It Came From The Search Terms: June 2021 Is Busting Out All Over

It’s time for that recurring feature where the search strings people typed in that led them here are answered as if they are real questions. No context! Snap judgments! Let’s do it! 

First, as is traditional, a song: 

I cannot believe I haven’t used that one before. It was right there! 

1 “Mom found my sex toy.”

I’m assuming that she found it in your bedroom or other private space and not floating in the punch bowl or bzzzzzbzzzzzbzzzzing out of the centerpiece at a family event, so the obvious right thing for her to do was to leave it (or put it back) wherever she found it and leave the entire subject alone as well. Your body, your assistive devices! It’s none of her business!

Since you know that she found it, I’m guessing that’s not how it went. But you don’t have to discuss it with her. “Mom, that’s private, I’m not discussing it with you.” If she’s insisting on making it weird, then approach the conversation on those terms.”Mom, why are you being weird about my personal stuff? It’s none of your business.” 

FYI, if you are a teenager living at home with parents, Scarleteen has a lot of content about this. 

2 “Don’t feel guilty about quitting your job.” 

Actually, feel however you want to about it, but probably don’t let those feelings get in the way of doing what’s right for you. There’s a reason you’re leaving. If you’d had the power to fix whatever made you want to leave, you would have already fixed it. 

If applicable, before your last day, create a document with a brief status report on all your current projects and notes on where the essential files and contact info can be found. Email a copy to your manager and team members and put a hard copy in your desk drawer. (When leaving good jobs I thought of this document as doing the best I could for the person coming after me, when leaving bad jobs I thought of it as the “don’t call me” file: If I thought it was important, I wrote it down. If I didn’t write it down, probably ask someone else, since I don’t work here anymore, bye!)

If possible, give notice according to your employment contract or usual industry standards (two weeks is common in the United States). If it’s not possible, because you’re leaving a toxic or abusive workplace, and you need to go immediately, you will not find judgment here.“Quitting without notice will ruin your future career!” Maybe so, but why would I assume that a boss who makes threats like this, or a company that is so toxic that I’m willing to burn a bridge to get away from it, was going to give me a *good* reference or help my career in any way? Sticking it out because of fear has never once helped my career, but the few times I  could just get up and walk away from toxic situations and abusive bosses improved my well-being pretty much immediately. 

Then go! In a few weeks you’ll work somewhere else, with new people, and with brand new guilt about insufficiently feeding the capitalist death machine with your fragile human body. 

3 “Should I let my friend have sex with my gf” 

The word “let” is the record scratch that really ties the whole mess together.Yikes! 

First, delete the word “let” from sentences about who your girlfriend has sex with, since that’s something she decides. Next, please, do some reading about non-monogamy, and get on the same page with your girlfriend about this (that page could be, “this is not for us,”), before anybody does anything they’ll regret. Sex with people outside your relationship is either a thing you and your girlfriend are happily exploring together, or it’s a no-go, either because you choose to remain monogamous or you break up. Same deal for your friendship! Whose idea was this? Do you actually want this friendship to include sexy stuff? How does your friend and your girlfriend want that to work? How do you want that to work? 

From there, the answer you seek is probably in your question, since your reaction doesn’t seem to be “This will be a great for everyone, I’ve checked, and I’m absolutely sure that everyone is into it, and my friendship and relationship will be even better after this happens, yay!” If anyone – including you – is not actively welcoming and participating in whatever sexy stuff you have planned, especially when some element is brand new/outside the usual norms you’ve negotiated, then don’t do it! 

4 “How to convince a long distance crush to believe in a future.”

There is no convincing, there is only asking.

If you want a future with this person, tell them how you feel and describe what you have in mind. Then listen to what they have to say about it. If the answer isn’t, “yes, I feel the same way, let’s give it a try,” or something like it, accept their refusal as gracefully as you can and drop the subject. People don’t tend to forget when a friend says “I’m in love with you and I want us to be together,” so if they change their mind, they know how to find you and tell you all about it, no convincing required!

If it is a “no,” be gentle with yourself, give yourself time and space to grieve for the beautiful daydream you had, and give your crush space, too. There is no airtight case guaranteed to make someone love you back, and there is no loving somebody without treating them like the authority on their own wants and needs. 

5 “My mom doesn’t want to meet my boyfriend.” 

If you generally get along with your mom, and you don’t know why she’s so reluctant, I think it’s worth asking her outright, one time. “I’ve been so excited to introduce two of my favorite people, is there a reason you don’t want to meet him? Help me understand.”

If she has a good reason for her reticence,  it’s time she spelled it out. Sometimes people who aren’t all hopped up on the good love chemicals can see red flags more clearly, like the time my grandmother was perfectly pleasant and welcoming to a college boyfriend, but doomed the relationship the moment she casually (and accurately) noted that “he starts all his sentences with ‘I,’ and I could not unsee it. If the guy had truly made me happy over time, she would have never said anything about it again, but when he started to suck in other ways a few months later, the ice-cold garden hose that Grandma’d sprayed all over my burgeoning attraction made it less of a shock and more of one more reason to get gone.

If your mom has bad reasons (Such as racist/homophobic reasons? Controlling you reasons?), then at least you’ll know what you’re dealing with, and can make some choices. These choices are less about convincing her to see things differently or forcing your mom and your boyfriend into proximity, and more about deciding what you will and won’t put up with. For instance, if she really forced the issue, would your attendance at family events and celebrations where it would be normal for people to bring romantic partners become conditional on whether he’s included as well? Is leaving your boyfriend at home when you have to see your mom actually the best way to be kind to yourself and protective of him? A little of both? Trial and error? You don’t have to decide all at once. 

The key is, ask her one time, let her answer, and then drop the discussion. If she’s mildly wrong? Your happiness over time will be its own evidence and she’ll have a chance to change her mind. If she’s badly, badly, unkindly, rudely wrong? Then you’ll have permission to stop trying to fix any of it and to focus on what’s best for you. 

6 “Husband doesn’t let me have hobbies.” 

Again, that word “let.” Yuck. 

Anyone who thinks that they get to control all of your free time and dictate what you can and cannot do for fun cannot act surprised when looking for a good divorce lawyer in your area becomes less of a hobby and more of a vocation. 

7 “Boyfriend won’t take care of bad credit.” 

That’s his choice, and I don’t think credit scores carry moral weight or determine who is a good person, but it can also be your choice NOT to combine finances or households with someone whose choices risk making your life more precarious. It’s okay to want a romantic partner who approaches money with the same seriousness and care as you, and it’s okay to hold off on any and all romantic milestones that are as much about joining finances and the boring logistics of making a happy, functioning household as they are about love and other feelings.

Script: “If you’re serious about [complicated future step] with me, then we need to be able to talk about money, and right now I need you to start getting a handle on your credit so that we can [goal]. If you’re not ready to do that, I understand, no shame, no judgment, you’re the boss of you. I just want you to understand where I’m coming from, that taking care of myself means not turning “my” money into “our” money until there’s a plan in place that doesn’t put me at risk.” 

8 “Out of town friend keeps inviting herself to stay.” 

The word you’re looking for is “no.” 

“No, that won’t work for me.” 

“No, I don’t want a houseguest this week.” 

If you’ve always acted like you’re okay with her visits in the past, then she’d have no reason to think you were unhappy, so focus on what you want to happen from now on instead of accounting for past grievances that she didn’t know about. Script: “Can we talk about ground rules for visiting? We’ve gotten into a habit of you inviting yourself and me accepting, and I never made a fuss because I really like seeing you. But it’s not always convenient for me to have guests, so can I do the inviting from now on?” 

Then, if you like her and want to see her, seek her out and invite her, and remember, the word “no” never shattered a friendship that didn’t already have a few cracks in it. 

9 “I’m not really dating right now meaning” 

A translation: “I sense that you want to date me and the answer is no.”

It’s a soft rejection, but it is a rejection, and I generally recommend not being the Verizon Guy of dating about this stuff. (“Are you dating now? Howabout now? Are you ready now?”) We carry magical communication devices in our pockets that let us span the world instantaneously, so if things change and the person wants to date you at some point, they can find you and let you know. 

10 “How to respond when a boyfriend asks what kind of a person do u think i am?” 

This is what is known as a loaded question, where you sense that the asker already has a hoped-for (or dreaded) answer in mind, or that the text of the question has an iceberg of subtext hiding under it. 

I generally don’t like it when people cast me in playlets they’re writing inside their heads, where they’ve already decided what my lines are but neglected to tell me, so my usual approach to loaded questions is to get the person asking to tell me what they actually want as quickly as possible.

Most times, especially if it’s someone I know well and like very much, I go right at it. “Babe, you seem to have something in mind, can you elaborate?” “What kind of person you are covers a lot of ground. Can I get a for instance or some subcategories?” This isn’t adversarial, it’s an invitation:  Hey, buddy, tell me what’s really on your mind. 

Sometimes I ignore the subtext and answer the question in the most literal possible way. “What kind of person do you think I am?” “A tall one?” If they want something else, this is their chance to clarify. “No, I meant, do you think I’m a good person?” In my experience, this is a good tactic for dealing with passive-aggressive people, especially if that momentary frustration at you for not following their script prompts them to spit out what they actually want.

When I get the feeling (from context, history) that a person is asking me a loaded question as a formality so that they can tell me what they think or get me to agree to something I’m not sure I want, I skip ahead: “I need to think about it for a minute. Why, what do you think about that?”  Pass! Your turn! 

For example, I’ve noticed that people trying to sell or evangelize have a whole Q & A pattern where they ask questions that set them up for the answers they’ve already planned to give, a pattern that doesn’t allow a lot of room for the words “Oh, no thank you.” I’m also pretty sensitive, if not downright allergic, to people who attempt to test me or pick fights or try to do end-runs around informed consent by asking a trick question so they can pounce when I answer “wrong.” Tell me what you’re after, Perry Mason, but I’m not taking the pop quiz first!

Context and history with a specific person matters, since “What are you doing this weekend?” can mean “I would enjoy hearing about your weekend activities” from some people and “Get ready, I’m about to ask you for a date or a complicated, time-consuming favor in a way that’s hard for you to back out of because you just told me you’re free!” from others. Spend enough time with people in the second group and you’ll forever answer “What are you doing this weekend?” with an automatic “Oh, this and that. Why do you ask?” 

A thing I don’t do anymore at my big age is assume or guess (out loud, at least) what the person wants. If someone wants reassurance or insight or a favor or to deliver a sales pitch, that’s fine, let me make it safe for them to ask the real question. Otherwise, if there is some secret, expected answer that “everybody” is supposed to already know, I’m just fine with asking for a quick review. If someone is operating in good faith, inviting them to clarify will only improve communication. If someone gets mad at me for asking for clarification, it’s a good sign that something else is going on. 

That’s this month’s roundup, comments are….drum roll… OPEN.

87 thoughts on “It Came From The Search Terms: June 2021 Is Busting Out All Over

  1. Re: #10, dollars to doughnuts the person who searched this had suspected the boyfriend of some type of shady behavior. Pretty much 100 percent of the times I’ve heard someone say those words, they’ve been trying to avoid answering a question, like “did you take my money,” by turning it back on me and accusing me of thinking they’re a bad person.

    (To be fair, I have also been in a relationship with someone who constantly suspected me of cheating/wanting to cheat, which I wasn’t, and I did genuinely want to ask sometimes what sort of person they thought I was. But I didn’t because it was already pretty clear.)

    1. Probably so, the “what kind of person do you think I am”/”what kind of person are you” is a classic distraction from talking about a thing that the person did.. Even so, a sincere “Can you say more about that? I’m not sure what you’re asking” will work to confirm suspicions about a bad faith question or attempt to derail without making you play guessing games or do a lot of work to parse it for the other person. If they want to pick a fight, make them do the work! ;-p

      1. Or maybe this is like my long ago ex boyfriend. He was reeeeeeally introspective and also rather self absorbed. He decided that, as I read obsessively, I must be really smart. Also, he thought that women have some kind of magical intuitive knowledge about things and so I must be the keeper of the secrets of the universe. Which I am of course required to hand over to inquiring dudes on demand.

        So, umm. Real conversation we actually had (somewhat paraphrased as it was 30 years ago):

        “What kind of person am I, Salymander? What is my destiny?”

        “Ummm dude, I dunno. I’m trying to read in the bathtub here. I have a pot of the fancy tea and some cookies even. It’s Me Time.”

        “But, as my girlfriend, you are supposed to help me become the man I am meant to be! Right Now!”

        “NOPE.”

        This person is probably being manipulative and trying to shift the focus from some shady behavior. Or, they might just be really annoying and possibly selfish. Either way it sounds like something that would be very tiring to deal with.

        1. “What color is your parachute? Cool, strap it on.” :opens exit hatch: “Bye!”

          1. YES so much

            Wish this blog had been around back then. If I had known then what I know now, I might have felt less like I should be flattered and therefore obligated to take responsibility for that sad manchild’s life. See, if I made his decisions for him, then he wasn’t the one to blame when the shit hit the fan. Ugh. So thank you, Captain Awkward! I am so glad that you are here in the world.

    2. You -Did you take my money?
      They -What kind of person du you think I am?
      You -The kind of person who answers a question with a question…..

      1. May I suggest “What kind of person do you think I think you are?”

        IT’S JUDO TIME MOTHER HUGGER

  2. Oooh the “What are you doing this weekend?” line. I have been on the giving and receiving end of that a lot. When I did it, it was part of my mind reading upbringing…necessary for survival but not helpful later in life…it was a testing the waters because I wouldn’t even bother asking unless it sounded like they might have time/bandwidth for a “yes.” Over time with therapy and personal work I have stop using that question. It takes practice but so worth it. When I get that from anyone else my immediate response is usually some form of, “why do you ask?”

    As for the, “What kind of person do you think I am?” query; that one strikes such an icky chord with me as it was always loaded and said with some level of contempt/outrage to me.

    My favorite recent line I use for all sorts of occasions has been, “Use more words.” I say it with kindness and zero judgement and it has worked wonders. Sometimes my neurotypical brain needs more context to parse anything someone just said.

    1. “Use more words.” I like this, and am adding it to my lexicon, right next to “Say more, please?” which is related, but not quite the same….

    2. My therapist’s version of that was, ‘Say more about that’, in an inviting tone of voice. I use it at least weekly. Just brilliant.

    3. I’m glad “use more words” has been helpful for you. My own experience with hearing statements similar to that one has been…. less than positive. For context – my emotionally abusive ex used to say “use your words” when I was already using my words and being as clear as I possibly knew how to be, and it came across as incredibly condescending, and my hackles definitely go WAYYY up when I hear anything like it now.

      The reason for me is that telling someone they aren’t using their words correctly/enough is putting the responsibility on them to intuit what information you’re missing, whereas asking specific questions about what information you’re missing helps everyone to be clear about where the possible gap in communication is.

      1. +1 I definitely feel this. If I am already using words, telling me to use *more* words is wildly unhelpful.

        I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know what it is you don’t understand if you don’t ask.

        Most of the time I think I am explaining things clearly. Like, it makes sense in my mind. I’m not neurotypical though, so my default settings are different than others.

        Unsurprisingly, when the roles are reversed, and I ask clarifying questions so I don’t default to my own incorrect assumptions, sometimes people react like I’m stupid. Or, for some reason, that I’m being obtuse on purpose.

        And yet, when I *don’t* ask clarifying questions, I don’t have enough information and I end up making incorrect assumptions. I may even hurt people’s feelings by accident. I don’t want to do that!

        Why can’t people just be open to the fact that nobody’s default is standard? Cultural norms, neurological traits, physical sensations, emotional reactions: there are no “shoulds” here. Nothing can be assumed. It’s good to ask because you don’t know what you don’t know.

        Also: if I’m freaking out but not using words, 100% of the time it’s because I *can’t*. It’s terrifying.

        I guarantee that no matter how unnerving my behavior seems to anyone else in that moment, what I’m experiencing is way scarier for me. Like–I can no longer control most of my muscles, including those involved in speech. I am struggling to remember how to even do that.

        To that end, it’s worth noting that I’m never violent. I have never committed a single violent act. I am not dangerous. People get scared because I’m –moving weirdly–, but that fear of me, even if it’s valid in itself (because their fear is a non-chosen, physiological reaction) it’s not a great impulse to act on. Scary =/= dangerous.

        These kinds of assumptions are why autistic and mentally ill people are far more likely to be assaulted and killed by police.

        1. My sympathies! My partner goes non-verbal sometimes, and it started out worrying me, but they were able and willing to explain a couple of times afterwards, and now I’m *much* better at going with the flow they need. Hope you’ve got cool friends who go with your flow!

        2. I have had similar issues with being misunderstood and my adaptation has been to be really explicit upfront about where I’m coming from and what I’m trying to achieve. “Hey, I’m not trying to be critical, but I want to make this the best it can be, so what if we…” or “I want to make sure I’m understanding this correctly, so can you explain…”. It’s annoying to have to take that extra step, but also it is worth it because my life has gotten SO MUCH BETTER since I started doing it.

        3. “Unsurprisingly, when the roles are reversed, and I ask clarifying questions so I don’t default to my own incorrect assumptions, sometimes people react like I’m stupid. Or, for some reason, that I’m being obtuse on purpose.”

          This happens to me all the time. I’m not sure whether it’s related to ASD or simply the case for people who have actually internalized the idea that not everybody else thinks exactly like them and thus have an operational theory of mind that is NOT entirely based on narcissistic projection (which is more common for ASD folks – it’s the reason allistic researchers have incorrectly concluded that autistics lack ANY theory of mind). Most people don’t actually correctly intuit/mind-read the unstated bits, they just THINK they do, substituting their own assumptions. It caused problems at work when supervisors apparently expected actual mind reading and reacted to clarifying questions as though I was intentionally being difficult, and it’s caused (more minor, because there’s more trust and not the same power differential) problems in personal relationships, when people think I’m making fun of them or implying I think they’re stupid.

          “Why can’t people just be open to the fact that nobody’s default is standard? Cultural norms, neurological traits, physical sensations, emotional reactions: there are no ‘shoulds’ here. Nothing can be assumed. It’s good to ask because you don’t know what you don’t know.”

          Because of a tribal context for human evolution: the assumption of shared norms and neurology is a useful survival trait for the tribe under contexts of small, insular groups of humans in competition with each other, where the assumptions usually are correct and thus relieve a heavy cognitive load for routine social interactions, so it was selected for retention. Given this view, I’ve been increasingly viewing Asperger’s syndrome as less a disorder and more a functional evolutionary adaptation to social conditions of large, diverse populations living in high density.

      2. What about “can you expand on that?”
        I think too that there’s a difference between “use your words” – which you might say to a child – and “use more words” which is shorthand for “sorry, can you explain that more?”. That said, given your past, I can understand why a similar phrase might be frustrating.

        1. Yeah, ‘use your words’ reads as pretty condescending when said to an adult, but I think there’s also an element of… like, sometimes there’s just a good-faith miscommunication where both people are trying to be clear and it’s just not getting across, but sometimes one party is deliberately trying to obfuscate and/or expecting the other party to read their mind without them having to actually say what they mean or how they feel, and that’s also frustrating.

        2. I definitely think “can you expand on that?” comes across MUCH better, and I think because it feels more like a neutral request rather than an assumption being made about where the responsibility for the gap in communication lies.

          1. I think I would interpret both phrases similarly to you, Amykins, for the same reason. One sounds like a somwhat condescending criticism, the other a request.

      3. Amykins, my abusive ex also used the “use your words,” in a horrid condescending way; as though they all pull from the same script. Sigh. Jedi hugs there if you want them. My use of, “use more words” is heavily dependent on context, how good the connection is between me and the person I’m asking, and I only use very neutral and supportive tones or inquisitive tones.

        It mostly helps when I am somehow failing to parse the words they just gave…maybe an ADHD thing but basically I’ll use this sometimes with my own therapist because she’s completely lost me…I can’t ask probing specific questions because I really have no clue. “Could you say more about that?” is also a very nice and perhaps more inviting. I would absolutely change up phrasing as needed. The long form of it might be, “Could you use more or different words or phrase that in a different word order because I am not parsing any of that.”

        1. Yeah, as I mentioned to the commenter above, I definitely think forming it as a question feels MUCH more neutral to me. It feels more like a neutral request rather than an assumption being made about where the responsibility for the gap in communication lies.

          I happily accept your Jedi hugs and offer them in return.

      4. Well – there’s also no phrase that doesn’t have the potential to set off someone based on past experience, so I think while it’s useful to take into consideration that something that works for one person won’t for another, there also isn’t a perfect thing to say. To someone else “can you expand on that” might read as overly pushy. Or to me, when CA told the story about her grandmother telling her that her ex only started sentences with “I” – I had a traumatic experience involving an abusive parent screaming that accusation at me after I tried to explain something I was asked to, so I definitely flinched a bit at that. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid thing to say either.
        I also agree that “use more words” is different from “use your words”, the latter of which is something said to children.

      5. Saying, “use your words,” in my opinion, is ableist. It’s especially problematic to say it to kids, whose prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed. Staying calm, focused, and verbalizing clearly is practically impossible.

        (I’m agreeing with you, in case that was unclear)

      1. I have a buddy who says “Tell me more” and this not only works when he needs an explanation but also gets people to spill all kinds of insane secrets. A++, highly recommend.

    4. “I don’t understand the question; can you elaborate?” was something that took me a very long time to learn (was raised to Always Know Everything Or Else You Are A Failure And Waste Of Oxygen), but now it is my FAVORITE. Works for doctors, passive-aggressive relations, and four-year-olds with articulation delays.

  3. Sometimes, a bf (or gf) with terrible credit and no inclination to do anything about it is a red flag. I’ve had this happen more than once, and ended up with someone who:

    – couldn’t keep a job because something always happened that made the job utterly untenable
    – brought nothing to the household; no money, even when things were horribly tight, and no support for me when I was the only person with income
    – spent money they didn’t have on stuff we didn’t need
    – hid the spending from me
    – lied to me about it
    – needed me to settle their debts
    – broke or damaged or got bored with the stuff they bought and then wanted to buy more

    I know there are people with bad credit for whom it is a sign of bad luck and our broken system, and not an automatic red alert. But it’s something that I, personally, cannot risk going through again.

    1. Fair, especially the “no inclination to do anything about it” part, definitely look for people who are compatible with you about this!

      I didn’t know any partners’ actual credit scores until Mr. Awkward and I were getting ready to sign a lease together, but I’d seen plenty of behavior from past and potential partners that tripped some red flags (not to mention the things that pile up in the inbox here). Lying about money, vagueness about money, borrowing money all the time & making people chase them to pay it back while also spending a ton of money on hobbies/expensive gadgets, planning big expensive stuff but not following through, you name it, it’s that stuff, way more than the “Equifax is still mad about the year that groceries became a luxury item” that bothers me, and my biggest recommendation is: Do not combine households/finances with someone whose money habits fill you with anxiety or someone who you can’t talk about money with honestly and bluntly. “Hmmmm, new DateFriend gets squirrelly, avoidant, vague, controlling, angry, weird whenever money comes up” is a pretty serious red flag, it’s not “shallow” or “gold-digging” or whatever to pay attention to it.

      Especially for women, I think it pays to be careful, vigilant, and to put things in writing. I had a ride-share driver just yesterday tell me about getting divorced from a dude who “handled all the money” by not putting any of the assets in her name, ran up a ton of debt right before leaving her, and took anything and everything of value with him. We were making chitchat, I told her I was writing something about how couples handle money, and she was like “TELL PEOPLE TO GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING” so here I am. My heart just broke for her.

      1. I think the key is honesty. Like, I have medical debt and have trouble holding down a job for medical reasons. I don’t qualify for SSDI–and, frankly, don’t really want to–because I’m more-or-less well 84% of the time.

        It’s just rare to find a job where it’s okay to be like, “in a given 52-week year, I’m going to miss 7-10 weeks of work, completely unpredictably, often requiring hospitalization. But the other 40-ish weeks of the year I’m friendly and competent!”

        Currently, I’m self-employed, I can afford insurance through ACA, and I’m doing ok. But as my partner and I have been making long-term plans, we need to be totally honest with each other about contingencies. What happens if I can’t work at all? What happens if I need full-time care? How do we pay for that?

        If I couldn’t trust my partner enough to have honest conversations, or if I wanted to rely on optimistic wishful thinking rather than an actual plan, everything would fall apart.

        I know other people in similar situations who ended up in a really vulnerable situation, even homeless, because they just relied entirely on their partner to take care of them–without ever having real conversations about what that entailed, how to do that safely or fairly. And then they were blindsided by a breakup and had no other nearby support system.

      2. Even putting it in legally documented writing didn’t help in my case. 🙁 The joint bank account stipulated by our prenup never materialized, and Spouse always had excuses: “I have to research a good credit union” and “I need to finalize my legal name change” (which also never happened), etc.

        I wish I’d paid attention *before* getting married, because being weird about money was a huge red flag in a giant parade of red flags. Spouse had student loans and I didn’t, so I assumed that even though I was underemployed and Spouse had a really cushy job, we were both losing about the same amount of money each month. When I tried to talk about it, Spouse never listed a number for remaining loans, but only a “I’ll have them paid off around X” with X = constantly moving back and forth.

        Spouse wouldn’t put me on our joint bills, car insurance, etc, and when I tried to talk about our financial situation, Spouse would insult me for not having a (good enough) job and complain about how expensive everything was. I’d shut down b/c I was crying too hard to talk money after that.

        Joint money and my money that got tied up with joint money went into Spouse’s savings account, never to be seen again. Only Spouse communicated with our landlord, unless there was a dispute (at which point Spouse was too anxious and I had to resolve it). Me spending my money on a new car pre-marriage (my old one was destroyed in a crash) = Spouse nitpicked everything along the way, but when Spouse talked about spending joint money on a new car, it was “you’re abusive” and “you never let me have my dreams” if I pointed out it was a bad idea to get a giant loan on a flashy sports car.

        Imagine my shock when I discovered that while I was $40K in the hole compared to when we moved in together, Spouse was about the same amount richer – despite 2-5 expensive meals out with friends every week and biyearly trips across the country and thousands of dollars worth of hobby equipment bought during that time.

        (And in a totally unsurprising turn of events, when I did get a well-enough paying, full-time job, Spouse tried to interfere by insisting the job made me “angry” all the time and suggesting we move to a place that gave me a 90+ minute commute.)

        Learn from my mistakes, Awkwardeers. Does not talk money honestly and respectfully = do not marry, do not cohabit, do not pass Go or give $200.

        PS There was a lot more than money going on, but that’s a story for a different day, different thread.

      3. Perhaps there’s an important distinction in “refuses to do anything about it” — as opposed to “can’t do anything about it, really, because the system is so damned broken” or “have been doing so much about it (with or without results) that exhaustion has set in”. The kind of important depth that requires honest conversations to understand.

        It doesn’t help that so many of us are socialized not to talk about money at all.

      4. I always liked that line from Judge Milian about grabbing a crayon and piece of tissue if you have to (in order to put something in writing).

        Seems like they should teach people how to spot a human Bain Capital firm in high school Economics.

        1. I think putting things in writing is useful for non-legal reasons too.

          It can be really helpful in making sure both people are understanding a situation or agreement the same way, and as a reference for what the plan was. I.e., it can just help things be more clear, even when both parties are entirely committed to being fair and keeping their agreements

    2. Definitely. I was actually talking to a friend last night whose credit got tanked because, essentially, a company told her her account with them was closed and it wasn’t, and she wasn’t aware there was money owing until she got a call from a collections agency. There are lots of stories like that out there (or of ex-partners maxing a joint credit card, or all kinds of crummy circumstantial events), and I don’t think a credit score on its own is really enough to gauge whether a person is generally responsible or not.

      Something like that might be better as more of a data point, particularly since most people aren’t discussing their credit scores on a first date. How is this person normally? Do they seem like they have a handle on their finances? Are they perpetually broke? Do they have frequent “emergencies”? Do they seem irresponsible in other aspects of life?

      I figure by the time I find out the state of a person’s credit, I already have some idea of how they handle their money and life.

      To that end, I have an ex with some similarities to yours, and as a result, I’m kind of stuck on future relationships being with men who more or less have it together career-wise. I don’t mean they need to be wealthy or super-high up the ladder,
      but able to take care of themselves and have done direction in life. I’ve had people suggest this makes me snobby or even a “gold-digger” – and I’m aware that life can happen, people can lose jobs, etc. – but at this point in my life, I’d REALLY prefer to not have to financially support a partner.

    3. Yeah, I dated a guy for just under a year who was like this – and he insisted that the problem was just money. No, it was his behavior and money was just the way it happened to represent itself.

      He would blow money on cocktails and dinner out and not pay his roommates rent, who were already doing him a solid by letting him rent a bedroom in their apartment way under market value. He quit his job with no savings going into a slow season and then couldn’t find work, but refused to work retail or at a restaurant or bar, because Reasons, even though we live in an area where restaurant jobs are plentiful and bartenders can make a decent living.

      He went on a trip with me (that I floated him money for the plane ticket) and didn’t mention that he had literally zero money until he arrived, then tried to convince me to give him cash, then kept ordering drinks and food “for me” that I didn’t want at bars and restaurants we went to that I then had to pay for.

      I was thoroughly sick of him by the time we got home and told him to leave – but he literally didn’t have bus or train fare to GTFO of my house. I had to pay him to leave, essentially.

      In short, being broke didn’t make him a crappy person, he was a crappy person who happened to be broke.

      1. Oh, wow, this sounds SO familiar. I think there is a causality with the crappiness and being broke: being a crappy person made him broke, and remaining a crappy person allowed him to pretend that his being broke was not only someone else’s fault, but someone else’s problem. It took me way too long to stop being the person whose problem it was.

  4. Very good practice to stay curious in general and especially when you suspect someone has asked a question that is a trap! I like “say more…” or “and what else?” or “can you give me an example of what you mean?” having lots of these various phrases handy in your brain is good for a lot of reasons. The older I get, the more I realize humans are REALLY BAD at communicating, like epically bad. And it was highlighted even more this past year when people were forced to spell things out even more explicitly with the hugely increased video calls/IM/etc. Overcommunicating is one of those things that has kind of become a corporate buzzword, but I am here for it. Until my kids or colleagues are saying “Geez Mom/Quinalla, we get it.” I don’t feel like I’ve gotten my point across yet.

    1. Sometimes I wonder if humans are really that bad, or if it’s the way cultures work to prioritize the comfort of the relatively privileged in any given context over everything else. Saying what you REALLY mean is construed as rude because it might make someone (always the relatively privileged party somehow that’s such a weird coincidence) uncomfortable.

      “Returning awkwardness to sender” is really a grade-A tactic for which I will forever be grateful.

      1. “cultures work to prioritize the comfort of the relatively privileged in any given context over everything else.”

        Yep, in a nutshell!

        Maybe that’s one of the most important things that we each can do, and need to do, with our own share of privilege: to refuse to be comfortable by default.

  5. June Vocabulary List

    Let*—a tiny word, carrying a lot of water, usually having to do with power and consent

    * That guy who decided to “let” me “develop” “on my own,” obviously never once considering that I

    a) was fully developed, thankyouverymuch,

    b) “freedom to develop” was not his to grant (and I have to wonder what the alternative would have been D:), and

    c) His limitations obviated fully half of my repertoire….

    No—Possibly The Best Word Evar

    Loaded Question—Yeah, okay! Let’s not and say we didn’t!

    1. The particularly creepy thing about the “let” in #3 is that it refers not to the girlfriend but to the friend — like I don’t know what the status of the girlfriend’s consent is, because it doesn’t seem to matter to the questioner. Kind of like if you’re wondering whether to let your friend borrow your car. Ew.

      1. Yeah, the idea of this person lending their partner to someone like they would lend their car is giving me that creepy feeling up the back of my neck. Not one thought for how partner might feel about this.

        The red flags are so numerous here. They are Everywhere.

      2. The kinder interpretation is that it’s already been cleared with the girlfriend, and she’s interested only if ze’s okay with it, so it really IS zir call to “let” these people hook up or not. Sadly, I, too, assume the less kind interpretation is more likely accurate.

  6. For #2, also ask yourself if you care whether or not leaving the toxic environment will ruin your chances of…working in a similar toxic environment. When I left a Very Bad Small Boutique Retail Job with a Very Bad Boss, I knew that I did not want to work in any store of that type ever again and so was willing to set those bridges on glowing radioactive fire by quitting without notice and blocking their number. One way of ensuring you don’t get sucked in again is by changing your trajectory. I was able to utilize what I learned in that job in future jobs, and my new employers cared more about that than about reaching out to my very-ex boss.

  7. Re: not asking what are you doing this weekend as a preface to asking for time

    Is an acceptable compromise, for people who hate that question, “I have a big thing I want to ask you about for [time period], but I don’t want to do my big spiel if you’re definitely not available”

    1. Obviously can’t speak for everyone, but the problem with “what are you doing this weekend” is it being paired with the presumption that the asker gets to determine that what they have in mind is more important than the response.

      So, it’s not about your script per se, it’s about making it clear that you don’t want to do that.
      Leading with “I have a big thing” is probably going to work pretty well – if they’re interested/potentially free they can ask for more details after all.

      1. Yeah I hate that “What are you doing this weekend” question. My shoulders tend to go up protectively because that question tends to mean that the asker is trying to manouver me into something while denying me the ability to say, “No!”

    2. I didn’t know until years later that my then-husband would ask my best friend “What are you doing Saturday night?” when asking if she could baby-sit our child. He’d tell me “I asked C if she could babysit, she can.”

    3. Why would there be a big spiel?

      My gut instinct response to what you have written is Cap’s script about making sure that I do not admit any tracts of unclaimed time.

      I think a much better opening is: “Hey, Saturday after next I’m hosting a 12-hour RPG tournament; love to have you and Brunhilda if you’re free.” You should be able to get the main stuff down to a sentence or two–if you’re thinking “This will sound awful but I have to talk people into it,” well, this was also the reasoning of everyone hawking an MLM.

      1. Yeah, I think this is the nicest approach, particularly when asking for favors. “Hey, are you interested in helping me with a complicated mattress-moving plan this weekend?”

        If they say “Sorry, I have to walk my fish”, then you have your answer. If they say “Maybe, what do you have in mind?” (my favorite response!), then you can tell them the whole plan. And if they just say “Sure!”, I like to respond with “Well, before you say yes, let me tell you what we have in mind” 🙂

        1. See, this approach just makes so much sense. It is more kind and respectful of other people and their time and preferences. It also seems like it would cut down on the tendency of folks to be flaky with their commitments. I am a lot less tempted to flake on people who let me know what I am signing up for from the beginning.

          Not that I think being flaky is totally fine. I mean, sometimes it is necessary due to personal issues. And sometimes it is understandable if someone was railroaded into a complicated mattress moving scheme. Better to just say nope to people with mattresses to move, but it takes time to develop those Nope Skills. Giving the info up front about the mattress moving gives our friends the key to the Nope Exit, so there is less bad feeling and less impulse to say, “Sure!” and then flake (leaving the mattress owner in the lurch). And so everyone is better off.

      2. A 12 hour RPG tournament is a thing you invite someone to because you believe they will enjoy it; come to my church where I am giving the sermon because I need your emotional support, help me move because my living situation has devolved and I am broke, or your nibling needs watching so I can have necessary but not urgent surgery are the kinds of asks that, depending on the relationship between the people involved, explaining how the asker will benefit if the askee is willing to do the thing may have persuasive benefit.

        Maybe I want to explain the full scope of what I’m asking because I only want you to say yes if you can only do all four parts. Maybe I expect that I’m going to have to ask several people to do the thing before I find the person who is willing and able to, so I want to cut down on explanations to people who won’t be able to.

        Sometimes unpleasant things do have to be accomplished in life and we do have to talk other people into it.

        1. “I am giving the sermon Sunday; hoping a few friends will come for emotional support.”

          “I’ve nailed down a new place to live; could you help me with moving any time on Sunday the 14th?”

          “I want to schedule that last round of knee surgery; can you take care of Topsy for two days? What are your constraints?”

          As Fragmentation says, give a quick summary and people can respond with “I definitely have all-day plans on that day” or “Sounds interesting, tell me more!”

          If the problem is that you feel all the support flows from them to you… well, that is a problem in a long-time relationship, though being aware of the dynamic and really limiting your asks goes a long way. Ideally one gets into how things balance out over long time spans, either because rough years do end and do pass themselves around, or because it is paid forward to people who stood (metaphorically) where the asker does now.

          If the problem is that you feel all favors are terrible onuses… in a lot of relationships (warm, reciprocal, can take “no” for an answer) it’s flattering that you think the askee is the sort of competent, kind, supportive person who would give you a hand with this problem, and you would owe them a similar favor and that would be fine.

        2. I have an old friend who used to ask the “what are you doing” question because she wanted to go to Event, but did not drive. So maybe I wanted to go to Event also? And if I did, then she’d feel okay asking for a ride. And she wasn’t meaning to be icky about it (shockingly, she also had a horrible mother and we were all young and learning then) but it did get to where I’d warily say, “Not sure, what’s up?”

    4. My preferred method of avoiding this problem as the asker is to ask the whole thing up front (there’s a link to “ask/guess cultures” here, and I continue to believe that “guess culture” is simply dysfunctional, NOT a neutral variation; this is a case where the problem can be avoided by taking the “ask culture” approach; people who have trouble saying “no” to requests are going to have the same trouble either way). You can go into your whole spiel if the person is open to [favor], and you can present the summary version of [favor] up front (e.g. Are you willing to babysit/dogsit/house-sit/cover my shift/work at a food drive/etc. for me this weekend?).

      For people who feel like you can’t say no to a request, definitely work on that, as it’s an extremely useful skill (I know it’s not easy for lots of people – I’m not intending to trivialize the power of social/normative coercion). I like, “Oh, no thank you,” as a response to requests concealed in trap questions, as it takes advantage of the same social normative forces to make pushing back against my refusal more difficult by framing the unwanted imposition as a desireable offer or opportunity that I’m nonetheless declining.

      1. I’ve been trying for a while to work through my thoughts on why “ask culture vs. guess culture” raises my hackles every time I hear it. This comment on “guess cultures” being inherently dysfunctional struck a nerve with me, so I’ll try to share a different perspective.

        My bias on this is that I come from an Asian-American background, and my views have been influenced by an actual, societal culture (not “culture” in the sense of one dysfunctional family’s norms) that values when people consider, anticipate, and protect each others’ needs proactively, without needing to be asked every time.

        This is the opposite of “ask culture,” but calling it “guess culture” seems like a strawman: “Do you want to be part of a culture where people ask you how you’re feeling, or where they just GUESS?” It seems… well, like something only someone from an “ask culture” would say. They see people not talking explicitly about their feelings and they assume that everyone is just guessing wildly. I’d rather call this contrast something like “explicit culture vs. implicit culture.”

        Yes, taken to an extreme, a culture where you’re always expected to anticipate everyone’s needs and never allowed to embarrass anyone by pointing out when they didn’t anticipate your needs would be exhausting and miserable.

        But I see the flip side as being just as exhausting and miserable: a culture where no one ever “guesses” by paying attention to how other people are behaving, by putting themselves in the other person’s shoes, by considering what they might want or need. This is how people of all genders are raised to behave in some cultures, and the result is not actually dysfunctional.

        If I am unhappy or uncomfortable with something–yes, I want to be able to say that out loud, and for that to be acceptable. I’m personally not the best at doing that, likely because of my background with a culture where I don’t HAVE to do that explicitly all the time, because people are TRAINED to pay attention and notice when someone is uncomfortable. Of course, no one is a mind reader, and people of all cultures should be able to speak up for themselves when they need to… but this is required far, far, more in an “ask” culture where people assume you’re fine until you say explicitly that you’re not.

        I don’t mean for this to be a complete defense of “guess culture,” as being more explicit about my needs is truly something I want to be better at. I’d just like to suggest that swinging the pendulum all the way to “explicit” (which… happens to be the Western Culture Way) isn’t the only legitimate way for people to exist.

  8. “people who attempt to test me or pick fights or try to do end-runs around informed consent by asking a trick question so they can pounce when I answer “wrong.””

    Ah, so you’ve met my mom. Bonus points for the trick question being disguised as “trying to be nice” and when you call it out instead of answering you are “so sensitive!” because she is “just making conversation!” Uh huh.

    1. My mom was raised by a trained interrogator (Grandpa was in the OSS during and after WWII, breaking up war profiteering rings) and she picked up many tactics, including the faux-innocent question designed to catch me in a lie or anchor a grievance she’d been saving up. When I was still at home, or dependent on her during college, I learned to never, ever answer questions from her or give anything away until I was certain what this was really about, and as an adult I’ve learned to mostly answer the question she asked as I please and ignore the secret question until or unless she reveals it.

  9. OMG #10!!! Other related questions that can be just casual conversation shooting the breeze from some ppl & prelude to a drawn-out shitshow battle from others is “Are you at home?” Or “Where are you?” or “What are you doing now?” or “When will you be doing X?” or “When are you going to Y location?” or “How long will you be doing X/staying at Y location?” From the latter these are used in the manner described in the post to try to trap you into various things the asker wants, ranging from getting you to do a “favor” to setting you up to receive a torrent of unwanted judgments.

    My answer to all of this when dealing with such a person when it relates to current location is “in transit”, when it relates to when smthg will occur it’s “in a while”, when it relates to how long smthg will last it’s “a few minutes/hours/days”, etc. It’s exhausting to stay alert & focused enough to keep from giving such a person anything they can exploit, but it’s worth it!

    1. Ahahaha I had a mishap last weekend when my mum asked “what are you doing this weekend” and I said “not much”. This led to her inviting herself to stay when partner and I had *actually* planned extended sexytimes. Partner was a bit annoyed, but seriously, what was I meant to tell her?

      1. “Yeah, when I said ‘not much’, I meant ‘planned extended sexytimes’ with Partner. I like spending time with you, Mom, but not during sexytimes with Partner. I’m sure you understand. I’ll (call, text, email) you (whenever it works for allecto)”

        Is it awkward to blurt all that out? A bit – but it’s also rude to invite yourself over for an overnight – so reflect that awkwardness right back at her.

      2. ‘Enjoying time with Partner’.

        Perfectly true, avoids details about sex, and is just as good an excuse if the two of you actually wanted to spend the time having in-depth conversation or enjoying a mutual hobby or any of those things that are important to the overall health of relationships.

        (Though very much SMH at your mother inviting herself to stay anywhere; that’s always out of line.)

      3. For the initial question: “[Partner] and I are looking forward to some time to unwind together! It’s so nice to have a weekend free of commitments every once in a while.”

        For the self-invitation: “Oh, no, sorry, we can’t host any houseguests this weekend. How about [future time]? (Iff you want to host another time; the immediate redirect to planning a visit that will work for you can help deflect interrogation regarding why this weekend won’t, and you can go back to the first response if a reason is demanded of you.)”

  10. While “let” isn’t the best word for #3, it does touch on an important point: even if the relationship is clearly established as open or polyamorous, the rules are different when the person you’re interested in is your partner’s friend. It will change the friendship, full stop. When I introduced my partner to a friend of mine and they started dating, that was pretty cool, but it also changed the friendship. I couldn’t just relate to her as my friend anymore, now she was my partner’s girlfriend. And when she and my partner broke up, the friendship didn’t survive.

    1. I am astonished how often I have read some variation on “So my partner agreed to give an open relationship a go, and I promptly banged their friend/relative/boss that I’ve had my eye on, and suddenly there is all this drama! Who could have expected this?”

      1. I admit this is a personal bugaboo for me — the sort of person who assumes there are no limits except the ones which have been explicitly and excruciatingly detailed. People should communicate their boundaries, sure, but there is such a thing as situational awareness.

        1. Yep. It’s the intimate partner equivalent of a stranger’s “You didn’t tell me not to [touch you/eat your food/ask intrusive questions], so it’s okay to do that without asking!” I do not want to be partners, friends, or acquaintances with people whose behavior is a constant game of whack-a-mole. There’s cluelessness/miscommunication, and then there’s deliberate obliviousness as a strategy to get around my consent.

        2. Or conveniently forget that regular social norms don’t go out the window. “Why are you upset that I invited you to a party and promptly blew you off to flirt with other people the entire night? Let me give you a high-minded speech about compersion and not-so-subtly imply that being upset when someone ignores you is entitled behavior.”

        3. I read somewhere that open relationships work best when you *don’t* have a lot of rules because if you have to spell out *every single thing* you’re not comfortable your partner is either a jerk or just doesn’t know you well enough for poly to work. Like, if you have to tell somebody not to bang your sister, opening up the relationship probably isn’t going to go well. Discussions and guidelines are good, but if you’re worried your partner will someday say, “you never said I couldn’t sleep with your boss” no amount of rules will help.

          1. On the other side of things, I’ve seen complicated poly rules be spelled out explicitly because one partner would accuse the other of doing things they “just should have known” were not okay, even though those same things were okay yesterday or for the other person or things that genuinely seemed innocuous etc. In both cases where I saw that, the person moving the goalposts (it turned out later) was really emotionally abusive and used the lack of clarity around rules as means for control, and the person trying to clarify the rules was just trying to understand better so they wouldn’t inadvertently hurt their partner and then be punished for it. (TL;DR – poly is complicated, and even more so when there’s abusive dynamics in the picture.)

          2. @amykins — yes, I agree. I think that any communication style can be weaponized by people who are not acting in good faith. In my case, I think I have less experience with the failure mode I described, so I’m less adept at dealing with it and therefore more aggravated by it.

  11. Re crushes believing in a future –

    I am currently in a deeeeply improbable long distance relationship that is fucked due to covid restrictions. Our plans to meet have been delayed by 2 years at least and it’s only added to my “too good to be true” feelings.

    We had a long talk recently and he expressed frustration that I always seem to be looking for reasons things won’t work out. So I relate.

    It’s hard to be an optimist right now especially if you normally aren’t.

    I am trying to focus on gratitude for what we have right now and not worry so much about a future I can’t control. So maybe just being grateful and being there will help them see that you are committed and things will get better.

    1. #3, I think that while not all of Chump Lady’s advice is applicable here, I do think her base line is – Is this relationship acceptable to you? As Captain Awkward rightly pointed out, we can’t control others. They do what they do. But because we control ourselves, our reactions, and our boundaries, the only thing that matters here is, is that arrangement acceptable to you?

  12. The “don’t call me” file, I like that way of thinking about leaving an unpleasant job. “You have what you need, so let me move on with my life.”

    I’m of the “never feel guilty about leaving a job” camp. If your employer wanted to fire you, they wouldn’t hesitate for a second. In 99.99999% of the cases, they’re not going to think, “OP really needs this job. Let’s wait until they find somethinng else,” or “They really appreciate being here. It’d hurt them so much to be let go.” Your employer would do what they feel they need to do and keep it stepping. If you’re fortunate enough to be the one calling the shots, do the same. If you like a job enough to feel guilty about leaving, then make sure everything is set up for the next employee to take your place.

    1. The one thing about guilt at leaving a job is that it’s not the employer who will feel the pain, it’s the other employees. To be clear, people should absolutely still leave jobs without beating themselves up, but framing the discussion around the relationship between the person and the employer might not be addressing why they actually feel bad about leaving.

      1. You know what? Great point!

        To that I’d say, if the workplace situation is so chaotic or underfunded that you feel guilty about leaving other people behind in it, know that your staying would be unlikely to save them or fix the situation for them. (If you had the power to fix it, you’d have fixed it.) I also know of many instances where one person finally saying “eff it!” and leaving was the impetus for everyone to get new jobs – sometimes places that expect employees to pour themselves into all the cracks need to actually rupture for anything to change.

        1. Yes! I have seen this play out several times in the past couple years. Sometimes you staying in a toxic workplace is enabling that broken space to exist, and therefore keep harming people.

          I don’t say this to blame — everyone does their own calculus on how best to survive — but to say that sometimes (often?) you are not going to be able to “work for change from the inside,” and the only way to undermine a poisonous organization is to escape from it.

        2. Ah yes, that one time a friend said to me “I was so hopped up on the Kool-Aid it hadn’t even occurred to me I was *allowed* to leave…”

  13. ‘Caught up on some stuff and spent some time relaxing’ is my standard answer to questions about what I did on the weekend. It occurs to me that, with the tenses changed, it’s also a great all-purpose answer to questions about what I plan to do on a weekend, as it’s vague enough to be unassailable in terms of anyone trying to ask me favours. (Though it definitely helps that I recognise relaxation time as vital to health and thus not an optional extra that can be discarded if someone wants a favour.)

  14. Re: “what are you doing this weekend”, I have this tendency to say things in the wrong order. Like, somehow I think first I need to know the other person’s situation before I can accurately say/ask whatever I need to say/ask.

    The worst was this time I slept through my alarm. I called work and very quickly told them what had happened and asked if they needed me to take a taxi or if they would be okay until the next bus. Quickly because I wanted to get there ASAP, and asked what they needed so that I could respond appropriately. And went so quickly that I kind of missed the part where I apologise profusely, planning to do that when I got there and there was more time. The result of course is that now THEY have to decide whether I should spend my first four hours’ pay on a taxi to work, and I hadn’t even apologised yet!

    So yeah, to many of us it SEEMS like a good idea to check someone’s general availability before launching into your request or invitation, but it has all sorts of unintended consequences. I’m still not very good at saying things in the right order though. Sigh.

  15. Thanks for the sex toy in a punch bowl imagery; def. more interesting than bobbing for apples

  16. #2 (Guilty about quitting job)-I know I can’t ask current boss for a recommendation-ever-because he takes quitting as a personal affront and lack of loyalty. Some coworkers and I have a quiet agreement to serve as references for each other. So, don’t forget that just because you’ve burned the bridge with your boss, doesn’t mean you’ve burned it with everyone at the job.

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