It’s time for my favorite Captain Awkward Dot Com Tradition: That thing where I answer the search strings people typed to land here as if they are questions. First, a musical interlude (Merle Haggard’s If We Make It Through December, lyrics at the YouTube link):
Now, the meat of it:
1 “How do you tell a friend that they can’t come over when you already invited them?”
Do it as directly and quickly as possible. “I know I invited you over later, but I need to reschedule, so sorry!”
2 “My ex wants to work on things but I can’t right now I don’t feel anything.”
Y’all broke up. One benefit is breaking up is that you don’t have to work on the relationship anymore.
There are exceptions to this, of course:
- If you have children together, you have to work out a way to be polite and fair to each other as you deal with custody issues and also how to keep your child’s well-being front and center.
- If you have property & financial entanglements, you have to work out a fair way to wind those down.
BUT THAT’S IT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE TALKS ABOUT FEELINGS ANYMORE.
3 “A male friend disrespected me by touching inappropriately publicly how to stop him and not feel awkward.”
Unfortunately there is no possibility of “not feeling awkward” because touching someone inappropriately is a really awkward thing to do! Being groped by a friend is a really awkward thing to have happen to you! The awkwardness is a given.
You can still tell him to stop. “Don’t touch me.” “I don’t like it.” “Stop.”
You can still tell him that what he did in the past bothered you. “I didn’t like it when you touched me that way, I need you to apologize and never do it again.”
You have nothing to apologize or be ashamed of here. The awkwardness fallout belongs to him and him alone.
4 “Guy can’t get over and stop thinking about girlfriend’s sexual past.”/ 5 “Love everything about my gf except her past.”
If you are having intrusive thoughts about your girlfriend’s past that are messing with your ability to enjoy your life and relationship with her, visit a therapist or counselor and do whatever it takes to work out your own issues around this. The issue is yours to solve, not your girlfriend’s. Your girlfriend’s past isn’t your business, it isn’t some burden you have to bear, it isn’t about you at all. Get. Over. It. or get out of her life and let her be with someone who doesn’t have these gross hangups.
6 “My sister bought me a car now she wants it back because she paid for it.”
I have no solution for this without knowing a lot more, but here’s a blanket reminder that when money is involved, put something in writing. Even for family. Especially for family.
7 “How to tell him the relationship is not working out so let’s just be friends.”
“I don’t think our romantic relationship is working for me and I’d like to end it. I care about you a lot and I’d love to be friends someday, if you’re up for that.”
Then you give him some space and let him determine the timetable of a friendship, if one is meant to be.
8 “He never hardly talks his communication is distant his hygiene gone what wrong he is so different or is it me.”
Big changes in someone’s appearance, hygiene, and communication style are worrying! The start of this conversation could be: “You don’t seem like yourself lately. Is something going on with you that I should know about?” You can be detailed – “You don’t seem to be bathing or taking care of yourself, you’ve gone really quiet in our communications.” Then see what he says.
9 “He wants to move in with me to save money.”
It’s okay to want to save money and move in with other people. HOWEVER, If your heart isn’t in this, if you’re not ready to move in with ‘him’ (either as a romantic partner, family member, friend, roommate), if you don’t think he’ll be a good roommate for you, it’s okay to say no. Other roommate situations exist and he can find one.
10 “How to tell your parents you’re moving in with your boyfriend.”
Send them a note. “_____ and I are getting a place together, our new address is ______.” Present it like the happy news that it is. Their reactions will be whatever they are.
11 “How can I make my mother accept my boyfriend she once rejected.”
You can’t make her do anything. What you can do is live your life as you wish – including dating who you want to date – and be happy. You can stop subjecting your boyfriend to her disapproval and limit how much time you spend with her. You can make sure she doesn’t have opportunities to be mean to him.
Your mom may come around with time or she may not.
12 “After 9 years together his family still wont accept me.”
That sounds incredibly painful, I’m sorry. After nine years, you know everything you need to know about how this is likely to go and what is likely to happen with this family. I hope you can stop putting any energy into trying to win the approval of these people. I hope your spouse/partner backs you up and doesn’t expect you to subject yourself to their bullshit. To me, that’s the big issue. Does your partner support you and defend you and shield you from his family, or does he expect you to play big happy family with them?
13 “How to behave at a dinner where a sister in law doesn’t talk to you.”
- Ignore her and focus on the people you are glad to see and who are glad to see you.
- Hash it out with her. “It’s super weird that you refuse to talk to me. What’s going on?“
- Don’t go to stuff that’s at her house.
- Host your own extended family stuff in smaller groups and don’t invite her. If people ask why, tell them the truth. “She doesn’t talk to me, it’s weird, I can deal with it now and again for Grandma’s sake, but not in my house.”
It will probably never not be weird and she’ll probably never like you. I’m of the opinion that you don’t have to break bread with people who act like they hate you. It’s okay to call attention to the weirdness.
14 “My husband allows his kids and friends to torment me in our home.”
This is abusive and terrible and it needs to stop. A spouse who won’t stick up for you and who enables other people in abusing you is deeply in the wrong. I know step-kid-step-parent relationships can be fraught, but the kids’ parent needs to be able to say “You don’t have to like or love Step-Parent but you do need to be a basic amount of polite and respectful to them or there will be consequences.” Marriage counseling may be in the cards, or, if this is ongoing and hasn’t changed despite talking about it, divorce court. You deserve better.
15 “My boyfriend wants an open relationship but I’ve never been in one.”
- If your instinct is to say “nope!” then say “nope!” You might end up breaking up if he wants an open relationship really badly and you don’t, but you don’t have to go along with this if you don’t want to.
- Think about (and read about) open relationships and see if it’s something that interests you.
Bottom line: Your relationship needs to work for you. You don’t serve your relationship or the idea of the relationship or do something you are uncomfortable with to preserve it.
16 “If your boyfriend accept friendship but he want sexing for u only once is this true love.”
This is probably not true love.
17 “Did he really break up with me because the timing wasn’t right?”
Whatever the stated reason, he broke up with you.
18 “He doesn’t want me to watch porn but he does.”
Welp, this is a double standard. Are you comfortable with that?
19 “If he likes me why is he still online dating?”
This is one of those questions only “he” can answer. You could ask questions like “Do you want us to move toward being exclusive and dating only each other? Because I think I’d like to do that, if you are ready” or “Are you dating other people right now?”
It’s a vulnerable question, but one well worth asking. If it reassures you, Mr. Awkward & I met on OKCupid, and I know we were both winding down some old business/going on some dates we’d already scheduled with other people in the first weeks of our relationship. We liked each other a lot from the beginning but it took a little while for it to all click in.
20 “Is it healthy to stay in a relationship with your first boyfriend.”
I get this question in the mailbox A LOT.
I can only ask questions in response:
- Are you happy now?
- Are you excited about the future you are planning together?
- Are your daydreams about what your life could be like fulfilled within this partnership?
- Do you feel like you are living the life you want to live? Do you feel like that life is possible?
- If you want to change something about your life, is this person going to support you and roll through those changes with you?
- If you wanted to make a big change in your life do you feel like you could talk it through honestly with this person?
- Do you use language like “I feel suffocated,” “I feel trapped,” “I feel guilty” when you talk about the prospect of staying with him?
- Are you tempted to cheat on them or already cheating on them (a common thread in the letters in the mailbox)?
- What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen if y’all broke up? (Most likely answer: You’d both be sad for a while and then you’d be fine.)
Some people meet the right person/a right person for them really young and they grow and change together. Some people do not. I am in the second batch. I don’t know what’s right for you, only, make sure that staying with this person is a positive, active, happy choice for you and not just one made out of inertia and fear of being alone. Being alone can be so very liberating and great.
21 “What to say when you don’t want to hug.”
I tend to take a big, obvious step backwards and offer my hand to shake instead. See also: “No thanks, I’m not much of a hugger.”
22 “How to tell family I’m not coming home for the holidays this year.”
Send a nice card or note. “Family, I won’t be joining you for the holidays this year, but I’ll be thinking about you a lot! Love, ____.”
Greeting cards get made fun of a lot, but they are SO UNDERRATED as a medium for dealing with complicated/estranged-but-not-totally family or situations where you don’t really have words.
23 “Mindfuck of being a mistress for years.”
Sounds intense! It sounds like it should be a line from a poem, like:
“Her emotional accounts were well in arrears
From the mindfuck of being a mistress for years…”
Can we write this out as a group effort?