Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Heartbreak, Friendship, and the Girl Who's Always on Some Sort of Restrictive Diet

A friend of mine has been on a series of back-to-back super-restrictive diets over the past few years: gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, fiber-free, meat-free, and multiple combinations thereof. She suffers from the same kind of irritable bowel symptoms that seem to afflict at least half of the twentysomething women I know (including me!), and so she's been trying to figure out what foods irritate her. Usually things are better for a month or two, and then they return to bad. She's a lot more knowledgeable than I am about health in general and about her own body specifically, but it seems to me like it might be stress, and maybe anxiety about food in particular, that's causing the problem. So my questions are at what point does this cross the line into eating disorder territory? Should I approach her about it? If so, how?

Eeek, your friend does sound like she's crossed the line into total No Fun territory! Why is this the only thing she talks about? How can you stand to be around her? And wait, why do you care so much about her tummy issues? Is "fiber-free" even a thing? Don't you guys watch Pregnant in Heels? My advice is to watch Pregnant in Heels and talk about how awful the people are on that show together. Or call a mutual moratorium on talking about food and diets for a while. In fact, do that, here's how to set it up: Talk about your own diet for a while and then, halfway through, be like, "Haha, we're being those people who only talk about their diets! Remember when we used to read books and/or watch TV? Look at us! Actually, you know what? I'm having a fresh new thought now: Let's not talk about that stuff for a while and see how long we can go. I'm serious, because I'm starting to feel like I'm turning into one of those women/people and I need to nip it in the bud!" (See what you did there? Do that!)

This is a question about queefing and if it can be avoided. Now, I'm definitely past the point of caring if I queef during or after sex. Dudes just have to deal with the fact that my vagina is a vibrant mechanism and will likely make noises if pumped full of air. However, recently I have been plagued by queefs while at work. And only when I stand up and walk after sitting for a while. I wish I could just, like, air my vag out for a second while standing by my desk, but, unfortunately, the queefing only starts once I've started walking by the millions of people's desks that are on the way to the bathroom. I have no private office or private corner in which to queef in privacy, for the record. The thing is, I'm not embarrassed by the idea of my coworkers knowing that I'm queefing. I wish so dearly that it were socially acceptable to just announce it. But it is not. And they therefore must labor under the delusion that I can't control my farts. Which is embarrassing. Is there a way to avoid queefing? I suspect this is a symptom of sitting for long periods of time or sitting the wrong way. Is there a right way to sit? Alternately, and as a last resort, how do you own farting in the workplace?

Wow. This is a new one for me. I've always thought that queefing only occurs when air has been pushed into the vagina by a penis or other object. By any chance has a man been banging you (and catching air) from behind in your cubicle without your knowledge?

OK, I'm sorry! Here is what you need to do: You need to ask your gyno about this. Maybe there's some kind of perforation happening, because how is the air getting up there in the first place? If it turns out that it's just something that's normal and happens, try asking for a totally different kind of chair at work. Say you have a back problem. Or get a standing desk, maybe! There has to be a solution to this, because you can't just go on this way (no, there's no way to own habitual farting in the workplace), so definitely start with your doctor. (Sorry so stumped!)

Sorry this is kind of a long one. But I have no idea how to react or what to do, literally all of my closest friends until recently have been dudes, so I'm a bit uneasy with girl jealousy issues and things like that. I have this friend – I used to call her a close friend – who's no longer speaking to me, pretty much. It completely cuts me up and I miss her like crazy. It's also difficult because I don't really know 100% of what's making her so angry. She said she needed some space, which I'm willing to do, but it's been about a month since we've stopped talking entirely and I'm scared I'm going to lose her permanently if I don't do something. Here are some things that have been going on:

a) We live together along with a guy, we all go to the same college, and for the first half of the year she and I of partnered off, always hanging out with each other. Literally we were together all the time, and I think it distracted her a bit from her studies; she got behind on a lot of essays and over the holidays decided to move her desk back to per parents house to study, since they live in the same city. Part of it could be just plain old friend-overdose, I know towards the end of the us-always-hanging-out period I was getting a little sick of her too, always getting annoyed at her for little reasons.

b) There's this ex-boyfriend of hers who I met a few months ago. I knew he was her ex, I knew she was really obsessed with him back in the day (back in the day being four years ago), something which he never really reciprocated. I ended up quasi-dating him anyway. I KNOW, not good. But I figured that since she's been dating this other guy for two years now, it might be OK? (She's a bit insecure, since her current guy insists on having an open relationship, something she's not 100% happy with.) Anyway, things with me and guy one didn't work out, partly because he's a douche, and partly because I suspected, but never voiced, her interference in the matter. So about two months ago, I found out that at one point — during the height of me and him quasi- seeing each other — she actually took a train to his dorm and slept with him. I knew she had visited him, but she told me she hadn't done anything, and I wanted to believe her. They both lied to me about it. I got upset with her, and chewed him out a little as well. But I was mostly angry at her because it felt like a bigger betrayal. I've seen her maybe once since then, we used to at least chat a bit on facebook but now those have stopped altogether.

c) She's voiced several times, usually when drunk, that she kind of hates the fact that I'm really outgoing (her words). She has this group of friends she's known for a long time which I've integrated quite well with. I've been giving them a wide berth, obviously, ever since she and I have stopped hanging out. Anyway, I think she thinks I'm this tower of confidence, which I'm really, really not, and I suppose I'm a bit jealous of her too in a few ways – her looks, the things she can afford, etc.

I sent her a text since I no longer care about the guy, telling her I overreacted and that I'm sorry. She didn't respond and I don't want to send anything else because I don't want to intrude if I'm not wanted. Is it completely hopeless? I don't know how to make this right, or if I even can. It's really hard for me to let this go, so I'm willing to do pretty much whatever it takes.

There's a lot going on here so let's unpack it a bit, but yes, it's hopeless. Here's one thing first, though:

You kind of sound like one of those girls who's like, "I'm only friends with guys usually because for some reason girls never like me!" and that reason is because you think they're jealous because you're so pretty. That is never the reason, and don't be that girl. If girls don't like you it's you, period. Now, to the unpacking!:

1. If one person asks another person for space, the person being asked for space should interpret it as the end of the relationship. I know that's way harsh, Tai, but it's common sense. Keep in mind that there's a gigantic difference between "it's for sure the end of the relationship" and "the person should interpret it as the end of the relationship." The goal here (in life) is to try to act exactly like a person with healthy self-esteem, even if you have to Meryl-Streep-it to within an inch of its life (as most of us do, especially before our 30s), and a person with healthy self-esteem would reevaluate a relationship and step away from it if asked for space.

Basically, having been asked for space means you make no steps toward the person until s/he makes a step back toward you. But even if that happens, really search your soul – was this person manipulating you by asking for space and then coming back into your life, or did they just need time alone in general to figure out their own shit? Do you think they would have asked anyone for space or just you? (This isn't really for you, it's for the other people reading this. Read on to find the answer to your case.) It's really hard to see how a friendship could continue after space has been requested, honestly.

2. Regarding All the Drama: It seems like neither of you is ready for a grown-up friendship. For (just one) example: Don't have friends that you're jealous of. It's one thing to admire your friends (you should! you should surround yourself with people who have qualities you wish you had, or had more of, and one of those qualities should be likability, and you should like them) and find yourself occasionally envious of them, but only envy them in ways that motivate you to be better. If you find yourself going to a dark and ugly place in your head regarding a particular friend, it's time to focus on other friendships because this isn't a healthy one. (And I don't even know what to do with all the stuff with the dude! Everyone here is behaving immaturely. Including the forced-open-relationship guy, but that's a whole other thing.)

3. This line kind of says it all: "I sent her a text since I no longer care about the guy." Huh. What about what she cares about? Why is it all about you? If I remember correctly, this person asked you for space after you slept with her ex and then she went and slept with him, so she should be #1 on your No Text List! From both the "I think she sucks" and "she hates me back" directions! I actually feel like I need to write you an entire book about boundaries here, but you sound really young, so maybe this is part of your learning process. Go forth and focus on healthy friendships, and also learn some humility maybe – it will serve you well in life.

Any advice for dealing with total, complete, utter, devastating heartbreak?

Awww, honey. First: I'm really sorry. Everyone has to go through this at least once in order to be a whole human being, but it's absolutely one of the worst things. Not knowing anything about you it's hard to give advice, so please take or leave the following suggestions, which will no doubt come across as trite, but have been proven to help.

1. This is going to sound fucked up, but hear me out: If there's a legal way you can get your hands on some anti-anxiety meds (any of the -pams, but xanax is the best), and you're not in recovery or something, it's okay to do that. There's a reason why they give people sedatives after they've been through emotional trauma. It won't help very much, but it will take some of the edge off while you do the work and wait the time for the healing to happen.

2. (And this is really #1): You can't have any contact with the person who broke your heart. "Contact" includes not only contact that you initiate, but also contact that the other person initiates, as well as online stalking them. Nothing and nobody can help you if you're not following this rule, and your friends should police you on it (ask them to!). If you do not follow this rule, you don't deserve to feel better. Yep, it's that important. Tough love. (Obviously this does not apply to co-parents, though I would say it DOES apply to pet owners. The one who gets dumped gets the pet/s.)

Especially, be very careful not to fall into one of breakups' most classic blunders: the "I Must Cover Up the Last Contact With a New Contact" blunder. (Oh, this blunder has happened to us all, and it's the worst!) Even if the last contact you had with this person involved you hyperventilating, throwing a full glass of water on his or her laptop, threatening to sleep with his or her friend or rival, and then suddenly and inexplicably, I don't know, crapping your pants in front of him or her and/or his or her new significant other, YOU SHOULD STILL NOT HAVE FURTHER CONTACT because it will still, STILL, make it worse. No matter what. It's an absolute law of the universe! Maybe today can be the first day of nobody ever making that blunder again. The world would be a much less self-loathing place.

So get a cheap calendar and some foil stickers from the drugstore, and every day that you have No Contact give yourself a gold star. After two weeks of gold stars, you will officially feel better. After one month of gold stars, you will be noticeably Adjusting Well. (Do not let anyone find this calendar. Keep it under your bed.) (Also: I really did this and it worked.)

3. You gotta hurt. This is the worst part, but do you really want to get over this thoroughly and move on with your life and not still be talking about this person many years from now? OK. Then you have to go to all of the places where the pain is and feel every single bit of it. You have to seek out the pain like you're playing a videogame where you get a point every time you find and deal with another aspect of your heartbreak. You have to tread and re-tread all the neural pathways and smoke it all out and give voice to all of your deepest fears about your loss and then conquer it by telling a new story about it. The story that's always worked for me is "I was lucky to experience this relationship and I've learned from it, and just because a relationship ends doesn't mean someone failed." Just kidding, that has never worked for anyone, but try it on anyway because hopefully that's how you will actually feel in a few months. Only time works, but it always works. You will get over this person. You are NOT the exception to the rule. Feel the pain until it bores you.

And I wouldn't say this if I was sitting within slapping distance, but you actually can turn this into something you will look back on as a positive experience, with both the relationship and the heartbreak being a step you absolutely had to take on your life's journey to something better. People, and not particularly strong or wise people, and people who were completely blindsided and doubled-over with grief at their initial heartbreak, do it all the time.

Also: I've found that good comedy shows are the absolute best heartbreak distraction. You really cannot cry at a comedy show, especially if you're sitting near the front. (But for the love of god: not improv! Stand-up.) (Also: big hug.)

Previously: Talking to Women, Gchat Crises, and Pre-Adolescent Fumbling.

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Lady?

212 Comments / Post A Comment


This is in reference to the first question. A friend of mine has been going through the same thing. Her irritation became successively worse and finally she went to the doctor. Now at a heartbreakingly young age she has been diagnosed with late stage colon cancer. Your friend might be neurotic, she might have food allergies, she might also be sick. Tell her to go to the doctor.


@pommard2001 This. Same situation happened to one of my sisters.


@applestoapples I am so sorry to hear this. I know so many people especially youngish women, including myself, who have tried to self diagnose digestive discomfort or seek out only alternative therapies. This has been a terrible wake up call.


@pommard2001 Thanks. Fortunately, she's in remission today (almost to her five-year mark), but at the cost of having to go through multiple surgeries and radiation treatments (one time right after she gave birth to my niece). People write off GI irritation as common, but after all that I definitely advise getting workups if the issue seems ongoing.

Sydney C

THANK YOU for calling out the girls that think other girls hate them because they are so pretty (GTTOGHTBTASP). Apparently all of us with healthy and close female friendships are total fugs.


@Sydney C I second this! I mean, I am really pretty AND I have great, close lady friends. :):)


@Sydney C Only an ugly girl would say that.

Why don't you LIKE ME?


mrs. brad is unnaturally beautiful. i mean, stop and stare beautiful. a face somewhere between angelina jolie and jennifer lopez, but with better lips. and sometimes, when she's acting as though her small problems are earth-shattering betrayals of all that is good and true, i wonder how deforming it has been to go through life like that. i am a plain looking fellow- in high school, an acne riddled fellow who just kept his head down. humility was really the only option. mrs. brad is not obnoxious about her inability to put things in perspective- she's genuinely kind- but it just seems like it's more of a challenge for her than most. and no, she doesn't have female friends. and no, she has never blamed it on her looks. i have no idea where i'm going with this.


@brad Neither do I! I'm sorry you married someone so pretty and deformed?


@melis that is interesting.


@Sydney C yes, girl


A Lady, can you help me out with my friendship problem? I can't imagine what could have possibly made her angry but that's women for you, opaque and inscrutable. I'm thinking she's been overdosing on me? Or maybe she's jealous of my outgoing awesomeness? (also there was that time I was fucking the object of her obsession, doubt that's relevant tho) Can you offer any advice I'VE GOT NOTHING HERE

Mary Miller

@theinvisiblecunt I'm with you in pointing to "fucking the object of her obsession" as the culprit in that scenario.


@theinvisiblecunt You've made me realize the writer of this letter was Regina from Mean Girls and the necessary coda is, of course, "I think she's secretly in love with me?"


@invisiblecunt I don't know - it may be that Ms. Needs Space thinks that is the reason, but I would also go with lingering obsessions as a sign of insecurity, and that also tends to lead to crazy jealousies/friend issues. Maybe?


@theinvisiblecunt You are my hero.


@bb, don't know if you wanted a response but imho: even very rational and secure people can get stupid infatuated on occasion; it's not unreasonable to have lingering feelings, even years down the line; and it's especially not unreasonable to get angry when a friend (to whom you are exceptionally close, no less!) goes out of their way to fuck someone who they know was a Very Big Deal to you.


@theinvisiblecunt YES! Serious exes, however long ago the relationship was, are ALWAYS off limits. Every good friend knows that. And if you choose to sleep with a friend's serious ex, you do it knowing you are likely dooming your friendship.

Mary Miller

This was a great read, A Lady, and all excellent advice. I just put two gold stars on my calendar and I feel like a champ!!


@Mary Miller For real, that is a stellar post break-up plan. You've got the feeeel the pain... accept that. The more you seek it out, ask yourself all the 'why does this upset me so much' questions, and allow yourself time to feel awful, the sooner it will be over and the less emotional baggage you'll carry. It hurts, but it's worth it.


@Mary Miller The gold star advice rocks, I wish I had done that when I was going through that scenario. I probably also should have kept a little notebook where I kept track of how much I was boring the hell out of my poor friends by talking about it constantly.


@theharpoon: I wish I'd had a friend like this Lady after I broke up with a college ex, instead of dragging out the random (and soul-crushing) contact for 16 MONTHS.

HRH Your Cuntness

@Mary Miller Amen. Although I think there should be some sort of built in punishment for the calendar days in which you maybe drive over to their house and have hot, yet shameful, breakup sex repeatedly. Like maybe one of those Mr Yucky stickers they used to advice parents to put on bottles of drain cleaner?


That breakup advice is GOLD... I learned all about hearbreak this year. If the person who asked the question is reading this, stop here: I'm still not over it, after 4 months. What do I do?

Lily Rowan

@bananab0at -- Honestly, you just keep waiting. I have had two possibly conflicting theories about "how long it takes": One is some multiple of how long you were together, and the other one is until your next as-significant relationship starts. I don't really believe either of those any more, but being all the way Over It can really take a while. I hope you are acting normal in public by now, at least? I'm a firm believer in fake-it-til-you-make-it, and figure the biggest step in getting over it is being able to act like you're over it most of the time.

elysian fields

@bananab0at I once heard or read (can't remember where) that you can expect to take twice as long to recover from true heartbreak as the duration of the relationship itself. For instance, I was dumped last spring after 8 months, so I'm giving myself 16 months to recover fully (4 months left!). Of course, I'm well past the stage where I come home from work and sob every day, but I know I have a ways to go before I'm totally, completely over it (if that's even possible??). So, unless your relationship was extremely brief, I'd say 4 months is nothing. You need to give yourself much, much more time. I know it sucks but you can't really speed up the process.

Katie Walsh

@bananab0at TRY FOUR YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!
Yeah, I know fucking pathetic. Here's what helped me: falling for someone else who also disappointed me so the original heartbreaker was eclipsed by a new asshole; also, reinstating small amounts of phone/email contact (AFTER A VERY LONG TIME OF NONE) so that I can be reminded that this person is a person and not a scary evil monster.

Jane Feltes

@bananab0at Yes, the heartbreak advice is perfect! Unforch my big breakup took TWO YEARS to get over! 2 years, no contact, crying all the time, going to comedy shows (great idea!) And then, one day it was just kinda gone? I cannot imagine the mess I'd be in today if I ever answered/sent even one email or looked at his FB. Stay strong, you can do it! Oh and spend this time figuring out why you picked this person. "Getting The Love You Want" is a good book for helping you pick better next time.


@bananab0at I'm right there with you, although it IS slowly getting better.

My question is, is there a way to block someone from twitter without actually unfriending them? I don't want to start another drama session because we share some friends, but I don't really want to see his annoying posts.

Jane Feltes

@whereismyrobot it's only a drama session if you respond! unfollow.


Thanks everyone :)
It wasn't long - only 10 months - but, even though I'm capable of acting 'over it', I've tried 'getting under someone else', no contact, etc., it's hard to cope with the loss of my first major relationship, the loss of someone I was planning to marry, someone I thought was perfect for me, etc. I'm glad 4 months doesn't sound too long to you guys, b/c I really was starting to think I was crazy for feeling this bad for this long. My friends certainly were starting to think so. All of this was really nice to hear :)


@elysian fields eff that advice! sorry sorry. jeez. did that seem mean? i'm not directing that COMPLETELY at you, but the idea. it seems like the How Long It Takes To Get Over Someone equation varies so much from person to person. then there are people like myself who was married for 10 years. am i waiting 20 years to get over him?!?!? eff that! or my friend m____ who was married for 8, with the guy for 16 - so she should wait 32 years?!?!? eff that!

as my mom says "time wounds all heels". It just takes time, and how long that takes depends on the individual, the situation, the gender, whether you both live in the same town still, etc etc etc. i've been out for 2 1/2 years and am feeling just fine. i think people should give themselves time, but it's scary to think of set timeframes when working through the end of a long relationship.

(btw, don't mean to harsh so much <3 <3 <3)

Lily Rowan

@teenie -- The 2x length of relationship thing is nice for when you're young and your relationships are shorter and you can't imagine how you'll EVER get over it. I think it's just an excuse to give yourself enough time, whatever that turns out to be.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@bananab0at Don't feel bad about the relationship between length of the relationship/how long you feel bad. I was in a long-distance one for 6 months and when I went to see her we didn't last 2 days (and I had to stay are her place an extra 2, which was as fun as you might imagine). That was back in November and it took me til just last month to fully get over it. All these guys are right though, it totally gets better, I swear. Just push them out of your head and fill that spot with cool things/people.


@teenie I think it's more an acceptable timeframe. Like, don't worry too much if it takes you twice the amount of time. It's not exactly a perfect formula that applies to everyone. It's comforting to hear that it could take 20 months to get over my ex b/c it makes my 4 month mourning period feel less abnormal. I'm sure you're right, though. I was in a 2yr relationship that didn't feel very serious to me & when we broke up it took me zero time to get over him.


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood OK let's talk about this, then. I'm 26, not in school, working at desk job... my life is full of non-rotating characters. How do you replace an all-encompassing relationship with cool things/people - where do you get those cool things/people from?


@Katie Walsh OMG, the replacement asshole has actually been my salvation more times than I can count.


@bananab0at Not necessarily cool things/people, but I found that when I was devastated by the end of a (*ahem*) 6 week fling it was a wonderful catalyst for what ended up being a two year process to move to a different country for a year. And all that energy that I had to obsess over him I used to instead obsess over this awesome new place and all the hard work that I had to do to get there.

Meh, anecdotal evidence can blow, but what I mean is that by diverting that energy you can hopefully get over the relationship AND improve your life in other ways.

elysian fields

@bananab0at no advice on the meeting people front, but: find things to do that make you happy and give you something to focus on. After my soul-crushing breakup I bought a pair of running shoes and started running for the first time since middle school. It was the perfect distraction: I had something specific to work on (i.e. try to run a little longer and faster each day), and I could head outside and let my mind go blank while I ran (instead of lying in bed feeling sad all the time). Plus, exercise = endorphins = feeling less miserable and more relaxed. So, I strongly suggest some kind of fun physical activity (if you don’t already do that). Also, funny movies and tv shows are a godsend because they can really distract you from the pain for a while. Whatever you do (painting, knitting, reading, cooking, whatever), make sure you have something nice planned for yourself every day so that you won’t just sit around crying.


@bananab0at Oh honey, it sounds so trite, but go do things you like to do and/or think are cool. Walk up to a person who appears to be kind of awesome and talk to them. Hard the first time, but a few key folks can open up while new worlds.



Cultivate a completely new interest -- learn a musical instrument and take group beginner lessons, get a dog and visit a park everyday, take up a team sport, etc. You'll meet new people with whom you have at least that one thing in common and chances are they will be people who do not know and do not want to know your ex.
2nd best breakup advice I ever received: don't forget to eat. If necessary, carry a banana around with you and make sure you eat it before the end of the day.


@bananab0at my first big adult breakup was also under the circumstances of having a boring desk job with entirely too much time on my hands to mull over it and the added bonus of a handful of mutual friends whom I wasn't about to suddenly cut out of my life. I'll be honest with you--I kind of wish I had cut them out along wit him, or at least scaled way way back on my time with them while I took a good measure to heal and take my requisite cliche post-breakup classes (tap! improv! book club! They do help, though, I swear).

I know that freezing your friendships for awhile sounds majorly Dick, but I can tell you that me not doing so has resulted in, a whole 6 years later, still struggling whenever I have to hear about my ex even in passing or see him at weddings and parties and me STILL mulling the issue over at my boring desk job.

Are you in a position to put your mutual friends on the back burner for awhile? If not, are your friends reasonable enough to understand that it will be awhile before you can be in his company again or privy to his goings on?

Tough questions, I know. I feel for ya. xoxo


@bananab0at Oh do I ever feel you on that one, girl. Just got dumped last month, we were together for three years and it feels like I have no idea how to socialize as a single woman. Besides the fact that I'm living with my parents in the fucking suburbs, it's really difficult to just up and try to form a new life when you were so focused on one goal, one person. So it's the baby steps that really matter, I agree with the hobby/exercise advice and hey, if you're near NYC, maybe we can form some sort of Heartbreak Support Group. I'll bring the box of wine.


@Jane Feltes Thanks, I took your advice!


@amity That sounds really difficult, I'm sorry. Yeah, it's just weird, trying to interact & socialize & try to pretend to be normal... I don't know how I'm supposed to make new friends as an adult. Also, I feel like my ex sapped me of all my socializing powers, in a weird way. I DO live in NYC, we should totally start this support group.

Tropical Iceland

@bananab0at When I was 18 and heartbroken after breaking up with my high school boyfriend of two years, I tore out a page from an art book of mine and hung it next to my bed. This is it: http://www.donnymiller.com/fineart/forsale/canvasart18.htm I looked at shit everyday and told myself I could feel that way. When a crushing wave of missing him would hit me, I'd tell myself "I don't care anymore, I don't care anymore." and eventually I didn't. I went to see a lot of movies by myself. Forgetting Sarah Marshall! Ohhh that movie really helped me out. I totally recommend going to the movies alone, whether to wallow or to make yourself feel better. I bought a lot of new music that he'd never heard of and stopped listening to all the bands we liked together. I got a whole new crowd of people to hang out with thanks to a friend of mine who got me to start hanging out with them. I became an Anarchist too, if you want to try that one. I mean, I was doing all this stuff and going home and crying too, but I did get to forget about him for a while. It really is about figuring out who you are all over again, or making yourself someone different.

So I realize I just talked about myself for a whole paragraph, but I do think the best thing when you're hurting is to hear other people's stories of similar stuff. At least, I hope that kind of thing's helpful for you, cause we allll have breakup stuff.


@bananab0at For realsies? I'm down. We should pester Edith about a Hairpin meetup so all of us ladies can drink heartily, trade shitty dude stories and talk about which body parts we are most ashamed of.


@whereismyrobot "I don't want to start another drama session because we share some friends, but I don't really want to see his annoying posts." Most twitter applications allow you to "mute" someone without unfollowing them. In Echofon it's in the preferences. It also removes all their updates from your current feed.


@bananab0at +1 for me on taking up running/exercise. It has helped. I feel better, I sleep better, the nightly panic attacks have stopped, I have goals to work toward. That still hasn't changed the fact that I want nothing more than for him to come back and I wake up thinking about him every single day even 6+ months after he dumped me. I've had my heart broken before, but never like this. It's bad. It's just really really bad. Running, Friday Night Lights on Netflix Instant will help you get through the day. That's all I can offer.


@bananab0at 3 years later, I still sometimes need to remind myself, like Katie Walsh said, that this person is a person, and most assuredly NOT the best lady ever-anywhere-ever-I-don't-care-it's-true(!!!). Once the wounds heal up some, and you're able to realistically ask yourself how much does the heartbreak come from the love for who that person really is/ was as opposed to what you think/ thought of that person as? things will look up

(and if you then say [you = me, beating back heartbreak with logic], true, true, so she's not the best lady ever, but she was seriously awesome and I'm yet to meet another like her, you could do well reminding yourself of the importance of timing between people; who you are now and who are they are now as opposed to who you both were as star-crossed lovers, vomitous-to-behold. Like, 2004 was a mad chill year for me, graduated HS, had loads of the ol' good times, etc. Do I want to relive that? Fuck to the nah! It was big fun at the time, and it would FUCKING SUCK today. Let the love you had be just--> the love you had!) (Oh, and if you get down on yourself about all this, as I especially did in the immediate aftermath, remember that a person that awesome was into you once, and you only get better from here, so it's not the end of the world/ your love-life. Not only are there more fish in the sea, there are better ones! And you'll find them! Life is soooo long, and crazier things happen every day!)



@bananab0at HARRY POTTER! I swear by Harry Potter. It's my heartbreak reading/ go- to movies. I recommend fantasy books and films in general when life is tough. You're transported to a different world with different problems so nothing you can recognize from your own life, or something you two did/ ate/ listened to together. I survived the summer after my first big breakup on blueberries, sausage and Harry Potter, no lie.


@bananab0at I would be in this support group. i'm sorry to hear you are hurting, and not to get you down, but it's been 2 years since my devastation and i'm crying right now about it. but we also have contact. i have no idea how to go cold turkey, it's horrible.

i know this sounds ridiculous, but do try and get out and do something you normally wouldn't do. it sucks because you are putting yourself out there and most likely won't know anyone and will feel awkward and may or may not start crying, but it helps to think along the lines of "if i didn't die when my heart broke, i can make it through this tap class/knitting mixer/walk to the deli"


@bananab0at Aw, all these heartbreak stories are so terrible and yet wonderful at the same time. It's good to be reminded that I'm not the only person who's ever felt like she's had her heart broken so badly her chest might cave in. If any of you guys really want to do this meet-up in NYC, I just set up a one-time email address at fjebjdwqrxgpu@mailinator.com so hit me up there!

christina tesoro

@bananab0at i know this thread is from a bajillion months ago but i'm going through something similar right now. it wasn't a relationship, but it was my best friend...he essentially rebounded with me after his girlfriend cheated on him (and i told him about it.) i had told him how i felt about him, he told me it was too soon "but it felt right" but he wasn't ready for a relationship and the whole shenanigans crashed and burned anyway. stupid decisions on both our parts and he was vulnerable and not thinking straight and he/i/we should have known better.

i've known him since kindergarten though (and loved him in some way or another since then? pathetic). it took about 3 months of hooking up and feeling used for me to put a stop to it and now it feels just *horrible*

the advice here is so kind and spot-on, though. i'm trying to do the whole cease contact thing, but we have a lot of friends in common and also it hurts not to be able to be around my best friend (but then, i suppose, he treated me not like a friend at all, you don't do that to someone you claim to care immensely about, do you?) i dont want to lose my friend but at the same time being around him is so incredibly painful

reading this advice definitely helped though. i feel a little stronger knowing lots of 'pinners can relate and have gotten through heartbreak too

christina tesoro

@pastina ugh and i realize that maybe it sounds like i told him she cheated to try to get with him but it wasn't like that AT ALL. i had actually gotten really close with her over the course of their relationship, to the point where we were seriously talking about being roommates, and then she told me and i freaked out and tried to get her to tell him and she didn't and i couldn't look him in the eye knowing that she cheated...i wasn't even aware i felt so strongly about him even like the DAY before she told me. so i'm not like a housewrecking skank, because i lost a close friend/potential roommate and now best friend as well

okay done talking about this now. gonna go teach myself to play the ukulele or something.

Barbara Gordon

I want to chime in on the Eating Disorder issue. I've had a lot of friends go through that. Things like constant restrictive diets can be a sign, and it's good that you're worried, but I think today's Lady gave some not great advice.

Your friend could really have allergies or health issues, as Pommard2001 suggests. But if that's not it, you need to let her know you're concerned, not treat it like a character flaw to be excused like "oh man, we watch too much tv". Tell her you're worried, and tell her that in a serious voice.

The next step is getting her help, which isn't easy. I really don't know the best way to go about getting people help when they don't want it. But I know the wrong way is to force them to eat, change, 'accept that you're beautiful!'. Eating Disorders are more complicated than that. Other people probably have better advice, but really, don't dismiss it as "just dieting". It's an issue as soon as you're worried about it.

Ella Quint

@Barbara Gordon - I'm witchoo on this one - simply telling yer bud to shut up about her persistent health issues that may/may not be brodering on mental health/eating disorder territory is kinda dumb. Actually it is totally useless advice.

And weirdly enuff, I've got a cousin who I've been going through the same thing with - she has constant GI issues, was trying to self diagnosis by eliminating different foods from her diet to no avail. She constantly worries aloud about what may or may not set off an episode and has lost a fair bit of weight - though the weight loss dosen't seem bother her and she has no prob bringing up the actual # in conversation - almost proud of it. She has been to a number of doc's who've run an entire gamut of tests (ye olde colonoscopy, gluten allergy tests, irritable bowel syndrome tests, and even a fucking laproscopic exploratory surgery to see if it was endromitriosis (sp?)) to no avail.

And now y'all need to understand that I'm not a doctor, but my own assessment of the sitch? While there may be an underlying undiagnosed medical issue, A LOT of it has to do with stress in her life and her reaction to/inability to cope with it. Methinks sometimes that the GI symptoms are kinda in her head
(pyschosomatic - emotions physcially influencing or even harming the body)
or maybe even pure fabrication to explain away the dieting without triggering people's suspicion. Don't wanna point the skeletal finger of eating disorders but....

Indeed, the author of the first letter ought to heavily encourage her friend to seek out prompt medical attention (!!COLORECTAL CANCERS ARE SCARY!!)and if that yeilds no answers maybe start looking at the other (bony) hand...

To the autho

Better to Eat You With

@Ella Quint I had persistent stress-induced IBS for 9 or 10 years, from the time I turned 12 on. I mean, could not eat, ever, without going straight to the bathroom. There was no treatment until I began to eliminate stressors from my life.


Where can I find 347 gold fucking stars? Fuck.

Flora Poste

With the second problem, parts a and c can clearly be omitted, as I'm pretty sure anyone would point out the ex-sex as being the issue here.(And I don't know if this makes me and my friendships completely immature, but I am sometimes jealous of my friends, and thought it was normal)

@invisible cunt EXACTLY


@switswoo We heard "Really outgoing" but the friend actually said "Really going to bang my ex?"


@switswoo Yeah, I'm pretty sure that question could have been adequately answered in one line: "If you want to be friends with someone, NEVER sleep with/date their ex no matter how long it has been."

Katie Walsh

Ask a Lady: Completely Unanswerable Questions Edition. Thanks for taking this bullet.


@Katie Walsh SERIOUSLY.


wow, way to be super snarky and unhelpful to question-asker #1. i get your point, but she never even implied that her friend's diet is "all she talks about," and she's not looking for advice about How To Be A Better Lady. She's genuinely concerned for a close friend's well-being. Mockery is not what she needed from an advice column, even a humorous one.


@km1312 I agree. I actually thought this A Lady was a jerk until the last question, where thoughtful advice was given.


Really wasn't into the tone of answers, A Lady.
As someone who suffers from something similar to the friend in the first question, I found this "advice" really infuriating. IBS, or food allergies, or celiac disease, or whatever she has - those things are NOT FUN and she probably wants nothing more than to figure out what it is. Unfortunately the medical community is totally confused about the causes of many digestive issues, so there's really no easy way to find out what's going on. It's possible that this person's digestive issues are stress related or "in her head", but it's also completely possible that they're not. And nowhere in the first question does it say that it's "all she talks about".

simone eastbro

For question 1, I'm noticing that the Q'er didn't actually say that her friend talks all the time about food or her diet(s). It's entirely possible that it's only obvious because she's hard to go out to eat with. (Show me a fiber-free restaurant and I will show you a joyless den of constipation.) I don't think this is necessarily about how it's impacting their interaction--it's that the Q'er is concerned she has an eating disorder. Because of that, I'd say, Lady, that your question--why is this an issue for you?--is the most relevant one here.

I think there's a set of ways to approach that, after which you just have to let it go as Not Your Problem. I think you can talk to her about stress as part of the equation in a casual, non-judgmental way. I mean, I'm pretty sure stress is a contributor to IBS, right? Ask her if she's explored that connection and if she's thought about mind-body stuff like yoga or massage to help. Hell, buy her a yoga class. How she responds will probably give you more information about what sort of problem she may or may not be having.

Pelvic Trust

@simone eastbro When I saw "the Q'er", I thought for a second you were referring to the second question.

simone eastbro

@Pelvic Trust ZING


For the first question, even if it's stress, a gastroenterologist might be able to help. Apparently anti-spasmotic drugs sometimes work for people with these issues? I guess because your intestines go into spasms. I don't know, I was prescribed them but never took them. Moved out of a tense situation at my parents' house and things got better for me. YMMV, as they say.


@cuminafterall absolutely great point! my IBD first flared up during an intense period at my job while i was also in the process of planning a vacation and a move. the gut and the brain are best friends and worst enemies both.


@cuminafterall The gut is such a confusing place. There's digestive stuff there but there's also tons of (if not the bulk of) neurotransmitters there. Anti-depressants can also help not because they make you worry about it less but bc some antidepressants use H2 or H1 histamine blockers the same used in allergy meds, or the Zantac reflux meds. Adjusting neurotransmitters even in other ways is affecting your gut too. There's this med called remeron which is pretty hardcore, but my stomach never felt better than when I was on that. MIRACLE STOMACH. Maybe it's all in her head but her head is in her stomach.

Better to Eat You With

@cuminafterall I was on something that I guess was a muscle-relaxer for innards for years. It worked pretty well, and was a nice, clean buzz, too.


Sometimes I queef during yoga. very embarrassing! Maybe I have a spacious vagina?


@sweetleah I frequently queef during yoga. And my vagina is not cavernous.

chunk lite

@sweetleah i always queef during yoga. i queef even after it, like some crazy deep queef rolls out much later. everyone else is drinking their green tea and misting their faces and i'm in the corner queefing softly.


@chunk lite Queefing me softly with her song.


@sweetleah this happened to me last week! i was mortified until somebody else farted, then i remembered it is normal for humans to do things like that.


wow, I truly believed i was the only one! phew! (queef!)

chunk lite

Hmm. This lady rubs me the wrong way. I don't like how she was kind of a shit bag to questions one and three, she seemed to make a lot of leaps about them.

Lady 3 said that she hadn't had a lot of close female relationships and was looking for help navigating them - not that "I'm only friends with guys usually because for some reason girls never like me!" and that reason is because you think they're jealous because you're so pretty." Am I the only lady who is close with women who've told me it was only later in life that they started to navigate friendships with other women? Not all girls were girls girls from the start -- that is not a crime.

I think that Question 3 had a lot of boundary issues, and was probably an unhealthy friendship, but I don't know that I thought that the question asker was the huge asshole that this A Lady seemed to think she was.

Worried about your friends health - y'all are probably both boring shit bags!

Facing a new situation with a friend? - you are probably an undercover bitch who thinks you are SO pretty. well you aren't! lololololol!!!



@chunk lite

I think that some female friendships can be difficult--I personally have always had an easier time maintaining close female friendships but gathering more casual male acquantinces because of certain differences in social interactions.
Regardless the LW still sounds a bit like an asshole or painfully social dense and lacking in empathy. If you have weird, petty fights when drunk and bang the same people without regards to the other persons feelings, you aren't good friends, and it's not because of some mystery of the female mystique or quirk of female interaction. Seriously, go ask a male friend what he would do if his bestie started "


@KatnotCat That should continue "banging the girl he'd been 'obsessed' with for years."

chunk lite

No I get that. I mean, I think we can all get on board with banging exes being a shabby idea. I am take no issue with that advice. I DO take issue with the boring and lazy idea that if you have more male friends than necessarily you are an undercover lady hater who thinks you are hotter than everyone else. I tend to have MORE male friends, but BETTER female friends. A lot of that has to do with the industry I work in, which is pretty male dominated. It seems like anytime a lady says that she is more comfortable with the dynamics in a dude/lady friendship, every other thing gets dismissed pretty quickly and the advice all comes from the base assumption that this girl is a lady hating bitchface -- sometimes it's true, but not always.


"You kind of sound like one of those girls who's like, "I'm only friends with guys usually because for some reason girls never like me!" and that reason is because you think they're jealous because you're so pretty. That is never the reason, and don't be that girl. If girls don't like you it's you, period."

This is horseshit. Way to project your own insecurities and petty rivalries on to other women, by accusing them of harboring the same judgmental delusions you do. This says way more about your own problems than women who don't like the company of other women (probably because of that whole insecurities and projecting &c).

Is it really that much of a stretch to think that someone (much like yourself! hey!) would invent childish, competitive reasons to reject someone outright based on little to no information? "A woman has more male friends than female friends THEREFORE she must be a stuckup bitch who doesn't like women because she thinks she's so much better than women because she thinks they always come up with dumb reason to hate her based on ridiculous things! That cunt!" Why are you perpetuating this hateful crap?

chunk lite

@ohyaknow yes yes yes
I hate this rhetoric. YES. those girls exist and are lame. That said, girls who have lots of female friends? Can also be shit bags. It's not some get out off assface land free card to have female friends. Thank you for phrasing this so much better than I could. This is my biggest pet peeve.


@ohyaknow It is, generally, a red flag if a woman says that she doesn't have any female friends.


@ohyaknow The thing is, Question 3 said "my closest friends until recently have been dudes, so I'm a bit uneasy with girl jealousy issues." What are girl jealousy issues, and how are they different from any friend jealousy issues? This to me implies someone who might have unexamined issues with other women.


@whereismyrobot why? what does it say about her? please inform.



Exactly! Interesting how many people are getting very defensive about this Lady calling the letter writer out on that...

chunk lite

@synchronia I think girl jealousy issues mean issues when you are friends with someone who wants to bone people in the same group that you do, right? I am friends with fellas and ladies, and maybe I am a huge asshat, too, but sometimes I DO get jealous of my lady friends, and not so much with my fella friends.


@ohyaknow "This says way more about your own problems than women who don't like the company of other women (probably because of that whole insecurities and projecting &c)."

I just want to doublecheck: You think that the reason this woman doesn't like the company of women is because of their catty womenly traits like projecting and insecurity?

But regardless, the LW's female friend doesn't seem to be inventing childish, competitive reasons to reject her as much as she seems pissed that the LW started banging (I mean, "quasi-dating") her ex, but rather than 100% owning up to the fact that was a little low, still hems her explanation of the events with vagueness, parentheticals, and "um but I thought it might be OK??s."


@KatnotCat Edit to add: But maybe her friend isn't even mad that LW was banging the ex so much that she was mad that LW was banging the ex but then GOT MAD AT HER FOR DOING THE SAME.

chunk lite

@chunk lite to clarify @synchronia,
maybe jealousy is not the correct word, but I guess I mean that with women, I can compare myself to them in a way that I don't tend to do with a man. It's always more to do with me being insecure, but with a male friend, for instance, I will never, EVER worry that my purse that I thought was cool is, in fact, totally dumb and uncool. That said, there are a million fulfilling and wonderful things that my lady friends bring to the table that make me value the friendships even though these feelings might come up for me. I mean, it's not ideal, but is that really such a unique thing? No other people ever feel this?


i mean, it just seems like one of those catch-22s...females avoid you if you haven't got female friends, so you haven't got female friends because females avoid you. help?

also i'm really just plain curious because i seem to be more in lady #3's boat & also happen to be the type of person who needs everything laid out in the open. basically i suck at picking up on social cues. maybe lady #3's friend could have just been like, "hey you, it was effed up that you did x&y," then lady #3 would know why and all of this could have been avoided?


@jstar Well, I am saying this because I used to be that way. A woman will say it as though it's a badge of honor, as though she is just one of the guys. But, it is generally kind of a ploy. When you have heard women say this, it isn't usually to other women.

However, if you couldn't get along with a full 51% of the population, you are the common denominator.


here's the thing, some of us grow up not very girly. we don't have a lot of close girl friends when we are young because our interests don't intersect as much as they do with boys - riding bikes, building forts, tree climbing, etc. then we get to highschool and boys think it's funny and cool that we make dumb jokes and stupid faces, and girls think it's weird (OF COURSE not all girls/boys). then we get to college and, lo, we have more dude friends than lady friends. we try to even it out, and it is awkward, because we are insecure about the standard rules and practices of ladyhood. we're not secret bitches who assume you hate us. we're just not sure if we're being assholes.

also, the LW's friend dated the dude four years ago and has been with someone else for two. i think it's fair to assume she would be over it.


@ohyaknow It's a red flag because so many women say that they don't have female friends or that other girls don't like them, with a tone of pride. When it comes up like this it's always "See, I'm not like those other crazy girls who are jealous, they don't like me! The guys like me, because I'm cool like guys!" Generally, girls don't like those girls because they're bitches, not because they're jealous of them.


@ohyaknow Nice straw man.


@thebestjasmine Well, or even if the women-who-only-have-guy-friends don't make quite this argument -- even if the rationalization is something like "women's friendships are just different" or " I just always liked doing guy stuff" -- there's still some pretty fundamental sexism at work. I mean, literally, that's what sexism is. Assuming that a person's sex is their defining quality. It's like a black dude saying he's just always had more white friends because he grew up with white people and just identifies with "white culture" better. That's fine, and there may, in fact, be very broad generalizations to be made about differences between white and black or male and female cultures. But those generalizations are pretty useless as applied to any given black, white, male or female person. And if you happen to be harboring those generalizations, it probably is, in fact, a little tricky to make friends with any member of the group you harbor them about.


@blily Yes, completely. Women who say this often follow it up by saying that girls are too catty, too interested in clothes or shopping, too mean to each other, etc. So they're both saying that they're a) better than all other women because they're above all of that, and b) being really sexist and insulting all other women. And this is not to say that everyone who has trouble making friends is that person, but if you have trouble making friends and you blame it all on other women because of what they are, it's not them, it's you.

Katie Walsh

@marie That's waaaayyy reductive of the intricacies of female friendships. Women are not turned off by tomboys because they're just so goshdarnit ungirly, women are turned off by people (men and women!) who don't necessarily take the time to listen or pay attention to or be sensitive and intuitive to the care and nurturing of the delicate creature that is female friendship. It's called not being an asshole and thinking about other people and their feelings!


@marie I know what you mean; I was terrible at organized sports as a kid, and didn't make many close guy friends until I became more of an outdoorsman and, later, more of a drinker. On the other hand, I have known at least one woman who would essentially say "Women are mean competitive backstabbing bitches and I don't like them very much." That sort of person is the one who earns ire.

tea tray in the sky.

@chunk lite I can understand where she's coming from re: female jealousy issues. I mean, I have female friends as well as guy friends, but there's a sort of "competition" that exists within girl/girl relationships that isn't such a huge part of girl/guy relationships, just because women tend to have so much in common with one another and it's easier to see where one's own shortcomings fall (or, what one perceives to be her own shortcomings).

These definitely stem from insecurities, there's no doubt about that, but there's also no doubt that everyone has SOME insecurities. The wonderful thing about these girl/girl relationships is that these insecurities are one of those things we have in common, so it's great to have each others' backs. Some weird freaky circular female support system.


what about those of us who don't give justifications for having more male friends than female friends? what about those of us who simply enjoy the company of men (and also women! but at some points, mostly men)? what if we don't use it as a ploy. what if it's just fact. then am i promoting sexism just because the people i hang out with happen to be guys? it is unfair to say "well something is wrong with this woman because she hangs out mostly with men." i think that's extremely unfair. if the woman is a jealous bitch then maybe you can find a way to blame it on that. however, if the woman is just like any other woman, but with more dude friends ... then why should we judge her for that? pick whatever friends you like!
and is it ok for a guy to have all girl friends ... or does that TOO make him a jealous bitch? lots of generalizations going on here.


@imo I think it's more those women that ACTIVELY go around stating it, like I said, as though it's a badge of honor.


@whereismyrobot gotcha. i just wanted to make sure we weren't hating on women who act like Not Annoying Humans when they happen to have more dudes in their lives. (and i have known a few women who state it in that badge-of-honor way. and they are usually terribly difficult.)


@imo Agreed. And I have been that woman at times in my life, but instead of touting it, I question it a little.


@chunk lite NEWSFLASH: Women are human beings and should be permitted to make decisions for themselves, regardless of what strangers they don't even care about might label "Red flags!"


The reason this woman doesn't have as many female friends as male is none of my business, and I don't pretend to even know. I am suggesting that the writer should have given that same consideration rather than condemning and labeling her as "one of THOSE girls," thereby perpetuating a stupid and harmful stereotype, and exposing herself as one of the catty, judgmental women she's trying to pretend don't exist.

Do none of you honestly see how pathetic and harmful it is to tear this apart piece-by-piece, delegating precisely which "type" of woman is acceptable and exactly what justifications she MUST have in order for it to be acceptable that she simply has a different population of friends??


@marie "also, the LW's friend dated the dude four years ago and has been with someone else for two. i think it's fair to assume she would be over it."

And when you're wrong? Page 4 of So You've Decided To Take Up With Your Friend's Ex reads: If your friend finds out, and as a result your friendship ends, would you give a shit? If no, then don't tell them what you're doing. If yes, then make sure it's cool *before* fucking their ex.


@nice_belt aka time passed doesn't mean shit. If your friendship is worth a damn then you can + should respect each other's feelings


@ohyaknow Eh, if you feel the need to "justify" why you have a certain group of friends, things do seem a bit suspect. Not sure why so many people are freaking out--I've never met anyone who thinks it's anti feminist or weird or offensive when a woman has mostly male friends, just when a woman (or man!) explains he doesn't like women because of _______ thing that women are. It's just as odd and potentially sexist when a grown ass woman's explanation for having only female friends amounts to "Ewwww boys!"

I really feel like if you saw yourself in that description, well..maybe that's you. Most of the people I currently hang out with are actually men, but since I don't blame that on other women and adore the close female friends I do have, I didn't see myself in that response.


the delicate creature that is female friendship may just need more common ground than i had to share.


@nice_belt yeah, that's true. you should check in with her and see if she's ok with it.


@whereismyrobot This comment makes me sadface. Most of my (few) friends are male, and I sometimes find myself lamenting that I don't have more female friends. It would really suck if women were going around thinking that I'm terrible simply because I have more male friends that female friends. I don't even understand why this is a thing.

Folks: Please don't go around hating on women that have few women friends. You are probably (definitely) compounding the problem.


@pixieg Actually I am referring to those that brag about it. (Which is kind of a jerk move. Saying it to another woman is basically like saying, "Yeah, I pretty much don't get along with you.") As I said, I used to be guilty of this and I often would wonder where the female friends were.

I have definitely gone through ebbs and flows regarding this.


@Katie Walsh i didn't say anything about women being turned off by a person being ungirly, i said some women found me weird in high school, and so i went on to have more dude friends. you came out and called a person without lady friends (younger me) an asshole who doesn't listen. i can say with certainty that i take other people's feelings into account, and i'd bet my friends would say the same. is this about something else?

coming back late to this because it's been on my mind since i read your response earlier today. anyway. there it is. for the record, i often feel the same awkwardness about relating to people on the internet -like there are rules that i don't understand. i'm not trying to be an asshole out here, just being me.


Re: Question #1. I have IBS. I'm not a webmd IBS sufferer, I actually went to a gastroenterologist and was officially diagnosed after some, ahem, probing. It SUCKS. And going on and off of different foods is a totally legitimate way (the only way, in fact) of figuring out your trigger foods. I'm sure there was a time (or several) when I would have appeared to the casual onlooker to have an eating disorder (you know, those days when all I could eat were saltines and water). But. She should see a doctor. It could be IBS, but it could be Celiac or Chron's disease. Self-diagnosing is not a good thing. Instead of encouraging her to stop talking about it, you should definitely try to help her get to a gastroenterologist. It's important!

Lily Rowan

@Nutellaface -- Yeah, if the friend is just trying this stuff on her own, she should stop, and see a doctor for realz.


@Nutellaface Me too! I am also a doctor-official IBS sufferer, and was about to post almost the same comment. I know asking my friends to go out with me is asking them to put up with strange requests, some restrictive eating, and the possibility that I might start to feel sick. So for me, there is a lot of stress attached to something as simple as a lunch date. I don't think those of us who suffer from chronic stomach issues feel really confident talking about what's going on with our digestive systems. After all, who wants to spend an afternoon casually discussing constipation and diarrhea? So, I think in addition to telling the friend to definitely see a gastroenterologist, it might also be helpful for the question asker to approach it with genuine interest and an "I won't be grossed out, just tell me what's going on and what I can do to make it easier" attitude. I have to say, my friends with that attitude are my favorite friends.

I'd also like to point out that even after seeing a gastroenterologist and getting diagnosed, the gist of my doctor's advice was "eat more fiber and learn to live with it." So IBS is often something that leads you to doing a lot of your own research and treatment.


@clarkie Hah, did we see the same doctor? I was supposed to take MiraLax every day and stay away from my trigger foods. The MiraLax didn't do anything, and after a while I went back to my doctor and asked what else I could do. She told me to just keep taking it. (I didn't.) Isn't it great to have a condition that there's literally no treatment for except "don't eat those things"?


@clarkie Yes why is the treatment eat more fiber? That's what I was told when I was diagnosed at 18 (8 years ago) and I still haven't figured out how to deal with the IBS. It's just such a blanket term for digestive/intestinal problems. And fiber may work for some but it really made everything worse for me. Ugh. Sigh. It just seems ridiculous that there's not more knowledge about treatment or narrowing in on the problem. If you don't have Crohns, celiac, or ulcerative colitis they call it IBS. I'm actually in the position of the friend in question, constantly trying to eliminate certain foods, because I'm uninsured and going to a specialist would cost unspeakable amounts of money. Queue rant about healthcare in America...



@Nutellaface I know! There must some caring, genuinely concerned gastroenterologists out there, but I've never come across one. Usually it feels like they're telling you, "Well, no colon cancer or colitis here, so on to a more seriously ill patient."

And the condition itself, don't even get me started. The hardest thing is feeling like you're definitely sick, but not sick enough to be in the hospital or looking visibly ill. I find it hard to get people to understand that it's a chronic condition, not just me being extremely picky. That, and having to keep a mental checklist of where every bathroom in a fifty mile radius is, just in case you ever need it.


@clarkie Yes. And feeling like you don't work correctly. Why can't I just eat something and digest it like a normal person?


@Nutellaface Sometimes I try to direct motivational speaking at my digestive system ("Come on, you can do it! Break down those potatoes!") but it rarely works. Whichever drug company finally comes up with a successful treatment with few side effects for IBS will make hundreds of billions of dollars.


@Nutellaface I have a similar issue - diagnosed IBS but only because I am not a celiacs or colitis sufferer. My GI told me to start taking probiotics (pill form, not just eat a ton Activia), and it really has helped me out.


@Nutellaface I went through something like this in my 20s and early 30s. Twice I managed to get to a certain point in the primary care giver, then specialist appointments (insurance required them in that order) then freaked out during the "sample" stage. Strangely enough, I seem to have grown out of it. I do also recall it went away when I made a point of excluding HFCS, so who knows? It was always much much worse during my period, probably because there's so much "activity" going on at that time! I would call in sick to work for a half day once a month.


@janeminty There's actually a thing, that I would bet is more common in IBS sufferers, where when you have menstrual cramps, your body gets tricked into thinking you have stomach cramps, and then you have diarrhea. Which means that on one day of every month, I wake up and say "ow. ow. MOTHER OF GOD." and then run to the bathroom. I don't even think my boyfriend notices anymore. Is that what happens to you? (not the boyfriend ignoring you part)




'ASK A GASTROENTEROLOGIST (but one who is really kind and cares about your feelings)' IS NEXT DOOR



@DoctorDisaster I think the point is that instead of saying "you should help your friend understand that she shouldn't be figuring this stuff out herself and encourage her to see a doctor" the advice was to make her stop talking about it, which wouldn't be healthy no matter WHY the friend is going on strange diets. Nobody wants to be made to feel ashamed, especially people with a sometimes embarrassing medical condition. Plus, no one should self-diagnose.


@Nutellaface Uh yep. My period ALWAYS triggers diarrhea. And usually several days of constipation leading up to it. It's always baffled me how one influences the other, but I think it's just spasm city in that general region. Sometimes it's real rough being a girl.


@fancypants, I was under the impression that the prostaglandins that trigger contractions of uterine muscle during menstruation also cause contractions in the nearby intestinal muscle, resulting in the need for many bathroom breaks (but I'd appreciate any corrections by somebody better versed in bio)


Question #1 - I know, right? It really does seem like most women in their twenties have some GI problems. I found out (at 29, yay?) that I have an ulcer, and the same meds that really help my anxiety (Celexa) also really helps me not have diarrhea constantly. Because yeah, my ulcer is exacerbated by anxiety.

elysian fields

@insouciantlover you think so? I was actually kind of puzzled by that statement. I mean, it's not like I regularly discuss bowel health with my friends, but I don't know a single person on a restricted diet and I'd be very surprised if one of my friends told me she had bowel issues.


@insouciantlover Have you been tested for Heliobacter pylori? The majority of ulcers are now known to be caused by this bacteria and a course of antibiotics can be a cure (sorry for the unsolicited diagnostic suggestion!).


@elysian fields Oh really? I guess I do regularly (HAHA GET IT? REGULARLY) discuss bowel health with my friends. Maybe I need better boundaries?

@pommard2001 I ain't never heard of that... when I was diagnosed with an ulcer I was all but begging to poop in a little plastic cup for lab work, but was shooed away. I'm gonna go get googling on that there heliobacter now, even though I kinda hate antibiotics. Interesting!


@insouciantlover I discuss bowel health with my friends constantly. Two have celiac disease, one can't eat dairy, I have IBS... needless to say this is pretty much always a discussion. All in our 20s. I wanna think this is normal? When you can't poop, poop too much, have horrible stomach pains and gas constantly, it's hard to just not talk about it. Even my poor boyfriend gets an almost daily update on the state of my digestion. I don't actually know any boys that complain of these issues though.


@fancypants I didn't see this before posting, but yes it was much worse in my 20s!


@fancypants The ibs is more common in women! Like, way more common. We just can't catch a break with our pelvic region.

Manchester Tart

Long time lurker (nervously) making my first comment just to say how completely brilliant the heartbreak advice is. No contact is a given, but also the bit about having to hurt and feel that pain. I tried to breeze past that bit (left at the altar more or less because bf of 12 years had knocked up a work colleague, fun times) like "I'm fiiiiine, seriously guys, stop going on about it now" and it came back to bite me on the arse, there's no way round the shitty part, but once you're through you're through.

Weirdly, what did it for me is getting my dog. Which is obviously a piece of advice specific to your own personal circumstances, lifestyle and preferences, but that ginger furball was the first thing to make me really smile in a long time, and gave me a reason to get up and get out of the house. Also, if you can take the cornball cheesiness of the delivery without throwing up, the book It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken has some good advice (but yeah, you might actually be sick it's that cheesy).

Wow, this was a long first comment, sorry.

raised amongst catalogs

@Manchester Tart I think it' so cute that you copped to being nervous. That is all. Oh, except that I'm sorry about your really awful breakup story. Oh, and also I am glad your dog made you feel better.


Going to give #2 the benefit of the doubt. She doesn't seem overly cocky; she just seems pretty young and still trying to figure it all out (she is still in college, and lord knows many of us weren't shining beacons of social navigation).
Girl #2: 80-90% sure your friend is sore about the dude with whom she was enamored. Pursuing someone who is the current/former object of a friend's unrequited infatuation/love is more likely than not going to alter the friendship in some way. And even if she loved him years ago, and even if you're the best, kindest, most giving friend to that person, you run the risk of arousing suspicion of ill intent. Many things will change friendships, but you have to decide if you want that to be the hallmark of yours.


here's a question maybe someone knows the answer to:
i know that animals with food allergies can get blood testing to evaluate for which foods are causing the problems. is there some reason this isn't available for people? or is it available, but our health system is so fucked that insurance won't cover it? or is it available but doctors are such secret sadists that they would rather watch their patients try to test themselves for trigger foods over the course of months and years, many times not even really knowing if they're accidentally ingesting these trigger foods when they go out to eat, so they end up eating iceberg lettuce and quinoa at home every day, rather than giving them a relatively short painless test to diagnose them?

(former veterinary worker, just want to know why human medicine seems to suck sometimes)


@teenie I was diagnosed with IBS around two years ago, and was never offered a blood test. As far as I know, it doesn't exist for people with IBS. I do, however, know someone with allergies who was tested for reactions to different foods. I think it's something you can maybe do if the reaction is hives, swelling, etc, but not digestive? Becuase IBS is weird. I could be wrong about this, but that's how I understand it.


@Nutellaface yeah - that's why it doesn't make sense to me, because it works for GI based allergies in pets. and that's what you're checking for when you have IBS and go through exclusion diets to figure out the culprit - you're looking for something that your body reacts to. hmmmm.


@teenie Super weird. Maybe tests just couldn't be extensive enough? For example, I can have egg whites but not the yolks, I can have tart apples but not very sweet ones, I can have honeydew but have problems with cantaloupe. They'd have to test for every variation, which would be, well, a lot of tests.


@teenie People can get tested as well. Most people don't want to get tested because its terrible. Plus IBS doesn't equal food allergies most of the time.

katherine delongpre

@teenie You can test for allergies, but you can't test for most intolerances (and a lot of times those you can test for would involve uncomfortable invasive procedures that are a lot harder than just cutting out dairy for a week). IBS is thought to be an intolerance thing, not an allergy thing, therefore you can't test for it.


@teenie Also, blood tests for allergies lead to a lot of false positives, so you can end up with a list of foods to avoid that, if strictly followed, is cripplingly limiting. Skin tests (rub it on, see if a rash develops) are more accurate but are more expensive because of the repeated visits required to see if the rash developed and to test different kinds of allergens. (This is somewhat off-topic, since you were asking about IBS-related food problems, not general allergies. And I can't say that I fully understand the difference: can't stand blood; didn't go to med school.)


In regards to #2 - is it just me, or did others form incredibly close friendships in college with other women that fell apart in 1-2 years? I went through about 4 cycles of female friends in college. I don't think this makes you a horrible person, but I remember college being a time of way overshare with your friends and some kinds of friendship can't take that kinds of intensity. It's much easier to be good friends w/gals as an adult - when you can control time/place and other factors of your friendship.


@DrFeelGood Yup. My roommate was my VERY BEST FRIEND for the first semester of my freshman year, but when I started dating my boyfriend, things kind of fell apart, although I don't think it was jealousy so much as maybe feeling ignored on her part (which was absolutely my fault). Second semester she just seemed to hate me, and we didn't really speak again until senior year. She found a different group of friends and I spent a lot of time with my boyfriend. I actually found out when I spoke with her senior year that she'd come out the year before. And I think she was going through that and a lot of stuff while our friendship was deteriorating, which must have been really hard. College is weird.


I think the ubiquitous IBS stuff has a lot to do with Acutane, at least if I'm right in thinking this IBS stuff is more of an urban-girl problem. Recently they did a big class action lawsuit for all the people who now have gastro-intestinal disorders as a result of taking Acutane... I don't know why we didn't see this coming when we signed those waivers with hydrocephalitic babies ballooning all over the place.

And, seriously, thank you for voicing the "If girls don't like you, it's you." Another way this could manifest is, "You may be avoiding straight women." It took me a long time to get over being afraid of relationships that couldn't be mediated/controlled by sex and sexuality. But oh, wow, finally making friends who care about me whether or not sex is on the table? Sheer gold. ESPECIALLY when there are guy issues in the water (aren't there always?) But it took a conscious act of will to put myself in rooms with lots of other women and be open to liking them... yes, even with all those womanly insecurities hanging out all over the place. Heck, we do make ourselves easy to judge! But there can be so much comfort in giving them/yourself a break.

I just wanted to share that with Ms. #2... you're not the only one who has trouble with other women (no matter how pretty or not pretty we are), and it's not that you're a bad person (probably). You can be brave and grow past this. It probably won't even take that long, if it's something you want, because so MANY of us feel this, feel like friendship with This kind of person or That kind of person is impossible. And we'd love it if you'd reach out first. My favorite Miranda July quote is this:

"This is a quality I look for in a person, not recoiling. Some people need a red carpet rolled out in front of them in order to walk forward into friendship. They can't see the tiny outstretched hands all around them, everywhere, like leaves on trees."


Er, that should have been Ms. #3. I sure hope that was obvious.

Clare Boyle@facebook

Can I have the email of the queefing workplace lady in #2. We have lots to talk about.


I can't really take heartbreak advice seriously if it doesn't mention putting up self-indulgent emo Facebook statuses and listening to a lot of Dashboard Confessional.


@boyofdestiny I can't really take heartbreak advice seriously if it DOES mention putting up self-indulgent emo Facebook statuses and listening to a lot of Dashboard Confessional.

Unless, I guess, the thrust of the advice is "make yourself undateable so this will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN."


@DoctorDisaster Harsh!


For the heartbroken: I highly suggest reading Anita Liberty's "How to Heal the Hurt by Hating. While not a cure, it certainly helped me and at least a couple friends through tough times. http://books.google.com/books?id=n_wkKQqJUD4C&lpg=PP1&ots=4jp-BICYQx&dq=anita%20liberty%20%22How%20to%20Heal%20the%20Hurt%20by%20Hating%2C%22&pg=PA25#v=onepage&q&f=false


@MaryRichards ooh my friend read this to me over the phone the first time I got dumped! It works!!!


Last question, part #2: It's so very, very, very, VERY VERY TRUE. You cannot "be friends" with someone who just broke your heart. Period. You can't talk to them. You can't text them. You can't send them smoke signals or write them letters written in calligraphy and sent by courier on horseback, even if the person who broke your heart wants to be friends and talk a lot.

I've tried. I've watched my friends try. I've watched friends of friends' neighbors' uncles' dogwashers' try. And it seems to be the one piece of advice NOBODY follows. "We're different," they say. "I'd rather have him/her in my life as a friend than not at all," they say. BULLSHIT. Put down the phone. Delete their number. Cut off your own fingers to keep from dialing if you have to. And that idea about giving yourself a gold star for every day you don't talk to them? I wish someone had told me that about 15 years ago when I got my heartbroken for the first time.

I love you, A Lady.


@kayjay This reminds me of the time I had to tape yellow post-it notes to all my phones that said, DO NOT CALL BEN, YOU WILL BE SORRY. That extra reminder helped me go cold turkey on the juicebox. (!)


"If you do not follow this rule, you don't deserve to feel better."
Even given in some kind of jest, this is terrible advice! This is the worst possible thing you can tell someone who is already hurt and likely self-loathing! Whatever you do that makes you feel better is A-OK, and if you do something that makes you feel worse, punishing yourself for it is only reinforcing a negative cycle. So if you do mistake of some kind? Let it go. Move on. DON'T start telling yourself stories about not "deserving happiness"! Man, will that not help.

constant reader

@zan I hear you, but I interpreted this line differently. A Lady's not saying the girl doesn't deserve happiness, she's saying the girl can't expect to feel better while doing things that won't make her feel better.


#1, I've got nothing.

#2. Have you been doing your kegels?

#3. That girl and you aren't friends. Don't try and fix it. Just get a better friend. Also having a friend for a roommate is a ninja level advanced housing move- don't room with friends if you aren't ROCK solid. Even then, keep your best friend somewhere else. It's very hard to fight with your best friend or roommate if they're the same person.

#4. Oh dude. Work out, cry a lot, and write every stupid thing you think down in open letters you don't send. Good topics to start with: "Why You Threw Your Happiness Away" "What is Wrong with Your Life Philosophy" "How Much Better I am Going to Do at Life" "How Will I Live Without You?" Then cry some more.

On top of no contact, you had better delete everything. If you can't, have a friend put them somewhere on the harddrive you can't get to. Same for photos, letters, trinkets, blankets, etc. Wallowing in the exes sweater is a good way to stop the healing.

Lastly, I made a cliches list. All the things I'd put in my cliche rom com recovery montage. Listening to your song without crying? Kissing a hot guy at a bar? Getting a haircut and going shoes shopping? Eating a pint of ice cream? Walking alone in a nice coat by the water and stopping to stare? All of them. Every single one. To prepare watch every rom com out there, up to the recovery montage at least. Take notes. It will keep you busy.


The comedy shows thing is excellent advice. When a relationship ended recently I couldn't listen to music cos it would suddenly, unexpectedly make me incredibly sad, so on my morning commute I would listen to comedy podcasts instead. I ended up scaring people by laughing out loud on the street rather than looking incredibly tearful and like I'd just seen my cat get runover, but I know which kind of insane I would rather be!
@E I love your cliché list!!!


@rayray SO TRUE about the sudden sadness caused by music on the commute--its especially bad if you're driving. books on tape are good for avoiding this, too.


re: question one, i'm pretty sure that the friend doesn't have an eating disorder, she just doesn't want to have to worry about horrible tummy pain/gastro issues when hanging out. speaking as A Lady with lots of IBS issues, here. it sucks! especially when you're trying to make dinner plans with your friends! so basically Deal With It. oh and tell your friend to get some ativan, if she hasn't, cause that shit works wonders.


A Lady,

Many extremely serious and lifelong GI problems start as simply as seeming to develop a food allergy or feeling that you need to eliminate a food from your diet. Sometimes you think you just have to stop eating dairy, and then you go to the doctor and find out that you have a lifelong autoimmune disease that means you have to be on medication for the rest of your life and are 10 times more likely to develop colon cancer and will never be able to eat a pizza again whether you want to or not. Bummer. The dietary discussions that arise out of such a situation are not the same as crash dieting and really shouldn't be misunderstood as such.

And that was the distinction the original question-asker was talking about: how can you tell the difference between disordered dieting/eating and the kind of unpleasant but necessary dietary exploration that is a natural consequence of developing a GI problem. Nowhere in the original question did it say anything about the girl "talking all the time" about her various elimination diets--that was a problem that you invented in order to write a funny paragraph about it (don't get me wrong; the paragraph was very funny, but it was not really germane to the question).

Here's the sticking point that leaves me upset after reading your answer, Lady: as a woman with a GI problem, it's very difficult for me to talk with my friends and family about the things I have to do to stay well. Much of this arises because of the nature of my GI problem—-butts! poop! awkward!—-but sometimes I think that more of it arises from my womanhood.

Intelligent women who talk about what they are eating are often perceived as grasping, weight-obsessed, misguided; a backlash to Cosmo culture that I understand, but that hurts me. Dieting--by which I mean watching, cataloging, and paying attention to what I eat--is a huge part of what I have to do to stay well. Am I not allowed to have those conversations with my friends?

Not everyone needs to hear about the poop part, but if a close friend of mine doesn't want to hear me talk about my disease at all, I suppose they could go ahead and give me an ultimatum to not talk about it anymore as you advise the writer of the question. However, I think it's very unlikely that our friendship would last the length of the game that that would create.

Please don't conflate illness--mental, physical, or otherwise--with annoying, bratty behavior. It makes it hard to be alive, honest, and diseased.


@oldtobegin i <3 u


@almostcrime <3 u 2 gut buddy


@oldtobegin You are wonderful.


@oldtobegin Yeeesssss. I wanna be your friend.


@oldtobegin YES YES YES. "Please don't conflate illness--mental, physical, or otherwise--with annoying, bratty behavior. It makes it hard to be alive, honest, and diseased." I thought A Lady was totally off base here, sadly.


@fancypants OH GOOD! i am accepting new friends! <3


The breakup advice is tops! Especially the comedy and gold stars idea. You could even change up the colors for other milestones and see all your accomplishments over the month. Gold stars for no contact, red stars for the occasional flirting, blue stars for days when you don't cry in the shower! #itgetsbetter #imsorrythatlady

I also have a new idea about how to get back at dudes, especially for the kind that just out of nowhere turn shitty. Ladypranks! Me and some gf's have recently decided that instead of wasting emotional energy on these dudes we are just going to start pranking them. Nothing scary, just harmless good old-fashioned irritating stuff. Text message rejection, after no dates? Toilet paper his house! Mixed messages? Shoe polish his car? Then he will be late to work, you will laugh so hard - now let's all go to brunch. (well, except that guy you ladypranked)

If this became a new thing and you did it too - would you send in pictures? Just wondering for a friend. Best time I ladypranked?


Queefing ladies, things along the lines of Kegels can sometimes help tone things up and make this less frequent. In terms of how to sit so it's less likely to happen, either:
1 Sit in such a way that you can keep your pelvic floor slightly lifted. It's easier to do this when your weight is slightly forward on your sitbones and you are sitting up straight (ie not leaning back with your weight way up on your tail, the way most of us sit a lot of the time). Bouncy balls = awesome for this, but it's possible on any sort of chair as long as it's the right height (you can sit straight with knees at hip height and feet on the floor).

2 If 1 isn't possible, try to draw inner thighs in and up and lift your pelvic floor BEFORE you get up.

Yoga ladies, this is similar to subtle mula bandha with a little uddiyana bandha. (I'm a yoga teacher.) Bonus, it will make you feel a little more awake and alert and is better for your spine / digestion / posture / breath / etc.


@jetztinberlin Phew. Actual advice for this lady, other than the idea that her vagina must be peculiar, because I'm convinced that it isn't, and that she can be helped.
Also, to the Lady of question #2, your honest and quirky question made me laugh, and felt like a breath of fresh air (no pun intended?). You're owning a hell of a lot over there, and I'm of the opinion that if anyone could own farting often in public, it'd be you. Count me impressed.


I think the best "getting over heartbreak" advice I can give from experience is: don't drink. Don't use alcohol or other substances to try to kill your emotions or sleepwalk through your life for a while. The anti-anxiety meds are a good idea for, like, two weeks, and then they will become a problem.

If you do end up using (like I did, whee six months of serious alcoholism following the best/worst relationship of my life), all that happens is that when you resurface, all those emotions are still there, completely raw and undealt with, and you will have to start right back over at square one without all of the universe's understanding and good will you squandered.



So I have/had an eating disorder for a long-ass time (been in recovery one year, but not 100% recovered), and yet nobody knew I had one for years because I never spoke about any aspect of it (e.g. restricting), ever, since I was so ashamed/worried what others would think. I met a lot of women my age (in our twenties) in recovery who said the same thing- no one knew they had an eating disorder because they just avoided showing/talking about it.

So I would say if your friend is all, "I can't eat ____ because of my gut issues," that there's a pretty good chance that she has gut issues, but the only way to know for sure is for her to go to a gastroenterologist and find out what the fuck is happening in there. There is no way she should be just cutting out entire categories of food to try and self-diagnose her gut issues because she didn't go to school for a million years to learn how to do so.

Judith Slutler

@Nutmeg I'm glad you're doing better! Eating disorders suck major balls.

HOWEVER, as a counterpoint, when I was anorexic I decided I had Fake Lactose Intolerance in order to help me cut out calories from dairy products w/o anyone starting to ask me uncomfortable questions. so, you know, this does happen also.

And yes, the friend with the gut issues should definitely see a doctor ASAP.


@k not K: True! I forgot about when I was in high school and was a "vegetarian" because that meant I couldn't eat dinner, looks like jam on toast is the only thing I can eat in the whole house!!!! It wasn't until I was living on my own that I started the whole, "Everything is fine, I am just an abnormally hungry thin person, definitely didn't starve myself for two days in order to eat this!" act (now I make people uncomfortable because when they say, "How can you eat that way, you're so thin!" I say, "Well, it helps that I'm recovering from a pretty egregious eating disorder!" I am kind of a dick).


How is it that every mystery ailment afflicting a woman since the beginning of time makes people think it's stress? Hysteria, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, only for us to in time realize that it was actually something physically based. Enough of the world is going to think we're crazy so us women friends should be sticking together. She so crazy? Yuk.


@ScazzaSofija exactly. i don't think we do a service to each other as women by trying to explain away what could really be a legitimate health problem by yellow wallpapering this mystery friend of the question-asker. she should go to the doctor and her friend should be supportive of her throughout the experience.

simone eastbro

@oldtobegin "yellow wallpapering" is the dopest dopest verbing i've seen in a long time.


@simoneeastbro Agreed. I'm going to be using that one. Thanks oldtobegin!


My main issue with Question #3 is: "But I figured that since she's been dating this other guy for two years now, it might be OK?" You figured? Did you ever think to ask first? I've always been under the impression that exes are off-limits, but even if you thought your friend had moved on, you still should have asked. Good friends TALK to each other. Also, your friend may have thought that since you dated her ex, you might spill the beans to him about just how obsessed and hurt she really was over their breakup. No one likes to lose face, no matter how much time has passed. However, I don't think it's fair to paint you as a lady that other women hate. Sometimes we ladies don't like other women, sometimes other women don't like us. Oh hey, guess what else: sometimes we don't like some of the men we meet, and sometimes they don't like us. I don't think this issue has anything to do with gender; it sounds like there's a lack of maturity and communication from both sides. Cut your losses and in the future, be more considerate to/open with your girls.


@SassyAsh ugh, THIS!
YCRM, yall


"any of the -pams, but xanax is the best." A Lady: Yes. If I had known this in the hey-day of heartbreak, I would have been a better woman.


A Lady, you are a genius. And a goddess. Absolutely perfect break-up advice. Thank you for spreading the good word!

Also, sorry people are such bitches in the comments. You deserve only the classiest and most informative comments. LYLAS.


okay so first time commenter on pretty much any site but i have to chime in with this heartbreak discussion BECAUSE THIS ADVICE IS GOLDEN and I have much to offer in terms of hope: after receiving a text message breakup from my (first) serious boyfriend (at the age of 22), I continued contact of the 'yes i can help you with your depression/addiction/omg your childhood dog died a week later' and also he was the bassist IN MY BAND so I saw him almost every week for about two months. AT WHICH POINT I SAID NO MORE. I told him- no more emails or drunk texts. He quit the band. I may be a fast healer but two months later I wanted to scratch that itch. I sent him an email and as I read the response my only thought was 'what a LOSER'. So when you're ready, you'll see that there is a reason you are not together. Even if that reason is just that the dude is not into you, well what an idiot! I don't care if this guy is the pope or the coolest hipster at the empty swimming pool- YOU ARE BETTER OFF because no one worth it would put you through the pain. Also- don't bottle it up. This is how you get an anxiety disorder (oh hi!). I cried my butt off. I watched movies with James Macavoy and moaned whyyyyyyyyyy for days on end. Don't deny yourself your wallowing (I learned this from Gilmore Girls whatever). If you do have to see the evil-doer (as I did, ALL THE TIME) get your friends to create a hot pocket with you as the sexy delicious stuffing. Keeps contact to a minimum and keeps you having visibly fun times with all your awesome friends. /rant/novel/advice


@indigo_stars A-fucking-men. I'm 23 and reeling from my first big break-up, he told me in a 2-sentence email. Fuck that noise.


Excellent Clueless reference.

Judith Slutler

Heartbreak advice = excellent advice, fyi. There are times in my life when I could've used one of them gold star calendars.

dracula's ghost

I think the breakup advice is amazing (as well as the clueless reference, yes!). It is really exhausting to see the terrible cycle of "constant text-fighting/facebook-stalking" some of my recently-broken-up friends engage in. I know I have been there myself and later regretted it, so I think if you can force yourself to just listen to this Lady's advice and follow it, you will be glad later. Do it for the future self you love and want to do right by!

Also I would like to pitch my two bits in by suggesting getting a SEPARATE JOURNAL for this time in your life (if you're a journaler). When I was going through my own Personal Character-Building HeartBreak With Shitty Mean Ex Boyfriend Or Whatever, I actively was like "damn, I don't want to ruin my pretty thick-papered aesthetically-pleasing journal with all the insane boring repetitive bullshit I'm about to need to write down because of this here breakup!" So I went to the drugstore and bought the cheapest notebook there and wrote "BREAKUP JOURNAL" on it, and just used that until I felt better. I can't really explain it but it was awesome and somehow empowering/comforting to have a dedicated notebook that was just for all the stupid bullshit I'd later feel dumb about saying to myself ("but oh diary HE IS MY SOULMATE" etc. barf barf barf, if you guys knew this guy, I swear, you would be so embarrassed for me, etc). Like having the dedicated notebook made all that shit I wanted to say/write OKAY to say/write, like the notebook was my special breakup friend and I looked forward to hanging out with it after work or whatever. I think this helped keep me from making a wide variety of unfortunate phone calls (although many such calls did still get made--notebook, you let me down!!)


I'm a little disturbed by the first part of A Lady's answer to question #4 (the bit about going on anxiety meds).

I appreciate that everyone deals with a break-up differently, and I completely understand how using anti-anxiety medication would be helpful for some people, but I think that it was erroneously placed as the first piece of advice since that spot is generally reserved for the most pertinent advice. I thought it was a little reckless to advise this, especially without the requisite (but highly necessary!) add-on of "See a therapist to get these meds". Yes, A Lady did use the word "legally", but I thought the general thrust of that point should have been "It is more than okay to see a therapist during this time, and to ask them about prescribing anti-anxiety meds" rather than "Do anything legally possible to get anti-anxiety meds".

To give this counsel pride of place out of all the advice and to focus solely on the meds to the exclusion of the mention of a therapist seems to advocate that taking anti-anxiety meds is a basic thing to do that doesn't bear much thinking about ("You had a break-up? First thing to do: get on anxiety meds!"), when I think that it is a very important thing to mull over with the help of a professional.

On another note: gold star idea? Feckin' brilliant.


The heartbreak advice is spot-on. (Wish I'd thought about anti-anxiety meds!) Especially the no contact thing. No facebook stalking! Nothing. It's HARD but it's worth it. Because it doesn't matter what they're doing/who they're dating/where they are-- all of that is irrelevant now. They aren't in your life anymore, period, and there is no reason to pay attention to them.

Also seconding comedy! When I was dumped out of the blue by my first serious/long-term boyfriend and was still in that horrible crying-constantly-and-not-eating-or-sleeping-through-the-night stage, my friend gave me the first three seasons of 30 Rock, which I watched in like, two weeks.


@mgll I watched a whole season of Project Runway, back to back without stopping. In bed.


@TrilbyLane That sounds about right. I got dumped right before my college graduation (three days before! That was fun...) and didn't have a job yet, so I spent much of that summer on my parent's couch in my pajamas watching America's Next Top Model. And crying. Though it's hard to cry when you are laughing at Tyra (an entertaining-reality-tv variation on the comedy theme?)


@mgll I watched all six seasons of 'The L-Word' in a tearstained, Kleenex-spattered fog. But when I started to pine after Shane more than my ex, I realized that it was probably for the best that we broke up.


I'm, um, friends with heartbreak question girl, and for the record I would just like to say (on her behalf) that that answer, as well as everything everyone's said in the comments, is incredibly helpful and heartening. Especially the gold star thing. (I have it on good authority that the Dude in this situation is trying to "still be friends" immediately post-devastating heartbreak and it is causing a major amount of stress & confusion.) You are all v. kind and v. smart people, and reading your comments and advice is super encouraging and basically just an extremely good-feeling thing in an extremely shit-feeling time. Thank you so much. (...says my friend.)


Did not agree with most of what you said here, Lady.

But what really got me is telling the woman to get her hands on some anxiety meds. Brings me back to the 50s when they were medicating housewives with Valium to keep them in line.

Girl, own it. Own your body. You are an essential being, and you have control and power over yourself and your emotions. You don't need to be sedated to function.

Tomato Nation@twitter

@Autumn "You don't need to be sedated to function."

Except...sometimes you do. And there's no shame in that, is the point.


As an occasional indulger of the -pams and REM (shut up I went to college in the 90s) in these moments, I think this advice is *brillz*. I understand the concern about medicating, but soooo many women I know get in this emotional-hamster-wheel-thing where you are CONSTANTLY looking at your phone/facebook/twitter having "benign" conversations with mutual friends, etc. And the truth is, taken well, the meds can lessen that compulsive gnawing feeling. Also: no xanax and texting. Best to delete the number.

But. Therapy = better, if the heartbreak in question involves patterns that need figuring out. If the dude (or lady) was just a shit, then yes by all means Time Is Your Friend. And I think the gold star thing is completely fantastic. The worst thing about heartbreak is feeling like you have no recourse (hence our desire for eventually fruitless "ameliorating" contact). The star thing -- or another goal (3 weeks of yoga or something), allows you to look at time as more than just a thing you must endure.

Lastly: the best dumped advice I ever got was to hang on to dignity. AND IT IS REALLY HARD. Because it feels so good to go nuclear or self-destructive or whatever. But one can never go wrong with dignity. Ever. Ask: "Would Michelle Obama do this?" No, no she would not. Because she is dignified. Even doing the Dougie. Which is fucking rare.


Also: it is great to write the person in question letters. Every day if you want, as long as you DON'T SEND THEM. The nice thing about doing this is you get your feelings out, and then in a few weeks, you see your feelings go from sad to angry to spent to (eventually) mellowed. It helps. Also you will feel proud of the devastating lines you come up with.


I wish I could find some adivce for heartbreak when it's been NINE MONTHS and one still feels like crap. Time is not doing it's job here.


I know this is completely old and no one has commented for months, but something in the answer to the third question keeps eating at me: While it sounds like the "if girls don't like you, it's you, period" statement and those proceeding it may apply to the letter-writer, that isn't the case 100% of the time.

I'm 24 now and no longer run into this problem, but when I was in my late teens/very early 20s, I can think of several instances in which really mean, nasty women excluded me for no good reason. I've never seen myself as particularly beautiful, and I don't think most other people have ever seen me that way, either, and I've always had at least a few close female friends. Regardless, there were those few instances--I can think of one in particular where a slightly older girl would throw a fit and refuse to come to a given social event until I was uninvited, when literally, I had barely spoken to her in my life.

I don't suspect these girls were threatened by me--I guess it's possible, but it's also possible that they were just mean, perceived me as vulnerable and someone to pick on (I wasn't, but people often made that mistake because I was small and quiet),or had been offended by some random thing I didn't realize I did/said.

But bottom line, it's not ALWAYS you when another woman doesn't like you. Just like with men, there are some bad apples/screwed up people who just want to be mean to you.

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