It Came From The Search Terms: The Jidoon are on the Moon in June

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

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

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

2. “Am I a Nice Guy tm”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. “Masturbation support hotline.” 

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

6. “Can espresso make you horny?”

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

It’s probably not the coffee, tho.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. “Pull my finger princess.”

Han Solo smirking

Princess Leia smiling

127 thoughts on “It Came From The Search Terms: The Jidoon are on the Moon in June

  1. Was it on this website or somewhere else, way back in the day, that there was an awful letter from a woman who had been sexually assaulted by her friend who claimed that he “had to” because the coffee had turned him on? There was a whole debate in the comments where some people were saying “that’s ridiculous, coffee can’t make you horny” and others were saying “it totally can, but the point is that that doesn’t excuse assault”.

    Anyway – yes, coffee can make some people horny! Caffeine affects blood flow, including the blood flow to genitals, which can be a factor in arousal. Clearly not everyone feels this effect, but a number of people do. (And also hopefully clearly, it doesn’t excuse assault!!!)

    1. Oh yes there was! What a shitshow. I hope that poor Letter Writer is ok, and far away from that dude.

    2. I was thinking of that too! I also remember a debate in the comments about whether ‘coffee’ was a euphemism for something illegal. My take on it is that, coffee or not, anything can be used to coerce someone, sad to say. That’s why my book about periods and sex from when I was a kid had things like ‘your boyfriend does not HAVE to have sex if he gets an erection’ because that is a thing that actually happens. ‘You MADE me get this erection, now I HAVE to have sex!!’ That question hit very close to home for me. I also hope the LW is ok and the dude is far away. 😦

  2. Oh man that one about the pregnancy. Oh man. Ohhhh maaaan. Good luck to that person. Just…yeah.

    1. I kept trying to think of scenarios where it would be good news, like “The fertility clinic wasn’t working out, so I found someone to donate the old fashioned way on Craigslist. Yaaaaay, were finally going to have a kid!

      1. Or, they might be intergalactic refugees from the Skrull, and something in Earth’s atmosphere messes with their endocrine system that prevents them from conceiving! Thinking up good news scenarios is definitely way more fun.

        1. Yeah I keep trying to think of ways it could be okay too–like, maybe they’re polyamorous and the part about her sleeping with another man is known and supported and fine, and it’s just that the pregnancy is unexpected. Then my heart sinks as I realize that the odds of this being the case are probably very, very small.

          1. I’m not 100% sure about the advice to not tell your husband, if you want to leave him for the other man, until the baby’s actually born. Obviously she shouldn’t tell him if it’s an abusive relationship and she needs to limit what he finds out while finding a safe way to leave him. But otherwise, it seems like having his wife leave him and then finding out months later from mutual friends that she’s pregnant/ has had a baby and counting back from the date to work out that the baby was conceived while they were still together seems unnecessarily harsh. Maybe something in the letter like ‘I’m so sorry, but I’m leaving you for X, partly because I’m going to have his baby’, would be better?

          2. Maybe parse it out in stages? But definitely “I’m leaving” should come before “because baby!” in the sentence. See the opposite:

            “I’m pregnant!” Husband goes “Yaaaaaay!” and then “Noooooo!”

          3. If it is a case of a happily poly group and she’s simply unsure who she is pregnant by (perhaps she wasn’t intending to get pregnant at all, perhaps a condom failed with a boyfriend while she was trying to conceive with her husband) then I think the conversation needs to open with “honey, I’m pregnant, but I’m not sure who by” and involve working out what they want to do in the various possible situations – will husband+she raise any child she bears together? will the genetic father be expected to take parental responsibility? will all the men in her life be equal co-parents? does she want an abortion? an abortion if it’s not the husband’s baby? I’m sure there are lots of options.

            [tw rape]
            A very distressing alternative is that she was raped, and became pregnant, and is not sure whether she is pregnant by her husband or her rapist.

            If one of the options she is contemplating is “if this baby is not my husband’s I want an abortion” then pre-natal paternity testing is available, it poses a (small) risk to the baby though so if you want to have the baby whoever the father is then it is better to test after the birth when the test is much easier and less risky.

  3. Pretty sure #5 is actually someone looking for help NOT masturbating. There’s lots of support groups for that online these days. It always gives me weird mixed feelings to see them because while I can get that for some people it really is an authentic addiction I’m reminded of the near-decade of my life I spent feeling unnecessarily guilty every time I spent a couple of minutes on a completely harmless activity.

    1. Well, Scarleteen is probably a good place both for beginner masturbators and people who think it’s evil and wrong.
      Learning to love yourself IS the greatest love of all!

      1. I can vouch for the fact that we get a LOT of people coming in worried that they’re masturbating too much! So yeah, send ’em our way, we’re used to that question!

        1. And beginner masturbators too, of course! All Masturbators Are Welcome.

          Unless you are asking obviously fake questions trying to get off on our answers. Those people are not welcome.

          1. For some reason i find myself hoping you have an office building somewhere with a banner outside declaring “All Masturbators Are Welcome”.

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

    It will take some introspective effort to determine why you sometimes don’t want to be with yourself. It is probably best to also work on embracing the reality that you have no choice but to be with yourself all the time.

    Parallelism is not a fucken laughing matter!

    1. I don’t think you’ve received the appropriate amount of appreciation for this, so here I am, applauding loudly.

  5. #10: It can also just mean that some people are sappy, emotional drunks and say things that they genuinely feel and mean IN THAT MOMENT, but would never say sober for reasons ranging from inappropriateness to confusion to desires-do-not-mesh-with-life-circumstances to to not feeling it without the altered state to whatever.

    I have one good friend who only ever expresses attraction and romantic affection for me when she drunk-dials me, and it wrapped me around the axle for YEARS. YEARRRRSSSS. Finally it dawned on me that it was not so much a case of “the unfiltered raw truth that we are meant to be together, why can’t she face it in the sober light of day?” as it was a case of “she’s drunk and vulnerable and I’m someone she feels safe enough around when vulnerable to drunk-dial.” That realization got my head on straight and made me a better friend, but not before a whole lot of firthing and overthinking. And broke my heart. It would have been better if I’d figured it out sooner.

    1. I’ve had quite a few friends like this (symptom of hanging with communities that tend to drink a lot maybe?) and I totally agree with this framing. I’ve been lucky that none of these people have been people I wanted to date. I could see that being completely confusing and annoying. Drunk dialers/texters of the world, probably we should just put our phones down

    2. Aww. Would kind of also have been better if your friend had not done that to you, I think! She may not know you had romantic feelings, but there’s only so many times “I was drunk” is an acceptable excuse for playing with emotional matches around other people’s emotional gunpowder.

    3. Hey, I recently had a friend blurt out, “I LOVE you” to me, in front of my boyfriend, because I was talking soothingly to him while he was having a bad drug experience. This friend is known to have a moderate crush on me, which I’ve chosen to not acknowledge as long as he doesn’t, so I replied, “Um, I love you too! You’re my friend and I’m gonna make sure you’re okay. Oh look, it’s the EMTs.” It was massively awkward, even though he probably would have told the Trix Rabbit he loved it at that point.

      1. I had a friend tell me he loved me when he was drunk, and then apologised when he was sober. The thing that confused me is he tells me he loves me all the time. It’s never meant anything other than a platonic thing. Why was that one time any different to all the other “i love you” (as a friend) times? Not that it matters, he proposed to his girlfriend a day or two later. I put it down to engagement jitters.

    4. I have a friend about whom I honestly wondered if she had a split personality, since she would send me very warm/flirtatious messages at times, but abruptly cut off/ignore my messages at others. I slowly figured out that this was the behavior of “a bored [drunk] [lady] looking for validation and flirtation in familiar territory”, to borrow from the article.

      When she met her now-spouse she reacted badly to me mirroring her flirty language (YOU STARTED IT LADY) and I subsequently resolved to only respond to her in the bro-est of terms, especially when she would drunk-message me /after that/ and indulge in flirtation (DON’T EVEN). When she got married that finally quieted down, although I have noticed that (I have her and spouse as friends on facebook) when one or the other posts about being out-of-town, all of a sudden I get another bored-message (though no longer flirty) from Friend. (shrugs)

    1. I was thinking “Different Drum” by the Stone Poneys. It’s a little different, but it’s a woman singing about not wanting to be tied down.

  6. I have to say that your advice to Nice Guys ™ to consume more media by women is one of my favorite things I’ve gotten from this site. I remember the first(?) time this came up, when the letter writer was weirdly resistant to taking that advice, and that was an eye-opener for me. Not only is it great advice, but the reaction can show you the difference between a Nice Guy who wants yo become an actual nice guy, and a whiny, entitled asshole.

    1. Men reading this who are on OKCupid — do you realise you have no books by women on your “books I love” section? Because I practically guarantee you haven’t. And it makes me sigh and die inside every time, and you vanishingly rare men who do have books by women have a disproportionate advantage with me now.

      1. I don’t think the amount of men who read Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Gorillas in the Mist is “vanishingly” small. The first two are best sellers, and the third is very popular in science popularization.

        1. You’re arguing a straw man. The comment was talking about the “books I love” section on OkCupid profiles, so obviously, there aren’t a lot of men who write down Harry Potter or Hunger Games there.

          1. Sorry, after re-reading my post, it sounded confrontational, and didn’t mean it that way. I understand now the point.

            It’s just strange. I mean, if you bother to fill in an OkCupid profile, you’ll want to find people who have common interests with you, or who at least doesn’t abhor your tastes. Like, why would i want to date someone who thinks that the guys that read HP are ridiculous nerds? Doesn’t make sense to me. But a lot of things don’t make sense to me, and they still happen…

          1. But the conversation is not really about those specific books. It’s about not seeing men list ANY books by women.

        2. She’s not talking about reading books by women, though– she’s talking about listing books as favorites on a dating profile, where people are trying to be cool and impressive and therefore are maybe less likely to list things like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. She’s also speaking from her own experience on dating sites, rather than having done a double blind peer reviewed study of the matter.

          (Phospher, if I’ve misgendered you, a thousand apologies!)

      2. I have the Handmaid’s Tale but I’m often told that doesn’t count. I should probably change it to Cat’s Eye, I like that one better anyway.

        1. It damn well had better “count” since it’s on my favorites. WTF, did Atwood somehow not be a woman writer when she wrote that book?

    2. I find male responses to that advice ILLUMINATING. I pull it out myself sometimes. There are the guys who obviously only wanted a cheat code into peoples’ knickers, but also the ones who defensively say, “I already do!” and the ones who are like “How is that relevant?”

      I think if I ever find one who engages with the question seriously–“Yeah? I liked [X media] and [Y media]; what would you recommend?”–I’ll fall over myself with starry eyes. LET’S GO TO MY PLACE AND “LOOK AT MY BOOKCASE” MMKAY?

      1. Oh yes, and when guys say something like, “But I don’t like books written by women.” Like, seriously dude? Your idea of what kinds of books women write is both condescending and wildly, wildly innaccurate (because A, fuck the constant misogynistic belittling of “genre” fiction like romance and historical fiction, even if it’s not your taste; and B, WOMEN WRITE ALL KINDS OF BOOKS. LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE KIND.)

        1. i had a guy tell me he wouldn’t like any of my writing because women only ever write over-emotional romance shite. I nearly ripped his head off. Which would have been ironic since i write mostly horror and paranormal/psychological thriller stories.

          1. I once showed a story I wrote to my English teacher I had a crush on and he said ‘Well, there’s all sorts of stuff you could write. You could have a column in a newspaper!’ No disrespect to newspaper columnists, but ugh, it felt condescending. With hindsight he hardly taught any women writers either.

        2. This year’s winner of the Clarke, the Nebula, and rounding the corner on the Hugo?

          Ann Leckie, for the INCREDIBLE “Ancillary Justice”. #fuckyeswomenwritesciencefiction

      2. I made my spouse read Sheri S. Tepper’s “The Gate to Women’s Country.” His responses were, in this order: “Wow that was really uncomfortable to read.” “There’s only one sympathetic male character in this whole book.” “…I guess that was kind of the point, huh?”

        He likes Margaret Atwood better, but I think those were pretty good responses.

        1. Margaret Atwood is a much better writer than Sheri S. Tepper. Tepper writes some seriously scary stuff.

      3. I started having a serious crush on a male friend when he wrote a post on my facebook wall being like “I realize I’ve read a ridiculously low number of SF/Fantasy fiction books by women. I know you read a lot of SF/F – do you have any recommendations?”
        Me: “OH BOY, DO I!” *recommends embarrassingly long list of books*

        (Reader, we started dating six months later)

    3. I remember this, too, but I cannot for the life of me find it–anyone happen to have the link handy?

  7. #8: This isn’t perfect, but it might be close? It’s Skin and Bones by Charlene Kaye, featuring Darren Criss. I love the awesome, low-budget storytelling of the music video.

    1. Love this! I always discover the best music through Captain Awkward comments!

      My favorite “long distance sucks” song is “So Far Away” by the Dire Straits, although that doesn’t quite fit the “long distance isn’t working” criterion. Plus, this video! So 80s! Mark Knopfler’s powder pink blazer and matching terry cloth headband!

  8. #1, what would it be like if you removed the assumption that it was because you were doing something wrong?

    I once spent the last couple months of a relationship being like, “I don’t wanna see you right now, but it’s not you, it’s me, I would totally want to hang out/have sex/go on that road trip if only I wasn’t so depressed” – and then I realized that actually, I felt really great when I wasn’t around my partner, and I only felt horrible and depressed when faced with the prospect of spending time with him. Yeah. We had really different expectations about how much time we wanted to spend together, we never negotiated it very well, and my partner’s sometimes-ill-expressed hurt at being – what felt like for him – ignored, made me feel guilty and resentful towards him, so I wanted to hang out with him even LESS.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, talk about it, but not because it’s anything wrong with you. It’s just a thing that is real important and people have wildly different feelings about. It’s one of the make-or-break things about a relationship for me now.

    I was once talking to someone I have a crush on about why their last relationship had ended and they told me it was because their ex had only wanted to spend three or four days a week together – which for me was the thing that dinged the bell in my head like, “Oh, you are awesome, I wish you the absolute best, and we should almost certainly never date.” I want to spend like one day a week with my partner, mayyybe two if I am feeling very romantic. I think we are both good people, everything else seemed perfect, and I also think we would make each other miserable because of this. Like what came up in letters a little while ago, it can be really hard to let go of relationships where everything is great except for that one thing, and sometimes this is that one thing.

    That said, maybe you just need to talk! Maybe it will be totally fine! People work stuff out and compromise all the time! I just want to be like, dude, be wary of any relationship that makes you go “What’s wrong with me?” You almost certainly have flaws, they almost certainly manifest in some way in your relationships, but you are not the only person in your relationship! You don’t have to take everything on yourself, and you don’t have to shrink your needs down to fit a relationship that isn’t meeting them.

      1. If that were a problem here, we’d have a problem, but as you can see, it isn’t. ❤

    1. Great comment. For me, if a relationship is going well, my introvert shields come down and I will want to spend as much time with them as possible. It won’t feel suffocating. I live with my partner, and maybe it’s because we have similar temperaments and spend a lot of time together-but-quiet, but I don’t feel tense and irritated. When I was in a bad relationship, though? It was exactly as you described. And the thing was, the dude in question had managed to go from someone I was anxious around but wanted to see all the time, to someone I was comfortable with, to someone who irritated me with every little thing he did.
      So a relationship where you want to see each other different amounts of time might just be that, #1. You may be able to work it out. But think about how you feel when you actually DO see him. And if you’re irritated, is this because he’s badgering you for more of your time? Or is it HIM, period?

      1. I have to advocate for the other side a bit. I think it’s possible to feel like this even if nothing is wrong with the relationship. My introvert shields are at full max strength, twenty-four seven, so even when I really enjoy spending time with someone, it’s *still* a big strain on my reserves. Part of this is due to my living situation as caretaker, so I really never have complete privacy or time to myself. So spending time with my guy isn’t a break from my preferred solitude, it’s just *more* socializing when I already feel socialized out. But some people just really genuinely need a lot of solitary time to enjoy their social time, even if they really enjoy that social time and the people they’re with.

        Which isn’t to say the advice isn’t valuable…it absolutely, most certainly is! Examining how you feel with and without the other person is crucial, and it may well be that the relationship has soured. But it also may just be that the searcher is a hardcore introvert and nothing is wrong with them OR the relationship other than mismatched social needs.

        1. I’m this type too, the people that I’m closest with I sometimes see more than twice a week, but I can’t sustain that for very many weeks in a row. I need at least one full 24 hr day to legit do nothing including no housework in a 14 day period in order to maintain normal pleasant social interaction at work. The only way I could really see a partner 3 or 4 times a week would be if I like them enough to live with them.

          So yeah, up front communication on expectations for time spent together is key for me. I tend to look for other introverted people or people who enjoy solitary and quiet activities.

          1. The spending time thing isn’t just about relationships. My ex flatmate used to get annoyed because i would spend all my time in my room and not with her. As an introvert, spending a day in a massive open plan office with almost 250 people is exhausting. I needed to be alone when i got in. She thought i was snubbing her and didn’t understand.

          2. And just a word from the ‘other side’; this is an interesting thread for me. It also makes me realize I don’t think I could ever date a hardcore introvert! That’s not to say alone time doesn’t happen, it totally does, but I definitely need to spend a lot of time with the person I’m with, and it would make me super anxious to date someone where I felt like being with me was taxing their reserves. I’m not a super extrovert, more somewhere in the middle (one on one or small groups is my preferred interaction style). But then, my first relationship had a tone of me always begging for her attention/time, and so i am really scared of ever reliving that dynamic…

          3. My best friend (extrovert) and I (introvert) lived together for many years, and we were able to find a point of equilibrium. In the beginning, she felt like she was always begging for my attention, and I felt like I couldn’t get any guilt-free time to myself. Using our words, we talked it through an came up with a solution: have a standing date night. This allowed her to know that I was actively choosing to spend time with her, and set boundaries around the rest of my time (which made it clear she should look elsewhere for the rest of her socializing needs). I dated a couple of guys who hated this arrangement, but screw them.

            I remember reading a Marcia Muller mystery in my early 20s in which a married lawyer couple lived in separate flats in the same building. I thought this was brilliant, and made me think marriage/coupledom was possible. I can’t tell you how surprised I was when I met my husband and my shields came down. I still need my space, but I am happy to see him every single day, and I miss him when I don’t.

          4. I have a question in the hopper about exactly this, and the proposed solution is exactly what you suggested: Standing Together Timez. Well done!

          5. I live with my best friend and I can confirm that Standing Coffee Dates are fabulous and make our friendship feel special and mean that we don’t live in each other’s pockets and we still have plenty of solo-space and couple-space (her partner also lives with us) and we have Exciting News To Share when we coffee. We actually had a Very Serious Friendship Chat when I moved in in which we laid out any and all concerns because we didn’t want living together to impact negatively on our friendship – in fact, she said she would rather pay two people’s rent and not have me move in than risk our friendship!

            tl;dr Standing Together Timez = MADE OF WIN.

  9. For the long-distance relationship song question:
    1. It might be a bit snarkier than what you’re looking for, but The Gossip’s “Love Long Distance” was the first thing that came to mind (also while there’s definitely a woman singing, Beth Ditto’s queer, so she’s not necessarily singing to a man):

    (Also, wow, that video is weird.)

    2. Joanna Newsom’s “In California” has some very rambling, bucolic, old-fashioned lyrics, but it’s beautiful, and these lines might help:
    “To spend my life
    in spitting-distance
    of the love that I have known,
    I must stay here, in an endless eventide.
    And if you come and see me,
    you will upset the order.
    You cannot come and see me,
    for I set myself apart.
    But when you come and see me,
    in California,
    you cross the border of my heart.”

  10. I really feel for searcher #1. My social need is set so very low that I really can’t imagine finding someone who matches up with it. I’m currently seeing someone I met online just once a week on average, and that still feels exhausting and like just too much. He of course would like to spend even more time together. He’s also very, very active, so every weekend is some crazy adventure and I just…I’m tired, yo. Part of it is health issues I’ve been dealing with, part of it is stress-related, but I’m also just genuinely not a social person. I find myself wanting to come up with excuses not to do stuff or feeling relieved when life interferes, but I also really like this guy and I don’t want him to break things off because I’m a ghost he sees once a month.

      1. Thank you! It does help knowing that…I often feel like I’m the only who is introverted to this degree. It’s easy to say negotiate when, for example, one person wants to see the other seven days a week and the other person 4…you can meet at something like 5. But when the difference is so extreme….like seven days a week and once a month…it’s a lot harder to find a middle ground that makes both people happy.

    1. I know that feeling. I’ve always been an introvert, but while I was married I managed to meet my husband halfway for the most part. These days, I’m so much more introverted that I feel like being in a relationship with someone else would be kind of cruel to them. I have some friends who keep urging me to find a boyfriend, and I tell them that the only way it’s going to work is if he’s in the Merchant Marine and stays out at sea for six months at at time.

      1. I’ve always felt like a poly relationship would work better for me, since that way the social needs would be more spread out and I’d feel less guilty for not wanting to interact regularly. When I was in high school my best friend wrote me a very long love letter that basically said he felt we were perfectly compatible in every way. I had to tell him I didn’t feel that was true…I’d seen him date and knew what he was like in a relationship, and knew he would want to hang out and I just couldn’t deal with that. Even in elementary school I would make deals with my friends to play together every other day or four times a week, and sometimes had to get my mother to intervene when they wouldn’t listen.

        1. I’ve always felt like a poly relationship would work better for me, since that way the social needs would be more spread out and I’d feel less guilty for not wanting to interact regularly

          Same here! I broke up with my last girlfriend because we’d been together 6 months and she felt like I should be spending more time with her, and giving up other stuff to see her, and that we ought to move towards doing much more stuff together rather than going out once a week or so and i just went – nyerk! Get away, no more more people, need my alone time! Which everyone is convinced I’ll feel differently about when I meet “the right person” and I’m sure that the only right person is someone who understands and accepts that I can’t do the whole “be around all the time” thing. Like a poly relationship, or a long distance one, so I’m so happy to find out I’m for real not the only person who feels like this (I knew i couldn’t be, but now I have proof!)

        2. For whatever it’s worth, there are quite a few of us single & poly or poly-comfortable folks out there. You don’t need to be in a primary, committed relationship to be poly!

          I am personally an average-ly social person, but when I ended my last LTR I was really concerned about falling into the pattern of relationshipping unintentionally. So I dated around and heavily favored men in (ethically non-monogamous) committed relationships. They are often a bit better practiced at clear, direct communication, too – certainly not a guarantee, but healthy poly relationships thrive on that so your chances are better.

        3. My poly setup works well partly for this reason. I like lots of time hanging out with the people I love, and both my partners need a fair amount of time alone, but it all seems to balance out and we each get what we need.

    2. Once a month seems to be the most I can handle. I can do more, sort of, but I need solitude the way most people need sleep. If I tried more — I could do it, sort of, for a bit, but it wouldn’t be pretty, and it wouldn’t be anything I could sustain.

      So hard to find people who understand solitude!

      1. Movie recommendation for introverts and the people who love them: Only Lovers Left Alive. Points of interest:
        -Married vampire couple lives apart for decades while staying totally in love.
        -Tilda Swinton/Tom Hiddleston being fabulous.
        -It’s quietly hilarious and has really good music and design.

        1. I’m thinking of the end of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, myself (though that’s more “workaholics” than “introverts”). One of the most beautifully unexpected semi-resolutions ever.

        2. Not to mention one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard! Lutes and noise! LUTES AND NOISE.

        3. 😀 I think you just pinpointed exactly why I loved Only Lovers Left Alive so so much (other than the fantastic art direction / and the amazing Tilda). They clearly chose to be together when they chose to be together – and had their own lives / hobbies / joys when apart.

        4. I’ve heard good things about this one, but Jim Jarmusch can be a little much sometimes. On a scale of 1 to 10, how Jim Jarmuschy is ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE?

          1. If Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai rates an 8 on the “Jim Jarmusch, what the fuck is this movie” scale, then OLLA comes in at a solid 4.

            Your Jim Jarmusch Milage May Vary

          2. Ghost Dog was actually the most watchable Jarmusch flick for me. It had a plot. There weren’t tons of scenes where characters were just sitting around and watching TV, or being bored on a train, or whatever.

            Stranger Than Paradise, the first Jarmusch movie I saw, was more relatable in terms of characters and situations, and the acting was great, but seriously, why was I watching these people watch television in silence?

      2. Some people don’t get why I don’t live with my partner, even though we’re coming up on three years together. Basically, my ideal for “cohabiting” would be separate apartments in the same building (and maybe not on the same floor), but that’s not financially feasible. More realistically, I would need at a bare minimum a room where I could shut the door and bar others, including Partner, from entering, and I would spend a *lot* of time in there. This concept, however, flies over a lot of people’s heads, so I don’t bring it up much.

        1. When I lived with a partner, we each had our own “offices” so that we could do just that. It was WONDERFUL. Also, cohabitating pro-tip — if you can afford two full baths, DO IT.

        2. We rent a townhouse & each have our own entire floor, it is awesome. I entirely recommend it to anyone who can swing it!

          (My boyfriend’s previous roommate had the whole top floor, so when that guy moved out, I took it over. None of that “two can live as cheaply as one” stuff for us!)

    3. I can so relate! I just started my first real relationship and we’ve gone from seeing each other whenever / every few weeks to aiming at once a week, and while it seems to be working for us I still find myself worrying that it will prove to be too much and I’ll get burned out (especially since those days that we do have together? We’re together ALL DAY, to make it worth his time, since he lives ~2 hours away. Speaking of which, I sometimes wonder if I subconsciously chose him over all my other options precisely because he’s so inconveniently located that it limits the time we can spend together…)

      1. Ah, the all day thing gets me too. Like I said, he’s very active…we doing three activities in two days this week, and I’m already twitching out of my skin at the thought. He also lives about an hour away, and knowing he’s so much more social also increases my feeling that I have to make it worth his while.

      2. YES on the all-day thing. And the trajectory for me seems to go “This is fine — I’m a cool GF — all is fine — this is fine — NONONO ALL THE NO GAAAH GET AWAY FROM ME.” I just never seem to know what my limits are until I’ve reached them.

        Or I’m afraid to set my limits because I’ll be met with anger. (“You are NOT reaching your limit! You’re just lazy and mean-spirited!”) Or pain. (“You must not love me enough!”) Or “concern.” (“This isn’t…. normal, Ibbie, I worry about you.”) GAAAH.

        The more time-apart can be built into a relationship, the better off I am, I think. Long-distance works for me because there are built-in limits, I don’t have to renegotiate every withdrawal. The part where every time I ask for time alone, I have to rethink my whole life (“Does this make me a horrible person? Or an incompetent one?”) ….. gaaah, no.

        1. My previous partner often took “I’d like some time alone” as “I want to go out and see another man/sneak another man into our house while you’re away for the evening.” I kept telling him “The point is not for me to see someone else, the point is for me to see NO ONE and be BY MYSELF.” But he was an extrovert and had a lot of trouble understanding why I would want to do something (be alone) that caused him pain and loneliness even in small doses.

        2. OMG, those responses are exactly what I tend to expect from men I date! I’m feeling incredibly lucky because so far this guy has NOT responded like that to anything I’ve said on any issue, in fact it’s never been anything but enthusiastic reassurance that what I want is fine and/or an instant and sincere apology (he apologises too much but so do I; it’s a dynamic that is working for us). This morning I was astonished to realize that this relationship gives me a feeling of security like I’ve never had in any romantic/sexual situation before. It’s weird because for most people security comes from being as attached/committed/constantly together as possible, but for me it seems to be nearly the opposite. What gives me a deep, nourishing sense of security is being able to trust that my partner not only won’t pressure me into doing anything I don’t want to, but genuinely doesn’t want me to do anything I don’t want to do. Whose needs for sex, affection, whatever are not my responsibility to fulfill, and who therefore won’t be disappointed in me or sad AT me every time he wants something I don’t. I’m not saying that everyone needs to take this radical a my-needs-are-my-problem stance, just that it’s my own ideal approach to love, the sort of thing that I can get all sappy and romantic about and aim to embody, and having it mirrored back at me by a partner — heck I think he’s actually more nervous about demanding things from me than I am from him — is AMAZING.

          That said, I will *still* be nervous if/when I start to want more time apart and especially if monogamy starts to feel restrictive (unless bringing poly up more explicitly results in surprise enthusiasm from him, you never know). Old habits are hard to unlearn. *Glares at ex*

          (Speaking of which, said ex who messed me up so badly was actually a long-distance relationship that was MORE demanding than many a conventional one because he could see whenever I was on Facebook or the forum where I spent huge amounts of time, basically any time I was online, which meant I had to be available to him any time I wasn’t in class, eating, or asleep, and if I took several hours to reply to an email-style message of his — say, because I was nervous about how to reply without saying the wrong thing and setting off his anger — it was all “I just spent 3 hours sure that you were mad at me and thinking about breaking up! Never do that to me again!”)

  11. A song that sprang to mind was ‘To a Poet’ by First Aid Kit. Also, I feel this song because someone should’ve warned me about falling in love with poets.

  12. Long distance songs – ‘Home Again’ by Shihad (‘you’re not here when I need ya’ + one of my favourite lyrics, ever, ‘it’s been a day of tiny triumphs’)

    and James, ‘Tomorrow’ (Why are you phoning/ What am I to do when you’re miles away/ You’re always calling /From the darkest rooms… and we’re both scared)

    1. And one of my favourite lyrics to follow: “Now your grip’s too strong / can’t catch love with a net or a gun”

  13. I am so grateful for this site! I love the Captain and the commentariat and the relief in seeing people talk openly about needing alone time. *contented sigh*

    This isn’t exactly what the question was for but: My painfully close break-up song following a bad long-distance attempt was True Affection by The Blow “I was out of your league/and you were 20,000 underneath the sea/waiving affection/you were out of my league/at a distance that I didn’t want to see/wanted you nearer” and “and true affection floats/ True affection sinks like a stone/ I never felt so close/I never felt so all alone”

  14. Also maybe try not using the word psychotic to mean creepy. *hugs schizophrenic BFF*

  15. Actually while we’re on the topic of alone time, I have another alone time note. I felt way better about life when I realized I don’t have to apologize for my alone time. I screen all my calls and call people back when I’m ready, and I just say sorry I missed your call with no explanation. If they ask for one I just say I didn’t hear my phone. I also totally tell my close friends I’m tired and don’t feel like going out and ask to schedule a different day when they ask “what are you doing tonight?” sometimes. With non close friends I often just say, oh I already have something scheduled that day even if the schedules don’t overlap but would just be exhausting.

    When I stopped feeling guilty about all of this, it was awesome. Also I think it helps you end up with friends that either need alone time too or are willing to respect that you do.

    1. “I have plans, sorry” is a wonderfully fluid sentence, and most people are savvy enough to realize that if you aren’t specifying what those plans are, there’s a reason.

      Anyone who presses you for an itinerary of those plans is sending up yellow flags shading into a neon safety-vest orange, and deserves the “It doesn’t really matter, since if I’d wanted to include you, I would have invited you unprompted” response. The proper reply is on the continuum between “Oh, that’s too bad, maybe next time” and “That’s a shame, because I’d really like to spend some time with you, Let’s stay in touch, OK?”

      1. That might be inappropriately brusque to a friend. Asking a friend about their weekend plans isn’t nosy, it’s just a friendly conversation starter.

        1. “Are you doing anything this weekend?” is a conversation starter. As such, I might say I’m not sure yet, how about you? or Oh yes, a friend is coming into town and I’m really looking forward to seeing her, or similar.

          In response to a specific invitation like “Would you like to go to see Plan 9 from Outer Space tomorrow night?” “I have plans, sorry” means “No thank you.” Someone continuing by asking what those plans are feels like a demand that I justify keeping to my existing plans rather than doing what the other person has suggested. The thing is, if I was willing to cancel my plans in favor of a new idea, I would say something like “that sounds interesting/cool, let me check my schedule and get back to you.” My existing plans might be dinner with my partner, a party, or even catching up on much-delayed housework: but if I am at the point of turning down something more interesting in order to do laundry, that means the laundry really needs doing, and going to your barbecue means skipping something else I am looking forward to more than laundry. Or maybe I don’t want to explain to a casual acquaintance “I’m fried because I’ve been dealing with a family crisis, I am hoping to turn my phone off and spend the weekend in the bathtub.”

        2. I should have been clearer that I was replying only to the last sentence of monologue’s first paragraph. Obviously, with close friends, you can be more open — that’s WHY they’re close friends.

  16. I too have low contact needs, as well as a bizarre schedule, and have disappointed several guys who wanted more. I’m sorriest about the husband who wanted to sleep with me every.single.night (argh this is not attachment parenting! and that’s not when I sleep!) but after that ended it took a few boyfriends to figure it out. I’m now dating two guys who live very near me, which seems like a dumb restriction but it makes all the difference: I can pop over for a quick snuggle at bedtime without having to spend hours on a date, or nuke my whole next day with a sleepover.

    We do those things, but if our adventures don’t happen to fall together for a few weeks — we’re all in our 40’s, with big complicated preexisting lives which we love and have no plans to compromise — core relationship maintenance doesn’t take up a lot of space. Mostly I don’t need people to go out with: what I was short on is someone to snuggle up with, tell those stories to, laugh about it all with, and of course get nookie. Once or twice a week. I thought this might not be a thing and I would be doomed to loneliness or shallow relationships forever, but it turned out I wasn’t the only one thinking that.

    Looked at sideways it can seem like “those aren’t boyfriends, they’re just bootycalls”, but it doesn’t feel that way at all: this is how we relationship, and we’re close. So glad I finally figured out how I wanna do this.

    TL;DR…legit relationships come in all sizes.

  17. 11. I personally prefer silence as rejection in online dating, at least in reply to the initial message. I tend to just assume I’m not going to get a reply (most initial messages don’t) so I treat a reply as a nice surprise not something that’s expected. If you’ve been exchanging messages and you don’t want to any more, sudden silence is weird, so use one of the Captain’s script for those scenarios.

  18. My ultimate ‘long distance sucks’ song

    Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism

    The Atlantic was born today and I’ll tell you how
    The clouds above opened up and let it out
    I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere when the water filled every hole
    And thousands upon thousands made an ocean making islands where no islands should go..

    Most people were overjoyed, they took to their boats
    I felt it less like a lake, and more like a moat
    The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flatlands to your door has been silenced for evermore
    The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
    It seems farther than ever before

    I need you so much closer
    I need you so much closer
    I need you so much closer

  19. Question for people who have done the online dating thing – what have your experiences been when you sent polite rejections? The people I know who tried it (admittedly a small sample) all said they stopped sending rejections after too many “Whyyyyyyyy??” “Bitch!” “You’re too ugly to fuck anyway!” messages.

    1. I usually respond politely (unless the message is something like “heyy!” in which case I ignore it) and I’ve never had any pushback. Just another data point.

    2. I don’t recall any bad reactions. One guy who wrote something along the lines of ‘your loss’, probably a few silences.

      The best was an Indian guy on the OKC chat who was looking for a MFM threesome. I was not up for that, so I told him so, politely, and wished him well in finding it. The conversation that followed was roughly:
      – Well can’t we still be friends?
      – Not really, we’d just be wasting each other’s time.
      – Well shall we just chat here then?
      – Sure. (Guy didn’t know my name or anything, and I could always just log off, so I didn’t mind friendly chatting.)
      So we chatted occasionally, until one or two weeks later the talk got to international politics. I’m really interested in that, and so was he, as it turned out, but we had very different opinions on it. Big discussion followed, no name-calling or meanness or anything, just strong disagreement. I never heard from him again.

    3. Hi dfwl, I haven’t had too many abusive responses, but I have recently tried the polite rejection thing as an experiment, and I can tell you this: not a single guy I have done it to has taken no for an answer. They have continued to message me telling me what great guys they are and how I’d love it. I’ve ended up blocking them just to make the messages stop. So it’s back to the ignoring for me.

    4. I’ve sent a few and gotten either no response or an “hey, I understand” response. But… there’s a reason I’ve only responded to a few. These three guys sent really good opening messages, they had good profiles.. all in all, they seemed like decent people. One was quite a bit too old for my comfort, one lived a lifestyle I could never be comfortable with, and one was just plain not my type physically. (Of course, I didn’t go into detail – I said something more like “I don’t think we’d be a good match”.)

    5. I never sent polite rejections when I was on OKC. Partly because I didn’t have the time or energy and just didn’t feel like it, partly because I would rather not have to deal with a barrage of “whyyyy” responses. Sometimes, because I was busy or just didn’t have the energy, it’d take a couple weeks even to respond to the guys I was interested in. Sometimes, in the intervening period between initial email and me getting around to replying, guys who I might otherwise have messaged back would get all “I spent FOREVER crafting a PERSONALIZED message and you don’t give me the COURTESY of a RESPONSE.” This was actually good, as it saved me the trouble of having to date these guys to find out that they sucked. Also, sometimes I would get messages from guys (some of whom I was interested in and others who I was kind meh about initially) saying, politely “Hey, it’s been a while and maybe you’re just not interested but you seem really cool so I thought I would just try one more time.” Now, some people might see this as just as creepy, but I always liked it and it sometimes even caused me to look again at someone I had initially not been interested in. My now-boyfriend, actually, was in that last category– I wouldn’t have replied to his first message, but he sent a couple more that were respectful and polite and I looked again and started chatting with him and… well. We now live together and are blissfully happy.

    6. I don’t do them for initial communications. If I’m not interested, I just don’t respond, and that seems to take care of it. If we’ve emailed a bit, then I’ll use something like Jennifer has scripted, and no one has been a problem. And if we’ve met and I don’t want to continue on, I blame it on the elusive “spark”. So far, that’s worked out fine.

      Some of them do “WHYYYYYY???” though, which I just ignore completely.

  20. 😮 The first one was totally my situation with my ex! In the end, I broke up with him because I couldn’t be as committed to the relationship as he was. (Also, he kind of sucked as a boyfriend. But that’s unrelated.)

  21. For #8, here’s my contribution: Calling America by the Electric Light Orchestra. It’s not exactly your situation, but the girl has moved overseas and is executing a slow fade on the guy, who’s a bit of a Nice Guy (she said she’d call me when she got there! (liar liar liar)), so actually this song is not that great for your question. But it’s got that long-distance relationship theme going through it and I have a soft spot for it so here you go:

  22. I loooooove coffee but it never makes me horny, in fact it causes…slight laxative effects, which is not at all sexy! ^^ I didn’t know it could cause horniness but have now read testimony saying it does, fascinating!

    1. Right. “Sure, baby, maybe when I’m done pooping, that sounds great.”

    2. Yeah I am in the “coffee makes me poop” brigade, so definitely not a sexytimes instigator. “brb honey, gotta go pee out my butt!”

  23. ‘All the Way from America’ by Joan Armatrading fits the bill for #8, I think.

    “You called all the way from America
    And said ‘hang on to love girl’
    But the weeks and the months and the tears
    Passed by
    And my eyes couldn’t stand the strain
    Of that promised love…”

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