It Came From The Search Terms: Sometimes It Snows In April

It’s that time of the month where we treat the search strings people typed in as actual questions.

Before I dive in: The trip to France was wonderful. We ate all the foods and saw all the arts and drove many kilometers and met lovely France-based Awkward folks who had excellent ice cream recommendations. I think it took Mr. Awkward a whole day before he was like “How do we move here forever?” and once he saw Lyon, where we tragically only had one day, he was actively in “No, seriously, let’s live here” mode. My favorite place we stayed is here. If you can go to Normandy, go, and let Vincent and Corinne envelop you in their hospitality and cook for you.

Came home to this:

The top half of my face visible above a black and white kitty stuck to my neck like velcro.

Sometimes it’s this:

Same Jennifer, same black and white kitty, only this time I’m on my back and she’s on my shoulder/face.

As for this month’s theme song, I love Prince and I still feel his death last year pretty keenly. There was only one song this month could be:

Rest in funky peace, Beautiful One.

Now, let’s answer some stuff.

 1. “Help write a story ending with the expression ‘since then there was no love lost between us’.”

Aw, buddy, do your own homework! Also, that’s a really clunky ending line for a story, so, reconsider?

2. “10 boundaries if your ex bf dumps you.”

Content writer homework?

  1. Think about disengaging/hiding/blocking on social media so you’re not tempted to follow their every thought and “like.”
  2. Think about having cooling-off period of no contact before you try to be friends.
  3. Give yourself some time to wallow and feel bad and grieve. Don’t pressure yourself to be okay with everything too soon.
  4. Your friends will be there for you but think about getting a counselor or therapist or a journal if *every* time you hang with your people it turns into “processing the breakup” time, especially if this is still going on a few months later.
  5. You don’t have to respond to every communication someone sends you right away – or ever. (For those late night “u up? I miss u…” texts that come from them). The “mute” or “block” functions can be your friend.
  6. Speaking of those texts: Know yourself. If you + alcohol or other substances + cellular phone technology + a certain time of day + that one album or song or movie makes you feel like sending FEELINGSTEXTS, don’t mix those things together. Use an alarm clock instead of the alarm on your phone to wake up for a little while. Turn the phone off and put it away at night.
  7. Before you send any communication to your ex think about instituting a 24-hour waiting period. Does sending this 8,000 word email still feel like a good idea after a good night’s sleep?
  8. Get the Exchanging Of The Stuff over with quickly. The part you can control is getting their stuff back to them, so be as precise and thorough and speedy as you’d like them to be in returning your stuff. Use a shipping service or a friend if meeting in purpose will be too fraught.
  9. Bring a loyal buddy and your own way of getting home to any events that happen in social circles that still overlap with your ex. Watch the substance intake.
  10. I’ve seen many couples adopt a pet together and very few broken-up couples make the shared custody of said pet work out afterward. Since we’re talking boundaries, if you really want the pet, speak up. If you can live without the pet and you know it will be cared for by your ex, let it go. It will suck, but so will seeing your ex break your heart every time Fifi jumps into their arms for the rest of Fifi’s days.

3. “Should you break up if her parents dislike you?”

Not necessarily. Pay attention to how your partner treats you around this subject. Does she have your back? Does she affirm you, shield you, and defend you from their hurtful comments and actions?

4. “Awkward boner stories


The internet’s got you covered, friend. How many search results did you have to click through before you got to us?

5. “How to decline a second date using text


Thanks for asking, but I’m not interested.” If you’re not interested in the person, don’t use a scheduling conflict as the reason. Saying “Thanks, but I’m busy that day” invites the person asking you out to nail down when you can make it and only prolongs the awkwardness for everyone.

6. “How long do you have to wait to not be a rebound girl


Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the key-hole.”

Outside of The Hobbit, here in reality, there’s no set time window, and while “the rebound” CAN be a thing it isn’t necessarily something that always happens when a serious relationship ends. Trust your instincts, give the person and yourself some space and time to figure out what it is you have, keep hold of your friends and your interests and don’t get all swept up at once if you can avoid it.

7. “Depressed girlfriend moves away from me if my arm is around her too long.”

My advice is to let her move away (Seriously, let her go!) without holding onto her.

I don’t know how much or even if depression is playing into this. For whatever reason, it sounds like your girlfriend’s preferences for how much physical contact she wants right now are changing (or she’s asserting them more).

It’s okay to have different preferences for physical contact and isn’t necessarily a symptom of the state of a relationship or state of mind. For example, I’m more of a handholder than Mr. Awkward sometimes, but he’ll give me a little squeeze when he’s ready to let go an it doesn’t feel like rejection. It’s okay to talk about this stuff! “I’ve noticed you pull away sometimes when my arm’s around you – is it that you’re just ready to be done with touch right then or am I doing something that makes you uncomfortable?” Check in without pressuring her.

If only talking about boundaries worked with cats.

8. “I can’t get the guy I am cheating my boyfriend on with out of my head.”

Maybe it’s time to come clean with everybody and start fresh with hot dude you think about all the time?

9. “How bad is it not to go to a brother-in-law’s funeral if I live 1000 miles away?


If you can’t make it you can’t make it, so maybe focus on what you can do to support your grieving sibling from afar. Letting your sibling and any nieces or nephews know that they are loved – in whatever way you can – is the important thing here. Try the four Cs of cards, calls, casseroles, and checking in, especially after the flower arrangements have wilted and the rest of the mourners have dispersed.

10. “My apartment neighbor lets strangers rent her apartment & wants me to give them her keys when they show up


Nope! If you don’t want to do this (and it sounds like you don’t want to do this), my suggested script for this is “No, I am not comfortable with that at all. You’ll have to make another arrangement.

11. “Is there a hotline that will tell me how to jerk off


I feel safe saying there are multiple versions of that hotline in the world, but this site does not have the droids you’re looking for.

12. “Mother wants me to need her


This can set the teeth on edge like few other things when you try to form an adult relationship with parents. A boring “Thanks for the input, Mom, I’ll think about it” mixed with “Thanks, but I’ve got it handled!” can work as general scripts, but there might be a way to make a little bit of peace with her “halping” impulse over time. I know every fiber of your being probably rebels against giving into any of this, but can you think of one or two low-stakes things where you could seek her expertise on the regular? “Mom, I need to choose a new winter scarf – what do you think is a good color for me?

Bonus tip: I’ve managed to interrupt the flow of a lot of unsolicited advice-giving and “help” from older folk I know by asking them about their lives when they were young. It sometimes turns a list of “things I should be doing” into a story about how they see the world and why.

13. “Coworker called me a fag


If you feel safe and comfortable to do so, this is 100% a “document the incident and report it to human resources” level of thing. Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is really not okay. However, it’s still legal in 28 US states, so that first “if you feel safe and comfortable” is a big if, and I’m sorry for that.

13. “A letter to make my mom understand that I’ve moved in with my boyfriend.” and 14. “Words to tell ur roommate that u have gotten an apartment because of her wicked behaviours


In both these cases, focus on the facts over feelings and communicate the decision:

#13: “Mom, Boyfriend and I found a great new place together, the new address is xyz. Love you!

She’ll “understand” that you’ve moved in together from the evidence that you have. You don’t have anything to apologize for, so, don’t. Treat it like happy, normal news. If she makes it weird, she’s the one choosing to do that.

#14: “Roommate, I found a new apartment and I’ll be moving on [date].”

That’s the information your roommate needs to know. If you must detail her wickedness, maybe wait until you and your stuff are safely out of the same apartment?

15. “What do you say when someone says I have made them feel so welcome

“Thanks, that’s really nice to hear. I’m glad you feel that way.”

16. “When someone says it’s a pleasure, is that a compliment?


It’s not NOT a compliment? It’s a generally positive sentiment about the interaction.

17. “When is it the right time to move on after boyfriend’s death


I’m sorry you’re having to look for this answer. Only you can know when it’s the right time. Nobody else can tell you – and I mean, NOBODY ELSE. “What will people think” is not a reason to not pursue your own happiness if you meet someone great or want to stop grieving, and if you need more time you need more time. I predict that it will come in waves and not on any kind of set schedule.

18. “10 ways to turn down a second date


Clickbait homework strikes again!

  1. “No.”
  2. “No thank you.”
  3. “Thanks for asking, but no.”
  4. “I’m not interested in a second date.”
  5. “I don’t want to go on another date.”
  6. “Thanks for the first date, it was great meeting you, but I’m not interested.”
  7. “Thanks, but no.”
  8. “I’d prefer not to.”

And then maybe play with emphasis… “No thank you.” “No thank you.”

19. “Can I still say no after I said yes to a dinner invitation?


Yep! “I know I said I would come to dinner, but I won’t be able to make it and wanted you to know as soon as possible. Sorry about that!

20. “Can I change my mind after agreeing to hook up with a guy


Oh yeah. “I know I said we’d hook up later, but I’ve changed my mind.

21. “My dad still talks shit about mom everyday 4 years after divorce.” & 22. “Mother uses daughter as sounding board bad-mouthing father


If you’re the child in this situation, it is okay to tell your parent that this behavior is not cool. “[Parent], I know you still have a lot of complicated feelings about [Other Parent] – I have those, too! I’m not comfortable talking about those with you the same way I’m not comfortable talking about you with [Other Parent]. Can we make some boundaries about this, please? I really need to not be your sounding-board.” 

23. My sister always brings up the fact that I had abortion to insult me what should I do.

Shut it down. “That is NOT up for discussion.” “That is NOT your business.” “That is not for you to comment on.” Leave the conversation, the room (& possibly the prospect of having contact with or a relationship with her) if she won’t knock this off.

24. My boyfriend forces me to run swim and exercise.

Things your boyfriend is not: your Personal Trainer/Drill Sergeant/The Boss of You. This is really not okay! Time to stop doing any exercise you don’t want to do, and also, time to dump him!

25. “(How to) Tell my family it’s time to stop the holiday celebrations


This may be best done incrementally and with a narrow focus on yourself. For instance, if you are the host of said holiday celebrations, “I won’t be hosting [Holiday] this year.” Then other people can make whatever other plan they want to. If you don’t want to be a part of said holiday celebrations, tell them “I won’t be at [Holiday event].” The first time you change stuff up is the hardest time, then it becomes the new normal.

You could also go with “I don’t want to celebrate [Holiday] anymore.

I think it’s a good idea for families to periodically re-negotiate whether/what/how/when holidays get celebrated, so, good job.

A woodcut illustration of a skinny male creature with long hair and beard and large hands sitting next to a wooden bucket. Source.

26. “I and my roommate always sleep in the bathroom, what are we?”

This could be a lot of things. For instance, you could be a Neck, a kelpie, a kappa, or perhaps a rusalka?

Some questions to help you find out:

  • Are you shape-shifters?
  • If you have a single shape, are you shaped like dogs?
  • How’s your singing voice?
  • Would nymph, spirit, ogre, or ghost be the most accurate term that describes you?
  • Do you like to lure people to their deaths Y/N?
  • If Y, do you eat them afterward?

Your association with the bathroom and not with an outside body of water suggests that “Bannik” might be the right designation. Neat-o!

If none of those descriptions ring a bell, you are probably human beings who can sleep wherever you want to.


117 thoughts on “It Came From The Search Terms: Sometimes It Snows In April

    1. If you had a Mythology of Water Spirits pub quiz planned this week you’re gonna do very well!

      1. This reminds me so much of the quiz tha Dustin Hoffman gives Will Farrell in “Stranger than Fiction” that I heard it in Hoffman’s voice in my head.


      As a tiny representative sample for #16, I say "You're welcome" in most social interactions, and "It was a pleasure" or "My pleasure!" in situations where it genuinely *was* a pleasure, and/or when I like the person enough that doing things with/for them makes me happy.

      It's also a step up from "It was nice to meet you" if I like someone I've just met — "It was such a pleasure to meet you" indicates genuine enjoyment, from me.

      YMMV, but I don't break that one out unless I mean it in an overall-complimentary sense.

      Since there are other courteous conversational options available for people to use, it seems to make sense to accept the implied compliment in the "pleasure" response, although probably don't make TOO much of it.

      1. I met someone delightful (and taken, so this is a friendship in the raw, nothing more), and when I said it was a pleasure to meet her, she replied and said “I look forward to enjoying your kindness again soon.”

        I am going to be living off that compliment for a LONG time.

        1. Once someone that I used to serve as a cafe barista later introduced me to a professional group we were both part of. He mentioned our connection and said “She leaves a trail of goodwill wherever she goes.” I just beamed and beamed.

          1. Oh, my heart! And I finally have an answer to the old, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

            I want to be the kind of person who leaves a trail of goodwill wherever she goes. *swoon*

    3. I keep rereading it and giggling. The Captain must be pleased about her diverse readership! Slavic household spirits, oh my!

        1. *adds to reading list*
          Your friendly neighbourhood mythology geeks would like to thank you for your contribution!

  1. #17, from a lot more personal experience than any human should have…you’ll know when it’s the right time, because you’ll want to go out with someone. Maybe you’ll just want to *go out* and the “with someone” is a secondary consideration. Maybe you’ll meet “someone” and realize you want to go out with them. Maybe a mix of the two. Maybe you’ll decide that you are tired of being sad and you will grab yourself by the scruff of the next and leave your domicile and go out with someone. Maybe you’ll make a really unappealing profile on a dating site and obsessively swipe left on guys who don’t seem like him for a while.

    All of this is okay. If it’s what you want to do, it’s all the right thing to do. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that after such a…truncating experience, joy does steal back in. It usually starts out little and stealthy like it’s pocketing bits of sadness and taking them away when it goes, but over time it gets bigger and bolder and one day you will realize that you miss him and you always will, but you are a human with a whole life ahead of you and it is okay to act like it. No matter what anyone else says.

    1. “…you are a human with a whole life ahead of you and it is okay to act like it. No matter what anyone else says.”

      I love this. I am sorry for your loss(es).

  2. I also like to sleep in the bathroom, preferably after a dinner of raw sardines, but then I am a selkie. #26, does any of this sound familiar? Because if so, you may well be our lost princess in which case omg please come home we miss you

    1. I not only laughed out loud, I gave my partner a quick summary of “it came from the search terms” so I could read him this. Fortunately, while he was holding his teacup, he wasn’t drinking at that moment.

  3. How can two people sleep in the bathroom, though? One in the tub and one on the floor? Those both sound hard and uncomfortable. The only person I know who sleeps in a bathroom is a cat who curls up in the sink. What is going on here? I am consumed with curiosity.

      1. Depending on the rest of the apartment, maybe they are Beatles. Is it good Norwegian wood?

    1. I have hear tales of my friends who drank heavily in college sleeping in the bathtub so they don’t have to clean up puke in the morning, or falling asleep next to the toilet after throwing up. So possibly two very intoxicated people?

    2. I have slept in the bathroom on occasions when I am very very ill, because it’s easier than getting out of bed every half hour just to go back in there.

      I don’t think that’s what this letter was about, though?

      1. I gauge the level of my digestive upsets by how appealing the idea of lying on the bathroom floor sounds to me at that particular moment. The unhappier my gut is, the more appealing the floor is.

        Come to think of it, I had a similar metric for how depressed I was, back in the day – the worse it was, the more I wanted to curl up on the floor under a convenient item of furniture.
        But I agree, I’m going off-topic here. Sorry.

  4. #26 – Bathroom of Plausible Deniability? Although it’s not really *that* plausible, so…

    1. There was the guy who never left the bathroom, maybe he found the right person at last?

      1. Oh, man. I hope every single time I see a Captain Awkward update in my inbox that it’s that LW writing in to tell us they’re OK.

        1. I heard recently that this person is A-OK (and free of that relationship). They don’t want a formal update or social media attention about a painful time in their lives. But, good news! Peeing in peace!

          1. You know, every time I re-read that post, I wondered what the final result was. Thank you Captain for the ‘informal’ update. It is reassuring.

          2. I am so glad I chose to read the comments to this It Came From The Search Terms because it means I came across this note and now I am so, so relieved for that LW.

  5. Welcome back, Captain. I’m delighted you and Mr Awkward had such a great time. The Awkward Cat feather boa of joy is very endearing, and I love #26 so much :D.

    1. I love my king size Siamese, but there are times I wish I had a cat small enough to drape him/herself over my shoulder like that. King sized Siamese insists on being held like a baby – this is why I have to go to the gym and work out with weights. To be able to pick up the cat.

        1. I tried putting my cat in a baby carrier, neither of us were happy after. But i bet the kitten my family raised from itty bitty would’ve liked it. He would sit in a hoodie pocket.

      1. My flame-point Siamese (mix? rescue, so we don’t know) is tall, muscular, lanky, and LONG…

        …and still wants to curl up on our chests or wrapped around our necks like a kitten.

        He’s like the sweetest, softest sleeper-hold 😉

        He’ll happily perch on my/my daughter’s chest or on mine (he prefers bras, because they give him a better “shelf”, and… so adorable, so inconvenient, but too sweet to move!

  6. I have Sensory Processing Disorder.
    Most of the time I enjoy physical affection with Spouse, and initiate it often. Occasionally being touched feels like sandpaper being scraped across my skin or being choked.

    Spouse used to respond to this with nagging, sulking, and accusations that I didn’t love him. Now he puts his big boy pants on, handles his (completely understandable) abandonment issues hisself, and doesn’t demand that I be in physical and emotional pain to avoid his momentary discomfort.

    1. I thought I was the only one who got that sandpaper feeling. Just knowing someone else does makes me feel so much better.

      I’m glad spouse has changed his tune!

    2. Yes me too. I imagined that when I got married I’d want to snuggle all the time, but in reality I don’t. Every night we snuggle a bit and then retreat to our opposite sides of the bed. It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, it’s that I can’t relax until nobody’s touching me.

  7. I wonder if # 26 is a menopausal person with Heat Intolerance, because sleeping in the tub sounds like the perfect solution to a hot flash at night. Not that I’d know anything about that…..

    1. I am not a bannik, but there was a period of a few years when I liked sleeping on the bathroom floor. Somehow it was the right temperature.

    2. I live in Southern California, and I have lived in apartments with no AC, and some summer/autumn nights the most comfortable place in the house is the tub or the bathroom floor.

    3. Our Golden Retriever used to sleep in the tub during the summer to avoid the heat. It was always a little unnerving when you’d go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and be sitting there still half-asleep when suddenly this big furry beast would rise up out of the dark tub beside you wagging its tail and demanding pets.

      1. My cat used to sleep in the bidet in my parents’ bathroom when it was hot. He was just the right size for it, too. Pretty sure he thought some nice human had installed this elevated ceramic nest just for him.

    4. Please allow me to introduce you to my nightgowns. I’m apparently never going to stop being in perimenopause, but I only get night sweats and never any daytime hot flashes *thank all deities*. And I have these nightgowns that are made of wicking fabric and they make all the difference in the world. I was a naked sleeper once and someday I will be again, but for now, I heart my wicking nightgowns so hard. (Search for “wicking nightgown” or “menopause sleepwear” or the like. I have a special pillowcase too!)

  8. #24, when you break up, urge your boyfriend to find someone who is *already* swimming, running, and exercising. (What, no bike riding? Because otherwise it seems he wants you to do a triathlon). I guarantee he probably won’t, though. I’ve seen guys like him many times over the years and they never want a girlfriend who could potentially show them up in the pool or the pathway. They want someone to manage and control.

  9. Welcome back, Captain! I’m so glad to hear that you had a lovely honeymoon.

  10. Apologies if this isn’t allowed, but I also run a blog and was wondering how you find out what people are searching to get to you? I’ve Googled repeatedly and have yet to be able to see the actual questions! (Rather than key words like chicks or electricity I’d like to see the whole question ‘Is it possible to raise chicks without electricity?’)

    Again, sorry for asking, please delete if it’s not okay to ask here!

  11. 19– If you accepted a first-date invitation with someone you now realize you don’t want to date, then yes, absolutely cancel that plan. (PLEASE cancel that plan; I had a date and a half with a guy who didn’t and it’s really miserable to have what seems like a lovely date only to be told at the end that he likes you only as a friend and knew that beforehand, especially when he’s your primary partner’s best friend and you therefore will have some trouble with “avoid him until your FEELINGS are gone”. I’m not pining or anything, but the residual vestiges of the FEELINGS keeping coming back just when I think they’ve finally gone away and it makes it hard to be friends with him.) If you find you’re doing this a lot with someone you want to maintain a friendship with, though, you should possibly also work on not accepting invitations until you’re sure you can attend them– especially for something like a dinner party where the host is probably planning it out well in advance.

    1. Seconding. If you don’t want to see someone, tell them sooner rather than later. I recently got dumped by a guy who waited until the end of the date to end things, and I felt like a prize idiot retroactively for thinking we were having a nice time, when the whole time he was waiting to say he never wanted to see me again.

    2. Not to mention, if you do go on a date with someone that you don’t want to go on a date with, maybe don’t share the exact timeline of when you figured that out. Ymmv, but to me this sounds like the specific situation lying was invented for.

      1. You would think, and yet. He also said that he thought I deserved to have a normative date, since I had never had one before. (And he *planned* that date, because I was so sure he was going to say no when I asked him out that I hadn’t planned anything in case he said yes, so he offered to do the planning for me. He’s actually a very nice guy, he just doesn’t date much.)

  12. I’m glad to hear that you had an excellent time in France! The meeting in Paris was wonderful.

    And wow, that hotel does look fantastic. I might save that reference for future use, so thank you.

    1. Great to meet you! That B&B is the loveliest place to spend a couple of days, so I hope you get there.

  13. 13. “Coworker called me a fag .” – (minor point, but…) if you live somewhere that this is illegal, it generally makes no difference if it’s accurate bigotry or not (ie. you could be an LGBT+ person, or you could be straight).

  14. Ahoy Captain! Before I even read any of the comments: WELCOME BACK! We’ve certainly missed you. So glad you had a good time in France and that Kitty has forgiven your absence.

    And on question 13: How the hell is it still legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace?

    1. Democrats taking LGBTQ+ voters for granted and failing to pass legislation to make it illegal in all 50 states?

      See also: organizations like the NCAA willing to cave rather than hold out and demand LGBT protection in exchange for having their games in NC.

      1. See my reply above – might be coming around anyway, based on already existing federal civil rights law.

  15. #10

    The Captain’s answer is the most straight forward one but I think I would be tempted to ask how much of her profits I was going to be paid for my trouble. That might make her back off entirely, since she likely doesn’t want to pay me, and if not getting paid might make it worthwhile. And I could keep asking for more money until she stopped bothering me.

    Ahhh – probably not worth it in reality but tempting to contemplate.

    1. This is tempting, but I think in general, it’s best to only give a “fixable” reason for not doing something (like “I would need to be paid X amount” or “Oh, that conflicts with my choir rehearsal”) if fixing it would actually make you willing to do the thing. I would much rather just say no in the first place than end up in the position where someone has gone to some trouble to come up with a solution (organize a way to pay me, rearrange the schedule, etc.) and I have to say “Well, thank you for the offer, but actually I wouldn’t do this even if you paid me a million dollars.”

  16. “If only talking about boundaries worked with cats.”

    I can see myself quoting this to my cat a lot in the coming days.

    1. Hahahahaha! You have just summarized my cat in a single sentence. Boundaries? What boundaries!

  17. On Prince: my audio engineer friend told me that sound waves never wholly dissipate; every sound is still with us. I have a sense, sometimes, of walking though a weave of “I love you’s” and other lovely things people and animals say to each other. It does mean we are still blanketed with Prince’s gift to us, and he is newly at home within us at every vibration…

  18. 11. Try Scarleteen. Or Lovehoney or Good Vibrations but they might try to sell you things.

    Oh Joy Sex Toy is good too.

    There’s a lot of different ways to get off by yourself and there’s no “right” way to do it. If you have something that currently works for you, congrats you know what to do. If you don’t, find the websites mentioned above and read for some ideas to try.

    1. Oh Joy Sex Toy is homophobic garbage. The author encourages her husband to catcall and fetishize lesbians in public at LGBTQ events. She’s also incredibly fetishistic about trans men.

      1. Huh, your mileage may vary. I’ve not read the other comics of that author (I think that fetishization fuck-up was back in 2009 at another of her webcomics? I remember she apologised for that some years ago), but OJST’s archives are not homophobic, nor transphobic, as far as I can tell. And it does show people with functional diversity and trans people and people of color having sex, so it wins points for that in my book.

  19. I clicked through to that Slate article about the woman with claustrophobia whose boyfriend was trying to “cure” her. I feel so bad for her because it reminds me of the many and varied people who have tried to fix my startle reflex by repeatedly scaring me, or my sound sensitivity by always turning the radio up to eleven. Exposure therapy works great in Divergent, but in real life it’s a delicate thing and not for everybody.

    1. I’ve had various people “helpfully” tell me that I can cure my peanut allergy if I really want to and they can help and that it must suck to be allergic to peanuts.
      Truthfully, for me, it doesn’t all that much. I don’t have the kind that can kill you, just the kind that’s mildly annoying. More to the point, I intensely dislike the taste of peanuts, and I don’t care if I can never eat a PB&J sandwich, since I’m never going to *enjoy* one. Fortunately no one’s gotten to the point of trying to sneak peanuts into my food or anything, but when non-doctors are trying to tell you they can help with a medical condition it gets wearing pretty fast.

    2. That, and therapy (exposure or otherwise) is consented to. The Dear Prudie LW was not consenting to what her bf was doing to her – nor you to what your associates were trying to “help” you with. If I were being sneak-attacked and pinned down, or had people repeatedly attempting to scare me knowing I have a bad startle reflex, I’d consider it assault. What I would do about it, I don’t know (you’re terrified enough in that situation)…
      but regardless of whether something works (which you make a good point about), 1. the patient has to consent to the treatment and 2. ideally the practitioner has, you know, been trained in the practice?, but regardless of even that, you can’t go anywhere without #1 – which we most decidedly do not have here. Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.

      1. The best thing to do if someone is repeatedly sneaking up behind you and scaring you is keep your back to the wall. I got really good at that for a while.

        Good points about consent. I never thought of it that way.

        1. Living with your back to the wall sounds like the definition of living with abuse. 😦 I hope you don’t have to do that anymore.

    3. I have lost all patience for “halpfulness” and make no attempt to be polite about telling the halper to get away from me. After years of armchair psychologists giving me oh so helpful advice for my panic disorder (yoga! deep breathing! meditation!) and now training at in a male dominated martial art and being bombarded with advice from All The Dudes – I’m done.

      RBF + dry sarcasm or silence + walking away is my go-to. I don’t give a damn what their noble intentions may be, I have no spoons left for this.

  20. #2sub10:
    I can testify that splitting the animals up when breaking up is, ultimately, easier (I didn’t say easy). When I divorced my husband, we had 3 cats (2 adopted together, 1 I brought with me). He took one of the first, I took the remaining two. We split amicably, and we still talk once in awhile, but we don’t really seek each other out. It was extremely difficult for me to say goodbye to the kitty he took with him. Last year, the kitty I started out with died of mast cell cancer, and it crushed me. We arranged for my ex to visit with her for a while one day before I put her down, because she was special to him too. So even though we split them, in a final manner, upon separation – we still recognized that these 3 pets were all meaningful to both of us, and I’m sure he will afford me the same kindness when the time comes for his cat.

    That all said, I just can’t imagine the pain of having ongoing regular contact with this man to pass shared custody back and forth. When we initially separated, we split everything cleanly (no kids/no home/no assets to speak of). We had some difficulty at first finding the right frequency of communication, etc. but eventually settled in to the realization that the relationship was over and that we couldn’t be close friends. If I were having weekly pass-backs with him, we would never have had the distance necessary for either of us to figure any of this out. And this is with an amicable breakup!

    Again, I do miss the kitty I gave up – terribly. I understand not wanting to let go. But I also know that my ex is taking excellent care of this cat (he learned from the best ;-)). And it’s a cost/benefit thing, for both the cat’s sake and ours. It’s a really difficult decision, but I do agree to at least consider the possibility of letting go of an animal you love, to save all three (or more) of you a lot of pain for the indefinite future.

  21. Definitely contact Mashable to negotiate royalties concerning their use of response #2. Also apparently #18 (and is that a Melville reference?).

    For #11, try a D/S phone sex line if you’re specifically looking to be ordered around about how to masturbate because you get off on that. Try if you’re looking for sexuality education.

    With #19 and #20, I’m so sad we are socializing people to question whether they are allowed to have/change preferences. 🙁 #24 makes me even more sad. I hope you read through the archives, internet searchers, and found useful advice.

  22. Regarding no 2, option 7 (waiting 24 hrs before sending email to ex): I started there, and kept extending. Have recently had to extend to 15 years and envisage will have to extend again…

  23. #26, clearly you are San Franciscans with 6 other roommates, trying to save on rent.

  24. So glad you had such a great time on your trip!! (Also a wee bit jealous because FRANCE).

    Also have to add that I love the pics of CA cat glued to your face. Kitty love is the best!

  25. Glad to hear the trip was fun and that you and Awkward Spouse have returned home safely! Count me as another slightly envious party, because I’d love to visit France as well. 🙂

    Adorable Awkward Kitty behaves very like my kitty; if I go away for any length of time, she becomes the Amazing Velcro Cat until she has reassured herself of my devotion. 😀

  26. So glad you had a good time! And your stories/pictures were making me homesick!! I lived there for awhile and while I still go back to visit as often as I can, it’s never enough.

    #2 and 6 were… very apropos for me at the moment, although I was the dumper rather than the dumpee. It’s still been tricky trying to figure out boundaries (finally went with blocking the ex because I had said my piece and wasn’t going to change my mind, but they didn’t believe me). Finally starting to feel a bit like I’m ready to stretch and take a look around to see if there’s someone new. So… progress?

    I will add that if you are the dumpee… Your situation may vary, as far as whether the other person is willing to discuss things or not. I know sometimes people are open to negotiating, and for some people, “I’m breaking up with you!” means “I’m frustrated and angry, but still invested in this relationship and don’t know any other way to express it.” (I’m more on the side of believing the person when they say they’re breaking up, but especially if you’ve been together a long time, asking if there’s anything that could be changed might be worth it as long as you’re open to a no.) On the other hand, if the person says that they are set on breaking up and this is The. End., then a) don’t ask things like, “Why don’t you like me any more?/Why did your feelings change?/Etc.” Do you really WANT to hear the list of all the ways you aren’t their perfect mate? HOW is this going to be helpful? b) Lean on your Team You as much as you can, and leave the ex out of it as much as is possible (may not be 100% feasible if you have property/mini-humans together). c) It’s okay to want to leave the door open if you still wanted the relationship, but it’s also okay to set your own boundaries too; if your ex keeps texting you after they broke up with you, for example, it’s okay to say something like, “Hey, I still like you and this is painful for me. If you change your mind about our relationship you’re welcome back, but if not then please let’s make a clean break and don’t talk to me for [a month/a year/the rest of our lives/whatever works for you] and let me move on.” At the same time, d) it’s a good idea to keep SOME way to contact them in case you need to share news about something like an STI or one of you is pregnant.

    (I will add that the above things were not all present in my case, but I’ve seen them be issues often enough that I wanted to put them out there in case it’s helpful.)

  27. #26

    Random note: I sleep in the bathroom, and have for years, because I work nights and have difficulty sleeping deeply if the room I’m in has too much light – and my system apparently deems what seeps around the edges of supposed ‘blackout curtains’ as ‘too much’. A tiny little upstairs half-bath is the only room in the house with no windows and just enough floor space for a sleeping bag = well-rested Emma.

    Although Kelpies writing in to CA is a much more entertaining mental image.

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