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.