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If this blog were a child it would be a five-year-old today, and I would buy it Star Wars action figures and a bake it a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting in my mom’s old Mickey Mouse-shaped pans. Happy New Year/Blogaversary, Awkward People!  Here is a poem that I think is about forgiving yourself:

Attende Domine (Thomas Lynch)

To lie in the tub on New Year’s morning
awash in bath oil and resolution
observing the Feast of the Circumcision
is to seek the water’s absolution,
according to the law that juxtaposes
Cleanliness and Godliness. I suppose
it is time to examine my conscience,
to make a clean breast of it and amends
to such as those I might have offended.
Attende Domine et miserere! Lord
I’ve sinned with my eye and did not pluck it out,
and with my hand and yet my hand remains
blessing myself against your righteousness.
I’ve sinned with my mouth and loved the sound it made.

I took an honest-to-goodness vacation (I saw family and friends and met a camel and read Goblin Emperor, finally) instead of writing intense 2015 recaps or 2016 pronouncements, so, let’s just dive back in to what we do here.

Today’s question is about when a past toxic relationship bleeds into the present. How do you know what’s reasonable to ask for? And how do you correct someone or set a boundary with a new partner without constantly calling back to the old one?

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I accidentally found a diamond ring in my boyfriend’s bag when he returned home from a recent trip to see his family. We have been together for three years, but have been on rocky territory for a while. We had a fight shortly before he left to see his family, which led to me saying I thought we should get counseling, which he wasn’t super interested in. As a compromise, I said we should give ourselves two months to work on our issues, and if we couldn’t make headway, see a counselor, and then…. ( I realize I didn’t make it explicit in our conversation, but I meant that if we couldn’t make things right, we should break up, as four months will take us through the end of our lease).

I’ve been feeling not great about the relationship, and seeing the ring, and the oh fuck feelings it brought up, makes me realize that I’m basically done. However, he is not an asshole, and I don’t want to to hurt him. I am worried he may be thinking of a Christmas proposal (there is a suspicious package under the tree), which… please no. No no no no no no no. How do I head off this potential proposal off at the pass? Or, if that isn’t possible, how do I very gently let him down if he does propose?

Saddling Up the Nopetopus

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Hello Captain Awkward,

I’m feeling quite stuck in a romantic situation and am hoping you can help.

Last year I took a job in a town 5 hours away. To my surprise and delight, a co-worker who I had a secret crush on messaged me daily after I left and from there she admits she is attracted to me. Problem being, she is married. The texting gets intense- sexting 24/7. After a few weeks, I drove up to the city and we spent the weekend with each other, in bed together for most of it. She was racked with guilt, I felt guilty too and also guilty because I had feelings for her and she insisted no feelings were to be involved in this. Guilty feelings made way for more and more of these weekends and trips together- we saw each other most weeks despite living in different cities, having an intensely passionate and sexual relationship for over a year.

I didn’t want to sneak around forever and wanted more of a relationship. She told me for months that we would have that, and she was in the process of separating. However one day she announces she can never leave him and get a divorce. Also, she doesn’t want to disappoint and be disowned by friends and family. I was upset but carried on with the relationship because I just didn’t have it in me to leave.

Before we got together, she had planned to live overseas and travel. I would get upset as the time loomed closer when she was due to leave, just as we were getting serious. She reassured me that it was for the best- a way of separating from her husband so we could together. Yet, only a week before she left, she informed me that he had taken a job over there and was going with her. Nevertheless, she insists they aren’t really together, just friends and she will come back to be with me in a year’s time.

I was upset and angry, although accepting that I am ultimately responsible for my own unhappiness about it because I did get involved with a married woman.

I am still in love with her and want to be with her. However I know it’s best for me to leave this all behind. Yet every time I do, she guilt trips me so hard into staying and staying in contact while she is over there- making it impossible to move on. I was hoping Captain that you would be able to shed some light on an escape route out of this and some potential scripts for when she guilts me into staying.

Thanks heaps,

Trapped

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Hi Captain,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for 3 years. We are both in our early thirties. When I first met him, I thought he was very attractive, and I still do. I like skinny dudes and he was skinny when I met him. About seven months into our relationship he put on about 15-20 pounds, which I found less attractive. His stomach was no longer flat and he carried weight around his middle in general. I expected him to lose it quickly, but he didn’t. Eventually I brought it up and he said I should have just said so and that he hadn’t really noticed, and that he would start a diet and exercise more.

It didn’t stick for long and since then every few months I ask him if he is still on his diet (which is all I do, I don’t bother him about it otherwise) and he gets upset and says yes (and sometimes no) and we had a fight about it recently where he said he wants me to stop asking.

I have stayed the same size, and I know he would not be super happy if I put on weight, since his preference is strongly skewed toward very thin women. I feel that while I do maintain my weight for my own sake, I also do it because I know he likes the way I look and I want him to be maximum attracted to me. That it’s been over 2 years makes me feel that it doesn’t matter to him if I am maximum attracted to him.

I am having a hard time distancing myself from this and figuring out what is right. I am a very goal-oriented person and also a “pusher,” one of those best/worst qualities — on the one hand, I always try my hardest at everything and I’ve accomplished some good things because of that, but on the other hand I also find it difficult to just let other people go at a slower pace and not micromanage. I try to rein this in, but I can’t tell if it applies in this situation. I want my boyfriend to stay in (reasonable) shape as we get older, but when I looked in the archives, particularly at #284, I saw people calling this mentality terrible and controlling (although I don’t think I’m like that guy, who sounds like he wants a different girlfriend. I don’t want a different boyfriend, I just want him to look a little more like he did when we met). Should I just deal with it, or is there a better way to approach this issue?

Thank you.

– sad, possibly a jerk

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*Warning: Starred links contain Hannigram vids.

Dear Captain,

I’m a late-twenties woman needing relationship advice. Three years in, my boyfriend and I need to commit or break up (I want a monogamous marriage someday), and I don’t have a clear sense of what I want.

I feel like all relationship advice falls into two camps. In the first, I’ve heard smart friends and family say that successful relationships are rooted in mutual respect, honesty, communication, and shared values. This camp emphasizes partnering with someone who is supportive, loyal, and respectful. The other camp argues that your partner needs to be someone who lights you up, who inspires you, who you can’t imagine being without.

I understand that, ideally, a relationship succeeds in both areas – being crazy about someone and also sharing a mutually supportive partnership – but I have yet to find that magic combination. In my early 20s, I was in a relationship where I was madly in love with someone who was not a good partner to me. Ending this relationship was devastating, but it was also the only choice. I’ve talked friends through similar break ups, and I understand that “being in love” is simply not enough by itself.

My question is about the opposite situation. Coming off that rollercoaster break up, I met my current boyfriend, and could immediately tell he was more emotionally stable and respectful than my ex. We started dating even though I didn’t feel much “spark.” My boyfriend is handsome, smart, generous, emotionally available, and works an excellent job. He is also a great, supportive partner. By most standards I’ve hit the jackpot, yet I feel unsure. I hear my friends talk about their partners with giddy joy; I don’t think I feel that way about my boyfriend. Our relationship has a range of problems, from mismatched libidos to different senses of humor, ideas about healthy living, and consumption. In my best past relationship, an ex-boyfriend inspired me daily to be a kinder, braver person, and I don’t feel that way now. I don’t feel a magical sense of being “completed.” I know that long-term relationships don’t run on heady infatuation, and I do care deeply about him. If I end this relationship, I also fear ending up in another intoxicating but destructive relationship like I was in before. Am I too picky, chasing an unattainable fantasy of love that can’t exist? Should I work on appreciating everything I do have and accept that I might never be head-over-heels? Or should I end this good-but-not-perfect relationship to find a partner with whom I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life? To complicate everything, we recently started long-distance.

Thank you so much for any advice or thoughts –

Sad and Confused

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From the “this can’t really be solved” files and the “I had a few free hours let’s knock some blog posts OUT” files. Hi!

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am having an issue with my boyfriend because he is having trouble deciding who he wants to work on a relationship with, me or his daughters mother.

My boyfriend has a 7 year old daughter her mother is coming back into the picture. She claims she wants to clean up her life from drugs and be back in their life. He told me she was degrading, flakey, cheating, and manipulative towards him. She would make plans to see her daughter and rarely sticks to them because she had been high. She had left my boyfriend and got pregnant, that man went to jail. She went back to my boyfriend and she did this up and back a couple times. Now she doesn’t talk to her sons father and wants to work things out with my boyfriend. He feels loyalty to her because it’s his daughters mother. With us in the begining he moved fast, i met his daughter the first few days of after I met him. He talked futures together and making plans for us, wanting to take our relationship as far as it could go. We have only been together 3 months but we spent much time together, got along great, I grew very fond of his daughter and she likes me. Recent weeks he has become distant from me, less talking, etc. Especially now his daughters mother is becoming more involved recently. He tells me he thinks what he and I have is a good thing. And he really likes me but now he is confused about whether working things out with her and being a “family” for their daughter is the right thing to do. Or if he wants to stay with me and move forward. It’s like he did a complete 180.

I honestly have no clue how to react or respond, I need help on what I should do or think.

Thank you from Baby Momma Drama

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