It’s time for the monthly ritual where I answer the questions that people typed into search engines to find this place.
1 “I have a crush on a guy who treats me badly.”
Crushes can be fun, but unlike what you’ve seen on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and every other show/movie/comic, love doesn’t turn assholes into acceptable boyfriends. My recommendation: Fantasize darkly about dirty-hot-hate-sex with him at your leisure, but save your actual affections and time outside your head for people who are kind to you.
Now more than ever we must hold the line and not waste our time with charismatic assholes.
2 “Talk about sexual relation first time.”
There is a site called Scarleteen. It is a national treasure, and while it was built so that teenagers could get non-judgmental, scientifically accurate, kind and sensitive sex advice, adults should read it, too. This topic is covered amply in their archives and forums. The creator of the site, Heather Corinna, wrote a book called S.E.X. It’s great. They also have volunteers who answer questions confidentially.
While we’re on the topic, here are some other good books about sex:
- Come as You Are, by Emily Nagoski
- What You Really, Really Want by Jaclyn Friedman
- Big Big Love by Hanne Blank
Probably more recommendations in comments.
In the movies, sex just, like, happens. People stare at each other intensely and then grab each other and kiss and suddenly clothes are off and it’s all seamless and softly lit.
In real life, it’s important to talk about things with the person you plan to have sex with, especially when one or both of you is new at it. Everything from what consent looks like to “What are we gonna do about contraception (if that’s an issue in your pairing) and safer sex?” to “I think I’d like it if we….” to “Definitely please do not ever….” to “That doesn’t feel good, please stop!” to “That feels really good!” Real life sex is awkward, and vulnerable, and that’s part of what’s great about it. Get thee to Scarleteen.
Happy talking! And everything that might come after!
3 “Working with the person you had an affair with now its awkward.”
Without knowing the particulars (relative power structure in company, how it ended, what the feelings were and still are, how much time it’s been, did anybody know, what was the fallout, how much each person respectively likes/needs this particular job, etc.), some smart steps that you can control might be:
- Keep your distance. You probably work in somewhat close quarters, which is how the whole thing started in the first place, and you can’t fix that or at least fix it right away, but you can start to mentally work on keeping your distance. Stop keeping track of the other person – their moods, quirks, likes, dislikes, what they ate today, who they talk to, where they go, reading their horoscope, etc. Stop fixating on them. Use the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear to distract yourself, if necessary, or just say to yourself , “We broke up, it’s not my business, la la la” when you find yourself getting obsessed.
- Step up your professional game at work. Pay attention to the “little things,” like tidying your workspace, paying attention to dress & grooming, making sure you’re on time every day, being reliable & correct in your communications, keeping your boss updated on your projects, keeping small talk with coworkers very light and not revealing of personal life. I don’t think there is shame in crying it work – it’s a natural human response to stress and anger, and we shouldn’t be as dismissive of it as we are as a culture – but if you’re someone who is trying to keep an intra-office breakup private, try to do your crying in private. Put your best foot forward, even if you don’t feel like it right now. If you look to others like you have your shit together, it can sometimes help you keep your shit together.
- Polish that resume. Look for another job, or an assignment in another department. I know, it’s not fair that you should have to leave your job, but it might be the simplest way to cut the cord of awkwardness. Join a networking organization for your profession if there is one. Make some new connections. Take a class and boost your skills in something. Maybe you feel like you can’t or don’t want to leave your job right now, but reminding yourself that you have options can’t hurt. Anything that reminds you of your own value is gonna feel good right now.
- If there is stalking or harassing behavior of ANY kind, document & report it if you can. Whatever happened happened, but you don’t deserve to be terrorized or retaliated against professionally.
- Give it time. Like the pain of all breakups, this too shall pass.
4 “How to break up your daughters gay relationship.”
Try these search terms instead:
“How do I show my daughter I love her and accept her?”
“How do I stop being a homophobic asshole?”
Okay, speaking of affairs:
5 “What do you say to a married man’s wife who you have an affair with when she confronts you?”
Start with “I’m really, really sorry” and DO NOT try to justify or explain. The aggrieved spouse has probably saved up some things to say, so, just listen while they speak their piece. You don’t have to answer questions – “You should ask your spouse about that” is a good script if you start getting an interrogation, and if at some point you gotta end the conversation say, “I’m so sorry” again and refer the person back to their spouse, like, “I’m so sorry, I hear you, I know I hurt you. I don’t have answers for you, you should talk to (spouse) directly about this.“
There’s nothing GOOD you can say, so, focus on not making it worse.
6 “Husband doesn’t believe his mother hates me.”
What if you said, “You don’t have to believe me, but when we’re around your mom and (this specific behavior) happens, I do need you to (defend me/shut it down/back me up/leave with me).“
Focus not on the emotion (she hates you) but on the behaviors (the specific things she does that hurt your feelings or annoys you), and give him an idea of how he can best support you when those specific behaviors arrive. Choose your battles, and do what you can to minimize time with her. Annual Reminder: Nobody HAS to go home for the holidays.
7 “What to say in a Xmas card to a sister you did not talk with in five years.”
“Merry Christmas! I hope you’re doing well. Here’s [email/phone/the best way to contact me], can we catch up sometime in the new year?”
Take the pressure off to come up with something eloquent. This moment is literally what greeting cards are for – short, non-emotionally-charged communications. Give her a way to contact you and then leave it in her court. She’ll call/write or she won’t.
8 “Boyfriend does no chores and never wants to spend his free time with me.”
You could dump the boyfriend and get a cat. It wouldn’t do any chores, but least the cat would be cute and hang out with you sometimes.
9 “Happy birthday to a friend you had a misunderstanding and now friends again.”
Say/Text/Facebook Wall: “Happy birthday!“
Do you really want to rehash the misunderstanding? In someone’s birthday greeting? No. You don’t. Bake them a normal cake, not a shame-cake, and be glad that you mended fences about whatever it is.
10 “Boss upset I quit and I feel guilty.”
Your boss will get over it. Or they won’t, but you won’t work there anymore, so you don’t have to care.
11 “How to start the baby conversation with partner.”
“Partner, I’m thinking a lot about having a baby, and I’m pretty sure I want to start that process soon, with you. What do you think about that?”
Or, “I’m pretty sure I don’t ever want to have kids, so I wanted to see how you feel about that.”
Full disclosure, here’s how this conversation goes in my house:
We hang out with Commander Logic’s freaking adorable smart amazing children, aka, The Gateway Babies.
Spouse: “Someday, you know, my/our kids will….”
Repeat for a few weeks.
Me: “You keep mentioning these kids that will be doing stuff someday. Are these real kids or hypothetical kids?”
Me: “So, hypothetical. Ok.”
Spouse: (lots of stuff about parenthood and money and anxiety)
Me: (corresponding anxiety-brain-vomit)
Me: “If you really want kids, I’ll have your kids! I’ll have kids with you.”
Spouse: “That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.”
Me: “It’s what I got. I can be happy either way.”
Both of Us: …
Me: “Talk again in six months?”
Spouse: “Sure. Good talk, everyone.”
12 “What does it mean when a guy tells you ‘I cant ask you to wait for me’?”
It means, “don’t wait for me.” You have been or are about to be broken up with.
13 “A guy likes and comments on everything on Facebook stalker.”
You can: Set your posts using privacy filters so he can’t even see them.
You can: Unfriend his annoying ass.
You can: Block him so he can’t even know you exist on Facebook.
When/if…okay probably when…he contacts you through other channels to ask “Are you okay?” or “Did I do something wrong?” here’s your script:
“I wasn’t enjoying our online interactions so I stopped them.”
Monitoring a person’s every online breath is stifling and creepy. You don’t have to tutor him as to why.
14 “After party with my former students sex stories.“
15 “My toddler seems lonely but I hate playdates and playgroups.”
From what I understand from my friends who are parents of young kids, EVERYONE HATES PLAYDATES. The other parents hate it as much as you do. They are going through the motions because they want their kids to have friends and be socialized. They are something you suck up and do until you find some other parents that you a) can stand to be around while the kids are very small and drop-off/self-play isn’t possible b) can trust with your kids as they get older so you can take turns dropping off the kids and getting a few hours to yourself.
Do you have a co-parent? Can they take some of the play-date and play-group pressure off? Like, if you both hate that, can you take turns sucking it up for the sake of the kid?
Can you find more structured stuff – craft things, a local children’s museum, story time at the library, swim/dance classes – that allow your kid to interact while you check out and read your phone in the bleachers?
You’re a good parent because you’re noticing your child’s loneliness. You’ll do the right thing. And this won’t be forever.