Tag Archives: Reader Questions

People are always telling me I could be attractive if I wanted to, and I acknowledge the truth of this – thing is, I don’t want to. I don’t care about my appearance beyond being clean and presentable. I’m not interested in putting more effort in just to please other people, and I’m perfectly comfortable looking like the slightly androgynous weirdo I am.

But it seems like I’m the only person comfortable with it. Friends and family friends and stepfamily I have to tolerate are constantly threatening me with makeovers and wheedling me to wear makeup or dress more feminine or switch to contact lenses. It makes me dread being around them. I tried doing the “pretty girl” thing once, felt like a fake the entire time, and got weirded out by the extra attention. I don’t WANT random dudes hitting on me – NO, EVEN IF THEY ARE BUYING ME THINGS. MAYBE ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE BUYING ME THINGS – but these, er, “friends” never accept this, and seem to take my stance as a personal attack. It gets extremely tiresome. Can we please just play Apples to Apples and not debate about my wardrobe? Just once?

So, some of these people I could feasibly break contact with. Am I justified in doing so (or is there some magic explanation that will get them off my case)? And as for the ones I still have to deal with for the foreseeable future, is there any way I can get them to drop the subject without giving them room to launch into their usual bullshit tirades about how society would implode without rigid gender roles and women looking nice for their man?

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Dear Captain

I am a lawyer (not in the US). I’ve been practising for just over a year now, after completing my degree and practical training part-time whilst working for my current firm as a secretary and paralegal for the past six years.

I have always harboured doubts about whether I was cut out to be a lawyer. While I am relatively comfortable with the intellectual aspects of the job (though I am increasingly beginning to doubt my abilities in this area), I struggle with the interpersonal aspects. I am highly introverted, conflict-avoidant, tend to have low self-esteem and generally lack confidence and assertiveness, none of which helps when trying to manage clients, other lawyers and colleagues.

My husband has a good albeit stressful job and earns more than me, but works in an area whose future is uncertain in the current economic climate. We have no debt, no mortgage and no kids.

Emotionally, I have had a terrible couple of months at work. I have made a few serious mistakes, both recently and about a year ago. I am terrified that eventually I will make a mistake that will get me struck off, or worse. I am continually breaking down in tears and feel unable to think clearly or function properly. I fantasise, frequently, about suffering a heart attack or stroke or getting seriously ill just so that I have a “legitimate” reason to quit my job. My confidence is completely shaken. I have had bad times before, but stuck with it because I wanted to finish my degree and get qualified.

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Dear Captain Awkward:

So, it’s like this. I met a great guy, and get this, it’s one of THOSE love stories where the girl winds up with the guy she went to school with, it was him all along! Hurrah for fairy stories!!!

So, all well and good and life is great with us, but the snag is he has an ex-girlfriend with whom he shared 20 odd  (druggy) years. After they split they stayed friends (without the benefits) and were very close. She’s got some fucked up Bonnie and Clyde fantasy going on, romanticizing the good old days when they robbed book stores to feed their habits (yuck!) and, while she says she wants him to be happy with someone else blah blah, in reality is making all kinds of noises (via Facebook comments and sending cards in the post) to let me know that she and he were the golden couple and will be forever.

I can’t help but get jealous about their obvious ‘history’ but as we are in a (new) relationship I feel weird that she sends him cards saying how much she loves him, and sends them addressed from the love nest they once shared.  She posts that she loves him all over his FB page, KNOWING that I’m going to read it. (Hello, we are over 40 btw not school kids!)

Is she trying to send a message to me? and how do I deal with it? We aren’t in the same country for a start, which helps, but I feel as if there are three of us in the relationship as he messages her and texts her EVERY day.. I am getting pissed off but don’t want to act like a needy jealous whinge-bag..

Thank you Captain.

Not Needy or Jealous (well ok, a bit)

Dear Not Needy, Definitely Jealous:

I feel comfortable saying that this woman is trying to send a message.

People don’t go to the Post Office on purpose and stand in line to get the special stamps that will send letters to other countries without taking a little extra effort to work that into their day.  If you and your boyfriend lived in the same area as this woman, she would send you both a lot of messages, like sneaking into your house and peeing in all the corners and dressing up in your favorite clothes and rubbing her bizness all over your pillow so that you will go nuts trying to figure out why everything in your life suddenly smells like crotch.

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You guys!  An actual question from an actual real-life reader!

Nicole Holofcener's Friends With Money

Nicole Holofcener's Friend With Money

Dear Captain Awkward:

I don’t have a lot of money (like, in debt right now?) but friends keep inviting me to eat out with them.  Sometimes these people are from out of town; sometimes I am going to meet someone for lunch near their office, and it’s 10 below; etc.  It’s important to me to spend time with my friends; how can I do this and also not spend a lot of money?  Can I just always order the soup, or will they feel awkward?

This is a subject that unfortunately Captain Awkward can personally relate to.   Those $8.00 sandwiches at that charming cafe near your friend’s office and that $15.00 tagine at the cute Algerian place with out-of-town friends can really add up. And then you miss the last bus home and it’s late and you take a cab and $15.00 became $30, and the cab wasn’t a stupid decision because your safety is more important than money, but now you’re eating peanut butter and jelly for a week.  Or you order the soup and your friends order a dinner and a bottle of wine and then there’s that horrible moment when it’s time to pay the check and you don’t want to be That Guy so you fork over $20 anyway.

First, I want to give yourself permission to be poor.  There’s a big taboo in American culture around admitting that you don’t have quite enough money.  We’re all faking it until we make it.   Stop faking it.  Just be honest with yourself about your financial situation – you’re working hard, you’re digging yourself out of debt, and you need to be really careful with money for the time being.  You have nothing to be ashamed of, and in this economy you are far from alone.

Second, I want you repeat this to yourself.  Your friends just want to see you and have a good time.  If they knew their invitations were causing you anxiety, they’d either offer to pay your way or suggest something different. That weird cocktail of shame and deprivation you’re feeling when you weigh whether you can really afford that Pad Thai on Friday?  Sadly, I know all too much about that, but your friends don’t know.

Now I have a few strategies for you. Read More