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Posted by JenniferP

#TFG = #thatfuckingguy

Ahoy, Captain!

I would appreciate any advice you could give on supporting a friend (female pronouns) who is not yet ready to leave an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend. This has been an ongoing issue for about 2 years, but something happened a few days ago and I could use an outside perspective.

I would describe the boyfriend as coercive (in past conversations she has alluded to having sex with him just so that he will stop begging, even when she doesn’t want to) and one of my big concerns is that Friend will be extremely isolated in our current city without me. I think he looks through her phone and computer, so I pretty much assume that he could read any written communication I send. I censor myself in written communication with her and we only have frank conversations when we go for walks in the nearby park. He often invites himself along to things we have planned and it feels like he is monitoring our friendship. He also makes controlling comments, but when I call them out, he always says, “I was just joking. [Friend] knows I’m just joking. She’s amazing and the best thing ever…etc.” They live together, but he does none of the domestic work and will only do paid work (freelance) when she nags him.

A couple times a year, she will reach a boiling point and tell him to shape up or she will leave. He will improve for about 2 weeks and then go back to the status quo. Her work/school schedule has been grueling the past few years and she hasn’t had the energy to deal with the inevitable fallout of a breakup. Most of our one-on-one conversations end with me reiterating an offer that she is always welcome to stay at my apartment when she is ready to leave. She’s not blinded by love or anything, just doesn’t feel like there is a good way or time to exit the relationship. He is currently estranged from his family and not really working, so she feels like if she dumps him, he will have nothing. One of my priorities is staying in her life, so I don’t want to overstep and give her boyfriend ammunition for isolating her further. Her parents think her boyfriend is fantastic and her other close friends live in other cities and are busy with newborn babies.

A couple days ago, I ended up spending about 30 minutes alone with her boyfriend while we were stuck in terrible traffic, on our way to pick her up and go to an event. I don’t enjoy his company and generally avoid spending time with him. Our one-on-conversation (mostly him doing a monologue) was frightening. He was delusional, paranoid, and unable to remember things I had said 5 minutes earlier. I had to repeatedly remind him where we were going and why we were going. He was extremely animated in his conversation and was looking at me while he talked and not the road, often swerving at the last minute. His ranting mostly focused on how the [creative] industry was scared of his success and how “they” wanted to keep his [art] away from “the people” and that this was a huge mistake because “the universe was going to revolt” if they didn’t get access to his [art]. At first I thought he was joking and just being overly full of himself, but he was completely serious. He then segued into how his estrangement with his family was a concern of the Catholic Church. Apparently, him “stepping out of line” is crumbling the foundation of the church by upsetting the established hierarchy. At several points, he referred to himself as royalty and referred to his lifelong “fame” that comes with being part of his family. Before you wonder, you have no clue who he is. His “fame” comes from the local and state politics his family is involved with in one of the poorest states in the country.

This grandiose sense of self and paranoia about “the establishment” trying to prevent him from success is worrisome. There were also times when he said things that I know for a fact aren’t true, but he seems to have fully convinced himself of this alternate version. I have considered that he may have been on drugs during that conversation, though that possibility does not alleviate my worry. He does not believe in therapy, though Friend has suggested it to him many times over the last two years.

I have already sent Friend a vague text and we are getting together this weekend for a walk where we will be able to speak more frankly. I just feel powerless to help and that my support has fallen woefully short. I don’t know how to be a supportive friend in this situation and I’m really worried that he is acting like this with her on a regular basis. It was exhausting for 30 minutes, I can’t imagine what it is doing to her longterm. I don’t think he is violent now, but think he could become violent if she breaks up with him. I feel like Friend is the frog in the pot of water, slowly boiling to death. She’s been unhappy, but the decline has been gradual so there hasn’t been a catalyst for her to jump ship.

I know I can’t make her leave, but I do want to make sure I am there for her if she needs support. Any words of wisdom to help me be a good friend in this situation?

-Helpless & Worried (female pronouns)

Dear Helpless & Worried,

I think you’re doing as well as you can with this. You’ve figured out how to communicate with her around his possible monitoring of her electronic conversations. You’ve made it clear that you’ll be a landing place when and if she leaves him. Let me refer you to some past posts that deal with the issue of being a good friend in a basically impossible situation.

Let’s address the elephant in the room:

Without diagnosing this dude (seriously, no “It sounds like x!” comments, please, we don’t actually have to narrow it down), the grandiosity, short-term memory slips, and erratic driving behavior he displayed might correlate to a number of mental health conditions that all have one important thing in common: They will not get better and will most likely get worse without focused regular psychiatric care & medication. You and your friend both might benefit from calling or texting the support folks at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), describing what you experienced with this guy, and seeing what they recommend. Your friend can’t make him get treatment, nor can you, but their support resources for “family members and caregivers” might be able to walk her through what she’s dealing with and have checklists and methods for coaxing reluctant people into treatment.

Important: If you’re ever dealing with someone who is having the paranoid sort of delusions and they are getting very upset and agitated, it doesn’t help to try to convince them of what’s real or deny the truth of what they are describing. They are experiencing whatever it is as if it’s real, so it’s better to validate their feelings until you can get them to Help or Help to them. You don’t have to participate in the delusion yourself, so try “I don’t see any spiders, but that must be a truly awful sight” or “I don’t hear anything, but that must feel really strange and scary.” Be honest about where your own perceptions differ but validate and comfort the upset feelings the person is having without arguing them out of feeling them. Source: A NAMI-created education session for friends/family/loved ones I went to back when Mr. Awkward was hospitalized a few years ago for a bad episode with his bipolar disorder .

It’s a sad, true fact that one can be a clingy, controlling, abusive jerk who needs to be dumped and have some pretty serious mental health stuff going on. Correlation is not causation. Even if he gets treatment (unlikely, since he “doesn’t believe in therapy”), your friend will most likely be better off without this guy in her life, and I don’t want to suggest that she’s responsible somehow for making this happen or that she needs to stay until his mental health is stabilized. Just, knowledge is power, and also, support resources who are not you are useful things to have.

I’m now going to stuff that elephant back into a tightly sealed container, because he didn’t write to me and she didn’t write to me and this is about you and the limits of what you can do here.

If you ever witness an episode like the one you did, when you’re safely out of the car it’s okay to say, “You are not making a lot of sense today, and your driving was very erratic. You seem really not okay to me, like, maybe there’s something going on that a doctor should take a look at.” Say it directly to him as gently and directly as you are able. He may argue that he doesn’t believe in therapy or “Big Pharma” or whatever, which, okay, cool. Don’t talk about therapists or psychiatrists, use the generic catch-all of “doctor.” “I think you should make an appointment with a doctor and tell that person you’re having problems with memory and concentration, especially when driving. Dude, get yourself checked out – if it’s nothing, then why not rule it out?” He sees you at least nominally as a friend, so, use that and speak to him the way a friend would.

He 99.9% won’t go. On some level he suspects that if he goes to a doctor then “They” or “The System” will know there’s something bigger going on. That’s okay. Say it anyway, offer to be the driver on the way back – “I just don’t feel safe with you behind the wheel after what I just saw, and it’s even more worrying that you don’t remember what happened, why don’t you let me get us home, I’d feel much more comfortable” – and if he won’t budge, definitely find your own transportation home. Don’t make it about all future rides or ultimatums, just take it one ride at a time – Right now, you’d feel more comfortable if someone else drove. And in future conversations with him, if those happen, you can keep referring back to that particular night that you personally witnessed (instead of the shitty behavior you know about). “You don’t remember, but when we were in the car that night, your behavior was very disturbing. I really, really hope you’ll talk to a doctor about it. There’s no shame in trying to get to the bottom of something like that so you can feel better/drive safely/put my & girlfriend’s mind at ease.”

If he doesn’t listen to you or seek treatment, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Sometimes speaking up about an issue isn’t about convincing the other person, it’s because it’s good for you to not stay silent. It’s good for you to name what’s happening, to remind yourself that it’s not normal, to remind yourself what you witnessed and experienced, and to put that out there in the world and not just silently fret about it.

When you next talk to your friend, another thing you can do is accurately and honestly describe what you saw. Talk about the behaviors, especially the scary driving, and talk about how they impacted you. You won’t be riding in a car with the boyfriend as the driver any more and you recommend that she doesn’t, either. He could have killed someone. He could have killed you. He could kill her. This is a very big deal and it can’t be waved away.

You can also talk about the grandiosity and the memory lapses and the other strange behavior you observed. Message: “I think there is something very serious going on with him, and he needs serious help – more help than you can possibly give or be expected to give.

He doesn’t believe in therapy so of course he won’t want to go and she’ll doubtless raise that objection. Your script is: “I think this might beyond our friendly neighborhood therapist, even. This is serious doctor stuff.” Then give her the NAMI resources or whatever else you’ve found and that our nice commenters recommend.

Then, here’s your script for the one big serious talk:

“You are my friend forever, and I always want to see you. If you ever need a place to stay, a listening ear, a ride, whatever I can give, it’s yours. I will keep making communication safe between us and making time for these walks when I can see you. 

I am seriously worried about you the longer you stay in this relationship. I think it is draining the life out of you, and I don’t think it’s your responsibility to support and help this guy even one minute longer than you already have. I think that he needs help that you can’t give, and the longer he tries to make you his girlfriend/mommy/financial support/mental health care substitute/pacifier, the longer he will delay seeking that care. I think it’s okay for you to call in medical professionals here, or think about contacting his family to see if they can help somehow – I think things are that serious and that they’ll only get worse from here. I know that’s overwhelming to contemplate, but if things stayed just like they are now and didn’t get any better, how long would you stay? Another year? Another 5 years? Forever?

In the end, only you can decide what’s right for you, and I trust you to take care of yourself and make a good decision about what to do. You don’t owe me a breakup with him, you don’t owe me anything but being my friend. You do what you need to do, and if you need me, I’ll be there, no questions asked.

That said, I can’t ride in a car with him anymore, anywhere. I have to make that boundary for my own safety. And I can’t pretend the way he behaves lately is normal or okay with me. I also don’t want him inviting himself along on our plans anymore, so what do you need from me to help make that happen?”  

Your friend will have some stuff to say, so, listen to her.

And then, in the aftermath of this talk, as you go forward in this friendship, here’s what I want you to do:

Make your friendship about something other than “helping” and “supporting” her in regards to him. Make your friendship about how much you like her and want her company in your life. In practice, this means:

  • It’s okay to redirect conversations about him. “You already know what I think, so, what are you asking?“What do you think you’ll do?” “How do you want to handle that?” 
  • It’s okay to nope out of some conversations about him and not make all the time you spend together time that you chew on the gristle of her relationship problems. “Ugh, that sucks, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that, but I’ve reached my Dude-talk limit for the day.” U R Not The Asshole Whisperer.
  • It’s more than okay to recommend that she see a therapist or counselor. He’s the one with big, dramatic issues, but if she’s being drained dry by him, her having a safe place to talk and an advocate for herself within the mental health system is not a bad thing at all. You don’t have to be her sole outlet.
  • I know you’re worried about her becoming isolated from having other friendships and relationships, but I’m serious about not getting in a car with him again, not ever. It’s okay to keep that boundary. “If Dude is driving, sorry, I can’t make it, but I’ll see you at the usual time for our walk.”
  • Get out of the role of being the only mentor/advice-giver/”the okay one” or whatever. Make it a point to ask her advice about things that she’s good and knowledgable about. Ask her for help with things that she’d be good at helping with. You can’t make “getting her out of the relationship” the project of your friendship with her for a lot of reasons, not least because it takes the average victim multiple attempts to leave before they actually do.
  • Make sure there is a fluffy/fun/positive/enjoyable thing that you share and talk about, whether it’s trading books or watching a favorite show together or a shared hobby or your weekly walks or texting cute animal photos. If he’s monitoring her communications (BAD, VERY BAD, RED FLAG) you having an innocuous conversation topic is a good thing, but it’s also important that you enjoy your friendship with each other as much as possible.
  • I hate that this is a thing, but referring to your time together as Girl Time!!! and planning really female-coded activities for when you hang out can help somewhat in minimizing how much he tags along to your plans. “Sorry, this is Lady Time! No boys allowed!” sometimes translates better for misogynists than “Steve, you’re not invited!”
  • Lady-Time Expanded: Is there a way for the two of you to join an all-woman choir or sport or other hobby group that meets periodically? Community for her, community for you, no That Guy.

If you’re doing that stuff, you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances.

While this is all going on, I also want you to take excellent care of yourself. Don’t neglect your other friendships and your social life. You need friendships without this abusive jerk hanging out in the background all the time. Don’t neglect your career, your finances, your education, your housekeeping. Above all, don’t neglect your own enjoyment and pleasure in life. Taking care of people and supporting them is great, but when your power to change a situation is as limited as it is here, making sure you can disengage is healthy.

This is all so imperfect. The mental health system is imperfect. Someone else’s relationship troubles are completely unfixable by you, and abusive people poison everything around themselves and the person in their grasp. You can’t make yourself like him, there’s only so long you can lie and pretend around him, and there’s only so long you can make vague soothing noises. There is no great, wonderful, awesome, brilliant way to handle this, there is only telling the truth and offering what you can safely offer.


Munich Meetup June 28

Jun. 22nd, 2017 01:40 pm
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Posted by JenniferP

From Hannah, the organizer:

We will meet in the Michaeligarten beer garden in Ostpark on Wednesday
28th June at 18.00. If it is raining, we will postpone and meet on
Friday 30th instead. If the weather looks bad, we will discuss on the
“Munich?” thread on the forums whether or not to postpone, so check in
there for a decision.

The nearest U-Bahn station is Michaelibad on the U5. You can bring
your own food into the beer garden or buy food there, although you
won’t be able to bring in drinks.

I will bring a teddy bear to put on the table so people can find us.
If you need to get in touch, you can post in the “Munich?” thread on
the forums or email me on hannah.in.munich@gmail.com.

Thanks so much!

Have a good time!


[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Jay Livingston, PhD

Originally posted at Montclair Socioblog.

“Freedom of opinion does not exist in America,” said DeTocqueville 250 years ago. He might have held the same view today.

But how could a society that so values freedom and individualism be so demanding of conformity?  I had blogged about this in 2010 with references to old sitcoms, but for my class this semester I needed something more recent. Besides, Cosby now carries too much other baggage. ABC’s “black-ish”* came to the rescue.

The idea I was offering in class was, first, that our most cherished American values can conflict with one another. For example, our desire for family-like community can clash with our value on independence and freedom. Second, the American solution to this conflict between individual and group is often what Claude Fischer calls “voluntarism.”  We have freedom – you can voluntarily choose which groups to belong to. But once you choose to be a member, you have to conform.  The book I had assigned my class (My Freshman Year by Rebekah Nathan*) uses the phrase “voluntary conformism.”

In a recent episode of “black-ish,” the oldest daughter, Zoey, must choose which college to go to. She has been accepted at NYU, Miami, Vanderbilt, and Southern Cal. She leans heavily towards NYU, but her family, especially her father Dre, want her to stay close to home. The conflict is between Family – family togetherness, community – and Independence. If Zoey goes to NYU, she’ll be off on her own; if she stays in LA, she’ll be just a short drive from her family. New York also suggests values on Achievement, Success, even Risk-taking (“If I can make it there” etc.)

Zoey decides on NYU, and her father immediately tries to undermine that choice, reminding her of how cold and dangerous it will be. It’s typical sitcom-dad buffonery, and his childishness tips us off that this position, imposing his will, is the wrong one. Zoey, acting more mature, simply goes out and buys a bright red winter coat.

The argument for Independence, Individual Choice, and Success is most clearly expressed by Pops (Dre’s father, who lives with them), and it’s the turning point in the show. Dre and his wife are complaining about the kids growing up too fast. Pops says, “Isn’t this what you wanted? Isn’t this why you both worked so hard — movin’ to this White-ass neighborhood, sendin’ her to that White-ass school so she could have all these White-ass opportunities? Let. Her. Go.”

That should be the end of it. The final scene should be the family bidding a tearful goodbye to Zoey at LAX. But a few moments later, we see Zoey talking to her two younger siblings (8-year old twins – Jack and Diane). They remind her of how much family fun they have at holidays. Zoey has to tell them that New York is far, so she won’t be coming back till Christmas – no Thanksgiving, no Halloween.

Jack reminds her about the baby that will arrive soon. “He won’t even know you.”

In the next scene, Zoey walks into her parents room carrying the red winter coat. “I need to return this.”

“Wrong size?” asks her father.

“Wrong state.”

She’s going to stay in LA and go to USC.

Over a half-century ago, David McClelland wrote that a basic but unstated tenet of American culture is: “I want to freely choose to do what others expect me to do.” Zoey has chosen to do what others want her to do – but she has made that individual choice independently. It’s “voluntary conformism,” and it’s the perfect American solution (or at least the perfect American sitcom solution).

* For those totally unfamiliar with the show, the premise is this: Dre Johnson, a Black man who grew up in a working-class Black neighborhood of LA, has become a well-off advertising man, married a doctor (her name is Rainbow, or usually Bow), and moved to a big house in an upscale neighborhood. They have four children, and the wife is pregnant with a fifth.

Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University. You can follow him at Montclair SocioBlog or on Twitter.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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June 21st, 2017next

June 21st, 2017: Awesome Con was a great time! Thank you to everyone who came by to say hello: I'd never done a show in Washington DC before and it was really terrific to meet everyone! YOUR CITY HAS AMAZING STUFF IN IT TOO, NOW YOU KNOW.

I am Kickstarting a new book! It's called WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE PUNCHES A FRIGGIN' SHARK and/or other stories and it's gonna be great, in my not-at-all-biased opinion!!

– Ryan

[syndicated profile] little_details_lj_feed

Posted by carlyinrome


When: Modern day, realistic
Where: Non-specified major American city

Characters A and B are nurses in a large hospital. Character A has to hide a small, physical object (a jump drive about the size of a lipstick) quickly in or around the hospital where they work, and she decides to entrust it to Character B, but she does not have time to meet him in person for the transfer, or even to contact him to tell him to look for it. She needs to be reasonably sure that it will reach him relatively quickly and not be intercepted by someone else (staff, patient, police, etc.). I need him to get/find it days to weeks after she hides/sends it, and while there can exist the possibility that someone else would have come across it before he gets to it, I need her to be sure that what she's doing is safe. I thought about some sort of internal mail system, but (a) that's not going to cause the delay I need, and (b) I think she would consider that too risky re: interception. I thought about her hiding it in some sort of machine/monitor in a patient's room, but I think (a) that does not seem very safe, and she has to think it's safe, and (b) there's only a small chance that he'll come across it quickly.

I went through the usa: health care and hospitals tag in this community, and did Internet searches on variations of hospital hiding places, hospital internal mail, hospital internal mailboxes, hospital nurse communication, hiding something in a hospital, etc., and there's nothing even close to what I'm looking for. (Most of the results are about either email or person-to-person verbal communication.)

I very much appreciate your help.


June 24: Atlanta Meetup

Jun. 20th, 2017 12:35 am
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

From the organizer, Cat:

Hello Awkwardeers in Atlanta!

On Saturday, June 24, I will be going on a walk in the Inman Park neighborhood, starting at the Inman Park MARTA station and just walking around admiring houses and gardens and exploring any little neighborhood parks I come across for about an hour. Pokemon Go players welcome!

I’ll be at the station’s bus area at 9:15am and depart at 9:30am, because any later and things will be getting quite hot. I will be holding a rainbow plush Cthulu toy while waiting at the station. I have a long brown braid and glasses.

There is free parking at the station if you are coming by car. If it is pouring rain that morning you can assume the meetup is canceled but if you are unsure I will also post in the Friends of Captain Awkward forums meetups thread if I cancel.

Note: I know this meetup will not be accessible for everyone, this is just what I felt like doing this month. I tried to make May’s meetup 100% accessible and will do so again next time. If you want to host your own meetup for June or at any other time, please do! The more the merrier!

Have a great walk, Atlanta!

 

 


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Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

Based on analyses of General Social Survey data, a well-designed and respected source of data about American life, members of the Millennial generation are acquiring about the same number of sexual partners as the Baby Boomers. This data suggests that the big generational leap was between the Boomers and the generation before them, not the Boomers and everyone that came after. And rising behavioral permissiveness definitely didn’t start with the Millennials. Sexually speaking, Millennials look a lot like their parents at the same age and are perhaps even less sexually active then Generation X.

Is it true?

It doesn’t seem like it should be true. In terms of attitudes, American society is much more sexually permissive than it was for Boomers, and Millennials are especially more permissive. Boomers had to personally take America through the sexual revolution at a time when sexual permissiveness was still radical, while Generation X had to contend with a previously unknown fatal sexually transmitted pandemic. In comparison, the Millennials have it so easy. Why aren’t they having sex with more people?

A new study using data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) (hat tip Paula England) contrasts with previous studies and reports an increase. It finds that nine out of ten Millennial women had non-marital sex by the time they were 25 years old, compared to eight out of ten Baby Boomers. And, among those, Millennials reported two additional total sexual partners (6.5 vs. 4.6).

Nonmarital Sex by Age 25, Paul Hemez

Are Millennials acquiring more sexual partners after all?

I’m not sure. The NSFG report used “early” Millennials (only ones born between 1981 and 1990). In a not-yet-released book, the psychologist Jean Twenge uses another survey — the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System — to argue that the next generation (born between 1995 and 2002), which she calls the “iGen,” are even less likely to be sexually active than Millennial. According to her analysis, 37% of 9th graders in 1995 (born in 1981, arguably the first Millennial year) had lost their virginity, compared to 34% in 2005, and 24% in 2015.

Percentage of high school students who have ever had sex, by grade. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 1991-2015.

iGen, Jean Twenge

If Twenge is right, then we’re seeing a decline in the rate of sexual initiation and possibly partner acquisition that starts somewhere near the transition between Gen X and Millennial, proceeds apace throughout the Millennial years, and is continuing — Twenge argues accelerating — among the iGens. So, if the new NSFG report finds an increase in sexual partners between the Millennials and the Boomers, it might be because they sampled on “early” Millennials, those closer to Gen Xers, on the top side of the decline.

Honestly, I don’t know. It’s interesting though. And it’s curious why the big changes in sexually permissive attitudes haven’t translated into equally sexually permissive behaviors. Or, have actually accompanied a decrease in sexual behavior. It depends a lot on how you chop up the data, too. Generations, after all, all artificial categories. And variables like “nonmarital sex by age 25” are specific and may get us different findings than other measures. Sociological questions have lots of moving parts and it looks as if we’re still figuring this one out.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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June 19th, 2017next

June 19th, 2017: Awesome Con was a great time! Thank you to everyone who came by to say hello: I'd never done a show in Washington DC before and it was really terrific to meet everyone! YOUR CITY HAS AMAZING STUFF IN IT TOO, NOW YOU KNOW.

– Ryan

A deceased tenant's property

Jun. 17th, 2017 06:11 pm
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Posted by tenderly_wicked

Hello! I need some information for a mystery novel. It's set in Europe, modern time, but it's an AU, so I only need to be convincing, without any specifics related to a particular country.

The question is: who takes charge of the property of a deceased tenant if the house he rented is a part of a big commercial residential complex? It's more or less clear what a landlord of a single apartment does in this case (and the process is almost the same in different countries). When I google "deceased tenant's property", I get a lot of instructions for individual landlords. But what about a large housing corporation? Who, among the staff, will take care of all the formalities, notify the dead man's relatives, store his property, etc? Will it be one person, or will different people take care of different stages of the process? Will they be in contact with the relatives directly, or will they need lawyers? On the whole, how will everything be organized in a big company?
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Posted by JenniferP

Hello Captain!

My issue feels so petty, but it’s seriously giving me anxiety…

I am fairly close friends with an older male coworker. He is very into bike riding, and over the years has tried to get me on board with his hobby. I’ve been fairly straightforward in telling him that it really isn’t my thing, and reaffirmed this just a few weeks ago when we were out together. Coincidentally, he was leaving the next day for a big cycling trip. While he was gone he texted to ask me what my hat size was and, thinking nothing of it, I replied.

I came in to work the next week to find, of all things, a brand new bike helmet on my chair. WTF?! I thanked him for it, but reiterated that I was making no promises as far as using it, but joked it would come in handy if they sky fell in at work. He responded that he understood, and then immediately asked it the helmet fit. I ignored the question.

Then a few days later he shows up in my office, and tells me that we’re picking a night after work for a short, 30 minute ride. I commented that he really doesn’t listen, and he laughed.

I DON’T WANT TO RIDE BIKES!
I DON’T WANT A BIKE HELMET!
I TOLD HIM I DON’T WANT TO RIDE BIKES!

I am really frustrated and angry, and don’t appreciate being strong armed into doing something I very clearly said I don’t want to do. This guy is a good friend, and I don’t want to make him feel bad, but at the same time I am (maybe unreasonably) miffed about this. I’ve been getting way better at saying no and pushing back, but saying no and pushing back is just not working here. I don’t know if this matters at all, but he is older and married, and I am a younger married female- our relationship has always been platonic, but he has put a toe over the line a few times with regard to references to my looks, and comments about marrying me if he were younger.

Please help.

Thanks in advance!
No Means No

Dear No Means No:

He is being so fucking weird, intrusive, aggressive, and oblivious that I want you to immediately absolve yourself from ever worrying about “making him feel bad” about this. HE is making YOU feel bad, and then making you do extra emotional labor to worry about his feelings.

I suggest that you take the bike helmet, still in its box, put it back on his chair with a note that says “Thanks, but I don’t ride bikes.”

Other options: Donate it. Put it in the garbage.*

GO RIDE BIKES WITH YOUR WIFE, DUDE.

OR GO TO A BIKE-RIDING MEETUP AND MAKE BIKE-RIDING FRIENDS.

RIDING BIKES ALONE IS ALSO GOOD.

MAYBE ONE OF YOUR MALE COWORKERS RIDES BIKES?

STOP TRYING TO HARASS YOUR COWORKER INTO IT, WE CAN SEE YOU COMING FOR MILES.

When he comes to weirdly talk about it with you (and he will), say: “I do not know how to make myself clearer: I am not interested in riding bikes with you. I know you mean to be thoughtful but your ‘gift’ and subsequent insistence on planning a bike ride is making me very uncomfortable. What will it take for you to understand that this is not something I ever want to do?

If it hurts his feelings or he gets weird about it (which he will), OK. GOOD. FINE. If he wanted to avoid hurt feelings he could have listened to you the first time you said “No thanks!” and the at least 27 times you’ve said no since then. You saying “no” to riding bikes at this point is “hurting his feelings” like you holding a fork and him running across a room to impale himself onto it is “stabbing him with a fork.”

Then, if he ever brings up riding bikes with you again, say a flat “No” and move away. If he retaliates against you at work in any way, document all this stuff and report his ass to HR. I’m serious. It’s great that y’all have been work “friends” all this time, but he is the one killing that friendly vibe by trying to force his hobby on you.

Incidentally, when I think back to the (non-zero)(always gross)(never pleasant or cute or friendly) amount of times that older male coworkers or older male customers or old men in general have said “I would totally marry you if I were younger, heh heh!” to me I wish I’d had the guts or wit to have said something deeply crushing in return, like “I think that you think that’s a compliment, how interesting” or “Yikes, there‘s a mental picture.” Mostly what I did was cringe away and wait for the earth to mercifully swallow me while Geezer McPatronizing laughed at my embarrassment. Dudes, especially older/old-ish dudes, this is never the “compliment” that you think it is. Never. Even if you are an “adorable” old Grampa with a mustache talking to a precocious 16-year-old at her diner waitressing job and everyone in this story is from the South where theoretically people just put up with this bullshit and pretend to find it cute, just shut up about your alternate timeline marriage offers, forever.

In short, friends listen to you when you say “no thanks!” If he can’t hear you loud and clear, he’s not acting like your friend, and that’s not your fault.

 

*Wasteful, I know. Who cares. She doesn’t want the fucking bike helmet and sometimes you need to get a thing out of your life more than you need to spend time and emotional labor finding the perfect disposal solution.

 


[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Josh Coleman PhD

I work with one of the most heartbroken groups of people in the world: fathers whose adult children want nothing to do with them. While every day has its challenges, Father’s Day—with its parade of families and feel-good ads—makes it especially difficult for these Dads to avoid the feelings of shame, guilt and regret always lurking just beyond the reach of that well-practiced compartmentalization. Like birthdays, and other holidays, Father’s Day creates the wish, hope, or prayer that maybe today, please today, let me hear something, anything from my kid.

Many of these men are not only fathers but grandfathers who were once an intimate part of their grandchildren’s lives. Or, more tragically, they discovered they were grandfathers through a Facebook page, if they hadn’t yet been blocked. Or, they learn from an unwitting relative bearing excited congratulations, now surprised by the look of grief and shock that greets the newly announced grandfather. Hmm, what did I do with those cigars I put aside for this occasion?

And it’s not just being involved as a grandfather that gets denied. The estrangement may foreclose the opportunity to celebrate other developmental milestones he always assumed he’d attend, such as college graduations, engagement parties, or weddings. Maybe he was invited to the wedding but told he wouldn’t get to walk his daughter down the aisle because that privilege was being reserved for her father-in-law whom she’s decided is a much better father than he ever was.

Most people assume that a Dad would have to do something pretty terrible to make an adult child not want to have contact. My clinical experience working with estranged parents doesn’t bear this out. While those cases clearly exist, many parents get cut out as a result of the child needing to feel more independent and less enmeshed with the parent or parents. A not insignificant number of estrangements are influenced by a troubled or compelling son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Sometimes a parent’s divorce creates the opportunity for one parent to negatively influence the child against the other parent, or introduce people who compete for the parent’s love, attention or resources. In a highly individualistic culture such as ours, divorce may cause the child to view a parent more as an individual with relative strengths and weaknesses rather than a family unit of which they’re a part.

Little binds adult children to their parents today beyond whether or not the adult child wants that relationship. And a not insignificant number decide that they don’t.

While my clinical work hasn’t shown fathers to be more vulnerable to estrangement than mothers, they do seem to be more at risk of a lower level of investment from their adult children. A recent Pew survey found that women more commonly say their grown children turn to them for emotional support while men more commonly say this “hardly ever” or “never” occurs. This same study reported that half of adults say they are closer with their mothers, while only 15 percent say they are closer with their fathers.

So, yes, let’s take a moment to celebrate fathers everywhere. And another to feel empathy for those Dads who won’t have any contact with their child on Father’s Day.

Or any other day.

Josh Coleman is Co-Chair, Council on Contemporary Families, and author most recently of When Parents Hurt. Originally posted at Families as They Really Are.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

[syndicated profile] dinosaur_comics_feed
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June 16th, 2017next

June 16th, 2017: TODAY and this weekend I am in WASHINGTON DC for Awesome Con! It's my first time ever doing a show in Washington. YOU SHOULD COME

– Ryan

[syndicated profile] menstrual_cups_feed

Posted by kv0717

I have recently have been looking to buy my first menstrual cup , and from what I have read the length of how high up your cervix is, is one of the biggest factors when choosing a cup. I did the finger test ( on the first and second day of period) and I was unable to touch my cervix with my whole finger, so first I assumed I had a high cervix, but I have short fingers, with my longest finger being 2.5 inches long. Is this considered high ? I was reading that some people were considering 3-4 inches or higher a high cervix. Also any ideas on how to do the test to see how high my cervix truly is ?
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

I participate in a small sport, with several branches. I am both a referee and a ‘player’ in this sport. (If you see any inadvertent clues as to the sport, please could you edit them out?)

At the club where I practice, lots of people know that I referee, and often ask me questions about the rules. I don’t mind these questions, and enjoy answering them, it’s part of why I love being a referee, and part of what has helped me become one of the country’s (UK) most senior referees in one branch of the sport.

In one of the smaller branches, I’m actually getting quite good – in fact I’ll be representing my country at a world championships later this year. This is my first time at an international event, and unsurprisingly, I have ramped up my practice.

My problem is when I have gone to the club to practice, and other club members start asking me questions. It generally starts out OK with just one question, but that inevitably turns into “but what if [related but slightly different situation]?”.

How can I politely let people know that they have crossed the line from a welcome short question and answer into an imposition? Especially when the line is crossed quite quickly. I want to end the conversation as soon as possible while still making it clear I’d be happy to answer short questions in future? This is complicated slightly by the fact that I’m an introvert with extreme shyness, and anxiety. And having to tell someone no feels like confrontation to me and brings my anxiety right up! Also, these people are my friends, and answering questions starts off as a nice way to interact with people I like.

On a slightly extended note (feel free to edit this out if you prefer), an example was this weekend. I was pretty tired after going for a run first thing, and then spending all morning at practice. I had broken for lunch and was making a cup of tea in the clubhouse. A Lady from the club started asking me questions about the new dress code, and I replied with a sensible answer. But she kept asking the same question “could I wear this, could I wear that”. I felt like I had to keep answering. I did walk away, when I was too tired to keep standing, and had actually gone and sat down on the other side of the clubhouse but she followed me and started asking what local competitions would be suitable for her daughter. I said outright several times that I didn’t know about junior competitions, but she kept on asking and asking and asking. Captain, I was soooo tired, and this was my lunch break! I just wanted her to go away. This is an extreme example, as the lady in question doesn’t pick up on social cues very well, so I might need something more pointed for her.

Thank you for your lovely blog, I have really enjoyed reading since I discovered it a few weeks ago.

All the best,
Trying to Practice (she/her pronouns)

Dear Trying To Practice,

I say this as a fairly soft-spoken, young-ish appearing, reasonably affable female person in a “I’m here to answer questions and teach you stuff!” profession where students have sometimes followed me into the bathroom to ask questions. Sometimes you just gotta say “I’d love to answer all your questions, but… “

  • “…I need this class break to organize my notes, can you email me or schedule an appointment if you need to sit down and talk it through?”
  • “…I need my bathroom time to be alone time, can we talk about it when we’re back in class?”
  • “…I need to think more about their question, can they remind me next class?”
  • “…I don’t know that off the top of my head, but the Library/Post-Production Center/Audio Suite/Professor in charge of that specialty is a good resource. Can I assign you to research it a little and report back to the class next week? Thanks!”
  • “…so sorry, I have to tune you out for a sec before I lose my train of thought (a real possibility for me). Can you remind me of your question by email when we’re back in class?

I want to help people out, I want them to feel comfortable asking me questions, and sometimes I really, really need that 10 minutes or whatever to not be in on-demand information dispenser mode, and I don’t think I’m being rude or a bad professor by setting that boundary.

For you this could translate as:

  • Great question! I can’t chat about it right this second, today is my practice day. Remind me next time I see you/Email me/This is a great person-who-is-not-me to ask if you need an answer today. Gotta run!” 
  • I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head, sorry! I’ve got to put my head down right now and finish my lunch, if you look into this let me know what you find out.
  • I don’t know anything about junior competitions, sorry. That’s a great question, I wish I could help. I’m so sorry to cut you off – I need to wolf down my lunch right now so I can get back to practicing, good luck finding out what you need to know!”

Consider also, especially with the person who follows you around the club to ask questions:

  • Needing to step out and make a phone call or “a phone call.”
  • Needing to step away and get something from your car. That something might be a second of peace and quiet to eat your lunch.
  • Needing to step away to catch a member of the club staff and ask them a question while you have a spare moment. If this person follows you, great. “Hey Terry, Taylor here had a question about the new uniforms, maybe you can help her out!” + then flee!
  • Headphones are the introvert’s friend!

Sometimes people are taken aback when you set this boundary but in my experience 99% of the time the person says “Oh, of course, sorry!” and it’s not a big deal. They either follow up with you later, or it wasn’t that important in the first place. If someone does make a big deal along the lines of “you MUST help me RIGHT NOW or ELSE,” the problem was not you.

 


[syndicated profile] sociological_images_feed

Posted by Lisa Wade, PhD

I discovered a nice gem of an insight this week in an article called The 11 Ways That Consumers Are Hopeless at Math: the symbolism of the number 9.

We’re all familiar with the convention of pricing items one penny below a round number: $1.99 instead of $2.00, $39.99 instead of $40.00, etc. Psychologically, marketers know that this works. We’re more likely to buy something at $89.99 than we are at $90.00.

It’s not, though, because we are tricked by that extra penny for our pockets. It’s because, so argues Derek Thompson, the .99 symbolizes “discount.” It is more than just a number, it has a meaning. It now says to us not just 9, but also You are getting a deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s a carton of eggs for $2.99 or a dishwasher for $299.99. In both cases, putting two 9s at the end makes us feel like smart shoppers.

To bring this point home, in those moments when we’re not looking for a deal, the number 9 has the opposite effect. When marketers want to sell a “luxury” item, they generally don’t use the 9s. They simply state the round number price. The whole point of buying a luxury item is to spend a lot of money because you have the money to spend. It shouldn’t feel like a deal; it should feel like an indulgence. Thompson uses the example of lobster at a high-end restaurant. They don’t sell it to you for $99.99. That looks cheap. They ask you for the $100. And, if you’ve got the money and you’re in the mood, it feels good exactly in part because there are no 9s.

Definitely no 9s:

Photo by artjour street art flickr creative commons.

Not yet convinced? Consider as an example this price tag for a flat screen television. Originally priced at $2,300.00, but discounted at $1,999.99. Suddenly on sale and a whole lot of 9s:

Photo by Paul Swansen flickr creative commons; cropped.
Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

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