of the family.” Even putting aside the fact that they know I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to talking on the phone, I don’t understand how being busy up here and not able to contact home every day counts as ungrateful.

Then, the other night, a minor disagreement on Facebook randomly spiraled into them accusing me of hating our father, of not wanting to be a part of the family, and of being selfish in even moving away. These overtures were common before I’d moved, but now it’s been magnified so that they’ve become outright vicious about it.

I’m out of a toxic environment, but now the environment is starting to follow me. How do I tell my brother and sister that I still love my family (I really do!), but they need respect my decisions and treat me like a person?

Oh goody, when your abuser recruits others to do their abusing for them.

Read More

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,223 other followers