It Came From The Search Terms: August

It’s time for that thing we do, where we use the search strings people typed in to find this place as if they were questions.

First, as is traditional, a song:

Lyrics here.

1 “How to encourage husband to make friends.”

The subtext runs deep with this one, does it not? Like, where is problem originating? Is husband lonely and wanting to branch out socially and doesn’t quite know how? Is the husband treating the querent like his entire social world/cruise director/people-ing facilitator? (It happens). Is the husband fine being not very social but the querent is feeling squashed or mismatched here? (It also happens.) Did he ask for help?

I guess I would say that finding Our People is a lifelong project but Our People should not themselves be our projects. If the husband wants to make some more friends, he presumably has all the same resources that other people use to meet each other (MeetUp, hobbies, pubs, churches, sports, community theater/music, trivia night, political activism, volunteering) and all the modes of communication & social media people use to get in touch with friends from other phases of life at his disposal.

If a spouse wants to be supportive of this friendmaking effort, doing what you can to make sure there is time & money & space available for what he does want to do (“Sure, we can have a couple people over for dinner this weekend!” “Sure, go have fun! I’m gonna do my own thing tonight!” “Sure, I’ll be the designated driver, text me 20 minutes out and I’ll pick you up. Can you do the same for me on Thursday?” “Go ahead and take that art class on Saturday mornings, we’ll find the money.” etc.) is a pretty good place to start. Otherwise, he’s gotta take the lead and do the work, he’s not a toddler that you arrange play dates for or a dog you drop off at doggy day care. Also, in this process, make sure you don’t neglect your own friendships & social connections. These don’t all have to be shared.

2 “He just moved closer and now I want to break up.”

It happens. It sucks. I’m telling a story about it in Chicago this Friday.

With proximity, you have information that you didn’t have before. Be compassionate, be honest, be free.

3 “Breaking up because geography.”

Sometimes that’s a really good reason.

4 “Is it selfish to break up with my boyfriend bc I want to experience other people?”

Breaking up before the “experiencing other people” part might be the best order of operations if that’s what you want to do. I’m sure that’s not an easy decision, but what if you could make decisions about what you want without calling yourself names in the process?

5 “captain awkward how to dump someone”

Quick review:

  • You can have a face-to-face conversation, you can use a phone call or a text or a letter if that’s what you need to do to be safe.
  • Communicating your decision is more important than explaining your reasons. You don’t have to build an airtight legal argument that they agree with to leave someone.
  • Own the decision. “I’ve decided to break up.” “My feelings have changed.” “This is the right decision for me.” 
  • If they ask for reasons, that’s ok – that doesn’t make them bad people! – but you’re not a management consultant pointing out flaws in their operation, maybe you don’t have to list the complete list of their liabilities for them in a vulnerable and hurtful moment. It’s okay to say “You didn’t do anything wrong, but my feelings changed and I know I would be happier alone.” 
  • Don’t pressure the other person to stay friends with you and don’t feel like if you say “ok yes let’s be friends” that you’ve made an ironclad agreement that can never be revisited. Friendship is its own unique thing, not a holding pen for all the people we don’t want to kiss.
  • Have an aftercare plan for yourself – something where you get alone time, or see friends or family, and have space to feel sad or relieved or whatever it is you feel.
  • If they need comforting about the breakup, you don’t have to be the one who fills that role.

6 “Hi dad mom died sex”

Whatever word association game is being played here, I want out.

7 “Mum got angry at me but idk why and she wont tell me or even talk to me.”

Check out #5, here, re: The Silent Treatment.

There’s no fair way to play this game your mom is playing, so, DON’T TRY. If she won’t tell you why she’s mad, give her a wide berth. Let her silence be a gift to you instead of the abusive burden she intends. She has choices about how to communicate with you. She is making a bad one.

8 “How to tell friends you can’t afford to go out for expensive dinners.”

“I’m on a tight budget right now and I can’t afford to eat out so much, but I’d love to spend time with you. Can we do [something cheap or free] instead?” More here and here.

9 “My grandparents hate my tattoos.”

Your grandparents are entitled to their opinions but not to be jerks about it.

You are entitled to do what you will with your own body.

Sometimes a cheerful “well, good thing it’s not your body!” response works to cut down on the comments, and sometimes the sincere discussion works, i.e. “Grandparents, given that it’s my body and the tattoos are already here and not going anywhere, what are you hoping for when you comment on them that way? Do you really want our relationship to be about these tattoos you don’t like, or could we find a way to just be kind to each other?” 

10 “I’m scared my parents are gonna catch me stealing their Adderall.”

Well, yeah! Stealing another person’s prescription medication is illegal and wrong. It’s dangerous for you. It’s bad for them – your parents have that prescription for a reason, and if you’re stealing their pills they aren’t getting the medication they need. If you need evaluated for ADHD and to possibly be on your own medication, then ask your parents to help you do that. But stop stealing their drugs, please!

11 “Am I a selfish bitch for wanting more money?”

What if you could name the things you wanted without calling yourself mean names?

12 “Hinting that you want to get invited to someone’s house.”

Hinting doesn’t work. Try inviting these people to your house if you want to spend time with them, and if it really is about being inviting to something in particular just say it: “Next time you’re all playing badminton while wearing fancy hats, if you have room for me I’d love to join you.” Then withdraw. You’ve said your thing.

13 “Best response to someone who is seeking for a relationship from you.”

Hands down, the truth about what you want is probably best.

14 “Are grandmas always right about your gender?”

Not if their ideas about your gender conflict with what you know to be true about yourself!

15 “Why is my mom mad at me for taking a better job?”

IDK, but she’s not the one who has to work there, so your opinion is probably the important one here.

16 “How do you get your husband to set boundaries with his parents?”

He may or may not ever learn to do this and you can’t control that. So, you set boundaries with him, and with yourself. Basically “Husband, your relationship with your parents is yours to manage, but this is what I need from you to be happy and okay, so if your parents cross certain lines, I’m going to speak up and/or absent myself and let you deal with it.” 

17 “My boyfriend is always counseling me.” 

“Hey dude, if I want a therapist I’ll hire one.”

“Hey dude, if you want to be a therapist so bad, go be one!”

“Hey dude, even if you were a therapist, you couldn’t be my therapist, so stop.”

“Stop.”

18 “Best friend wants to be roommates but she’s too messy.”

Tell her “Friend, I love you so much, but I don’t want to cross those streams. I think we would stress each other out a lot if we lived together.” It doesn’t have to be a judgment on her, just, people will be happier living with people with similar definitions of clean when they are signing up to share housing. Knowing this about yourself is a good thing, decide accordingly.

19 “How to friendzone a guy you led on.” 

First step, RETHINK EVERYTHING ABOUT HOW YOU ARE DESCRIBING THIS. If we rewrite your whole question to “I wasn’t sure how I felt about this person, so I flirted with them, but now I’m pretty sure I just want to be friends, how do I let them know” we remove all the sexist assumptions that you owed your friend a certain outcome here.

Maybe try “I know we’ve been talking/flirting/kind of considering getting involved romantically, but I’m only interested in being friends.” 

Then, stop flirting (it’s the kind thing to do), and give the person a little space to process and decide if they want to be friends, too. You are not being mean when you do this, you are giving them true information that will help them make a good decision about what to do next. Friendship is not a consolation prize or a holding pen where we herd the people we don’t want to make out with, it’s its own valuable thing.

20 “What should I tell him I’m doing this weekend.”

A) Whatcha doing this weekend and B) Is it something you want him to know?

It’s the difference between “Oh, I’m busy with this and that, you know” and “I’ve got family coming into town, here is our detailed itinerary of fun!” and “I didn’t schedule anything in particular, why do you ask?” and “I’m going to the art museum on Friday, wanna join?” All are perfectly acceptable answers.

21 “Best response to ‘what are you looking for’ on Tinder.”

What are you looking for?

  • “I want to go to the comic book store and we’ll each pick out a comic for the other person.”
  • “I want to put on old soul records and make out a little bit but keep pants on at least the first time we meet up.”
  • “I want to come to your house and pretend that we’ll watch a movie.”
  • “I want to eat pancakes at midnight and talk about books.”
  • “I want to vanquish you at Scrabble.”
  • “I want to have one awesome night of no-strings-attached sex and then probably never see you again.”
  • “I want some cuddles and some good conversation but I’m not really about Teh Sex. Any fellow aces out here?”
  • “I want to throw a two person dance party in my basement, please bring disco ball.”
  • “I want to eat tacos and fuck.”
  • “I want to fall in love someday and not pretend that’s not what I’m after.”
  • “I want to play Dungeons & Dragons, but, you know, sexy.”
  • “I want to recapture a night from 1997, where we go see The English Patient and then close down one bar after another until we end up watching the sun rise from your car parked outside my house. I will provide costumes.”
  • “I need a cool extrovert to be my date to this swanky event and help me make small talk.”
  • “I need henchmen for my world domination plans, please submit application.”
  • “I’ve always wanted to build a pillow fort and then spend a whole Saturday in it in my pajamas. U up?”
  • “I signed up for this nonrefundable blacksmithing class with my ex and now I don’t want to go by myself. Any recently broken-up people out there want to learn a cool skill with me?”
  • “I never dated before and I want to try it out.”
  • “I’m in your city for the weekend for a work trip and I’d love it if someone who lives here would show me around. Can I buy you dinner at your favorite local spot?”
  • “Look this theater subscription isn’t going to use itself.”

What if instead of trying to find something that would be widely & generally appealing, you just got really specific about what you would actually like to do with a couple of free hours in the company of a new person?

22 “Can you pay someone in blood?”

No. Ew.

Wait. What did you buy on Vampire eBay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

185 comments
  1. Red Reader said:

    #8, I just posted on Facebook the other day a PSA to my friends (many of whom are more financially challenged than I am) that when I say “Wanna go grab dinner?” what I really mean is, I want to hang out and do something with you but I don’t currently have the option, for whatever reason, to host you at my home in a manner that will meet my own expectations of myself, and I don’t want to invite myself to your house because that’s rude. So really we can do whatever, as long as it’s not at my house, and grabbing dinner is just a convenient shorthand. I would bet that’s probably not just me. 🙂

    • JenniferP said:

      Nicely handled!

    • vanadiumoxide said:

      I feel similarly! Often I just want to spend time with one or more friends but feel the need to suggest an activity, and dinner is an easy default to think of (even if I would be happy to have you over to my house!).

      I get that it’s a little scary to be the one to break the go-with-the-default-idea pattern, though, even if you think your friends would probably be cool with it.

      • Red Reader said:

        Right! If you just say “Wanna get together?” everyone is waiting for someone else to do all the planning and it never ends up happening. “Dinner” is at least a starting point.

        • Kaos said:

          I generally start with “coffee” that way if I’m not -feeling it- after a half hour or so (I get worn out very fast, even by good friends) I can call it a day. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Same. Btw it’s interesting how coffee is another stand-in word that gives the other person an idea that the plans will be ‘sitting down while having non-alchoholic drinks and/or non-meal food for a period of time that probably won’t be any longer than 2 hours, 2 and a half tops’, and has nothing to do with whether you actually drink a kind of coffee. I wouldn’t have really noticed except I recently asked a friend if she wanted to meet for coffee and she said ‘as long as I don’t have to drink any!’

    • Funnyletter Who Hates Jokes said:

      Ahh yes, ye olde “I want to see you but I do not want to clean my bathroom OR die of shame at this time”.

      • mrs__peel said:

        I relate so, SO hard to this…

        • Kaos said:

          Likewise. I had a housekeeper. He was pretty cheap too. Then he stole from me, more than a few times (he’s a relative) and I just couldn’t do the whole “I’m not gonna steal from you anymore” — “ok I forgive you and will trust you again” — “whoops I did it again…” thing anymore, ergo my bathroom isn’t as bright and sparkly as I’d prefer.

          It’s ok, but keep in mind I am a slightly OCD germaphobe so I know that —my level— is more pedantic than others’ in general. Still I don’t feel like cleaning it all the time.

          • Funnyletter Who Hates Jokes said:

            I’ve definitely had times I’ve let the toilet get kind of out of hand grubby, like not on any of the people-touching parts but our toilets for whatever reason get kinda scummy after a bit no matter how hard I bleach them. And I’ve had friends come over and ask to use the bathroom and I’m like “oh it’s right over there…… fffffuuuuuu…”

      • Anon, Goodnight said:

        *raises hand* Same.

      • vanadiumoxide said:

        This has played out too many times:

        Guest: Where can I find your bathroom?
        Me, out loud: Right through that door! 🙂 Lightswitch is on the outside! 🙂
        Me, internally: oh no I didn’t clean oh nooooooo

      • Red Reader said:

        For me, it’s most often “I don’t have time to go grocery shopping, pick up beverages that aren’t tap water or bake anything.” My brain weasels go BANANACRACKERS if I can’t offer visitors food, drink and home-baked goods. I don’t even know why, it’s just a thing.

        • I suspect you may be related to me. Although in my case I know full well the reasons are “Mum” and “Nanna”. There are definitely advantages to being a social misfit and recluse, and one of them is I don’t have to try and find the spoons for baking all the time.

          • Nanani said:

            My attitude is “Hey, I live downtown, there are literally dozens of restaurants in comfortable walking distance (hundreds if you’re willing to hop on a bus) that offer much better food than anything that could conceivable come from my kitchen”

            Usually phrased more like “Wanna try that new FoodPlace that just opened?”

        • Kaos said:

          Home baked goods? I’m coming to your house.

        • I have this a little bit too, although lately it’s more me feeling self-conscious about space. The majority of my friends have bought houses at this point, and my husband and I are still in an apartment. I want to invite people over but I keep thinking there couldn’t possibly be enough room. Then I remember that when my brother lived in New York, his apartment was smaller than mine, and once when I was visiting him, he and his wife hosted their weekly church group. There were probably 20 people total in that little apartment, and IT WAS FINE. I keep telling myself that in the hopes that I will eventually have myself enough convinced that I can dare to have a few friends over.

          • JenniferP said:

            Some of the best parties are small apartment parties! I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 15 in a 400 sq foot studio apartment. The proximity/informality makes it fun. I put my unsightly things behind the shower curtain, made three kinds of boozy punch, roasted a turkey (they brought sides), we used every desk & table possible + some folding card tables I found in the building’s basement & cleaned up. Some dollar store tablecloths and it was on.

          • AnnaS said:

            I used to be self-conscious about my space, my cooking, my cleaning, whatever, but a few years ago the parents of an acquaintance were nice enough to host me and my boyfriend without ever having met us before and they had a dirty bathroom and a cat turd in the guest room. But they invited us and that was really nice of them and we appreciated it and enjoyed our stay (and wore flipflops). And I remember their kindness much more vividly than the state of their house. I then decided that in the end it is about what you have to offer and not about what you don’t have to offer. So now I offer my company and the food I cooked and my guest room to anyone I like, and I don’t care whose standards I don’t meet. I try to keep everything in reasonable working order, but if people ever think it is not good enough, they are free to stay away. (They don’t, they have second helpings and come back.)

  2. TAKE THE BLACKSMITHING CLASS.

    Seriously, take it alone or with an awesome tinder date, but don’t skip the class! (Also this scenario is weirdly like how I got a blacksmithing class with a guy who dumped me the next day.)

  3. Kater Cheek said:

    I’d like to submit my application to be one of your henchmen for world domination, but only if your post-hegemony plan involves making the U.S. change to the metric system because trying to calculate volume and surface area in inches is simply maddening.

    • Argablarg said:

      SIGN ME UP.

    • Turquoise Dragon said:

      Also down for minion-hood and metric system.

    • bostoncandy said:

      I’m in as well. Metric system optional.

  4. vanadiumoxide said:

    #18: It might also help to keep it more about your personal living preferences, e.g. “I’m uncomfortable when my house isn’t organized a certain way/I would get stressed out living with you even though I love you a lot and love spending time with you.” Then it won’t matter if she says she won’t get stressed out or that everything will be fine (for her)–it won’t be fine for you.

    Also, acknowledge (to her or just to yourself) that Roommates and Friends are different types of relationships. There’s overlap in what makes good ones of each, but a great roommate could be a responsible, clean, communicative person you hardly ever see and a great friend could be a loving, supportive, fun, honest person who cooks food you hate the smell of and is allergic to your pets.

  5. Elizabeth said:

    21 – when people ask “what are you looking for on tinder” they aren’t looking for a specific date suggestion, they want to know if you are looking for a serious relationship or a hookup or a friend with benefits or a friend friend or whatever.

    I find this question hard to answer becUse the honest truth for me is that I I would quite like a serious relationship but I am not opposed to casual relationships or flings along the way, but I only want to go out with people who feel the same (because with those looking for a partner I feel like I am auditioning to fill a specific slot in their life and with those who only want casual I fear what would happen if I caught feelings). On the plus side, I find that the only people who ask this question are those who are looking to hear an answer of “true love” or “boners,” so receiving the question at all is a filter.

    Hope that’s helpful!

    • JenniferP said:

      I know what they are asking, and “I’m really looking for a relationship” or “I’m looking to bone and move on” are perfectly fine answers. Given how much this comes up, though, I’m saying: What if you answered it in a very specific & honest way? And then could see if the other person matches your enthusiasm or will play “yes and?” with you or has their own cool suggestions? Like, might as well make this fun for yourself!

      • Spicy Onion said:

        I literally used this idea this time around internet dating. Within the first week I was able to connect to someone the likes of which I thought I never would meet plus met a HUGE ton more interesting and awesome dudes than I ever did with some generic profile no matter how witty it was. Putting it out there helped to weed out a lot of dudes off the bat and the the ones who thought they could sneak through were then easily caught as well since I finally had a solid idea of what I wanted and what I was willing to deal with while dating. I will say 100% this worked for me! Cuz like you can incorporate your actual real life interests into what you are actually looking for in another human being. Like I’m really interested in doing new things which I could tie in with the necessity that any date have the a mentality where they are the type of person willing to challenge their own perceptions. That’s hugely important to me and I’m not going to sit through a date with someone who can’t cuz its make or break if you will. I also dont want the person willing to challenge theoretically but hasnt actually gotten around to it either. So really quick you are weeding people out by doing this. Its a say what you mean approach that is highly and terrifically affective!

      • Elizabeth said:

        Cap, I totally missed your post in April that addressed this directly! wow! Grateful to you and also to the commenters below who linked to it. 🙂

    • Marna Nightingale said:

      You didn’t ask for advice so if you don’t want it please ignore but I can suggest a phrasing?
      “I want to have an enjoyable time while looking for someone who’s in for the long-term”

    • camel said:

      I once saw a dude who said “I’m not looking for something serious, but I’m also not not looking for something serious.” To me that struck me as honest and funny (and I interpreted it as saying what you are, basically).

    • Raquel said:

      Yes exactly! I’ve referred back to that post so many times.

    • Jane said:

      Ha, thank you for causing me to read that again! ’tis delightful.

    • Spicy Onion said:

      This should literally replace all dating advice anywhere at any time.

      Whenever I read this, my thoughts always go back to Charlotte from sex in the city when she is at that “think positive” conference and how just broken she is. And we have all experienced this in some capacity (not even just dating) and I just want to throw this response at her like “just decide what you want, set boundaries around it, and then throw it out there!!!”

      Cuz that’s the only advice you ever really need. For anything. Like ever. lol!

  6. vanadiumoxide said:

    #11: This answer is brilliant.

  7. Igne said:

    3 “Breaking up because geography.”

    I know that both the question and the answer are likely about relative location, but what popped into my mind was a massive fight over whether the mercator projection is valid.

    • This is sincerely awesome. And also I know a couple whose final straw before breaking up was actually a fight over whether North meant “up”

      • Drew said:

        “I don’t CARE what the map looks like, Greenland is not as big as Africa!”

      • sarcfringe said:

        I still instinctively assume that north = uphill. I grew up somewhere where the mountains were to the west, so it doesn’t even make sense, but it throws me off all the time.

        • vanadiumoxide said:

          I live in a place where uphill is every direction except north, depending on your exact location. Mainly I get confused coming home from the south, when I know I need to go back downhill and should not accidentally get on Route ## South even though it /feels/ right.

        • Amtep said:

          I get similarly confused about “Upper Egypt” being to the south. I think that one’s not even about mountains, it’s about going upriver.

          • Nanani said:

            Oh man, “upper” and “lower” in reference to upstream and downstream confused the HECK out of me for years. Especially when the landscape isn’t dramatically up/downhill.

          • Today’s Fun Canadian Fact: two of the first provinces to be confederated were Upper Canada (later expanded into what’s now Ontario) and Lower Canada (expanded into Quebec), so named because if you were coming from Europe, you usually sailed up the Saint Lawrence, and Upper Canada was further upriver. But Ontario is west and slightly south of Quebec, so I always struggled to remember which was which in history class.

        • For me, it’s “toward the water is west”. Because I happened to live at just the right bit of a large bay. Then I moved to a place where I was at the north edge of a (different) bay, and I was SO LOST.

          • Kacienna said:

            I always want to associate east with left and west with right; I think this is because to drive to the nearest city to the east, I turn left at the first stoplight and keep going, but to drive to the town to the west, there’s a series of right turns early on.

          • MsMildew said:

            I live/grew up on the west coast, not too far from the ocean, so I also assumed water = west. It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I realized our particular bit of coast curves around in such a way that water = SOUTH. It’s taken my brain DECADES to get a proper handle on that!

      • johann7 said:

        Like, normal vector “up”? o.O

      • Catherine from Canada said:

        I know a couple who almost broke up over the Oxford comma….

        • Kaos said:

          The Oxford comma is a very important thing. I can see that being an issue. Fortunately for me I taught Husband English so he does English by my rules. 🙂

        • whingedrinking said:

          Over at a comment thread at Ask A Manager, someone mentioned an employee who made a lengthy document titled “Hills To Die On” regarding changes he refused to make to his workflow. Someone else jokingly said, “1. The Oxford comma.” The next comment I saw, having arrived late to this party, was from Allison saying, “I just took down 100+ comments about punctuation. Please stay on topic, people.”

        • ashbet said:

          The Dearly Beloved Author in my life and I once had . . . a disagreement . . . about the Oxford comma — also, whether he was looking for constructive criticism or proofreading of a manuscript.

          We decided that we’re both comfortable with me as a beta-reader, but not as an editor/proofreader, and that has served us well over the years.

          Although I still think he’s wrong about the Oxford comma 😉

      • Cactus said:

        They might be entertained by one of MY pet peeves, which is people who say they’re going “up to [place]” (for example “up to California, up to my dad’s house, up to the city”) when the place they’re going is neither north of nor higher in altitude than the place where they currently are.

    • not really a lurker anymore said:

      I and my office are dying of laughter over this. Thank you!

    • Awesome Sauce said:

      Because there’s always a relevant XKCD https://xkcd.com/977/ (At the link: drawings of way more map projections that I realized existed, with joking/sarcastic comments about what it says about you as a person if you like each one.)

      • Alucius said:

        And now I need to watch the West Wing episode with the cartographers for social equality again:

        • Anon, Goodnight said:

          I watched that about a month ago!

        • vanadiumoxide said:

          That’s exactly what I thought of!

    • turquoises said:

      HAH!!! I like you.

      What I’m looking for on Tinder: seeking friends to build blanket forts and vigorously debate the relative merits of different cartographic methods.

      • Thursday Next said:

        I would be up for that!

        • turquoises said:

          too bad this isn’t Tinder! :-p

  8. attica said:

    It makes me so sad to see variations on the ‘I’m selfish, right?’ theme. Society has weaponized that against women so perniciously.

    • JenniferP said:

      Oh, for sure. The ones that are easy for me to pull from the stats are the ones that come up over and over again.

    • Argablarg said:

      Oh my gosh yes.

      I (female) have had several professors where requests for mentoring were met with put-downs about how I shouldn’t be so uppity.

      Puke.

      • Oh my god, SERIOUSLY?! Yet another reason why I think academics should not be allowed to teach without at least a month-long “stuff not to do” crash course (though if you’re clueless enough to think insulting your students is ever okay, you might be beyond help).

      • Kaos said:

        “Uppity?” Did they actually use that word?

        • Philippa said:

          Hello, I am a woman professor, and I was once called an “uppity female” by a male colleague – in a helpful, informative tone, no less; he wanted me to understand what my “problem” was. So I have no difficulty believing that the word gets used in academic contexts where you’d think people would know better.

          (I am not a person of color, which would have added a layer of even worse meaning here; this one was just about women who speak directly and frankly.)

        • Argablarg said:

          Didn’t say uppity, but one professor repeatedly insisted that I volunteer so that I would understand what real problems were (…because I checked up on him about giving me paper revisions), another wouldn’t write me a rec letter for a job because he’d already written one for someone better…the list goes on and on.

    • Funnyletter Who Hates Jokes said:

      Also like…… don’t we basically all want more money? I’m quite well-off financially and don’t have an urgent need for more money, but there’s sure as heck some stuff more money would make way easier. I don’t think it’s selfish to be like “Gee, I wish I had more money because that would solve this one problem I have.”

      …basically I guess I think it’s not selfish to WANT anything. It becomes selfish when you start bulldozing other people to get the thing you want.

      • EllenS said:

        You know, I wondered about the context of that question.

        Like, does the person want a better salary? Or just a general ambition for a higher standard of living? Yeah, go for it.

        Or is this a situation where they are financially dependent on someone who is verbally abusive? Because that’s a different answer: get out if at all possible, you don’t deserve to be treated that way.

        Or is there a dispute over division of shares in an inheritance or a business? Because that’s also different – nothing constructive is going to happen if there’s name-calling, so some de-escalation needs to happen. But they also need to take a big-picture look at whether their expectations are reasonable and fair to the others involved. Name-calling is never okay, but it may not be appropriate to pursue more money from those people/in that situation if it’s rightfully someone else’s.

      • goddessoftransitory said:

        Yes! “I want candy” isn’t selfish. “So I stole some from that baby” is.

        • Kaos said:

          That baby didn’t need the candy. It’s too young for all that sugar anyway.

          • goddessoftransitory said:

            Why, I’m practically a saint!

  9. Loving your answer to #19 and #21. Okay, I love the others too, but those two really stood out to me.

  10. Rachel said:

    Now I have to hunt around for blacksmithery classes in my area.

  11. Marna Nightingale said:

    #9 My mom was sorta freaked when I got my first tattoo. Depending very very VERY much on what sort of grandparents you have, if they’re basically people you love, trust and value you could try some slightly more open ended questions, like “OK, they’re not going anywhere but you and I aren’t going anywhere either so can you tell me what’s bugging you about them and we’ll talk it out and then we’re gonna drop it, okay?”

    The reason I’m suggesting this is that people above a certain age can be just prejudiced about tattoos but also they often have some pretty unpleasant — and back in “their day” pretty valid — ideas about the safety of tattoos. For context, Mom was born in ’32 and she was a nurse. So. OMG NEEDLES IN MY BABY GIRL rather than a general objection turned out to be it.

    I ended up showing her studio pictures from my artist’s website and letting her read the aftercare page and telling her they had an autoclave and she took her tools out of it in front of me and took out sealed neddles and showed me them, as policy, and let me check for cleanliness (autoclaves sterilize but you still gotta WASH stuff first) and otherwise discussing their sterility protocol in the extreme detail of someone who asked a lot of questions before letting someone stick a non-medical needle under my skin. And then we were done and she stopped being convinced that hepatitis was on the menu and when she saw my second tattoo all she wanted to know was did I design that or did I get the artist to do it?

    Or they might have some reasonable but no-longer-valid concerns that having tats is going to affect your future prospects in various ways.

    Or they might just have some feelings about how they look, which is sorta the litmus test for whether this is a good way to go: if you picture yourself saying “ok, I get that but I don’t come in here and repaint your kitchen*, okay?” And in your head they grudgingly say “okay fair point I guess” and basically that goes well, those are grandparents to go open-ended with. If in your head they lose their shit at that, this advice is not the advice for you.

    *Slight risk of “Oh God I Wish You Would.” Use your discretion.

    • C said:

      I like your response and completely agree. Sometimes parents or grandparents have different views because they grew up differently, and sometimes they are quite willing to discuss and learn something new or at least accept your decision.

    • I remember reading a piece a while ago by a woman who decided the best way to deal with her feels about her adult son getting a tattoo was to go on the Internet and wail about it for a while. One of her criticisms was, “But what if he wants to become some kind of serious professional?! He may have ruined his career forever!” Since I know tattooed lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, research scientists and diplomats, I could really only pinch the bridge of my nose and sigh.

      • Light37 said:

        Oh, I remember her. I believe she said she’d rather he got someone pregnant than get a tattoo. Seriously, my Orthodox Jewish grandma made less fuss about my dad getting tats, and he got his not long after WWII.

      • Carrie said:

        She was a piece of work. I believe she stopped short of saying it would have been better if he’d died, but not by much.

      • aebhel said:

        That always cracks me up. I mean, it WAS true at one point, and it probably still is in some places/professions, but like… I’m a librarian in a pretty conservative area, and I have a large, colorful, and very visible tattoo on one arm that I don’t bother to hide at work, and I’ve had nothing but compliments about it from the little old ladies who make up the bulk of my patrons. It’s just not that big a deal anymore.

      • MsMildew said:

        When I got my first two tattoos 30 years ago, my mom’s objection was that I would not be able to wear an evening gown. 😂 I told her that it was highly unlikely that I’d ever be at an event that would require me to wear an evening gown (still haven’t at age 51 & counting LOL) and that even if I did, why would having tattoos stop me?

    • Kaos said:

      People of a certain age (interestingly enough that age can be anywhere between 10-100) have a prejudice against tattoos…on women.

    • ashbet said:

      My [always problematic] mother said that my tattoos made me look like a “circus freak.”

      I said, “Well, since I’ve had them for 3 years, and the first time you encountered them was when I decided to take a beach vacation with the family, I think I made good choices about their placement — they’re only seen when I want them to be. Also, they’re not going anywhere, so get used to it.”

      (Obviously, this only works if they’re in areas normally covered by clothing — I have a full backpiece, but I was working in the legal field in a conservative area, so I designed my ink to be covered by my usual business attire.)

    • DesertRose said:

      [Content note: Outdated classist notions about people who have tattoos.]

      Yeah, my parents (early Baby Boomers) don’t like the concept of tattoos, because when they were young adults, only bikers/criminals/sailors who’d gotten drunk in port had tattoos. That being said, they’re both mostly reasonable people, so if I or my daughter were to get a tattoo (we’re both considering it), they’d likely sigh and say, “Well, your skin, your business,” and move on.

      As a disabled person, my employment marketability isn’t really a talking point. The kiddo is a nurse, but even though we’re in a fairly conservative area, I’ve seen plenty of medical personnel (nurses, patient care techs, paramedics and EMTs, etc.) with ink, and nobody seems to care much.

  12. Clover said:

    I am happily coupled and I still want to go on all those Tinder dates!

    I met my boyfriend on Tinder, and I believe my profile said something like, “I am recently divorced and I just really want to make out with someone new, but I’m not opposed to something serious if the making out leads to something serious.”

    Reader, the making out led to something serious. (And also, I got to make out with a number of awesome people before meeting Boyfriend.)

    • JenniferP said:

      Great story!

      I love coffee & cafes but I hated “let’s get coffee!” first dates so much, so, one of my side missions in a crowded life is to remind people that there are way more fun things to do.

      • Kaos said:

        I like the coffee thing for a first meeting because it’s a short activity by it’s very nature that one can wrap up if things aren’t going well, but can be extended to going to the water park if everything is otherwise firing on all cylinders.

        • JenniferP said:

          Lots of people do! And I get it! Coffee houses are solitude places for me and I’ve literally never (in many many years of dating) had a coffee date that turned into another kind of date. They mess with my mojo. So I was always looking for alternatives. Basically, if I didn’t like you enough to do karaoke with you I probably didn’t like you enough to get coffee with you, either, so why not skip it altogether.

  13. OyVey said:

    RE #1, I had a different take, that the person writing in is trying to help a spouse who is floundering in a way that makes making friends difficult.

    That was an awkward sentence. Let me use a personal example.

    My spouse is retired military. Has PTSD. Does not feel comfortable in new/unfamiliar social settings and with people they don’t already know (yep, that makes things awkward). Now, this is a conversation that’s we’ve had on going for well nigh onto a decade and a half and spouse doesn’t need the strategy below nearly as much as they did when we first met. We would either try out something new together, or I would try it out myself. If I went myself, I would mention people I met, activities, commonalities with others in attendance, and if I saw something that I knew would trip spouse’s situational discomforts (big windows, large wide open spaces, awkwardly situated doors) I’d mention those too. I only did this for things related to our family or things I was genuinely interested in doing myself (no going out of my way to attend the local homebrew association meeting; I’ll drink a good beer but not into the making of 😉 ). Now, at the beginning of our relationship, spouse basically didn’t do anything unless it was a known comfort zone or they were with me. Over time, this has improved significantly. Nearly 15 years later, spouse does a lot for our family without needing an advance scout, makes friends when I’m not in the room, and otherwise manages their own social behavior pretty impressively, all things considered.

    So my version of a response to #1 would be: If you can do it in ways that are helpful to both of you, it’s ok to to be a stepping stone. It’s ok to go with your husband a few time, introduce him to a few people, acknowledge whatever is getting in the way of him doing social behavior on his own, and expect that over time, he will become more comfortable doing this on his own.

    • JenniferP said:

      What a great practice!

  14. Nanani said:

    Ouch, the internalised misogyny in some of these queries.
    I hope those LWs actually found their way here and did some reading.
    My heart goes out to them.

    • Kaos said:

      Yeah…

    • MsMildew said:

      Ditto. It’s heartbreaking. 😢

  15. 14 “Are grandmas always right about your gender?”

    My non-binary offspring has a transgender half-brother (not my kid). Their mutual (paternal) grandma takes issue with a lesbian relative, so I suspect she’d really have some issues about the two of them, if she is aware of these factors.

    Imagined outburst with names changed: “What do you mean Duncan is non-binary? He’s a man, he has a girlfriend! Why is Bailey saying her name is Z? Why is she dressed like a boy?”

  16. sarcfringe said:

    When people say something like “oh, I would never want to have tattoos” in a judgmental tone, I like to cheerfully respond “no problem – more for me!” It’s so close to making sense that it distracts them from continuing the conversation while they try to figure out the correct response.

    • CommanderBanana said:

      Right? I’m heavily tattooed and I’m always like…good…for you? It’s not like tattoo artists are running down the street trying to tattoo randos with unwanted tattoos.

      • BigDogLittleCat said:

        I am imagining this as a side event with the Gayroller 2000.

        • MsMildew said:

          Hahahahaha! I am crying! 🤣🤣🤣

    • vanadiumoxide said:

      This is a great response 🙂

    • Catherine from Canada said:

      Can I just – infrequent poster – mention in here that at 60, I just got my first tattoo? (It’s on my right forearm, over the scars of a jellyfish encounter I had in late May of this year. It’s the actual species of jellyfish (the Mauve Stinger) that stung me, while I was towing my 16 year old granddaughter to safety…) My kids are weirded out, but I thought it was an incident that should be memorialized. (And so does said granddaughter…)
      I never thought, until about five years ago, that I’d get a tattoo! Mind you, I grew up in an age and a socio-economic class that had me believing that “ladies don’t go into beer stores” and “ladies always wear hats and gloves when they leave the house” so…

      • That is wonderful! And good for you, getting your granddaughter to safety!

      • tlh-in-tlh said:

        I am deeply impressed by your actions! Thank you for telling us your tattoo story!

      • ashbet said:

        That is fantastic! I’m so glad you were able to help your granddaughter when she needed it, and it’s lovely that you decided to do something new to create a memento and decorate yourself! 🙂

        (I’m certainly not of the opinion that scars HAVE to be covered in any way, but I personally like the idea of reclaiming or asserting yourself over a scarred body part by adding art to it.)

    • MsMildew said:

      This is an AWESOME response!

      I haven’t gotten random criticism of my tattoos in forever but I’ll keep this one in mind!

      I remember reading a quote somewhere that went something like (paraphrasing like hell lol) “the only difference between people who have tattoos & people who don’t have tattoos is that people with tattoos don’t care whether other people have them or not”

  17. H.Regalis said:

    Leave me to do my dark bidding on the internet!

    • Nanani said:

      A+ would laugh again

    • Traffic_Spiral said:

      I’m bidding on a table.

    • Cornflower Blue said:

      There’s a set of rare steaks that I NEED.

  18. caraway said:

    #19 — also keep an open mind about whether you are or want to be friends. You don’t have to be if you don’t want to.

  19. jaynn said:

    #4: it takes two people to make a relationship work, and it sounds like right now you don’t want to be one of them.

    I did this myself at one point (we were long distance and I was starting college, I wanted to feel free to date locally—oh hey #5, yes that’s a fine reason). To this day I still feel a bit…odd about that reasoning, given what I knew at the time. It’s never been a decision I’ve regretted though, and today I consider it a bullet dodged (guy was a jerk in ways I only figured out years later).

    I don’t think the question is so much “is it selfish”—isn’t breaking up always selfish?—but rather what purpose does staying serve, because it doesn’t really sound like you want to.

    • I reject the assertion that as a woman-shaped person selfish is the worst thing I could be. My life has gotten a lot better since I gave myself permission to put myself first if there’s not an excellent, objective reason not to. (Sometimes selfishness is the wrong choice, but in matters of breakups, selfish doesn’t even come into it. Do you want to leave? Great, do it!)

      • MsMildew said:

        Especially since we live in a world where a large number of people still think that women having boundaries = OMG HOW UTTERLY SELFISH!

    • bostoncandy said:

      I love your first line! Thanks jaynn!

  20. #14- I interpreted this one as “Do grandmothers always guess correctly about a baby’s apparent sex?”

    To which the answer is also “No.”

    #22- “Vampire eBay.” Snicker.

  21. Bearpelt said:

    Stealing C2 meds can really screw your parents over, #10!
    As a pharmacy technician, I know that a lot of pharmacies will only do what’s called Good Faith Dispensing, which is where they will only fill the next script 3 days before you’re supposed to run out. Even if your parents were willing to pay out of pocket, the pharmacy is likely to refuse to fill it early because it’s a trafficked substance. And this is stuff pharmacists take very seriously; it’s something that could make them lose their job if they fuck up.
    I don’t know if you’re stealing these meds to take yourself or to sell them or what, but please stop. They’re usually pretty fucking expensive even through insurance (I see prices anywhere from ~$50-$400) and they’re one of the most strictly regulated medications available in the U.S. (It’s a schedule 2 substance, after all. The only thing more restricted than that is schedule 1, which is just ILLEGAL stuff.)
    PLEASE don’t steal someone’s c2 meds, you could be royally screwing them over.

    • Co-signed. Even if my doctor writes me a new script, I cannot get that one filled until a certain amount of time has passed, and while that can be overridden occasionally, doing that too often will throw up red flags in the system. This means I can be targeted as a drug seeker, which means it will be harder for me to get the meds that I need to function in the future. DON’T STEAL DRUGS.

    • +1 Don’t steal people’s controlled substances! You’ll wind up making your parents look like drug seekers when they keep asking for early refills, which means the pharmacy and their doctor are going to refuse to fill early for them. And then they’re out of medications that presumably they need in order to live their best quality of life. Total jerk move. Stop this.

  22. Medusa in the Mirror said:

    re: #9. My grandmother once went off on the “you just get those tattoos to upset me!” rant in a restaurant where she, my mother and I were together. Instead of saying what I was thinking (“I’m pretty sure there are cheaper and less painful ways for me to upset you.”) I pointed out that, while she didn’t have to like it, it was my body and the choices were mine. To which she replied “You’re my grand daughter; it’s my body too!!” To which I could only respond with “Wow.” So be prepared for illogical/primitive responses. FWIW, it took until she was 90 and my mom died for her to accept me as I am. But it did happen. Tattoos and all.

    • Sapphire Jade said:

      “You’re my grand daughter; it’s my body too!!”

      What the fuck? I’d say that’s weird reasoning, except that weird doesn’t even begin to cover it.

      • Sapphire Jade said:

        Forgot to add: Illogical is a good way to put it.

        • Nanani said:

          Oh, there’s logic to it, but it’s predicated on the idea that lady-people are objects, not PEOPLE-people.

          • TO_Ont said:

            Or sometimes, that children (and in this case, their children) are a part of their parents and belong to said parents somewhere along the spectrum between their left arm and their pet cat.

    • Raptor said:

      “You’re my grand daughter; it’s my body too!!”

      Me: (immediately eats that thing Grandma is allergic to while staring) “Better hope not.”

      Only works if your grandmother has a food allergy to a common item, but I once accidentally drove off my grandmother with garlic, so it does happen…

      • Have you made sure your grandmother has a reflection since the garlic incident? “Vampire eBay” has me wondering.

        • Raptor said:

          Mirrors were okay, but she couldn’t be in the sun for long, supposedly because of a medication she was on. Supposedly. Lived on the Olympic Penninsula, home of Twilight…

          I don’t think she could use the internet well enough to use eBay. That’s really the problem with Vampire EBay, the poor bloodsuckers are still trying to get used to phones, cars, and electricity and here you’re trying to get them to shop online.

    • Catherine from Canada said:

      Okay, yeah, it’s a stretch and a stupid thing to say, but _biologically_ what she said is true. When gestating a daughter, you are also gestating the ova/eggs that will become your grandchildren. Freaks me out everytime I think about it.

      • TO_Ont said:

        If you define it that way, then since all humans are related at some point, then we all all really one person…

        • Pimi said:

          Honestly, if our species could learn to see ourselves as many individuals who together form one super-organism, essentially one person, I think we’d be much better equipped to face global crises like climate change that threaten our own existence. Sorry if this is too off topic.

      • Gestating someone doesn’t mean their body is yours.

        • TO_Ont said:

          There exist people for whom that statement is controversial, or even ‘politically correct’…

          Although it’s often more generally about dna – i.e., you were made out of ‘my’ dna, ergo you are my creation and hence belong to me.

          • mossyone said:

            Well their body is inarguably not yours any more after you give birth to them.

          • TO_Ont said:

            I would have thought it was inarguable, but I have learned not to underestimate the willingness of people to argue inarguable things.

      • Dia said:

        I don’t think that’s biologically true.

        • SaraFox said:

          The commonly accepted science is that women are born with all of their eggs. Your mother’s mother obviously had a female fetus (your mother) in her, and female babies are born already having their eggs. So the egg that made you actually developed in your grandmother.

          • Dia said:

            I do know that. But someone used that as a reason that “You’re my grand daughter; it’s my body too” is biologically supported. I am saying that bodies do not belong to who gave birth to them or their gestational parent – not scientifically, not morally.

          • Emmers said:

            Aha! (Sorry, should have refreshed.)

            I think this is one of those “you can’t reason (or Science! ) someone out of a position they didn’t reason themself into” things.

        • Emmers said:

          What, that ova-producing people are born with all the ova they will ever have?

      • Raptor said:

        I think it should work the other way, though… if your grandmother had done something that affected DNA while she was carrying your mother’s fetus while your egg cell was formed, then that would have an effect on you. But nothing you do to yourself now can have an effect on your grandmother’s body.

        So your body isn’t her body, her body is your body, and she has to get a tattoo too?

        Now I’m lost.

        • TO_Ont said:

          So like, you parents are just taking care of ‘your’ dna temporarily until you are born? Or something?

          It’s all pretty ludicrous anyway.

    • disconnect said:

      “If that’s the case, Grandma, then your behavior is a reflection of my own, and you need to stop acting like a spoiled child RIGHT NOW. There’s a right way and a wrong way to express your feelings, and you need to choose better. We’ve had this discussion before; it’s okay for your feelings to be hurt because you didn’t get something you want, but it’s not okay to throw a tantrum because your feelings got hurt. Now control yourself or we’ll have to leave.”

  23. Fishmongers' Daughters said:

    One of the first times my conflict-averse sister ever actually asserted a boundary with our mean-spirited mother was over a tattoo.

    Facebook convo:

    Sister: [excited noises] I’m 40 and about to get my first tattoo! [excited noises]
    Various friends: [excited noises]
    Mom: Oh no! Why??? I HATE tattoos!!!!!
    Sister: Um, ok.
    Mom: Sorry, I just hate tattoos.I think they’re so ugly and tacky.
    Sister: You’re welcome to think that. I highly recommend you don’t get one.

    Conversation over. I was so proud.

    • Kacienna said:

      Good for your sister! My cousin just posted on FB asking people which of two tattoos they like. FB convo:
      My aunt (not that cousin’s mother): Neither
      Cousin: Not for you, for me. It’ll be my fourth, and I’m so excited but don’t know which design I like best.
      Aunt: Four too many
      Cousin: I get them for myself, not for anyone else, and I don’t need anyone’s permission.
      (My mom, said aunt’s daughter, and I all “liked” my cousin’s response).

      Also a bizarre conversation with my former boss, who spotted a women with several tattoos across a parking lot. (This was all to me and out of her hearing range, and is somewhat reconstructed for clarity from vague memories).
      Boss: It’s too bad rebellion is conformity these days.
      Me: Huh?
      Boss: People getting tattoos just because everyone else does.
      Me: How do you know why people are getting them?
      Boss: Why else would you do it? They’re so ugly.
      Me: I think some of them are really pretty.
      Boss: They’re all ugly.
      Me. …

  24. vagabondtabby said:

    Blacksmithing class: I volunteer as tribute!

  25. Chris said:

    “I want to fall in love someday and not pretend that’s not what I’m after.” YES! Thank you! I’m tired of pretending that I just want to keep it casual because I don’t want to scare people off.

    • TO_Ont said:

      Meanwhile if you pretend you want something casual there’s are other people you may be scaring off. And they may be the ones you don’t want to scare off…

  26. #10 — I know getting an ADHD diagnosis can be difficult, especially since it exists on a spectrum. I’m sympathetic to people I know who purchase adderall illicitly, and to people who make “bootleg” adderall with a mix of non-prescription stimulants and sedatives using online “recipes”– this is dangerous, don’t do it! But, I get why people do it. I will cop to using ephedrine-based stimulants to induce hyperfocus a few times, to get things done in college.

    The thing is, meds do have side effects, and it is so, so much safer to take meds when they’re prescribed to you and a professional has your back, looking out for potential drug interactions and so on. I never got an ADHD diagnosis even though I’ve got many of the symptoms, and I definitely understand why a doctor wouldn’t want to make the diagnosis if the symptoms don’t cross a certain threshold of severity or frequency.

    But none of that is a decent reason to steal someone else’s medication. It can genuinely cause serious trouble for people. There are many options before resorting to theft, and if anyone out there is considering it, please reconsider.

    • Inahc said:

      Yup!
      Plus, if it turns out to be the wrong medication for you, it can really fuck you up. I dunno about other stimulants, but Dexedrine can fuck you up while making you think it’s helping. I didn’t figure that out until I mentioned to my therapist that it was taking me three hours to have a “quick” shower.

      • That sounds so scary! I’m glad you were communicating with a therapist, though; that’s the exact kind of thing why being honest with medical doctors and pros is so important.

      • Yeah, I once accidentally drank coffee too soon after taking my dose, and that was…wacky. I went to my Plato class and stared at the walls instead of taking notes on the Symposium. I felt like I was solving the mysteries of the universe, until I crashed and realized I’d just been high.

  27. whinypants anon just needs somewhere to leave these feelings said:

    I find myself in the same awkward boat as #19, except with a lady friend who read over-hopefully into my behavior. I did not mean to offer false hope, truly; it just so happens that I can be queer, polyamorous, and still not into someone. But she took it pretty hard and I’ve been dealing with so many other people’s feelings about this (the polyamorous emotional labor daisy chain, anyone?) that I now feel… Pretty numb, actually, and no little bit resentful. Back to the boundaries board I guess, and I’m apparently also overdue to take a good, long look at how I act because apparently that will always matter more to other people than what I say.

    • 42tlh42 said:

      The Captain’s answer to #19 was very thoughtful and kind, and I hope you get the chance to keep reading it over and over, because from out here you sound like you’re really down, and you deserve to be thoughtful and kind to yourself. And yes, how we act always matters more than what we say.

      • whinypants anon said:

        how we act always matters more than what we say

        I have misrepresented myself; it’s less “words should matter more than actions” than that the mismatch between my stated “nah this is just who I am” and her “oh but I thought you were doing these things to indicate that you were attracted to me” despite my having said, repeatedly, that I am a direct person who does not do hints and also that I’m ace in a way that sexual attraction is pretty foreign to me anyway, has been puzzling and frustrating, because it feels like her interpretation of what my actions mean matters more than what meaning I’ve given them and I don’t know how to dance this dance of managing other people’s likeliest interpretations of things I’m doing, I don’t know how to deal with people sifting through my behavior for “clues” when we’re all adults capable of using our words. It feels a lot like being in high school and getting accusations of flirting when I’d only been being friendly, or trying to be, and I’m twenty years out of high school and don’t particularly appreciate the comparison.

        • ashbet said:

          I don’t feel like you did anything wrong here — when you explicitly say that you will DIRECTLY STATE if you’re interested in someone (and, otherwise, should be assumed not to be interested), you’ve done your due diligence.

          Other people trying to read your emotional tea-leaves are sincerely not a problem that *you* caused.

      • ashbet said:

        “how we act always matters more than what we say.”

        Yes and no? I’m a bouncy, friendly, huggy, sex-positive extrovert, and that has resulted in a number of people thinking I’m flirting-with-intent at them.

        This is why I say, with my words, “I’m non-specifically flirty with men, women, children, pets, and fire hydrants. It’s not personal. I promise that if I am flirting WITH YOU, I will say so explicitly, but please don’t assume that I am, otherwise.”

        If people then take “my actions” (i.e., being myself without constantly second-guessing every word) as flirting, and then become unhappy when I’m not interested, DESPITE my specific words, I don’t think I’m the person in the wrong here.

        [I know I need to edit my phrasing to include NB folks, I’m still working out how best to put it.]

        Most people deal with this just fine — the ones who don’t (oddly enough) also tend to be the type to complain about “friendzoning.”

        • Kacienna said:

          I think this is a really good point. I vaguely remember reading something about many men thinking any positive attention from women is flirting, while many women just see themselves as being casually friendly.

          • mossyone said:

            That’s interesting because years ago I read an article (by a man) who said he had found women were often interpreting his kindness towards them as flirting and how odd he found that. At the time I thought it made a lot of sense, as a woman who at the time felt she was always having to mentally run her male aquiantances’ kindness through a ‘flirting detector’ so I’d be on the same page as them re:feelings. This I now see was a safety thing- I instinctively knew that if they had feelings for me and I didn’t realise, my most innocuous actions might be read as me returning their feelings leading to angry outbursts later when it turned out I didn’t. I’m not sure the guy writing the article knew about this. I think the article you read probably had a much better idea of this dynamic!

          • ashbet said:

            It’s also a consent issue — if people claim that your “actions” are more powerful than what we “say,” then that means that the kind of people (usually men) who will claim that someone “led them on,” or “was giving out signals,” or they “could tell she was interested,” have an excuse not to accept a NO, because they claim that the other party (usually a woman) was broadcasting something different with their “actions” (or demeanor, or dress, or eye contact), so they “knew” they could ignore her refusal.

            If I say I’m not interested in someone unless I actively, verbally tell them otherwise, I am stating that I’m not consenting to enter into a romantic or sexual entanglement with them. If that person ignores my words and relies on their own wishful thinking instead, I am not at fault for their disappointment.

        • whinypants anon said:

          I’m a bouncy, friendly, huggy, sex-positive extrovert…If people then take “my actions” (i.e., being myself without constantly second-guessing every word) as flirting, and then become unhappy when I’m not interested, DESPITE my specific words, I don’t think I’m the person in the wrong here.

          ALL OF THIS EXACTLY. It sucks that we’ve ended up in this position and it sucks worse that she’s hurting, but also, this is why I make a really big deal out of being a person who will Use My Words to indicate actual interest, and that short of that, this is basically just who I am.

          • ashbet said:

            *Jedi hugs, if they’re welcome*

            It sucks when someone you like and care about as a friend is feeling hurt or rejected or frustrated, but you’re not a villain for not being interested.

            Much sympathy and understanding, and I hope the ripples in your social circle calm down ASAP. (Also, I am stealing the phrase “he polyamorous emotional labor daisy chain,” because it’s so damn apt!

          • whinypants anon said:

            @ashbet in that case, I’d better offer proper citation; it’s from this blog post of the same title. And thank you, for your understanding.

        • 42tlh42 said:

          @ashbet, I get your point on the friendly, huggy, extrovert confusion; I am too and yes, it has confused people. I also get your point lower down this thread about consent. I didn’t put myself well on that point, thanks for digging for clarity. 🙂

    • That sounds like a really annoying situation. (And…maybe you did something wrong that you could do differently next time, and also…there’s a really wide tendency for the brokenhearted to project wrongdoing onto the objects of their affections, rightly or wrongly, so…maybe you didn’t do anything wrong even if your entire social group seems to think you did? Worth considering. Sometimes people can hurt really bad without their being a bad guy.)

  28. nnn said:

    #9: This might be a useful place for a bright and cheerful “If it bothers you, I’ll leave”. Not a great big “I’m cutting you out of my life” thing, just stand up, go home, and enjoy an unexpected free afternoon. (If you came with family members, make sure you have cab fare or have Uber set up)

    If they like seeing grandchildren more than they hate seeing tattoos, they won’t mention it again. If they do mention it again, you cheerfully and immediately leave again.

  29. nnn said:

    I never realized until I read #12 how much I want to play badminton while wearing fancy hats!

  30. Light37 said:

    4. “Is it selfish to break up with my boyfriend bc I want to experience other people?”

    That actually sounds like an excellent reason to break up, unless you’re polyamorous and he’s cool with you seeing other people.

    • It’s a heck of a lot better than pretending to not feel that way and drawing things out and getting more closely intertwined and years later breaking out the “I’ve felt trapped for YEARS and can’t stand another minute with you” thing. I’m not sure whether that’s more or less selfish, but it does way, way more harm. Breaking up is HARD and it SUCKS but fortunately the suckitude is front-loaded. Breakups that feel like the end of the world in the moment often feel like no big deal and perfectly reasonable when a little time has passed.

  31. Kaos said:

    #1Some people don’t want to “make friends” and that’s ok. If the OP is being used as the sole social outlet, having their own interests limited because they have to do so much emotional labor making spouse feel included/special/happy then that’s a problem and spouse needs to be told to go outside and play.

    #5 They don’t have to agree with you…so much this.

    #20 “Netflix and chill but you still can’t come over because I want to be alone so go play with someone else.”

    • #20 “Playing far too much World of Warcraft and doing my chores and I’m not planning on showering or getting dressed in ‘public’ clothing but I’ll happily run our duo of characters remotely via voice chat if that’s what you’d like to do.”

  32. Virginia said:

    I cannot get OVER how much I love your Tinder suggestions.

  33. peachie said:

    Ugh, the tattoo thing. I have no advice, but I can commiserate. I have two and I just never told my parents about them because I knew my mom would throw a fit. When I would talk to friends about how I was so nervous she’d find out, they all assured me that even their strict WASPy parents or old-fashioned English granny was surprised/upset at first but it blew over eventually. My mom found out about one of them a few years ago and still hasn’t gotten over it. She hasn’t even seen the whole thing; apparently knowing it’s there is enough. (It’s on my sternum and she saw the very top when I was sitting, wearing a tank top that hid it from the front, and she was standing.) I have a second, larger one on my back/ribs, and at this point, I’m just going to try to keep that to myself. It’s a bummer, though, because I’d love to get more, especially some that are actually visible to other people. I’ve grown to have a really positive relationship with my mom, and so even though I know I’m very much an adult who can do what I want, I don’t think it’s worth hearing about it until the end of time, and I definitely don’t care enough to end an otherwise-good relationship.

  34. #4- Sometimes, being selfish is ok. It sounds like this might be your first relationship, and maybe there’s nothing enormously wrong with it, you just aren’t particularly feeling it and the way this is manifesting is you wishing you could have dating and/or sexual experiences with other people. This is not a wrong thing to want, and it is 100% ok to break up with someone for any reason. You aren’t slutty, or cruel, to want this. I give you my blessing to break up, if that’s what you decide.

    #19- Maybe I’m a big ol’ cynic but am I the only one whose thoughts immediately went to some guy researching for when he next writes a comment that starts ‘as a woman, I…’ in a men’s dating forum somewhere? Maybe it’s the combination of ‘friend zone’ and ‘led on’ together, it just seemed too perfect.

    • I also thought #19 sounded like either one of those dudes or someone completely caught up in that “culture” who is actually trying to apply that weird paramilitary flavor of dehumanization to their dating life.

  35. “I want to play Dungeons & Dragons, but, you know, sexy.”

    I PUT ON MY WIZARD ROBE AND HAT

    • Melinite said:

      A+ for the most perfect response

    • S said:

      I meditate to regain my mana, before casting lvl 8 Penis of the Infinite.

    • Seeking Second Childhood said:

      “…Roll a charisma check to learn what I’m wearing underneath.”

      (This amused me enough I finally stopped lurking.)

  36. S said:

    Thank you for #9! I just got my first tattoo and I’m super worried about how my Dad’s going to react. I’d talked about doing it before and he freaked out about how it was going to cause skin cancer. (Cue argument where I point out there is no actual scientific evidence of that and he says something fox newsy about how if you’re going to believe facts and not your own father’s irrational terror and attempt to control your life then what is this world coming too and so on and so forth.)

    I’m probably going to focus on the art point of view and that this artist is someone who specializes in doing mastectomy tattoos for women with breast cancer and how it is pretty and makes me happy. I am trying not to anticipate mean comments about my body or my life choices in general but it is hard not to, because after 30 years you kinda know a person. sigh.

    • “This is my new tattoo. I want to hear congratulations or silence. No criticisms today!”

      You really can tell someone what response you want to your announcement. (See also, “Okay, I didn’t want any criticisms today, so it’s time for me to leave,” as you’re picking up your stuff and heading to the door.)

    • MsMildew said:

      A long time friend of my husband’s specializes in mastectomy tattoos- such an awesome way for tattooists to use their gifts!

      (Me, I’ve decided that if I fall victim to the family history of breast cancer, I’m getting blue flaming eyeballs tattooed in place of nipples & just calling it a day.)

  37. Dana Lynne said:

    The one and only time I wish I had picked up sooner on the hints to be invited over was when a friend of my son’s kept doing it. This was before any of the kids could drive; maybe 14-15, lived in a semi rural area. First few times I was annoyed and my son got the lecture about not inviting yourself over. Then, after the first time we took the kid home and I saw the conditions he was living in and how isolated and neglected he was, I kicked myself for not having him over more and sooner. I know this is an edge case. But if it’s teenagers who don’t have their own transportation or access to public transportation, a closer look is warranted.

  38. Eika said:

    “I want some cuddles and some good conversation but I’m not really about Teh Sex. Any fellow aces out here?”

    As an Ace who spends a lot of time (maybe too much time) feeling invisible, and too shy/uncomfortable/not ready to try and look for anything yet, seeing that you have that as a legit option on this blog makes part of me sing. So,thanks.

  39. alldesiring said:

    #10 — nobody else touched on this and i cant quite verbalize it but if youre in the kind of situation where you have to steal to survive and adderall for real medical needs is right up there besides like, Food, in stuff you need but arent allowed, try your local planned parenthood. theyre already experts i handling tough & abusive cases, and may be able to point you in the direction of a doctor who can help.

  40. Re: what to put on Tinder

    When I stepped into the online dating world as a 30-year-old virgin with a bunch of hangups I put first and foremost, ‘I’m not sure what I’m doing here, and am exploring that.’

    A lot of people found that off-putting, I think, and I got very, very few responses.

    The people who responded to me were kind and understanding and everything I needed, because they had read that and were prepared for me to be as I was.

    Speaking my truth connected me to people who connected with that truth.

    It was hard and embarrassing to put out there. It paid a lot of dividends.

    (also there was a bunch of other stuff about the things I like and the sports I play and the books I read and the TV I watch and volunteering and cats and other great stuff, which also helped)

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