Tag Archives: Friendship

Hi Captain Awkward,

You are a great resource, and I’ve referred a lot of friends to your blog.

My problem is something I think I should totally not be having, but I am. I have a friend who I’ve known for years who will be getting married soon. Suzanne and I used to live together, and were quite close when I lived in a different city. Since I moved away a few years ago, we’ve still been in touch, but have been in less touch the past couple of years. Because of our past friendship, and how much I value her, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding when I got married a year ago.

Suzanne is now getting married. She’s asked a few people to be a bridesmaid, but when I flew in to attend some pre-wedding festivities a few weeks ago, I realized that she wouldn’t be asking me. I’m not planning to talk to Suzanne about this. I know that it’s OK for people to choose whoever they want to be in their bridal party. But it still really hurts. I find myself comparing myself against some of the other people she’s asked. I also find myself questioning our friendship, and feeling like I may have misinterpreted how close we are, or have been in the past. I also then start to go down the road of thinking of other people with whom I’d like to be closer, but who don’t seem to return the feelings of strong friendship.

The logical part of me realizes that people move on, and recognizes that it’s natural that we’ve grown apart, since I’ve lived a way for a few years, and we now no longer talk on the phone regularly. The illogical part of me is upset and hurt that she didn’t pick me, and wonders if I should just let this friendship die completely.

Do you have any advice for moving on, and being mature about this? I’d like to reach out after the wedding to rekindle our phone call check-ins, but I don’t want to impose if she really has moved on.

Former Friend

Thanks for the kind words, Former Friend, and wow…”former” friend?

To me, the wedding party thing is a side issue, and you’ve already handled it/are in the process of handling it. You’ll let your weird hurt feelings be what they are, you’ll acknowledge to yourself that being asked to be in her wedding was something you were counting on and it’s more important to you than you initially thought, you’ll most likely go the wedding, you’ll say nice things to your friend and have a good time, and maybe after the wedding you’ll continue to drift or you’ll find a way to rekindle your friendship. I hope you rekindle the friendship. There’s “I would have been in your wedding if you’d asked me, you know! Is there a reason you didn’t?” and then there’s “I am so happy for you, and so happy to see you!” You know and I know which one is the right thing to say to someone you love who is in the middle of a big life event.

To me, this is a question about loneliness. Your friendship landscape doesn’t look like you thought it did or like you want it to. You’re a newlywed, still settling into being part of a couple and coming off a pretty busy year or so if you just got married, so this seems like a perfect time to take stock of where your other relationships stand and make sure you’re nurturing your own social connections. It takes more effort, or a different kind of effort, to maintain friendships when you don’t have proximity & being in the same life circumstances to connect you and to make friends as an adult. So what can you do about that?

Can I make a plug for the annual weekend away with a few close friends?

I have a friend group who does this as much as possible, at least once a year, often 2 or 3 times/year. Not everyone comes every time, but everyone in the group is always invited, and here’s what it involves: You, them, snacks (cheese!), wine, an inexpensive vacation-rental-by-owner somewhere that’s near a major airport hub and also maybe on a lake, pants with no waistband, laughing until stuff comes out your nose, the anticipation of planning the trip, the 10,000 jokes and stories and inside jokes that come afterwards, trading books & nail polish colors, telephone pictionary, side trips to local tourist attractions/wineries/cider mills but lots of down-time with no real agenda, the prospect of karaoke & a spaghetti dinner at the local Legion post that we never actually make it to, no spouses. IT IS THE BEST THING. DO IT.

There are other ways to foster community and closeness with people near and far:

  • The monthly or weekly casual dinner.
  • Join a choir. (No, really!)
  • Write paper letters. (No, really!) What if you wrote a letter to Suzanne that laid out how happy you are for her and how glad you are to know her? What if you wrote one letter to someone in your life – friends near and far, family, former teachers & mentors – every week or every month? It can just be a card, if you’re not a writer. If you don’t know what to say, start with: Thank you. I’m proud of you. I’m thinking about you and wishing you well. I’m so glad to know you. I’m so sorry that (bad thing) is happening, is there anything I can do? I’m so glad that (good thing) is happening to you, that’s the best news!
  • Do some social stuff without your spouse, like a weekly class or workout group, a weekly breakfast or coffee with a friend or friends. You just got married, so I suspect a lot of the last year or so has involved a lot of “We…,” so what can you do that’s just for you and about you?
  • Get a subscription to a local theater company or concert series or museum membership for you and a friend. Built in friend-dates + seeing new stuff = nice!
  • If you can, take the older people in your family out to lunch or invite them over one by one and ask them all the things you’ve ever wanted to know. What was it like when they were young? Who was their first crush? What kind of stuff did they used to get in trouble for when they were kids? What was their wedding like? What’s their favorite place they’ve ever been? (This is a good Home for the Holidays strategy, too – seeing relatives separately from The Big Day of Celebration & Whatnot can be way more relaxing).
  • If you can, take the teenagers in your family out or invite them over for dinner one by one and let them talk at you about everything that’s on their minds. My godmother used to do this for me when I was a kid and it was seriously the best to have the company of adult who treated me like a person and not a student or offspring to be molded for a bright future.
  • Take up a cause. Help people register to vote, canvas for a political candidate, read to old people and kids, see if the library needs help sorting anything, work at the food bank, pet & walk shelter puppies. If it heals the world a little bit and you can and want to do it, do it.

That’s a giant list, so don’t do all of it! Pick one thing and try it. In a few months, try something else. You might not get exact reciprocity, and some of your friendships might remain not quite what you want them to be, and you might feel sometimes like “what am I doing this for” and that’s okay. It’s okay to be hungry, it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be lonely and think “but isn’t there something else that’s supposed to be happening?” The only way I know to deal with that hungry feeling is to put some love into yourself and into the world and see what comes back. It won’t come back exactly how you planned it or in a way that you can even predict, but it will come back.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I began dating someone in August even though we both knew we were moving to different cities at the end of the month. August was great, I learned more about what I want in a relationship, and we left on good terms.

This person was in my new city recently (in early October), and we resumed our “relationship” for the week he was here, but I said that after he left I wanted to stop communicating for 2 months so I could concentrate on my new city and get over him. He agreed and said that was fine.

Which brings me to today. This person and I have begun the “2 months of no communication” that I requested. It has been about a week and I just received this message from him:

“I know we are not supposed to communicate but I was thinking about the mean comment I said the other day. It was dumb and hurtful. I am sorry, I was stupid, you re sweet.”

So here is the incident where the mean comment occurred:

While we were together in my new city, we met some friends for brunch. I mentioned that the previous night he and I didn’t go to a certain concert/club because we weren’t dressed up enough. He said something like “Yea we can’t go dressed like shit. I mean, can you get in dressed like that?” and he gestured at me. I can’t remember his exact words but he basically proclaimed that I was dressed like shit in front of friends. I completely froze. He could tell something was wrong so after we left the restaurant he asked me what it was and I told him. He said I was right, that was fucked up, and he is sorry.

And now he is saying sorry again. I appreciate this, but the problem is it feels like “sorry” is not enough.

So my question is, how do I respond to this? This is a person I enjoyed getting to know, who I felt a connection to, and who I hope I can have a friendship with. Here are two drafts I came up with:

1. Thanks for saying this.

2. I’ve been thinking about it too. And a lot of other things. The past, patterns I get into with people. Maybe you can help me answer some of my questions sometime. For now, let’s stick to the 2 months thing.

Do you have any suggestions or insight? Your scripts always seem so mature and brilliant. I think, ”Obviously! That’s what you should say! Why didn’t I think of that!”

Thank you so much! I love your blog.



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Hello Captain!

I am looking for scripts/advice dealing with a situation that I tangled myself up in.

A friend I made over the summer, and became quite close to, recently started giving me the silent treatment (I’d say about a month ago).

Although it was hard for me to accept, I decided after olive branching twice that “Hey, this is the unspoken African VIolet. Alright. We were there when we needed each other, and this sucks, but it’s time to move on”

Except, my Best Friend on Team Me is also friends with this person I will call Gentleman.

Gentleman is best friends with *her* best friend. So, it is a given he will be at most social interactions.

I have tried my best to be smooth about this; I’ll give a polite “Hello” or something along those lines in a group setting. I will not venture to engage any more than is required.

Except he *pointedly ignores me*, will turn away from me, and also engage everyone around me so I have no one to speak to. Friends may notice but seem unsure what to do, and I often forget this is what’s happening, so I have to scramble to interact (or go silent, which results in me starting to panic).

It is made more awkward because if I disengage with this group, I lose my only close friends.

I am trying to pick up more hobbies, meet more people, but I cannot change that this is the small group I will interact with most. I am just…not sure what to do.

Which would be fine and dandy, except he..just invited me to his birthday on facebook? And my friends have insisted I go or I “am making things more awkward”? They seem frustrated with the situation (as am I!) but I have already offered an olive branch or two to him, and he clearly does not want this (that’s ok too!).

Suddenly changing my mind would upset the friend group I believe. But, I am worried because I get the feeling that mutual friends are trying to thrust us together in the guise of helping. I do not think it is helping, and Gentleman is a shy person.

What…can I do? How can I navigate this social necessity? I don’t want to be like “please don’t invite me if he is around”, as he is always around.

But I’d like to be able to, yknow, recover? It takes time for me to make friends, and accepting a “no closure but no friendship” situation is rough for me.

Suggestions, capt?


I Accepted The VIolet but My Mutual Friends Didn’t

The Geek Social Fallacies run amok in your circle! Even the person who super doesn’t like you carries them!

I think you should decline the party invite and give this person a little space.

And I think you should invite your friends (actual friends) to do some stuff one on one or in smaller groups. It’s time for you to put the idea of The Group on hold for a while. Groups & relationships only work if they work for the people in them. Suffering for the idea of the relationship, especially to preserve other people’s idea of what that relationship should be like, is madness.

And your script for your friends is: “Hey. If you want to make things less awkward, howabout speaking up when Gentleman gives me the silent treatment to all of our faces? Instead of pushing me to make everything okay, and pressuring him to invite me to stuff, which means I end up enduring the ‘cut direct‘ on the regular, howabout we give everybody a little breathing room. Not everyone has to be friends with everyone else. I’d settle for ‘distant nod’ terms and I’ll come back to group stuff when Gentleman feels the same, but I’m not subjecting myself to the silent treatment ever again. He is being a jerk about this, and I’m sure he has his reasons, but that doesn’t mean I have to pretend that’s not what it is.” 

Reaching out to your friends in smaller groups, or singly, will mean a small cultural shift in how things work, especially if you are not generally the inviter/social fulcrum, but it’s work worth doing. “Can you and I go to breakfast, just the two of us?” is a nice invitation if you usually see everyone all together. I also suggest you throw yourself into another hobby or class or activity that takes you into a slightly different social scene for a bit, too. It will help you keep yourself aloof from friend-scene drama if you flex your “I know how to meet other cool people” muscle.


O Captain my captain (or guest!), please help:

I’ve got a problem that isn’t necessarily distressing to me, but it is very perplexing, and it’s something that has me feeling kind of stuck.

The quick background is that I am in a friends-with-benefits sexual relationship with my ex and best friend. Our friendship is one of the best things in my life: we’re open with each other, we make each other laugh, and we support each other. We both care very deeply about the other person, and the sex is connected and amazing. This has been going on for a little over a year, and we were together as a couple for a little under a year. In many ways aside from sex, our behavior isn’t all that different from it was when we were together: we hold hands in public, we’re cuddly, we see each other and talk to each other more than we do with anyone else in our lives. We try not to be very physically affectionate in public to avoid confusing friends and family though, and we definitely don’t call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. Because we’re so honest with each other, he knows I’m still a bit in love with him, and I know that he doesn’t want to be a couple and why.

While this sounds like it could be a stressful or unfair situation because of the feelings being “uneven”, I am genuinely happy with what we have! It provides me the best friendship I’ve ever had, intimacy, affection both physical and emotional, great sex, and a ton of support. I’m sure eventually the arrangement will end, but I do know I’ll be sad and will miss the physical parts of our friendship when it does.

So what’s the problem? It’s that I feel so much pressure to define the relationship further for the sake of others or to move on. My friends express concern that he should just “make up his mind” or “admit that you’re really a couple”, or that I should date. I’ve attempted to date, too! But I find myself comparing my dates to the established and happy intimacy I already have, and I don’t feel that would be fair to another person. I don’t know what my next steps should be. Am I fooling myself that this is something that could make me happy for now? Am I setting myself up for heartbreak somehow? Is it possible to move on while staying so connected to the person I love most?

Thank you,
Friends with Bafflement

Dear Bafflement:

Winter is Coming, and having a reliable and trusted friend/bedfellow is not the worst idea ever. You also don’t owe the world a relationship that other people can understand. Romances and sexual relationships don’t have to move forward in recognizable stages or last a lifetime to be valuable.

I can see why your friends are concerned if they know you to be someone who wants to be married, etc. someday. Sadly, The Dude Who Would Like To Keep Things Very Casual While Also Enjoying What A Good & Caring & Always-Available Girlfriend You Are is a common figure in our common folk mythology and his stories are not often happy ones. In your friends’ places I might wonder if you were being totally honest with yourself about how cool you are with everything. I would especially wonder this if “He” (how amazing and wonderful he is, drama around your past breakup, the mismatch in affection & relationship goals, etc. ) were a frequent topic in our conversations and if your case for how great things are sounded (out loud) like you are trying to talk yourself into something. When I’ve been obsessed with someone and talking about how no, really, our relationship is special, and these are all the very good reasons I’ve decided to accept less than I really want, wise friends have said to me, “Do you think he thinks and talks about you as much as you do about him?” Is that what your friends are saying, or are they projecting their own desires for security and certainty onto you (also possible)? Nothing makes a case like success, so if you’re happy, try going with “All good, thanks!” instead of a lot of details about Him for a while and see if their reservations recede.

As for your romantic life in general:

Am I setting myself up for heartbreak?

Yes, but you always were, and you always will be as long as you love other people. Heartbreak is the human condition. The most obvious thought experiment is: What happens if Friend meets someone else next week or next month or after five years of being with you all the time and does really want to be in an exclusive romantic relationship…with them? And all the cromulent reasons for ‘not being a couple’ that you patiently understood all this time become not true when it’s this person? That would completely gut me in your shoes, like, Stevie Nicks + Lindsay Buckingham Performing Landslide Together-gut me. Less obvious but true: Romantic relationships can end on amicable terms and for great reasons mutually decided upon, and it can still hurt like hell when they end. And hell, Lindsay and Stevie look beautiful on that stage.

“Is it possible to move on while staying so connected to the person I love most?”

Yes, in that your life is going to move and change no matter what you decide. If your heart’s desire is a monogamous relationship with someone who is long-term committed and devoted to you, it’s going to be hard to meet and fully engage with someone who might give you that if your heart (not to mention time & energy) is still engaged with Mr. Friend and if in your heart of hearts you still wish things were different with him. Still, you can date new people if you want to. Try to realize that nobody new is going to compare to someone you’ve had a great time with in bed and out of it for a year when you’re eating awkward first date dinner with them. You’d have to compare things to back when you and Friend first met. Poly dudes might be your best bet for right now, because they are also the most likely to be accepting that you have this amazing connection with someone else and not try to compete with or displace it. Always remember: The wonderful qualities in you that brought such a sexy and fun relationship your way in the first place are still in you, and they don’t belong to Mr. Friend, they belong to you. In meeting new people, you might be surprised by someone who makes you call up Friend and say, “that was great and I’ll always care about you, but I’m done with the sexytimes kthnxbye.

You could also decide your dating plate is happily full for right now. If you take this route, I would encourage you to throw yourself harder than ever into your work or school or artistic pursuit or hobby and to make sure that your social life includes many people who are not Friend and who are not connected to him. You’re getting happily laid on the regular, you’ve got good friends, so take all the effort that “dating” takes and apply it to other things you really want to do with your life. I say this because while I take you at your word that things are great, I also take you at your word that you are more into Friend than he is into you, and I think it would be smart to make sure that you’re doing the other things that make you happy and fulfilled.

I’m glad you are happy and hope that you remain so.


Hello Captain,

First off, thank you for all the work you’ve done on your blog. Thanks to reading through your archives, I was most recently able to tell the boss on a project I was working on, “Sorry, can’t do that,” to an additional task that was So Not in My Job Description and that I didn’t want to do without offering a rambling litany of excuses that were only half true! And guess what – the project was successfully completed anyway, and I got praised for the efforts I did put into it! Yay!

But of course, there’s a “but,” one that is unrelated to that project. My best friend was recently sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison, and in another, inconveniently located state, no less. I haven’t exactly been blurting this out to everyone I know for the sake of my friend’s privacy, but a few people I consider close friends are in the know about the details, and for the most part, they’ve been nothing but supportively awesome examples of a fantastic Team Me.

The problem is one friend, “Thomas.” Thomas is, shall we say, a bit of judgmental prick when it comes to violations of the law and my friend’s violation in particular. He seems to be of the opinion that my friend got off easy and that serving his term in a different state (which is, as you might imagine, somewhat distressing to his family and friends), is only appropriate, as my friend has to learn that his actions have an impact on others around him. Naturally, my usual reaction to this is to throw my phone across the room and go out for a walk to clear my head.

I’ll then get a text hours later to the tune of, “Sorry if I’ve offended you.” To this, dear Captain, I usually have no response. So far, I’ve been ignoring the pathetic attempt at an apology and switching topics with no lead-in when I do get around to texting him back, but I’d really, really like to tell Thomas where he can shove both the apology and the high and mighty opinions that led him to needing to make one. Is there a script for doing so with less vulgarity than I’ve fantasized about putting into my response? I know the obvious solution is to simply not discuss my newly in-depth knowledge of how law and order actually works in America with him, but Thomas already kind of knows, and it’s been my go-to for brushing off why I really can’t get interested in his latest girl drama.

I know I’m likely to get some reaction along the lines of, “Well, why are you still friends with him?” to which I respond that I have good reasons for which I obviously don’t need to seek advice.


Friends don’t tell friends to go chew on broken glass, do they?

Good job asserting yourself with your boss, and I am so sorry about your best friend. That must be so scary for both of you.

This topic came up in a slightly different way recently, but sometimes the answer a friend needs is “You can think and feel whatever way you want about x, and you can also try to have enough sensitivity and care for my situation to keep it to yourself. When something affects my life and my loved ones so harshly, I’m not in a place where I can treat it like Debate Club.The old “comfort in, dump out” or “ring theory” of “not being a poophead to people in pain” comes to mind.

Thomas may remain your friend, but he’s not currently a safe place for you to talk about your best friend’s situation, so I hope you can vent elsewhere. I think you well within rights to say, “You have offended me and that ‘Sorry if...’ text wasn’t really an apology, was it? You have a right to your opinion, of course, but I have no idea what made you think I want to hear about it right now.” See if you get a real apology and go from there. It might be time for Thomas to become a very “Small Doses” friend for a couple of months.

Dear Captain Awkward,

Lately I’ve run into a stupid issue that I just can’t seem to get over. I have two friends (let’s call them Raoul and Christine, for convenience’s sake) that I have known for a very long time and recently, they told me that they were in a relationship.

I’ve known Christine for about close to ten years and I consider her to be my best friend and we both look out for each other as much as we can through an almost-purely online friendship. Raoul, I’ve known for almost as long, but we live in the same city and hang out occasionally. They both knew each other through me but they previously hadn’t been much more than casual acquaintances.

Christine and I had a falling out some time ago and only recently reconnected. Despite this, she remains one of my nearest and dearest. On the other hand, even though Raoul is a close friend of mine, I have gotten to see a lot of his bad side (please take the following with a grain of salt, since I don’t trust myself to not be biased), including his (seeming) unwillingness to be affectionate even in a relationship he initiates. It doesn’t help that I also witnessed Raoul indulge in some somewhat stalkerish and quite frankly unhealthy obsession with a girl in one of his previous relationships. However, this was quite some time ago and Raoul has since changed.

It’s not really that I have a problem with their relationship (though it really sounds like I do, doesn’t it?). I know that whether or not they choose to be together has nothing to do with me; I really, truly believe that. But I just can’t help but feel that this whole thing is really weird (for me) even though I know it’s none of my business.

Part of me wonders if I’m being too clingy about this? It’s their lives and I have no say in it, which I understand in theory but is a struggle for me to get it in practice. Another part wonders if I’m being unfair to Raoul? Maybe I’m less worried for them and more worried for myself? In recent years most of my small circle of friends have moved away so getting some support from someone else isn’t really possible.

I’ve thought this over for a few weeks now I’m not as bothered as I was initially. University keeps my mind off things for the most part but when it doesn’t… ugh. I still can’t fully come to terms with it and it makes me really disappointed in myself because I thought I was better than that and I don’t understand why I can’t just live and let live?

What do you think, Captain? I don’t want to risk damaging my relationship with both my friends over something as petty as this but I just can’t get over it, no matter what I do?

Overly Anxious For No Good Reason

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Dear Captain,

I have a friend that I’ve known since high school (we’re both in our thirties now) and I consider her a good friend. Over the years we’ve gone through phases where we’re more apart and distant (mostly from living in other states or distant parts of the country from each other and only seeing each other a few times a year) and phases where we’re closer. I like talking to her and I like having her in my life, and very soon she’s moving to the town I live in now and we’re both planning on and looking forward to getting together and being closer again.

The thing is, she’s spent the last two years becoming a minister and sometimes when we talk about how our lives are going, it feels like she’s not listening and talking to me as a friend, but as a minister to a congregant or a counselor to someone seeking help; so I find myself not wanting to talk about difficult things in my life, or talking about them in minimizing ways because I don’t want advice, well-meaning and well-trained as it might be. I’m not seeking counseling or guidance or theological insight from her, I just want to talk to my friend and share some of our lives as friends do.

Do you have any scripts for gently asserting the boundary that I want to just talk as friends, that I love her dearly, but that unless I explicitly ask for advice or guidance, I don’t want her to act as my minister or counselor?

Thank you!

–not interested in unsolicited counseling

Dear Not Interested,

Thank YOU for a good question that can be answered quickly. And your last line is a great script if you want to just go with that.

Light-hearted script: “Thanks for the suggestion, most Reverend Friendname, but I want to talk to Just Plain Old Friendname now please.

Additional scripts:

  • “It must be really easy to slip into counseling or advising-mode, given what you do all day, but you’re slipping into it with me a little too readily just now. You know I value your insights, but I’d appreciate it if you’d ask me if I even want advice before offering it.” 
  • “Reminder: Me sharing a situation is not an automatic request for advice/Engage Counselor Mode!”

I think she’ll hear you and will be ultimately glad that you set a boundary and reminded her to relax and be a person when she’s around you. This seems like a good time to say, “Eep, maybe I do this sometimes, if so, Real Life Friends, please tell me to knock it off and I will be very grateful.”

Hi Captain,

I’m a twenty something female working in a retail job where it’s NECESSARY to work as a team. In the six months I’ve been at my job, I’ve built especially great rapport with a few people. The man henceforth named Paul is one of them. Paul is a year younger than me. Most of our dynamic has been sarcastic banter, punctuated by some more serious conversations about a wide variety of topics. After about two months Paul asked some questions about my opinions on romance related topics (we were off the clock and out in a group with coworkers), and I answered in the context of the happy/trusting/loving relationship I have with my boyfriend of 4 years. Paul seemed surprised to hear about him.

I later brought up one of Paul’s questions I didn’t feel I answered well, and he got extremely flustered and changed the topic. A week later he told me that he struggled with feelings for a coworker at an old job for a year or so before he really stopped having feelings for her, and he regrets that it took him that long to deal with an unrequited crush. Since he told me about that, he hasn’t brought up anything even remotely related to romance.

I’m pretty damn sure that Paul has a crush on me. He hasn’t said or done anything inappropriate either in or outside the workplace, and since describing that old crush has not brought up romance in any context (that was nearly 3 months ago). It doesn’t get in the way of our work, most of the time we still execute the sarcastic banter/serious topics conversations without a hitch.

But I definitely feel like there’s a weird feelings stalemate. In my personal life I would have confronted him about it long ago and let him know that if he can’t handle being around me, then he shouldn’t be around me, and I’d be happy to have his friendship whenever it’s just friendship. But given that we work together that’s not an option, and I don’t know what’s appropriate. I feel bad because I get the sense that he’s doing everything he can to keep the feelings off my radar since that story. If he were creepy I’d tell a manager, and if the fact that we get along didn’t make our job way easier and more enjoyable it would be an unwelcome but simple task to freeze him out. Ultimately I just want to be able to work and occasionally hang out with this guy in group settings without the sense that he’s experiencing heartwrenching crush feels half the time I laugh at his jokes. Is there even anything to do, Captain?

-Midshipman Awkward Sauce

Dear Midshipman!


You’re an empathetic person, so you are putting yourself in his shoes and wanting to make things better, but you can’t fix this for him. Short answer: Say nothing, it will get better soon. “Paul” is actually handling all of this very well, in my opinion, and it would be a mistake to stage-manage his feelings or pry further into them.

He most likely did have a crush on you, he figured out that it would not be requited, and he bailed out just in time before telling you about it beyond an oblique reference to a past situation. Of course he feels awkward, he’s got all these feelings and he can see how very close he came to 1) asking out a coworker and 2) macking on someone who he knows is happily coupled up. I think it speaks to him being a good person that he pulled back when he did. You can help everything get less awkward by being your same basic amount of work-friendly to him and letting him save face. In my opinion, he won’t thank you for addressing it directly: Imagine someone else peeling off a scab that’s on your body, and that’s pretty much what it will feel like for him if you bring it up before he does.

For now, return the text of your interactions to normal relations, ignore all subtext unless it does get angry or creepy or unless he sheepishly confesses, “I was developing a crush on you and that’s why I’ve been acting kinda weird lately” at which point you say “Aw,  knew *something* was up, but I didn’t want to make you more uncomfortable. So you know, I really like working with you and I’d like us to be friends, and I’ll follow your lead on that.” 

Dear Captain,

My straight friends will not stop talking about boys. Specifically, if they have boyfriends: How awful their boyfriends and sex lives are (in excruciating detail). If they don’t have boyfriends, it’s all stuff like the latest japanese dating sim they’ve found, and how hot the (disturbingly, rapey) plot lines are and dick in general, to me, a Lesbian.

With the boyfriend thing, it’s always about how condescending/annoying/lazy/useless their boyfriends are, or how horrible they are in bed, how much vaginal sex hurts/is boring, and when I say: Then why don’t you break up with him? They gasp and clutch their pearls and subject me to another tirade about how he is really a Nice Guy and he’s been getting SO much better since they told him all his problems and he folded one whole shirt this week! Without being asked! So I’m being cruel/judgmental/I don’t know what I’m talking about, telling them to break up with him. Yet, next week, they’ll have the same complaints and no matter how much I try and change the subject, I have to hear about how she is allergic to his semen and also, can’t walk right for days after they do it because it’s so excruciatingly painful (but it’s okay, she really wants it! Not having a horribly painful experience/vaginal sex, isn’t an option because she wants that /connection/ with him).

My straight friends that don’t have boyfriends make dick jokes constantly, talk about how hot guys are, try and show me nude pictures of dudes they’ve drawn, etc. In one-on-one conversations with me! A lesbian! Who has said many times, I do not care about that stuff or the entire, 20 minute plot description of the anime episode you just watched, where it’s really cute/funny when main male character sneaks up behind female characters and grabs their boobs. Not only am I disgusted, I am bored out of my mind, and feel extremely alienated.

The few lesbians I’ve talked to about this online, say this is exactly the reason why they do not hang out/are no longer close friends with straight woman, because stuff like this always happens eventually, and no matter how often you tell them that you don’t want to hear about their disturbing heterosexual shenanigans, they will not listen to you. But I love so many of these crazy woman dearly, and I find I can hardly accept not-being-friends with any straight woman, ever again, because most woman are straight woman! Do you have any advice how to handle this without starting a whole new social group from scratch? And excluding myself from caring about the majority of woman in this country?

Confused And Grossed Out

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