It Came From The Search Terms: When October Goes

Hello! It’s that time again, where we answer the things people typed into search engines as if they asked the questions. First, as is traditional, a little song to get us in the mood:

Now, we descend into the Id of the Internet:

1 “How to ask out your TA (teaching assistant).”

Leave your TA alone until well after the class is over. This person is at work. They have to be a certain amount of nice to you and available to you. And this should go without saying, but, TAs, leave the students in your classes alone until well after the class is over.

If you fall in like or love with each other, the world won’t end if you wait a few months to express it.

2 “Everytime I mention my husbands skidmarked underwear he gets abusive.”

Sounds like your husband is a man who should do his own laundry, by himself, in a house he lives in by himself, alone, forever.

3 “I found sex things in my parents’ room.”

Put them back, leave them alone, and leave the topic alone. It’s not your business.

Monthly plug for Scarleteen as a resource if you have questions about the stuff you found.

4 “I don’t want to move in with my boyfriend yet.”

Listen to that instinct and don’t move in together until or unless you really, really want to and look forward to it. Not everyone we love makes a good roommate, and it’s very expensive and annoying to unlink households once you’ve linked them.

5 “How to invite yourself to dinner.”

Here’s an idea: Maybe invite the other person to have dinner with you another time, at an event that you host and arrange.

Failing that, be direct: “Is this a private event, or can I join you?” or “Next time you host one of these things, I’d love to join you” and be prepared to take no for an answer.

6 “Do you stay with the first person you have sex with?”

Nope! Some people certainly do, but it is 100% not a requirement for a happy life. The first person you have sex with does not own you and you do not own them. It’s okay to move on from a first love or a first sex relationship and find other people to be with. Your very favorite person to have sex with might be your first, or your 10th, or your 100th. Make love and commitment decisions based on what will make you truly happy.

7 “He said he couldn’t see the relationship working out right now.” 

This is a breakup, or a prelude to one.

8 “Holidays when parents hate spouse.”

Annual reminder that you do not have to “celebrate” with people who are mean to you and yours.

9 “How to go about a situation where you both like each other but she doesn’t want a relationship.”

Put the majority of your energy into other friendships, other dating possibilities. If “she” changes her mind she knows how to find you.

10 “How do I get my husband to be friends with my friends?”

This might not be possible, so my advice is: don’t force it. Invite him to spend time with you and friends, respect him if he doesn’t want to or wants to only in small doses. Not everyone is compatible with everyone else. Strive for friendly, fun, low stress interactions rather than pushing for deep mutual friendship. Give it a lot of time.

11 “Should I let him into bathroom when I’m there.”

If you are above the age of “little kid who needs help with the potty” and you need bathroom time to be Alone Time, that is an okay thing to want and to enforce.

12 “I said terrible things when my boyfriend & I broke up should I apologize?”

If you want to make a real apology and can do it without expecting anything in return, try this: “I know I said some pretty terrible things to you when we broke up, and I am sorry.” Then let it go.

13 “Is it a crime to say ‘fuck you’ on Facebook.”

Nope! Fuck you, Harvey Weinstein. Fuck you, Woody Allen. Fuck you, Kevin Spacey. Fuck all y’all predators and abusers.

 14 “My girlfriend keeps asking me if I’m okay.”

It’s good to check in with the people you love: Are you enjoying this, is this okay, how are you, how was your day, etc. But there is a point where it crosses the line especially if it’s constant and if you’ve already answered. Sometimes the answer to that question is “yes!” Sometimes it’s “Nope.” Sometimes it’s “Eh, I don’t know, but I don’t want to talk about it.

If you’re in this situation, 1) Be honest about your relative level of okayness when the girlfriend asks 2) Ask her to accept your first answer.

15 “How the feck do you get over someone?”

With a lot of time, and throwing yourself into other pursuits, and being gentle and kind to yourself. Mostly time.

16 “I don’t know why my boyfriend’s even with me he just won’t break up with me.” 

If he loves you and wants to be with you, and you want to be with him, what would it take for you to trust that? If you’re waiting for him to dump you, why not make the decision to end the relationship yourself? He’s not the only one with power here.

17 “Girl says ‘you deserve someone better’.”

Girl is saying “You and me, it’s not going to work out.

18 “My boyfriend doesn’t believe in my blogging.”

I’m skeptical of the viability of relationships between where partners don’t like or believe in the other person’s creative work. If you love blogging, keep doing that.

19 “You meet someone and find out you have mutual acquaintances. Is it ok to ask friend for number?”

Sure! I generally don’t give out my friends’ phone numbers or emails without asking their permission first, so maybe this is a better way to make contact: “I’d love to get in touch with [mutual friend]. Do you mind passing on my number or email to them and making an introduction?” That way the person has the information they need if they want to get in touch with you but they get to maintain their privacy.

20 “What do I say when I don’t want to get together with a neighbor for lunch?”

“No thank you!” “Thanks for the invitation, but no.” 

21 “How to tell your boyfriend he needs to shower.”

Babe, please take a shower.” Directness is kindness.

22 “How to tell him you only want sex.”

I’m in this just for the sex. Is that cool with you?” Directness is kindness.

23 “Poor boyfriend wants to move in with me.”

There’s nothing wrong with not having money or wanting to move in with a partner, but the wording of this search leads me to make this recommendation again: Do not combine households with a romantic partner unless you enthusiastically want to live together and are excited to live together. It’s okay to say “I love you, but I’m not ready to take that step yet. You should make another plan.

24 “What does it mean when someone says ‘maybe in the future?'”

They mean “Not now.”

25 “Ten kinds of people not to invite to your party.”

  • People who don’t know their own limits re: substances.
  • People who have done crappy stuff to you or your friends.
  • People who don’t respect other people’s space or stuff.
  • Racist people.
  • Sexist people.
  • Homophobic people.
  • Transphobic people.
  • Missing Stairs” (source: The Pervocracy, which is awesome but may not be safe for everyone’s work browsing)
  • People you don’t like.
  • The guy who sees that you have a guitar, grabs it without asking, and starts “jamming” in the middle of your living room.
  • People who use the word “sheeple.”

Let’s help this poor content mill writer who Googled this out!

26 “My new boyfriend suddenly became a jerk.”

What if you took evasive action now, and broke up with this jerk?

27 “Why is my crush everyone’s crush?”

Some people are just foxy.

28 “I refused to open my door to my friend who visits too often.”

If you are a person who drops by unannounced and uninvited, you gotta get used to the idea that people might not always be available, so I hope they took it in stride! Script: “Friend, I’m not always ‘at home to visitors.’ I need you to stop dropping by unless I’ve invited you and we’ve set something up in advance. Can we agree to that?

This script can be easily adapted for neighbors who like to just pop by (there were like 17 of these in the search terms).

Happy Halloween! I look forward to viewing many photos of animals and cute kids on social media today.






214 thoughts on “It Came From The Search Terms: When October Goes

  1. Another person not to invite to your party:

    – The one who just won’t take a hint that it’s time to go until you call up the Facebook event page and say “See, it says ‘9:00-12:30’, party is officially over” [that actually happened to me once, and nope, don’t invite that guy to parties anymore]

    1. Some couple friends of mine once had a board game night at their house. The evening wore on and people started to head home, except for this one guy who just was not making any move to leave. Eventually it got late enough that they finally said, “Okay, well we’re going to have to go to bed now….” To which he cheerfully responded, “Oh that’s fine! I’ll just entertain myself out here!” They had to just come right out and say, “No. You have to leave.” Some people just will not acknowledge Go Away time.

      1. Here’s another instance where Directness is Kindness. “Thanks for coming, here’s your coat!” (Okay, it’s probably even more kind to the ushers than the ushered, but let’s not let that teeeeensy imbalance distract you from not dropping hints.)

      2. To be honest i have been caught in something like this with board games i was invited for dinner then the couple insisted i play a lengthy board game with them. it ended up going late then the next time i was invited over they were like you cant stay so late we need the sleep but i didnt want to stay and again they wanted to play a similar long game to which i turned down to many disappointed sighs and are you sures. I don’t know i tend to have a really hard time to determine when is too soon to leave and when is too late so when i get the mixed signals just makes me not want to hang out at all

      3. I have a friend who is like this. Thank God he is very sweet and understanding about “Tim, I am Kicking You Out of My House and it is Time for You to Go, Now.” He just has no capacity for hints about the Proper Time to Leave.

        1. As someone who is not always attuned to normal social conventions and behavioral cues, when it gets late-ish I make a point of saying to hosts “You have to promise to kick me out when you’re finished entertaining.” It seems to work.

      4. In this situation I go with a friendly, “I’m going to have to kick you out in ____ minutes, I have to ____.” If you say it in a cheerful there’s nothing wrong here way and wrap up the conversation pleasantly, I don’t think it offends people. I’ve had it said to me as well and it doesn’t bother me either.

        1. That’s precisely what I do, in that lighthearted “the kicking you out part is a joke, but the you leaving in X minutes isn’t.” kind of way. It has always gone over well, often with the guests starting to pick up and offering to help clean up for those last minutes.

          I have awesome friends.

      5. I.. Wut? Like, he just wanted to hang out alone in the living room? Possibly with the lights off? Did he not have a place to stay?

    2. Thankfully it’s the done thing among my friends to just announce “OK I’m kicking you guys out now!” when it’s time for everyone to leave. It gathers up anyone who didn’t pick up hints. Although I’ve never had one argue that the party wasn’t over yet…that’s weird. Uninvite forever!

      Honestly though if you’d changed your mind about the party end time (because everyone else left early or you feel sick or whatever) it’s 100% OK to tell people to leave before the time listed in Facebook. It’s a party invite not a blood oath.

    3. I’ve had a lot of friends who I’m pretty sure would still be at parties in my old apartment if I hadn’t thrown them out for reasons ranging from social cluelessness to issues with boundaries.. I have a process for gentle escalation.

      Step 1: Start trying to wind things down – turn off the music, take food to the kitchen, announce that this is the last round of whatever you’re doing. Start yawning and allow yourself to look a little tired or bored. Hopefully people will take the hint and start filtering out.

      Step 2: If the hints are working, stand-up and announce, “well, this has been fun – it was great to see you all,” and then start handing out coats. If there are no coats, you can stand next to your door and look at everyone expectantly. I usually try to stay friendly, but I’m pretty sure it looks forced at this point.

      Step 3: Even more direct: No really, it’s time to leave now. The party is over. Yes, you need to leave too. Okay, everyone out. This is generally said in a cranky tone of voice.

      Step 4: (Anyone who’s still there probably should not be invited back) Stand next to the open door. Respond to anything said with, “I’d like you to leave now” in a cold tone of voice without making eye contact.

      I’ve only had to go to step 4, but I think step 5 is calling the police.

    4. My roommate and I (both female-presenting, in our early 20s at the time, just moved out from a geek school where we were super sheltered) were at Trader Joe’s buying beer for a housewarming party. Trader Joe’s checker asks if we’re having a party – for those of you who don’t know Trader Joe’s, they’re a bit of a funky grocery chain where it’s a bit more expected for people to be friendly, so that kind of question isn’t totally off-base.

      Surprise 1: Roommate says yes, we are, and invites Random Guy From Whom We Are Buying Beer!

      Surprise 2: He actually shows up.

      Surprise 3: He Does. Not. Leave.

      Everyone else had left about 30 minutes prior and he’s “helping clean up.” Pretty sure he expected that he was going to get roommate alone and in bed (and I’m getting creeped out that this guy already has her number and knows where we live). Roommate was either clueless or could not deal with turning him down and I had to kick him out – fortunately I’m pretty direct and I think I said something like, “Thank you for coming. It is time to leave now.” Roommate ran to her room in tears and we never spoke of this again.

  2. –Fatphobic people, self-appointed fashion critics, language snobs, and those who think introversion or unusual interests are some form of disease–these don’t need to be invited either.

  3. No. 25:

    – People who think the food in your fridge and freezer is there for their consumption
    – People who were invited but who bring others who weren’t, e.g. people who were sitting at the table next to them in the pub they stopped off at before coming to the party. Said uninvited people who repeatedly stop the music in the middle of a song and try to put something else on
    – People who are ripped to the tits on coke
    – A man who I had rejected romantically who followed me around the room interrupting every conversation I tried to have by telling the person I was talking to that he loved me and I had rejected him
    – Darth Vader
    – Wizards who graffitied your door on the previous day and who proceed to bring in a staggered string of dwarves when you weren’t expecting to have a party in the first place. Even if they do do the dishes carefully afterwards.

    The content mill writer had better make a donation!

        1. Might still be best to stay away, that wizard will just get you stuck with a serious addiction problem and convince you to pass it on to one of your impressionable young family members.

    1. Noooo to the man you rejected following you around!!! Gross and creepy!
      Was the pub strangers thing a thing that happened? Wow that is so not ok!

      1. Yep, those were all things that happened. There were five of us in that house, all with our various groups of people to invite. It was probably the sketchiest roommate’s invitees. Mine were merely drunk and disorderly; my friend’s boyfriend told my roommate she was just his type and how much he wished he’d met her when he was single. After they’d left he came back to the door for some reason – when my roommate opened it she said, “Can I help you?” and he said “Maybe in another life”.

        1. “Yep, those were all things that happened.”

          I am now choosing to believe that Darth Vader and Gandalf have stopped by your house. 😀

          1. Well, I went to some parties with my ex-husband in my time, so Darth Vader was at those parties. I first had “The Hobbit” read to me at an age where that line about them hiding from the big folk convinced me that it all actually happened in our world long ago.

    2. We did have a “we met these people and m the pub and they seem lovely, so…” a couple of years ago. But we’re late 30s and our parties are pretty staid and predictable – mostly neighbours. work friends and people we’ve known for hundreds of years! – so we enjoyed and appreciated the element of randomness!

        1. The best man at our wedding invited a buddy of his who was in town, and this buddy kept hitting on my good friend. Yes, AT the wedding and reception.

      1. “people we’ve known for hundreds of years!”

        I, for one, would love to know about party invitation customs among the elves/vampires/gods.

      2. In theory, I am just the kind of person who would LOVE randos showing up to my parties. However, I and many of my friends are trans, and anyone who can’t use our pronouns 100% of the time is barred from anything I host. (I wish everyone had this rule; I would go to a lot more events.) This ends up excluding randos categorically, and their family members and other friends at times, despite it being a pretty low bar.

    3. People who were invited but who bring others who weren’t… and then leave far sooner than their “guests”.

      From the same incident, people who try to stay to the very end of the party, and then protest being asked to leave because the hosts’ close friends are still there. Nope we’re not leaving her alone with someone she didn’t even invite, nope nope nope.

      People who show up with their (uninvited) large active dog and insist on bringing it into the house to mingle at the party.

    4. People you’ve never met before that your house guest for a con got driven back to your place by and said driver thought he was getting lucky with your guest but actually she isn’t interested and now he has nowhere to go and you have to tell him he can’t stay in your house and he flounces off to “sleep in his car”. Actually, no one invited that guy exactly, so it probably doesn’t count.

    5. Also people whose sole form of conversation is complaints, especially if the complaints lead you to know far more than you ever wanted to about their various health challenges.

      … Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.

    6. “– A man who I had rejected romantically who followed me around the room interrupting every conversation I tried to have by telling the person I was talking to that he loved me and I had rejected him”

      I can’t imagine why you would reject such an obvious catch!

  4. #3 I’m a big believer in the idea that if you snoop in someone else’s things, and you find something embarrassing or unexpected, any weird feelings you have about it are your own issue to deal with. If you find something that’s actually illegal or harmful, that’s one thing, but if it’s the other person’s sex toys or their smutty fanfiction or their journal where they wrote about being mad at you, well…don’t poke around in their room or their bag or their laptop next time.

    1. yeeeeeep. I once had an ex-gf get into my emails and then complain that I was saying negative stuff about her to a mutual close friend.

  5. Confession: I totally use the word “sheeple.” Ironically. The way Rachel Maddow does. But still.

    1. *Grabs guitar and starts jamming.*

      {chord}… Peeeeople…
      {chord}… People who say “sheeple”…
      {chord}… Are the creepiest creeple…
      {chord}… In the woooorrrrrrrld.

      *Puts guitar down and bows. Ironically.*

    2. I wouldn’t invite them all, just so I had an excuse to show them the xkcd sheeple comic which is the funniest comic of all time. And makes those people bearable to be around, but the word sheeple now make me giggle.

  6. Who are these people who just drop by? I would love to hear from one of them. Like, who taught you that this has ever been acceptable since phones were invented? Do you ever worry that people are just letting you in out of politeness? What’s the disadvantage of a quick text first?

    1. Older people who’ve been doing this since before texting was a thing, in my experience. Not that no young people ever do it, but like… my mom has often “wistfully” described how her grandma would just pop in at random and her mom (my grandma) always had stuff ready for guests.

      My sister and I steadfastly refuse to take the hint and insist on plans being made in advance.

      1. This is a thing we did when i was in college, back before cell phones were invented.

        And then my friends and i graduated and moved away, and I mostly stopped doing that (even though cell phones still hadn’t been invented—maybe because we weren’t in college anymore, or maybe because I no longer lived in walking distance of almost everyone I knew anywhere nearby.

        The last people who would just drop by literally lived in the same building: a friend who had the apartment next to ours because we’d told her it was available, the people down the hall who occasionally rang the bell to offer us half a pizza, and the woman downstairs who rang our bell to ask “my cat is on your fire escape, can I go through your kitchen to grab him?”

        Now, my girlfriend has a key to our apartment, and I have a key to hers, and she still texts to ask if I’d like company; she might be twenty minutes away, or right downstairs, but she doesn’t just walk in unless we’ve planned for her to stop by.

          1. Was in dorm life in the early days of cell phones, but broadly yes. Just text first, or even use your words in person beforehand like “Is it cool if I drop by after dinner so we can watch the show on your tv” when you see each other in class, something.

          2. Forgot to mention, my 1st year dorm also had whiteboards on each door so it wasn’t uncommon to have stuff like “Come on in!” or “Studying – please don’t knock” or whatever suits your current mood and circumstance written there.

          3. We had whiteboards too, which we also used to leave messages if we stopped by and the person we were looking for wasn’t home, and notes for our roommates. (Things like “your mother called,” since the college and phone company only let us have one phone line per room.)

          4. My college experience (well into the age of cell phones, facebook, etc.) involved a mix of spontaneous and arranged hang-outs. If we were right down the hall, stopping by to ask if they were interested in grabbing dinner, studying together, etc. was totally legit. (Unless they had a do-not-disturb sign on the door–those were to be respected!)

            But if we were looking for a more involved interaction, it was polite to text or call or otherwise contact them first. People are busy, and it’s not always a good time for lengthly interruptions. Plus, it’s much harder to turn your friend away when they show up on your doorstep all “I came over here especially to talk to you about this important thing that I need to talk about right now!” than when they’re just casually stopping by because they’re right next door anyways; it’s rude to put that pressure on people. Plus, you never know when someone might be studying in the library, at a club or lecture or other event, etc.; you’re more likely to find who you’re looking for if you plan things at least a little bit in advance, even if it’s only 5 minutes ahead of time.

        1. People in the same building or same block make sense to me: if one isn’t around or isn’t available, their own dwellings are right there, so they haven’t gone out of their way, which also reduces the coercive pressure to cater to them when one does not wish to do so.

          There is a different subset of people who will drive across six states to visit, sometimes expecting a place to stay, while consciously refusing to tell people their plans. I had a couple of parent siblings, who operated like this, and they mostly failed their attempts to visit because OF COURSE.

          It just occurred to me that BOTH of these behaviors are a result of a sexist, class-based, and these days in my area of the USA, (may vary by region) no longer generally true assumption: that most people live in partnered households where one person works for pay and the other (probably the woman) is always around the house doing domestic labor and will therefore be able to entertain unexpected guests. The first case to maybe a lesser extent, because the people doing that may NOT expect anyone to be around, but cases like Nanani’s mom/grandma/great-grandma seem to rest on an assumption women won’t have obligations outside of the house, will be around to entertain, and will have the time to devote to having things ready for guests (and also will regularly have the time to go to visit others without planning).

          Of course one isn’t necessarily ASSUMING in a case where one already knows that somebody is usually around the house – the pattern is sexist, not necessarily any individual people involved – but I’ve also seen this in plenty of cases where the uninvited guests KNOW someone isn’t usually around.

      2. When I first moved out on my own, my mother used to think it was perfectly okay to just drop by unannounced. When I made it clear I wanted advance notice, she went around with a long-suffering martyr attitude, telling people at her church in a wounded voice “I have to wait for an invitation to visit my own daughter”.

        1. Rhoda?

          If it is any consolation at all, the flip side of that is no fun either.

          Getting an absolute DEMAND to come “home” on a three day weekend in order to train a bad habit out of the dog that 4 OTHER people had trained into him is not thrilling.

          (Fortunately, the dog was a good sort even though the relatives? Not so much.)

    2. It’s just another way of doing relationships–if all parties are cool with it, it’s cool. Some of us just really like spontaneity!

      Of course, there’s also a difference between knocking on your neighbor’s/friend’s door because you need to borrow something, and knocking because you want to chat for an hour or two over tea. Same with phone calls; I’ll often call without texting if I need something or have a quick question, but long friend calls usually have a text first, and if not, I expect there’s a high chance that said friend won’t pick up, and that’s okay. But as Nanani said, I think it depends on demographic too. Older people, and perhaps still kids–I remember as a kid we were always popping by to ask if so-and-so could play.

      –spoken as someone who very frequently has spontaneous dates/phone calls with friends

      1. Agreed. It’s a cultural thing and some family cultures do it and everyone’s fine with it and some families mostly do it and the one or two who don’t like it and try to change the dynamic cause all kinds of uproar.

      2. The key part of this is “I expect there’s a high chance that said friend won’t pick up, and that’s okay.

        If you have a pop-by sort of friendship/circumstance, you need a “Welp, they must be in the shower/napping/busy, no worries, I’ll call them later” attitude if they don’t answer the door.

      3. Cool, though like, agreeing in advance that dropping by spontaneously is cool is still agreeing in advance? Which is different from just dropping by WITHOUT such prior agreement? Like, agreeing advance that you can come by in the evenings without specifying which evenings is not the same as you coming over one evening with zero preamble. Or am I making up a distinction here?

        1. Right, that’s exactly the problem! If I have an established popping-by-is-okay relationship with a close friend, it’s not weird. For the other 99.9% of the world, it’s not cool. I’d go so far as to say this is true even in cultures where popping by acquaintances’ homes is sometimes okay, since there are still going to be people who object to it. In other words, if you have any doubts about whether it’s okay, it’s not okay.

          1. In other words, if you have any doubts about whether it’s okay, it’s not okay.

            But consent is confuuuuuuuuuusing! (No, friend, not so much, you’re just entitled and not thinking about how your actions might impact others.)

        2. No, you’re just making the same distinction I basically did–if all parties are cool with it is the magic phrase, I think. It’s IMO an intimacy thing too. Some friends have more or less a standing invitation because they’re just that close. We have some families like that in our circle. Other friends will simply never be at that level of relaxed-ness and that’s fine too. But either way, it’s usually pretty obvious what the situation is/what’s acceptable if the friendship is at all healthy and has bare min levels of communication.

          And I made a distinction above for time commitments too. I would be less thrilled if someone showed up on our doorstep and expected to spend the whole evening with us. I’m pretty thrilled when a friend stops by because they’re in town when they’re not normally and we chat for a few minutes (which sometimes turns into an hour or two, which is less convenient but sometimes very worth it)–but all of our friends know that too, so they act accordingly and considerately.

          1. OK, thanks for explaining.
            I have a feeling we broadly agree but maybe have a different default and/or threshold for when standing invitations come into play.

          2. Also, the thing to remember is your default isn’t THE default. If you like it when people drop by, cool, it doesn’t mean that other people do. If you don’t like people dropping by, cool, it doesn’t mean other people can’t work out a fun, workable arrangement between themselves. The trouble comes when people assume a default that doesn’t exist. “I would be okay with it therefore this friend would also be okay with it” isn’t a thing. If there’s any doubt, ask.

        3. Where my MIL lives, seems to be the default that popping in unheralded is always okay. And no-one knocks – they just call as they come through the kitchen. (No-one comes to the front door, ever.)
          On the other hand – it’s fine to leave the TV on, right through the visit. (Most rude, where I live.)

          I imagine there are rules about it, that you understand instinctively if you’ve grown up where that’s the way things work – maybe there are unspoken codes for “Not right now, Joe”: I can’t imagine how you do arguments, otherwise.

          1. My uncles live on a small island in Canada, where “dropping by” is practiced, and they say yes, there are signals. In fact each person has an individual signal that everybody knows — for this person they put this specific blind up when they’re “open”, for another person it’s their gate is unlatched.

            There also is a sharp line between coming into the kitchen, and entering the rest of the house. So you can walk into the kitchen to drop off am extra lobster if there’s nobody home, but you’d never go into the living room.

            Sitting on the back porch to use the internet is a free action.

      4. You text someone to see if it’s OK to call them??? OMG I am old. I don’t call before I’d expect them to be up, or later than there bed time, and I always leave a message if they don’t pick up. Just me, wanted to ask about your trip, etc… I’ll text people to tell them I’m running late, or to confirm that we are “still on for this evening” but I’ve never considered texting to make an appt. to call to chat.

        1. My best friend and I got in the habit of texting each other (well, me texting her) when her children were small because the text noise was less noisy than the ringing phone and I didn’t ever want to wake up a baby she’d just put down for a nap.

          I also never call before I expect people to be up, and I never call after about 9:30 p.m. unless it’s someone I know is likely to still be up (and who has said it’s okay).

        2. If it’s just a short call to ask a brief question it’s different from a half hour or more chat, where you are actually taking a chunk of time out of a person’s day. I wouldn’t personally do the latter except with a few people I’m close to.

          But I think similar guidelines apply as for just popping by: do you easily accept them not picking up, ask if it’s a good time and easily accept a no, the previous relationship between you, etc etc.

        3. I do, yeah, because my phone calls with friends tend to be 2-3 (4 even sometimes!) hours long and that does take a bit of planning into the schedule. But honestly I only talk on the phone to two friends, both of whom are long distance, one of whom is definitely a scheduler, and the other we do half and half. Sometimes we text and sometimes we just call. Now that we’re both married, working, and busier, and we don’t talk as often (hence our calls are much longer), texts first are more common. It’s not like we mind if we just call out of the blue, but the likelihood of it working out is pretty slim.

        4. Maybe it’s a generational thing? I personally hate phone calls, and all of my friends are similar, we never talk on the phone. (Except for cases where we’re lost or trying to find the meeting place.)

          We always prefer to text chat or talk in person. The only people I really talk on the phone with are my parents.

          1. I hated phone calls even more when I was younger, but when it was the only way to talk to people I would force myself to push through. Once other options came along it’s rarely necessary now.

        5. I text to ask if I can call because I have extreme phone anxiety. I really avoid chatting to anyone on the phone except my husband on occasion, and even then I ask if I can call before calling.

        6. As someone with phone-related anxiety from an on-call job (where I discovered that I am not a good fit for on-call), I appreciate a warning text so I can mentally prepare for the call.

        7. I do if I’m looking for a long conversation, not so much because it would be RUDE to simply call but because I want to set aside a time when we’re both available to talk, and an asynchronous communication method works better for scheduling – don’t have to wait for X rings plus the outgoing message every time you need to respond and the other person isn’t instantly available, for one thing.

    3. People with a mutual agreement that it’s ok. My BFF and I have keys to each other’s houses and a just drop in whenevs kind of relationship … We also passed the “company/guest threshold of cleaning years ago.”

      (I have also showed up unannounced at her place when I’ve locked myself out of my apartment with no phone because it’s faster than trying to get ahold of maintenance.)

      WITHOUT the explicit “yes” though, just dropping in is pretty rude.

    4. For the record, there are many people who I would welcome an unexpected visit from. I’d rather have an unexpected visit from my friend than not have them visit. Calling first is the accepted thing, so I’ll do it for most people, but if I did that with my parents, they would have thought it weird.
      tl:dr y’all have to be close for this to be okay, but “Kramer rights” are a thing.

    5. I see no disadvantage of a quick text at first, other than perhaps if it’s truly a spontaneous thought they might not be able to text before arriving. Say, if they were running errands and thought “oh hey, I’m driving right by AMT’s! I miss them and we’re never in the same place and I’d like to say hi!” and therefore can’t just quickly text because of the driving. I suppose one could just park outside, send off that text and wait for the response, but if you’re already there…

      For what it’s worth, I would LOVE it if people dropped by completely, 100% unannounced and I know that I’m a weirdo for that. If someone *asks* if I’m up for a quick visit my instinct is to say no. My house isn’t squeaky clean, I’m kind of tired, etc… But others don’t care about the state of my home 1/100th that I do, I might be tired but I’m not going to bed or anything, and actually really very much want to see people. I just talk myself out of it.

      So please, come visit me! CMart’s Condo, Suburbia, Chicagoland. I have snacks and will probably be wearing pants! My baby will definitely NOT be wearing pants but she’s not shy.

    6. I do this with neighbors when I don’t have their number, and there’s something they need to know (car lights are on, keys are left in the door, UPS left a pkg for you at my place, etc.) If I have their number, I call.

        1. I am also Australian and while I’ve had friends with an open house policy who explicitely invited people to drop by whenever it’s not broadly acceptable. I expect people to call first if they’re coming to me, and I always call first if I’m going to them.

      1. Huh? In my 33 years on this planet and in this country, I have never heard of this being an established norm. Except maybe for people living in the deep bush.

    7. Where I’m from, it’s usually considered okay to drop by–even for dinner!– if the person is family or a friend. I think part of it stems from a lot of people in my community struggling financially, so the vibe of, “there’s no judgement / no questions asked if you need a meal or a warm place to crash tonight,” because maybe they can’t get groceries this week or their lights got shut off. Nobody wants to *admit* that they can’t afford groceries or their lights got shut off, nor force their friends to admit that to them, so there was always a friendly cover story: “Oh! I just happened to be in the neighborhood, and I thought, ‘I haven’t seen IndoorCat in a while’…”

      And part of the deal is that, when you’re the one broke for the week, there’ll be someone else in the community who will let you do the same. And since sometimes people drop by when they *aren’t* broke, the cover story has decent plausible deniability. The only time I remember someone being turned away was when someone in my home was pretty sick.

      When I first moved to suburban, middle-class Midwest America, there was some unexpected culture shock for me. I thought the expectation to call or text first was very unfriendly or judgemental; either the person is saying, “You’re not as close to me as you think you are,” which led me to pull back from the relationship in embarrassment, or the person was saying, “You need to have a good reason to be here (possibly embarrassing or personal), and I get to judge if your reason is good enough,” which led me to pull back from a relationship out of frustration.

      But, now I realize it is just a cultural difference, borne out of different cultural needs. I don’t take it personally any more, because in this culture people place a much higher value on structures like daily and weekly routines, personal private “unwind” time, and presentation (wanting to clean up before guests come over). These are good things to value, even if they aren’t what my home culture values, and it took me awhile to get over *my own* judgement of “my values make me a Good Person and their values make them Bad People.”

      Also, most people in my home neighborhood didn’t text, pretty much ever, even when the least expensive burner phones began having text messaging. That was another thing where I’d assumed, “Oh, everyone prefers voice calls because you can hear tone of voice, so it’s clearer to understand the message” when the truth was, “Everyone where I come from was too broke to afford, uh, most kinds of text-using phones until recently, and change takes a while to set in; most of my peers have been texting since 2004, and the reason I only started texting in 2014 was not a choice made for aesthetic reasons.”

      Anyway, tl;dr, people who drop by without texting first have weird cultural reasons more than logical ones.

      1. I’m from an area where drop-ins are expected, and TBH, I always hated it. It was more of a cultural issue. We were blue collar, and we knew our neighbors and family lived close. It was a Thing when my sister enforced the “no drop ins” rule on our extended family.

      2. Piggybacking on this just a little bit…

        When I was in undergrad, and several years after undergrad when a bunch of us were working fairly low-paying jobs and living in fairly close proximity to each other, dropping in was a thing. Sometimes, as stated, because you didn’t want to admit that you had no food or whatever. Sometimes also because most of these living arrangements were roommate-dependent, and “ugh I got sexiled, can I borrow the couch in your suite?” or “WOW housemate drama, I need to take myself Somewhere Else, mind if I hide here till it blows over??” was a thing.

        There were certain houses that were well known to be open to this always or nearly always and pretty much “just let yourself in, you know where everything is, feel free to crash on the couch or hang out with Housemate A and then Housemate B will go stay with their SO and let you use their bed tonight.” There were other houses that you just didn’t go to at all, or you just didn’t go to overnight. Everyone in this particular group of friends was well aware of which houses were which.

          1. Not a new term, actually, it was definitely widely used when I was in college — let’s just say several years ago 😉

      3. This is v interesting, thanks for sharing! I like the concept of the face saving cover story. 🙂

        Also interesting to me the idea of private personal unwind time being a broader cultural thing. I’d never considered it like this, always thought it was more an individual thing, especially for introverts.

    8. My MIL. She thought it would be a fun “surprise” to show up with an overnight bag to one of Booth’s shows. It was decidedly less fun when we informed her that we wish she called, because we had 2 friends sleeping over and there was nowhere for her to sleep. She had to stay on Booth’s brother’s couch, and now she’ll text if she’s in the area.

      We live 2.5 hours away from her,BTW.

    9. In the interest of AMT’s curiosity…I can tell you one species of people who just drop by are those who really want to come over but know they won’t get invited and also know they won’t get turned away. Another motivation is sincerely believing that you are a ray of sunshine, brightening their lives, every time you stop by.

    10. My neighbors and I used to drop by all and I thought it was really very nice to live in that kind of community. My two next door neighbors insisted (several times), that I stop knocking and just walk into the house to find them. It seem odd to me, but that’s what all their friends did. They never locked their houses (even when they were gone) and people just kind of wandered in and out. They both had very large social groups and had various roommates/house guests filtering in and out. I’m an introvert and since I lived in the garage apartment with a door in the backyard, it always scared me half to death if someone unexpected knocked on the door. They both learned to stomp when coming-up the steps so I knew somebody was coming. The whole situation was delightful and worked very well because we respected each others boundaries. It was felt very wrong to me to walk into somebody else’s house, but I just told myself to respect their preferences like they did with mine. If somebody was busy, they’d just say so and you’d go back home. When I was very seriously ill and living by myself, I knew that somebody would come check on me if I hadn’t opened my curtains in the morning. It took a few years for us all to build-up to that level of trust, but it was by far the best place I ever lived.

    11. When my husband and I moved in together I warned all family that pop-in visits weren’t going to be a thing we allowed. My MIL was the only one who took issue with it and she said “Fine! But you can’t pop in here when you feel like it either.” at which point my husband looked at her and said “the only way I’m visiting is if she (points at me) forces me to” and then he walked out of the room. They don’t have, what we would refer to as, a healthy relationship. She has boundary issues and he shuts down fully whenever she’s around. Luckily for him she’s a bit afraid of me because I don’t shut down and let her steamroll things so she doesn’t come around. It works on keeping the pop-in visits down! 🙂

  7. My first thought of who not to invite to a party was that guy who dressed up as a knight to go on a date with Jenny Slate.

    1. Thank the gods I was able to turn away fast enough that I spit my mouthful of water on the floor instead of my keyboard.

  8. #7, it’s tempting to put a lot of emphasis on the “right now” bit and figure they’ll eventually want to be with you, and cling to them as a “friend” hoping that any day now, they’ll feel ready to be with you and ask you out. Don’t do this to yourself, because while there’s always a chance they will decide to start a relationship with you, that chance is very low, so low that it’s best not to hold onto that hope. And while being “friends” gives you plausible deniability, if you like, comment on, and/or share pretty much everything they post, invite them to all the things, and message them constantly, it may actually be pretty obvious to them that you’re hovering with an agenda, like that kid who always “babysits” during freeze tag.

    Leave them alone for the most part, “like” their posts sparingly if ever, and move on.

    I’ve say this because I’ve been on both sides of this hovering, and after having rejected dudes hover over me on social media, I cringe at the times I’ve done it to guys I liked who just weren’t feeling it “at the time” and I couldn’t take a hint. Don’t be me, don’t be those other dudes, just don’t do it.

    1. “hovering with an agenda, like that kid who always “babysits” during freeze tag”

      Allison, I’m very curious about this… could you explain?

      1. Not Allison, but basically, freeze tag is a game played by kids where they run around and try to “tag” (touch) each other, and if you get tagged you have to freeze for some short amount of time.

        Some annoying kids decide the best way to play is to hang around the “frozen” kids, “babysitting” them, until they unfreeze at which point the annoying kid will immediately freeze them again. Needless to say, this is no fun for anyone else.

  9. More for the list of people not to invite to parties: Food fussyists. Fine if someone just doesn’t eat what’s offered. Not fine if they comment, loudly, on what’s wrong with everything offered.

    1. Also aesthetic/energy consumption critics! True story, we had a huge party where we were fine with folks we didn’t know as well coming from the same show cast to our Halloween shindig and this one dude spent the whole night talking about how wasteful all the candles and Christmas lights and non-energy-efficient spooky halloween bulbs were while getting drunk off our booze. No dude. Go have a party by yourself in the woods in the dark so you don’t waste energy. Drink only water from the creek.

      1. “Drink only water from the creek.” Ha! This literally made me laugh out loud.

        Wasn’t there another guy written about on this site who complained non-stop about energy consumption and the environment, to the point where boiling a full kettle of tea was cause for anger?

        Complaining about Christmas lights, that’s gotta be up there.

        1. Oh gosh, yes, I remember that column – if I remember right it was an expression of some unmanaged anxiety issues that were being turned into such an extreme concern for the environment that the LW wasn’t able to boil a kettle of water without getting a scolding.

          Go drink water only from the creek, indeed.

        2. Oh yeah! That was terrible! It also reminds me of my mom. Back before my mom had kids and she and my dad were first married, she was so concerned with consumption of energy and resources (and also paying the water bill) that she insisted on using the barest minimum of water for everything…as though she were in a drought. She would dribble water down the drain and wash dishes using water in a teacup. It apparently was so minimal they screwed up their pipes…something about everything getting backed up because there wasn’t enough liquid to wash it down or something.

      2. I once ran into a guy on a vacation in Mexico who loudly complained at me when I mentioned I was going to use the jacuzzi tub in my room. I got an entire lecture on how scarce and precious water was in Mexico and how I was a thoughtless person for being so cruel as to use the jacuzzi tub. In my hotel room.

        I found ways to avoid him for the rest of the week, tho he was staying in my hotel and really wanted to befriend me and my traveling companion.


      3. Yeah, people who take the opportunity of being in your home as permission to criticise things in your home, in general.

    2. People who complain loudly about what’s wrong with your party seem like good people to take off your guest list whatever the source of their complaints. That doesn’t apply to alerting the host about the poor behavior of another guest or a stealth kitchen fire, of course. I’m thinking more people who always have something snide to say about the host’s living arrangements or decor. No need to invite those people back! After all, they’re supposedly not enjoying themselves in the first place!

      1. More generally, I think:

        –People who believe they have a right to police/comment on other peoples’ food choices in general

        1. Very much this. I didn’t come to a food tasting, I came to a party. Please let me nosh in peace.

        2. agreed…there are so many specific examples to name but anyone who tries to control or comment on another person at my party unless it’s a safety hazard doesn’t meet good-party-goer material.

          1. Right — safety might not be job one but it is important. But there’s a huge difference between the person who says, “Don’t put that whole thing in your mouth — There’s a toothpick in there!” (OMG thanks, I missed that!) and who looks you up and down and gives a scathing “Are you SURE you should be eating that?” (Fuck you, my food is none of your business.)

        3. This is the best rule I learned from Miss Manners – that it’s always rude to comment on someone else’s food or even to notice what anyone eats or drinks.

        4. Good rule of thumb. I’m the picky person who would *much* rather grab something to eat later than complain about what the host provides, but this means I get a lot of (kind, concerned, but…) people saying ‘Aren’t you eating? Aren’t you hungry? Here, try the X! Come on, it’s a party, relax and eat something!’

          I’m fortunate to have a (true!) catchall excuse that ‘Oh, I have an unconventional work schedule, so I get hungry at weird times and now is not one of those times.’ But it still makes me uncomfortable to know people are taking note of what I do and don’t eat.

  10. I took #17 to mean “you should be dating ME” instead of the actual girlfriend. But I may be spending too much time on Chump Lady…

    1. That’s also what I thought it might mean! If that is the case, I think an unstated addition to the comment is, “…so I’m probably not a great person to come to for relationship advice.”

  11. 14. Good advice. Also, if she keeps asking if you’re ok maybe ask once why she’s asking….sometimes it means she’s picking up on a downward spiral and is concerned…not that constantly asking the same question is a good approach…just that sometimes she might be on to something and you could ask yourself once seriously “Am I ok?” or next time she asks you could say “You keep asking that there a reason you keep asking that question? Is there something you hope or think you’ll hear from me in response?”

    17. If “Girl” isn’t currently in a relationship with you maybe she wants to be.

  12. 15. Strongly agree on time. And distance. And also being kind to yourself whenever that inner voice starts berating you for not being ~over it~ yet. “It takes as long as it takes” can be frustrating to hear, but it’s true.

  13. Ah, #1. I had a seemingly massive TA crush my first year of grad school. I wrote poems about him in secret, fantasized about going on research trips with him someday, and vowed to myself that I wouldn’t even become Facebook friends with him until the academic year was out. My delayed gratification paid off, too! Because in those two semesters, I actively fell in love with someone else who wasn’t an authority figure, and my TA-crush-feelings totally dropped away.

    So, my advice for anyone who is crushing on any sort of teacher figure is to let it go. Like the Captain said, your TAs and teachers have to be nice to you; they may even be projecting a “teacher persona,” which is different from how they actually are in their day-to-day life. So, try to channel your feelings for your teacher into the work you do in their class. You will learn so much, both academically and emotionally! A nice bonus is that you will make your TA happy too; seriously, you have no idea how good it feels when students do well your class. (Spoken from experience, because I myself am now a TA too.)

    1. Definitely yes to the “teacher persona!” Teaching is very much a performance art for me–who I am in front of a class and who I am in real life are related, but not the same.

      1. I was a much nicer, much more helpful and less judgmental person as a TA than I am in real life. TA-CMart would never have replied to a student email with an eyeroll emoji and a Let Me Google That For You link.

    2. Shoutout here to my college physics professor. I was desperately in crush with him, and it was the reason I aced that class–I wanted him to think I was smart, so I went to every lecture, aced every lab, and raised my hand often. It was a huge class, and we literally never interacted outside of lecture, but I still have a decent grasp on the material.

  14. No 25. The person you barely know but sorta came with the “friend group” you recently joined, who hates men, but is still obsessed with that one man who is also in that friend group from that time they briefly dated 20 years ago who comes to the party and corners one of your friends in the kitchen the whole night to catalogue the trash men who have wronged her in her life and also to shame anyone who reveals they participate in “her hobby” for not doing it 100% accurate/”right”.

    When I put my foot down to my bf next time we had a party, he was confused cuz she’s “part of the group” but I was…she is not my friend but she took up all the air in the room and bullied people and hijacked time and energy without really ever saying hello to me…the hostess..who lives here. NO! and I happily haven’t seen her at a party since!

  15. #4: Just in case, be prepared:

    “I do not want to move in with you.”

    BF: ragey ragey rage rage

    “I realize it disappoints you and maybe even makes you angry, but I am just not comfortable with it and I don’t want to be forced.”

    BF: Threatens to break up

    “I don’t want that, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

    1. I am not an expert, but in my experience once a threat to break up has been issued, you are 90% broken up already and doing it immediately will save both parties the drawn-out agony that is the last 10%.

      Additionally, if “I will break up with you” used as a threat or control means as in Cora’s example above, rather than a calmly-stated future consequence of hypothetical activity (e.g. “There’s something you should know about me before we go any farther with this. If you ever hit a small child, we are done”), then you are 99% broken up.

    2. If I had followed this advice, I would have avoided nine years of hell with my ex husband.

      I’m just saying.

      He pressured me to move in before I was ready, at a vulnerable time in my life, and it all went downhill from there. Really fast. Hindsight is 20/20.

  16. I feel bad for the people who take “not now” as “never” because I’m the kind of person who takes a very, very long time to develop pantsfeelings for people. And back when I was hotter, I would have guys declare their feelings for me and I’d be like “Wait, what? Give me some time to come to terms with this idea!” but because my answer wasn’t an enthusiastic “yes!” they took it as “no!” and what could have been never happened.

    So I don’t like the common conceit that “I just want to be friends right now” means “I will never feel anything more intimate for you” because A. It’s happened to me frequently and B. Jane Austen. For some people “deep friendship” is a necessary and crucial foundation for “romantic interest.” and “I don’t want to date you now” can mean “we’re not close enough friends yet.”

    1. Yep, I’m the same way re: needing friendship/strong emotional connection in advance of any romantic or sexual interest. (Demisexual is the label for it, I’m still kinda coming to terms with calling myself that, for various reasons. But anyway.) It really makes dating kind of a nightmare scenario, tbh, because it’s like… the other person is going on a date with me because they’re attracted to me in some way, I’m on a date to see if there’s a possibility of attraction at all.

      That said! Someone who’s been told “not now” still should probably be pretty chill and not all hovery-hopeful around the target of their currently unreturned affections. Maybe feelings will develop and it’ll be great! But they might not, and I feel like the odds of “might not” go up if someone is being clingy and making it clear they’re just waiting around for you to develop the “right” feelings, instead of just continuing to be a friend.

      1. “I feel like the odds of “might not” go up if someone is being clingy and making it clear they’re just waiting around for you to develop the “right” feelings, instead of just continuing to be a friend.”

        Right, exactly. I’ve developed feelings for guys I befriended when we met but the timing wasn’t right to start dating or start a relationship, but if their behavior screams “I CALL NEXT” or “HEY, DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME” or “LOOK WHAT A GREAT BOYFRIEND I’D BE, PLEASE LOVE ME,” or if they seem like they expect a relationship to develop from the friendship, I’m likely to keep the guy at arm’s length, very possibly forever.

        1. Definitely stay away from the guy who puts a quarter on your headboard.

          (I dated myself bad with THAT reference.)

          1. *sporfle*

            …do people not still do that, though? Have Kids These Days figured out some other way of claiming the next turn?

          2. It is apparently so old that I can’t figure out by Googling what it is in reference to. (My librarian powers have failed me!)

          3. (Out of nesting)

            I think the reference is to putting a quarter/stack of quarters/[insert quantity of money here] on the pool table/pinball machine/video game machine/etc to claim the next turn.

            So, the person who wants to date someone while they already have a partner, and hangs around mooning and suggesting they’d be a better partner…has put a quarter on that person’s headboard.

      2. I feel this too, though I don’t really self identify as Demisexual, it does resonate with me. Dating for me has been stressful because I feel pressure to decide soon and forever whether I am interested in a person. And like, I don’t want to rule someone out because I don’t know them yet, but also don’t want to keep leading someone on through several dates when it’s not going to happen.

        1. “also don’t want to keep leading someone on through several dates when it’s not going to happen.”

          I would reframe what you’re thinking of as “leading someone on”. If you *don’t know* if you’re into someone yet, but you do know that it’s not a Definite No, then continuing to go on dates isn’t leading them on. That is, in fact, exactly what dates are for – to determine whether or not you like-like this person. In early dates, in particular, the only question you’re trying to answer is “do I want to go one another date with this person”. The fact that you haven’t yet determined whether or not this is your life partner or whatever is immaterial.

          1. I agree that’s true in general 🙂 but it’s happened for me where it’s got to four or five dates and I’m still not even sure if I want to kiss them, and the other person (reasonably) would expect by then for a date to know if they’re interested. I feel like it takes me much longer to feel comfortable and know, and it’s longer than most people would want to stick around for a maybe yes, maybe not at all ever…

      3. “(Demisexual is the label for it, I’m still kinda coming to terms with calling myself that, for various reasons. But anyway.)” Yeah, I find that to be a really weird and unfitting word, in fact quite upsetting to hear, and would definitely never use it.

        As far as ‘not now’ meaning ‘we’re not close enough friends yet’, I agree that it’s depressing if potentially great people immediately leave if you aren’t interesting in getting sexy with them right away, but the solution, if there is one, is probably to be less vague and to say ‘we aren’t close enough friends yet; I need to know people well before I know if I’m interested in dating them’. Rather than ‘not now’.

    2. I don’t think it’s inevitable that this is how it has to play out, though. Just from my own personal life, I once met a woman and was immediately attracted to her, so I introduced myself, we chatted, and we exchanged contact info. From there we went on a series of what I thought were dates, but there was never any physical touching or anything overtly romantic, so then I figured I must have misunderstood and that we were just hanging out as friends. And so I said to myself, “Okay, well, I’d hoped for something romantic, but she seems cool, and having more friends is great” and just proceeded assuming we were friends and that there wouldn’t be anything romantic.

      Later on she let me know she was starting to think of me in romantic terms, and much later on she told me that the confusion about those early not-dates was at least partly because she was feeling me out and trying to figure out what she thought about me and whether she wanted to get back into the whole dating thing at that point in time. So I was all, “Oh, hey, cool, I like-like you, so how about it?”, and we started dating and yes, reader, I did actually marry her.

      And I think a large part of why things worked out as they did was because I didn’t pressure her to make a decision about whether she wanted to date me Right Now or only try to be friends as a way to eventually date her. I think assuming that dating was off the table took a lot of pressure off of BOTH of us, actually. And while it’s totally possible that maybe I wouldn’t have been interested in dating anymore when she decided that she was, for whatever reasons, I think that’s kind of always a risk you take when you ask someone out on a date, that they might say no.

    3. „I feel bad for the people who take “not now” as “never”“

      I don‘t. Taking „not now“ as „never“ is the smartest thing you could do. Often enough „not now“ is a genuine, if slightly veiled rejection. But even if it is an honest „not now (but maybe later?)“ — keeping your hopes up and putting your romantic life on hold until that person changes their mind strikes me as unwise. If you want to be their friend even if they are never giong to date you — sure, go ahead. If not, you better move on.

      1. Right — and if you’re the one saying “not now” and meaning “but maybe later?”, remember, you can also always come back and say “Hey, remember how I said ‘not now’ before? Well, it turns out…” Someone else taking your “not now” to mean “no” doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your chance with them forever; it just means you’ll have to be the one to initiate any future “okay, how about now?” conversations.

        1. That’s it exactly. If someone has made romantic overtures and you say ‘Not now’, it does not mean that the cosmic kibosh has been put on the possibility of you and them being in a relationship ever. It just means the ball is in your court. You know how they feel, so you’re at the advantage; if your own feelings change, you already have the information that it’s safe for you to speak up.

          Now, yes – it’s possible that because of the ‘not now’, they changed their mental filter on you, and over time they did stop looking at you romantically, but that’s something people have the right to do. And IMO, the risk of this happening is less problematic than the risk of someone whose feelings have NOT changed being repeatedly pestered about it.

        2. If they’re not someone you’re friends with, it does mean that they will 99% leave and you will never get a chance to get to know them and figure out if you might someday want to date them.

          But I think you have to actually say some version of that if that’s what you actually mean, and not leave it to them to guess. And you also have to accept, sad as it is, that the majority of people will still leave and not be interested in slowly becoming friends and mayne possibly someday dating but no guarantee

          1. And it is okay if they do that. People don’t have infinity friend spots; it’s okay to run out of spoons for new people. Sometimes, them’s the breaks.

          2. Yes, exactly. It’s normal to feel bad if they do, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling bad when that happens, but it’s really up to them if they are interested in what you’re interested in or not.

    4. It seems to me that people who need to be friends for a while to develop (or notice) attraction also need to accept that if we don’t say something, we’ll never find out of the feeling is reciprocated. That’s because if the other person tends to develop such feelings more quickly, they’ve likely already concluded that we weren’t interested, even if they haven’t explicitly asked and been told “I don’t know you well enough to know if I might feel that way.” And if the other person also takes a long time to become attracted to people, well, if both people assuming that if someone else is interested they’ll say so, neither of them will.

      Someone worth being friends with, let alone dating, will accept “wait, what? Give me some time” and let the person who said that take as long as they want to figure out whether it’s yes or no. They won’t come back in three or six months and say “You’ve had some time to get used to the idea. Are you interested now?”

    5. I think if you mean “not now” as “possibly in 6 months” then it’s on you to make the move in 6 months and accept if they’ve moved on.

    6. That’s happened to me often with online dating, where I get the feeling I’m supposed to immediately decide if this person I just met is someone I want to be intimately involved with, when I’m pretty cautious and need time to warm up to people if I ever do (although I think there’s merit to the concept of instant attraction). It’s frustrating.

      1. Yeah, me too.

        Most guys I meet seem to want and instant or near instant connection, physical contact of some sort by the second date (they will usually give you the first date, but by the second one we’re supposed to ‘know’ each other now). Then even if I am genuinely interested in them and excited about getting to know them better, I don’t feel like we’re on any kind of intimate level and apparently come off as cold or as pushing them away or not liking them. And then that’s the end of that.

    7. So, what is the different behavior you expect from the guys if they correctly get “not now, maybe later” instead of “I cannot ever see that happening”? Because there might not be any point in correcting their impression if you don’t expect them to wait around for 6 months while you decide.

      I guess I see the right reaction in both cases is either “Eh, I was only interested in a relationship, see ya” and “Well, you seem like a cool person as a friend so let’s hang platonically.” The only thing a stated trial period does is add “I don’t want to be your friend but I’m willing to hang around expectantly for a while,” which is really not good for either of you. Sure, they might have started dating someone else who was more gung ho while you were slowly coming to a “yes,” but I don’t think you really want them putting their lives on hold for a maybe.

      But if you wanted to clarify, it’s not hard to do. “I know that’s a pretty standard blowoff, but I just say no if I mean no, and I’ve needed this time for all previous relationships.” Sometimes we have to clarify if the normal words to use have become code for something else. “I can’t, I’m washing my hair, and it really is an event on my calendar because of my complicated hair situation. Definitely invite me next time.”

      1. ‘The only thing a stated trial period does is add “I don’t want to be your friend but I’m willing to hang around expectantly for a while,” which is really not good for either of you. ‘

        I genuinely don’t see what’s wrong with that, if both people are on the same page about it??

        I am increasingly realising that many people don’t seem to have the category in their mind for something like ‘person I flirt with who is neither a platonic friend nor someone I am intimate with’ or ‘person I am getting to know to see if we like each other’ or even ‘person I really like and am attracted to and hope to invest the time in to develop a relationship with over time?’

        It’s weird because so many people I know, especially people who grew up a few decades or a generation ago, describe exactly that? I grew up with so many stories of slow, gradual courtships, of people talking many times before they ever held hands, and holding hands for months before they ever kissed, and dating for anywhere from several months to a few years before they had sex. And while a few of these stories are of people who wouldn’t have chosen that speed of getting to know each other if it weren’t for external societal pressures, many others are just happy romantic stories they tell fondly.

        But I so often meet or speak to people who seem to have one box for platonic friends, one box for sex friends, and one box for non-friends. And it’s like that’s it?

    8. Ugh, this is why Demisexual needs its own label so bad – for most people (allosexuals), lack of an Enthusiastic Yes really does mean No.

      Demi people should be able to say “not yet, because I’m demi” rather than “not yet, so pine for a couple years and maybe I’ll come around.” Makes it much more straightforward.

      1. I guess my real dirty lens here is that I’m worried if this becomes the norm, it’ll undercut the value of the “soft no.”

  17. Can I just say how much I love that querent #15 typed ‘feck’ into their search bar? And as an answer, I tend to spend hours contemplating the other person’s failure to Adore and Worship Me As I Deserve as a personal failing too great to endure. It lessens the mourning time greatly, in my experience. 🙂

    1. Yeah, this is a solid thing to remember…I was pining after an emotionally-unavailable terrible-for-me dude and I kept reminding myself of his failure to view me as the best option. I figured out shortly in that he was low-key forever in love with his ex and she did not look like me/act like me/share interests w me and darnit, I deserve to be with someone who thinks I’m awesome!

  18. #27 Made me think of my son. (I am middle-aged, and was a young mother; he is in his early 30s.) He is handsome and has a certain je me said quoi. He is happily partnered now, and has to tell admirers of all genders “U’m flattered, but, no.”

  19. hey captain — just a quick request for a NSFW on those links like the one to the missing stair article? wouldn’t want IT to get the wrong idea if i clicked on it when i was reading this post on my break, thank you! 🙂

  20. The response for 19 was super-diplomatic. My less diplomatic take would be No! No! No! Don’t ask people for other people’s contact information. Not everyone is wise enough to decline to give it out. Offering your own is fine, and is probably going to meet with a warmer response than a call from a near-stranger.

    1. Yup, err on the side of offering your own contact info. And if you’re the person being asked to give out someone else’s contact info, please, please don’t. Just say “I’m not comfortable giving out their number, but if you want, I can pass yours along.”

  21. Hey Cap – is it possible to put a NSFW tag on the ‘Missing Stairs’ link? I realized halfway through I was on a kink blog in my very public office. Apologies if I’m being oversensitive about it.

  22. More #25:

    – Person who has just been dumped and is not handling it well, especially if there will be happy couples/triads/groups at the party, DOUBLE especially if dumping ex is also likely to attend (experience talking, yo)
    – The Mansplainer
    – The Rules Lawyer, if fun party/board/card games are on the menu
    – The Rage Gamer, if ANY games are on the menu
    – The Mooch And Let Me Take A Plate Home For Mx. Mooch And The Moochlings, especially at a potluck, DOUBLE especially if Mooch shows up empty-handed
    – Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, etc., et al., ad nauseam, ad infinitum
    – The Pundit-Wannabe, unless you know everyone invited will be cool with a political discussion
    – The Born-Again Enthusiast, unless you know everyone invited will be cool with discussions that revolve around being saved in the eyes of the Lord
    – Anyone you, as the host, just don’t fecking like – it’s your party and you’ll deny if you want to
    – Can’t Read The Room Guy

    1. I’m loving all these lists. “unless you know everyone invited will be cool with discussions that revolve around being saved in the eyes of the Lord” haha

      1. It is possible that I have been the unwitting invitee at one or more parties that turned into lowkey revivals while I’m sitting there thinking, “OK, the music’s not too bad, but I thought we were gonna watch Cowboy Bebop tonight, not 700 Club…”

        1. What, you don’t remember the episode where Spike was Saved and then went to Heaven after he maybe died at the end? 😉

  23. Number 11, if the ‘him’ in question is a cat, be prepared for such a wanton act of cruelty* to result in him singing you the song of his people, and perhaps reaching paws under the bathroom door. Cats frequently have poor understanding of boundaries.

    Humans, however, have no such excuses.

    (*similar acts of cruelty involve being 5 seconds late with dinner, or trying to sleep in for five minutes)

    1. Or a Newfoundland dog. My Newfie doesn’t like to leave me alone in rooms with water, and I respect her need to lifeguard me at all times. I don’t think I’d find it as endearing from a human.

    2. The ONLY person allowed to sit on the bathmat and stare at me while I’m on the toilet is my cat(s). My husband occasionally comes in while I’m in the bathtub, but more often than not I prefer to bathe alone. Except for the cat, naturally, who I think is concerned about my stability and reason since I choose to sumburge myself in water. Also, he doesn’t tolerate a closed door. Ever. ^_^

      Twitchy: Slightly OT but so cute: my best friend and her sister have always had Newfies; when they were little (and had a pool), their Newfie would get anxious and swim around them in circles the entire time. When they got tired, they’d hold her tail and she’d paddle them around the pool. They sound like the best dogs! (I’ve never met one).

      1. I don’t understand the “cat wanting to be in the room when you’re on the toilet” thing. It doesn’t bother me – I find it rather endearing, actually – but what stumps me is this: I have one cat, Zenia, who always wants to be in there with me, rubbing against my legs and asking to be petted (which I always do). I have two other cats who never do this. I live alone, so I don’t shut the door – they could come in if they wanted to but never do. But Zenia ALWAYS comes in, and she’ll push open the almost-closed door to get in there.

        I guess it just comes down to different cat personalities. It fascinates me, though.

    3. Small humans have excuses, but should be slowly and gently trained to have no excuses. I currently expect to be able to use the toilet without my one year old joining me (even if the door is closed! babies are surprisingly strong!) when he’s about three. Maybe. And he brings the cats with him. At least he’s cheerful and cute.

  24. #18 “My boyfriend doesn’t believe in my blogging.” – There are two different things a person could mean by “believe in” here.

    Should your boyfriend believe that you have something interesting to say, and that it’s worthwhile to spend time cultivating your voice and putting your words out there? YES! And you should seriously consider breaking up with someone who doesn’t.

    But should your boyfriend be 100% confident that you can financially support yourself by blogging? Probably not! Even extremely good bloggers usually can’t do that. Suggesting you need a day job is not, IMHO, a dump-worthy offense.

    1. I hadn’t even thought of the second interpretation, that the boyfriend might mean “doesn’t believe in my blogging [as a realistic full-time income source]”–that’s a great point. I too would be inclined to treat hypothetical Guy #1 differently than hypothetical Guy #2.

    2. This is a really good point.

      My husband doesn’t appreciate my blogging/discussion salon on Facebook, which is wearing, so I assumed #1, but #2 is definitely a possibility!

  25. Cracked had a recent list, 5 Tips for Preventing Sexual Harassment that We Apparently Need. #5 is Never Give Out A Friend’s Phone Number Or Address. The writer gives this tip:

    Try using the $5,000 rule. As in, would you lend this same person $5,000? You know, because they gave you a ride home once and sometimes bring donuts to game night? Of course you wouldn’t, because having cleared the bar for everyday common courtesy a few times doesn’t suddenly qualify them for a loan. Well, now imagine a world in which your friends’ personal safety is more valuable to you than $5,000.

    1. I never expected that Cracked would turn into one of my most favorite sources of journalism and social commentary, and yet, here we are.

  26. I’m trying to make a thought experiment on Captain’s answer to #28. In my country, if you have some acquaintance dropping by your door, you have to let them in, and serve at least a glass of water or a cup of coffee. Even if they’re uninvited. Even if you’re renovating your kitchen and microwaving all your meals in the laundry room. The “I’m not always at home for visitors” script Captain suggests would definitely be seen as extremely rude, like, cancelling-your-favorite-show rude. And yeah, it’s a very frustrating situation to introverts.

  27. I haven’t even read the rest of the post yet, but had to come and thank you for the Manilove. When October Goes may be my all-time favorite song of his.

  28. #19 I would always check with the friend first if it was ok or offer to pass the details along, no matter what excuse was given. You never know what might be going on currently, for example the contact details may be correct but the person is trying to give a soft no (as in the previous post), or is trying to escape an abusive situation etc. I’ve found that decent people tend to accept this arrangement, and those who push back tend to be assholes in other ways.

    I once had a person (A) ask me just to confirm the phone number she had for a mutual friend (B), as she was not getting any replies to her attempts to contact her. I told A that even though I knew they knew each other and A had a valid reason for contacting B (they were both involved in planning the same event), I would still have to check first with A. B got quite aggressive with me over this, saying “Don’t be stupid! I have the number but I just want to check it because she isn’t answering my calls and it’s important! Why are you making a big thing of it?!” but I stood firm. She got confirmation of the number from someone else shortly afterwards and then immediately texted me back to triumphantly inform me of this and to berate me again for making a fuss. Speaking to A later, I discovered that B really was trying to avoid A because A refused to accept that B wasn’t always able to answer her phone immediately because of her work and would keep calling and texting repeatedly, sometimes until as late as 1am, even for non-urgent things. As time went by I saw that A was quite a nasty person in general with a huge sense of entitlement, and she treated many people that way. Thankfully I’m out of that group now.

    1. ‘A’ sounds like my mother. On the surface the initial request may sound reasonable, but it comes with a side of entitlement that is not.

  29. En re: #13. Thank you for using that valuable opportunity to say “fuck you” to all the rapists and sexual harassers.

    1. Oooh, yes. (I just had a flashback to that horrible mother who was micromanaging her daughter’s wedding and didn’t want the daughter’s BFF to walk down the aisle and “ruin” things because of her limp.)

      I mean, there are less extreme examples, but definitely this.

  30. My husband constantly asks me “are you okay?” Usually at random times, when we’re out for a drink or watching TV or something. I have no idea how to address it because obviously if he thinks I look sick or upset, I want him to feel able to address concern! But on the other hand, the constant asking makes me really self-conscious and anxious, like something’s wrong with me or I look weird.

    People say it’s usually projection, and in his case it sometimes is (he was nervous about an event once and asked “are you okay?” to me every ten minutes until I told him he HAD to quit), but usually it’s when he feels (by his own admission) absolutely fine but keeps asking me if I’m okay, which obviously makes me feel like I must look off. Sometimes it makes me even question if I *am* okay or not! And sometimes it just gets grating, like it feels like he doesn’t believe my answers.

    It’s hard to know how to handle, that’s for sure.

    1. What would happen if you directly addressed it with him and asked him not to do it? I think that’s a reasonable thing to ask. Do it kindly when he does it for the first time he does it at any given time. It’s better than giving an answer and him not taking it as ‘I know that Sassy Vulcan is ok so I don’t need to continually ask’ (sounds like the most frustrating thing ever btw!). I think it’s really awesome how you have figured out when it could be projection and when it probably isn’t. But either way you definitely have to right to say ‘knock it off’ and then keep saying it if he continues to do it.

      I can’t remember the exact details (my memory of the past is pretty fuzzy) but I’m pretty sure I had a boyfriend who would do this at one point and it affected me pretty much exactly how you describe. I became convinced that I was either doing something wrong or that I had a case of resting bitch face that he was reacting to, which made me pretty self conscious about my face for a while. It made me feel like a child who had to be chaperoned at events all the time in case I messed up. If it was the relationship I’m thinking of (fucks sake memory) it wasn’t my boyfriend’s fault either. That relationship had bad communication between us each way but neither of us was experienced or aware enough to know we had a problem.

      1. Thank you so much! I think you’ve given me a really good answer here—I don’t want him to stop ever asking if I’m okay (major anxiety/depression/PTSD so it’s often a good thing he’s asking), but I don’t want it constantly. Also thanks so much for validating how it makes me feel; I thought maybe I was being too sensitive so it’s good to know this affects others in pretty much the same way.

        We have excellent communication otherwise, so I think you’re right that this will work pretty well. Once in an evening is fine, but follow ups in that same evening can just be met with, “Honey, I know you’re asking ‘cause you care, but I really am fine and it’s making me anxious to have you keep asking. Please stop now!” And if he unconsciously does it again say, “Please stop asking, dear!” until he catches it himself.

        Thanks a bunch; this has been niggling at me for awhile now and I wasn’t sure how to approach it.

    2. I had a platonic friend who I had to severely distance myself from for this. If you remember the old Captain letter about “stop asking if I’m okay!”, it was pretty similar, and in fact I referred back to that letter to figure out how to deal. This woman would ask me every few minutes if I was OK. I decided to run with the theory that maybe *she* wasn’t OK and wanted me to ask, so I tried that–nope, that wasn’t it. Eventually I realized our hangouts were stressing me out because of the constant “are you OK” ( as well as a question about my family that she also asked me repeatedly) and I had to take a step back.

      1. I used to have a tendency to ask people if they were okay, or if WE were okay, much too often because I have trouble accurately reading faces and emotions, and because my anxiety operated in a fashion that made me convinced people were hating me or I had “done something wrong” because of a silence or a misread expression when the other person was off thinking about ice cream or w/e.

        I’ve gotten much better as my anxiety has gotten better managed, but I still occasionally reach out to my friend and say “Hey, brain weasels are especially bad today. Are you okay/are we okay?” and she knows I’m having anxiety and I KNOW I’m having anxiety (and also that I know she doesn’t OWE me reassurance) and because we have this open communication and we’ve talked about it. And it helps me not do that with other people.

        Every few minutes, though — even at my worst I never did that. And constant questions about my family would also have me noping out of a relationship.

  31. “My girlfriend keeps asking me if I’m okay.”

    I’d also say, consider:

    * Asking if there’s a particular reason she’s asking. “I think something might be wrong but I’m not sure, does something seem wrong to you?” Maybe she’s picking up signals that you haven’t noticed, or maybe there’s a false alarm if you do something that she’s worried by but is actually fine.

    * Ask if *she’s* ok. She may have some problem but not know how to bring it up.

    * If all that is no, then say, you’re fine, but you get worried when she asks so often.

    * Asking her to find another way to touch base with you is a good idea (although also, if she’s clear that “are you ok” is really just “hi”, then maybe just stop worrying about it).

  32. Thank you so much for sharing “When October Goes.” It is one of my favorite Barry Manilow songs and the album it’s from (2:00AM Paradise Cafe) is gorgeous too. Perfect smoky jazz for this time of year. Wishing everyone here a good November!

  33. For #1, it seems like CA answered as if the student was asking, but I’m concerned that it might be the professor who wants to date their TA

      1. oh yeah, definitely, but then I feel like, if it is the case, there should be an addition of “Back off until the TA has completely graduated and you are in no position of power over them” since many TAs are students and may continue to be students even after that specific class has ended.

  34. Is innocent-until-proven-guilty just not a thing any more? This casual disregard for one of the cornerstones of civilisation – which you clearly threw out there without a moment’s thought – is REALLY disturbing, Jennifer.

    1. Hi Troll! Can I call you Troll, since we seem to be on a first name basis?

      1) What the fuck is this even referring to? Are you the skidmarked underwear husband here to defend your stinky honor?
      2) “Innocent until proven guilty” is a legal standard for courts. Does this look like court to you? Is anyone being deprived of their freedom if I have an opinion about them? No. Another cornerstone of civilization is the right to freedom of association, which means you can join groups without legal consequence AND you can’t be compelled to join them. I.e. You can avoid people and/or tell them to fuck off.
      3) Goodbye, Troll!

      Thor raining down his banhammer on a field of battle.

      1. I’m guessing they were referring to #13. (Saying “fuck you” to someone who’ll never even hear it is totes undermining a cornerstone of civilization, dontchaknow.)

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