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EDIT: 14th not 15th as a kind commenter pointed out!

 

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 14th January, 11am onwards.

The theme is New Year’s Revolution! This is the time of year when we’re deluged in body shaming etc, so let’s counter that. Please bring a (positive, supportive) resolution to donate to the group, and then people can take away any they find helpful. Or just come and chat with us.

The venue sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical). I have tried to check with the centre to make sure the Blue Bar is free, but if not I will update this post and in the Facebook group to say where we are – or email me if you’re lost…

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/  I have shoulder length brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets. Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/. There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(February meetup will be the 18th.)

Cheers,
Kate

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Cupcakes with a #6 birthday candle. Photograph by Lynn Friedman, used under a creative commons license. 

Six years ago today I registered the CaptainAwkward.com domain and started posting.

Since then we’ve had:

  • 1202 1203 posts
  • 38,992,754 million page views from about 7.3 million visitors
  • 129,495 (approved) comments

2012’s #322 & #323 “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?” was still the most-read post last year, and sadly “creepers gonna creep” was a theme in many of the other most-read posts:

  1. #823: Another Day, Another Creepy Dude Who Doesn’t Deserve Friends You wouldn’t have sex with me, so I’m going to let my dog maul you. Cool?
  2. #862: Q: “Does my boyfriend actually love me?” A: “Who knows? He treats you like crap, so time to go!” Hope he enjoys the center of the sun.
  3. #872: Dating strategies that don’t involve the phrase “breaking the touch barrier.” Bonus: recap of all dating advice for straight men
  4. #857: “I thought I made it clear that I just wanted to be friends but apparently not.” Bonus” “Leave Your Female Classmates Alone, They Just Want To Study!” rant.
  5. #842: “I have a much-older boyfriend who has seven kids. Is my situation ok?” Age is just a number, but are you sure you want this guy to be the dad to your future kids
  6. #825, #826, #827: The Art of Losing Is Actually Pretty Hard To Master  Captain Awkward: The Marie Kondo of Breakups has a nice ring to it.
  7. #830, #832, and #832: Boundaries and the power of “no!”

Your letters and the love and respect you all put into this place have changed my life in so many wonderful ways. Thank you for reading and for making this a home on the internet.

Here’s a video of fireworks:

 

Ahoy there Captain!

My boyfriend, who I met online through a mutual friend, and I have been dating for about two years now. When we first started talking online, we lived on opposite sides of the country and were in a long distance relationship for over a year before I decided to move to the same city as him. (We each have our own place, though.) Due to his job he was unable to move to my city, so I decided to be the one to move. I had fallen out of touch with many of my friends from back home for varying reasons and had a job that was just okay, so aside from the fact that it was expensive, the move wasn’t too hard on me.

Now, about eight months after moving here, I am falling out of love with my boyfriend. He hasn’t done anything wrong – in fact, in many aspects, he’s a fantastic partner. But the days are fewer and more far between that I can see myself having a future with him. I rarely feel any sexual attraction towards him, and more and more things about the relationship are becoming things that I don’t see myself being 100% cool with in the future. (He’s not really excited about the prospect of kids, he’s not close with his family, we have incompatible sex drives, etc.)

I’ve talked with him briefly about how I don’t feel totally satisfied with the relationship, but with the holiday season in full swing as well as a vacation we’re taking together in the near future, we decided to push things under the rug. However, at this point I’m feeling pretty confident that this relationship isn’t meant to last.

However, my fear (and by extension, the underlying question of this email) is that without him in my life, I am completely alone. I have no friends here, and all of my friends that I do have are either in a mutual friend group with my boyfriend or live very far away. I’m worried that I will essentially hole up in my apartment and never leave because I have no one with whom to do activities. (As a sufferer of depression, this fear is only increased.) I don’t like the idea of spending that much of my time alone. And, of course, while I do not feel this relationship is working out, I do care for my boyfriend a lot and would miss him so, so much. (I would love to stay friends, as he is genuinely one of the best friends I’ve ever had, but I’m not sure if that’s possible.)

Do you have any advice on how to go about this? I’m not even sure how to break up with him, let alone what either of us will do afterwards. It’s funny- I can’t see him being my partner forever, but I also can’t imagine my life without his friendship.

Thanks a bunch!
-Moving on after moving away
(She/her pronouns)

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Hey Cap,

This is mostly an attempt to get an outside perspective, as I’m not quite sure if this is An Actual Problem Worth Discussing With Said Person, or if this is just something Jerkbrain is blowing up to be bigger than it is. So, my best friend and I have known each other for about 8 years, are currently living in different places but are still in very regular contact, and for the most part she is an amazing friend with whom I have a tonne in common. The current issue on my part is about exchanging birthday presents.To be clear, I don’t really mind if we give each other presents or if we don’t, the issue I have is that it’s so inconsistent- we never used to do presents, then we did, then one year I gave her a birthday present and she didn’t give me one (our birthdays are about three months apart, mine is after hers), so I figured we weren’t doing presents anymore and didn’t get her a present for her birthday the following year, but then she gave me a fairly pricey gift for my birthday three months later so I had an internal freakout about being a terrible person and got her an equally priced Christmas present (we don’t do Christmas presents, not an issue) and then this year, again, I got her a birthday present because based on last year it appeared to be A Thing We Do, and I got zip for mine. If I’m being perfectly forthright, this happens because, while BFF is a wonderful, smart, kind person, she’s a little…well, inconsiderate isn’t the right word, she’s not that bad, but for her outside of her immediate family and her boyfriend gift-giving seems to be on a more “if it occurs to me and I don’t have anything else going on” basis, whereas if I think gifts are A Reciprocal Thing We Are Doing, I will make sure I get a gift regardless of what else I’m doing.
Again, it’s not that I feel entitled to a gift, I really don’t! This situation bothers me primarily because

(1) the part of my brain that gets really stressed out about social interaction depends on cues from other people when figuring out stuff like gift-giving, and the current situation is profoundly unhelpful.

(2) As the local oddball, I’ve always found it difficult to make friends, and I’ve been in situations in the past where I’ve made waaay too much effort to make friends with people who didn’t give a shit about me, and it’s always made me feel like shit about myself. This means that as a rule I don’t give presents anymore unless I’m absolutely sure it’s a reciprocal thing, because one-sided gift-giving reminds me of those times, and I never want to feel like that again.

(3) Related to (2), I’m not gonna lie, it is a little bit hurtful to spend ages looking for the perfect gift for a person and get nothing in return.

But again, as Frank Underwood would say, I’m entitled to nothing. My natural impulse would be to stop giving gifts to BFF, but for all I know I might get something from her next year and the whole awful cycle will repeat. So then I should say something, right? But what do I say? BFF doesn’t know this is a problem for me, and I doubt it’s a problem for her- I’m worried that if I say something it’ll come off as me guilt-tripping her. Any ideas? Or is this just my problem and I should keep it to myself?

-A Grey Warden

P.S.: She/her pronouns all round

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From your host, peregrinations:

San Francisco Bay Area Awkwardeer Meetup!

When: Sunday, December 11 at 1 pm

Where: PIQ in Berkeley – UPSTAIRS!
91 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704 (Google Maps link below)
1.5 blocks from Downtown Berkeley BART station (on Fremont-Richmond and Richmond-Daly City/Millbrae lines)

What: Bay Area Awkwardeer meetup! Feel free to bring knitting, crafts, books, etc, or just yourself

About PIQ: PIQ is a bakery, cafe and pizzeria with a wide range of meat-based, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, and it looks like they have a couple salads for gluten-free folks as well. They have a big open floor plan with lots of seating and a reasonably quiet atmosphere (good for talking). We will be on the second floor which is fully handicap accessible (there’s an elevator on the main floor). Bike parking available, street parking for cars.
PIQ’s website: http://www.piqbakery.com/berkeley

Menu: http://www.piqbakery.com/menu
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/piq-bakery-berkeley

How to find us:
I’ll be seated inside on the second floor, and will have a floppy-legged buffalo plushie with me. I will make a foldover sign saying “CA Meetup” to put on the table.

For more info:
Feel free to pm me on the forums, or email me at peregrinations74@gmail.com.

Hope to see you there!

Have a wonderful time.

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 10th December, 11am onwards.

Unbelievably, it’s our four year anniversary! Please bring food to share – anything your want, just please bring the ingredient list so that people can avoid whatever they need to. And if it’s messy please bring plates and/or napkins…

The venue sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical). I have tried to check with the centre to make sure the Blue Bar is free, but if not I will update this post and in the Facebook group to say where we are – or email me if you’re lost…

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/  I have shoulder length brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets. Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/. There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(January meetup will be the 14th.)

Cheers,
Kate

Send your short questions on Patreon or Twitter (with the hashtag #awkwardchat) today – I’ll answer as many as I can before noon.

Last year, my aunt wrote to me that I’m going to hell for being gay. What do I say to her at grandpa’s funeral?

I’m sorry for the loss of your grandpa. That’s hard enough without adding the extreme awkwardness of bigotry and hellfire to it!

Fantasy answer: “See you there, you crusty bigot.”

Actual answer: It’s okay to completely keep your distance from her and stick with the family you trust. Imagine she is a stranger or work acquaintance if you must interact with her briefly – express sympathies, keep the topic of conversation on your Grandpa and the loss to the family, try not to get drawn into a lengthy conversation.

If she seeks you out and either tries to perform a close relationship with you (without actually repairing the relationship with an apology) or tries to renew or justify her mean words, try this, “I’m very sad about Grandpa and so sorry for the loss you must be feeling. I’m still very angry about the hurtful letter you sent me last year and we are not friends right now – let’s drop this for now and talk another time when you’re ready to apologize.” Then move away, and remember, she created the awkwardness.

Family doesn’t listen when I say Anxiety Disorder prevents me frm driving. Insists I get license. Am 29 in therapy. Scripts pls.

First step is probably to talk to your therapist specifically about this, and see if they will generate some kind of letter to your family (that can help make it “official”) and/or help you fashion & practice scripts.

Scripts that come to mind for now: “I’m seeking medical help so that I hopefully can drive at some point, but I’m not there yet. It hurts that you don’t believe me, but whether or not you believe me, I still cannot be a safe driver at this time.

I am crossing all my fingers & toes that you live somewhere with decent public transportation.

You know someone likes you/may want to date you; you’re not sure if you feel the same. How do you figure out if you like them?

One way is to go on a date if they ask you to and see if you enjoy it and want to do it again sometime. Remember: Going on a date doesn’t mean you are agreeing to “feelings” or “a relationship” or “returning their interest at the exact same level.” It’s okay to be undecided and give it time to develop or not.

I’m going to be starting my own business in the next year (excited squees!) What are some good scripts for those well-meaning, advice-pushing folk whom I love but really don’t know what they’re talking about (or may know what they’re talking about, but are not people I wish to discuss my business/financials with)?

How exciting for you!

For the “don’t know what they’re talking about” crowd, try some version of, “Thanks for the tips!” + a subject chance to something they are the expert on.

For example, “Thanks for the tips, Dad! I’m very excited to jump in and get started. By the way, I’ve been thinking about replacing the furnace at my place, what should I look for?

When the people probably do know what they’re talking about, try this: “Wow, I’d love to pick your brain in detail about this sometime when I’m further along in the process and I’m not in ‘holiday mode’/’having fun mode’/’celebration mode’/’relaxing mode’/’vacation mode’/’calm before the storm’ mode.” You want to communicate “I can tell you have valuable insights/I’m not in the right frame-of-mind to receive these oh-so-valuable insights, let’s wait until I’m not hopped up on holiday punch and can take notes!”

By complimenting people it disarms potential conflict, and saying “thanks I’ll think about it” is literally the fastest & most efficient way to get past any kind of unwanted advice, even if the advice is total shite and the intentions of the person are not good. Since you love these people I think it pays to think of their intrusions as evidence that they are excited for you – reward the excitement with compliments and thanks and channel the firehose of “expertise” away from the present moment.

How to approach academic group work when you think/know you’d do it fine/better on your own.

If you know you’d absorb the material you’re supposed to learn just fine on your own, and you know you can handle the writing and presentation skills involved, then use the project to level up skills group work is purportedly there to teach and model those skills for your partners-in-group-project-heck:

  • Delegating/Dividing up tasks
  • Listening/Inclusion
  • Consistent communication
  • Accountability
  • Constructive disagreement & critique
  • Peer-management
  • Assertiveness

It takes skill & practice to be gentle-but-firm with a teammate who isn’t pulling their weight, like, “Hey, you’ve been missing deadlines and group project meetings and it’s making me stressed that we’re not going to finish on time – what’s your plan for catching up?” or “Hey, you keep vetoing suggestions I make without offering an alternative solution. Can we make a rule that we don’t veto anything without proposing an alternate plan?” or “I have a lot of outside commitments right now, I really need meetings to start and end on time, thanks” or “If we try to run something by you and you don’t respond to any emails or texts within 48 hours, you kind of lose your vote” or “I don’t really understand your take on this, but I want to! Can you walk me through it again?” 

I think that 99% of professors know who is really pulling the weight on group projects and who is not and the learning experience is not so much about the specific material or individual excellence as it is preparation for white collar working environments which are like one lifelong group project.

 

[Eeep, I got interrupted by something I had to take care of during #AwkwardChat, so had to step away.

Let’s finish this.]

 

I feel like every single person I know is still in shock from the election. How do we support one another, and how do we seek out support, when everyone is exhausted and terrified? The Ring Theory breaks down when everyone is at the center of the crisis at once.

I’m not sure I have the answer to this beyond:

  1. “Only connect.”
  2. Don’t try to be perfect or put pressure on yourself to say the exact perfect thing to everyone at all times.

Support each other by spending time together. Support each other by listening, by being kind, by taking a shift to babysit for friends with kids, by throwing your doors open for a friendly pot luck if you can (or going to the pot luck if you’re invited), by giving what material support you can manage to organizations and individuals who will be affected the most. Pick up the phone or open up that Skype window or send that text or email when you have energy to connect. When you need to turtle, say “So sorry, I can’t talk right now” and rest/read escapist literature for a few hours so that you can come back to it. Take care of your own mental health to the extent that you can. Be present with each other and connected to each other to the extent that you can. Make some of the time about activism and grief and anger and some of it about silly jokes and pleasure of each other’s company. Be gentle with yourself and each other.

Way to say to friends, “I know you don’t like my partner of 14 years, I don’t bring them around you, stop sniping about them”?

I think you nailed it with a script right there in your question! When the sniping starts, interrupt it immediately and say, “I know you don’t like X, that’s why I don’t bring them around when I spend time with you. So stop sniping about them when we do hang out. I don’t want to hear it.

If you want to start with something slightly less confrontational, still interrupt them and try, “Why do you think I’d want to hear this about someone I love?

It’s okay to be pissed off/emphatic/not having it about this. It’s disrespectful to constantly run down someone’s partner to them. If they continue and insist, end the conversation/hangout and try again (or not) another day.

Favorite scheduling system/to-do list app/other organizational resources to help self-employed person get stuff done?

Ha, as I said on Twitter, this is probably a question for an organized person? I use a pen and a notebook and sometimes (when I remember where I put them) star stickers next to completed items. One of my students has a neat system where she uses a different color pen for each day of notes so it’s easy to see when things were written down, and I think I’m going to adopt that from now on. Besides, interestingly colored pens are pretty.

Family keeps putting you down for having only a BA; thinks you should be over failing last time, doesn’t acknowledge disability. 

Consider the possibility that your family are a) dead wrong about you, b) acting like assholes about this, and, c) that the energy you might put into changing their minds about this might be better spent getting the hell away from them. Take all possible steps to create a life for yourself where their opinions matter as little as possible to the choices you make about your life. Those steps could mean seeking out therapy & other support for your disability, moving away from them, spending less time with them, ending conversations where they act like jerks whether that means leaving a room or hanging up a phone or just letting a mean email hang there unanswered. Over time that also means surrounding yourself with people who DO appreciate you and believe in you and who don’t try to throw your real or perceived failures in your face at every turn.

Any tips on telling the difference between self-care and irresponsible avoidance (i.e. “I can’t because brain chemistry” vs. “I don’t wanna because activism is inherently stressful”)?

“Tips” I can ethically give:

  • If you know you have issues with brain chemistry that interfere with your ability to do stuff you want to do, treat those issues like the medical issue they are to the full extent that you are able. Do you need counseling? Start the process of finding a counselor or therapist. If you’re not already on meds, try to get some. If you are on some, take them. If you don’t like the ones you’re on, see if you change them up. Take care of yourself so that you are more able to do the stuff you want to do.
  • There are some great Twitter threads by former congressional staffers (thanks,@leeflower) on how calling officials in the U.S. is better than emails/postcards, and I really like this one by @sharonw that breaks down exactly what it is like for people who are anxious about calling. Best advice: Focus on *your* elected officials, the call itself is not terribly interactive, the staffers are too busy to really converse with you and nobody is going to argue with you or be mean, think of it like “casting a vote” – your opinion is recorded and everyone moves on with their day.
  • There are lots of kinds of activism. Find the thing that you are best set up to do consistently and do that thing. Go at the pace that you can sustain.
  • Consider that small actions can be ways of breaking a low mood cycle and that there can be a positive feedback loop from doing what you can.
  • You don’t have to be perfect or do it every second for it to count. Just start somewhere, however you can.

I’m “lazy” af. Depressed brain says “just get up & do the thing OH WAIT”. Strategies to confront/sidestep this logic?

See above? Treat depression like the medical issue it is. Try taking baby steps and seeing if you can break the negative feedback loop. Be gentle with yourself. Try again tomorrow.

How do I stop myself from getting too invested too soon when I start dating someone?

Three tips:

  • You’re gonna feel what you’re gonna feel, so keep in mind that beating yourself up for having feelings or talking yourself out of your feelings isn’t a good use of your time.
  • Pay attention to reciprocity. Does your dating partner do as much of the work of planning dates, initiating communications, expressing feelings, etc. as you? Try to match their level of enthusiasm and see how you feel.
  • ‘ware the bubble. It’s tempting to spend all your time and energy on a shiny new partner, but make sure you’re not losing connection with friends and family. You don’t have to see this new dateperson every minute of every day or leave your entire weekend schedule open for them. Get some alone time. Hang out with friends and family. Keep your routines going. The happier you are in your overall life, the better you’ll be able to make good decisions.

That’s all for now. Comments are open to add to suggestions herein!