Open Thread: Updates

As a Letter Writer to the blog, you are never obligated to update us. Use the advice that’s useful to you, ignore what isn’t useful, and go live your (hopefully) happy life where you are hopefully able to use your own bathroom whenever you want to. (This letter haunts me to this day and I really, really hope you are okay out there!). I don’t usually do updates although I love reading them at Ask A Manager partially because I never want to create a sense of obligation for Letter Writers.

That said, if you’d like to update people on how things are going since you wrote in, this thread is for you. You may want to try commenting from a different browser than you normally use or taking other steps to make sure you’re logged all the way out of WordPress to keep things anonymous.

Comment moderation note: If you are not updating us about a past letter, this is a good time to either stick to “Yay for you!!” comments or hang back and just read. Talking directly to Letter Writers in a thread you know for a fact that they are reading and participating in is a little different from commenting on the situation in general. People don’t owe us updates, they don’t owe us the decision that you would have made or advised, they don’t owe us a happy ending, they don’t owe us a breakup or the whole new lease on life that we rooted for. If they are generous enough to share how things are going now, hey definitely don’t need deluged with more advice or to have their decisions picked apart. You can hear the ending to the story OR you can be right about everything and today we’re only about the stories. Good? Good.


Let’s do this.


288 thoughts on “Open Thread: Updates

  1. Oh I’ll leave mine because I wrote it a while back, so I’ll post it here. I am LW #720: Planning a wedding when your dad is not a good dad. It was directed to Captain Awkward when I originally wrote it.

    Hey cap, not a question but an update-

    I figured I would send this to you when I realized we got married on the same day (!!!!! Congrats to you and me!!!) I am the letter writer from #720, about planning a wedding when your dad is not a good dad.

    I just wanted to thank you and your community. The comments gave me the strength to do what I had been afraid to do for so long- admit that my bio dad was not the man I desperately, childishly wished he could be, and was instead financially and emotionally abusive. Most of all, it gave me the strength (along with my then fiancé now HUSBAND) to do what needed to be done for my health- to let him go without begging him to come back and throwing myself at his feet for forgiveness for his perceived slights, as I have done a thousand times before.

    It really hurt for a while, and the little child in me HOWLED non stop for a few months, but I revisited my letter a lot in that time and always found comfort there. I honored that little girl’s grief but accepted that she had a world view, and a bio dad view, that did not exist in the real world. I wasn’t sad about my real dad- I was sad about the dad he could have been, and the dad seven year old me so believed he was because he told me he was.

    My wedding ended up being beautiful. It poured the whole day, which gave everything a magic quality even if it made everyone soaking wet for the ceremony, and I married my best bud. My wonderful step dad- who your letter helped me to realize was the man in this equation that really was the hero I had made him out to be- walked me down the aisle, just like I wanted. It was a big beautiful party with everyone I loved (or close- hurricane Matthew cockblocked my grandma from attending) and I didn’t think about bio dad once.

    I hope your wedding was filled with just as much joy and thanks for all the help,


    Again- want to thank you all for being so awesome and giving me so much strength. My bio-dad actually hasn’t spoken to me since before I wrote the letter- There was an attempted reconciliation once in that time (Nov 2015) and he was pulling the same things so I told him I was interested in healing our relationship (and then set a few boundaries.) Apparently the boundaries weren’t to his liking, because he has ignored all communication to me since I responded that way. He was not invited to my wedding and I no longer send him cards for holidays and birthdays, and I am making my peace with that. The support here was invaluable and I internet-hug-love you all (but with good boundaries.)

    Thank you. ❤

    1. cried reading this comment. i’m so sorry things didn’t turn out like you had hoped they would, but i’m so happy your life is growing without him in it. best of luck to you and yours.

    2. Thanks for reposting this! I meant to write back to you but it was right in the middle of a giant blur (as you can imagine). It was wonderful to read then and now. Happy October 8 basically forever, anniversary twin.

      1. No problem!! I realized after I sent it the email was technically closed- my bad!! Glad to hear your day was beautiful too. 🙂

      2. Wait…October 8? That’s my parents’ anniversary too! They have been very happily married for more than 50 years, so I think it’s a fortuitous day to get married!

    3. Oh, this is wonderful. I’m glad you had a beautiful day and I wish you a beautiful life together.

    4. Yay! That’s the resolution you hope for when you read a letter like that, but almost never happens. Congratulations for setting boundaries and sticking to them. It sucks that your dad couldn’t step up, but that didn’t require you to step down.

    5. Yay for you. It sounds like you and your husband and your step-dad all really stepped up to take care of you around this, which is wonderful.

  2. LW #624 here. ( )

    In the two years since I wrote in (and wow it’s been a while), I’ve been encouraging Evan and my husband to spend more time together and get used to each other more. My husband will sometimes express frustration with chores or chopping or whatnot, and I’ve been telling him, “why don’t you ask Evan for help?”. And it’s worked well! Now that they’re buds, they can relate to each other a lot better and I don’t end up caught in the middle. So this was mostly just a case of “my friends aren’t friends with each other yet”. Evan can read my husband better, and my husband is now comfortable saying things like “Too far, dude.”

    I was worried at the time because they’d known each other for years, but I guess it just took them a while to really get comfortable with each other. And I’m a worrier, so I fret when people aren’t getting along and want to fix it; that part’s on me to get more comfortable with people being unhappy near me. 11 years and counting since I left my abusive situation and I’m still learning where all the weird spots in my brain are 🙂

      1. I was just imaging manly bonding time, like Captain America at Hawkeye’s place. I’m so glad things are going better!

        1. I was joking with them after we saw Civil War that they’re totally Falcon and Bucky to my Captain America 😀

          1. Oh I love this!! lol

            Thanks for letting us know how it all worked out, great hear things are good 🙂

        1. Yep, me too. Cooking for the win! (Okay, it’s so cold that chopping wood would be a win too if you have a place to burn it.)

    1. I swear I thought you meant chopping vegetables and didn’t think it was weird at all 🙂

      This is such a low-stakes example, but as a fellow worrier/fretter, I was really worried about my boyfriend and brother getting along since they’re both awesome, but my brother lives so far away that they don’t get to interact much. When my first Christmas with Boyfriend rolled around, I started to worry about whether he’d need help picking out a gift for Brother, but he told me “nah, I found something that might work. But I have a couple questions about what kind of teas your parents like…” Christmas Day, he gave Brother a drawing from a local artist he likes that I would never have picked out myself… and Brother was absolutely delighted (genuinely, not Christmas-present-faking at all). It made it much easier for me to let go this year – Boyfriend and Brother will get along or they won’t, and Boyfriend asks me for help with his relationships with my family when he thinks he needs it.

      Moral of the story for me was that being nervous about the outcome made me want to control the situation, but it worked out better for me to let go and let the important people in my life navigate their relationships in their own way. It also helps that I can trust them to ask me when they could use some advice from someone who knows the other person better. It sounds like you and your husband are figuring out how to make this work in your own way – congrats and good luck! 🙂

  3. I wrote the letter about dreading a summer houseguest (and left an update in the 6th birthday post, but I thought I’d write a better one here.) Link:

    Feeling like I couldn’t say no turned out to be a recurring theme in my marriage, and though I was very good at rationalizing it, the root cause was actually that my husband expected me to make his life happen for him. Whatever that meant to him at the moment.

    For example, he wanted to live as an expat in another country, but he blew off work all the time and spent all his money. Hard to travel without money, right? But the reason we couldn’t go was because of my job and my schoolwork, obviously.

    He wanted to be travel guide and have fun all day for a living, but he never found anything local to get experience or settled on a definite where/when to work toward. But the reason this wasn’t going to happen for him is because he was stuck here making money to pay for our house which I wanted. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t just me!)

    He wanted to have sex with other people behind my back because I “never wanted to do it”, but always had an excuse whenever I wanted to be intimate.

    He wanted a better job, but he wouldn’t spend time working his way up or go to school to improve his skills. When I went to school (while working full-time) he made all kinds of pouty faces about how long it would take and how it was stopping us from leaving the country.

    Can you imagine why I didn’t want to chuck in my life to move to New Zealand so my husband could be a tour guide and I could (??? What I would do was never discussed.)

    When Captain suggested I let him take the lead on the $25K condo fee, so I could get a break, I knew instinctively I could not trust him to do that, to take care of me in a meaningful way. He could bring me tea, but only if he could use it as evidence of His Saintly Goodness later. His idea of financial decisions was getting $4,000 into payday loan debt without telling me and then coming to me to pay it off.

    Btw, I said no to the payday loans and told him to figure it out, and that was the beginning of the end. He bummed it off an uncle and aunt who thought I was the devil for not saving him from his foolish choices. Then he spent the summer in the basement, getting high and watching TV, while I was the loneliest I have ever been.

    And so, I left him. It was hard – I was unemployed at the time and had no guarantee of work, thought I was interviewing. I had to drain my savings and credit to pay 3 months rent in advance on a new place, figure out renting my former home, move, and cross my fingers I would find a new job before I ran against my credit limit.

    He went back home to his mother at age 30 and knocked up a girl he’d known for three weeks. He’s never gone anywhere since. The uncle and aunt who loaned him the money have never seen a penny and no longer speak to him.

    I found a partner who loves me as I am and raises me up, started my own successful business, travelled to Europe and got a great apartment with a view. I’ve never been happier.

    Divorce is final in a couple months. 🙂

    1. You are so awesome and strong for recognizing and getting out of that situation and I’m so happy to read things are going well for you now!

    2. Is it weird to congratulate you for the divorce? It sounds like it took a lot of bravery and taking chances on yourself to get out of a bad situation into one that works much better for you – and I’m happy for you that betting on yourself turned out so well for you!

    3. Wow, that must have been tough times but GO YOU!!! Your resilience is motivating. Great to hear you’re doing so well!

    4. Wow, I really relate to this, my ex-husband pulled a lot of this same type of behavior. Congrats on the amazing life you have clearly built for yourself!

    5. Yay! I am so happy for you!

      My best friend divorced her husband last year, and he sounds EXACTLY like your ex – always had this grand dreams of how he wanted his life to be, and things he wanted to do, but didn’t do a damn thing to actually make that happen, and blamed her for all his problems. Her divorce was brief but painful, and she’s single now and has never been happier, since she now gets to live her own dreams. I’m glad that you have found happiness!

    6. I found a partner who loves me as I am and raises me up, started my own successful business, travelled to Europe and got a great apartment with a view. I’ve never been happier.

      Holy heck, LW! This ending is like the ending to a movie! This is such a great example of why it’s important to escape situations that are making you miserable, even if it’s hard. If you’d stayed, you’d not only be sad and stressed, but you wouldn’t have your own business, an apartment with a view, or a partner who supports you in ways you could only have imagined. I’m so proud of you for getting yourself out of that situation, and so happy that you’re doing so well now.

  4. I was the LW for this post:

    It was really weird actually having a letter answered (but thanks). Nothing has really happened, which I feel a bit guilty about sometimes. I still haven’t come out, and it gets more ridiculous as time passes. I just did another Christmas, and it was a bit weird to be referred to by “she” and “Girlname”, and have my grandma say “Girlname will always by my little girl”, and shit like that. I live in one of those families where going “fuck it” is just not an option, everyone has to bend over backwards to create the illusion of a reality that pleases her.

    1. *comforting gesture of your choice* Sorry you’re still dealing with crummy stuff 😦

    2. TransLW, you can come to my house for the holidays next year. I have a trans son, and we have a tradition of having a Hanukkah/Christmas/Atheist/Muslim/LGBT/Ally-Inclusive Holiday feast. My son invites a bunch of his friends, and they hang out all week playing Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, and making wookie noises with French and Russian accents. My theory is…if your family doesn’t accept you as you are, I’m your mom now.

      1. I love this reply! I don’t know you Miaz, but you sound awesome. Internet Kudos to you and I hope LW takes you up on it. 🙂

        1. I’m serious…if the TransLW is interested, and the good captain would be willing to introduce us, the invitation stands.

      2. I didn’t see this earlier – thank you, from the bottom of my heart. My family is a peculiar thing, my own mom and dad have actually made great strides in being supportive, and come a long way. Though I’m aware that the love has conditions on it – my grandma does love me above pretty well everyone else living. I mourn that sometimes – I wish she loved the person I am, rather than the person who she thinks I am, or wishes I am, but unfortunately, that’s the way it is.

        However – I can’t accept your offer, they’re the family I have, and they’re definitely not all bad. It could be worse, in any case, being trans seems to be being fired in the kiln of wisfulness. Please, extend that offer to someone else who truly doesn’t have a family over the holidays, your celebrations sound awesome.

        1. All families are dysfunctional in their own peculiar ways. I hope yours comes around to acceptance, and that you can just be yourself. I know my son plastered a bow in his hair for years when visiting with his dad, and the fear and anxiety he had about coming out to his dad was pretty intense. He did come out to everyone eventually, and the world didn’t end. It went significantly better than any of us imagined. The anticipation was much much worse than the reality. My ex isn’t 100% on board with everything, but even that is better than the fear/anticipation/worry that preceeded his coming out. That said, obviously not every coming out story is good, and everyone has to gauge their own family in order to keep themselves safe.

          If anyone needs a place to celebrate the holidays, let me know. I belong to several groups for parents of trans kids (and adult children), and if where I live is too far, I can probably find someone in Toronto or California or Ohio or Michigan or Georgia, etc., to share their holiday.

          Wishing you the best, TransLW!

    3. *jedi hugs* if you would like them.

      That sounds rough. I believe that you know what’s best for you, and you are making the best decisions possible in a difficult situation. I hope things get better and better and better. You deserve that.

    4. Jedi hugs from the back of my own grandmother’s closet (even though adding to the ridiculousness of my own situation is that I suspect my grandma’s response would be, “[Blink] [Blink] […] Oh. Okay. Would you like me to make you a cup of coffee?”).

      Nothing but solidarity and sympathy from me with a bonus (?) of an apology, because one of my comments in response to your letter autocorrected your nom de plume to something else, and I hope I didn’t add to your sense of disconnect with another layer of misnaming that you obviously didn’t/don’t need.

    5. I’m sorry you had to deal with that during the holidays and that your relatives are still colectively sticking their heads underground 😦 None of that is your fault, but it still sucks. Jedi hugs if you would like them ♡

  5. Hiya! I’m LW #791: “Feeling slighted and unmoored in a friendship and looking for ways to connect.”

    I attended the wedding I wrote about. I felt awkward at times because I wasn’t a bridesmaid (like one point when a bridesmaid told me she had thought I’d be one, and another where I saw the bridal party getting on a shuttle from our hotel when I was slinking away to get an uber), but I enjoyed seeing friends and introducing my husband to the city where I used to live.

    I think the Cap hit the nail in the head– my letter was very much about general loneliness and a hungry feeling. 2016 was a hell of a year personally (miscarriage, family deaths, election, etc), but friendship-wise it was actually good. I started letting go of friends who don’t reciprocate the level of friendship I put in (due to distance, time, interest, general flakiness, whatever), and that was very freeing. I did nice friend-things like attend baby showers for them, but didn’t become deflated when the “oh we should really hang out” messages didn’t translate to actual hangouts.

    I also started mentally giving more space to friends who were originally, bluntly, second tier– they weren’t the friends I had imagined myself as always being close with, but when I took a step back, I realized they’re really great people who have stuck by me and have made efforts to reach out or keep up the friendship. Hubby and I did a 10 hour drive to see one friend who I hadn’t seen in a few years and helped her and her hubby wrangle a large cow– a really fun roadtrip, with good memories. I also have made a point to get lunch every month or so with another friend who lives about an hour away. And I’ve also spent lots of time with a local friend and her young kids, have taken them meals, and gone on semi-regular lunchtime walks. And another friend asked if I wanted to start a knitting circle with her. The knitting itself was short lived, but she’s become a really positive person in my life.

    So, the Cap’s advice was apt. My “ideal” friendships have mostly faded with time, and I’m left with a group of really awesome actual friends who are on team me. It was key to realize it was time to let go of the idea of people, and start appreciating and focusing on spending time with people who actually show interest. I was hungry, but I put out good things, and feel more fed now.

    1. Thank you for this update. I just let go of a friend who, as you say, didn’t reciprocate the level of friendship I was putting in. Hearing from someone who’s been through it and found strong new friendships makes me feel less like a failed lonely blob.

      1. Thank you for this. I’ve been taking stock with new year’s and all that, and realizing that due to assorted life stuff, I’ve drifted away from most of my friends over the past while, and I’m not happy about it. Both the advice on the original letter and your update are giving me some ideas on how to go about doing something that.

    2. Thanks for updating us, great to hear you’re feeling better about it and how well you’re doing.

      I feel guilty sometimes for letting go of certain friendships – they were not at all bad people, we just didn’t mesh well. I’ve been trying hard to actively cultivate the friendships that are important to me and with people who really support me. I admit I’m not great at actively keeping up friendships but there’s one in particular who has been amazing to me so I try hard to be amazing to her right back.

      1. Yes, kudos to the author for finding people willing to invest in the relationships you have with them. I’m glad it’s going well; may it continue!

    3. “helped her and her hubby wrangle a large cow” sounds like a heck of a fun story! Congratulations on making positive changes. 🙂

  6. Damsel in de tech here from letter #395: Confronting offensive bosses and coworkers.

    The long and the short of it is I wound up quitting that job in May 2013 and have had the pleasure of working for a variety of other employers that didn’t make me feel like I was getting toothpicks shoved under my finger nails every day. There were so many layers of wrong going on there that, unless I made it a personal, life-long and all-involving mission to change every single person there, it wasn’t going to get better. So I left and now things are much better.

    In hindsight, I would have planned my exit more sensibly by having another IT role lined up to go into, but the reasons for not doing that and the tumultuous couple years that followed are an entirely different letter.

    1. I’m glad you were able to get out of there! Sometimes leaving a bad situation is way better than staying to try and fix it.

    2. *high fives* from another lady-type person sick of gross IT workplaces. My new job seems like it might just be the exception though. Fingers crossed for both of us!

      1. Thanks. That workplace was my first full-time, permanent gig in IT and so I held onto it longer than what, in hindsight, I should have. It hasn’t been too difficult to find other work since I’ve left, and I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a place that bad since so I think *it* was the exception. Mind you, I’ve also transitioned from IT support in the manufacturing industry to the legal/financial industry, so that may have something to do with it.

        Either way, I’m glad to hear your new job is treating you kindly. My one piece of advice would be to keep your resume updated, just in case. A good thing doesn’t always stay a good thing forever, and it’s better to be somewhat prepared because capitalism sucks.

        1. Thanks! Yeah, I learned that lesson when I abruptly got laid off last year.

          I’m glad changing industries helped you. For me, getting away from startups and working for an established company that happens to need my skills on their website was key.

          I hear you on the first job thing. It can be easy to tolerate a lot of bullshit before you realize things can be better.

    3. Great to hear you’re in a much better place now! Sounds like it was a rough time for you for a bit but glad things worked out. Thanks for reminding us that planning our exits is important – this is something I’ve never been good at and it has bitten me in the butt a couple of times.

  7. I’m LW 688 aka “My mom hates my haircut!”

    I found everyone’s comments INCREDIBLY validating.

    The next time I was on the phone with my mom, she brought up my hair again, and I said, “I don’t want to talk about my haircut.” She was stunned into silence, and then changed the subject. I was like, OH MY GOD, is it really that easy?????? (It was not). At the end of the conversation, she was like, “I just want to leave you with this wisdom: You’re gay, and that’s not going to change, but you can still be cute.”

    And I was like, “…I AM cute, but the way that I look and feel cute as a gay woman is different than if I were a straight woman.”

    And she said, “Well, when does it stop being different?”

    I said, “Mom, it’s always going to be different.”

    She had one more extinction burst via text message, which I did not respond to. But then she actually did stop bugging me about my hair! This root issue here — my mom wanting me to look more feminine / not gay / her definition of cute — has not been solved, and it has definitely popped up in other ways ( the latest being around clothing). It does kind of feel like whack-a-mole, though I feel like I’m getting better at whacking, and I think that’s a success!

    1. And I was like, “…I AM cute, but the way that I look and feel cute as a gay woman is different than if I were a straight woman.”

      That is the best response (and way better than I could have come up with on the fly in a conversation with my critical mother).

        1. ITA. LW688, you’re awesome! Thanks for updating us.

          (I chuckled at the ‘whack-a-mole’ part – life sure seems like that sometimes)

    2. I wasn’t around for your original post, but I went back and read it. Just wanted to say 1) you’re awesome 2) well done 3) I totally empathize! I’m glad you’ve found a way to “whack” the moles, so to speak.

      I am a straight woman but I got an undercut earlier this year, and my mom can’t stand it when I put it up into a topknot. She keeps telling me that’s unattractive (to which I’m like, who cares? I’m not trying to attract anyone, I wear my hair for myself). I also have been dying my hair various fashion colors and she can’t stand that either. She then makes it a point to tell me how pretty I am when my hair is blonde (no dye), worn down, and I’m wearing more feminine clothing (which isn’t often). I tried shutting her down with facts (like the “who cares, I’m not trying to attract anyone”) but the most effective tactic is just redirecting.

    3. “….then she actually did stop bugging me about my hair! This root issue here…”

      I see what you did there.

  8. Hi All!

    I am one of the LWs from “Awkward Friendships Ahoy!” who also hung around in the comments: the one who had a long term friends-with-benefits setup with her best friend and was wondering if I was basically gearing myself up to get my heart broken.

    Long story short: I experienced some heartache, but not heartbreak. The best friend and I kept up our FWB thing until just about a month ago. During that time I was going on dates fairly often, a couple of times going on several dates with the same person and testing out whether or not I was interested in them, but hadn’t found anyone I was really excited about. I was also being extra strict because Best Friend and I had agreed that if either of us got serious enough about another person that we might sleep with them, we’d end the FWB part of things.

    Anyway, about a month ago I had started to get that interested in a woman I had been seeing, so Best Friend and I stopped sleeping together. We had a really nice “last time” together and have been hanging out just as friends regularly since. I will admit that I miss that part of our relationship terrible, and still find myself wishing we could just be a couple. But because of that, I’m actually glad we stopped because I think I won’t get past those feelings until I’m forced to by virtue of both those things absolutely not being an option anymore. And most importantly, he’s still my best friend in the world and someone I am always happy to be around, we’re being open and honest about how we’re handling things, and I think we’ll be fine. Eventually, I’ll find someone I’m just as besotted with!

    1. I’m grateful for your letter and for the Cap’s advice because I have a similar situation. That post helped me to stop worrying about it all. Good for you, it sounds like you’re handling that really well 🙂

    2. Thanks for the update, so glad you’re doing well and you still have a great friendship 🙂

    3. I was one of the commenters who weighed in on this the first time around, and I’m SO GLAD things worked out for you with minimal bummerfeels. Rock on with your awesome self.

  9. #333 here: It’s nice to revisit this four years later- mostly to see how so much in my life has changed. The help you and commenters gave me in that moment meant so much to me and helped me make it through a really tough time. (I didn’t mention any of this in the letter, but I was also temporarily homeless when I wrote, broke, isolated and dealing with some pretty serious heartbreak from a relationship that had ended through my partner at the time cheating on me and then having a mental health crisis and going into inpatient. All of which lead to, um, just a bit of depression, stress and overwhelm.) I was really struggling, and had a hard time even letting myself see how rough things were.

    But that letter was the beginning of realizing some really important things for me. Like despite being seen and thinking of myself as tough and badass, that I didn’t really have great boundaries, and it was okay for me to get some, whether other people liked it or not. I realized that while I’d been telling myself that this friendship was an amazing, great relationship, there was also some stuff that wasn’t good, in terms of the emotional labor and caretaking I’d been doing of a masculine, delicate flower like creature, (one who had grown up with access to wealth in a way I had not) and how a lot of the relationship revolved around him being delicate and overwhelmed and me being the rock- and how perhaps that’s not the kind of relationship I wanted to keep having. Like that the stories I was telling myself- that I had nothing to complain about, everything was fine, I should feel bad for even talking about it or having a feeling- were keeping me in some pretty shitty situations, and I needed to look at how things actually were, not how they looked on paper. Like that I had some stories that I was a horrible person inside, a demon who just hurt people, that came from my abusive family, that I defaulted to when things get hard, that made me pretty vulnerable to being fucked with. That I had actually been pretty nice, and over-accountable- apologizing a million times, being okay when the need for “space” kept getting extended for months, etc. And It would’ve been ok for me to be like, “Wow, I am genuinely sorry I hurt you, it wasn’t my intention. I want to be friends. How do we work this out? Also, we might not end up agreeing about this, and that’s ok. Is there a place that would meet in the middle around it?”

    I mourned my friend for a long time. But I’ve survived, and then some, without that friendship, which I never thought i could make it without. I even made it through the intensely awkward moment of both of us being asked to co-keynote at a conference six months after the letter, where our motel rooms shared a wall and he walked out any time I entered a room. (This was in front of a lot of people we knew in common who had known us as friends for years- not awkward at all.)

    I made a lot of changes in my life. I left the city we shared and moved back to my old city, where I had a lot of long-term, solid friends who love me, warts and all. I started meditating and did a lot of work in therapy. I stopped living in giant collective houses that gave me sensory overload and moved to spaces with a lot more quiet. I read and learned a lot about boundaries, and practiced them. I figured out that the anxiety and depression I had were real things I needed to treat! I also figured out that I am on the ASD spectrum, and that helped me figure out a load of stuff I’d just thought of as “that weird shit I do that I am ashamed of” and helped me figure out tactics and strategies to deal with them. I let go of some friendships and built old and new ones where we are able to say and work it out when somebody hurts somebody’s feelings. Right now I live in a beautiful house with my partner of two years in the woods, doing work I love, where we share emotional labor, are learning all the time how to fight better, and stick around through the tough times.

    I’ve never heard from B. again, but I’ve let it go. I don’t ask about him via mutual friends, and I have him blocked everywhere- not out of anger, but just out of those boundaries I finally learned. I wish him well. And in the end, as painful as it was to hear, I figured out that you were right. The friendship we had, while with lovely qualities, wasn’t the kind of love I needed in the end. And, he gets to make his own decisions; I can’t control that.

    Oh yeah- wrote two more books since then! Including about personal stuff! Which won more awards! Had good talks with friends who made appearances in the work before it came out, in the “I want to write my story, and I want to make sure this doesn’t feel fucked” way, which went well. Was struck when several said, thank you, it’s an honor being in that poem, because of the contrast between the how-dare-you-write-about-our-breakup and that. Working on four more books.

    In general- thanks so much, again. I’ve learned so much from you and this community, and I am grateful for the kindness and wisdom you showed me.

    1. Hi! I remember you and I am so glad to hear that things are going so well! Yay! Also I am really sorry that things were so very hard – that is just one awful thing on top of another, and another … my goodness.

      I truly hope that the rest of your life is made of sunshine and hot tea and cinnamon buns (or whatever you like), with only the good, healing kind of pain that all living beings must have. Or like, the occasional aggravating but brief and meaningless kind of pain, like banging your elbow in that one spot. I hope there is nothing worse than that. (Also I hope I have written this in a way that accurately conveys my meaning … I do not actually hope that you bang your elbow …)

      *jedi hugs* if you’d like them. You’re awesome. Terrifyingly amazing, in fact. Yay!

    2. I am so glad to hear you are doing well. One of my best friends was diagnosed with ASD in her 30s, and it was life-changing for her. The life you have built sounds lovely and positive. I hope your future is full of joy!

    3. *Jedi Hugs* Wow, you’ve endured so much. It’s wonderful to hear you’re doing well now!! Congrats on your books, that’s awesome 🙂

  10. Oh this thread is a great idea!

    I’m LW #497: On keeping the peace with an unlikeable mansplainer (link: ).

    I can’t believe that was three years ago and how how very insightful and helpful your advice has been.

    A is still the same unbelieveable mansplainer he was before (he once, memorably, interrupted me explaining my own graduate thesis to explain it himself) who has his own card in my friend circle’s deck of Cards Against Humanity BUT

    Things are better for me.

    – There were a few arguments where I abruptly walked away and my mom made him come after and apologize

    – There was a painful but necessary conversation with my mom where I told her that I love how happy he makes her but that the way he treats me is not okay and that made him really back off.

    – The maximum amount of time I can spend with A is 72 hours if they also include lots of solo walks on the beach

    – I never hung out much with my mom but I try to schedule something for just the two of us every once in a while and it’s usually really nice.

    – I’m 100% at peace with not liking him

    – I’m still looking for 3 safe topics but Renovations and Local Happenings Around Their Summer House are working pretty well.

    Everything is not perfect, there was an argument after Christmas, my mom is a little sad that “not arguing” is not turning into “actually liking each other” but I feel like I’ve found an equilibrium that works for me.

    1. Wow, you’ve handled this so well. Really glad to hear that things are good between you and your mom and that you’re not seething every time you have to deal with A.

    2. I’m glad you’ve been able to find some peace within your boundaries with this guy. He sounds completely insufferable. I love your Cards Against Humanity card for him, that is awesome.

  11. Hi there! I am LW #347 ( Sexual abuse triggers all around.

    The Captain was right. I was super angry for a long time and sometimes still get angry. The whole thing was also extra confusing and awful for me because I had been raped in my childhood and that was a subject that was also super confusing for me and something I had never fully confronted and been in denial about, and there were a lot of other shitty and violating things haunting me from that last relationship. Such as my ex never acknowledging my gender identity, making a joke of it when I got groped in public and handwaving my past rape. So this situation forced me to work through a lot of feelings that I’m still working through.

    The good news is, I’ve been with a wonderful boyfriend for over 2 years now, someone I’ve known and been friends with for nearly a decade. He. Is. Wonderful. And being with him has really highlighted just how fucked up and abusive my last relationship truly was. He never pressures, never pushes, and if I need to stop in the middle of things or am just not feeling it, he doesn’t punish me and instead we just cuddle and turn on Netflix and he lets me know how much he loves me and asks what he can do for me. The utter lack of pressure only makes me want him more. It was tough at first because I had so much conditioning and tension from my last relationship, so he couldn’t touch me or cuddle me when we were just going to sleep because I would internally panic and tense up, and he gave me space and understood and two years later, we can fall asleep in each other’s arms. The whole way, he’s been nothing but supportive and super big on consent and damned horrified about how I was treated before, which highlighted just how Not Normal and Not Healthy shit was. He also doesn’t invalidate my gender identity or my past abuse. In fact, he’s been very supportive with both. On the gender front, he’s even looking into designing a color-coded bracelet so I can express my genderfluidity and he knows which pronouns to use. He’s /amazing/.

    So things are great! I’m head over heels in love with my best friend and we’re looking to get married hopefully next year. (: Life couldn’t be sweeter and I seriously couldn’t be happier! And I have a whole new perspective about things.

    So, thank you, Captain. You really helped me put my head on straight and see things for what they were.

    (they/them pronouns)

    1. *Joyblubs*
      This update made my happy cry in the best way!
      I love the bracelet idea, too.

    2. Oh gosh this was wonderful to read!! So happy for you that you found a new love who loves and respects you back. The colour-coded bracelet idea? Genius. And heartwarming.

    3. That’s great to hear. I’m so very glad you’re doing well, and I love the colour-coded bracelet idea your boyfriend came up with!

    4. Fellow they/them. Fellow survivor of an emotionally abusive whiny pissbaby consent-pushing ex. Fellow member of the “how am I so lucky with my current partner(s)” crew.

      Which is just to say that this followup made me seriously tear up in the best possible way. Go you, go me, go all of us who managed to get the fuck out. ❤

    5. This is incredible! I’m so glad you’re doing so well and that you’ve found someone who treats you well.

  12. LW #664 here – the first of the “people who are basically fine”

    Happy to report I am still basically fine – better than fine, even! Boyfriend and I have been together two and a half years now – we just spent our first holiday together – and the end of the long distance is in sight 🙂 I think the advice to “give it time” was spot on, and I especially want to say thanks to the thread of commenters on my question. I didn’t get a chance to respond directly before comments closed, but I’ve thought a lot about the things you all said in the intervening time.

    The difference between boyfriend and friend-friend, especially with bisexuality thrown in the mix, were all wrinkles I hadn’t unpacked but were DEFINITELY contributing their bit to the level of anxiety in my brain.

    Ultimately, I think I was looking for the answer to “how do I know if I’m in love” and, as predicted, it’s been much better figuring that out as we go 🙂

  13. I’m LW #655: Visits With Highly Difficult People. A lot has changed since I wrote in most of it good. The biggest change has been with me. I have since realized that I was suffering Postpartum Anxiety when I wrote in and while my MIL was/is a highly difficult person SOME of what she was doing was being interpreted by my anxiety as HORRIBLE MONSTER WILL EAT US. I actually didn’t realize I had PPA until I weaned and it went away – oops. I’m having my second baby this spring and there will be pharmaceuticals involved.

    The second thing that has changed is that I learned how to stop caring if my MIL liked me or not. And it was so freeing!! My husband really really helped me do this. He agreed that she is often thoughtless and that I should try to not worry about upsetting her because there is just no way to know if something will upset her or not. So now when we visit, or she visits, I don’t force myself to sit awkwardly through small talk, and if she starts to irritate me, I walk away. I take myself to another room and play on my phone, read a book, call a friend, watch tv. And it is totally fine.

    The third change is unconfirmed. Somewhere around 3 months after I wrote she started being significantly nicer. Like my husband noticed and commented on it too. I know by overhearing conversations that she had been thinking about therapy and/or medication for depression. Now I have no way of knowing if she did either, but she really did change some too.

    By getting my hormones back into balance AND changing my attitude, the relationship has really improved; two things that were completely in my control. The relationship will never be the warm MI/DIL relationship I had hoped to have, but it is manageable now; for which I am very grateful.

  14. LW #141 here, from the distant past of November 2011!

    My particular situation ended up working out differently from how I’d expected. I went to therapy for a while and realized I’d been depressed for, well, pretty much my whole life. I played medication roulette and continued talk therapy with a kind and patient therapist. It took a while, but I ended up being able to tease out the “I’m not ready for a serious relationship” (true!) from the “I don’t love you enough” (actually, not true!). Commenter who asked whether that was depression speaking had actually hit the nail on the head. I wasn’t feeling love because I wasn’t feeling much of anything other than numbness and pain.

    Five years later, my depression is 95% managed, I still talk to the kind and patient therapist occasionally, and the lady and I are going to get engaged sometime in the next couple of years. It’s really amazing to be able to feel intense emotions and not be too afraid of being sucked into the maelstrom of misery that I used to experience so often. But mostly, I just wanted to write again to thank the Captain and the commenters for their wise and compassionate advice. This site has taught me a lot about how to set boundaries and create healthy relationships, not just with my partner but with everyone in my life.

    Now, back to lurking!

    1. Wonderful to hear you and your love are doing well!

      The line about ‘Is that the depression speaking?’ is something reading CA has taught me. I don’t always know the answer but it makes me think at least a little more objectively.

  15. Hi, LW #789 with an update on my dating rejection

    There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the rejection turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I was in no way ready for a relationship.

    The bad news is that the process of trying to date again (or interact at all with men in a sexual context, really) brought up a whole lot of traumatic memories that I had put into the “never to be opened again” file for over 30 years, and these took on a whole new meaning in the light of 30 years’ additional life experience and the changing attitudes to consent in that time. Lots of boundary violation stuff involving different men over several years, from pressure not to use condoms which resulted in a teenage pregnancy and miscarriage and subtly coerced sex with an off-duty police officer who was giving me a lift home from a high school party, to overt sexual assault by a mental health care worker and also by a colleague – all of which I’d carefully concealed from everyone around me and never told a soul until I told my therapist about a month after my letter here. It’s not surprising that my marriage ran into problems with all of that shoved into a dark corner and never dealt with.

    So now, a bit over a year later, I’m trying to sort it all out in therapy (including the childhood which put me at risk of all this in the first place), and have barely scraped the surface. I’ve temporarily switched to working with a female trauma therapist because after all this came out I was finding it too difficult to work with the male therapist who I’d been seeing for a long time. Very much a work in progress, and at this point I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel comfortable dating again.

    On the plus side, I continue to use the awesome advice from this blog in helping set and maintain boundaries, and frequently recommend the blog to others struggling with similar issues.

    1. Thank you for sharing! That’s a lot of rough situations to unpack, no wonder it’s taking time. I hope that, slowly but surely, things get better for you ♡

    2. Thanks for your update, and *jedi hugs* if you need them. Glad to hear you’re getting good therapy that’s helping you.

  16. Hi! I’m the writer of #848, writing to let you guys know things are going more or less pretty well! But not in the way I expected when I wrote that.

    Fortunately, Derek turned out not to be a lingering creepy dude so much as a terminally clueless one, and stopped all of the innuendo comments and other weird shit as soon as I sat him down and had a firm conversation. He apologized, and we agreed to take some time and space away from one another.

    Since then, he’s moved across the country and went back to work for our original company, and turned out to be an unexpected ally when my “new” job went really south – he helped me come up with an exit plan and introduced me to people that needed freelance work.

    Cap’s last comment was unexpectedly most important towards the end of it, in that I needed to make sure I had friends outside of work. I neglected some friendships to hang out solely with my coworkers (startups! not the healthiest) and when they started becoming really toxic and awful, it was a hard transition back into my regular relationships. I’m lucky that I have a hobby with a close knit regular group of people that attend classes, so I didn’t feel completely socially isolated when I lost work friends, but still. Yikes. Lesson learned for the future for sure.

    1. Glad that situation ended well for you! And also that Derek probably learned how to better interact with others. Thanks for the update, glad you’re doing well.

  17. Howdy, I am LW #244 from way back in 2012 who was having the Playdates of Thrones with an awful couple named Marjorie and Lance. (

    So I was a very, very silly person to think that my problems with Marjorie and Lance were over, just because I gave her the African Violet. Five years have gone by, and just until recently I continued to try to maintain a friendship between my oldest child and her kid. I made sure the kids were always in the same class at school so they’d get to see each other without me having to interact too much with Marjorie, and made time for the kids to have very occasional play dates (like 3x a year). I only communicated with her if I was trying to set up a time for the kids to meet, but even then, it was stressful.

    During this time, Marjorie’s refusal to hear the word “no” or respect any boundary has surpassed anything I’ve seen outside of a Lifetime movie. It’s been five years of me enforcing boundaries, being sometimes stalked and being forced into on-the-spot situations where I’m made to look like an asshole in public whenever I say no.

    I’ve embraced looking like an asshole and stayed hyper-vigilant.

    For the first few years, it was lonely. I felt like a target every time I went to a party or school event. She would sign up for every volunteer event I organized, try to create social circles with all of my friends so that I’d be forced to hang out with her, and insert herself into my conversations to grill me for personal details in front of others. I was angry and felt harassed all the time. We live in a small, tight-knit community where the New Age is strong, and I was repeatedly urged by mutual acquaintances to forgive her / feel sorry for her / be compassionate / put myself in her shoes / just move on.

    During this time, I would go back and re-read the advice from the blog and the commenters and I have to say, it really helped me to validate my feelings and realize that I was not a bad person and that none of this was okay. You and some very treasured friends helped me to feel less alone, and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    But some good things also happened in the years since I cut her off. She started moving on to other families – and then burning bridges with them – by resorting to her uber-competitive, backstabby, moocher bag of tricks. I had a very small circle of close friends who knew the real story, and as Marjorie has blown up her other friendships one by one, I have made new friends, and new parents in our school/town have reached out to me. So now it feels like I have a support group, which is a really good thing!

    The other really good thing is that Arya is (for now) at a different school than Myrcella, so I don’t have to sweat being eavesdropped on during parent-teacher conferences, or harassed or followed to practices or team events anymore. Our younger kids are still in the same school, but they are not close.

    I give this woman the cut direct whenever I see her socially, but she still stalks; I’m just not her sole target anymore. Just this past fall, she manipulated a mutual acquaintance into telling her when I was hosting a group playdate and then let herself into my home! and cross-examined my husband! about where we were before getting back into a car stuffed with all of her kids and fleeing into the night. LUCKILY I wasn’t home and didn’t hear about this until afterward. After that, I sent her another email telling her off (and received no apology or response) and then finally blocked her on all available types of media so that she cannot contact me directly anymore for any reason.

    That was the last straw for me. I have finally realized that trying to maintain any sort of civility is not possible with this woman. My kid still likes her kid but has developed other friends, and if this friendship dies on the vine because the kids no longer see each other, so be it.

    1. Whooooaaaa…’ve been very resilient, kudos to you for maintaining your sanity and civility. *Jedi hugs* if you need them. Good to hear that you have a better support group now.

      1. I have to say, that *really* freaked me out, and the fact that my husband seemed so unsettled by it made it very obvious to me that she is Not Safe.

  18. LW # 768 here (…TL;DR is that my best friend (we’ll call him Jim) got sentenced to several years in federal prison; my other friend, whom I called Thomas in the letter, was crossing the line from being merely unsupportive to being a sanctimonious asshole about the whole affair.

    I wanted to take the Cap’s advice of making Thomas a Small-Doses Friend, because I valued Thomas’ insights and opinions about pretty much everything unrelated to America’s judicial system and Jim’s specific place in it. Unfortunately, shortly after Jim was sent away (and I do mean “sent away”…the Bureau of Prisons found a nice, cozy bunk for him a few states away in a town where the prison is the main attraction), Thomas kicked things up a notch. He had, between my sending the letter and the beginning of Jim’s sentence, backpedaled way off when he realized his rhetoric wasn’t endearing him to me at all, and since we were both new to a city where we didn’t know many other people, he at least acted like he didn’t want to jeopardize one of the few relationships he had out there.

    Buuuuut when I made the mistake of talking to Thomas the day Jim surrendered himself to the BOP, hoping for nothing more than a virtual “ouch, that sucks,” Thomas…didn’t get the idea. He “reassured” me that this was no big deal, Jim and I were still young and his sentence would be over before we knew it (Thomas is a decade and a half older than Jim and me), and not to worry my pretty little head about such a minor hiccup (I paraphrase, but not much). He then told me he’d check up on me later in the week, see if I was doing better, and I couldn’t quite pick my jaw up off the floor enough to tell him not to bother.

    I think what cemented the deal for me was that when he did “check in” as promised (threatened?), the message was something like, “Morning” followed by a fucking smiley. Like half a week was enough time for me to have gotten over essentially losing my best friend for half a decade. I proceeded to cold-shoulder the hell out of Thomas in spite of an increasingly frantic series of texts and Facebook posts that boiled down to, “WTF?” I’m sure there was genuine concern buried deep down in there (one of Thomas’ friends had near-literally fallen off the face of the Earth…he’d lost her to drug addiction), but the way it read to me was, “How dare you not give me continuous updates of how much better you’re doing without Jim in your life and tell me that this has made you realize I was The One all along?!”

    He finally sent me an email begging for an update, which he closed with another damn smiley. I tersely responded that the whole business with Jim had made me re-evaluate the kinds of qualities I was looking for in friends, and that he hadn’t made the final cut. He not only didn’t respond, he also blocked me on Facebook, and I haven’t heard from him since, so…I’m just gonna say that this one had a happier ending than a lot of relationship-termination stories do. :/

    I do miss him from time to time. I would’ve been interested in talking to him about the results of the last election, for instance, and possibly making a not-really-a-joke about us getting married so I could glom on to his foreign citizenship, but considering he seemed to be convinced that all female-bodied asexuals are just waiting for the right magic penis to unlock their inner Manic Pixie Dream Girl, it’s just as well I couldn’t give him any more bad ideas.

    My real concern in all this has been and will continue to be Jim, who is still in my life as much as distance and time and finances allow. We correspond regularly through the BOP’s email system, and I’ve been down to visit him twice since he began his sentence. My major concern is that he seemed to feel genuine remorse for his actions (not merely the fact that he’d gotten caught) between his arrest and when he went off, but now that he’s been institutionalized for over a year, his remorse seems to have morphed into resentment of the system that sent him there. Which I think is less a reflection on him and more an indictment of that very same system, because if Jim is as indicative of an institution-wide problem as I and other academics seem to suspect, the BOP’s promises of “correction” and “rehabilitation” really are just as big a pile of bullshit as many of my fellow liberals and I fear. On a personal level, I worry that Jim’s growing bitterness will make him less likely to focus his energies on self-improvement and more likely to wind back in trouble after he gets out…not recidivism, per se, but other self-destructive behaviors. 😦

    I guess my follow-up is more touch of grey than silver lining, but I did want to let the Captain and the community that the direct issue about which I wrote in has been resolved, even if I wish it had a more satisfactory resolution.

    1. Lots of Jedi Hugs if you need them. Glad Thomas is out of your life….my goodness, with friends like that who needs enemies.

      Sending you and Jim good vibes for the future, best wishes to you.

    2. Yes, Thomas sounds really frustrating! I hear you on missing certain aspects of a friend, while not wanting that person back in your life on any terms. I’m sorry about the way things are going with Jim.

    3. ” I tersely responded that the whole business with Jim had made me re-evaluate the kinds of qualities I was looking for in friends, and that he hadn’t made the final cut.”

      That is EPIC! I’m sorry the rest is more “grey than silver lining,” but I’m glad Thomas finally got the message.

    4. So many Jedi hugs for you and Jim. I’m sorry Thomas turned out to be so completely tone-deaf about what you actually needed from a friend and I’m glad your responses to him were such A+ boundaries. ❤

  19. LW #657 here, from February 5, 2015:

    I ended up dumping my ex-boyfriend (finally) in June 2016. What the Captain wrote about how his response to me was unacceptable really hit home for me, even though it took a while to break up. Thank you so much – getting him out of my life was the best decision I made in 2016.

    I ended up seeing the professional once at a networking meeting where I only gave him a brief “hi” and avoided him. I have seen the healthcare provider actually stopped by my office in the summer. He wanted to grab coffee sometime, and since I felt like I was in a good place, I said “ok” and recommended somewhere very public during the day. He ended up emailing me saying it “wasn’t a good idea” and canceled, so I let it die. I have seen him a few times in passing the past few months since then, but have maintained very limited interaction. I never heard from the friend who came onto me again (thank goodness!).

    In the fall of 2016, I lost two friends, a married couple, because the wife accused me of trying to steal her husband. Apparently she was cheated on in the past by her ex-husband so she has trust issues. I told her I would never do that and never intended to hurt her feelings, but she did not believe me so I let the friendships go. I was very upset about this situation, but also realized with the help of my therapist that it was the wife’s insecurity that was the problem and she was projecting it onto me.

    I have realized (with the help of my therapist and two close friends) that I am an intimidating woman to some people. I am beautiful, strong, smart, determined, successful, and sexy – and some people are intimidated by that or find me threatening. It also makes me an easy and convenient target for blame.

    I am also naturally friendly and touchy-feely, which some people misinterpret as flirting. So I have become more aware of my presence and the effect it can have on people, so I try to be more careful about what I say, how I say it, and whether or not being touchy is appropriate. When in doubt, I tone it down.

    However, what I have also realized is that some people will choose to misinterpret my words and actions no matter what I do, so I do not overly control myself. Some people will like you, some people will not, and the rest are neutral and that’s ok.

    And for those who were concerned about my appearance in the thread, I am a 5’3” petite blonde woman who is conventionally beautiful with a thin body that makes it hard to hide my DD’s and butt. I dress very, VERY conservatively and professionally at work and try to minimize my curves to avoid unwanted sexual advances from my male patients (but as we all know, some people will sexually assault you no matter how you are dressed). I wear black work sneakers because my job is hands-on and physical so no, I cannot wear heels to work. When not at work, I dress pretty much the same but in jeans instead of slacks.

    I used to wear giant sweatshirts and baggy jeans to hide my body because I was ashamed and scared of the attention I got, but not even that worked so I dress how I want in a way that I think looks nice but professional, and I will not be shamed by anyone for that. I was disappointed in the commenters who tried to blame how I dressed for how these men acted.

    But thank you to all of those who poured out support, and Captain Awkward for taking the time to reply to me (and to everyone else!). You are the best!

    1. “I am beautiful, strong, smart, determined, successful, and sexy”
      I need to turn this phrase into my morning mirror mantra.

      I literally fist pumped the air — I have absolutely no doubt that all of these are true.

      It’s great to see anyone — particularly someone of the female persuasion — own her awesomeness unapologetically; it’s rarer than it should be and always gives me happytumfeels.

  20. Hi everybody, it’s LW 209 (CW: sexual abuse) “My mom is pressuring me to invite my molester to my wedding, and it sucks BIG TIME.”

    Revisiting this letter more than four years later is a trip and a fucking half. I updated my situation soon after in the original comments (tl;dr – I had occasion to use PFCMarie’s excellent advice to tell my mom to butt the hell out the very day the letter was published, my mom did the awful stuff we figured she would do when confronted/rejected, I took/used PFCMarie’s advice, survived!).

    What happened next: I continued to not invite my abuser to our wedding, his mom didn’t say a damn thing about it on the day (BLUFF: CALLED), and our wedding was incredible fun. Husband has never acted weird or strange or given me the Poor Abused Wife Pity Gaze. My mom has never again asked me about my abuser, my relationship with him, or said anything at all about his presence or absence anywhere. I have had to lay eyes on him at a funeral thing, but awesome husband awesomely distracted/derailed any potential interactions.

    My relationship with my mom is very different these days. I can’t believe I was in my late twenties before it occurred to me (with the help of the Army!) that my mom could be a troubled, problematic person who was sometimes or even often (!!!!) wrong. I still feel myself being pulled occasionally into the project of making her happy, being the good daughter, acknowledging that she knows best about everything, but I also have a little nugget of anger and righteousness that I can use to tamp it out and give myself permission to stop accommodating her. I don’t think I will ever be able to talk about the abuse with her because I don’t think she’s safe. And I also now know that I am allowed to decide that she is not safe and that if I say she isn’t safe, she isn’t, full stop. We don’t live in the same state any more, and I know she is mad at me about that and thinks I should do *~*~*~~*~whatever long list of things I should read her mind and do~*~*~*~~*~ but I just don’t care. She failed me in a really significant way as a parent, and the consequence of that failure is the relationship we currently have even if it is not to her specific liking, and that’s her fault and not mine. If she wants to fix it, I believe in her heart she knows where to start. I don’t think she will, and I have too much magic and love in my life to worry about whether she will ever get around to it.

    I did disclose my abuse to a couple of close friends, and started practicing scripts and narratives that allowed me to acknowledge the fact that I am who I am, and that that person is a woman who was abused as a kid, and that’s fine and I am fine and if people think it is weird or sad, then they are not my people. A handful of times over the years since I wrote the letter, I’ve had occasion to say in conversation: “As a survivor of abuse …” or “In my experience with childhood sexual abuse …” and just let it be a true thing that I experienced those things and that I am the person my friends know and love, and that they can look at me and know me and know the totality of me and it’s fine and it’s even better than fine. Only one person was ever vaguely weird about it, and I actually found it empowering to be able to tell him, “You’re being weird about this, you should be another way about it instead, here are some options.”

    The fear I had of people knowing that I had been abused was, in a lot of ways, the worst of any of the other consequences of the abuse. Once I let go of that fear and actively made the abuse an occurrence in the larger story of my life instead of a secret about a child I once knew, I found that the things I had attributed to the abuse *itself* (self-doubt, people-pleasing, anxiety in new spaces, uncertainty and fear around making a wrong decision) were actually things that derived from my fear of the abuse being disclosed.

    I don’t know how long I would have lived trying to negotiate that constant, low-level fear if it wasn’t for PFCMarie, the Captain, and the wonderful commenters. You all freed me from a prison I didn’t know I was in. I’m so grateful, every day.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that! I’m glad that Awesome Husband is awesome and that you feel better and have let that fear go. Yea you!

    2. Boots!! I remember your letter and updates from the time, and have reread them a few times since then when I needed to hear them. I’m so so glad to hear you’re doing well.

    3. Yours is one of the letters I most quote to people who need to hear it, just because the advice and comments were so awesome and supportive and wonderful. I am so glad your life is being beautiful and magical and loving and I hope that continues forever. ❤

  21. Hi, LW of here. The update is basically… social stuff still sucks, but we give fewer fucks about it. Grandma wants to be all SAD at us that we can’t eat her food? Too bad! Someone makes SadNoises that they don’t want to eat at one of the very few places that can accommodate us? Too bad! You can join us or go eat with other people but we’re not going to be guilted about this.

    I don’t manage his allergies other than remembering to read ingredients lists when it’s my turn to do the shopping, but I do still have to be very careful about cross-contamination when I eat out without him.

    We’ve ended up basically acquiring a small but close friends group of other people with food restrictions and we all support each-other since discovering people who don’t care enough to make any food accommodations aren’t really people who are going to care in other ways. (We also got married a little over a year ago in Oct!)

    So yes, we’ve just gotten a lot better about going “We’re going out to the movies then stopping at a grocery store to pick up bread and cheese for a nice picnic, would you like to come along?” and figure the good people will use their words and say yes or no, and the ones who get weird and insist that Normal People eat Normal Food at Normal Restaurants and do not picnic are no huge loss. And we are very happy.

    1. A bread and cheese picnic sounds way fun, actually. I’ve done this with a friend when we were both poor. We ate our bread, cheese, and fruit in a park and it was a blast! I agree that people who would turn up their nose at a fun picnic like that are no huge loss.

    2. Yay for picnics and people who accept your allergies! I now have to go read your old letter because my many allergies can make me feel broken and anxious around new people.

    3. Great to hear you’re both doing well! Picnics are awesome, might not be everyone’s thing but anyone who tries to police your enjoyment has their own issues.

    4. People not caring about dietary restrictions sucks and I’m glad you’ve found good supportive friends in that, but I also kind of want to say: bread and cheese picnic after a movie sounds to me very much like a Normal Thing that Normal People Normally Do and I’m having a hard time with the notion that people might think it’s strange. I think you should feel free to find that thinking strange.


    Ten days after my letter posted, four days after my last comment, my husband dumped me in our couples counseling appointment. The less said about that and her, the better.

    A year of both quiet intense grieving and action followed. Made the most of the summer that followed, reconnected to passions and interests I’d let slide, tried new activities, connected to the bi/queer community in my city, re-organized my space, read about attachment styles, wrote a wish list for my next long-term partner, and wrote a lot of Team Me thank you notes. After about 6 months I was up for cautiously trying some casual first dates, which I did for a few months, enough to see that there is a world of interesting people out there who could be interested in me, and then stopped looking for dates to focus on looking for work. (Which, by the way, Captain is a great resume writer and I’m glad I hired her for that.)

    This past summer, more than a year after the split, on the bus to a music festival in my hometown, I met an amazing person who checks off 95% of that list I wrote. We have so much in common that friends are surprised we did *not* meet through an online service. Every week, Amazing Person treats me in some way that I end up crying happy tears at finally being treated in a way that I didn’t even know I wanted to be treated. Even things with my ex that had been downgraded from great to good, from good to ok, from ok to not cool in my single year are constantly being re-evaluated and downgraded again in comparison with what I have now. In short, husband was right in his dumping statement: I could and have found someone who treats me much better than he did.

    I would love to gush on about Amazing Person and use my Twitter handle for this comment, but I am keeping anon because the divorce is not yet final, a process that has also lowered my estimation of soon-to-be-former-spouse’s qualities.

    I am still looking for a job, but have greater clarity on what I want career-wise. Unfortunately, that is not quite the incoming administration’s plans, and I am doing my best to retain determination.

    Finally, to risk ending this on a complete dark note, I am contemplating whether I should take the first remotely plausible job I can find in hometown (long shot, job market there sucks) and find a place back in my hometown to live as many minutes as possible in the company of Amazing Person before we all die in a nuclear holocaust, or whether to keep moving forward with my life in this more economically viable city in the hope that it’s averted and we get decades together.

    1. I’m glad you found your Amazing Person! Best of luck as your divorce is finalized. Jedi Hugs if you’d like them.

  23. I am LW #569, and this is my update!

    Myrtle did not attend the wedding, though we wound up inviting her. Turns out, you were all right. My parents had split in the months before the wedding, but were maintaining appearances. Subsequently, my parents got a divorce (which I only learned about a few months after it happened when my father finally emailed me and my brother to let us know), and my mom bought her own place and moved out. I didn’t speak to my father for a year, because I was being constantly manipulated and he wasn’t tell me the truth about my own family. We are now speaking, but its pretty shallow stuff at this point. We are working on rebuilding, but I am still angry sometimes and it’s hard for me to trust him.

    1. Holy shit. I’m so sorry. 😦

      I remember your letter very well but I don’t think I could have guessed this outcome. I feel so bad for you and sorry that your father was apparently using the smoke and mirrors of ‘swinging’ to confuse and manipulate your views on his relationship with Myrtle, and his relationship with your mother. I’m not surprised your relationship is damaged. I hope it gets to a point you are happy with (whether that’s close or very un-close) before too long.

    2. Oh my goodness that must have been so painful. Jedi Hugs if you need them. Agree with others that I’m very glad for you that Myrtle is not in any of your wedding photos! Thanks for letting us know how you’re doing.

  24. Hey, everybody! LW#832 here.

    So it turned out that the situation with my now ex-girlfriend escalated and those of you who thought it was sketchy were absolutely right.

    So here’s my post-mortem:

    What it all came down to was that I was always the partner who would politely say “Could you please not ______?” For me, this doesn’t have to be all that big a deal because the conflict is over when “_______” stops. For her it’s leverage to be used against someone indefinitely to make them feel bad and the only way to make it right is to call them on something bigger or nullify it with a previous complaint (because they never ever expire!).

    With the conspicuously male TV character memtionitis, I basically continued with my “Okay then but not my thing NEXT SUBJECT”, basically continuing to not react much. So to up the ante, instead of just having mentionitis about tv characters, she started actively and unfavorably comparing me to them. Here’s an example:

    Her: I do love a man with a good thick BEARD!
    Me: (joke) Well I can stop waxing if you want.
    Her: (no laugh) Well, I just like them *better*.
    Me: Well that was mean.
    *cue argument and biphobia accusations*

    So considering that she resented me for setting basic boundaries and that I was the one who made her aware that biphobia was a thing in the first place, I’m pretty sure that this was all some convoluted way to get the upper hand by trying to get me to react badly to something so she could get a turn at being “good partner”.

    That was when I noped on out of there about two or three months after the post was published.

    Thanks, everybody for the advice. I’m single and in a much better place now.

    1. So glad you’re doing well! Yay you for setting and sticking with your boundaries, you sound awesome.

    2. Also, for those who suggested the “why talk about all these dudes to me” conversation, I did try it. It just didn’t go so well. It immediately went into more “because if you don’t like it you’re a terrible person and something’s wrong with you” territory. Mind you, I started off like “Can we talk about why you need me to respond to this? (As the key thing was my responses somehow not being enough) not blowing up in her face like “WTF?! WHATCHU TALKING TO ME ABOUT ALL THESE DUDES FOR?!!”
      So if any of you suggested this, I didn’t ignore you. It didn’t work out as I’d hoped at the time but definitely gave me plenty of clues.

  25. Hi! I’m LW 238, from way back in 2012. (

    Um…a lot of things have happened since that letter. I had a long, drawn out mental health crisis, attempted suicide twice, confessed to my parents that I was both an atheist and bisexual, graduated college with my four year degree, started dating a very nice lady…

    It’s been a very rough 5 (5?) years, and my relationship with my parents is still extremely strained. I am happy to report that I have been neither disowned nor thrown out; however, my parents have basically forbidden me to come out to any of the extended family or to stop attending mosque and pretending to be devout. I’m not in a position to move out yet, but I hope to be in the near future. It’s just an ongoing struggle, I guess; a lot of people have it worse, so I just keep telling myself “this too shall pass”.

    I want to thank CA and all the lovely commenters on that letter; at the time, I was in a dark place and y’all gave me light and hope, which I continue to draw on to this day. This community has always provided me with good advice and reminders that we’re all facing problems in the world, and we’re all strong enough to conquer them.

    I hope everyone is having and will have a wonderful 2017.

    1. Yours was one of the letters that always stuck with me (as a fellow bi atheist from a very religious family, although different religion and more generalised abuse). I am glad to get an update from you, even if it is mixed. Keep fighting the good fight. ❤

    2. Jedi Hugs if you need them! Thanks for letting us know how you’re doing, I’m so pleased for you that you’re doing better. I’ve found “This too shall pass” to be a wise and useful motto. Very best wishes to you going forward.

  26. LW #674 here ( Quick summary of my letter: My husband is left-brained optimizer and serial mansplainer, and it was driving me mad.

    Things have gotten better! Most of his mansplaining was happening when he was criticizing my driving. I think I’d had been TOO nice about it for too long. Eventually I kind of lost it. He was criticizing how I was shifting so I said he didn’t stop, I was never going to drive anywhere with him again. He’d have to do ALL the driving. He finally got it in his head how irritated I was, and since then, the mansplaining-about-driving has almost entirely stopped. (He still has relapses, from time to time, but it’s much, much better.)

    The other things that helped were that (a) I explained that when he criticized my driving, it only served to distract me, which in turn made my driving worse; and (b) I explained to him what “mansplaining” is when he read the word online somewhere. “You know, it’s that thing you do when you tell how to do something I already know how to do. Like driving.” His response: “Oh. Sorry, that does sound super annoying.”

    When he engages in other types of mansplaining, I usually say something like: “Okay, you can do it your way and I’ll do it my way.” If he continues to make noises about how I’m not doing it the right way: “This is not up for discussion. I’m going to keep doing it my way. If it bothers you that much, you’re welcome to take over here and do it your way.”

    1. *cheers you on*
      I think I commented on your letter, my ex did some very similar things (including about driving, ugh), which are amazingly annoying when continued for 12 years. I hope your husband continues his improved behaviour (unlike mine, one of the many reasons he’s ex).

    2. Wow, I’ve just finally understood what mansplaining is from what you have written and realised my dad does this constantly. Blah! Anyway, congrats on getting this mostly under control with your husband. It is so annoying. (I always want to tell my dad ‘ no shit, sherlock’).

    3. Really glad for you that things are much better between you and your husband. His realization of what he was doing is heartwarming to read because it sounds like his behaviour is changing. Best wishes to you both.

  27. Hi there – I’m the “Enabling Wife” from Letter #430 who wrote in about my man-child husband. Just to say that I’m still married to him, and he’s still a man-child, and occasionally things are quite unpleasant, though most of the time I really enjoy his company. Oddly enough that job he got just before I wrote in (after 16 years of his being mostly unemployed) stuck, so him not contributing to our household as much as I do is at least compensated slightly by his now out-earning me. But I still have to handle admin and bill payments and arranging repair-people coming, etc. for the most part because he puts stuff off and I get stressed at jobs not getting done.
    It was interesting getting my letter published, since I felt I had in many ways given the wrong impression (both making some things sound worse than they were, and failing to mention some things that would have made the commentariat double their kind encouragements just to DTMA). But the main advice the Captain gave me was to be clearer in my own mind about what I need, and to possibly get some therapy to help with that. I couldn’t find a useful therapist (not speaking the local language made the options limited), but though I still slip into a passive, helpless mode whenever things do get bad between my husband and me, I have a little miniature Captain Awkward in my head that reminds me to wait till I’m in a more positive frame of mind and then to be proactive in doing what’s good for me. This seems mysteriously to prevent fights between my husband and me – go figure.

  28. I’m LW 506, I can’t believe this was over three years ago. The good news is, Spouse and I now split the food responsibility 50/50. Well, maybe 55/45. The bad news is, it took me until this last summer to demand it.

    I didn’t end up making any changes after this letter posted, because even though the Captain’s response was great, it wasn’t *exactly* on point because I had left out some details in order to make my letter shorter. But about a year later, in a fit of fury, I sent Spouse the link. He (yes, he is a he, I am a she) did not react well, but the unanimous disapproval from the commenters meant that I was able to get some small concessions. If I remember right, I still did all the grocery shopping and made leftover-producing meals on weekends, but it became his responsibility to heat the leftovers and get them on the table on weekdays. It wasn’t a huge improvement, but it was just enough to be tolerable.

    Fast forward to this last summer, when I finally conquered a decade-long drinking problem. (I’m sure it will come as a surprise to no one that I had a drinking problem.) Cutting out the booze has a way of clarifying things. I just went to him and said, “I want us to start splitting the food chore 50/50,” and he said, “OK.” I can’t quite figure out why he agreed so easily, when three years before I got epic sadface from him when I asked for a lot less, but whatever.

    So, in the end, posting here did help me out. It just took longer than it should have.

    1. You’re one of the people I wanted an update from the most. Glad to hear it/he got better. And congratulations on conquering the drinking problem!

    2. YES. 50/50ish. So glad.

      Also, 2 different friends of mine left their slacking partners after I shared this article with them (and they are doing much better now!). So your reaching out for help helped others as well.

      1. Yay for you! (Both on the more even split and the handling of your drinking problem.)

        This may not be applicable to you, but my mum had (has) a drinking problem, my stepfather was an idle man-child, and they are now separated. I honestly think that he used her drinking problem to justify treating her as his slave (if she’s going to drink, she could at least X, where X eventually became “do ALL the chores and run my entire life, up to and including fetching me drinks of water when I’m thirsty so I never have to get up”.)

        Now, I am not AT ALL saying that her drinking justified his assholery or made her responsible for it, but I think that was the lie he kept telling himself (rather than say, being a grown up and using his words and saying “hey, your drinking worries and upsets me, and I think you need help”, while doing his fair share around the house). And that then became a vicious circle of mum drinking because she felt exhausted, unappreciated, and unloved, which led him to do less out of spite, which fed back into her drinking. I wonder if something similar was at play for you, and by removing his “excuse” (again, definitely NOT a legit excuse), you left him with no mental justification for his behaviour. Bah, there’s no way to put that without making it seem like I think his laziness is your fault, and I want to make absolutely clear that it 100% is not, but I do wonder if that sort of disordered thinking explains his behaviour.

      2. Sorry, just realised that my last comment probably contravenes the posting guidelines for this thread. Apologies, and please remove it if it’s not appropriate. I’ll stick to a hearty “good for you!”.

        1. It’s OK. I think some dynamic like that could well have been at play. I know the drinking came partly out of feeling powerless, but once the problem was there, I definitely had the idea that I somehow had less of a “right” to bring up problems in the relationship because, after all, here I was with a secret drinking habit. So, while the issue was *mostly* just caused by man-child behavior, the drinking wasn’t irrelevant.

    3. Oh, I’m so glad you’ve found a level of food-responsibility-splitting that works for you. I was hoping to hear from you!

      (I have passed the advice in this letter on to so many people in my real life, Captain, and I really think it’s fantastic.)

    4. Great to hear you’re in a better place! So pleased for you that you’re doing well and that things with your husband are better.

  29. Hi all! LW #884 here ( “Christmas in July”: )

    We got through the holidays just fine this year, thankfully. The Captain’s advice to stop trying to change MIL’s behavior was particularly helpful. It’s been incredibly freeing to say to myself “MIL’s gonna do what she’s going to do, and it’s not my fault or problem.” I’d chatted with my therapist about this issue, and we sussed out that part of my anxiety stems from a behavior that emerged early in my childhood: if a nearby adult is having a strong emotional reaction to something, I would immediately start beating myself over the head with the Shame Bat, and go “what can I do to fix this? What have I done wrong? Maybe if I had done X, Y, Z, etc this wouldn’t be happening!”

    The Captain’s advice was especially helpful is mentally placing the onus for MIL’s over-spending on MIL, and stop trying to change it. Instead, now I just try to shrug and channel my inner Zen Duck and let all that other stuff just roll right off my back. I’ve also been reminding myself that this whole deal was a “Not my circus, not my monkeys!” situation.

    As for the Go vs. Don’t Go options, well, we have to see them every year because they live pretty close to us (it was only last year that we flew to visit the full extended family). But I’ve definitely found that picking my battles regarding WHEN these visits happen works pretty well. It’s much easier now to let Husband deal with the scheduling, but I find that I do have to state clear and firm boundaries about when we’ll visit. I’m in a rigorous academic program right now, and will be done in about a year and a half; so I’ve told him “I can’t do an extended-family trip while I’m in school; and I’m not willing to commit to a trip that might happen 2 years from now, so let’s revisit the issue then.”

    I also really appreciated the perspective of some of the commenters, re: why MIL over-spends. Framing her behavior as “she’s spending money to show love” helps me be less irritated by it now. Husband and I have decided that we won’t go out to eat with her anymore (if we can help it); instead, we take turns hosting visits, and the host is in charge of feeding the group. Food is love, after all. 🙂

    Lastly, I loved CA’s advice about treating MIL visits as a gift that I’m giving to Husband. When I focus on that, I’m less irritated by MIL’s behavior and feel more loving (instead of resentful) toward Husband. It’s a Win-Win!

  30. Hi, I’m LW #518 from “I broke up with my mean friend, so why do I still miss her?”

    I wrote to you three years ago with the question “Why am I having such trouble moving on from an unrewarding – actually, negative and draining – relationship?”. You kindly offered advice on grieving and self-care, which I followed. And you astutely diagnosed that sometimes a shitty friend was “the sole witness to an important time in your life,” an insight which brought me a lot of peace as to why I’d overvalued a crap relationship that hadn’t worked in maybe never.

    My update: I am now 99.98% free of missing-mean-(ex)friend feelings. I have moved on emotionally. I rarely, if ever, think of her. When she does cross my mind, it’s a “hey that time we had fun, hope she’s doing okay, bummer she’s such an asshole, wonder what’s for dinner tonight” piece of brain flotsam. I no longer fall down a pit of sadness wondering why do I feel bad and how did I get here and oh look the ghost of the mean friend albatross still hangs around my neck.

    The details: After your response, I promptly hid ex-friend’s Facebook feed and removed her from contact lists, text histories, and anywhere else I might bump into memories. On the rare occasions when ex-friend contacted me, I waited a minimum of 24 hours to send a politely boring response. I bookmarked your post and re-read it whenever I felt low. I made a conscious effort to celebrate the wonderful friends I do have in my life, and to practice gratitude for all the awesome ways they show love for me and our friendship. One random day last year, I realized that ex-friend had actually unfriended me on Facebook! (I’d held off doing so myself for a specific reason in a shared social group.) I experienced a nanosecond of hurt/anger, followed by about four hours of glee. I still get a big stupid joyful grin on my face when I think about it. So long, Darth Friend!

    Many thanks to the lovely commenters who shared stories of friendship implosions in solidarity, and offered poems, songs, and advice that were surprisingly comforting on my bad days. For anyone still trudging through the grief fog, I did have one realization that helped enormously. One of the recurring thoughts that weighed me down was the idea that I’d ended a twenty-year friendship. It seemed like such a huge loss. But then I realized that although ex-friend and I had *known* each other for twenty years, we’d actually only been *friends* for maybe three of those years if you tallied the actual instances of reciprocal connection and support. Suddenly the loss seemed much more manageable. I was moving on not from one of my oldest friends, but rather from someone who’d been nice to me for 15% of my (young)adult life. The emotional weight lifted like a cloud.

    Thank you for your kind and compassionate advice, Captain Awkward. It really helped.

  31. I wrote Letter 804, making the first of the two recipients of Crap Texts from Dudes to write in…well, at least to write in and receive excellent responses! (

    I did keep up a presence in the comments until they closed, and I will shamelessly quote myself from my last comment due to being in a bit of a time crunch:

    “Update! I hadn’t heard ANYTHING from Mr. Walking Adele Song since I sent my letter. Today, just before the Broncos game (and therefore when I was fortified by a couple beers when I saw the text at halftime), I got, “You Okay? I am a little worried about you.” Which I also loathe expressions of concern as means of getting in touch, but that aside, I told him, “No need for concern. I don’t want to be in contact. I’ll let you know if that changes.” So far, nada in reply! Here’s hoping I get more of the same!”

    Mr. WAS did a fairly decent job of respecting my wishes for ~half a year. Sometime in the middle of last summer, I received another text from him featuring a photo spread from a magazine, local to the town we lived in, which had him as its centerpiece (…looking back over what I just wrote, and considering my view, mentioned in the comments, that Mr. WAS wanted to be something other than platonic friends with me, I feel obligated to clarify that it is a G-rated publication, thankyouverymuch). I didn’t respond. I haven’t heard from him since.

    I believe I also used the comments to mention my concerns that I would run into him around town, as we did frequent the same locales. It turned out to be less of an issue than I thought–I’d usually see him before he saw me due to his distinctive way of dressing, and I was generally able to switch sides of the street in order to avoid him. There was only one time when I spotted his car, thought, “Is that WAS’ car? Shit, I think that is his car,” only to have the car’s ownership confirmed by Mr. WAS himself, practically leaping out of the car to wave with the entirety of his free arm. I smiled tightly, kept my earphones in, gave a half-assed version of the Queen’s wave in reply, and didn’t waver in my stride as I kept walking past.

    I have since moved back to my home city for unrelated reasons and am much happier here overall. Many thanks to the Captain and commenting community!

  32. Hi — LW #681 here, Consent Basics: It takes two to decide to be friends and only one to say, NOPE!. The short update: this person is no longer in my life! He and my BF burned out as friends, partly because it was so obvious I had a problem with him, and friend still had a problem with that.

    Longer story: this dude is not a good dude, and I really appreciate all the comments that helped me stick to that conclusion. Among other things, he tried to convince my BF, in private, that I am “dangerous” because of my mental illness. Whether he is in fact an abuser or just a ridiculously manipulative person is a question I no longer need to try to answer, so I don’t. I think about his behavior sometimes and contextualize it in the wake of my letter being answered, and then I get trapped in the “oh my god, why didn’t I see this before” bubble — even though I actually did? — which is bad. So mostly I am very happy not to have to think of this guy very often; he doesn’t even live in my city anymore, and I honestly like going outside more now that I know that.

    Thanks for encouraging me, everyone, to stick to my gut feeling. I’ve read that thread so, so many times since the question was answered and derived confidence from it every time when trying to figure out how many of my ‘past abuse’ alarms are going off and whether they’re doing so with justification in the present situation. I’ve always trusted my instincts at least had *some* merit to their reactions, but now I trust them a lot more wholly. I have no trouble swan dancing / ice queen-ing my way out of a strange situation guilt-free, now. Something about this reads like a dodged bullet to me and I don’t mind avoiding more of those.

    1. Wow, great update! Learning to trust our instincts can be difficult yet we’re almost always validated. Great to read that your BF saw what was happening and supported you over the toxic friend.

    2. ‘Among other things, he tried to convince my BF, in private, that I am “dangerous” because of my mental illness.’
      YIKES. There is not enough YIKES in the world for that.

      1. 100% agree. My shoulders just shot up past my ears and practically engulfed my entire head.

        Society already stigmatizes mental illness enough, and in ways that a broken leg or shingles or cancer (etc.) would never be stigmatized (and I am also Not Okay with how people ‘rank’ physical illnesses in terms of the level of compassion they feel the diseases ‘deserve’ also, e.g. diabetes, regardless of type, always being seen as some failure of responsible diet, when…NO, and so on, to the point where some insensitive clods even rank types of cancers by how much compassion they can avoid showing for the afflicted parties…but I digress).

        For a “friend” of your BF to try to add to the existing problem many folks already have with understanding that mental illness should not bear a stigma (or that types of illness deserve greater or lesser compassion)? Not cool.

    3. I’m so glad this guy’s out of your life! Your letter and the Cap’n’s response helped me a lot when I was feeling guilty about not wanting a friend-of-a-friend with serious geek social fallacy issues in my life. From the first time I met him, I thought he was an aggressive, controlling misogynist. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when he turned out to be an aggressive, controlling misogynist!

      I managed civility until 2 things happened: One, we were in a group and playing a board game, and every move I made would be met with a patronising “Well /done/, Yeine!” in the tone of voice one would use to a four year old who was picking up their toys unasked. Two, less than a week before my wedding, when I had anxiety through the roof, we were in the same place for less than half an hour, and had what I and everyone else present saw as a civil, if slightly distracted, conversation. After I left, he sulked in the bathroom for half an hour, punched the wall in there, then rejoined the group and announced that he had punched a wall because ‘you all saw how short Yeine was being with me.’

      Since the time I told my husband that I would not, under any circumstances, be in the same place as him ever again, he has done his level best to convince the rest of our mutual friends that I am ‘crazy’ (his word, not mine) and that my husband should leave me. He has a habit of beginning ‘complain about Yeine’ sessions in front of my husband (who shuts that shit down post-haste). Meanwhile, I live a very happy life in which I rarely even have to remember that he exists. This is a win for me, and a who-gives-a-crap for him.

  33. I’m the LW for #841: “It’s only a matter of time before I ruin his life.”

    Well, I gathered the courage to talk to Robert about my concerns regarding how his career might be affected if our relationship came out. He was kind of surprised that I was worrying so much about it–he pretty much figured if happened it happened, and if someone didn’t like it, they could screw.

    Still, this opened up a conversation between us (and Cora) about what we thought the future would look like, as your advice, and the other commenters, had really made me realize I had been pushing my desire–which was to be more open about my life with him–to the side. I ended up actually leaving the small city we were living in and moving to a much better job in a super-awesome big city a few hours away. I had actually been unofficially offered this job through my network but had not thought seriously about it largely because of Robert.

    We are still together, doing a long-distance thing. He comes to my city for a few days every six weeks or so. It kind of sucks not seeing him as often, but it is more than made up for by the fact that when I do see him, we can actually go out together, in public, and do the sort of things people in normal relationships do! We go out to dinner! We go to the movies! It’s great! Plus I actually kind of like having the extra room to have my own life–which in this city is very busy, as I have a lot of friends.

    We decided before I left that we would be okay with me seeing other people in my new city, but so far my emotional needs are still being met wonderfully by both Robert and my friend network, and the occasional visits are enough for my physical needs so far. So, basically, things are going well. No telling how it will end up, but so good so far. Thanks to you and the commentary for pushing me to figure out what I actually wanted for myself!

    1. when I do see him, we can actually go out together, in public, and do the sort of things people in normal relationships do! We go out to dinner! We go to the movies! It’s great!

      Yay! That sounds so nice!

    2. Oh I’m so glad to read this update! It sounds like your life is going great and “No telling how it will end up, but so good so far.” is a great place to be. ❤

  34. Hi! I’m the LW from letter #856, tl;dr My boyfriend wants to do the things I like with me, but never finds time to actually do them.

    Happy to report that things have improved considerably since writing my letter. I started attaching dates and times to my plans, and asking him for alternate times if mine didn’t work. I think putting some planning back on him made him think about the plans a bit more, which made it easier for him to give a “no, but have fun!” as opposed to defaulting to “yes, but not right now.”

    I also graduated from college, which helped a lot; in retrospect, the “i work about 80 hours a week, but I can move those hours around” schedule made it very easy for me to rearrange my schedule to fit his, and in doing so deprioritize my hobbies and free time. It also allowed me to become a Person with a Car, which makes going to things on my own much easier.

    Thanks again for your advice, Captain and commenters!

  35. Hi — I’m LW #783, how do I tell my dysfunctional folks I’m not spending the holidays with them this year. I have two updates, I guess, since two holidays have passed since then:

    In 2015 I arranged two days to spend with my parents in the city I used to live in, which was a 6 hour flight for me and a 6 hour drive for them, well before the holiday as usual. It went fine, it was sober, it went as usual and expected. (My dad’s health is stable for now but still declining; it’s a matter of time before this issue comes up bigger, like, as their only child and as my mother can’t care for him, do I go back and do that myself? Later question, later question; for now I’m staying where I am.) I then stuck around in the same city and spent a week with my boyfriend’s parents over the holiday itself. (I pretended to my parents as though I was spending it on my own, since I’ve spent the holidays on my own many years previously. I’m sure they figured it out, but we never had a confrontation about it.)

    I don’t regret spending this time with my boyfriend’s parents, because I think I would be wondering about a lot more if I hadn’t — BUT there was a lot of unintentional pressure from my boyfriend’s family to be very, very social over Christmas. I had a place to stay about an hour from their house where I could be alone, and I intended to go there several nights of that week, but I ended up going back there only once for a couple of hours due to “family obligations” in the boyfriend-family Christmas extravaganza lineup.

    These obligations were not truly obligatory, and my biggest regret in all this is that I didn’t enforce stricter boundaries. They are a very large family, so different members of the extended family came by the house each of the six days, and while I was welcome to opt out of “their” family time in the mornings and afternoons, it was a bigger deal just… not to meet certain members of the extended family in the evenings, since my boyfriend and I live 3k miles away and see people on the other coast only once a year. (Distance continues to be a theme; read below.) Their family also, er, uses alcohol in what I suspect is a regular and healthy way, but it being the holidays there was a lot of it. There was only joy and no fighting, but it was still pretty much a constant barrage of booze — I was never pressured, but everyone else was kind of tipsy every day for a week — which made things more difficult for me in terms of recharging.

    It was fundamentally pleasant and I had some good experiences. I didn’t try to hide my past and I wound up talking with my boyfriend’s dad at length about it. He was very understanding and in fact had a similar experience. It was a lot, though, and like I said, I really regret not setting firmer boundaries about whether *their* family was *my* family at the time, because–

    Update 2: The conversation about what “we,” me automatically included (cue internal screaming), were doing for Christmas this year began in June. I was extremely upfront that I thought this was completely absurd and stated very plainly that I would not know what I was doing in December until probably November. It is not that they weren’t kind and accommodating; they were, to the point that it was exhausting. They spoke to me on the phone about my Christmas preferences (again — in June), and both my boyfriend and his dad worked hard to help his mom understand (so it wasn’t *my* job, bless them) why it’s not “sad” that I don’t enjoy Christmas. But it came up every two weeks for the entire second half of the year what I may or may not be joining them for (in detail — I was being convinced, not respected), and I found that exhausting.

    By early November I actually broke down after one such conversation and said I didn’t think I could do Christmas with my boyfriend’s family again this year. It was too much pressure. Boyfriend, who panics more than he gets upset, panicked. Turns out it’s a really big deal to him that I spend time getting to know his family, and that my difference in opinion about whether I’m actually part of their family now is worrying him. I have spent two weeks (of CONSTANT company) with his family this year, compared with my own parents at four part-days, and yet neither he nor his parents feel I speak to his parents often enough.

    This is totally bonkers to me. We are working on that, and trying to figure out a halfway point between me “only seeing his parents every six to twelve months” (which seems… normal to me?) and “talking to them on the phone once a week” (which is what his parents want, because they don’t see me enough? I guess?). He has been really helping me set other boundaries with his parents (like “LW is staying home this Christmas, do not harass her about it” — which I did, and which they respected), and I don’t want to just shrug off this nice family who does family differently than me and has trouble understanding what an introvert is, since their family does not have any. It’s a work in progress.

    But I did stay home this year. I saw neither my parents nor his parents over the holidays, and — I have never been happier over Christmas in my life. I was totally by myself, and I felt great. I turned down invitations for a local dinner and sang my way through Christmas Day. I made myself Christmas dinner and took a beautiful walk. It was everything I’ve ever wanted out of the day: peace. I’m still living the very real effects of making my own choice and doing my own thing over this fraught time of year.

    It was probably the Captain and the commenters’ refrain of “adults get to make their own decisions about what to do over the holidays” that partially empowered me to do that, so — thank you. I came back to this letter while trying to figure out how to say, “I cannot talk to my *own* parents every week on the phone let alone yours,” just two days ago, so your advice is still helping me today. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Life is pretty good these days.

    1. Thanks for this! I’m in a similar spot with my partner’s family (just WAY. TOO. MUCH. TOGETHERNESS) and reading your update about how the world didn’t end just because you didn’t fold to their well-meaning, but still invasive, pressure around holidays is so reassuring.

    2. Awesome update! It made me smile to read “adults get to make their own decisions about what to do over the holidays” and how much that helped you. Yay you! Sounds like you had a blissful holiday season.

    3. I’m glad you did the holidays your way this year! Yay you for figuring out what you don’t want and sticking to it. I hope you and them can come to more understanding as time goes by.

  36. I actually sent the Captain an update about 6 months after I wrote in but long story short:

    • I never contacted the ex again and if he’s tried contacting me I don’t know about it because he’s blocked everywhere possible and any emails he or his dad (who used to email me all the time, but it got weird after we broke up) get sent to the trash, which I never check.

    • I dated a great guy about 10 months later who made me feel like, basically the sexiest and funniest and smartest and coolest thing ever. It didn’t work out because he went to grad school and I moved 2000 miles away buuuuuuuut we keep in touch and maybe if we’re in the same place down the line we can try again.

    • Like most, I have occasional moments of low self-esteem, but nothing compared to how low I was after the ex’s unasked for, unnecessary opinion on my appearance.

    • Life is generally awesome and literally that dude dumping me and being a massive butt about it was the best thing that ever happened to me. The semester he broke up with me was the semester I got all high A’s in my courses, a trend I kept up until
    I got my degree.

    • For the few months after writing in, whenever I felt weak, I just went back here and read the comments and it helped keep me from feeling too bad or making any mistakes. Thank you all so so so much again for all the advice and good vibes!

  37. LW #922 here:

    Hi Captain and the Awkwardeers!

    Small summary: I wrote in asking if it was okay to break up with a guy, because I felt that he was giving me a lot of emotional weight and I did not feel as if I was/am in a place to deal with that on top of my own stuff.

    So…I ended up not talking to the guy all week as I got really busy at work. I’d asked for some time to myself to concentrate on a major work project, which he said was okay. The next day, I got a message saying:

    “Look, I know you want some alone time but I just wanted to tell you that I’m here if you need me.”

    …*sigh* Yes, this is the kind of text I’d get all the time when I requested some me time. I know it might seem nice, but the tone always came across as if he was reminding me he was always there.

    We were due to meet on Friday, and that was when I was planning to break up with him (I’m old school and like to do it face to face!). I’d prepared a script and was about to confirm a friend for standby help/drinks after.

    Then Now-Ex-BF messaged me while I was at work, saying:

    “I feel like I’m about to get a dumping, that would suck but you know I’m pathologically nice so if that’s where it’s going don’t agonise over it just spit it out.”

    As annoyed as I was at him forcing me to do this before I was ready/prepared (I also felt that it was weird for someone to describe themselves as “pathologically” nice but I may be off-base there), I ended up using the scripts you guys gave me (“I feel…for me…I need…”). I also offered to meet up as planned in case he wanted to talk more.

    He did not, and I am free. And I do say “free”, because I feel a lot freer now!

    Thank you all so much for your support and music suggestions – I discovered a lot of music that made me feel much better about what I was doing (and reminded me who I was doing it for).

    It was a major help to know that I wasn’t alone in how I felt, and I felt like you guys were all standing behind me, cheering me on. It really made this a lot easier to do.

    I would like to suggest my own additions to the mix in order to pay it forward a bit. I hereby present the self-love wonders that are Little Mix:

    Wings –
    Hair –
    Shout Out To My Ex –

    One small thing: He did say he would leave me to it and we’d see where we were in the New Year…so I got a text message at 00:01 on Jan 1st 2017, telling me Happy New Year and to let him know when I’d be free to meet up?

    I laughed, if I’m honest. Some things just won’t change, I guess…

    (Note: he has given no indication of anything more stalkery, but I’ve unfriended him on FB etc. and am prepared to block his number if he hows signs of getting worse, don’t worry!)

    Thank you again, and good luck to those who are about to do the same thing. You are awesome and you deserve happiness (and are super amazing for taking the time to remind me that I do too.)


    LW #922, who is apparently not selfish AT ALL 🙂

    P.S. CA, I provided a fake email address here as I have a WP account, but most of the text here is what I have emailed you previously, just to verify my ID! 🙂


    Cw: sexual assault

    This was me (they/them). Partner (they/them) told Friend (he/him) that they couldn’t date after I finally put my foot down about it. He decided to take a friend break from them in order to get over his feelings (which Partner tried to guilt me over). In April, Partner came to me and asked if Friend could be their new roommate (he was currently living across the country, so this would be quite the move). I said no, and they said it wasn’t actually up to me and he was going to move in with them end of August. Then in May Partner broke up with me after I said that I wasn’t comfortable with them resuming their kink relationship with Friend. Beginning of August, Partner sexually assaulted me, and then again in September. Also, Friend is afraid of seeing me anywhere, so Partner (or I guess Ex) has done some shitty things to me in the name of making sure he doesn’t have to run into me anywhere.

    An important piece of information is that I am/was emotionally dependent on Ex (I have DPD), so it’s been a lot of work, but I have put some distance between us now. We only ever interact in public spaces and it’s pretty infrequent now. I’ve been in therapy since April, so that’s been really helpful. Hopefully we’ll get to the point where I can handle not ever seeing them again (minus awkward grocery store run ins because we unfortunately live a few blocks from each other).

    I really appreciated your advice, it validated a lot of my feelings and helped me stand up for myself. I wish that I had listened to it more fully and just broken things off then, but I’m just glad we’re not dating anymore, even if it took an extra 7 months.

    Lastly, I’ve finally been able to let myself be angry with them. It’s been immensely satisfying. Can recommend.

    1. I’m so sorry all of that happened to you. I’m really glad that you’re getting some distance and space and therapy now.

    2. I’m so sorry you went through all that. I hope that things improve and that things only get better for you. Sending you good vibes through the internet.

    3. Ugh, I’m sorry you had to go through this. I wish you all the healing and emotional independence!

    4. I’m sad and angry that your ex did such horrible things to. At the same time, I’m happy that you are out of that relationship and that in general things are looking up for you.

  39. I’m LW #644 and I asked about how to stop difficult people from derailing meetings when you’re the meeting chair. The Captain’s advice helped me get some perspective on my problem and then the commenters weighed in with suggestions of useful meeting-running techniques to use. Getting external “permission” from everybody to exercise my power as chair helped me reframe the problem mentally – I stopped having ickyfeels about being “mean” and started seeing my boundary-setting as tiring but necessary work.

    I also realised, thanks to a casual suggestion from a commenter, that this difficult person’s hearing impairment was worse than it seemed. This was contributing to her annoying behaviour . I dealt with it by trying to fix the set-up of the meeting room so she’d be in a position to hear better.

    I tried several of the techniques, and our meetings definitely improved as a result. Less successfully, I tried giving “Ethel” more tasks to do, as a way of harnessing her energy and bossiness. This didn’t work out at all well and in the process I realised she still saw my (male) predecessor as the real authority in the group – which might have been why she ignored my softer attempts to set boundaries and only responded to the more obvious stuff.

    Ultimately I realised I was burnt out from being over-committed in too many voluntary roles, so I quit the chairperson role when our AGM rolled round six months later. Now I think I’m much better equipped to chair future meetings, both because of the techniques under my belt and because I’ve addressed my own squeamishness about being “mean” and perhaps about being in charge of things generally. I realised my very consensus-driven chairing style was in some ways just about avoiding responsibility. Now I’m still consensus-driven but it’s more of a true consensus – I actively seek contributions from everybody and I don’t just let the pushiest/rambliest people dominate.

  40. Can I just say thank you to everyone who updated? I LIVE for advice column updates and you are generous to share your stories with us!

    1. Ditto! What a great way to start the new year: stories of success and empowerment.

    2. Yes! I’ve been wanting to hear what happened with so many of these letters. Great idea.

      Hope these open threads can happen again from time to time.

  41. Congratulations to so many LW where things have got a lot better, it’s been really uplifting to know that they have often got better. And solidarity and support to everyone wading through further difficulties.

  42. I’m letter writer #284 (; I actually wrote a thank you in to CA a few years ago, which I have included below, with some more recent updates since. I want to preface that by saying that CA’s advice has been very important to me since, and I think about it a lot, in terms of evaluating whether people actually like ME or whether they like the IDEA of me or whether they just like the sound of their own voice (I mean, also the whole site in terms of learning how to people, too!). Anyway, here we go:

    “Hi Captain Awkward,

    I’ve been meaning to write in for a bit, and hadn’t quite gotten around to it. But no time like the present.

    I thought you might like to know how things turned out with my “controlling-about-my-appearance” ex; as you can see, I did break up with him. And I am not sad at all, although I didn’t make and act on the decision to break up until 6 months later ( I don’t do anything fast. A chronic failing).

    I wanted to thank you for answering my letter and for your kindness and directness. Your point that my ex didn’t seem to even like me resonated a lot with me and was something I thought about a lot both in the process of reevaluating the relationship and after breaking up. And was something I said straight up to him when I broke up with him. Not much arguing one can do against that.

    I also really appreciated the confirmation that his behaviour was controlling and that one should have a partner that appreciates ones appearance however that shakes out. It was nice not to get the “sometimes people in a relationship make compromises to make the other person happy and keep the peace” speech I hear from so many people.

    I will admit I was really surprised when I checked the CaptainAwkward site after sending in my letter; I hadn’t actually thought that it might be answered and was mostly trying to “write my way” through my thoughts in a completely honest way then sending it off into the ether. In any case I am really, really glad ( and grateful) that you thought my situation instructive enough to publish and respond to.

    I can’t tell you how much happier I am no longer being in a relationship with someone who feels their primary function is to “correct” my social behaviour and belittle my appearance and values. I am so much more confident and comfortable and able to focus and…a lot of things really. And its amazing how when we broke up, all of a sudden I was (and still am) really angry at him for how he’d treated me, and that’s an interesting lesson for me in how reframing a relationship shakes a pot of emotional stuff into focus.

    So anyway, I just wanted to say thanks again for your advice and for running your blog, and being generally a positive presence on the internet ( and I’m sure in the world at large). ”

    And since that was a few years ago (how time flies) a few, more current details: I have spent the last two years coming out (to myself and the world) as a queer-ish, non-binary person, and have had a few relationships since (one of which went rather badly and painfully, but was immensely instructive, two of which are currently very fulfilling and ongoing), have connected with the queer community in my hometown, started to get back into theater, dance and performing, which was something I used to do quite a lot of but had stopped with ex, built myself a great friend group from scratch, and then moved 5000 kilometers for a great work opportunity that has me living in the north in a completely different community for the first time in my life, and now playing roller derby and taking up social dance. Next week I am beginning the long process of tackling my mental health issues in a more constructive and organised way that will hopefully give me some concrete answers and tools with which to manage them.

    I am SO MUCH HAPPIER. And ex and I are not friends, and don’t talk and that was my decision after we met for coffee twice after breaking up and he monologued at me for an hour and was intensely boring both times. Life is too short for that.

    Many thanks to both yourself and your commentators, and much love to all of you.

    1. PARTY ON!!!!
      LW 284, I am sooooooooo happy you updated us! I’ve been wanting to punch your ex in the throat since I read your letter, and now it’s time for the epic party suggested by the Captain.
      [insert fireworks and party-poppers and cookies and kittens]

    2. I hope there was a break up cake at some point, LW 284, I liked the photo the captain used in her answer. Either way, congrats on creating your life post break up.

        1. I LOLed, this is fantastic. 😀

          LW 284!! Good for you!! I agree with the others above, we should TOTALLY have that party. One of the main events can be us making fun of him monologueing at you at post-breakup coffee, because that’s pretty funny in a completely stupid way.


    3. Yay you! Your letter reminded me so much of my emotionally abuse ex who also did not seem to like *me* as much as he liked someone he thought he could turn me into if I would just drop my baffling insistence on having my own opinions.

      All the stuff you’ve been doing since your breakup sounds like so much fun! You have clearly done an awesome job of not crushing yourself into the tiny box your ex wanted you to fit into 😀

  43. I am the LW from #539

    The letter boiled down to a friendship had ended in a messy way and the other party was, after the fact, making moves to be friends again, despite being the one to end it in the past.

    After sending that letter I touched base with a mutual friend of her and I both (she/her all around) and Mutual Friend confessed she had no idea what was going on with Old Friend because she had pulled this rather dramatic Feelings Bomb on her a few months before my wedding (including turning Mutual Friend’s broken engagement into an audit on their friendship). And hearing Mutual Friend describe what happened to her made me realize she was doing the same things she had done with me, but Mutual Friend is bad ass and awesome and called out the manipulative BS for what it was. This clicked the last piece into place because I realized it wasn’t me she missed, but someone who would just accept they had messed up if the other person was upset, period. There were some red flags that filtered in from other sources so I stayed faaar away. The next time I really saw her after that was her own wedding the next year, which I was super anxious about because I had been close to her family as well and oh nooo, but she was actually really lovely about it, as was her Mom. The fact that my husband had been Super Groomsman and I had just started helping out without needing to be asked helped I think.

    I don’t see much of her because she tends not to come out with her husband to small Friend Things, and due to my health I tend to avoid the bigger Friend Things she goes to, but when we do see each other it’s all pleasant and nice. I’m reminded why I always liked her and authentically wish her well, and I think she feels the same way. She occasionally reaches out an olive branch, and she seems to be doing a lot better than she was back when I had any idea what the picture was, but I remain tempted and turn down the offers (which she is never weird about)

  44. I read all these updates into the early morning hours, even going on to read the original posts in some cases. Each update moved me. All of you are AMAZING, wonderful people! Thank you for your updates, and thanks to the CA army for keeping me sane in an otherwise crazy year. I hope 2017 is a fabulous year for everyone on this site, may each of us (re)discover our awesomeness!!

    PS: Would you consider a name change to Captain Awesome? 🙂

  45. I’m LW 27 (

    Nothing happened. The intern ended up telling the bosses she was pregnant when she was legally obliged to, and they took it well. She got her degree. As far as I know, she had a healthy baby who was not affected in the slightest by the teratogenic products her mother was working with. So in end it was a huge storm in a glass of water, which was a relief. Nevertheless, thank you for posting my letter and taking the time to answer it. It really helped reduce the stress I was feeling over this.

  46. I’m LW 638.

    I decided to play a prank on my partner while he was doing some traveling. I bought a box of ball pit balls to pile on his bed. I kept the box at work for a few days so partner wouldn’t see it if he happened to come over. My coworkers asked, “what’s in the giant box?” and I was able to drop partner’s name and gender into the conversation in a way that felt casual. Captain was right. None of my coworkers cared. I was policing my own identity more than they ever would.

    Also, my partner loved the prank and thought it was hilarious.

  47. Hi guys, I’m this one:

    I had forgotten the comments had to be closed on this one (yikes)…

    Anyway, I did talk to my sister in law about it. I also asked my parents about it, and they had in fact been contacted by him but just ignored it. It was good to get it out in the open. Creepy ex continues to email me every few months or so — I haven’t responded to him since, and I send everything to a folder that bypasses the inbox (even though I rarely check that email address anymore). He’s found some new tricks — he sent e-cards using my email address to my SIL, he sent me Reddit links, etc. Apparently he also contacts her sister and her mother, but they respond to him frequently out of anger (which I can respect), and she’s forwarded me responses she’s sent to him as well, so while he’s getting no response from me, he’s getting it elsewhere, which is unfortunate. I don’t think he’ll give up entirely until everyone shuts him down. I have stopped sending her the things that he sends me now, because now that I know she/her family responds, I don’t want him to find out that I’m still seeing what he sends, if that makes sense. There are never any “new” pieces of information or any threats to her well being — I would absolutely speak up if I got something along those lines.

    Unfortunately, while our relationship is cordial, it’s not close. As time has gone by, it’s clear we have really no common ground (except the stalker!) and we just don’t really click. So we didn’t get the breakthrough moment I was kind of hoping for from this bad situation. She and my brother seem fine, and reasonably happy together, albeit struggling financially. Overall over the past few years I’ve had to come to grips with the fact I’m not going to have super close relationships with my siblings; we have fun together, and it’s very friendly, but we’re all very different people.

    I was happy for CA’s perspective, because stalking literally is something that had never happened to me, or to anyone in my friend circle, so I didn’t have any framework for it. While it was frustrating that the thread became a bit of a pile on, and feeling like I was being judged harshly for not knowing what I didn’t know in a context where I was reaching out about something I didn’t know — there were pieces of constructive feedback too. I wish it would have brought her and I closer, but regardless I’m glad I didn’t sit on this secret.

    1. Thank you for the update. I’ve wondered a lot.

      I’m impressed by how well you’ve handled the stalker, and the relationship with your SIL.

  48. I’m the LW from “Fans vs. Friends”. Looks like I can’t post links, but it was letter #351.

    So, while the sending of that letter (and the events leading up to the letter, and the subsequent finding of the letter by the person it’s written about, etc.) is still something I deeply cringe about on a regular basis, I’m happy to declare that I’ve gotten to a point in my anxiety and personal development where I will never do something like that again. (I still get anxious and overthink a LOT of things, but I can generally process that stuff myself or with someone who’s volunteered to help, not vomit my feelings all over some poor unsuspecting person.)

    As for the actual situation I was writing about – after the comment thread he left on the post that included the letter, I didn’t interact with that guy online for a very long time (partly to avoid being invasive and partly because I was embarrassed). Eventually, he announced another tour in which he’d be stopping in my city again. I considered not going, what with the elephant in the room, but I did. The event was great, there was no awkwardness that I picked up on, I actually did hang out with him a little bit with some other folks, and the whole thing was a load off my mind.

    So, happy ending despite the fact that my problem was all my own damn fault. 😛

    1. This update is super nice, and Mark who does stuff seems super nice, and you seem super, duper, duper nice! Good on ya!!

  49. Also! I am ALSO the LW from #835, “keeping meetings on track when a small group won’t focus.” Much shorter resolution to that one – we got another woman to step in as a moderator for the committee, she kicked some ass and took names, the problems didn’t go away entirely but were much less frequent & dramatic, and I could officially stick that stuff under Not My Problem. And the convention we were planning went off with no catastrophes.

  50. I’m LW543:

    Before I get to the update, it’s interesting going back and reading this in hindsight. I wish I had worded things differently, and focused more on my obsessing over something I found online rather than the f-word. That’s the only aspect of the situation I had control over.

    Looking back, dating seriously (plus other things) has shined a light on some anxious tendencies I had been avoiding up until then. What I didn’t explicitly write in my letter was that I was really good at casually, which gave me a lot of satisfaction without any risk of heartache. Meeting a guy I really liked honestly scared me, and I was on high alert for anything that might prove it was a farce.

    Captain’s advice helped a lot though, and things have worked out great! What I found did come up on its own months later, and it was a nonissue. I’m still with the same guy I wrote about, and I think we’ll be together for the long run. He’s wonderful.

  51. Hi Awkward Army! I am one of a legion of past letter writers who never got posted, but Captain kindly replied, so I just wanted to pop in from my lurking and say: thank you, it was so invaluable to hear “don’t do the painful thing other people are telling you to do, don’t engage with the people who are being jerks while telling you if only you would everything would be fine, just peace out! The world won’t end!” The world did indeed not end, and I’m in a way better place, and even feel like I’ve been able to help others with my experience. THANK YOU.

  52. Hey friends, I’m LW #696 That incident was one of the breaking points in a long, rough journey to accept two conflicting truths: my mom is a wonderful, loving person, and my mom is an emotional abuser who views me as her property. “she actually thinks she’s entitled to know EVERY. SINGLE. THING. about me, because, as near as I can figure, she doesn’t actually perceive me as a separate human being at all, but more of an extension of her own ego, or something.” was something MellifluousDissent said to describe their own mother, but it hit me that they were also describing mine, and it made me think. Also, elodieunderglass, in that abrasive yet loving way they have, made me defensive of my mom which sparked me to question why I was defending my mom’s unquestionably bad behaviour and made me realise the ways in which I was helping her continue the abuse because I didn’t want to rock the boat.

    I wasn’t ashamed to own a vibrator, but I was still weirded out by my own sexuality after 21 years of ignoring my genitals, and that also contributed heavily to my initial reaction of “GAH GET AWAY FROM ME AND NEVER COME BACK!”

    In the two years since I wrote the letter, I’ve worked really hard at creating boundaries with my mom. Not letting her into my space unless absolutely necessary, not taking calls when I was busy or at work, hanging up if the conversation crossed boundaries or if I needed to use the bathroom. I got an IUD and I didn’t die. I said “shit” at the Thanksgiving banquet because I accidentally tripped on my cousin and hurt him really bad, and mom was the only family member to even raise an eyebrow. I got a side-shave and the sky didn’t drop to the earth and crush us all. I got help for my mental health issues against her wishes, and I’m happier then I thought was possible for human beings. My partner and I have an amazingly strong relationship, and I’m more in love with them every day. Coming up on the horizon is getting a tattoo and moving in with my partner (not necessarily in that order) and I hope everything I’ve learned from my mental health team and the Captain Awkward fam will get me through the inevitable shitstorm. Tangled is still my favourite Disney movie, and my starter pack (along with tissues and chocolate) for anyone who has a nagging feeling their mother isn’t safe.

    Oh, and my nightstand drawers still aren’t sticky. 😉

    1. I’m happier then I thought was possible for human beings

      Yay you! You’ve done a lot of really hard work setting boundaries with your mom and deserve an internet high five!

  53. Hi! I’m LW 261

    The reactions to my question by other readers was kind of upsetting and kind of eye opening for me. First, A LOT of people assumed I am male. I am not. I’m a cis woman who was also at the time dealing with coming to terms with my sexulaity at a late age. And in really unpacking that, I realized that I kept befriending women that I wanted to date instead of dating women I wanted to date and friending women I wanted to friend for babyqueer reasons.

    Second, I realized that I wasn’t setting my boundaries appropriately at all. I still struggle with that. As a highly empathetic person, and a person who doesn’t like conflict, I have troubles saying no when it comes to other people’s emotions and emotional work. I’m learning to be better.

    Third, I was also dealing with baby polyamory things and figuring out my metamour boundaries and realizing that you can’t assume things, you have to communicate things. And my then love just really didn’t want the same things I did. Mostly, she wanted her husband and to have a casual thing which was not at all casual for me (bc first lady love).

    Soo….. now? I’m out, happy, in a really healthy relationship with someone who encourages me to take care of myself first and to set boundaries with her and other people for my own well being. I’m making friends in a new city (with people I don’t have pantsfeels for). Most of my angst in my life is about how my family is dealing with me dating women (and occasionally multiple people).

    1. I feel you so much on the befriending ladies you’d like to date for babyqueer reasons! I’m glad things are going better for you, and hope that your family comes around soon and is (at least polite) to you in the meantime.

    2. I’m sorry people misgendered you in the comments 😦 That’s really awful, especially when you’re queer, even if you’re not gender-queer. Usually people around here are a lot more aware and on top of things like that.

      On the upside, I’m really, really glad things are going better for you! ^___^

  54. Hello. I’m LW486 Feeling lonely in a relationship and worried about self-sabotage. I already said in the comments that I broke up with that boyfriend in the end. It took a while but I am happy to report that I am now…happy! While my depression tried to creep back now and then I am far better at managing it these days, and just in a better place generally. I got my degree, moved countries and life is pretty good. I am also dating again, this time someone who’s attachment style matches up better with mine.

    I still go back a read that post about once a year. It always makes me tear up a bit, both as a reminder of how difficult that time was, but also because of how well the Captain and everyone in the comment thread understood what was going on in my head. Plus the advice is good to remember even when things are going well! I will always be grateful for such a kind and understanding response during what was kinda of dark period of my life.

  55. Hey, so. I’m LW #440 (“It’s time to get out of my abusive home, but I am afraid to accept help,” It’s weird to think that was four years ago! I wrote an update on the Celebration Station thread last week as well, but I’m glad to write something here as well.

    Things have improved out of sight since I wrote in. In May 2013 I moved into my first place, a tiny flat that heated up like an oven as soon as November hit, with an ultra-dated lilac bathroom, mysterious and suspicious-looking stains on the carpet, old food lodged down the side of the cooker, and a practically-antique air-conditioner that sounded like a 747. I loved that little flat. It was mine. I lived there for two years, and although there were awful moments (such as when I almost burst into tears in the supermarket aisle because I had $3 left for the week and almost no food at home), I was happy.

    In all that time, I only had one fight with my father. It was a doozy, though. It had him smashing wine glasses and grabbing me by the upper arms so he could yell in my face, then suicide threats, and finally I ended up screaming that he had abused me for years and my mother had just stood by and let it happen (she, by the way, was crying and begging us to stop arguing – like it was an equal match!). He stormed out. My mother drove me home; begged me to believe that she hadn’t known (I suspect she just didn’t *want* to know, but that’s another matter). My father arrived. Apologised through the screen door. I let him and my mother weep on my couch. I think I had been bottling things up for a long time. I think that fight had been a very long time coming.

    They’ve behaved themselves since then. I do filing for my mother as cash-in-hand work, and I feel like we are pretty close these days – certainly friendly. My father and I have a cordial, if somewhat cool, relationship. I wouldn’t call us close, but we can hang out, watch TV and the like. I probably eat dinner at their place every week or two. I can’t believe how much better I get along with them now I don’t have to live in the same house. I actually like spending time with them. I did have to spend one night under their roof while moving house, and Never Again – it was awful, even though I only saw them for five minutes. It sent me right back to feeling nineteen years old.

    By early 2015, my parents had been behaving themselves so well for such a long time that the friend I talked about in my original letter encouraged me to let them, essentially, give me a huge amount of money (we’re talking six figures) so I could buy a property, which was something they’d wanted to do for a long time. I decided, in the end, that (unlike in 2013) the pros outweighed the cons for that option, so that April I bought a flat of my own. Slightly larger than my tiny flat (two bedrooms instead of one), slightly closer to town, still very dated and with no air conditioner at all, but with gorgeous hill views and a balcony. I loved that flat too.

    My friend never got to see my flat. She died that November. It was sudden, and horrible. I miss her.

    It was around that time that my girlfriend moved in with me (a note on my parents here – my parents greatly approve of Partner, although she isn’t out to them as trans, so they believe she’s my boyfriend. They’re fine with LGB people – I’m pretty open about identifying as bi, and some of their best friends were openly gay or lesbian even in the ’60s and ’70s – but I think the TQI part might be a little bit beyond them. I’m trying to educate them. Subtly). As it turned out, my second lovely all-mine flat was just too small for two people, one of whom is a practicing musician with loads of instruments, so we ended up moving again late last year to a rented unit which is a bit bigger, on the ground floor and with its own garden. We don’t intend on staying here for longer than a year. I’m letting out my flat at below-market rates to two acquaintances of Partner, who were in moderately dire straits, in exchange for them letting us come in and do some work on the place to get it a bit nicer before we rent it out “properly”.

    I started seeing a psychiatrist again. He doesn’t think I have Aspergers’ syndrome, which I think I mentioned in the comments that I had been told I had. He has tentatively diagnosed me with C-PTSD, which it apparently can sometimes mimic. I also definitely have depression and anxiety. I’m taking anti-depressants, which help with the first but less with the second. It’s funny – I have less general, background anxiety than I used to have, but the tradeoff is that I have many more panic attacks, which I’ve always had (seriously – I was three when I had the first I can remember) but they used to be comparatively rare. And the panic attacks are bad, worse than they’ve ever been. I get dissociation with them now, which always terrifies me. I shake and stare, and I won’t be able to move my eyes from their fixed spot. I’ll clench my hands into fists so tight that my fingernails sometimes slice cuts in my palm, and the muscles in my arms will get so tight that they’ll cramp when I try to move them once the worst of it is over. If a fire broke out in the next room, I don’t think I’d be able to get out of the building, because I can’t remember how to move. And while all this is going on, most of me is off to one side, wondering what exactly is going on and why I can’t move my eyes and whether I’m just doing this for attention (spoiler alert: I’m not). Partner can usually get me through them, when she’s there.

    I’m still working at the same part-time job I was working at when I wrote my letter in 2013, but probably not for much longer. Late last year, I got a second part-time job at a place you’ve probably heard of (seriously – biiiiiiiig international firm) and my (amazing!) boss there seems to think I’ll be offered a full-time position very soon. My other job refused to give me more hours no matter how many times I asked, even when I applied to full-time jobs there, despite doing plenty of study over the past few years (at the level I was at, it was basically equivalent to doing a year at law or business school, but instead they call them “Certificates” and they aren’t worth as much) and out-qualifiying some of the people who *did* get full-time positions. I was upset at the time, but I love my new job and I think working there full time will be amazing. One door closes, yadda yadda.

    I think Partner is the best thing that’s happened to me in the last few years, though. I thought I wanted to be alone. And I did want that, for a while. I really loved living on my own, and I think it was very good for me. But I love living with Partner even more. She’s the only person I’ll allow into that tiny room with the door I can close. She can hold me and make the scary thoughts go away.

    So that’s my update. There were one hundred and ninety three comments on Letter #440, eighteen of which were my replies. That’s still amazing to me. One hugely compassionate response from the Captain, and one hundred and seventy five comments, all telling me that it was okay to leave, that I would be okay, that I was allowed to ask for help.

    Thank you.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, but at the same time so glad that your life is going better. Congratulations, Ms. Kittenwhiskers, for all that you’ve achieved. You seriously rule.

    2. I’m so glad things turned out well for you! It’s nice to meet someone whose company is just as good as being alone (as a fellow introvert, I understand that importance). I hope your good part-time job turns full-time!

  56. P.S. I want to be clear, I am still angry with my parents. They failed at being good parents to me, in a very real and damaging way. But – I don’t feel like that necessarily makes them bad people in the other aspects of their lives, y’know? I can’t see myself ever forgetting the ways in which my father hurt me, and I can’t see myself ever completely forgiving my parents. I have a hot, hard nugget of anger deep in my chest that I don’t think is ever going to go away – that I don’t want to let go – that I don’t think I *can* let go. It took me too long to find it in the first place. It took me too long to believe I was worth something. But I can put the anger somewhere else now, until I need it. I can spend time with my parents, and enjoy it, even knowing there is a small piece of anger burning fiercely somewhere far below my breastbone. My anger doesn’t burn me any more.

    1. Huh, guessing my original (long) comment got eaten by the spam trap. Ah well. Hopefully it will get fished out at some stage, and then having a P.S. will make sense.

    2. “My anger doesn’t burn me any more.” is gorgeous. Your whole update makes me so happy & this P.S. just makes it better. Thank you for updating!

  57. Hi guys, I’m the husband (then-fiancé) of LW 247, whose mom “Alice” had awful boundary issues. The short story is that after having a series of knock-down, drag-out fights in which she (seriously) threatened to disown me, things calmed down between us, and LW basically stopped attempting to placate Alice. Things were relatively stable until (drumroll)…our son was born 17 months ago!

    Alice acted like this was a giant reset button for all boundaries, including when she came to visit three weeks after he was born and she hassled us about not having donated to the nonprofit she founded, accused us of therefore not loving her or caring about her life, and pitching a collosal, week and a half long tantrum. My response was to basically tell her that she was making things up and to get over herself (not that it wasn’t horrible to go through, but as I said in a comment thread somewhere, when someone has already threatened to disown you and then claimed they never said that, you can pretty much say whatever you want to them without fear of repercussions). When that was over, she acted like it had never happened.

    She now acts like she is terrified that we will never let her see him again, so when we do see him she puts on a display of what an amazing grandma she is (and to her credit, she is amazing with him and he loves her) and gets upset if we try to hold him or do anything with him when she’s around (because she’s the perfect grandma, see?). The difference is that now LW doesn’t have any time for her bullshit and just tells her to back off. Where this is pretty much inevitably headed is that son and I will go visit her without LW, and if she ever needs to come visit us (for instance, to see the new house we just bought) LW will probably take the opportunity to go on a kid-free long weekend, and she and LW are probably going to see one another less and less.

    So tl;dr short term things got better, then we had a kid and need to renegotiate all our boundaries again.

    1. Congratulations on the new addition to your family! I wish you three (that is, LW, your son and you) a long, happy, drama-free life 🙂
      I wouldn’t want to spend any time with Alice, either, but I’m glad you and LW have found a system that works for your family.

    2. Congrats on the baby, and glad to hear that things are going well for your family! Just wanted to say that, as someone who had an “Alice” in my life, that letter and the comments and discussion that followed was enormously helpful.

    3. Please, please, please thank your wife for me. Her letter was the final catalyst of me recognizing my own “Alice’s” toxic behavior and thought patterns, and take the first step into owning my own life.

  58. Hello, all. I was LW #728 ( TL; DR: People were bugging me about what my sister and her husband were planning to name the baby (not after the late and not-so-great Darth Mom) and constantly bringing up how sad it was Darth Mom would not get to see the baby.

    I got a lot of mileage out of “[Vague agreement] + [subject change],” “Everyone says that! + [subject change]” and “Things sure will be different [mentally: and awesome/quieter/less stressful] without Darth Mom around,” with a side-order of telling the nosiest, most gossipy old church ladies I could find, “I know *you* would never, but I’m worried someone will bring it up with Leia. Her doctor says she should avoid stress as much as possible and she always gets so choked up when Darth Mom is brought up that I’m a little worried. This is her first pregnancy, after all.” And then, as if by magic (and the power of gossipy old women), people around town–everyone knew Darth Mom, but no one *knew* Darth Mom, y’know?–continued to make sad noises *at me* about her passing on before meeting the baby, but no one *ever* said anything about it to Leia or Han at all. (I am justifiably proud of myself for that. Go, me!)

    So I continued to make vaguely “meh” noises and change the subject a lot, until there was an actual baby on hand to distract people with. (People can be easily convinced to change the subject if you can go, “Look! A baby!” and thrust a live baby at them. It’s great.)

    Baby Rey is healthy and adorable and just over a year old. No one can imagine her being named anything but what she’s been named. I think I mentioned at Thanksgiving or maybe one of the Holiday threads, she’s learned both to give actual high-fives and Jedi high-fives from across the room. This is never not adorable. No one really brings my mother up in conversation anymore; I’m not sure if that’s a natural progression of the community grieving process or if my responses were just so boring they figure there’s no point. Either way, I win. 🙂

    1. Oh my goodness…. the recruitment of gossipy old church ladies = PURE BRILLIANCE. I’m now envisioning a movie-montage of little old ladies in ridiculous church hats whispering into each other’s ears, Telephone-style, and I’m absolutely cackling with glee.

      Well done by you. So glad everything came right in the end.

  59. I just wanted to say thank you to all of the LW’s who wrote in to share updates. This was such a good thread to read (and such a time suck! Must. Read. All. The. Old. Threads.), and I’m glad to hear how people are doing. Even those of you who are struggling, thank you for coming and sharing; that may feel more difficult, but it’s good to know you’re still there!

    (Thank you, Captain; I hope you have threads like this again!)

  60. A bit late to the party! Thanks so much for all the great advice and support, Captain and commentariat! I got the hell out of that relationship, dropped right into another shitty one, and then got free, spent a year plus being single and recovering and taking care of myself and getting care for anxiety and other conditions. Being in a better position now, I think back on that time and it seems like a bizarre alternative universe where ‘relationship’ means something else entirely. Now I’m seeing a lovely lady who moved in at the end of last year and who NEVER makes me feel crazy or unsafe – ever. She thinks the world of me and treats me so very well.

    The ex in #547 moved countries (and had previously asked me to go with him) and every once in a while when I think of him I imagine my life if I’d moved with him, being broke in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, and I laugh at how weird-bad that would have been and how weird-bad being with him was in general! I am gladly free of it all.

  61. I’m the person who wrote #336 – Gracefully Exiting From Conversations, more than 4 years ago now! That response, and the responses of the commenters was the start of a whole bunch of social awareness that I hadn’t had before. I’ve realised and internalised (finally) that I can just excuse myself and walk away from people who I don’t want to be talking to. It turns out that I don’t really even use excuses that often – sometimes I just say excuse me and walk off if I’m not into a conversation, although needing to get a new drink or the bathroom or whatever are all good excuses that I sometimes use. It turns out that if you smile and do it assertively and most importantly actually do it while physically moving away that it usually goes pretty smoothly. It also turns out that everyone is entering and leaving conversations all the time so it’s not that weird. I’ve noticed that as soon as a conversation monopolising bore gets really going a whole bunch of people leave – it’s now one of my queues that I should maybe consider if I’m actually interested (sometimes I am, but often not).

    Zuzu’s comment with the link to Hugh Jackman demonstrating the George Clooney technique for meeting people he doesn’t want to talk to was actually really helpful. It’s the physical act of keeping on moving that’s the most powerful thing. Most people won’t actually physically wrestle you, and even people who’ve literally cornered you will generally get out of the way if you move with a purpose. And if someone does physically wrestle you? It’s time to make it obvious that’s what’s going on and make an enormous scene, because eek.

    Most importantly though, I’ve actually started to become aware of my own feelings, preferences and thoughts in social situations. I still care a lot about what other people think of me, but I’ve realised that I was so focused on what people might think of me that it blotted out all other thoughts. Now I’m able to actually check in with myself about what I think of them, too. Which means instead of standing helplessly and nodding and smiling while people talk at me, and only realising afterwards that I hated it because I was so focused on my social performance, I now realise during the conversation that I’m not into it and can take action. This has also made me a much better listener – turns out that being entirely focused on how people perceive you isn’t a good strategy for really engaging with people.

    These days I still have many friends complain to me about apparently attracting people who trap them in boring one sided conversations, and they’re always intrigued and confused when I tell them the secret is to actually just…leave the conversation. But, that’s really it. The trick is realising that it’s not unforgivably rude to do so, and to stop being so afraid of how other people will react to it.

  62. I’m not listing my letter, for reasons that I think will become clear. Due to a work trip, I wound up not seeing my letter at the time of publication; it was a few weeks afterward before I got to read the post. The Captain’s smart, sympathetic advice was great.

    The comments weren’t.

    Most people were great. But a few people jumped to conclusions–and we’re talking Olympic long-jumps here, to absolutely wrong conclusions–in an effort to see some way in which I was the person causing hurt instead of being hurt. I’m pretty much 100% positive the person who injured me remains oblivious to the injury. That’s your only hint–and that’s how much I was not hurting that person.

    It took a lot of courage for me to write that letter and ask for help. I’ll never do it again. Not the Captain’s fault. But I do not the trust this forum any longer. The bad apples spoiled the barrel for me.

    Please think long and hard before responding to people here.

    And thanks for nothing.

    1. I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience. It is certainly true that we tend to pull apart letters (that often leave things out for brevity) and see how our own experiences might apply to little snippets (to the point that we take things out of context), and things can get very warped. So thank you for your comment. It’s useful to know that sometimes we fuck up.

      (I’m glad that the Captain’s advice was useful to you. I hope that your situation resolved well.)

    2. Yikes, LW. I’m happy to say that there is more and more pushback, both from the good Captain and the commentarial, against comments trying to speculate and blame the LWs for the situations in which they find themselves. I hope this trend continues as there was a worrying phase for a while where the comments were seriously out of order. So sorry this happened to you.

    3. I’m so terribly sorry to hear that. It’s always the awfulness that sticks with us far longer than the constructive feedback. Sending you good wishes and hopes that you’re doing well now.

    4. I think I know what this is, and I think I was part of it. I apologize. I was extrapolating from a different situation from my own life, and I got it wrong.

  63. Hello all! I wrote letter #309 way back when ( TL:DR I had a nominal “great” boyfriend that didn’t put any work into seeing me or having a relationship.

    It took me another year and a half or so to break up with him, but the Captain and all your replies were really helpful. You guys were on the money. I had a heart-to-heart with him after reading the responses, and yes, he was pretty chronically depressed. He was doing better for a while, then worse again, and so on and so forth, for the rest of the time we were together. Eventually, I went on a study abroad and his life fell to absolute pieces without me there to organize and hand hold, which scared me a fair amount. We broke up not long after I got back, when he had another month of not being able to do anything, but wouldn’t go for any kind of mental health help. He could or would not be present for me, and I should have broken up with him when I first wrote in. Better late than never!

    I’m now in two much healthier, happier relationships (yay, polyamory!). We have our share of mental heath issues to go around, but everybody involved is clear about their own problems and has the appropriate support structures. The advice on my letter and all the wonderful advice on others about boundary setting has had a really positive impact on my life. Thanks Captain!

    1. Yay for being in better relationships now, with people who are clear about which problems are their own.

  64. I wrote letter #87, which has a huge trigger warning for abuse, way back in 2011. Please do consider that trigger warning before following the link ( Please also consider this a trigger warning before reading the rest of this comment!

    Since then, my maternal grandmother has also passed away. I never spoke to her about it, and I am very happy with that decision. Nothing at all would have been gained by making her last few years unhappy. I have been in therapy though, and I’ve spoken to my sister. She says that she may have said something to my mother in an argument, but only about her own experiences, not about me. I take that to mean that I have as much liberty to speak about my own situation as she did; I no longer feel bound to keep quiet because she didn’t want to talk about it.

    I still haven’t spoken to either of my parents about this. But I also don’t agonize over the decision any more. I will talk to my father at some point, for reasons that make sense to me, and once I’ve done that, I will decide whether to talk to my mother or not. She still posts on facebook that she misses him on his birthday every year, and I usually don’t comment, or I comment with some of the nice things that I can honestly say about him.

    So the situation as such hasn’t changed – I’ve not spoken to my parents, I’ve not decided how far I will speak once I do – but I have changed.

    I am so very grateful to the Captain and the commentariat. You helped me think things through a bit more.

    I’ve also spent time with a teenage friend and daughter of a friend of mine, who was abused far worse than me, by her stepfather – I was told about it around the time it came to light, the man got sent to prison and the girl is now nearly adult and has recovered well. In fact, her situation was the trigger for the post to start with; talking to her brought a lot of things to the surface. And I know for sure that talking to a survivor meant a lot to her, especially as we’d gotten to know one another in a “normal” setting and were already friends before her stepfather began the abuse.

    Also, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine found out that his niece had been molested by his own brother. I gave him the link to that post, and he siad it helped him and the niece too. Each post here helps not only the person you (Captain and commentariat) respond to, but countless others who never post or comment.

    Thank you all!

  65. Periodic post wondering whatever happened to the LW whose boyfriend wouldn’t let her pee

    1. I realise this kinda contravenes on posting rules BUT THAT POST STILL HAUNTS ME.


  66. I wrote a letter that became a huge polarizing mess here about my difficulties with my disabled dad insisting on staying in my handicap unfriendly home.

    I don’t want to restart that drama by linking it but for anyone who remembers and is curious: my dad does not stay at my house anymore. When he visits, I make sure he is comfortable paying for a hotel. And yes, despite all the drama, I do love him. He cares about me very much, but I know he struggles with his role in both my life and his own now that mom is gone. He’s used to someone caring for him (and has accidentally called me her name, his mind is affected) and I can’t be that person.

    On the flip side, his girlfriends are all outrageously terrible people and I’m struggling to not be a judgemental jerk about it but I’m sure it’s impacting my ability to cope with other things.

    1. I remember that mess. I am sorry the replies to your letter were not so compassionate and helpful to you. Thank you for the update. I am sorry that the situation still sucks but in new and different ways. It is good to hear from you. I hope your chalice of cope gets recharged at regular intervals or maybe even grows two sizes in the coming years. Best wishes to you.

    2. Ah yes! I remember that letter. Honestly you bought the house you bought and it doesn’t make you a terrible person for it! Your dad staying in a hotel seems like the best idea for everyone, it means you get boundaries, WHICH YOU ARE ALLOWED HAVE, and he doesn’t feel bad for feeling like he might be a burden.

      Person who also lives in a house that is not disability friendly. Also not a terrible person.

    3. I remember your letter. I still feel terrible about some of the comments left on the article. I’m glad that you found a solution that works for you, and sad that your dad dates dickholes.

    4. I remember that letter very well. I’d wanted to leave a comment. Something about how it’s not ableist if you’re unable to afford accommodations. Comments closed by the time I got there.

      I’m glad you reached a solution that doesn’t involve you carrying your dad up and down the stairs.

    5. Oh geez, comments on that one really were a mess. I’m glad you and your dad found a better solution and you know, I think he had just as much responsibility as you did to say “I’d love to see you but staying at your house isn’t working. Can we work something else out?”

      Sorry to hear your dad is dating jerks, that would definitely affect my ability to cope with other stuff too.

  67. Hi! Link to letter:

    My letter was about how my parents wanted me to be friends with our decorator, who was around way too much for comfort and made me feel kind of unsafe. I did do an update on the original letter so I agonised a bit over whether to post here.

    3 1/2 years on, I’ve got a job – maybe not the best, but okay – and a group of work friends that I really get on with. I’m still living with my parents, as I decided it was better to pay for home improvements to future proof it for them rather than save for a deposit. It’s working out okay so far, but now they’ve started on the whole you need a boyfriend thing, so that might change soon as I’m getting tired of it. I’d go out more, but that’s not encouraged.

    The decorator, on the other hand, is in a worse situation. Sometimes I wish I’d just given in and been his friend, and on those days I go back to the letter and remind myself that no, it was that bad and I was that unhappy with the pressure. I also go back just to remind myself that it’s okay to have boundaries, and just because someone has a tragic backstory doesn’t mean I am responsible for making it better at the expense of my own happiness (or potential safety).

    Thank you Captain and commenters – even this long after my letter was answered, you’re still helping me out 🙂

    1. High five! Your letter resonated with me because I seem to attract guys like that. Actually, your letter made my skin crawl because I attract guys like that.
      Hang onto that mantra, but feel free to shorten it: just because someone has a tragic backstory doesn’t mean you are responsible for making it better.

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