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It Came From The Search Terms: November Has Come

It’s time for the monthly ritual where I answer the questions that people typed into search engines to find this place.

1 “I have a crush on a guy who treats me badly.”

Crushes can be fun, but unlike what you’ve seen on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and every other show/movie/comic, love doesn’t turn assholes into acceptable boyfriends. My recommendation: Fantasize darkly about dirty-hot-hate-sex with him at your leisure, but save your actual affections and time outside your head for people who are kind to you.

Now more than ever we must hold the line and not waste our time with charismatic assholes.

spike

Admire my cheekbones from afar. Do not waste your precious life trying to turn me into an acceptable person to date.

2 “Talk about sexual relation first time.”

There is a site called Scarleteen. It is a national treasure, and while it was built so that teenagers could get non-judgmental, scientifically accurate, kind and sensitive sex advice, adults should read it, too. This topic is covered amply in their archives and forums.  The creator of the site, Heather Corinna, wrote a book called S.E.X. It’s great. They also have volunteers who answer questions confidentially.

While we’re on the topic, here are some other good books about sex:

Probably more recommendations in comments.

In the movies, sex just, like, happens. People stare at each other intensely and then grab each other and kiss and suddenly clothes are off and it’s all seamless and softly lit.

In real life, it’s important to talk about things with the person you plan to have sex with, especially when one or both of you is new at it. Everything from what consent looks like to “What are we gonna do about contraception (if that’s an issue in your pairing) and safer sex?” to  “I think I’d like it if we….” to “Definitely please do not ever….” to “That doesn’t feel good, please stop!” to “That feels really good!” Real life sex is awkward, and vulnerable, and that’s part of what’s great about it. Get thee to Scarleteen.

Happy talking! And everything that might come after!

3 “Working with the person you had an affair with now its awkward.”

Aw, buddy.

Without knowing the particulars (relative power structure in company, how it ended, what the feelings were and still are, how much time it’s been, did anybody know, what was the fallout, how much each person respectively likes/needs this particular job, etc.), some smart steps that you can control might be:

  • Keep your distance. You probably work in somewhat close quarters, which is how the whole thing started in the first place, and you can’t fix that or at least fix it right away, but you can start to mentally work on keeping your distance. Stop keeping track of the other person – their moods, quirks, likes, dislikes, what they ate today, who they talk to, where they go, reading their horoscope, etc. Stop fixating on them. Use the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear to distract yourself, if necessary, or just say to yourself , “We broke up, it’s not my business, la la la” when you find yourself getting obsessed.
  • Step up your professional game at work. Pay attention to the “little things,” like tidying your workspace, paying attention to dress & grooming, making sure you’re on time every day, being reliable & correct in your communications, keeping your boss updated on your projects, keeping small talk with coworkers very light and not revealing of personal life. I don’t think there is shame in crying it work – it’s a natural human response to stress and anger, and we shouldn’t be as dismissive of it as we are as a culture – but if you’re someone who is trying to keep an intra-office breakup private, try to do your crying in private. Put your best foot forward, even if you don’t feel like it right now. If you look to others like you have your shit together, it can sometimes help you keep your shit together.
  • Polish that resume. Look for another job, or an assignment in another department. I know, it’s not fair that you should have to leave your job, but it might be the simplest way to cut the cord of awkwardness. Join a networking organization for your profession if there is one. Make some new connections. Take a class and boost your skills in something. Maybe you feel like you can’t or don’t want to leave your job right now, but reminding yourself that you have options can’t hurt. Anything that reminds you of your own value is gonna feel good right now.
  • If there is stalking or harassing behavior of ANY kind, document & report it if you can. Whatever happened happened, but you don’t deserve to be terrorized or retaliated against professionally.
  • Give it time. Like the pain of all breakups, this too shall pass.

4How to break up your daughters gay relationship.”

Try these search terms instead:

“How do I show my daughter I love her and accept her?”

“How do I stop being a homophobic asshole?”

 Okay, speaking of affairs:

5 “What do you say to a married man’s wife who you have an affair with when she confronts you?”

Start with “I’m really, really sorry” and DO NOT try to justify or explain. The aggrieved spouse has probably saved up some things to say, so, just listen while they speak their piece. You don’t have to answer questions – “You should ask your spouse about that” is a good script if you start getting an interrogation, and if at some point you gotta end the conversation say, “I’m so sorry” again and refer the person back to their spouse, like, “I’m so sorry, I hear you, I know I hurt you. I don’t have answers for you, you should talk to (spouse) directly about this.

There’s nothing GOOD you can say, so, focus on not making it worse.

6 “Husband doesn’t believe his mother hates me.”

What if you said, “You don’t have to believe me, but when we’re around your mom and (this specific behavior) happens, I do need you to (defend me/shut it down/back me up/leave with me).

Focus not on the emotion (she hates you) but on the behaviors (the specific things she does that hurt your feelings or annoys you), and give him an idea of how he can best support you when those specific behaviors arrive. Choose your battles, and do what you can to minimize time with her. Annual Reminder: Nobody HAS to go home for the holidays.

7 “What to say in a Xmas card to a sister you did not talk with in five years.”

“Merry Christmas! I hope you’re doing well. Here’s [email/phone/the best way to contact me], can we catch up sometime in the new year?”

Take the pressure off to come up with something eloquent. This moment is literally what greeting cards are for – short, non-emotionally-charged communications. Give her a way to contact you and then leave it in her court. She’ll call/write or she won’t.

8 “Boyfriend does no chores and never wants to spend his free time with me.”

You could dump the boyfriend and get a cat. It wouldn’t do any chores, but least the cat would be cute and hang out with you sometimes.

male-model-cat-1

9 “Happy birthday to a friend you had a misunderstanding and now friends again.”

Say/Text/Facebook Wall: “Happy birthday!

Do you really want to rehash the misunderstanding? In someone’s birthday greeting? No. You don’t. Bake them a normal cake, not a shame-cake, and be glad that you mended fences about whatever it is.

10 “Boss upset I quit and I feel guilty.”

Your boss will get over it. Or they won’t, but you won’t work there anymore, so you don’t have to care.

11 “How to start the baby conversation with partner.”

“Partner, I’m thinking a lot about having a baby, and I’m pretty sure I want to start that process soon, with you. What do you think about that?”

Or, “I’m pretty sure I don’t ever want to have kids, so I wanted to see how you feel about that.”

Full disclosure, here’s how this conversation goes in my house:

We hang out with Commander Logic’s freaking adorable smart amazing children, aka, The Gateway Babies.

Spouse: “Someday, you know, my/our kids will….”

Me:

Repeat for a few weeks.

Me: “You keep mentioning these kids that will be doing stuff someday. Are these real kids or hypothetical kids?”

Spouse:

Me: “So, hypothetical. Ok.”

Spouse: (lots of stuff about parenthood and money and anxiety)

Me: (corresponding anxiety-brain-vomit)

Me: “If you really want kids, I’ll have your kids! I’ll have kids with you.”

Spouse: “That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.”

Me: “It’s what I got. I can be happy either way.”

Both of Us:

Me: “Talk again in six months?”

Spouse: “Sure. Good talk, everyone.”

12 “What does it mean when a guy tells you ‘I cant ask you to wait for me’?”

It means, “don’t wait for me.” You have been or are about to be broken up with.

13 “A guy likes and comments on everything on Facebook stalker.”

You can: Set your posts using privacy filters so he can’t even see them.

You can: Unfriend his annoying ass.

You can: Block him so he can’t even know you exist on Facebook.

When/if…okay probably when…he contacts you through other channels to ask “Are you okay?” or “Did I do something wrong?” here’s your script:

“I wasn’t enjoying our online interactions so I stopped them.”

Monitoring a person’s every online breath is stifling and creepy. You don’t have to tutor him as to why.

14After party with my former students sex stories.

twitchy

No.

15 “My toddler seems lonely but I hate playdates and playgroups.”

From what I understand from my friends who are parents of young kids, EVERYONE HATES PLAYDATES. The other parents hate it as much as you do. They are going through the motions because they want their kids to have friends and be socialized. They are something you suck up and do until you find some other parents that you a) can stand to be around while the kids are very small and drop-off/self-play isn’t possible b) can trust with your kids as they get older so you can take turns dropping off the kids and getting a few hours to yourself.

Do you have a co-parent? Can they take some of the play-date and play-group pressure off? Like, if you both hate that, can you take turns sucking it up for the sake of the kid?

Can you find more structured stuff – craft things, a local children’s museum, story time at the library, swim/dance classes – that allow your kid to interact while you check out and read your phone in the bleachers?

You’re a good parent because you’re noticing your child’s loneliness. You’ll do the right thing. And this won’t be forever.

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28 comments
  1. DameB said:

    I try very hard not to offer advice to new parents. They get deluged by advice and judgements constantly. I will say this though: The thing that saved me and my child was finding a good playgroup.

    Most playgroups range from tedious to terrible. But I eventually found a (v. small) group: Nursing moms playing D&D. Literally, we’d sit around and nurse our babies and roll dice to whack orcs. Now, I live in a super-liberal and super-geeky city, so that was remotely possible. But maybe keep trying. Let your co-parent (if you have one) try. You *may* eventually find like-minded parents and they can be a lifeline.

    • JenniferP said:

      Uh, that playgroup sounds AWESOME.

    • CynicMom said:

      I have found that this is a big part of why people join up to those (expensive) Mommy and Me-type classes. These are structured classes where the adults all help the kids move around and do music and gym or whatever. There’s less talking time between the parents and everyone gets gently focused on the activity. Depending on what’s available in your area and your discretionary income they may be something to consider. Music Together, The Little Gym, Toddler Swimming lessons are all examples of this type of class.

      Oh, and from one parent to another: it gets better! One day your child will be like, “I’m bored so I’m going down the street to play with friends” and you’ll stay at home and surf Captain Awkward. 🙂

    • hbc said:

      I’m thinking the searcher could have great success by posting a very honest ad: “My 2 year old wants to socialize, I don’t, but I can’t exactly just drop him/her at the park. Anyone interested in coming to my place and pretty much ignoring each other while we keep an eye on our kids? We can trade off locations if you also want to get chores done without something clinging to your leg.”

      • sorcyress said:

        I’m a nanny not a mother, but if one of the people near “my” toddler’s work posted that, I would be there in APPROXIMATELY THREE SECONDS!

  2. Alta said:

    15) Try some toddler music or movement classes. Not all play dates and play groups are horrible. It can just be difficult to find the right situation where you like both the kids AND the parents.

  3. johann7 said:

    Re: playdates, there are licensed professionals who provide a service where young children can socialize without parents around, in the form of daycare or (for toddlers and up) group activities. These are, of course, more common in metropolitan areas, and they can be and often are expensive (especially those with formally credentialed staff), but if you’re in a position to afford it and really hate playdates, this is a good alternative for early socialization. Contra the claims of certain subcultures, constant parental supervision and interaction with young children is not necessary nor a moral mandate, and it’s really only been possible for a limited (wealthy) segment of the population in recent human societies (communal childrearing is a necessity in societies with a labor scarcity, which was all of them until animal and then mechanical automation technologies were developed).

    • Iris said:

      I remember that letter! I kind of hope it was a hoax because if not, how dreadful for that poor woman.

    • Anon, Goodnight said:

      Oh wow. I had never read that letter. How chilling.

  4. I’m a stay-at-home parent of a toddler. Playdates save my sanity, especially on rainy/nastily cold days. Some variation on adult socialization or at least presence, different toys, and a kid for my kid to maybe interact with make for a really nice break in a day full of kid and me all-the-time (which I love, but which also gets pretty old by the very end of the day).

  5. Cor! said:

    Number 6’s advice had me picturing the Cap in Jedi garb being all “Focus not on the emotions, but on the behavior”

  6. Jackalope said:

    Okay, #8: My cats don’t do any chores, despite repeated conversations on the subject, but they do want to spend as much free time as possible with me. Their ideal day is a sick day where I spend all day curled up in bed in a heap of blankets and cats. Definitely seconding the “get a cat” suggestion.

    • Nanani said:

      My cat does one particular chore I dislike:, namely disposing of creepy crawlies.

      Cats: Better than that guy.

  7. RSVP said:

    When did “playdates” start? I don’t remember them from the 60s and early 70s.

    • Viva said:

      I….don’t get this either. I was a kid in the 70s and 80s and before I started school I had contact with other kids if we visited family or family friends where other kids happened to be there too.

      After I started school, I was allowed to visit certain friends (or have them over) if both sets of parents allowed it. It wasn’t about having the parents all hang out together too, it was for the kids to hang out and for the parents to get an afternoon or evening to themselves!

      • ‘playdate’ has the parent staying at the other house, maybe because…

        * kid isn’t old enough to be at someone’s house themselves, but parent needs kid to learn to play with others. (maybe it’s an only child?)

        * parents don’t trust the kids to go to/stay by a friend by themselves

        * living in the suburbs is great until you realize ‘get together with a friend’ takes a half hour drive, and by the time a parent gets home its time to turn right around to pick up the kid, so you may as well stay at the other parent’s house.

        • Viva said:

          Seems parenting culture has changed.

          I grew up in the burbs – going to school friends’ homes wasn’t a half hour drive. It was *at most* a 20 minute walk as we all lived within the same school boundaries…but it seems kids aren’t allowed to walk anywhere by themselves anymore.

          I’m also an only child and had overprotective immigrant parents and I was still allowed to visit close friends. Before I was old enough to visit by myself, of course it was more of a ‘parents visit’, whatever kids were present played together because that was the default of a parents visit. Once I was old enough then ‘playdates’ were specifically about kids hanging out together at so-and-so’s house.

          IDK….parenting culture is just really different now. It’s overbearing and coddling. Kids aren’t allowed out of earshot and aren’t left alone with other kids so they don’t learn conflict resolution skills, etc. on their own.

    • MuddieMae said:

      I think it’s just a fancy name for bringing your kid over to some other kid’s house so the two kids can play with each other. My parents brought us to their friend’s houses to play with their kids while my parents and their parents socialized, but we just called it “going to Jane’s house”.

    • Vicki said:

      I don’t remember them either, but I’m not sure a five-year-old now would be thinking of a “playdate” rather than “do you want to go over to Jane’s house?” or “can I go play with Hannah?” From the adult viewpoint, a playdate suggests either planning or more parental involvement: a playdate is more like “we’re going to grandpa’s house tomorrow” than like asking if it’s okay to go down the block to play with my friend Veronica now. I have no idea whether my parents’ decisions about which family or family friends to visit had to do with things like wanting us to spend time with our cousins.

  8. Angel said:

    So, I don’t really work with the dude I had an affair with. Nope, I live with him. So does my boyfriend, on whom I cheated with said Dude. It’s… just great. Now, it’s a huge 100+ person cooperative, but still. Meep.

    What made it easier: we both made absolutely clear to him that we did not want to be spoken to. The three of us did our best to not acknowledge each other for a couple months. Now Dude and I can have a civil conversation in person as long as a third person is involved, though I’ve still blocked him on social media and deleted his number.

    What made it harder: he is friends with all my in-house friends so I basically isolated myself for a while. I had to tell all our mutual friends that we were no longer friends and to not try to get us to come to stuff together for some time. Also back when we were friends he invited me to Mass at the local Catholic church. Now I go more often than he does, but the upcoming holiday season is gonna be buckets of fun.

    So my advice is be explicit about wanting to interact as little as possible until you get back in control somewhat and are able to reset to basically civil interactions. And then nurse your wounds and get over obsessing and pain and love and guilt and all the weird shit you feel when you cheat with someone, or are cheated with. It’s weird shit, lemme tell ya.

  9. Jake said:

    So, I read 14 differently. Maybe it’s naive of me, but I read it as, you end up at an after party with your former students and they start telling sex stories, because that’s what young people do, and how do you as their former teacher handle that?

    • LA said:

      You nope yourself outta there.

    • Chessie said:

      I read it as, “I went to a party with some of my former students recently, and now there are weird rumors going around that I slept with one or more of them.”

  10. Cora said:

    Re: question 2, I just bought my son Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy. I scanned through it before I gave it to him, and it’s great.

  11. Parenthetically said:

    Just came down here to say that Come As You Are was life-changing for me. I cried continually through the first 100 pages or so, and then intermittently through the rest of it. It is SO, SO WONDERFUL.

  12. Light37 said:

    #1- a good rule of thumb for dating is, “If you can see this guy being on a teen show as the antagonist/antihero/dark hero/moody hero, DO NOT ENGAGE. No matter how great his cheekbones, you will pay in the long run.”

  13. TheLazyB said:

    Aaargh 13 is my dad! He likes everything anyone posts within seconds, regularly likes stuff my husband posts about TV series he’s never heard, it drives me crackers.

    Shit. I should probably tell him shouldn’t I?

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