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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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Dear Captain Awkward (And Awkwardeers),

I’ve been in a fantastic relationship with my partner for a few years now. He’s incredibly supportive of my mental health, and

Kinky and Healthy are two different - but not mutually exclusive - things

Not an effective fighting strategy.

complements my personality perfectly. However, and this may seem a silly concern, I’m worried about the fact that we never argue. Basically, I’m concerned that this might mean that we aren’t communicating well enough.

We have had disagreements, but usually that happens when I say something that’s concerning me and he agrees with whatever I’m saying. It’s not really an argument because he quickly turns around to my way of thinking. Or, less often, he would air an issue and I would see it as reasonable and agree to help fix it. And for a while, this was great! I felt that our relationship must be going amazingly because we never argue!
But the thing is, I’m now sort of scared about what will happen if we ever do fight. Because when we haven’t even really had any of the little arguments, who knows what will happen if we end up in a big argument? Because surely it can’t always happen that we just agree with the other person’s opinion. What about when we have to start making big decisions like whose job dictates which city we live in? Whether we have kids?
And I’ve noticed that I’ve started avoiding conflict because it’s got to a point where I’m scared of The Fight. The Fight seems to me to be this big inevitable thing looming that sooner or later we both have to deal with… and I don’t know how I’ll handle The Fight. So sometimes, I don’t mention things that upset me because I don’t want to lead to a fight. And that means I’m kind of bottling up grievances which I know full well isn’t healthy. We have an amazing relationship, but I’ve always thought that good relationships were about dealing with the bad as well as the good, and what if it takes us years to realise that we can’t handle the bad?
It’s not like everything’s been sunshine and roses. As I mentioned earlier, he’s been great with my mental health, but that means that he does the majority of the housework, as well as working, and although I’m working hard to be able to contribute more, it’s something that definitely hangs over me. I think the guilt from knowing that he basically just cares for me a lot of the time also means that I’ve stopped talking about things he does that sometimes upsets me, because I feel like I don’t deserve to be unhappy with anything he does when he’s great and supportive and puts so much time, and effort, into making our home a safe place for me. As well as trying to avoid The Fight. And I feel like, hey, I’ll have forgotten the bad thing he said tomorrow, so why argue about it now? It’s probably just me being over sensitive anyway, right? But what actually happens is that it still hurts tomorrow, just feels too late for me to bring it up, so just gets added to the pile of Things That Hurt Me. 
(Note: the things he says aren’t generally actually nasty things but just things that are badly worded and hurt my feelings. For example: “you’re looking beautiful today! I think that dress makes you look thin” and like I’m certain he means well but I’d rather be able to accept the fact that I’m not thin rather than feel like his image of me on beautiful rests on his image of me as thin, y’know?)
Basically, how can I call him out on things that make me sad at the time? I kind of need a method to use when usually I’d just lose my nerve and stay quiet because I’m now kind of really fearing conflict. 
And what if The Fight does happen and we end up having a big argument, either now or in the future? How will I be able to convince myself that this isn’t the end of the world and that our relationship has the potential to survive that, when so far it’s been built on a foundation of mostly harmony and agreement? I feel like we’ve been constructed by all our friends as The Couple Who Never Fight, The Perfect Couple, and I’m scared of realising that we’re not.
~~Conflict Avoidant

Yesterday I celebrated WifeDay, a roving holiday where my friend T. and I go to lunch and otherwise love on each other. (Commander Logic and I also have this holiday, we just refer to it in text messages as “Doug’s?” “Doug’s!” until such time as I can create a powerful sausage-shaped beacon to flash in the sky.)

The “Wife” designation comes from when T. and I were roommates during her divorce and my last year of grad school/Darth Vader detox. We were broke and miserable –  “Ok, we have potatoes, onions, oil and $3.50 in loose change between us. Should we go soup or latkes this time?” – but we took fierce care of each other while respecting the other person’s space and autonomy in a way that I’d really never experienced before in any kind of relationship. One of my funniest memories of that year is the two of us commuting downtown, standing on the Belmont platform and realizing that we were both dressed in black turtlenecks/olive/khaki pants/cat-eye glasses/dark hair in ponytails and carrying camera equipment. When did we turn into cartoon copies of each other? We were both in the sort of “DUDES, UGH” headspace that made the prospect of signing up for “domestic partners” health insurance from her job at the S*bucks and registering for nice dishes seem like a good idea, and somewhere in there we started referring to each other as “Wife.”

Last time my folks came to visit we hung out with Logic and Wife, and my mom expressed marvel that I had such good friends. She isn’t someone who has a lot of close friendships or does much socializing, though she is very close to her sisters, so I said: “I didn’t grow up with sisters, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have sisters. They are to me what Aunt B. and Aunt M. are to you” and the lightbulb went on.

I know many of us are strongly drawn to “chosen family” narratives (I just mainlined a shitload of Fringe* on Netflix for just this reason), and I also know many of us have felt the power of re-defining family in a way that supports and nurtures us as adults or are looking to do that. So I’d love to hear – Who is or would be in your chosen family, if it were yours to choose? Real-life people, fictional characters, qualities you admire and desire and search for = all are welcome.

Moderation Note: I am going to ask very specifically that people keep stories of rape & abuse out of this thread. I don’t want to silence victims, but I also cannot read about these topics right now. To clarify, “my actual family is/was abusive, so I look outside them for love and support…” = TOTALLY OKAY. That is factual and gives context. Elaborating on and describing details of that abusive experience = I really can’t. This is not the thread where we bond over the horrors we’ve survived; this is the thread where we’ve survived them, or soon will have, or believe we’re going to.

Mad love and happy weekend to all of you.

*Totally enjoyable if you just repeat to yourself that “on this show, science is the same thing as magic.”

Dear Captain Awkward,

I need a second opinion. I’m at my wits end as to how to address something that has become a large problem with my boyfriend. My friends are no, help; I’ve gotten lucky, landed a good, caring boy, how could I have problems, lalalala-I-can’t-hear-you. I’m glad they approve of him, since I mostly trust their judgement, but… help?

Lately, I have been feeling really neglected by my boyfriend. (By lately, I mean since he stood me up a month ago; I went out with friends instead and it was fine…but he still stood me up.) This meant that if we talked, I initiated the conversation. If I went to his house, or he to mine, I planned it. Once we got there, if we watched tv/made food/fooled around, it was because I suggested it. If we were fooling around, I undressed him, and he had to be directed to return the favor. If we went out, I invited him somewhere, and he begrudgingly joined. 

This is not an exhaustive list, just things I pointed out specifically to him as “Hey, look, I’ve been putting in all the effort. Your turn to contribute” I sat him down, told him that I was feeling neglected and why. He agreed that he’s been shitty, and to try and change that. My solution was that for the next little while, it would be his turn. I was not going to initiate contact or plan anything; if he wants to see or talk to me, he’ll do so, if not, it won’t happen. That way, when we’re together, I can know that it’s because he wants to be there, not because I was pestering him.

But that’s not really working. He’ll invite me over, and then not know what to do. He’ll text me, and the conversation stops because things like “how’s your day/how are you/what’s up?” don’t occur to him. He claims that he knows I’m upset with him, which makes him think that I don’t want to talk to him, so he doesn’t initiate contact.

Knope 2012 Campaign Poster (Parks & Rec)Dear Captain Awkward,

My boyfriend and I met in college, and are following similar career paths. We’re a little different in the exact path, but it’s the same industry.

Last month a family member visiting my family said that he was best friends with a head honcho in the industry. He said that my boyfriend and I should send him our resumes so that he could pass them on to his friend. I was all over it, even though I knew nothing would come from it. My boyfriend was a little hesitant because of the low odds, but he put something together and sent it in.

Flash forward to yesterday and BAM we hear something back! Or rather, I hear something back. Nothing about a job, but head honcho wants to set up a call with me to speak about possibilities. His assistant sets up a call for today. We have the call, and it’s all sorts of amazing. There’s no job (yet) but he says I can call or email him any time and to definitely let him know when I’m in town so that he can set up meetings with different companies. Not necessarily job interviews, but people who can shoot me in the right direction. Awesome right?? A HUGE door opener!

Here’s my question…what about my boyfriend? He is going to be traveling to that town with me (we made plans a while ago) and I know that he’d love to have meetings. But I already feel like I’m receiving a huge favor, and I’d feel weird dragging him along or asking for meetings to be set up for him, too. I think that would be pretty imposing. All sorts of awkwardness in my brain right now. I know that I should tell him that look, this is now my contact. You had a chance to send in your resume when I did (he sent his in a few hours past the “deadline” – when my family member left). I know he’d understand but…wow I want him to have opportunities, too!

Anyway I think I have this question answered for myself, but I have no way to approach it. Should I just own the fact that this is now my situation? Or should I bring it up with bf and talk to him about it? This is nothing we would ever break up over, but I love him and want him to have awesome opportunities, too. And I really want to spare hurt feelings.

Thanks,
Opportunities For All!

Dear Opportunities:

I have very strong opinions about this, are you ready?

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semaphore

We’ll figure this shit out.

Hi Captain & Team Awkward,

I’ve been enjoying the site for a while now and have been able to take quite a few pointers from y’all, so thanks!
 
I guess the shortest way to ask my question is this: What are the green flags in any (budding) relationship? 
 
Best wishes –
Looking Forward to More Awesomeness 

Dear Looking Forward,

Sweet Machine on deck. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk about good relationships instead of the icy jaws of loneliness! Instead, you’re writing from the skylight car of the Awesome Train and want to make sure you’re going the right direction. High fives all around!

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Miracle Max from The Princess Bride

Maybe you’re only Mostly Gay.

Dear Readers, I promise a work or friendship or health or family question tomorrow, I swear, but this came in over the weekend and I think we can answer it pretty quickly and keep this week’s theme going.

Ahoy, Captain!

I’m another wayward really insecure dude with a lady problem. But I think it might be a moderately different kind of lady problem than you usually deal with. I hope! (Ed. note: SRSLY)

My parents always taught me at home that expressing any kind of attraction to a woman was wrong, because women are too pure for that- but they were so busy losing their shit over the idea of hetero sex, they didn’t even imagine other kinds. I was proudly out as gay since the end of high school. I had several boyfriends in college, some of which I was reallyy serious about. I know I like men. A lot.

I think it is obvious where I am going with this- I then fell HARD for a female friend, in the last semester of college, and it was requited. I can’t even describe how much I like this girl, Captain … I kind of want to pull a Tom Cruise and shout on national television about how much I love her. I totally get that I sound like an idiot. But she’s amazing and I am hella proud just to be her friend, let alone date her.

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