It Came From The Search Terms: Senioritis Sessions

School/life has been kicking my ass this semester and I am really behind on search terms posts, friends. Let’s make up for lost time!

1 “I feel like I have said too much”

You are in the right place!

2 “Boyfriend won’t take showers”

Try bluntness. “Please take a shower, babe, you don’t smell so great.” 

3 “My new partner has a filthy toilet”

Try bluntness, again. “Hey, this is awkward, but can you clean the toilet at your place?” 

The longer you let stuff like no showering or a sketchy toilet go, the longer it bothers you, and the more awkward the eventual conversation gets.

4 “Guy doesn’t want a relationship because of depression”

Guy doesn’t want a relationship. Hope he gets some help for the depression and transfer your time and attention to a different guy or (better yet!) your badass self.

5 “Boyfriend is a MRA/My husband is a men’s rights activist”

(+ many more variations of this)

I hate saying “he is lost to you” but HE IS. Get yourself safe and far away as soon as you can.

6 “How to get the girl from long distance”

Ask the girl if she wants to be with you.

7 “My husband tells me I’m socially inept”

You might have a social awkwardness problem. You definitely have a mean husband problem.

8 “My bf makes fun of mental disorders”

Try bluntness: “Stop making gross ‘jokes’ about mental illness.” If he won’t, make him your ex-boyfriend.

9 “What effect on a new relationship does ‘getting intimate too fast’ have.”

If you’re asking about “when is it ok to have sex” my answer is “Whenever it seems like a good idea to both you and the prospective other person.”

One reason I advise going slow in getting to know someone and watching out for people who escalate relationships very quickly is that sometimes unsuitable people do this deliberately so you’ll be too high on orgasms and love notes to stop and evaluate a) whether they are really a good fit for you and b) whether the idealized picture they present in early dating is congruent with who they really are. The Dirty John podcast & article series (which gets allllllllll the warnings for stalking, violence) is a good cautionary tale about ignoring a lot of warning signals and outright lies because the feeling of being in love with someone who is so focused on you is so powerful.

10 “Boyfriend wants a love triangle with ex”

Hope boyfriend enjoys that love segment that he and ex are about to be in, minus you.

11 “How to respond to “you’re not my dad” from a 30 year old roommate”

“No, I’m not your dad and I don’t want to be, which is why reminding you to [do household chore][pay the cable bill][keep your mess in your room] is equally annoying to me! Can you just do the thing please? We’ll both be happier.”

12 “46 years old and my mom gives me the silent treatment”

The silent treatment is cruel and abusive. The only way to really fight it is to take the silence of an abusive person as a gift they are giving you. Your mom wants you to bow and scrape and ask her what you did wrong and chase her approval and attention. What if you didn’t do any of that, and just decided, hey, that’s her problem? If you’ve never worked with a therapist, this is a good time/issue.

13 “My family hates my bf because he hit me”

I mean…yeah? Do you get that this is a pretty reasonable position on your family’s part? Instead of trying to change your family’s mind about this guy, I hope you can work on getting yourself free of him.

Here’s a short film by a father and a daughter about her high school relationship with a boy who abused her. It is painful to watch (again, all the content warnings apply) but they made it to help people who have been there, or prevent others from going there.

14 “Coworker wears tons of makeup”

That’s your coworker’s face, not your face, ergo you are not the boss of it ergo nunya beeswax.

15 “How to reject short notice invites”

You can just say “Sorry, can’t make it” on a case by case basis, but if it’s a recurring thing with a person you really like, maybe try “I’d love to, but with my schedule I need more lead time to plan. Can we plan something for [future date] instead?” 

16 “Do I have to extend an invite every fucking time Captain Awkward”

Apparently you do? If you’re always the person who does the inviting, it’s okay to pull back if you don’t have the energy for it, and tell the other person “Hey, can you make the plans next time? I’m a little burnt out on doing the inviting, but I do like seeing you.” 

17 “Is it a disservice to give someone else your junk”

Most of the time, probably!

18 “Thank you for letting me know the decision and good lick to you”

Good lick to you!

19 “How to react if boyfriend wants to fix you”

“If I want a life coach I’ll hire one.”

20 “11 reasons why you should be bummed about missing big guava”

I’m guava-neutral, but, tell me more?

21 “He’s still on the dating app after a month/I know he loves me but he’s still online/Why is he still on the dating site/Why is his dating profile still active”

There is one person in the world who knows the answer to each of these questions, and that is the “he” in the equation. Could be he forgot to delete it. Could be he’s keeping his options open. Only one way to find out!

Step 1: You’ll need the head of a creepy doll, a bundle of hot chili peppers, any piece of political campaign literature stolen from a recycling bin, the grossest leftovers from the back of the fridge (something green is best), and glass of a refreshing beverage of your choice.

Step 2: Gather these items and bury them at the crossroads during the dark of the moon. Or, don’t gather any of these things – they don’t really matter, except for the beverage.

Step 3: Drink the beverage so your throat isn’t scratchy. Then ask the dude what’s up and tell him where your head and heart are at with this whole thing. For a new relationship, try “Hey, I’m thinking about taking my dating profile down – I’m really happy with how things are going with us and I want to see where this goes without the distraction of dating other people. What do you think about that?” For a more committed relationship, it gets a bit more awkward & blunt, right? “Hey, I thought we were in a committed relationship – is there a reason you’re on dating sites that I should know about?” See what he says. See if it washes. Talk about what you want from a relationship and see if y’all want the same things. See if you’re on the same timeline for figuring all that out. And if you haven’t already, please make sure you have those awkward, important talks about safer sex practices and STI testing if that’s something that affects you & this relationship. Sometimes you gotta be awkward in the name of protecting yourself!

 

 

 

178 comments
  1. Nanani said:

    For 9 – By whose timeline is it “too fast”? If the answer is “me” or “my partner” then the Captain’s answer is perfect. If it’s instead some third party, authority figure, vague social idea about doing relationships correctly – then you are probably best served by a loud declaration of “FUCK THAT NOISE” and focus on what’s right for you and your partner.
    Especially particularly most specifically if the “too fast” notion is in any way related to pressure to somehow “save yourself” for marriage or somesuch. Life’s too short for the patriarchy.

    • Yeah this is interesting, because I remember being told once by a friend that he had done things with his partner and he had felt it was too fast. But then it turned out they both really wanted to, were totally into it, and he had some hangups from things he had been told. As Nanani said though, if either party is the one pressuring, no, no, no, captain is right as rain of course.

    • deboflastyear said:

      Yeah, with the caveat that I understand that if you’re looking for advice online then you probably already know your relationship isn’t working for you, I do sort of hate how so many advice columns always fall back on saying that a relationship that’s moving too fast (whatever that means) is a red flag. Sure, if one half of the couple is more into it than the other, by all means slow down. But that applies whether you’ve been together six months or six years. Not everyone who goes from zero to marriage in short time is marrying a stalker/abuser/controller/etc. FWIW my husband and I married six months after we met and we’re both two completely average people who just happened to be totally on the same page and saw no reason to wait any longer. No warning signals or lies were involved. It happens!

      • Riley said:

        I disagree that if someone is looking for advice online then they probably already know their relationship isn’t working for them, especially because we live in a society that says so many wrong things about relationships. Sometimes it’s hard to separate what society says is wrong about your relationship from what you want. Or you know society is wrong but want to hear someone else say it’s wrong too and give you permission to do your own thing. People don’t exist in a vacuum and people in happy relationships that are working for them can still seek advice on their relationships.

      • Vicki said:

        Seconding what Riley said: they might be thinking “I’m okay with this, but Mom/my brother/half my friends/ said I should be doing something differently, so I want another opinion” or even “$relative is telling me I must do X, I think they’re wrong, can I find a counterargument that will make sense to them?”

      • MsMildew said:

        The first relationship I had that lasted more than a year, was with a guy I moved in with 2 weeks after we met. He was a great guy, we were together four years, and though broke up due to incompatibilities, we still talk now & then and it’s been 20+ years.

      • Cactus said:

        Yeah, I agree. When my first boyfriend and I got together, he said “I love you” on day 2 of “dating.” We hadn’t even been on an official date yet. I barely knew him. I liked the idea of him that I had in my mind, and I wanted the “legitimacy” of having a boyfriend, of being wanted and thought of as desirable. (I wasn’t even 16; he was 17.) When I said I didn’t know if I loved him or not yet, he pressed me with vague bullshit about how you either knew or you didn’t know, until I finally gave in and said it just so he wouldn’t be mad or sad. (REALLY, that should have been my first major red flag.) 2-3 weeks later, he was talking about how he wanted to marry me one day and move across the country together. And there were a LOT of love notes, some of them disturbingly risqué in my mind. I bought into all the love bombs, but really I think he was trying to fill a Girlfriend-shaped hole as much as I was looking for validation. And eventually, he became abusive. After I broke up with him, he tried to fill that Girlfriend-shaped hole with 3 different women, in succession.

        That being said…when I met my now-husband, things moved quickly there, too. We said “I love you” after about two weeks of intense conversations. We slept together on the second night. We literally did move across the country together, after dating for about 3 months. However, I was 24 and he was 28 and we had both been in several past relationships of varying lengths and levels of happiness. The life experiences we had each accumulated gave us much better judgment than I had as a 16-year-old.

        So yeah, I’ve been on both sides of this. It’s something to watch out for, but sometimes it’s not a bad thing.

    • It depends on the third party, really, but I don’t think you can discount them entirely, because you are not always the best judge of situations and intentions when you’re falling in love and everyday banalities seem to pale in comparison to the most exciting thing to ever happen to you (at least recently).

      It’s not a red light “stop what you’re doing right now people say it’s too fast!” but it is a yellow light, “slowing down” can be taking an afternoon to think it doesn’t mean slamming on the breaks, it just means taking your foot off the accelerator.

      If it’s some authority figure, the instinct is to be reactionary “fuck that noise! I’m young and in love!” is tempting but is that warning coming from their own hard-won experiences or are they just being patriarchal? Can you have an honest discussion about why they feel you’re moving too fast? Because yeah if it’s about some dark ages notions of sexual purity and proprietary familial ownership of sexuality then yeah, you’re right, fuck that SO MUCH. But if it’s “hey, I know this is the last thing you want to think about but, I don’t think he’s treating you really well when you look at the whole picture” or “She is love bombing you like the hippy cult air force, and I know that attention feels really good but love bombing is a manipulation tactic for a reason”, you owe it to yourself to figure out which.

      If such a conversation isn’t possible… yeah, fuck that noise.

      Same with “vague social ideas” because that’s sort of that like feeling you get in your stomach when you’re not sure if you’re hungry or nauseous but something’s feeling off– it’s hard to tell whether that sense of unease is really something deeper in your subconscious mind that won’t shut up because something isn’t right here. Again, worth taking some time to figure out if this is the result of unhealthy conditioning or you realizing reality isn’t squaring with perception.

      • The Awe Ritual said:

        Amen. I was once in a situation that was uncomfortably similar to “Dirty John.” The bloke insisted on obtaining a marriage license with me three days after meeting me in person. I weaseled out of the actual marriage, but by the time I went full no-contact, he had scammed me out of tens of thousands of dollars (and I am NOT a wealthy woman), been absolutely horrible to my children and damn near drove them out of my house; gotten angry with me because of the time I called the police and ruined his chances of firearm ownership (yet somehow never got around to paying for fixing my broken teeth and damaged ribs); and threatened to shoot up a neighborhood and kill himself when I shut down our joint bank account after two years of NC.

        Also, back when I dated men (and dated at all), I tended to attract commitmentphobes. Had I known that, weirdly, one of the symptoms of this is “proposing after less than a month, then walking it back,” I could have not taken them seriously and saved everyone grief!

        • JenniferP said:

          TERRIFYING.

          • The Awe Ritual said:

            Well, the happy ending was, I thought, “What would Captain Awkward say if I wrote to her about it? And I stood my ground, got a restraining order, and refused to engage, and poof! He pretended everything was cool and bowed the hell out of my life with a pompous e-mail. So thank you. I know not everyone gets to this nice, quiet place, but I wouldn’t have gotten here without you. Education works. Repetition works.

  2. BigDogLittleCat said:

    20 “11 reasons why you should be bummed about missing big guava”
    I have big guava tree. Big guava is deliriously prolific, messy, and smelly. Please come take big guava tree.

    Step 1: You’ll need the head of a creepy doll, a bundle of hot chili peppers, any piece of political campaign literature stolen from a recycling bin, the grossest leftovers from the back of the fridge (something green is best), and glass of a refreshing beverage of your choice.

    Step 2: Gather these items and bury them at the crossroads during the dark of the moon. Or, don’t gather any of these things – they don’t really matter, except for the beverage.
    Best advice column response in the history of ever.

    • Avatre said:

      Agreed. I’m sitting on my sofa laughing really hard.

    • The Awe Ritual said:

      “Big guava is deliriously prolific, messy, and smelly.” Now I want to rewrite “Lemon Tree” with the love-metaphor-fruit as guavas.

      • MsMildew said:

        I’ve always eaten lemons like they were candy, and as a kid, could never understand the line about lemons being impossible to eat. Of course it was possible! And they’re delicious! 😆

  3. Clarry said:

    20. Big Guava is (was) a music festival in Tampa, Florida.

    • JenniferP said:

      Ah, that makes much more sense.

    • Guava said:

      I wish I could say I miss them too, but I don’t.

    • Dopameanie said:

      I’m glad you told me because I was about to write an all-caps defense of guava paste. It is purple heaven on earth. Pair it with cheese if you’re fancy, with toast if it’s breakfast, or eat it off a spoon if you’re me.

      Guava paste is THE BEST.

      • Light37 said:

        I LOVE dried guava. I keep a small bag around at all times, it’s totally comfort food. And it smells so good!

        • Solana said:

          I love fresh guava, homemade guava milkshakes, or guava tea if I can get it. Mmmmmm…

          • BigDogLittleCat said:

            Wow, I was going to offer a guava party at my house, but I just looked it up, and my tree is a pineapple guava, which isn’t a real guava, apparently.

          • Light37 said:

            Where does one acquire guava tea? Must try!

          • Solana said:

            Sorry, Light37, it’s not letting me post under yours. David’s Tea makes two of them. I haven’t tried the other, but their Guava Cadabra is amazingly tasty.

      • Pam said:

        guava jam also rocks

    • BigDogLittleCat said:

      Darn. I guess I’m stuck with this tree.

      • not really a lurker anymore said:

        I just wanna say that I love the posts on “It came from the Search Terms” but the Big Guava one is teaching me so much!

  4. Evan Þ. said:

    #1) Yep!

    #3) Maybe he doesn’t think it’s so filthy. Or, maybe he doesn’t know how to clean it – I’m not sure I would; my apartmentmate’s always cleaned the restroom while I clean the kitchen.

    But whether or not that’s the case, the Captain’s answer is correct. Don’t just hint at it; be blunt. Then, if he doesn’t know how or has some other good reason, he can say so or quietly resolve to find out or something. Otherwise, you’ll just be growing more and more upset while he might not have any idea what the problem is.

    • JenniferP said:

      #3 I vote “quietly resolve to find out.”

      Like, if I told a new dating partner “hey your toilet is a bit gross, mind cleaning it before I come over” and got “I don’t think it’s that dirty” or “I have a good reason my toilet is dirty” or “I don’t really know how to clean” as an answer and the toilet still didn’t get clean? Nope!

      • Allison said:

        Yes, exactly! The correct answer is “sure,” maybe followed by “it’s dirty because reasons, but I’ll make sure it’s clean the next time you come over.” What kind of weirdo defends a dirty toilet?

        Also, at first I thought it was just the bowl, but then I remembered there are gross people who get vomit, poo, urine, blood, and pubic hairs on toilets and then don’t bother to clean it up before leaving the bathroom. Failure to clean the bowl is one thing, but when I see brown doo doo residue on the back of the seat, I am thoroughly grossed out.

        • Yeah, if you’re going to defend a perpetually dirty toilet, then I’m going to say, “Look, you’re a grown adult and you can do what you want with your toilet. But I can not have any kind of relationship with you that may eventually progress to a shared toilet situation.” Drastic hygiene differences don’t compromise well.

      • AnonBee said:

        +1! I don’t understand women that still try to get their partner to meet THEIR cleaning habits after years of noticing they’re obviously on different pages. It would be one thing if the guy EXPECTED the woman to clean to HIS standard (and then he can F off or do it himself), but most of the time when I read conversations where (almost always a woman) links to that “she divorced me because I left dishes in the sink” page, the man is okay with being a slob.

        • JenniferP said:

          I think there are tons of women who are not great at cleaning for whatever reason (I am one of them, even though I was taught, I do have ADHD, I’m a non-noticer at times, I have good intentions but forget). I would be terrible at picking up the slack of a non-tidy dude because it is not my forte. But there is pressure on us to be the tidiers, so we figure it out.

          • AnonBee said:

            My MIL once cleaned a few shelves in our fridge which was weird, but I didn’t mind her doing it. She’s not one to outright shame us but I just tell myself “If she’s not happy with how we keep our house, she can keep cleaning it for us or use her other son’s apartment for free”. Maybe in her head she’s mad that she has to pick up “our slack” but I 100% do not care what she thinks.

        • TO_Ont said:

          I am a woman and if someone I was dating told me they wanted me to clean my toilet (or something else in my house) more, I might find it very upsetting and painful – the implication being that I don’t currently clean my toilet! And that this person when I had made myself vulnerable by letting them into my personal space, which I don’t often invite people into, and I thought they were enjoying spending time with me, was actually going around judging everything.

          If it was really a big problem for them, though, then it would still probably be better to deal with rather than waiting and waiting…

          Either we would find some way to talk about it and deal with it, or we would realise early on that this just wasn’t going to work.

          • TO_Ont said:

            I would also probably start to wonder if we could ever go camping together, since there seems to be some correlation between people who have extremely high standards for what’s ‘clean enough’ in a house, and people who find outdoor living upsetting. Though not always – sometimes it’s very context-specific.

            But still, if you have very different preferences in the area of housekeeping, eventually you’re either going to have to find a compromise that works OK for both of you, or part ways.

          • JenniferP said:

            Thanks for the reminder that this all definitely works both ways! It’s a compatibility issue.

            I wouldn’t marry my dad for obvious reasons, but he is a dude who separates his recycling into TWELVE SEPARATE BINS and you could safely eat off any surface in his house. He is obsessed with tidiness. If I met someone like him in early dating, we would not be compatible. But he and my equally tidy/clean-freak mom are golden together. Figuring out if you have shared/compatible ideas about clean is important.

            I still stand by the “say the thing” advice. Avoiding it will not make you magically more compatible.

          • AnonBee said:

            +1, but for me, the implication would not be “I don’t clean my toilet” but “our standards of cleanliness are different”. I’ve had house guests judge things – you know what I did? Never invited them back!

            (not directed at you but the concept in general) What one chooses to do about “our standards of cleanliness are different” seems to cause a lot of tension in modern relationships.

          • Allison said:

            Oh for sure, houseguests in general should not comment on the cleanliness of your house, or make assumptions about how often you clean things. And toilets are weird, some of them just have permanent markings on the porcelain from years and years of use. That said, if I’m dating someone and they spend a lot of time in my space, and they were grossed out by something in my place, I’d want them to say something about it so I can pay more attention to clean it OR explain that I do clean it, it just looks dirty because it’s old. If I really like someone and it turns out their standards are higher than mine, I might be willing to put in more effort to keep things cleaner.

          • MsMildew said:

            If someone I was dating told me my toilet wasn’t clean enough, I’d hand them the brush & cleanser- knock yerself out! I mean, they obviously care more than I ever could or would so if my standards aren’t good enough, they’re welcome to clean it to theirs!
            I’m too old and set in my Oscar Madison ways to change. 😄

        • MsMildew said:

          I’m a woman who is ok with being a slob! 😃

      • Indoor Cat said:

        Ohhh that’s depressing. Ouch.

        • thathat said:

          If it makes you feel better, Reductress is a satire site.

          But…this sounds really plausible, don’t it?

          • Indoor Cat said:

            Ha, sometimes “it’s funny ’cause it’s true” is a little too true.

        • marvanvar said:

          Oh man. I can’t watch that now but I can only assume it’s about the magical thing that happens when your partner puts all his dirty clothes NEXT TO the hamper, only for all of it to be magically IN the hamper after you discover said pile. I may or may not have experience here. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • My guess is the dirty clothes go into the laundry basket and magically reappear clean and in the closet.

          • My ex once said, “Hey, we need new soap,” and I was puzzled because there seemed to be plenty of dish soap in the kitchen and hand soap in the bathroom. When I asked why, he said, “Well, I’ve been using yours in the shower, and it kind of hurts and doesn’t really lather well, so could we get some other stuff?”
            It turns out he had been using my exfoliating bar. I pointed this out and asked him to stop using it (if he wanted to be buttery soft, he could go to Lush himself). He said okay, but what was he supposed to use?
            This was a grown man who was on his way to a PhD in particle physics. Yet somehow, it was *my* problem that the soap in the house wasn’t satisfactory. Yup.

          • I recall telling my then-husband, “if they don’t get in the hamper, they don’t get washed unless you wash them.” So, they didn’t get washed.

            My present husband does way more laundry than I do. (I don’t know my ex’s laundry situation, either with his subsequent ex-wife, any subsequent ex-girlfriends, or with his current partner.)

          • S said:

            Brandnewday is correct, there is also a magic coffee table!

          • Rana said:

            This is giving me flashbacks to one housemate I had who absolutely refused to ever buy toilet paper. I ended up thoroughly grossing myself out eventually by deciding to keep what I’d by then decided was MY toilet paper locked in my room for a couple of weeks to force the issue (I was too passive-aggressive in my 20s to confront her directly). No other toilet paper ever manifested; I do NOT want to know what she did in its absence.

          • Allison said:

            I’ve had plenty of roommates walk around saying “we need more ___” or “someone should really ___” but never actually taking the initiative to take care of it themselves. Drove me insane. Of course, some of the roommates I’ve had who did say they’d take care of something took weeks to actually remember to do it.

          • thathat said:

            My younger brother moved in a few months back. Last Sunday, my housemate and I get back from a weekend out of town, and brother asks, “Hey, when is someone gonna run the dishwasher? It’s really full.”

            Like…bruh. You had two whole days where that Someone could have been You.

          • MsMildew said:

            I’m fine with doing an SO’s laundry, I’m doing my own anyway (I won’t let anyone else, too many things that need particular care) so it’s not a big deal. And I’ve always told them, if it’s not in the basket, it won’t get done, and that includes on the floor right next to the basket, it’ll sit there til there it finds its way inside.
            I’m a slob, but I don’t want or expect anyone to clean up after me or pick up my slack, and I refuse to do it for someone else who is perfectly capable of doing it themselves. Especially since so few men are taught to be independent like that and expect women to do everything.
            My husband has his flaws, but he does his own laundry, cooks, and cleans up his own messes, and doesn’t have a lot of respect for men who don’t/won’t.

        • Indoor Cat said:

          Ha! That was funnier than I thought it’d be.

      • Thanksforallthefish said:

        Ouch hahaha crying

      • Alice said:

        . . . . I literally had to teach my now husband how to make scrambled eggs. I turned to him one day when we were making breakfast and asked him to do the eggs and he clearly started to panic and that’s when I discovered that he couldn’t cook eggs.

        • My ex could cook, but just . . . didn’t (I know, from our child, that he did in his subsequent marriage). Our (adult) child (singular they) is not a good housekeeper, but they don’t expect their girlfriend to do the laundry and other housework (I believe her presence inspires them to be a better housekeeper). They’re a cook at a famous restaurant (Homer and Lisa Simpson dined there in the recent New Orleans-set episode) and they do cook at home, too.

          • I used to think my dad couldn’t cook. Now my mum has broken her foot and he’s cooking, and doing the dishes and laundry and everything. He knew how all along, he just didn’t. I can tell you my visits home are much more relaxing now that I’m not constantly looking at mountains of dishes and stressing that my mum is going to end up washing them all if I don’t do it. Of course, I still do my share, but not having to do my dad’s turn too? It’s a really noticeable difference. I hope he keeps it up after my mum is better, for her sake.

        • Violet said:

          Oh dear. My 19-year-old daughter has resisted most of my attempts to teach her to cook, but she does know how to make scrambled eggs because she had to learn it in Girl Scouts. She also knows how to light a fire for the same reason, so I figure she’s all set if the zombie apocalypse comes and she’s hiding out on a farm with no electricity and a chicken coop.

          • Clarry said:

            (I’m putting this here in the threading, though not responding about scrambled eggs in particular.)

            This hitting a nerve for me. I was one of those people who never learned to do housework as a child or teenager, went off to live on my own and had roommates frustrated with me because I either didn’t do things like cook or clean or didn’t notice that they needed to be done or did them stupidly. Eventually I got better about those and other life skills after years of flailing. I now consider myself a pretty competent adult. I remember the years of arguing with my parents in which they’d tell me to do some simple household chore like clearing the table and washing the dishes, and I’d ask a hundred questions or try to get out of it in a hundred manipulative ways. Typical spoiled teenager, right? At least, that was my parents’ explanation.

            Not quite. When I reading up on teaching, early childhood education, and classroom management, I started seeing a lot on understanding WHY a child is being a holy terror, yelling out of turn, running around the room, disturbing everyone. The answer might be ADHD, or it might be something else. Sometimes you get a child who’s so smart in some ways that no one notices that they need basic instruction or a different sort of instruction for other things. When the child gets frustrated, they don’t know how to ask “would you explain, please, this one point that everyone else seems magically to know how to do but that I’m going to need tons of practice?” They don’t know what they don’t know! So they act out in frustration.

            It’s the same with housework. You get some kid who learns how to do something like how to make scrambled eggs when it’s taught step by step at camp and where no one makes fun of them for being stupid if they don’t know how. But at home where it’s assumed that everyone just knows how to wash dishes by wiping off the food into the garbage, rinsing the plate, putting a little detergent on the sponge, (and here’s how to open the plastic bottle of dishwashing detergent with the funny cap so as to get the right amount), then rubbing the sponge over the plate, turning it over, rinsing again, etc. and putting it here on the drainboard, that’s all so obvious and boring that it’s easy to forget that we’re not born knowing how to do it. Parents or teachers just yell at the kid to just wash the dishes or do the laundry or clean up after themselves, and they’re surely not going to explain any of this to a child over the age of 14 because who doesn’t know how to do this stuff by the time they’re 12, especially one who’s taking A.P. Biology AND A.P. History?

            Please, folks. Don’t make fun of adults who don’t know how. It’s possible they’re being manipulative but just as likely they’re frustrated and embarrassed.

          • JenniferP said:

            Hi Clarry, thanks for this – one of the purposes behind the whole blog for me is “there is a bunch of stuff people would assume I would grasp/learn/pick up just because I’m ‘smart’ – I didn’t, and it’s okay if you didn’t, too.” There are absolutely class issues, disability issues, etc. that come into play.

            That said, back to the original discussion, if your new dating partner says “Hun, your toilet is really filthy, do you mind cleaning it before I come over next time?”, you have choices.

            You could say, “omg, I’m so embarrassed, I don’t really know how to clean a toilet because no one ever taught me.” Or “Sorry, my disability makes that a really hard task to stay on top of, but I’ll definitely make it a priority before you come over.”

            Even then you have more choices.

            One possible choice is to Google “How to clean a toilet.” Jolie Kerr and Rachel Hoffman have excellent “how to clean” books.

            Another possible choice is to hire someone to clean your toilet.

            You could ask a friend to come over and help you – “Hey, you’re good at cleaning, I need to clean my bathroom and I’ve never really done it before. Will you come over and be my cleaning tutor/buddy.”

            A lot of what’s being made fun of in the links and anecdotes around this isn’t about not knowing, it’s about strategic helplessness and gender roles. Because if I ask you to clean the toilet, and you explain patiently to me that you were never taught to clean toilets or you just don’t notice dirt or you keep forgetting, and the toilet stays dirty or it somehow becomes my job (as your new dating partner) to clean your toilet or teach you to clean your toilet or to do a ton of emotional labor to manage your lifetime of shame around not knowing how to clean toilets (all the while the toilet stays dirty), then we have a problem that is not based on neglectful parenting or ADHD or whatever. Because if you want to know how to do something, you can find out. You can learn to scramble eggs, or clean toilets, or put laundry in the hamper…if you want to. If you decide that it’s your job to know, now, in the present, as an adult.

            Long ago I dated someone who had a really gross shower. More specifically, he had a gross horrifying non-slip bathmat in his shower. I tried never to take showers at his place, but as we got more serious and I started spending more time there one day I had to break down and do it, and then I said “Hey, sorry to make it weird, but your bathmat is really gross. Can you clean it or pick up a new one?” and he explained to me that the bathmat had always been like that because it had come with the apartment.

            a bearded guy looking angrily into the camera

            He had been showering standing on the dead skin and god knows what of long-ago stranger-feet. For years.

            He didn’t know that you could remove and replace those things, I guess? No one taught him?

            But once he did know, he took that thing and he threw it in the trash. And he scrubbed his shower. And he bought a new mat. And he didn’t make my request seem mean or unreasonable because: his childhood.

            The original advice to be direct and blunt and say “Can you clean this gross thing please” still stands.

          • The Awe Ritual said:

            Clary, thank you. I had ADHD, severe dyspraxia, amd parents who thought housework was instictive, inborn knowledge when I was a child (and they should never have had kids, let alone a non-neurotypical one: they were and are awesome saviors-of-the-world; I should NOT have distracted them with my neediness.)

            I adult and get by with a zillion systems and checklists and meds, but sometimes, I’ll forget to check and I will leave blood on a toilet seat (i also forget to eat, I don’t forget AT you and I try to do 400% more conscious housework/ office-tidying than my share to make up for it and pitch in extra for supplies). Do I deserve the title of “gross person” that people like me got upthread? Probably. But another person in my situation does not deserve to die inside like I did hearing me defined as “gross” and nothing but, not if she’s constantly fighting to be better.

            :patiently awaits smackdown. Believe me, smackdown person, there is not anything awful you can say to me that I have not already said to myself and harsher, I deleted a LOT of suicidal ideation here, but the shaming actually makes me worse, if such a thing is possible, not better:

          • Someone, anyone said:

            Captain, I agree with you. In the last century, the excuse “I didn’t know how” would have been more reasonable – except that even then it was perfectly possible to just ask people.

            Nowadays, in the age of the internet, it is really, really easy to figure stuff out, and without embarrassing situations, too. I did learn some basics at home, but when I moved out there was still a lot I didn’t know. Especially since the first time living by myself was in a foreign country – I didn’t even know which stores would have what I needed (never realized how much of an obstacle that could be).

            So what did I do? I googled. Don’t know how to make tomato sauce? Google. Don’t know how to cook potatoes? Google. Don’t know how to remove blood from clothing? Google.

            I didn’t always get things right the first time, but by and large I did ok and ended up learning a lot.

          • JenniferP said:

            Also there’s a whole site devoted to making Hints from Heloise more palatable for dudes (it’s called Lifehacker).

          • stellanor said:

            @Someone, Anyone This falls apart somewhat when you get to my mom, who cannot effectively construct a google query or tell the difference between good internet sources and bad ones. Has someone made a How To Google For Non-Digital-Natives primer yet? Because sometimes I am cool with being my mom’s google but sometimes super not (I was recently asked to mediate a dispute between her and my dad about whether my dad’s alternative solution to getting a video doorbell was adequate, and I may have ended up snapping “I don’t want to make a freakin’ powerpoint so you guys can have an argument!”)

          • @Clarry: YES. I very recently figured out, with the assistance of my therapist, that my perspective on life is skewed because growing up, the things people tried to teach me were often things I could figure out easily on my own (like learning how to read, or write an essay, or speak French) but little to no attention was given to the stuff I actually found hard. I was just told things like “you need to be on time”, “you need to be more organized”, “you need to not forget your homework”. The result was that I got “help” I didn’t need, but was left to my own devices when I was genuinely struggling. It’s no wonder I spent most of my adolescence in an “adults are useless” funk.

          • Clarry said:

            (Again, inserting here because I’m replying to the whole thread, not necessarily the original #3.)

            Another possibility is when one partner complains about the other’s housecleaning habits, and the assumption is that the complainer must be right. Not necessarily.

            Going back to those days when I was insecure about housekeeping because of the way I didn’t learn in my parents’ house. I’d gotten to where I thought I was better about it. I had no confidence that I was doing it right, but I was managing to get the dishes washed and put away once a day before I went to bed, not after every meal which I imagined was the way good housekeepers did it, but the kitchen wasn’t filthy. Same for making my bed which I usually did, just not every single day. Same for laundry which did get done. I wore clean clothes even if they spent some amount of time on the floor before I did a load. Same for floors and bathroom. It wasn’t some going to win home beautiful magazine awards, but the department of health wasn’t coming around to condemn the place either. Nothing smelled bad, and there were no insects. Just messy.

            Yet I remained sure I was the messy roommate. When confiding with new roommates, I often referred to my upbringing. The new roommate would look around, agree that the place was dirty, and go straight into complaining about the way I did everything. This happened more than once. I’m not entirely blaming the roommates because, looking back, I can see that I started it, and they were just agreeing with me. Then a pattern would establish. Roommate would complain about something I left out, or took a day to do, or did imperfectly. I’d try to do better. Then I’d wake up one morning and realize that Roommate was doing no housework or the minimum or had slightly different habits or was just as bad. I tended to clean in big flurries of cleaning for half a day doing big jobs and didn’t worry about plates in the sink. Roommate would wash each glass when she was done, never cook for me, never wipe down counters, never mop the floor, never scrub a bathroom, never make a bed, maybe do only her laundry while I was glad to do laundry for both of us, etc. And yet my housekeeping habits were the bad ones because I accepted that role from the start.

            It came home to me one time when a new Roommate walked in and pronounced the place dirty with an eye towards me. Except I’d moved into the dorm room only hours before her. It was like she’d decided to establish herself as the superior clean one from the start. I asked her what she didn’t like. She said the windows. I told her she was welcome to clean the windows. She told me how they were supposed to be cleaned but never did them.

            At this point, if a partner told me my toilet was filthy, I’d consider if it really was, make up my own mind, and then very likely think that maybe the Partner was focusing on the bathroom because he was uncomfortable with something else, maybe as a way of saying he was uncomfortable in general or didn’t feel at home. I’d want to see his bathroom before accepting that there was something wrong with mine.

          • Raptor said:

            I just want to second Jolie Kerr! I listen to the Ask a Clean Person podcast when I’m cleaning, all the time.

            And she mentions that she really tries to make sure her columns and podcasts run where dudes are more likely to see them.

        • VA said:

          My husband taught me how to make scrambled eggs. I didn’t like eggs as a kid/young adult so I never learned how to cook them. I don’t think this is a character defect?

          • No, it isn’t. The flaw would be if you thought eggs just cooked themselves, or that someone who wasn’t you always had to cook them.

          • TO_Ont said:

            I think it’s more about if you _do_ like them, and take for granted that other people will make them for you so you will never need to learn?

          • Allison said:

            I hope not! I learn how to cook things I actually eat, and if there’s something I don’t eat (including standard fare like mashed potatoes and cooked veggies), I don’t learn how to cook them unless I need to, and even then, it might take me some tries, and guidance from someone who eats it, to get it right because I wouldn’t know how they’re supposed to taste.

            And there are things that, even if you like them, take a lot of time, skill, and/or equipment to make that it’s okay if you only eat them at restaurants, but eggs are relatively simple, so if you like them now it’s a good idea to know how to cook them.

          • Alice said:

            I don’t think it’s a character defect either. I was mostly just reacting to the reductress article that mentioned specifically “not knowing how to cook scrambled eggs.” Because that was my hubby spot on (I taught him how to do eggs, he was already great at making bacon).

            I will be honest, I don’t get annoyed at my husband for not knowing how to do things but I do get annoyed at his parents when I discover something he doesn’t know how to do. He lived at home until he was 26 and his parents didn’t really have him doing things like his own laundry or helping out with cooking or dishes. His mom seems to have anxiety over other people doing these things. He told me that she didn’t want them doing their own laundry (he offered) because she wanted to be able to access the machines whenever she wanted to. I once tried to load the dishwasher after dinner (because that’s how it always worked in my family or when I’m at close friends’ homes) and got yelled at by his mom who never yells and is a super sweet lady. So. There are some things afoot there. There are reasons why he didn’t know how to do housekeeping things. I found that when we moved in together as soon as I recalibrated my expectations of “it’s like I’m living with a college senior” to him having been out of his parents’ house for four years that helped. Because my college apartment was disgusting y’all. Learning how to keep house was something that started in my childhood but I was really bad at it until my mid-late twenties.

            I will say that what is gendered about all this is why he didn’t know how to do a lot of housekeeping stuff, he’s excellent at tracking bills, money management, and electronics stuff. Stuff his dad handled essentially. So his dad made sure he know how to handle those masculine things but no one made sure he knew to read tags of clothes before washing them. I get annoyed by this because it makes me feel like his mom when I have to explain how to cook pasta. Or that time he invited friends over for dinner, realized they were vegetarian so he couldn’t just make steaks which is the one thing he knows how to cook, I had to step in and do most of the cooking, and then had to prompt him to help clean up while he sat with them and visited. Most of this crap happens once and only once because I’m good at expressing my annoyance over things and he cares about my feelings, but even great guys can’t escape socially gendered stuff that goes into you not learning things or realizing you need to learn them.

          • VA said:

            I’m saying that not knowing how to cook one specific food is not the same as deliberate helplessness or refusal to contribute to household management.

          • Koala dreams said:

            I think it’s an idiomatic saying. Here in Sweden, the saying goes “don’t know how to cook potatoes”, and in China, it goes “don’t know how to fry egg and tomatoes”. It’s usually some popular local food that is considered easy to make. It’s not meant literally.

          • ShadowAngel said:

            @Alice: As far as the reading tags before washing things, my very smart, otherwise very skilled 50+ year old father still struggles (or “struggles”, I’m not sure and don’t really care) with the whole reading the tags before washing thing. Which is so much fun when he asks how to wash something while holding it up from across the room, and of course none of us have it memorized either, so we ask him what the tag says. It’d be lovely if he ever noticed the pattern, right?

          • Alice said:

            @ShadowAngel. Actually he reads tags now. I bought lingerie for our honeymoon and he magically started readings tags.

        • johann7 said:

          I think the scrambled eggs are the example because they’re relatively easy to make, but there are a lot of people who think they know how to cook scrambled eggs, but actually know how to cook disgusting (to me, ymmv) egg-based runny sludge. This is a result of adding water or milk to the eggs (with the intent to get fluffier eggs, according to people I’ve asked), which practice is a result of mistaking correlation for causation.

          You get fluffy eggs by whipping them right before cooking, which aerates the eggs, and the trapped air bubbles result in fluffy eggs. Because mixing water or milk into the uncooked eggs necessitates whipping them, some people mistakenly associate the additional liquid, rather than the whipping, with the fluffy result. All adding water/milk does is introduce additional liquid that needs to be cooked off (else one gets runny eggs), and that can also result in overcooked eggs if the eggs cook before the additional liquid evaporates.

          • TO_Ont said:

            If they think they know how to make scrambled eggs, then that means they know how to make scrambled eggs that they will happily eat, which means that they are not expecting other people to do everything for them.

            So I don’t think people who make scrambled eggs that you happen to dislike count, no.

          • JenniferP said:

            Recipes to the forums please.

        • One time, when stranded at home by himself with no other options, my father figured out how to make himself scrambled eggs… with the aid of a 1978 Women’s Weekly cookbook.

        • Indoor Cat said:

          Was this before or after the invention of YouTube? Because that’s how I learned 100% of the things I know about cooking, including making scrambled eggs and grilled cheese. This is probably gendered too, generally, but growing up, I somehow missed the culinary lessons just as much as my brother did. I suspect they got forgotten in all the other chaos.

          • Koala dreams said:

            Youtube is a life-saver! Not only can you learn how to clean the bathroom, you can also learn cooking and a lot of other skills. Recently I learned how to cut an avocado. I still need some practise, so I bought a bag of avocados.

          • thathat said:

            Oh man, yes.

            Like, my mom taught me a bit about cooking, more about baking, but she’s very persnickity about people in her kitchen while she’s working, so I didn’t get a lot of hands-on, just the occasional advice. My Dad taught me more about basic cooking, but very basic.

            A lot of it I’ve just acquired through guesswork, but being able to look up seemingly basic stuff on the internet (thanks, Alton Brown!) is an absolute lifesaver.

            But there’s something to be said for making the effort.

            It sometimes baffles me that we’ve lived together nine years, and I’ve only seen my roommate cook once (he swears twice) in that whole time.

          • No Longer In Academia said:

            I left home well before the web was around to help, and I learned most of my early cookery skills from a combination of Deliah Smith’s Frugal Food, and Erin Prizzy’s The Slut’s Cookbook.

          • Ros said:

            Yeeeessss youtube. I’m pretty on top of standard things-stereotypically-done-by-women, but youtube has been a LIFESAVER for teaching me car maintenance, tiling, identifying and fixing plumbing leaks, and other standard dude-things that would have cost a fortune and a half to hire out (which is what my parents always did, but their budget exceeds mine.)

          • n.b. said:

            I, too, left home before the internet, but you can (still) learn most anything from the public library.

      • Ouch. I love this vid SO SO MUCH and I’m so glad my teen-boys learned to do laundry from my hubby.

  5. JustKate said:

    The ‘Dirty John’ series the captain mentions is amazing (in fact I just reread it a month or so ago)…but creepy as H.E.L.L. Read it, by all means, but only when you’re feeling happy and safe! It is an excellent tutorial on how mean, violent, abusive people work their ways into nice people’s lives.

    • Megan_NJ said:

      It made me so angry!

      She wasn’t alone, she had family present, she had resources, business success. (a Tesla, $30,000 in shoebox???!? $120,000 in the bank) All the things that are supposed to make a person more aware, & it can’t. She was just as vulnerable to being taken in. Her gift of fear told her to look out & she didn’t listen to it at ALL.

      By the 2nd paragraph …. “At 59, married and divorced four times,” …. Danger! Danger Will Robinson!!!

      My MIL had a new lady “friend” hanging around all the time. So much fun! Let’s plan a wedding for you new friend, after 2 weeks of knowing you, of course I’ll pay for it, of course it can be at my house. We said, who is THIS! And all of a sudden jewelry goes missing & the friend is missing. Whoopsydoodles.

      • JustKate said:

        I know, I know. Talk about looking for love in all the wrong places. As I was reading it I kept saying to myself, “I wouldn’t do that. I would never do that. Would I? No, no, no. I would not.” And so on. But it was startling – and instructive – that someone with so many resources and so much support and everything could still be taken in so very badly. But then again, John was extremely good at it, and the proof is that he managed to take in so many other women, too.

        • Someone, anyone said:

          I think the mindset of the family – “be forgiving, always” – contributed a lot. I couldn’t understand how any of that could happen, but after reading what had happened to her sister, I felt I had an idea.

          (Spoiler!)

          If you are willing to forgive the husband who kills his wife, up close, presumably with not even a fight, what will it take to make you dislike someone? What will it take to make you realize that some people are really, truly, lack any empathy and might never feel remorse – even if they suffer do all the consequences?

          Forgiveness is a nice mindset, in theory, but if you give it away so freely – that’s when you enable people like this. They never asked the killer to prove that he understood the full horror of what he did. They just forgave him, just like that. And Debra forgave John, just like that.

          I was taught to be nice to people, and to usually accept apologies and such, but my parents never expected me to see the good in everyone. It was perfectly okay in that household to believe that some people were just awful, provided you had proof to believe so.

          I think that is key: Being allowed to judge people by their actions. Not so much by words, which only cost a bit of breath, but actual actions. Everyday long time-scale actions, too, not just short bursts of good deeds. If you do that, I reckon you’ll have have a good chance of avoiding people like John.

          • JustKate said:

            Honestly, I think the religion angle was overstated by the article. I’m pretty sure that it said Debra’s *mother* had forgiven the other daughter’s killer – I don’t think it said Debra had, and it definitely didn’t say any other members of the family had. The reporter took this extraordinary forgiveness and tried to apply it to the entire family, but I at least didn’t really see any justification for that. Debra forgave John because she wanted to believe he was a certain kind of person – and she wanted to believe he was a good person because when things were good, he’d made her feel sooooooo good and so beloved, and she didn’t want to give that up. You don’t need to be religious to want that.

          • Someone, anyone said:

            Huh, I didn’t even tie it that much to religion, I thought it might be possible to want to be forgiving and see the good in all people just because you think that’s a good mindset to strive for. Though in retrospect it’s probably really a very Christian idea which simply didn’t occur to me because growing up in a (sorta, by heritage/tradition) Christian family in a Christian country that idea seemed ubiquitous.

            The article did say that Debra felt like there was something wrong with her for not forgiving the killer, so I reckoned it could have affected her.

            But I do admit that she might just have been in love. I forgot that I have always to account for deep emotions when trying to understand other people’s relationships – it’s honestly quite an alien concept to me. I’m mostly sorta ok with people, and there’s some I truly rather like, but I’ve never been attached enough to someone that I wouldn’t be able to condemn them for something that egregious.

          • JustKate said:

            Oh, sorry for misunderstanding – I think I projected the writer’s semi-preoccupation with this onto you, Someone, anyone. But yes, certainly the “I should be able to forgive” mindset isn’t merely a Christian (or even religious) concept.

            As for in love…yes, sure (although I really don’t think you can be truly in love without actually knowing the person, which does not happen in just a few dates), but I think she was also in love with the idea of This Great Love That Transcends All.

          • Indoor Cat said:

            I remember my mom teaching me something along the lines of, “God never asks someone to be a fool.” That is, it’s important that when you forgive, you’re wise about it. Wisdom means protecting yourself and those you care for. Wisdom means not repeating mistakes.

            Forgiveness, to her, was more like, “don’t plot revenge, even if you can’t get justice” (which, for her, was generally the case of things). “Don’t let anger burn you up inside; focus your energy on doing the work that’s in front of you and loving your neighbor.” The idea that forgiveness means putting yourself back in harm’s way, or not seeking to protect others from someone who causes great harm, is not a Godly kind of forgiveness. Godly forgiveness comes with wisdom and love for all (including potential future victims, and oneself).

            But, that’s why religion is all weird. Two people can think they’re having a conversation about the same God, the same notions of forgiveness and love, and then it’s like, no, wait, not only are we not on the same page, we’re not even in the same library. Debra and my mom probably think they’ve got the same religion, but in the ways that count they don’t.

    • devicat26 said:

      Oh, I remember reading this a ways back. So terrifying, but so good.

      Spoilers!!!

      The ending was phenomenal – I don’t think people realize how many women are killed by men like this, and he went after her DAUGHTER. Man, did he pick the wrong victim. I know its not nice to be happy about someone’s death but I’m glad, I’m GLAD that FINALLY there is a good ending where the ‘nice’ person wins. Bastard got stabbed through the eye with his own knife by his victim who was a (by society’s reckoning) JUST A GIRL. That just doesn’t happen. I wish they hadn’t bothered to bring him back, they should have let that fucker die the first time at the scene of his crime.

      • MsMildew said:

        As I recall, even his sibling was not…grieving deeply over his death.

        And I *AM* happy he’s dead- good riddance to bad rubbish. Whatever gland creates sympathy for people like that has simply been burned away in me, because I’ve seen up close the pain and damage they cause, to almost every life they touch, and have zero remorse for. Others are welcome to have sympathy, all of mine is reserved for their victims.

        • devicat26 said:

          I’m doing/have done a LOT of research on criminal behavior as I’m writing a crime based novel. That’s how I came across ‘Dirty John’ as I tend to read anything and everything to do with psychopathic behavior. The more I learn about what human beings are capable of, the more I believe there are truly demons who wear human skins. There are predators among us, have zero doubt about that, and they have no qualms killing you or destroying everything in your life. It kind of jostles with my own religious beliefs, that we should forgive, but I also think Jesus didn’t mean forgive to the point of stupidity or self-endangerment.

      • MsMildew said:

        Oh and HELL YES, the DAUGHTER…and the teenage girl who ran out to save her…I’m tearing up thinking of their strength and bravery.

        I hope if the daughter ever has any bad nights, she remembers that she saved her own life, her mom’s life, and who knows how many other women he would have gone on to victimize or kill?

        • Cactus said:

          I read this whole thing just today thanks to the link in this post. Phenomenal. And the fact that that teenage girl ran out to help Debra’s daughter, past all the bystanders, in nothing but a t-shirt and a pool towel? She’s a superhero.

    • goddessoftransitory said:

      Where others see red flags, they see a parade.

      That line gave me the heebie fuckin’ jeebies.

      • MsMildew said:

        I was in shock when I read it, because it perfectly describes my husband’s close friend who was our roommate at that time.

        The red flag parade she was conducting at the time was *massive*, and she ended up angrily and aggressively cutting off any friend who tried to give her love and support, no matter how gently, including my husband who has known her nearly 20 years and thought of her as a sister. He found out she was telling all of us a huge pile of lies, burning us for money- ALL things that are way out of character- and he was just crushed.
        I feel horrible for both of them…worse for her, because I know that parade is going to get a lot bigger and redder before she will call it off. ☹️

      • Cactus said:

        That line also hit me deeply, as did the one when Dirty John is telling one of Debra’s daughters that they don’t know Debra as well as they think, or something of that nature. It’s such a creepy, controlling, isolating thing to say.

    • Ask Me About The Seventies said:

      I was actually in the same law school class as he was.

  6. vanadiumoxide said:

    16 is the funniest search phrase 😀

  7. many_splendored said:

    I’m gonna go ahead and read “Dirty John” – thanks for the recommendation.

    • JustKate said:

      So good. But so creepy!

      Years ago, I lived in a house far from town, a thing which I generally liked…aside from times such as, for example, the night I decided to finish Capote’s In Cold Blood. After dark. Not a good idea.

      Anyway, I’d say “Dirty John” is pretty close to that level of creepy.

      • Anon, Goodnight said:

        I read Pet Sematary at my grandmother’s house years ago. Her very old house that settled and creaked at night. *shudder*

        • goddessoftransitory said:

          I read that in high school, alone, in bed, at night. I finished up and patted myself on the back for not freaking out, then turned off the light.

          Three seconds later, my sister’s cat leapt up on my chest. I had to cease the back pattings after that.

          • Anon, Goodnight said:

            I was actually pretty young to be reading Stephen King (10? 11?), and the house creaked really loudly right when I was reading one of the super-scary parts. I threw the book across the room, leaped out of bed, ran down the hall, and jumped into bed with my mom. Which scared the hell out of her too, so it was a two-fer.

          • JenniferP said:

            I had a big oak tree right outside my bedroom window and sometimes the branches would get very long and “knock” on the glass, which is pretty scary when you’re reading ‘Salem’s Lot (“Come play with me.) One time when I was home from college, we had an ice storm and the branches got so heavy that the “knocking” smashed the window in the middle of the night while I was fast asleep.

            Readers, I terror-peed the bed.

          • Andraste said:

            I read The Shining in high school. I was in my bedroom with the door shut, and I was right at the part where Danny was reaching for the doorknob to enter room 237. At that precise moment, someone starts kicking my bedroom door. I jumped so much from being startled I fell off the bed. My mom bless her was bringing me a clothes basket to my room but had her hands full so she had to kick instead of knock to come in. 😂 Scared the shit out of me hahaha.

          • Every time I have read The Stand, I have come down with a head cold.

            I really don’t recommend reading about Captain Tripps while your sinuses are a snot factory.

        • MsMildew said:

          Ahahaha! I remember reading “Misery” at like, 3 am in my old apartment in Hollywood…which WAS a creepy old historical building, but a beautiful one, and creepy in a way I liked. But that night was different, and when I got to the amputation scene, my skin was CRAWLING. Blergh, just the memory makes me shudder!

      • Pam said:

        I read Helter Skelter, as a young teen in the 1970’s, in a house in the Hollywood Hills/canyons. Worst Idea Ever.

        • BigDogLittleCat said:

          ooooh, that is definitely Worst Idea Ever.

      • MsMildew said:

        Oh, I just bought a copy of that! *shivers in anticipation*

      • Cactus said:

        The last time I lived alone was for about 6 months in 2012, and the first book I read during that period was Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!, which is really, really creepy during some parts. I almost wanted to have my irritating ex-roommate back once I stumbled into one of those chapters on a late, dark February evening.

  8. I think the writer in #9 might be using “getting intimate too fast” as a euphemism for sleeping with someone, in which case I smell the fear of societal slut-shaming on this poor searcher. To which I say, the only people who get to decide when it’s appropriate for you to sleep with your new partner are you and your new partner. The “effects” are that you feel comfortable with yourself and them and you share an experience you hopefully both enjoy.

    • JustKate said:

      I – rightly or wrongly – immediately leaped to the escalation scenario the captain did, where the sketchy guy/gal pushes the new partner into living together-engaged-married far too fast. But of course there’s more than one kind of intimacy.

    • CMart said:

      I also read it as polite language for having sex (or getting sexual) with someone, perhaps because I’m damaged for life by a conversation my dad had with me when I was 14 asking if my Homecoming date and I had discussed our “intimate boundaries”.

      • But hooray for your dad for being willing to address an important (but mortifying) issue. I will totally be stealing the phrase “intimate boundaries” for future conversations with my daughter.

    • johann7 said:

      I, too, was unsure how to interpret that. I did get a good laugh out of the fact that I have no clue what the phrase “moving too fast” ever means in the context of a relationship, when even this more specific phrase is hopelessly ambiguous.

      • It really is ambiguous, it can mean anything from “Woah! hold on there! Second base is for second dates!”, to warning your friends “wait, you’re talking about moving in together BEFORE you’ve had The Credit Score talk? do not you remember about Brad? Do you want another Brad situation?!” to all the icky slut-shaming stuff.

        I choose a more benign interpretation, myself.

    • spd said:

      I jumped there too! I’m a person who has sex pretty readily, and the number of men I dated who, after several months of what I thought was (and they said was) a committed relationship, dumped me because I slept with them on the first date and they were now looking for a serious partner and I was obviously too slutty was shockingly high.

      • The Awe Ritual said:

        ONE is shockingly high. WTF? Were THEY somehow not sleeping with YOU on the first date? Nice bullet-dodging there, though, spd.

        • spd said:

          It’s one of those male double standard things. Definitely glad they *eventually* broke up with me, I was always just annoyed they didn’t lose my number after the first date 😉

  9. Dopameanie said:

    #16 sounds like they are mad at Captain Awkward in particular.

    Like…cmon captain! They ALWAYS invite you to the met gala! Why aren’t you inviting them to the Captain Parties?

    I mean, do they have to invite you every effing time or what?!

    LOL

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      LOL I kinda had the same reaction

  10. Thanksforallthefish said:

    14 I loved that answer because it’s just so precise and exact. It’s responses like that from CA about “Here is your stuff you can control/have opinions on” and “here is their stuff they can control and have opinions on and do stuff about” and that’s that. “You don’t like ABC? Don’t do ABC/hang around ABC/ date folks who love ABC maybe.”

  11. TO_Ont said:

    The dating profile thing – an added question is, did a friend on the app mention he’s still on the app, or did you see that he’s still on the app because _you’re_ still on the app?

    • My observations indicate two likely scenarios:

      – When going to the app/site to remove their own profile, person 1 sees that person 2 was last active 10 minutes ago
      – Person 2 tells a story about thing they saw on the app/site that day.

      • TO_Ont said:

        I keep imagining a scenario where they are both going on the app to check if the other one is on the app, but neither wants to admit it, and neither wants to stop going on the app until they see that the other person has stopped going on the app.

        • Violet said:

          I think you’ve got the plot of a good short story there.

        • Muddie Mae Suggins said:

          So flipped around modern Gifts of the Magi?

        • Rhoda said:

          If you like Pina Coladas
          Getting caught in the rain…
          Wasn’t that the theme of a pop song way back in the disco era?
          (Yes, I’m older than dirt.)

          • Jenny Islander said:

            Ha!!! I was just about to post that when I scrolled down!

            Also, it recently became popular again because it’s on Star-Lord’s mixtape in Guardians of the Galaxy. (For those who haven’t seen it: Peter Quill, aged 8, is listening to a mixtape of ’70s and ’80s pop music that his mom made for him to play on his Walkman when he is kidnapped by aliens. He doesn’t have much else to remind him of Earth for…a long time.)

  12. KayEss said:

    I feel like I remember an AAM letter where a coworker wore so much makeup that it left residue on the receiver of the shared office phone. Even then, IIRC the answer was “get some wet wipes to keep by the phone and encourage everyone to wipe down the receiver after using it.”

      • KayEss said:

        Right, that one! Every so often a work-related question gets answered here and I get confused. If AAM ever starts covering general relationship/social questions, I’ll be screwed.

    • GreyjoyGardens said:

      I love having wet wipes available no matter what. Even a makeup-residue-free shared phone receiver can harbor germs. Especially in flu season, I’m gonna wipe that sucker down before I use it.

  13. Pam said:

    RE #21,

    Does the refrigerator item have to start out as green, or is it okay if it became green?

    • Avatre said:

      I’m of the impression that the greenness is part of the relative grossness of the item in this scenario, and thus having become green would be an ideal state. Fresh broccoli, for example, would not be sufficiently gross. 😀

    • Clorinda said:

      If it starts green, it has to have turned a NOTICEABLY DIFFERENT green, with a change of texture that is visible at arm’s length, like that bag of semi-liquefied shredded lettuce I just discovered in the lower drawer.

    • GreyjoyGardens said:

      If your “harvest gold” refrigerator turns into “avocado” that’s when you need to start worrying!

      • Rhoda said:

        If you still a fridge in either colour, it may be past time to buy a new fridge.

        • MsMildew said:

          Oh, the hideous appliance colors of the seventies!

  14. Light37 said:

    #5- RUN. Run far and fast, because this isn’t going to get better.

    #8- Maybe not run, but fast-walk away.

    #13- That seems like a reasonable decision. Unless “He hit me” is followed by “between the shoulder blades to dislodge something I was choking on,” I would be hating him as well.

    #17- Depends who you’re giving it to and how junky it is. Usable stuff to a charity shop? Great! Usable stuff to a friend who needs it? Also great? Actual junk? Probably not great.

    • Annie Moose said:

      #13 Yeah if the context was something like, “I bent down suddenly to tie my shoe and he accidentally elbowed me in the eye” or “actually it was 100% consensual spanking and I like it” or “we were sparring because we’re expert martial artists”, that’s one thing. Otherwise? NOPE NOPE NOPE. All aboard the hate train.

      • The Awe Ritual said:

        You know, having had abusive boyfriends, and families who hated to watch it, I think it’s not so much the hitting as the grinding-down of your self-worth that makes you accept it and believe you deserve it. Which is weird, because usually family is all about making you feel like you are the worst and you deserve bad things. Maybe they want a monopoly?

        …I’m going to go sit in the sunshine and watch kitten videos now.

        • Oh, hon.

          You and I clearly had the same sort of family, but I am reliably informed that family shouldn’t be about making you feel that way. Got room in that patch of sunshine?

  15. ah yes, people wanting to “fix” you. I had friends like that. I fixed myself by not having them as friends any more.

  16. Anon, Goodnight said:

    On the “won’t take showers” thing – maybe I’m just scarred for life after learning this is a thing in the world, but I worry that “WON’T” shower (as opposed to “can’t” or “doesn’t shower often enough”) is related to the sub-set of toxic masculinity where the guys are so misogynistic & homophobic that they refuse to wipe/clean their butts properly.

    • Allison said:

      I also chalked it up to toxic masculinity, but I thought it was dudes who felt like they have some God-given right to be stinky and gross, being dirty is manly, and people should worship their manly stench, and that hygiene is too feminine, and cleaning anything EVEN THEMSELVES is emasculating.

      • MsMildew said:

        Oh it’s both, it all feeds into the toxic brew.

    • Cactus said:

      Ugh, Those Dudes. I once dated someone who was so into toxic masculinity that he refused to wear sunscreen.

    • inimazbis said:

      I admit I belong to the “doesn’t take enough showers” group. My hair has changed textures in the past few years, and I really don’t know how to deal with it. Sometimes, it starts to look better after I don’t shower for a few days. Or, if I’ve gone through the trouble of trying to style it, I won’t really want to mess with it. Recently discovered the joy of shower caps… I am a woman.

  17. 17 “Is it a disservice to give someone else your junk”

    Maybe. Probably. It depends. But it is definitely a disservice to give someone else a picture of your junk.

    • spd said:

      Wasn’t there just the first ever junk transplant surgery like two days ago?

      It’s okay to give your junk for science, I guess.

  18. Rhoda said:

    When I first started reading the advice to that last question, I thought the creepy doll head was for photographing in order to set up a fake dating profile to catch the boyfriend. 😆
    “Don’t tell me you’re faithful to me Colin! I know you’re meeting Chatty Cathy for coffee next Wednesday!”

  19. Rhoda said:

    Just curious, Captain, how do you find these search term questions?

    • JenniferP said:

      They are in my WordPress back end with my stats on page views and referral links.

  20. Allison said:

    17) Yes, it is a disservice to offload your unwanted clutter on others. I’m trying to cut back on clutter and prevent more clutter from accumulating in my home, and people trying to give me random stuff doesn’t help! If you mention you have a thing and ask if I might want it, it’s easier to say no to it unless it’s something I happen to need, but if you’re physically holding it in your hand and trying to give it to me it’s hard to turn it down, even if I don’t need it! You’re better off taking it to thrift shops, having a yard sale, putting it up on ebay, or just throwing it out.

  21. tillamookie said:

    Hey, I’m 46 and my mom gives me the silent treatment on the regular. I want to believe that was me so there isn’t someone else dealing with a mom who has the maturity level of a five year old.

    • Vasha said:

      “Maturity level of a five-year-old” is right. When I had a housemate who did this to me, I wasn’t even hurt because it made me want to laugh.

      • Toujoursgai said:

        Yeah, the silent treatment simply doesn’t work on me because I’m a very quiet person by nature. If leaving me alone with my thoughts is your idea of getting revenge on me, you…don’t understand me very well.

    • olivia0330 said:

      My MIL giving us the silent treatment (after we had asked her to just tell us if she was upset SEVERAL times) is what killed our relationship with her. The last time was so painful for me that I can’t pick up the phone and call her without remembering all the times I called and she didn’t answer, so I just. . . don’t. And my husband doesn’t call her because he doesn’t call anybody. She is sad, and I’m sad she is sad, but I can’t trust her not to do it again, so I just keep her at a distance now. She had started doing it to my stepdaughter, and I knew she would do it to my kids too, someday. I wish she had learned a better way to deal with conflict and hurt feelings.

      But, oh, I find being on the receiving end of the Silent Treatment SO painful. I even wrote the good Captain about it, but was so hurt I’m sure my email was just a jumbled “Whhhhhy does she do this to me am I right to be so upset how do I make her staaaaahhhhhhpppp??!!!”

  22. Kactus said:

    Wow. The Dirty John article series – Terra is my hero.

  23. Proffie Galore said:

    About Big Guava? Try being blunt.

  24. MC said:

    I just wanted to say this regular column is absolutely pure gold!

  25. Rellennor said:

    The fact that Captain Awkward seems to think ‘men’s rights activist’ = ‘abuser’ really sums up why there is a need for men’s rights activists…

    • JenniferP said:

      You either have no idea what MRAs are (and the way they consciously pervert social justice and human rights language in service of violent and toxic masculinity) or you do know and you are trolling. Either way, recommended reading: We Hunted The Mammoth . Bye!

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