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Joel from Eternal Sunshine with the memory-wiping colander on his head.

“Sal, put this colander on your head.” “Why?” “So you can block out the time we all ‘confronted’ you about who you should date.” “Will that work?” “No. Do it anyway.”

Hello Captain!

I’m just going to get right down to it. 

So I have a close-knit group of friends, including my best friend who we’ll call Annie, and a guy who we’ll call Sal. They’re two of the most important people in my life. Recently, Annie was having issues with her boyfriend who we’ll call Elliot. She wasn’t as comfortable in the relationship as him, she felt pressured to stay with him, etc. During the main part of the drama, she told me that she was having confusing feelings to Sal. And our sort-of-roommate Ellie overheard and said that she was too and so was another friend Betty. 

They all went to confront him, deciding that his rampant flirting was at fault and I joined them because I sort of felt responsible for the confrontation because I had suggested to Annie that she should maybe talk to him and try to figure things out. 

ANYWAY 

He admitted that he liked Annie and Betty but would never do anything to mess with Annie’s relationship and apologized for making things weird and said he’d stop. Betty told him that she appreciated his attention, but she saw him more as a brother and would like to stay friends. We left and that was that. After a little bit, Annie and her boyfriend work on their issues and she finally breaks up with him. She tells me she still has feelings for Sal and might like to see how that would work out after some time. 

Shortly after this, Betty and Sal announce they’re dating. I am confused, but I generally am so I sort of try to ignore it. After a week or so and a lot of discussion, Annie starts dating him too and Sal identifies himself as Poly. 

I’m concerned, but I know it’s not really any of my business so I’m trying to stay out of it and not worry about something I can’t do anything about. 

The problem is Ellie. 

Dear Captain Awkward,

I used to have an eating disorder. While I consider myself to be mostly well now, this has left me with some conflicted feelings about dieting.

This tends to get awkward when other people talk about their dieting. First of all, hearing someone else talk about how wonderful their diet is, how they really shouldn’t eat whatever or how they really want to lose weight can be a bit triggering for me and sometimes makes me feel like I should maybe diet too. That’s not a good thing for me.

Second, I don’t want to encourage people around me to diet. I’ve gotten fairly into fat acceptance and I don’t want to participate in the idea that losing weight will make you a happier, healthier and more attractive person, because I believe that is a harmful idea. However, I don’t really know how act around someone who tells me they’ve lost weight without doing either that or coming across as an unsupportive jerk.

Is there a way for me to make other people not go on about how great their diet is and other things that are hard for me to hear, preferably without telling them about my history with eating disorders or coming across like a jerk? And is there a way for me to deal with dieting people that is neither encouraging nor… well, jerkish?

What’s that book about how French ladies don’t get fat because every once in a while they eat nothing but a cleansing broth made of leeks or something?  Who cares. Anyway, the author had one good point. Even if you are not actively policing the bodies of and making it weird for the people around you (as in people with eating disorders, or fat people who receive constant judgment and shaming around eating):

Endlessly talking about your diet is boring as fuck.

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m a high school student, and I had a friend who turned into a stalker. My family, and the school counselor have really helped me through a lot of it. However, I need some help explaining to my friends at school, and the friends of the stalker, of how I absolutely will not be interacting with her, without having to go into all the painful and elaborate details of what happened. The assumption of my casual friends is usually that we had an argument, and now I’m being childish by refusing to speak to her. (Again, high school students, this seems to be a common assumption.) So some of my friends are trying to force me to interact with her. “Just be civil, hold a conversation, just be nice to her, etc.” The school counselor recommends I stay away from her, for my personal safety, and I agree with her.

I’m not worried about my best friends, who understand the issue, but the people who I’m not very well connected with. I don’t want to write a two-page thesis just to get them to understand the problem. I also feel that it’s a violation of my privacy to have to try to explain the issue to anybody who feels like knowing, and letting people know that the way to push my buttons is to bring up the subject. As well as I know that the stalker has been telling people false information, and that anything I tell these friends will likely wind up reaching her.

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