Friday, March 2, 2012


Gifts, Brolessness, and More Grad School From the Underworld

Is it weird / concerning when a guy primarily has only female friends? I've been casually seeing this guy who's pretty much only friends with women. He's admitted this being a "problem," saying things like, "I really need to find more guy friends." He's also a self-proclaimed feminist, and I think he's more sensitive than some other guys, which may be why he more often seeks female friendships. (Not to stereotype here.)

I also know that some of these friends are either girls that he's dated a while ago, or girls that he's had feelings for in the past. So, is this weird? I don't fully believe that whole thing that men and women can't truly be platonic friends, but I have really always believed that it's important to have close relationships with people your own gender (and that these are naturally your closest friendships). I couldn't imagine being friends almost exclusively with men, so I find it weird that he is. Should I be concerned?

Wait, so this guy ONLY has platonic female friends? Really? I'm familiar with the phenomenon of girls being friends with mostly guys because they "just don't get along with other girls," which essentially means they're a little crazy and enjoy tormenting the meek boys who are secretly in love with them, but I'm not sure I've ever heard of the inverse. Unless he's gay, in which case I've definitely heard of that.

But I'm going to assume you aren't dating a gay man, and I guess it's not a problem as long as the friends are really all just friends? I do think that platonic relationships across gender lines are possible and do exist; I also think a lot of the time they become platonic after not starting out that way. One of my very best friends in the world is a girl who's basically like my sister at this point — the idea of kissing her is weird and gross. But when we met, in high school, I was a little in love with her and way too spineless to go for it. Ten years later, we're the quintessential platonic friends, and I wouldn't have it any other way. So the fact that he's friends with former crushes and distant exes makes a certain amount of sense. Of course, I also have a bunch of very close guy friends as well, including her fiance.

Is it normal for a dude to not have other dude friends? Not that there are rules for what's "normal," but ... not really? Although if he's the sort of guy who doesn't like "dude stuff" (i.e. video games, sports), and doesn't feel the need for an outlet to hang out and talk about such things with other dudes, well, that's fine. Different strokes, etc. And if your relationship is good enough that your issue with this situation is that it's a little weird, and not that you think he's got a bunch of semi-friends that he's always trying to hook up with, it sounds okay to me.

Hey Dude, my boyfriend just said one of the worst things to me last night (five days till Christmas): "Don't even get me any Christmas presents. Just don't be a bitch that day."

This was brought on that I was upset that he's been too lazy to go to the doctor for his herpes outbreak. It's been a week since we've had sex and normally we do it everyday. I've been good up till yesterday, I was just so mad that he hasn't taken care of it yet.

How do I get those nasty words out of my head? Do I get him presents or no? All Christmas spirit within me has been euthanized.

I know we missed Christmas here, so you probably already figured out whether or not to get him a gift. But I hope what you did get him was a dumping (?), because he sounds awful.

I mean, sure, there are contexts and there are jokes. Sometimes in a loving relationship a line like that can be said with the right tone and be sarcastic and fine. But clearly it wasn't said in a tone you were comfortable with, so it sounds like it can't really be justified away. As for the herpes thing, well, herpes alone isn't a dealbreaker. But to be "too lazy" to get treated for something that he could transmit to you shows a lot of selfishness.

You don't provide a ton of background or context, and any number of other details would illuminate just what this guy's deal is. But based on what you did report, buying him a present or not doesn't seem like the issue. Do you really want to be with a guy who shows you so little respect?

My boyfriend and I are in our early 30s and have lived together for five years, supporting each other through good times and bad. It's never been and easy relationship, but it's always been worth the effort. Recently, my boyfriend quit his job to go to school full time, a move I fully supported. I was unemployed at one point and he did everything he could to help me get through that period. (I was unemployed because I quit my job to move across the country with him.)

But I was unprepared for how demanding his program would be and how much that would affect our relationship. He doesn't have the time or energy to participate in the relationship on any level. He's trying, but school seems to demand everything of him. He stays up all night studying and sleeps on the couch. On the weekends he often sleeps until the sun goes down and gets up to study. When I suggest taking a break from the relationship so he can focus on school, he says he'd rather quit school than break up. I know that's no solution. I try to do my own thing as much as possible (yoga, friends, books), but at the end of the day I'm still in a committed relationship but living like I'm solo. This guy is very gifted and I want to be there for him during this challenging and important period, but I also want to take care of myself, and I'm slowly losing my mind. What would A Dude do?

That's a tough one. On the one hand, you should support him in this — he's trying to improve himself and your life together. On the other hand, relationships are supposed to be fun and fulfilling, so what's the point in being in one that has you two barely interacting?

I'd say there has to be a compromise. I never went to architecture school or med school or whatever other schools require you to do insane amounts of work, but is he really being buried under so much work that he has to stay up all night, every night studying? Is sleeping until 5 p.m. on weekends part of his curriculum? Is there no way for him to adjust his study schedule a little bit to give you guys maybe one or two nights a week where you can at least share a meal together sans textbooks?

I think it'd be reasonable for you two to talk about small ways to re-focus on your relationship. I'm sure he isn't loving the situation, either. Rather than make it a me-or-school choice, which neither of you want, start out by planning some little events or times for you to be together doing something fun. He's got to have SOME free time, even if it's just taking 20 minute study breaks to share a cup of coffee with you at the same time every day, just to reconnect and remind yourselves why you're doing this. And even if that's only a bit of an improvement and doesn't return the relationship to the place you want it to be, the good news is that school is a finite experience, and eventually he'll be done with it and better for it.

This may seem like a ridiculous question, but I feel like I really need a male perspective on it. So, here is the situation — I've been seeing this guy for just about a month, and we're really hitting it off. Awesome in every aspect so far. We have great chemistry, and have slept together twice. It wasn't forced or uncomfortable, and we both enjoyed ourselves greatly.

The thing is, last night he said he realizes he is starting to "really like" me, so he feels like we should hold off on having sex again for a little while. He says he's most comfortable in two types of sexual scenarios: completely casual no-strings, or committed loving relationship. And since we're kind of between the two, he's afraid it could potentially ruin the other (mental, emotional, spiritual) connections we are building. So, is this a bad sign? Or really good? I've never been with a man who took this approach, so I want to be sure he isn't just trying to keep distance or subtly tell me he isn't interested after all. He hasn't pulled away in any other aspect, he still texts frequently and wants to hang out just as often, so I guess he really does like me as a person? Why do I feel a weird sense of rejection?

It sounds like you've found ... a good guy? It's kind of sad that a dude saying he wants to hold off on sex so as not to fuck up long-term relationship prospects because he really likes you is cause for alarm. I mean, I get it — we dudes generally will not say no to sex, because we're slobbering cavemen controlled by boners. So sure, this could be seen as a sign he's letting you down gently because he's not interested. But if he's still calling, you're still hanging out, and everything else is great, well, awesome. If he was letting you down gently, he'd probably stop initiating contact. A guy saying that he's very interested and wants to hang out a lot AND seemingly has control enough over his hormones to hold off on sex that he thinks might screw things up seems like the opposite of a problem, no?

But really, don't worry. I'm sure you guys will get drunk and forget about such noble plans before too long if you're both as into each other as you say.

PreviouslyFaking, Other Women, and the Top 50 Proposal Jokes.

A Dude is one of several rotating dudes who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Dude? (300 word max, please.)

Photo by kiuik, via Shutterstock

382 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott

LW#2: Please PLEASE come out of the woodwork here and tell us you've broken up!!!


@The Lady of Shalott FERVENTLY SECONDED.

Tragically Ludicrous

@The Lady of Shalott seriously. First reaction was "THE FUCK" and it didn't get better from there.

Prostitute Robot From The Future

@Tragically Ludicrous And still she wondered "Do I get him presents or no"??!!

Let me think about th..NO!!!!!!


@The Lady of Shalott So this right here:
"This was brought on that I was upset that he's been too lazy to go to the doctor for his herpes outbreak."
If she managed to remain herpes-free so far (and it's possible), I feel like his inaction warrants "being a bitch," as it were.

Nicole Cliffe

@The Lady of Shalott KILL HIM WITH FIRE.

No, really, though, there are a lot of men in the world. This one sounds like a dick. Get a new one.


@Nicole Cliffe There are a lot of men in the world. This one sounds like a dick. Get a new one.

i feel like this knowledge needs to somehow be put into the water supply.


@Everyone and @Lady2 Good lord, yes. These people are right.

Not only should he be calling you names, the fact that he is implying you are terrible to him all the time... hit his eject button. Whether or not he goes with a parachute is at your discretion.


@PistolPackinMama Um... NOT calling you names. Yeah.




@Nicole Cliffe YES, more viking solutions! Viking solutions for everything! #burnitalldown!

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

(FYI if you're just starting to read this, LW2 is here and has started a discussion lower on this page.)


@The Lady of Shalott I don't think I got even half way through this question before yelling "Holy shit! DTMFA!" So yeah, here's hoping.


@parallel-lines TROGDOR!!


@Xanthophyllippa Burninating the douchebags!


For a while I was seeing a dude who had only female friends. This dude was awesome in many ways, but he definitely had a STRONG need for attention, and especially attention from ladies (although he was in fact bi). It wasn't the deal-breaker (there were lots of other deal-breakers), but I didn't love it. Especially because he was such a flirty type of dude.

I would be wary of this, LW1. It might be no big thing, but it might also mean that he will always want multiple ladies paying attention to him. I think you will just have to wait and see how it goes.


@special_boots Just seconding this, and adding an anecdote that a dude with only lady pals will likely be very, very jealous of any other dudes you know.


@special_boots I agree with this. While I'm sure he's just friends with them all and nothing cheaty will happen, sometimes these platonic relationships actually involve a lot of 'harmless' flirting, and even when you know it won't lead to anything, it can be really difficult to be okay with, as well as difficult for them to stop doing entirely. If this is the case, you'll have to decide if you're cool with that.

all the bacon and eggs

@special_boots Yes, I think LW1 should just keep her eyes open. I have definitely met straight guys who have only/primarily female friends, and IMO it's a huge red flag. Then again, so is a guy who feels the need to go around telling people he's a feminist (unless he's still in college, it which case it might be sort of cute). I think this is the same sort who describes himself as a "nice guy."



But isn't the thing to be wary about the "strong need for attention from ladies," not the fact that he had female friends?

A little like saying "watch out for guys who eat oatmeal, I went out with one and he gnawed a hole through my best sweater, probably lookin' for oats."

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@special_boots Fig 2 had one guy friend and several lady friends when we started dating. They were purely platonic. He doesn't have a strong need for attention or flirtiness...his friends just happened to be female, that's all. He's also super feminist (although he doesn't declare this publicly) and laid back, and while he does "guy" things sometimes, he doesn't much care for the whole (sexist, racist) "bro" scene.

Some guys however, do not differentiate between Friends Who Are Girls and Girl 'Friends', if you catch my drift.


@atipofthehat I think your analogy there is very strange and not really applicable. I think my comment was pretty clear -- having exclusively female friends CAN be the result of wanting/needing a lot of female attention in a way that could be problematic. It doesn't NECESSARILY mean that. Pretty sure I did make that distinction.


@special_boots So, as a dude who comments on the hairpin...

I get where this comes from. But, generalizations. I grew up an only child with my mom as a single parent, and am just a lot more comfortable being emotionally close with women. I've had close dude friends before, and have one very good one now (though he's living in Egypt now, so), but it just generally hasn't been quite as fulfilling. Ok, that sounded like a euphemism. Not helping my cause.

Anyway, point being: When Harry Met Sally is made of bullshit, people can be nontraditional, I'm all for "In my experience, dudes who..." sorts of advice, but not so much for "It is required that my male boyfriend have male friends or he is not a Real Dude Who Is Emotionally Capable Of Monogamy". Please? Thanksss


@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) I don't think that scenario is unrealistic. The point of my first comment was just that LW1 is just going to have to get to know the guy better before she can know whether it's a real concern. Maybe it is! Maybe it's not! Both are plausible.


@wilarseny "It is required that my male boyfriend have male friends or he is not a Real Dude Who Is Emotionally Capable Of Monogamy".

I'm sorry, where did you get that from my comment of "here is a thing that happened to me, which might be what's going on here or might not be"?

No, really. Where?


@special_boots Yeah, there's no reason why this would necessarily be a problem, but obviously the LW is a bit worried about it, so it seems reasonable to discuss why those worries might exist and if they're justified.


@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) My ex boyfriend had several lady friends as well, and it wasn't so much the lady friend part that bothered me as much as what they would do together. When just the two of them would go to the bar til 2 in the morning... Maybe I am old fashioned, but I just don't do that when I'm in a relationship, I don't care how platonic the friendship is.


@special_boots Yo, relax. The internet isn't mad at you. Be friends with the internet. I realize I clicked on reply to your post, but it was more directed at A Dude.


@wilarseny Also, sigh, I've joined the ranks of confessional commenters. I'm really looking forward to getting all up in the open thread today.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@special_boots I agree, I don't think it's necessarily anything to get upset about, unless you are getting upset about it, which means it's something to discuss.

I discussed it with Fig 2, he said I'd have to trust him, I didn't like it but I did, and things were cool. Of course, I also at that time knew a lot more of his history, and he was pretty open and acknowledging of my concerns. COMMUNICATION people, this and taking care of yourself and not getting wrapped up in bullshit.



My analogy is also clear: based your sample or one dude, you imply that there may be a correlation between dudes with only female friends and dudes who have "a STRONG need for attention, and especially attention from ladies." Or did I not understand?

Because I thought you said something like "a member of [a certain group of people] did this, so based on my one experience, watch out for behavior X." And that strikes me a hogwash.



[peace sign]

Actually, I disagree with you and A Dude and LW1 that it's a situation!

Rather, I'd define the situation as being that LW1 is uncomfortable for some reason with her boyfriend, and this is the reason that has surfaced. And there's no rule that you can't break up, or that you should stay with someone whose behavior or ways of being in the world make you uncomfortable. So, I would say to LW1, you can either get used to it; break up with him; or introduce him to some men you know he would like.


@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Fig 2 sounds like me when I met my wife. Lots of lady friends, handful of guy friends, and I was called a feminist just cause of my actions (apparently treating girls and guys equally makes me a feminist?)though I don't go calling myself one.

I do think the "bro" scene was really what caused me to end up with lady friends though, some guys just don't mix with the whole tough guy man stereotype.


@wilarseny welcome to the club. the slogan is, oh god please nobody I know find out I said anything ever on the internet.

actually we could use a catchier slogan


@wilarseny oh hi, same deal here. Raised in household with mom and sister, often more comfortable around women. That said...I gotta say, back when I had mostly female friends, I was sortof crushing on many of them to various extents.

To be fair, most dudes crush on most women to various extents; it doesn't necessarily mean we're trying to get in your pants, sometimes it's just sortof an affection thing.

(Sometimes, it means we're trying to get in your pants.)

I've been happier since I've slowly grown a more or less evenly mixed posse.

I would be a tiny bit wary of LW1's boyfriend. Not full-on suspicious, but I'd keep my eyes open for a while and try to figure out why dude doesn't have any dudefriends.

Also, boo in general to dudes self-proclaiming themselves feminist. In theory who cares? But in reality I feel like a lot of dudes who do that turn out to be dudes I don't like for some reason. Put two guys next to each other, both of whom love and respect women but one of them calls himself a feminist, and I'm more likely to end up friends with the other guy. Any feedback on this? I'm a little uncomfortable with this paragraph because I haven't thought about it before.


@atipofthehat I want to like your comment as many times as I can! Until fairly recently, my husband's closest friends were all female, some of whom he'd crushed on, some of whom clearly had crushes on him. He's traveled with a couple of these friends, gets drinks with others... the way you would with friends. If I had other reasons/feelings not to trust him, maybe this would be A Thing, but I don't, and it isn't. BUT if the LW is sensing a problem, there could be a problem--it's just not necessarily because he has female friends.


@Biketastrophy Amen about the "bro" scene. I, a man, find myself feeling uncomfortable in any all-male gathering of more than about four guys, unless they're all old friends. I think I'm always subconsciously afraid that one of the guys will decide "Hey, we're all dudes here, now I can break out the misogyny and homophobia!"


@redheaded&crazy Yea, I should probably think of a username that, like, is not my real one.

"it was all an elaborate ruse, I'm actually a romcom character who just lost a bet"

Yea, not the catchiest either.


@Al Cracka Re: dudes who proclaim themselves feminist, maybe your problem is really with guys who are seeking approbation for their feminism? Like instead of saying "I respect women," they sound more like "look at me respecting women!" If so, I'd say that that does happen, but it's not true of ALL men who call themselves feminists.

Atheist Watermelon

@special_boots aaaahhhh when i read LW1's letter I wondered if she was dating my ex. He was friends almost exclusively with women, with all of whom there had existed some form of romantic connotation at some point, whether they had dated, crushed on him, or he'd crushed on them, or both. The worst thing was when he would go out for drinks with them and NOT INVITE ME and come back raging drunk and giggly afterwards, and I would ask him why the hell he didn't invite me, and he said he thought it might make me feel uncomfortable. Um, what?!?! He was seemingly incapable of understanding WHY it made me feel uncomfortable that all of his friends were cute girls that he'd dated or had romantic-ish attachments to, and guilt-tripped me when he finally agreed to stop going out with them one-on-one, as though it were clearly my problem and I was just nuts. To this day (we broke up a year ago) it just makes me so frustrated, because I still sometimes wonder if it really was all in my head, and therefore my problem, even though i KNOW it wasn't. He was being disrespectful.

Anyway, sorry for the novel, I just think it's a big red flag if the guy only hangs out with girls and there's been a romantic connection with each and every one of them. But maybe men and women really can't be friends...?? Gaah. I haven't ever been able to be really close friends with a straight man, though, so maybe my views on the matter are completely skewed.


@special_boots Also, I know a guy who is like this in the EXTREME, as in ONLY female friends, most of which are previous relationships, and he is a little weird TO SAY THE LEAST


@Non-anonymous I run into that mostly in an office setting, with creepy old dudes saying dirty things about women young enough to be their daughters.

Before I found the awesome crew of dudes that I now hang out with, my dude light existence was probably credited to thinking I would be called a wuss for having FEELINGS


@Biketastrophy Hear, hear! My boyfriend and you would get along. Once he stopped drinking and we moved across country, he didn't know how to navigate the bro scene anymore, and decided making lady friends made him most comfortable while he figured his shit out.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Biketastrophy You should come and be Fig 2's friend! He needs some more.


@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) I have to pipe up in support of Dudes Who Only Have Female Friends. I have a friend like this. He's not gay (but he is British...), he's not a player, he just doesn't really like "guy activities," I guess. He's into books and wine and singing in a choir, and quiet stuff like that. He periodically laments his lack of male friends (he does have a couple, they just aren't as close as his female friends). I don't know! He's pretty normal. I have never hooked up with him and know that he has many other female friends that he has similarly not hooked up with (some are lesbian, so definitely not). It's not really that weird or a red flag. He's had a couple long term relationships while I've known him, one of them was a marriage (although she turned out to be a nutcase).


@lora.bee Aww this is saddens me. As a perpetually single lady with lots of close coupled guy friends I would like to reassure you that our late night adventures are strictly platonic. Frequently it is me giving them excellent relationship advice, but mostly we get drunk and make horrible jokes at each other.


@MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION It shouldn't sadden you! If anything, it made me realize how important conversations about this kind of thing are, and what I want/need when I'm in a relationship, you know?


@lora.bee It is a totally selfish sadness. At some point in the future it's very likely that I'm going to lose a friend again (or at least have the relationship dramatically altered) because they've got a partner that isn't ok with how our friendship works, and while I'll be happy for them (and proud of their grown up relationship conversations), it will be really sad for me.


@MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION How can you be happy for them when someone dumps you as a friend because of the unfounded fears of their new partner? I wouldn't be happy with that at all! I think telling your partner who he/she can and can't be friends with is pretty much Red Flag Numbers 1-a billion. If people haven't had close platonic friends of the opposite sex, I can only feel sorry for them and advise them to try it sometime.


@MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION That is exactly what I would not want! Hence the talking about it.


@special_boots I had a friend like that, so yes that can be a real issue, especially if he likes getting attention by saying and doing things that would be considered overtly sexual or romantic by most of the population. One gf couldn't deal with it; one could. I personally found it super disrespectful to his gf's. I've also been friends with a flirty guy with lots of female friends who never made those kinds of comments but if you ended up with him at the end of a long drinking night, sex seemed like a realistic possibility...but one only had to worry about this if she was a long-distance gf with a promise of monogamy while apart.

That said, everyone who is commenting about all the other types of guys who have mostly female friends have good points too. One of my bf's had mostly ladyfriends because he was introverted and the jockeying for position with the other guys we knew was tiring for him and his close male friends were out of town. But he did maintain these friendships. While his female friends were adoring and sometimes flirty, I was never worried about these friendships at all. A supervisor of mine in a department that was mostly women also only had mostly female friends and his gf had absolutely nothing to worry about; even one who had crushed on him became really close with the gf. When a good guy friend fit came along, he was integrated into the group and ended up marrying the ladyfriend.

So LW#1, go with your gut as different people are comfortable with different scenarios and remember that important pinner rule of thumb that a good relationship is one that makes your life better!

I'm Not Rufus

I spend enough time discussing gender roles with people from other countries with really retrograde views of women that I've started to think of myself as a feminist. Then again I probably wouldn't tell other people I'm a feminist (except, apparently, on the internet) because it sounds sort of self-congratulatory (hey, look at me! I'm not a woman, yet I still think women are people!) and also because any normal person with a sense of fairness should probably believe all the same things I believe as part of the whole "treat people as individuals rather than crushing them with social constructs" thing.

But I guess what I'm saying is that you should consider not holding it against someone if they say they're a feminist. I mean, maybe dude is looking to score brownie points, but also maybe dude perceives sexism as being widespread and cares about it.

Atheist Watermelon

@etoile Yeah, I feel like I should clarify: Guys having female friends = AWESOME. I am just a tad suspicious when a guy ONLY has female friends, with all of whom he's had some sort of romantic entanglement, to the point that he feels the need to exclude his girlfriend when he hangs out with those friends. WTF? Also, the LW said not only that her bf said it was "a problem" (what?), but also that he'd had romantic attachments to each of them. I think that's pretty highly suspect, even if the guy isn't doing anything with them- he's friends with them BECAUSE he enjoys the attention he gets from them, which I don't really think is OK.


@special_boots @wilarseny

I am in a weird mood so can I just say...

Yea, Internet fight! This is the absolute coolest place for an internets fight, because it will usually end with tea (latte/beer or stiff drinks) and crumpets, and both parties going... yea, I see your point, even if I think you are a silly girl/boy/undeclared, and then going off to play some game together and moving on (maybe even making out?)

I really appreciate how fucking civilized people can be when they're not loaded with raging hang-ups just looking for a target. Rest of the world, can you hear me?

Now, 'scuse me, I've got to go throw some ketchup on a hairpin throwdown (fake blood!)

Guys with only girlpeople friends = maybe cool/maybe not (just like... regular people!?) Variations... it happens!

Same-sex friendships = "naturally closest friendships"... because *obviously* if you have the same parts as me, then we must be twinsies! That was the glaring error of LW1's query. Yes there's some hormones and shit going on & brain/gender differences, but people are a lot more nuanced & complex than that. Especially as we start exploring ourselves outside of socialized gender norms.

I strongly feel that peeps end up being kind of half of themselves because there's this whole part of yourself you can't be or else you'll be defined as of the opposite gender, heavens forbid. Yea that's old school, but it still lingers on a bit and has biological roots as a default setting. It may be that biological setting LW1 is referring to, but biologically we have also developed these amazingly creative minds that are SO RICH with experience... for example, I don't respond "more" or "less" to writers of my same gender. I respond to AWESOME writers. Same deal with friendship, I think.

Men who are self-identified feminists: works for me. Poseurs of all sorts: lame.


@Al Cracka I kind of think everyone should be a Feminist, male or female (or somewhere in between!!).

I think the word catches people up sometimes because they think it's all about Grrrrl power and stuff but it's really about equality and only terrible people are against equality.

That said, everyone can call themselves whatever they like (except for that one guy from a few Ask A columns ago who identified as a Lesbian? Um no) but in the end we should all be working towards a happier world where everyone can vote and get married and get paid and not be blamed for their own rapes and so on and so forth. Rant over!


@LittleBookofCalm I don't think you need to clarify at all. It's so important to share stories like yours to differentiate the juiceboxes from respectful people. Judging from my own experience hanging out with someone who was exactly like you ex, your concerns were most certainly NOT just in your head, but juiceboxes make you feel like they are. Also the guy I knew didn't invite his gf friend out when he was hanging with other ladyfriends because he had turned most of them against her. She was a beautiful, talented, smart woman with chutzpah, but they would roll their eyes behind her back and talk smack about her once she left. This guy was actually playing all of these women against one another and he encouraged everyone to think she was the problem, so they wouldn't notice that he was a juicebox. I'm convinced he intentionally did things to try to throw his gf into a jealous rage. And he was very very good at doing this kind of stuff. (I had to pry myself away from all this when I saw him repeating it all with the next gf and doing what felt like using me as a pawn to try to piss her off.) Also it kept the other women thinking they had a chance with him if only it wasn't for the gf, so they kept slathering the attention on him and were all ready to jump into bed with him. And it kept him from having to take any responsibility for himself. So again, your concerns were very very valid!! Even if there are women who will not think stuff like this is a big deal and put up with it, it's totally okay that you didn't and that you felt it was disrespectful! Trust your gut! Not everyone is like this by any means, as we both are acknowledging, but now you know how to spot the ones that are. Ughh...I wish experience wasn't so emotionally expensive!

Atheist Watermelon

@etoile thanks so much for your response... I still have so much trouble thinking of my ex as a juicebox, and honestly wouldn't go that far most of the time, as he's kind of a dorky, sweet, inexperienced guy (at 35...??), but I guess I'd say his behavior puzzles me, even now? I'm still sort of trying to make sense of it all now, I broke up with him when I was still in love with him (long distance + he's ridiculously emotionally inaccessible under the best of circumstances). But the friends with only girls thing kept rearing its head, like the above- mentioned scenario (his coming back drunk after not having invited me, because it was an ex), or another couple of quite memorable moments, like when he came home and told me that this girl had gotten quite drunk and hit on him in front of lots of people and "made him uncomfortable"- DUDE! YOU WENT OUT ALONE FOR DRINKS AT 11 PM WITH THIS GIRL (who had hit on him in the past)!! What did you think would happen? Or, even better- he went to visit a "lesbian" friend of his, and it came to light MONTHS later that he had slept in her bed with her (she lived in a tiny studio apt and didn't have an air mattress, etc., and he told me that he "didn't know until he got there" errr), and she mysteriously got a BOYfriend two weeks after this incident. I should have dumped him then, but I loved him too much. Dumb me. Arg.

Atheist Watermelon

@LittleBookofCalm also, i should probably stop pouring out all of my emotions on this website after having had a martini. oh well. you guys are all just too awesome, i can't help it.

Pseudo Pseudonym

@clipse I would love for society to accept feminist as a positive word. It seems to me that guys who respect women and believe in equality should not be socially punished for declaring themselves feminists. But with so many women who won't call themselves feminists, I see how a guy continually calling himself one seems juiceboxy because it feels like "aren't awesome for not being afraid of women." Whereas I imagine the response to this declaration by a potential bf is more like, "I damn well hope so!"


@special_boots I'm gonna shout out in favor of the famale-friend having dude as well. My ex (and very close friend) is like this. We dated in our mid-late twenties for four years and are best friends into our thirties. He's shy. He doesn't like sports or video games. He's a radical progressive and hates racism and misogyny. He hangs out with a couple of my guy friends (and my husband) when I'm around but he just doesn't bro down. When we dated he went out drinking and whatnot with a couple of his former girlfriends and their best friends--He is the sort of guy that doesn't alienate the women he dates or their friends-he's practically a saint.


@lora.bee I know I'm late to this party, but my experience with men who have lots of female friends is, that two exes (a long time ago) both fell in love with their best female friend who was 'just like my sister', they absolutely are needy for the attention of lots of women, and (third guy) get cranky when you say you're not comfortable with them hanging out one on one and never including you in any of their socialising. I really think that is the key - if they are happy to include you in some of their socialising, it's less weird. If she gives him advice on his hair, fucking run.


@all Just to add a dissenting voice, the current boy has almost all female friends and it doesn't bother me/I think it's more normal than it seems. I don't care about them hanging out one-on-one, same as I'd think he'd lost it if I couldn't hang out on-one-on with my male friends. He has male friends too, but tends to get on better with women. No big deal.


@special_boots Platonic friendships are definitely possible! Though it helps if one or both of the friends is in a relationship. I might be suspicious if the guy is always needing *alone time* with female friends, which does sound a little disrespectful, especially if it's upsetting the LW. But just having female friends is fine. I'm sure one of my friends might run into trouble with this at some point, as he has hordes of ladyfriends (though he does have guy friends too). But he's trustworthy, and it really doesn't seem to be about sex. He just gets on well with women. It entirely depends on how much trust there is in this LW's relationship, and how flirty her boyfriend is as a person/what it is he's getting from these friendships. Absolutely NO guy friends may be a little strange, but I wouldn't totally judge him on it.


@nestingdoll I've only been on the "other side" of this situation (being the platonic female friend who suddenly is subjected to shrieking jealous diatribes by the girlfriend, and eventual banning), so I may not see all sides of this issue. However, from my perspective, I know that my intentions are pure with regard to my male friends, so being "jealous" of any time they spend with me seems insane to me. If I wanted to sleep with these guys, I would have done so. Who are these theoretical women who keep guys as platonic friends, sort of "on reserve" or something (?) but never make any moves on the guy, and are just biiiiiding their time for YEARS, waiting for the riiiight moment to pounce? I would argue that such women do not exist, and that the jealousy issues are more in the heads of the girlfriends and less based in objective reality. I mean, if you assess the situation and see that is is sketchy, that's one thing, but to say that any guy with longterm female friends just wants flirtatious attention (as if that is even a bad thing), is crazy. I don't understand this thing where couples have to get all their needs met by their partner and aren't allowed to have any other attachments that serve purposes other than sex and lovey-dovey junk. People are complex, and no one partner is going to meet every need that a person has, nor should they. This is the type of thing that makes relationships break up, actually. Maybe if you let your boyfriend have friends, of either gender, and didn't insist on accompanying him every time he leaves the house and desperately clinging to his arm, shooting eye-daggers at any female person within 100 feet, he would have room to breathe and the relationship would last longer? (Sorry, I've just dealt with way too much of this shite.)


@WaityKatie Mmmmmmmm. What has happened to me, more than once (a long time ago): Boyfriend falls in love with 'platonic' female friend while with me. Leaves me. New gf will not allow ex to speak to me, ever, even at major social events with many mutual friends where a simple 'hi, how are you' would be much less awkward than the pointed pretending-they-don't-know-me.

I have experienced your version too though. Usually when chatting to a guy I don't know at a party or whatever, his lady will zoom over, place a hand protectively on his arm, coo 'Hi baybeee' at him, then whip her head around and give me the 'Do Not Talk To My Man, Bitch' look. I swear to God. I don't want your dude, lady, I was just chatting.

All of this makes me sound like stalking maneater but seriously, I am unthreatening and a tad naive even!!!


@sevanetta No way do you sound like a maneater! This sounds exactly like my life. I view myself as pretty much the least threatening person ever, and every time I find myself in these situations it takes me a really long time to accept that it is actually happening and not a joke, which somehow gets me in deeper with the paranoid girlfriends. Women, can we start trusting each other a wee bit more?? I mean, if your guy wants to hook up with every random woman he ever speaks to, your glaring at them is not going to stop it. Getting rid of the guy might, though.


@WaityKatie Oh good. Yes, I always think it is a joke too. And then it is not. And how do you react appropriately to that?


LW1: Did your boyfriend have a father growing up? Sometimes men don't have other men in their lives during formative times, and that can lead to a lack of an easy basis for close relationships with other men or a preference for friendships with women.


@atipofthehat My first thought was maybe it's a work-related thing? I'm a girl with mostly guy friends because I moved away from home and school-girl-friends and I'm in a pretty guy-heavy office. If it's that, then no big. If it's not that (or an upbringing thing like you said), then I think it's something she should kind of keep an eye on. I'm not saying ALL guys MUST have guy friends, but it's certainly notably unusual.



Sure, lots of situational reasons are possible. Also, a man can genuinely like women!

But too much of this debate (that it would be a debate at all) smacks of the perennial lad-mag question, "can a bro ever be friends with a chick?"





@atipofthehat Hey - thanks. For serious.


@Dusk I'm.. a bit in that situation? The field I work in is about 75/25 women, and since I moved across the country for professional reasons, most of the friends I've made out here have been women. It's not like I have no guy friends, but my close guy friends still all live back home.

Striking up brolationships can be a bit tough if you're not always into stereotypically masculine things and you identify as a feminist. I've been hanging out with some guys and they'll start cracking sexist or racist jokes or something, and then I don't want to hang out with those guys anymore.

I don't know that it's necessarily been an issue in my relationships with women, but they do sometimes ask about it, and they've (I think?) all been fine with it because I was honest. So like someone else said above, honesty and communication are key here.


@atipofthehat I have a very good friend who, when I think about it, doesn't really have a whole lot of male friends. Great guy, nothing weird about him, just not really into "dude" stuff and is capable of great male/female friendships without weirdness. Friends like that are pretty awesome, not going to lie.


LW1, please don't fret about this too much! Sometimes boys have girl friends and girls have boy friends and there's no dark secret at all.

My boyfriend grew up with awesome older sisters and has always had a lot of platonic female friends. He's also pretty sensitive and a feminist and I wouldn't call it weird, I'd call it a pretty sweet deal.

I was great pals with my older brother growing up. He was my closest friend until I was something like 14, so I didn't learn much about traditional girl stuff (he missed out on a lot of traditional boy stuff, too. But we were really into Magic The Gathering!) The gender ratio among my friends is probably pretty close to 50-50 now, but there was a time when nearly all of my close friends were guys. Growing up with a brother probably affected that, but who knows, maybe I would've turned out this way regardless. (For the record, I'm remarkably uncrazy, I don't lust after my guy friends or seek the company of men who lust after me, and I'm fairly sure I'm not dating a gay dude.)

Worry if you feel like there's a specific reason for you to worry. If "is this weird" is your only question, then chill, it's really not weird at all.



What industry do you work in? I only ask because undergrad, grad school and work are all majority women -- and in some cases super-majority. I just want some Y chromosomes in my life!!!

(I really thought econ and politics would do that, but apparently, no.)

Plus, I just really want a new job...



And if you say engineering I will cry because it is TOO LATE and my dad will say "I told you so".


@atipofthehat I just logged in to say this. I have dudefriends who are just more comfortable around women for these kids of reasons. Lack of a father figure, abusive father figures, etc. I think they do grow up to crave/feel more comfortable with female attention. It doesn't mean they want to sleep with them all. I think LW needs to get to know this guy a little better before she decides if he's not trustworthy.

Judith Slutler

Checking in from architecture grad school... Yes, staying up all goddamn night to get shit done is fetishized by people. Yes, it's really unhealthy bullshit. Some people prefer to work at night because they can combine it with their drinking / cocaine habit for extra "I am a tortured workaholic artist who hates myself" points.

It sounds like the boyfriend really needs to take his upcoming spring break (???) and try to distance himself from the totally ridiculous study habits he's got himself into. I know some people are night owls and all, but this has "I am Tough and Serious because I study all goddamn night" written all over it.

He's gonna burn himself the fuck out if he doesn't stop.

The Lady of Shalott

@Emmanuelle Cunt Yes, this. This is also prevalent in law school (or so I hear from my law school friends, at least?). It is SO tempting to get into the "I STUDY HARDER THAN YOU" competition and stay up late and develop a drinking (drugging/addiction of your choice) habit to compensate, and it happens in a lot of grad programs, but it is SUPER UNHEALTHY. And it wrecks bodies and relationships and it burns people out on school.

I know that there are night owls and people who like to study at night and stuff, but healthy study habits that integrate a generally healthy lifestyle that includes sleeping and eating is like ten thousand times healthier. Maybe that letter writer should gently encourage that?

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Emmanuelle Cunt I just want to print this out and distribute it all over the university here.

/former "workaholic" artist who pulled this bullshit and severely needed to be called on it


@Emmanuelle Cunt Oh god, the "I stayed up until..." competitions. I remember those well. Grad school is full of crazy workaholics who get off on just a bit more of their sanity for their degree. It's not actually necessary, though, if you tear yourself away from the weird grad school culture. You can occasionally speak to your girlfriend and still graduate just fine.

Maybe LW3's dude is feeling overwhelmed and is hoping that more study time will mean he does better? It doesn't work that way, though. If he's exhasting himself to the point where he has to sleep in until 5pm on weekends, he's pumping out crappy work and it'll show. Grad school is a long, soul-grinding marathon, not a sprint, and he's not going to make it if he does ridiculous shit like this.

Judith Slutler

@MilesofMountains EXACTLY. The hours you put in don't matter if you are sleeping shittily and at weird times and can't think straight.

@Emmanuelle Cunt I am a law student recovering from this (minus the booze/cocaine). Sleep = good.

Bird Internet

@Emmanuelle Cunt I agree w/all of y'all, I just wanted to mention how much pressure there is to be part of that unhealthy culture, it's not necessarily that he is being "too competitive" or something. It's almost a requirement in Arch school - I had professors who would talk about how you had to stay up all night to be part of "studio culture". (And if you're not part of "studio culture" everyone will hate you and/or give you bad grades) But I do wish I had been able to withstand the pressure because I would have been a) healthier and b) done better work.

Nic Knack

@S. Elizabeth i'm doing the phd thing right now. Yes I dont get to spend as much time with my friends and fiance as I would like, but not sleeping? I just could never do it! It's just too wonderful!

I am constantly rolling my eyes at all of the grad school- culture bullshit. Luckily, I have a few in my cohort that feel the same way about the "Well I studied for this long..." competitions. Strength in numbers!


@Emmanuelle Cunt

Yeah, and that culture also extends into the workplace in architecture. Work all weekend until 10p every night! Pull allnighters! SACRIFICE YOUR YOUTH TO THE ARCHITECTURE GODS.

Which is total bullshit and needs to stop, otherwise we're all going to die, shriveled in our Aeron chairs at 45, a mouse welded to our carpal tunnel-malformed hands.


@Bird Internet

Yes, all of this.

Judith Slutler

@Bird Internet Yeah totally, I just hope that if I stand up and scream "YO THAT IS BULLSHIT" every time this subject comes up, I'll have the strength to withstand it all and put my actual life first once in a while? Maybe?

RK Fire

@all Arch students: Have you all seen this Open Letter to Architects by Annie Choi? Maybe you should. It could make you laugh or cry.

an Urban Planner who got her degree from a grad school known for its Arch program


@liznieve, @Emmanuelle Cunt Aw, you poor ladies!!! All the hugs for you both. This is why I point and laugh and secretly worry about/envy the commitment of the architecture students while all us preservationists downstairs go out drinking. Be brave! Build pretty things!


@Nic Knack I agree. I'm in grad school as well, in the middle of my program, and I haven't ever stayed up past midnight to work (my work is crap after 11pm), or turned in anything late, for that matter. I can't imagine how people who don't eat and sleep can still work.

living internationally

@Emmanuelle Cunt I agree to an extent. My final year of Arch I achieved most after 9pm and would head home to sleep around 6am (mostly because I lived in a sketchy area and one of my classmates was beaten up on my route home so I waited til dawn) I'd sleep for 6 or 7 hours, go to the gym for a couple of hours and then back to studio. Point being that working nights over days worked for me, and still does.


@RK Fire Oh my goodness, thank you for that link. I lost my boyfriend to an Arch program last year and am still enough of an emotional mess about it that LW3's letter made me teary. And then that Annie Choi letter cracked me up and gave me perspective in a way that my host of well-intentioned friends could not, chiefly by making me ask myself "Why WOULD you want to go out with a self-destructive crazy person who wants to design genital-shaped buildings and whose chief form of conversation had become a count of the hours he had been able to sleep?" So, thank you.

RK Fire

@redonion: You're very welcome! It got circulated a lot when I was in grad school (06-08) but I didn't know if it still makes the rounds now. I'm glad it gave you some perspective. It sounds like you did the best thing for yourself.


LW1: has he always had only female friends? And is it just that all his close friends are female, or does he never ever hang around other men? I had a boyfriend whose only good friends were female. He wasn't flirting or hooking up with them or anything, he just connects really well with women. He had male sort-of friends, though, and I believe he now has female friends. Sometimes the vagaries of life mean you end up with a particular subset of friends, you know?

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@MilesofMountains Yes, in the absence of any other warning signs, this is Not A Big Deal.

Lily Rowan

That last dude sounds weird about sex, or at least immature (or young). I don't know, I just think it's weird to divide sex into two categories, and have them be basically whore or wife.

But it's possible I've been reading too much slutshaming in the media lately...

Nicole Cliffe

@Lily Rowan Oh, my God, twinsies.

Lily Rowan

@Nicole Cliffe Woot! Fucking Rush. (And I mean that "fucking" in the derisive way, not the awesome way.)


@Lily Rowan: Yes, agreed. I read it, and thought 'that is dumb'. One should have the maturity and emotional fortitude to share and enjoy sex with one's partner. By designating some kind of 'middle ground', you come awfully close to the world of Purity Rings and Promises and other puritan construct nonsense.


@Lily Rowan It is weird - I mean, the in-between sex is supposed to develop into a loving. committed relationship, no? Isn't that part of how you figure out if you want to have a committed relationship with someone?


@Lily Rowan Yeah, no, Agreed. SOMETHING is weird there, not sure what. This seems nonsensical.

I mean, I can see why one would be taken aback by that little talk, because how are you supposed to take that? It IS rejecting you sexually. I mean, is this something people are worried about, that sex will destroy their ability to, I don't know, talk to each other? I feel like, if you can't have sex AND make mental/emotional/spiritual connections, you are doing it wrong.

Also, did not like the Dude congratulating this dude for holding off on sex/having control over his hormones. I don't know, I hate that. I just hate the 'culture' of talking like guys don't have self control. They do, they all do!!! AUGH. What this guy is really doing is ignoring what the girl wants in the way of emotional and sexual connection, and is less "thoughtful" and more "controlling". And are we really still into the idea that holding off on sex strengthens a relationship?

The controlling aspect, like, of the relationship, of sex, of how things are going to be, seems a little problematic, as well.

Nicole Cliffe

@Marzipan THIS, exactly. If men are so incapable of controlling their evo psych man lust, perhaps they should not live and walk freely among us?


@Lily Rowan Agree x100000. Dated basically this guy a year ago, verrrrrry similar scenario, and yes, he ended up being super weird about sex, and wasn't trying to work past it. Huge waste of time and wasn't awesome for my self-esteem. Past it now, but it was kind of a huge mindfuck at the time.


@Lily Rowan Yeah, I thought this was fucking weird too. He sounds like the kind of guy who, once in a committed relationship, will only have slow, passionate sex with his wife & I don't know, save the kinky shit for his extra-curriculars?

I know that's an extreme, buttt it just doesn't seem healthy that this dude feels like sex has to be off the table in order to get himself in a steady, loving relationship.


@Lily Rowan Yeah, I thought this guy sounded super controlling. Watch it unfold in other ways.


@Lily Rowan Yep. There's something weird going on with LW4's boyfriend.

@Fabel "He sounds like the kind of guy who, once in a committed relationship, will only have slow, passionate sex with his wife & I don't know, save the kinky shit for his extra-curriculars?" HA!

@Lizanne07 Right, totally, this is the kind of thing I see unfolding. (Sorry about your shitty past relationship.)

I feel like this is exactly the stage of the relationship that should be about OMG ALL SEX ALL THE TIME. You will have plenty of time to not have sex later. If you can keep your hands off her at this crucial "Holy shit, maybe This Is Something!" period...I dunno, guy.


@Lily Rowan errr. Disagree? I don't necessarily think it's a divide between whore and wife. In my experience, when i start having the sex regularly with someone i'm into on a lot of levels, i tend to get really attached/into them, which kind of blinds me to their faults (if he wasn't so good at the sex i wouldn't have ignored his arrogant juicebox side for so long!) so holding off a bit to get to know them better is helpful. Maybe this guy is the same way?

Also maybe he really does want to focus more on getting to know her better (if its only been a month) before embarking on the ALL SEX ALL THE TIME phase where the only thing that's interesting is sex and other time consuming connection-forming things are kind of pushed to the wayside. (Not that they stop completely, obviously. But they tend to take a backseat.)

I feel like wanting to hold off on sex for a sec doesn't make someone super controlling or unhealthy. I don't see any other signs of craziness in her letter. If anything, it sounds like he..uh.. cares?


@Lily Rowan I read the letter, and before I even got to A Dude's take on it, I was shouting "Madonna-Whore Complex!" in my head. But maybe that's just my hypersensitive lapsed Catholicism talking?

Lily Rowan

@FrigateIndefatigable But if you believe in holding off on sex, then hold off on sex. I don't understand starting to do it and then stopping because you... like the person too much? But not enough yet that you love them?


@Lily Rowan The whole LW4 situation sounds weird. I mean, they've slept together two times and, despite their "great chemistry," her takeaway is: "[i]t wasn't forced or uncomfortable"? I mean, is it a worry that this is a bar too low to limbo under? Methinks LW4 might possibly be a bit squirrely in the sack, and that he might be drawing back as a result. Just a hunch.


@Marzipan I don't think it's fair to say it's "controlling" for him to want to hold off on sex. If a woman were saying she wanted to slow down the physical side of things until they got to know each other better, I don't think anyone would say she's being controlling.


@purefog Re-reading it, I think that might have been reassurance that he doesn't seem to be some sort of weirdo hyperprude, closet-case, stealth-asexual, etc. who's just saying something to put off sex he doesn't want/like without having to be honest about his own sexual needs until the hook is more deeply set.

I definitely think the "Oh, good for him for 'controlling himself'!" is kind of fucked, though. It's not automatically a sign that you're heading to Fucked-up Attitudes About Sex, USA, but it's something that's enough of a flag to warrant a deeper conversation about where it's coming from and what he hopes to get out of it.

Jane Dough

@Lily Rowan I know, right? What is this "I really like you so I better stop fucking you" shit? Red flag, I say. RED FLAG!

Jess McCloskey

@Lily Rowan "...he doesn't seem to be some sort of weirdo hyperprude, closet-case, stealth-asexual, etc. who's just saying something to put off sex he doesn't want/like without having to be honest about his own sexual needs until the hook is more deeply set."

Real Talk: You just typed the song that is in my soul. As someone who was once hard-core hooked by a stealth-asexual by means of "we had sex before, so there must be totally valid and totally temporary reasons why that is suddenly on hold now, I'll just wait it out" trickery, this letter made me want to taking a flying leap out of my first floor window just to make sure I didn't some how get the ick on me again.

Nicole Cliffe

I have to disagree with A Dude on LW4. It sounds weird to me. But maybe I am just being someone Rush Limbaugh would call a slut on the radio.


@Nicole Cliffe You're being an articulate, mature, and brave Georgetown law student? What does that have to do with anything? ;)

jane lane

@Nicole Cliffe yeah. Having sex is better than not having sex? It always seems weird to me when people still subscribe to the idea that having sex too soon (especially if you've done it together before) would mess up a relationship.


@Nicole Cliffe I feel like that's a sign of having Made It.

Nicole Cliffe

@jane lane Yeah, um, sorry to my children, and everything, but my husband and I did it two hours into our first actual date, after watching '300'. And the only embarrassing part of that is the second half of the statement.

femme cassidy

@Nicole Cliffe "someone Rush Limbaugh would call a slut on the radio" = "any person with a vagina," right? Also, my fiancee and I did it about a week before our first date, so. And I thought LW4's dude sounded weird too.


@Nicole Cliffe yeah, i think most of us could be called a SRLWCASOTR


@Nicole Cliffe My dudefriend started as a one night stand on vacation. And the only people who don't know it are my parents (they might suspect, but I will never confirm). I kind of love it.

Oh, squiggles

And they already had THE SEX. So why hold off now that things are just more involved/serious? I don't get it.

:Cinnamon Girl:

@Nicole Cliffe THIS. This was the kind of crucial information I was looking for ;) (among other stuff)


@Awesomely Nonfunctional Yeah, this makes me wonder if he inadvertently told her that, earlier, he thought of her as part of the first category (which is not wrong, I guess, if she's OK with it or whatever) but it seems like his explanation for the sex moratorium might have contained a backhanded compliment. And, like you said, the deed is done and he already has some "feelings," so why not just proceed -- especially since that is part of determining whether a long-term relationship might develop.


@bananalise Fuck, my grandmother is a SRLWCASOTR. But it seems the dude is under the impression that birth control pills are actually something else entirely, so I'm really hoping the tiny alien operating the robotic husk we call Rush Limbaugh takes a gander at Wikipedia soon.


@Hellcat Gonna defend this one, sort of. My boyfriend and I did not have sex for a week after we were definitely an item - more like three weeks depending on how you define it. (Basically, I had sex before he did).

Basically for the reasons that the LW says: "he's afraid it could potentially ruin the other (mental, emotional, spiritual) connections we are building". I don't think this applies in every case, but basically we didn't want to get too many endorphins in the way of working out how our relationship would go. I'm not sure about the having already been sexing and then backing off, but I don't think it's necessarily a madonna/whore thing. It might be! But it might also just be important to those particular people to take a step back and consider what they are doing, and why, and how they feel about it. It's not necessarily a 'sex is bad/dirty', it might be a 'sex is confusing'.

I think also, frankly, that my dude wanted to be careful - he's very monogamous/bondy, and I think he wanted to avoid bonding with someone he wasn't sure about. Which I think is fair enough, really. He was basically straight out of a shitty relationship, and wanted to avoid another one.

Personally, it drove me CRAZY because I like sex, a lot, and I wanted to be doing it with this dude. And he wanted to be doing it with me. But it was also definitely the right decision, and we sort of worked up to it and the whole process was amazing.

TL;DR it MIGHT be these things. But it also might be him trying to be careful and thoughtful and not fuck himself or her over while they work out what this thing they have it.


@Craftastrophies No "TL;DR" at all; you make good points! I didn't mean to imply that that was my 100% conclusion or anything--just some musings--and obviously different things work for different people and all of that.


@Hellcat Well, the thing with these is that there isn't much context, so you never know. I'm not saying I'm right either - I certainly think the madonna/whore thing is something to keep in mind. I mean, someone doesn't have to think about it in those terms to have problematic opinions about sex. I just think it's worth considering it from other angles, too. Which is funny, since I am usually the 'he's probably a bastard' friend.


What do we all (you all) think of a guy who has no (close) friends? I recently broke up with a dude, and we've remained very good friends. We do activities together, and text all the time (shut up, I know, but it's fine). We had dated for 4-5 months, but I guess I didn't notice at the time that he hardly ever hung out with other people? But I think I might be his only really close friend at this point. Is that super strange? He seems fine with it, and he's not clingy. He just doesn't have normal pals. Should I encourage him to make some? How?


@gobblegirl my man doesn't have a lot of close friends besides me ... he's lovely and we have great parties and he's sociable with our mutual friends, and me of course -- he's just super introverted and needs lots of time alone to keep his head straight.

i honestly don't mind a bit. most of my exes had terrible friends who were awful people.


@gobblegirl Don't mean to be bitchy, I'm genuinely interested - how did you go out with him for 4-5 months and not notice he had no friends?


@timesnewroman I KNOW, what the hell. Aside from saying that we spent a LOT of time together, the honest answer is probably that I thought his not introducing me to his friends (or being at all interested in meeting my friends) was about compartmentalizing his life and being emotionally unavailable and not reciprocating in the relationship (all true, all reasons we broke up) and didn’t notice that he didn’t have people to introduce me TO.
He sometimes went/goes to poker night at an old university friend's, and he does lots of activities so he knows people from there. He just doesn't really socialize with any of them outside the pool/yoga studio/whatever.
Maybe he doesn’t WANT friends! I’m not his girlfriend, maybe it’s not my place to worry about the psychological effects of his social life. Bah, I’m just concerned and confused.


@gobblegirl Speaking from my own experience, I have 4 people that I consider my good/close/best friends and 2 of them don't live in the same state as me. The two that are local are very busy and I see them every couple of weeks. If it weren't for my fiance, I would be a shut in the rest of the time.

I would like more friends, but at this time in my life, this works for me. So, maybe he's in a similar situation? He might just like being a lone wolf and the mystic that brings.


@lobsterhug Thanks for the reassurance. And if he doesn’t see it as a problem, I guess I shouldn’t either. I might invite him out with some of my other friends and see how that goes, but in the meantime I’ll try not to worry. I should have saved this for the open thread!


@lobsterhug I'm like this! My boyfriend is like this. He has like...five? Six? Real-life friends, a handful of internet friends, and that's about it. And I'm pretty much the same, just with more acquaintances who I barely see. It's NBD!


@lobsterhug And now I get to speak up in favor of those with no friends! :( Maybe he just moved to a new city and works a lot and everyone he works with is married with kids and he's not? (projecting slightly here) and he tries to go online dating to meet people but then the people are all, like, "ew, I want to bone you, not be friends with you!" and he goes home sad and defeated. I have friends, but they are elsewhere. Moving a lot sucks.

You'll be sorry Jo March

@gobblegirl My husband doesn't have friends that he hangs out with. However, he hangs out with his brothers a lot, so he does have friends in that sense. He really likes spending time with his and my family. After the whole Myers-Briggs conversation yesterday, I discovered this is an INFJ thing (me and my husband are both INFJ). I think I would worry if a guy never hung out with/had fun with anybody at all, though.


Hey awesome good to know that I'm crazy and like torturing people because my close friendships tend to be with men. It certainly has nothing to do with common interests or that just being the way things have worked out.


@MmeLibrarian If you're not this girl, then don't worry. If you are, well...read that Dude's advice?


@MmeLibrarian For me, the key is women who say things like they "just don't get along with other girls" or they're "not like other girls" are the ones that kinda suck.

I completely disagree with A Dude that they're necessarily getting off on tormenting meek boys, but rather that they are dealing with internalized sexism and maybe a bit of narcissism.

All that said, most of my close friends are men, because of, like you said, common interests or just being the way things have worked out. And I agree that there's nothing about that alone that makes someone sucky.

But women who make a big deal about not having any female friends because they're so special are, in my opinion, usually leggy blondes who like gin and The Big Lebowski.


@MmeLibrarian Hahahaha, I so have to agree with that last paragraph. I hate hearing that bullshit from females like that!


@mustelid And also, sexist. "Oh, I don't like other women, because it's all drama and bitchiness." Ummm...no. Talking about drinking the sexist Kool Aide.

I love hanging out with dudes, and would never say that it's a bad thing if women hang out with men more than other women, but ugh. I hate the "I'm so special and most women are crazy," bullshit.



nevernude cutoffs

@gobblegirl Just chiming in to say it was such a treat to revisit the "Ham Spatula" thread from that Ask A Dude.


@mustelid I have almost exclusively female friends but I also LOVE The Big Lebowski! Don't lump that in! I hate gin though...


@sodette It's a good movie! But if it is your identity, or you use it to prove how ~unique~ you are, you have issues, just like with all movies.


I think he's a little hard on LW1's guy. There was a time in my life when all my close friends were guys, and (I think? hope?) not because I'm crazy, but just because, I dunno, I date boys and my best friend is a gay boy and my other roommates were boys and my life just coincidentally became boy-city. I realized it was a 'problem' at some point, not in an uh-oh-I'm-a-weirdo way but in a 'I'm missing out on really valuable connections that I could have with other women" sort of way, so I made a point of seeking out deeper friendships with my female acquaintances, or reconnecting with old friends from college, and now I've got lots of lady friends and it's great! I think if A Dude (or another dude on here) had advice that LW could relate to HER dude about how a not-so-traditionally-masculine dude can form new male friendships, that would be more helpful.


@paddlepickle Honestly, I think it just ends up with finding similar dudes. Which really is a shitty answer cause thats HARD. I have one friend who I was a lab partner with in college (he didn't even like me at first!) and then my group of friends that I stumbled into on a video game forum. It just so happens that people who gravitated towards that site are the non-dudebro type.

Assuming that this guy has non-masculine hobbies it will probably be easier to find the few guys in x group that shares the same hobby, but if he's into sports and doesn't work well with a sport dude type I don't know what to say.


LW3 -
I think the dude has it right, I have been through the whole medical school thing and if he can't find twenty minutes every day at least two nights a week to do something with you, his claimed partner, then he's doing it wrong.
A. No one can study that much and still be effectively studying, you just stop absorbing after a while.
B. He will burn out if he does continue at that pace, end up hating his career and burn out on it.
Is there a reason he is studying quite so much? Is there a better study/organization habit that would help him have more time?

This is assuming he's studying, if he is a lawyer/other type of paper driven area, then this probably isn't the best advice.

hamster baby

"I'm familiar with the phenomenon of girls being friends with mostly guys because they "just don't get along with other girls," which essentially means they're a little crazy and enjoy tormenting the meek boys who are secretly in love with them ... "

this is super terrible and super judgmental and it's complete bs and it makes me irrationally angry. i couldn't read past it. go ahead, call me crazy. i dare you.


@hamster baby I'm with you, hamster baby, as someone who genuinely just has more male friends and stares longingly at groups of women... But at least it's coming from A Dude and not female LW! I DON'T NEED YOU, DUDE, I'VE ALREADY GOT LOADS.


@hamster baby I agree that it's terrible and judgmental to say that about any girl who has mostly guy friends. . .but girls who say they don't have girl friends because "They just don't get along with other girls" put up some major red flags for me. Especially because they often say things like "Other girls are just so bitchy and competitive and full of drama!" Expressing a general dislike for your own gender is a little fucked up, IMHO.


@hamster baby yeah I thought it was pretty jaw-dropping that he'd quote one of the classic lines of internalized misogyny and twist it around to be all about unfairness to BOYS. No, women who "just don't get along with other girls (sic)" -- as opposed to women who have male friends because they affirmatively like those particular men -- are not "tormenting" anybody, and low-level misogyny is unpleasant but it is not "crazy." We do not call men with no female friends "crazy."


@hamster baby Yes. I agree. This is some "friendzone" style, sexist bullshit.

Nothing raises my hackles like a man calling a woman "a little crazy" based upon some massive assumption he has made about her motivations. Worst Dude ever.


@hamster baby Nope, sorry, it is totally crazy for someone to say that they just 'don't get along' with a full 49% of the world, be they male or female. I have no comment on the meek boys.


@hamster baby I think you guys missed the main point a bit. It's not that girls with lots and lots of guy friends are immediately "a little crazy." It's girls who say things like, "Oh I just dont LIKE girls. I dont get along with GIRLS!" and also have mainly male friends that are a little crazy. Mostly because it's crazy, like hotdog says, to say you "dont get along" with half the population of the planet.


@hamster baby I wonder if he was thinking of this: http://thehairpin.com/2011/06/exhausting-women-sexual-latecomers-and-peck-peck-peck-dart-out


@hamster baby I think it could be too gently referring back to a very early letter from a woman who had no female friends bc they were all jealous of her being a tall, blonde, whiskey drinking Lebowski-ite etc etc you see where that's going.

hamster baby

"i don't get along with girls" is a stupid, overly broad statement and yes anyone who says things like "all women are bitchy, jealous, competitive, naggy, etc." is probably just an awful human. but A Dude didn't qualify his stupid, overly broad statement and i'm not going to do it for him. i think that @Umlauts has it right - it's a massive(and, imo, ugly) assumption about motivation.

i've uttered the phrase out loud a time or two myself. i've always had some trouble "getting along" with other women. it's a flaw in my character, not theirs. it does not mean i dislike women, not even the tiniest little bit. in fact, just the opposite; it often makes me quite sad that i have such a difficult time relating to other women. anyway, really, the bottom line is that none of it makes me "crazy." and i can assure you that i'm not out there tormenting anyone ... if only i had that power.

maybe i missed the reference, but if it was meant to be funny, sorry, i'm a little sensitive and it just wasn't to me.


@hamster baby Preach.


@hamster baby This statement upset me a bit, too. I DO like women a lot, and I DO have female friends, but I befriend men much more easily than I befriend women. It mainly comes down to the fact that I relax and let my guard down a little easier around men, while women make me nervous! They can be intimidating! I always worry that I'll say the wrong thing and that then they won't like me (which often turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy). Meanwhile, I find that men can be a little more tolerant of gaffes, and they tend to have more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get thing going on so that it's easier to know where you stand with them. And as a self-identified shy weirdo, women who don't know me sometimes just write me off as "weirdo" from the start, while a lot of men just react with an "eh!" like the weirdness is not necessarily a barrier to friendship. I've got a few very close female friends, but the key is that we've known each other for many years so that the history and comfort level is already well-established. But I've been on a concerted quest to make more female friends, and it's been TOUGH in that I feel like a 14 year old boy on a first date whenever I try to make friendly overtures without seeming too overeager. "Does she like me? I like her and I think she's the coolest! How do I know if she likes me? What if she hates me? ZOMG I hate myself!" And I never get quite as self-conscious as that around men.

(Here's where I add a "P.S. Please don't hate me.")


@werewolfbarmitzvah Thank you, you explained it very well. I do have female friends but they are few and I wish I had more. Guys are just chill. I think it has to do with having lots of boy cousins and being the only girl on my street so all my first friends were boys. It got better once I got older and had babies, but I will tell you now, no man has ever hurt me as deeply as some of my so-called girl "friends".


@werewolfbarmitzvah God yes. I used to be a "woman hater" then realized, I really am not, I am just really bad at being likeable to fellow females. Which made me sad and guarded, which made more girls not like me (duh), which made me think they were all jerks.
So I am working on making more female friends (and male friends. I think I am a bit of a narcissist. I am working really hard at listening to others first, and trying to not make EVERYTHING ABOUT ME.)
Gee I am beginning to wonder why my guy friends like me?
So yeah. Goal for March: Make my bed, put others first in conversations. (I'm really good at doing it in my actions. Just not in my conversations.)

But anyway, what I came to say was I completely agree with the feeling like a 14 year old boy just starting to date. I also sometimes feel like a little dog. So overly eager to please that I end up just annoying the hell out of everyone.


@werewolfbarmitzvah Aaah you've described my life so well!

Nicole Cliffe

Oh, no, the men and women being friends thing. For me, this is a complete "do as I say, not as I do," because obviously men and women can and should have amazing platonic friendships that do not threaten your relationship, but I, historically, absolutely become super needy and play Tori's "Tear in Your Hand" over and over again when in this situation.


@Nicole Cliffe Me too! My old boyfriend had a ton of lady friends and as much as I wanted to be cool and feminist and sister-powerly about it... no. All of my husband's friends are dudes and it was one of the things that made me think him a keeper. Not proud of it, but there it is.


Oh and platonic friendships across genders: TOTALLY possible. I have some platonic guy friends who are my type, even, but we just don't have that dynamic and will never hook up. And some who I've hooked up with on occasion but it's not A Thing and I totally high-five them with no jealousy or reservations when they get a new girlfriend.


@paddlepickle I think this is something that straight folks could really take a cue from the queer community on. We have a lot higher incidence of being friends with people that you're potentially sexually attracted to and it's not a big deal! I have plenty of friends that I've also slept with once or a few times when I was getting to know them and it's never been a problem so far. It makes it kind of hard to wrap my head around it when I see straight people that feel they can't have a platonic relationship with someone of the opposite gender.


@boysplz YES. fully 85% of my male friends are comprised of men that I've slept with at one point or another, and it's not weird for us at all. There's little or no remaining sexual attraction, or if there is, it's something that simmers in the background and adds a nice spice to our interactions. With these male friends, we both know it would never work for various reasons, and so it's like, hey, we slept together once. And now we're friends. And it's cool.

As a side note, is it terrible not to tell a new partner in a relationship context which of my male friends I've slept with? I really debated this in my last relationship and ended up never telling him, because I felt like every time he would meet some of my friends, I'd have to say, "I slept with him and him and him but NOT him." And what would be the point? But then I thought about how I would feel in the opposite situation, and then I dunno. Which is the least assholeish thing to do?


@paddlepickle Totally! I've got a bunch of good guy friends and I've hooked up with a couple of them way back in the day but most of them I haven't and I adore them all to pieces.


@heyits I think that falls in the white lie category.... right? I hope so, I tend not to disclose that stuff because it just seems so irrelevant at this late stage and I don't think my BF needs the mental picture.


I KNOW. Sometimes the dynamic is just Not There for sex or for a relationship, but it's there for friendship. Why is this such a crazy concept?? It's really fucking apparent to me!

I think that falls squarely into the category of Not Their Business, and the only people who would be annoyed by it are people who have trust issues and expect every new partner to be virginal. Not like it's not something you can't ever talk about, but they're so not entitled to know.

PS This A Dude kinda blows.

I'm Not Rufus

@heyits Definitely no obligation to tell your new boyfriend. He'd better not be bothered that you've had sex with other people before, but it's not obvious that he'll want your help picturing exactly what sex was had with whom.


LW2 OH MY GOD. Get him a door and slam it in his face.


@alannaofdoom No, first slam his hand in the door, THEN slam the door in his face.


"I'm familiar with the phenomenon of girls being friends with mostly guys because they "just don't get along with other girls," which essentially means they're a little crazy and enjoy tormenting the meek boys who are secretly in love with them."

I'm going to have to call this out; I ended up with only male friends (in real life, I have female friends online) because of basic life weirdness where all my female friends moved out of state after college and making new ones is pretty freakin' hard when you're out of school.

So what I would say is, get to know this guy better so you get a feel for whether it's a Bad Thing or just a Random Thing.


I think there is a huuuuuuuge difference between a person having mostly female/male/animal friends due to circumstance/predisposition/whatever, and a person having only female/male/plastic friends because they 'just don't get along with anyone that is _______' I have only seen this come out of the mouths of women/men with issues that could fill a canyon.

Reginal T. Squirge

@emjb@twitter This topic may have been exhausted already but allow me to say this: Most of my friends are currently female (I am male) and the only ones that aren't are dude friends from childhood that live elsewhere. I think that a big part of the reason is because lots of dudes lock down their friends in childhood or high school or college at the latest. Lots of dudes are just not interested in making friends in adulthood because they think (stupidly) "Ew, that's gay." So to approach a dude like, "Hey, will you be my friend, adult man?" isn't really taken so kindly.


@hotdog I agree. There's a difference between just happening to have all friends of one gender, and saying things like "I just can't get along with women because they're always (bitchy, jealous of me, can't take a joke, on the rag, insert other offensive utterance here)."

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@WaityKatie EXACTLY. The people who mostly have friends of one gender, as a lot of commenters have said they do, just because that's the way it happens to be right now, is different from the people who make up excuses about other people - who they probably barely know - rather than looking at themselves and wondering if they're maybe having trouble building relationships. Not that the blame should be fully placed on these people, but they have to be willing to accept at least some of it, and in my experience, they often aren't.

Goodness Me!

Heeeey Pinners....I'm LW#2....and no I haven't dumped him yet....yes I did get him Xmas presents. Oh and I was labelled a "bitch" for being assertive of my feelings. My story gets worse...

When my boyfriend drinks every other weekend, he gets really cruel after a certain point. He'll be cruel to me and after I go to bed for the night he messages old girlfriends. I FEEL HELPLESS AND CRAZY for staying with him. It's always "one more chance".

This last weekend was the worst. I had had enough but he apologized profusely and promised me it would never happen again. I asked him how and he didn't have an answer.

Aaahhh :(


@Goodness Me! the solution to your problem is FIRE

Lily Rowan

@Goodness Me! GIRL. Please dump him now. It will happen again and again until you do.

@Goodness Me! Honey. No. Just, please, I know it's hard, but dump him. For serious. For real. Clean it with fire, etc. He is a juicebox.


@Goodness Me! This must end! Hairpinners must unite and help you break out of what seems to be a basically abusive relationship.


@Goodness Me! You are not helpless, or crazy, but you should break up with him. You deserve better.


@Goodness Me! DTMFA (please)

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Goodness Me! You know what you would tell us to do if any of your friends or fellow Pinner were in this situation. Being alone is better than being with this juicebox! Respect yourself!

Nicole Cliffe

@Goodness Me! Oh, God, hon, Jesus. Seriously, you seem like a nice person and you read the Hairpin, and everything, and this is the One Thing I Know For Sure, like Oprah: Bad Relationships Only Get Worse, They Do Not Get Better. Please please leave this whiny asshole. FIRE. We are all on Team LW2.


@Goodness Me! Sweetheart. Your boyfriend is doing things that really sound like emotionally abusive behavior.

Even if you are crazy (and I don't think you sound like you are, for the record). You aren't helpless. You aren't. You can do it.

Big courage, and a martini for afters. XOXOXOX

dj pomegranate

@Goodness Me! You deserve so much better. He won't change. You should leave. You will feel so much better and look back with so much relief and clarity.

Prostitute Robot From The Future

@Goodness Me! Goodness me indeed! Seriously, you need to get the hell out of this relationship. The fact that he didn't have an answer says it all. He WILL NOT change. Get out before worse happens.



@Goodness Me!

Please get counseling, for yourself, and be prepared to get out of there fast, for both of you! You are not the first to face this, and there is help available. You only have to ask -- which I think you just did.

The Lady of Shalott

@Goodness Me! Oh, honey. This is not going to get better. It is going to get worse. Dump him. Now. DO NOT GIVE HIM ANY MORE CHANCES.

Do you live together? Because that doesn't matter, seriously. YOU NEED TO DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO in order to GET THE FUCK OUT. Sleep on people's couches for a month. Get a roommate. Move back home.

Seriously, he is not going to get better. You HAVE to break up with him if you want this to change. Do it. NOW.

femme cassidy

@Goodness Me! OH MY GOD, GIRL, FLEE. There is no excuse for this behavior. If he's done it more than once, he will keep doing it forever. Seriously, my heart is breaking for you right now, please tell us what kind of support you need to be able to get gone.


@Goodness Me! Oh sweetheart, this makes me so sad for you. Please call your friends, tell them that you need to get out, and do it this weekend. If you can't do it alone, ask for help, there's nothing shameful about that, but please leave as soon as you can.

Prostitute Robot From The Future

@Goodness Me! Please, listen to what Thebestjasmine and The Lady of Shalott have said. It will not be easy, but trust me, you will feel so much better once you have dumped juicebox.

miss olsen

@Goodness Me! You deserve so, so much better than someone who is repeatedly cruel to you in ANY way (verbally, emotionally, etc.). Make whatever plans you need to, then make a clean break. We'll be wishing you courage and strength.


@Goodness Me! RUN. Runrunrunrun! If you are feeling helpless, find your bossiest friend, tell her/him what is going on, and ask them for help, even if it is just giving you the kick in the pants that you need. I've only read bits and pieces of this, but Carolyn Hax is a huge of fan of The Gift of Fear, which basically tells you how to trust your instincts in these (and worse) situations. The every-other-weekend-when-he-drinks cruelty is NOT OK, and is the tip of a huuuuuuge iceberg. Get out before it gets worse.


@Goodness Me! I have nothing constructive to add that hasn't already been said above (Everyone is right and smart! Listen to them!) but I wanted to chime in to give you virtual hugs and notvirtual support and to ask that you please take care of yourself and do right by yourself.


@Goodness Me! Ahhhhhhhhhhh like everyone else is saying: GET OUT GIRL. I know it's really easy to say and much harder to do in practice. You are not helpless and you are not crazy. But... he's not going to break up with himself for you. You've got to help yourself here and do it. Write a script if you have to? Write a script and rehearse it with a friend until you can say "It's over," and shut the door on it. You don't say whether you live together or not - if you do, make arrangements to stay with a friend, pack your bag, and go. I think that once you've taken that first step, the rest of them will feel a lot easier.


@Goodness Me! If he's so fond of messaging his ex-girlfriends while you're sleeping, I think it means it's time for you to take this relationship out back and shoot it in the head. Won't be easy, but you'll feel better in no time.


@Goodness Me! Girl, we are all team FIRE. Light him on fire. He is being CRUEL to you. Don't feel foolish for staying so long (it's easy to get trapped in unhealthy situations like this--it sucks, but it happens). But please, get out. You do not need someone who treats you this way! Ask for help if you need it. Your friends, The Hairpin and Fire, are rooting for you.

oh, disaster

@Goodness Me! Oh, please please PLEASE don't give him any more chances. He does not deserve them. With people like him, there will always be an excuse for 'one more chance'. Please know you deserve to be treated better and must leave him to get it.


@Goodness Me! It's important to hear this from an entire chorus. This is emotional abuse. Get him out of your life, and equally importantly, go get some counseling as atipofthehat says above!
If you need to talk through it some more with 3rd parties who are strangers, the Friday Open Thread is the perfect place for that sort of thing



If you're cruel when you drink, don't drink.
If you're abusive when you drink, don't drink.
Drinking does not give you special rights.

And I am NOT against drinking.


@Goodness Me! Oh no. I'm sorry he's the worst. You deserve better. Its going to happen again. And again. And again. Leave him. Post-haste. He's abusing you and he is gross and you are lovely and deserve a million times better.


@Goodness Me! dearheart! I was in the same situation; please, dump him tonight. It hurts like a motherfucker for a month and then you see him in a bar, a la Carolita, and you say, "You?" and burst into laughter, and walk away laughing like a woman alone with salad.

17th Floor

@Goodness Me! You're not my friend in Memphis are you?

Dump him. Dump him. Dump him.

To quote the wisest lesson I learned in college: Drunk or not, it's still a choice.

He chooses to hurt you.

Now you get to choose to get the fuck out of there. Quickly.


@Goodness Me! get out get out get out get out get out. It will be so awesome when you do. Seriously, you are going to look around when you've dumped him and be like, holy crap I didn't know life could be this good!


@Goodness Me! Lady, call Kenny Loggins, because you're in the Danger Zone.


@Goodness Me!:One of the strangest, most unexpected things about recovering from a shit relationship? Even though the healing takes time, you can jump start the hell out of the process by ending things on your terms.

Break up with him. Immediately and permanently. Don't go for closure, don't shoot for amicable, don't try for friendship. End it with as few words as possible and as many proactive actions (moving out, deleting his numbers, refusing his calls and texts) as you can. Channel the woman you most admire and act exactly like you think she would in this circumstance.

And after you break up, no contact. Seriously, I wish I had known this simple, simple fact - the only way to heal a broken heart is time and distance from the relationship, and that means no contact whatsoever. Every new contact restarts the clock towards being over it.

Fuck, I really, really hope you break up with him immediately and hold fast to the notion that absolutely NO ONE you want to be with treats ANYONE this way.


@Nicole Cliffe Yes! Oprah is right! When somebody shows you what they're really like, believe them the first time!


@Goodness Me! NO! This is not okay. This is, in fact, the worst. He is an emotionally manipulative, abusive JUICEBOX. Send him here. We will dump him for you.


@Goodness Me! firstly: what everyone else said.

but also, your choice of login name was utterly inspired - look at this chorus of exclaimers, this is a thing of beauty! well done you. :)

also, sweetheart, it's horrible feeling helpless and crazy. please get out of this thing that is making you feel awful, you don't deserve someone being so cruel to you.



I agree! People can change—I know this to be true. But you can't change another person. The person with the problem has to do the work and have the motivation, and it takes time. Please have no illusions about this: you can't change this behavior, and he won't stop.

These things get worse, and you are very likely in more danger than you know.


@Goodness Me! If there's some kind of threshold of 'Pinners saying "My god, girl, GO!" before you feel comfortable leaving this guy (cause wow, he's so not good for you), then here's my name on the list. GO, Goodness, GO!


@Goodness Me! Oh sweetheart, I have been there, exactly there, only the messaging old girlfriends turned out to be fucking old girlfriends.

Please listen to what everyone has said here - please, please, get out and do it fast. It's going to be hard and you might doubt yourself and you will probably pity him - so many layers of hard and doubtful, but DO IT. Leave and then cut off all contact - ALL. You don't need closure. You don't need to be nice. You don't need to explain. You need to protect and care for yourself.

I had to call in good friends and be brutally, painfully honest with them and enlist their help to get me out and then keep me away - I literally slept on a friend's couch for three weeks, so I wouldn't have the temptation of nights alone, and spent almost every waking minute with a rotation of friends so that no phonecall could go unscreened, no impulse could go unchecked, and even when he showed up at the door someone else could turn him away for me (while still another friend talked me into staying in the other room).

What I'm saying is basically just - call in whatever help and support you need, take whatever measures are necessary, even if it seems harsh or hard or... bitchy or whatever it might seem. This is a situation of abuse. Allow yourself to use that word. Please, please get out.

If you need any unrelated support, I'd be happy to give you my email address and phone number. I mean that.


@Goodness Me! He's been wearing you down so your confidence is super low right now, making leaving very hard (this is how cruel people bind others to them). You must dig deep and work up your courage and leave. Can you do it today? Today is a good day to do this.

Do you live with him? Grab a bag, pack only what's necessary and leave the other stuff for another day, when someone can come with you to get it. Let us know how it goes.

This is an important moment in your life with serious implications for your future. Also, you have excellent taste in avatars. Baby pygmy marmosets are the best.


@Goodness Me! Just echoing everyone else...leave him! I was in an emotionally abusive relationship...I lived with the guy. I broke up with him, we were awkward "roommates" for a couple of months due to the lease, but it was SO WORTH IT. PLEASE. PLEASE PLEASE.


@Goodness Me! Honey, honey, honey...you deserve SO MUCH BETTER!


@Goodness Me! These 'Pinners above have said it better than I could, but I just want to lend my support to you! Go girl, get out of that relationship - he is cruel and abusive and you deserve so, so much better. It will be hard and awful but place your self-worth and respect above anything else! We're all here for you!


@Goodness Me! Also, this: "I had had enough but he apologized profusely and promised me it would never happen again." is the common denominator in every single abused woman's story. Please leave.


aw man this thread gives me heart clenching anxiety.

nobody ever ever ever should be made to feel helpless and crazy. not only is it the worst in the present tense, but it is SO SO SO damaging to recover from. ARgh. I hate this guy. I hate this guy that I don't know and I'm gonna just come right out and say it even though it's probably inappropriate.

Here's the deal. If you give somebody "one more chance" more than once, there's no recovery from that relationship. Because they will never believe that this truly is their last chance. They will always think that they can wheedle their way back into your good graces.

I absolutely agree with everybody that you should break up with him A.S.A.P. And I want you to write down a scatching speech and read it to him, and then send it to us. Because that would make *me* happy.

Buuuut not my relationship. If you really wanted to give him "one more chance" which in my opinion he absolutely does not deserve and will take advantage of anyway, the answer is what @atipofthehat said. He said he didn't have an answer for how he will stop treating you cruelly when he drinks? The answer is to stop drinking. If he's not willing to prioritize your relationship over his drinking, that should tell you everything you need to know.

If he does agree to stop drinking, then you have to remember that still means he's on his REAL. HONEST TO GOD. REAL. last chance and that means the next time he steps out of line you break up with him and never take him back.

Blargh I really think I just agree with everybody else. Do you live in Toronto? Can I come visit you? Can we go out for coffee?

cat of the canals

@Goodness Me! Can I sugest a relatively quick read? http://rookiemag.com/2012/02/bad-romance/

"I repeat: you cannot make this person be fair to you. And you do not have to try. You need to have your self-respect, your dignity, and your own firm belief in the fact that you are kind, fair, and trustworthy. I’ve lost that a few times. But I have never lost it more profoundly than on the occasions when I tried to get someone who was toxic to treat me nicely."


@laurel "Can you do it today? Today is a good day to do this.

Do you live with him? Grab a bag, pack only what's necessary and leave the other stuff for another day, when someone can come with you to get it. Let us know how it goes." - THIS, THIS.

You don't need to have any sort of faceoff - methods that might feel cowardly or whatever decidedly AREN'T. I had a big male mutual-but-more-my-friend come over while the ex was out, he helped me shove all my stuff into his car, and we drove away. Another friend called the ex to tell him I was gone for good. If there had had to be a faceoff, I wouldn't have left. I tried to more than once. Just do whatever it takes.


@Goodness Me! Girl please, you have no idea how much better your life is going to get after you get rid of this jackass. He isn't going to get better. I think that in your gut, you already know that.

You are not helpless or crazy and you've already given him enough chances. He had every opportunity to step up and be the partner you wanted/deserved, and he threw it in your face. Treat yo'self Parks & Rec-style and kick this dude to the curb. If you're in the DC area, I will take you out for a margarita afterward, no joke.

@Goodness Me! And if you're in Boston, we will drink manhattans and it will be okay, I promise.

dj pomegranate

@Goodness Me! And if you are in NYC, we will drink martinis, not kidding. We all want to toast your forthcoming freedom.


@Goodness Me! 234nd the chorus of leave now. I have been there, and there is 0% chance that you in any way deserve this. And I agree with @MatildaGold - even if he's NOT cheating when he tries to punish you with his exes, he will eventually, and he will blame you for it. It will get worse over time, all of it.

Emotional abuse is very real, even if it is hard to admit at the time, or ever. And it's embarrassing as hell to admit to your friends and loved ones that the douchenozzle you've been defending for the entire duration of your relationship is, in fact a douchenozzle. It can feel very much like a betrayal of who you believe yourself to be. And it's hard to give up hope that things will change, or get better, or that you can just try harder and it'll be fine.

Breaking up will be hard, and if he is able to contact you, he'll probably swing between vicious and romantic. Do everything you can to make a clean break, and lean on anyone you can to keep it that way. My abusive ex kept me tangled up in the drama for a good year after I broke up with him, and then stalked me for another year after I stopped engaging. Hopefully you'll have better luck than I did.

I promise, once the dust settles and you get your head clear of the mind games this guy is playing with you, your life will be so much better. And your only regret will be that you didn't do it sooner. Being in a relationship doesn't have to hurt like this.


@Goodness Me!

Darlin', get away from this guy. Get away from him as quickly as you can. Call the National Domestic Violence Helpline and ask for help. They help people get out of emotionally abusive relationships, which is where you're at right now.

It is a terrible thing to doubt yourself and feel like you are crazy. You feel like this because Something inside you knows that this relationship isn't right, that you aren't safe. That voice is butting up against the history you have with this guy where he tells you that you're a bitch, that you're crazy, that you have no right to be uncomfortable with his actions. Somewhere along the line, a part of you started to believe what he was saying, at least a little bit. But grrrl, the good news is, that Something inside you that KNOWS he's wrong is stronger. That's the part of you that wrote to Ask A Dude. That's the part of you that reached out to us 'Pinners in the comment thread. That's the part of you that is strong enough to GET YOU AWAY from this guy, and get you safe.

We are all on your side. We are all rooting for you. Let us know what you need.


@Goodness Me! Echoing everyone else: please, please, PLEASE get out of there! (And fire is an excellent cleanser.) Do you have someone IRL you can go to? Do you need help/numbers? Please let us know.


@Goodness Me!

I wanted to share something with you that helped me a lot when I felt stuck getting over a relationship that had some toxic elements to it, like yours. I was with this particular guy for over five years, and although I broke up with him nearly a year ago, I still feel a lot of guilt and self-judgement about why I stayed so long in a relationship that was, in retrospect, so obviously bad for me.

http://rookiemag.com/2012/02/bad-romance/ (and as I was writing this, cat of the canals recommended it too!)

Although he was never as overtly emotionally abusive as your guy is, that article helped me identify a lot of the strategies my ex was using (deliberately or not) on me. It also explained why an otherwise rational, competent adult (me!) would react by staying rather than leaving.

The second point in the article I found especially helpful: that people stay in a toxic relationship not because they're a bad or stupid or weak person, but "because you are a good partner and someone else used that against you ... You can see a good person in your partner even when other people wouldn't, you can exercise an unusual amount of compassion, and this partner noticed that you would put up with things that other people wouldn't."

The very fact that you've managed to stick with this person so long shows that you are mentally tough and determined. So instead of expending your strength and compassion on repeatedly forgiving and understanding him, I want you to use it to forgive and understand yourself. Staying in this relationship for so long does not actually mean you are objectively 'HELPLESS AND CRAZY,' even if you do feel that way. It just means that you responded to his behaviour with much more empathy, forgiveness, and patience than the average person would. So of COURSE he wants to keep you around -- you're a super-awesome partner.

Recognizing that you have superstar-partner qualities is important, because you also need to recognize that he's using your superpowers against you. THAT is why you keep coming back. THAT is why you 'FEEL HELPLESS AND CRAZY'. A person with less empathy than you would have left already. He recognizes that, and is twisting your loyalty and compassion against you. Point three of the article is, "You cannot make this person be fair to you." He is putting you in situations where -- because you are a rational, competent adult -- you will protest and lash out, and then he will tell you how horrible you are. It's gaslighting. Of course you feel crazy and unsettled; any person in your situation would.

You've already given him so much of your time and energy -- it is OK to just leave. You don't need to articulate any of this stuff to him, you don't need to give him a list of reasons why you're leaving, you don't have to explain your motivations to him, so he or you can have 'closure'. You have no obligations left to him of any kind. You can just -- leave. He doesn't want you to, of course, which is why he will try a variety of strategies to get you to engage with him, so that he can exploit your superpowers again to make you reconsider, which is what you saw last weekend.

Super-long comment, I know, but internalizing the judgey-judginess of people who say 'well why wouldn't you just leave! what's wrong with you, gah!" is not a useful strategy for recovering from the level of mindfuck that goes on in toxic relationships. Because he has a track record of convincing you to reconsider your decisions (e.g. by apologizing profusely and promising it will never happen again), I strongly urge you to get a little friend-posse together and move your stuff out (if you live together) and just stop communicating with him in any way. Make a plan, and execute it. And get into counselling faster than I did!



@TheCheesemanCometh I can't edit my comment for some reason, but if you're in the Phoenix area, I can get you info on places to go if you don't have anyone close. Be safe, and get out!


@Goodness Me! @Mira Mira is absolutely right. You're not just leaving a bad situation, you're moving toward things that are fun and good. Not only will you feel better when this man is no longer poisoning your life, you'll feel like a motherfucking amazon for having ditched him and the shitty relationship.

Leaving bad things is good for you.

ETA: So much good stuff in @Sparrow's comment.

dj pomegranate

@Sparrow Everything @Sparrow said is so true.

Emotional abuse makes you feel helpless and crazy, not because you are helpless and crazy but because you AREN'T. There is proof in every other area of your life that you are awesome! You do stuff and make good decisions and take care of yourself! You feel crazy because that awesome part of you doesn't understand why you don't feel awesome and doesn't understand what is making you stay in a place that doesn't celebrate your awesomeness.

He is not a reasonable person and you cannot reason with him because he does not want to be reasonable. Your reasoning is sound and good and your instincts are in tact. Do not let him bully you into staying.

Goodness Me!

LW#2 here again...

Thank you so much to everyone. I will come back here and read these comments again whenever I need to.

It's so weird what becomes "normal" over time. I had forgotten that incident I had first written about. I was really surprised when I read it on here.

I know I'll be okay if I leave him. I know that I won't be if he doesn't stop being a juicebox when he's drunk.

I am going to be honest here...what I want is for him to wake up...he has one last chance. That's it. I know, I know...the sensible side in me is warning me how it's going to end but the unconditional lover in me just has to see if he was really sincere this time. We do live together, and have cute pets and an otherwise problem-free life together. It's so hard because out of 168 hours in a week it's just 5 hours that I can't take anymore.

Your wise words have given me strength. I don't feel helpless anymore, I feel like I have a plan now. I'm saving money starting this payday for an "emergency breakup" fund. I know exactly how I'm going to leave him if I need to....right after a bad night I have a four hour window to get all of my stuff together and leave. I'll never talk to him again and I won't need to tell him why- he'll know.


@redheaded&crazy If she's just about anywhere, there should be 'pinners around. Can we stage an intervention? Set up someone whose couch you can sleep on if you don't have anyone else's?

@teffodee A pintervention, if you will.


@Goodness Me! The "one more chance" thing sounds like more chances than he deserves at this point, but if you're set on that idea, it sounds to me like the absolute ONLY chance there could be of his redeeming himself is if he quits drinking, completely, immediately, forever.


@S. Elizabeth Yes. Exactly. Please? @Goodness Me!, if you want to email me (teffodee@gmail) and let me know where you are/what you need, I can try and set this shit up. If not, that is okay, I just want to throw it out as an option.

tin can phone

@Goodness Me! Oh dear, please leave this jerk! He doesn't respect you or love you but it's not because you don't DESERVE love and respect. You do. Please believe me when I tell you that you always, always deserve respect. You deserve it from the barista at Starbucks, the busdriver, your roommate, the random guy on the train, but especially you deserve it from your significant other, because they are supposed to be on your team! They should never make you feel crazy or small. Leave him even if you have nowhere to go. You'll figure it out, I promise. And you will be much better off without this raging juicebox!! Sending so much good juju your way!

Vera Knoop

@Goodness Me! I'm sure you get the idea by now, but I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus saying that there's nothing wrong with you except your boyfriend. You have no reason to be ashamed. He is abusive, and he is the problem.


@Goodness Me! NOO! NO NO NO! I wish I could talk to you because trust me, girl, I know. You say you want him to wake up - but what you really want is for him to realize he's been treating you poorly the whole time, realize that you've always been there for him, change and things end happily ever after.

Sweetheart...they won't. He won't ever wake up, because he genuinely does not think what he's doing is wrong. Or if he has an inkling it's not "right," he certainly doesn't care enough to change it. The only thing that can and SHOULD change is you...get out of there! Please don't wait, your life is too short to spend it miserable.

*Also, "forgetting" bad things that have happened - I've blocked soo many crazy things out. And then I started telling friends (because while I was in the relationship, I was too ashamed to tell anyone because I knew it was wrong), they were like OMG. This is insane. So your lovely brain represses it all, but start really thinking about all the really horrible stories - even the ones you think aren't "that bad."

**ALSO. Yes no abuser is going to be abusive 100% of the time. Because then no one will ever want to stay. But even 1% of the time, when it's not a fight that comes from just being people in a relationship, when he's deliberately seeking to hurt you and make you doubt yourself...that's enough.


@Goodness Me! Here's a thing to consider as you wait out another drunk weekend: he'll never get better until you leave. Every time you reward him with forgiveness it reinforces his habit of treating you badly, like a treat to a dog. You are training him to abuse you.

Since you love him, you might consider how much he hates himself. Unless he's a sociopath, he's miserable and wishes he wasn't like this. The nicest thing you could do for him is break the feedback loop by leaving.

dj pomegranate

@lalaland YES I could have written this. "but what you really want is for him to realize he's been treating you poorly the whole time" YES. This is what I wanted in my relationship with an emotionally abusive but very sexy man. It never happened and, looking back, could not have happened.

"because while I was in the relationship, I was too ashamed to tell anyone because I knew it was wrong" YES. Did this too. I remember purposely dodging questions about our relationship because I knew that my friends would make me act when I told them how controlling he was and how unhappy I really was. After the breakup it was almost hilarious (but not really, because UNGH) how many red flags I had ignored/forgotten.

Now that I am out and smart, I see this is CLASSIC behavior in an abusive relationship. Same story, different woman. Get out, I promise you won't regret it.

dj pomegranate

@Goodness Me! Follow up to what you say: "It's so weird what becomes "normal" over time." The thing that got me out of my abusive relationship was LITERALLY leaving the country. I was overseas for work and hanging out with normal friends on a weekend and doing whatever I wanted... and I was jumpy, like a cat who's inside for the first time. Like, "Oh I can have olives and cigarettes for breakfast if I want AND NO ONE CARES because I AM AN ADULT?!" Seriously, living in the Emotional Abuse World had normalized so many abnormal behaviors, I had forgotten what my normal was. I broke up with that dude via Gchat while I was overseas and never looked back.

Chesty LaRue

@Goodness Me! Girl, I feel for you. I don't have anything to add to this other than support, and the knowledge that breaking off a bad relationship is like a huge weight off. You don't have to be drowning every single day.


@Goodness Me! I know it might seem hard to leave when you have a home and adorable pets together, but the only way he's ever going to change is if you leave, for all the reasons the ladies above have said. He doesn't deserve, and you shouldn't give him, another chance.

Prostitute Robot From The Future

@Goodness Me! It's so hard because out of 168 hours in a week it's just 5 hours that I can't take anymore.

Read this again. You are still in denial. JUST 5 hours that you can't take anymore?! It's still too much! Please, he has had his chances, it's time to cut your losses, before the 5 hours turn into more.


@Goodness Me! Oh this made me so sad to read. How many last chances have you given him? What has he ever shown you that makes you think that he's going to wake up? What has he ever shown you to make you think that he deserves another chance? What do you think about yourself to think that you deserve to be treated like this? You deserve better. You are better. Your life will be better without him. This is not the life that you have to have, and you will never understand that until you break out of it.


@dj pomegranate Hilarious but not really. Yes. We had an epic fight over a toilet plunger once. As in, the toilet plunger I purchased was too small and was I doing it to spite him? Because clearly I had no respect for the relationship because I bought a toilet plunger that was so small. Did I even know how to use a toilet plunger? The fight ended with him yelling at me "GOOGLE HOW TO USE A TOILET PLUNGER!!!"

Yess....hilarious...but not. :( You're not alone LW2!


@dj pomegranate YES! Oh my god. We need a support group. For the longest time, I would fervently and neurotically check my phone every 5 sec, because god forbid I missed a phone call because I was clearly cheating on him. He would call me at work and if I weren't at my desk, I would be accused of...I don't know? Flirting with coworkers? Anyway I was scared to go to the bathroom and scared of not having my phone with me AT ALL TIMES.

And now I am dating this awesome guy and I miss his calls and he asks me why I am apologizing. IT GETS BETTER!


@Goodness Me! I honestly wish I could roundhouse kick this dude to the curb for you, but unfortunately I can't.

I'm no relationship expert by any means, but I used to work in a bakery with someone who apparently was. He told me that when you're dating someone, they should be an improvement on your life. They're not going to be perfect all the time, and there are going to be some rifts along the way. But if you feel they're not making your life better, then there's no point in being with them.

And this is a philosophy that makes absolute sense that I adhere to.

This guy sounds abusive and scary. Even if it's only 5 hours a week, that is 5 more hours a week than anyone should have to put up with. That is 5 hours of helplessness and anxiety you shouldn't have to feel.

There's a ton of awesome dudes out there, and this dude isn't one of them.

If you want him to learn a lesson, the best way to do it is by leaving his ass. Sure, you're not going to see how it changes him, but you're going to see the change in you. It's going to be hard at first, but soon enough, it's going to feel g'damn good.

If you insist on giving this dude one more chance, I would make sure you have a place you can go at any point in time when you want to break it off for good. This could be family or friends. And make sure you have people to go back with you when you have to deal with him again because he'll ask for one last chance, and you'll want to give it. But you're going to have to be strong enough to say no. Having other people there as a big ol' reminder of that helps.

And saving money is certainly a good idea. I'd even pack up some smaller items now, like a quick getaway kit so you don't have to spend time packing when he's drunk and belligerent.

But I honestly think you should DTMFA.


@Goodness Me! I honestly wish I could roundhouse kick this dude to the curb for you, but unfortunately I can't.

I'm no relationship expert by any means, but I used to work in a bakery with someone who apparently was. He told me that when you're dating someone, they should be an improvement on your life. They're not going to be perfect all the time, and there are going to be some rifts along the way. But if you feel they're not making your life better, then there's no point in being with them.

And this is a philosophy that makes absolute sense that I adhere to.

This guy sounds abusive and scary. Even if it's only 5 hours a week, that is 5 more hours a week than anyone should have to put up with. That is 5 hours of helplessness and anxiety you shouldn't have to feel.

There's a ton of awesome dudes out there, and this dude isn't one of them.

If you want him to learn a lesson, the best way to do it is by leaving his ass. Sure, you're not going to see how it changes him, but you're going to see the change in you. It's going to be hard at first, but soon enough, it's going to feel g'damn good.

If you insist on giving this dude one more chance, I would make sure you have a place you can go at any point in time when you want to break it off for good. This could be family or friends. And make sure you have people to go back with you when you have to deal with him again because he'll ask for one last chance, and you'll want to give it. But you're going to have to be strong enough to say no. Having other people there as a big ol' reminder of that helps.

And saving money is certainly a good idea. I'd even pack up some smaller items now, like a quick getaway kit so you don't have to spend time packing when he's drunk and belligerent.

But I honestly think you should DTMFA.


@Goodness Me! May I propose an exercise for you? Think about the questions below:

Why does he get one more chance? Adorable pets and commingled belongings aside, why? (And please remember that unconditionally loving someone AND ending a toxic relationship with them are not mutually exclusive. You can love someone but refuse to be in a relationship with them at the same time). Also, how will you judge this chance? If he's not cruel but still kind of an asshole, is that OK? If he calls you a dipshit but not an idiot, is that OK? Where are you going to draw the line? What will you do if (when) it escalates to physical violence?

Just think about these questions. Write your answers down. Read them out loud. Put them away for 24 hours and then re-read them. Read them as though a best friend or sister of yours were saying them. What would you tell her? Is it the same thing that you have decided to do for yourself?


@Goodness Me! Oh honey, just 5 hours a week? That's a lot of time. And in between those 5 hour stretches, it's taking so much emotional energy to keep everything going. Think about what things might be like if you were able to use that energy for something positive anf fulfilling?

He will not get better until you leave (and maybe not then). This, right now, is the best it'll ever be, and it's way less than you deserve.

Please leave him.

just reading in a boat no big deal

@Goodness Me! I am, as all the other Pinners, definitely on Team Leave Him Now. But I think it bears saying, now that I've read your second update: congratulations on your first steps to FREEDOM. Clear-cut and acted-upon decisions are lovely things, but don't you for a moment feel bad that you didn't internalize and go through all our advice immediately.

I think you've made really important first steps. You're saving money, you're both imagining and actively planning your escape, you've told people the truth about your relationship and didn't hide away from hearing what they had to say. That's some CONCRETE stuff, and stuff you couldn't have said about yesterday. There might be some hard work ahead, but I really do think it's important to note what you just did!! And to gain strength from your actions. Because--and I think you know this--you're going to get yourself out of there.

tea tray in the sky.

@Goodness Me! Obviously I'm in general agreement with everyone here, no need to get too repetitive. And I don't mean to downplay the seriousness of what's going on here – but tell me you chose your screen name specifically in anticipation for this comment thread?


@Goodness Me! I'd like to echo @MilesofMountains. I was in a shorter, more intense situation, with no cute pets like you, but what the worry in-between the actual cruelty did to my insides was constant. But I get it - some guys like this I think of as human heroin or crack. And like they know exactly how to use cruelty to tear you down, they can be brilliant at knowing exactly what to do to give you a warm cuddly feeling or a rush that you think is worth staying for. Remember that it's part of the manipulative cycle! Remember that it's part of the manipulative cycle. Remember that it's part...I can't say it enough; but it's sooo easy to let your hope take over and forget this...


@Goodness Me! So many people have already replied, and I have nothing to add but to say, as so many have: Get out. pack your stuff when he is away, because it will be too tough to do if he is there (My last relationship lasted a month longer than it should because of this fact). Call a friend, your mom, your brother, someone. When you feel helpless, it's ok to ask for that help.
I am so glad you have a plan, and I am sending you my love and support.


@Goodness Me! Sorry I'm late to this! I'm very proud of you for making plans so that you can leave when you have to. It will take bravery to leave. I hope you do leave before your life becomes any more entangled with him - you're not married, so you don't have to deal with any legal stuff about separating, and you don't have kids - once you do leave, there's no strings for him to pull. Please don't waste any more time on this guy. You could be happy today. Ugh I don't mean to tell you what to do but I just feel there is hope for you, it's not too late to get out! And you will NOT regret it.


@Goodness Me! I just wanted to add to all the good wishes being sent your way. And to say that 5 hours of abuse a week from someone you love is a lot of abuse.


whoa, this thread got overwhelming!

but y'know, our hearts are in the right place :')


@Goodness Me! When I've been in relationships and the other person has done something which has hurt or wronged me, and they've been genuinely sorry about that, there's several things they do which help me know that they mean it, and which help me feel safe again in the future to stay in the relationship.

They SAY they're sorry. They LISTEN to me talking about how I felt hurt, scared, angry, or whatever. They RESPOND to me so that I know they've heard and taken in my reaction. They listen to me saying what I want from them that is different to how things were, or they HEAR ME STATING MY NEEDS. And then - and this is crucial, IMO - they TAKE ACTION to make things different, and they show me through their actions that they're determined not to hurt me or let me down that way again.

It doesn't sound to me like your guy does anything other than say he's sorry. Quite frankly, talk is cheap. That's the easiest way to pretend to appease another person. Anyone can say sorry. But if they have a real desire to make amends, saying sorry is only the first step. That would also then be accompanied by signs of the person listening to you, hearing how you felt when you were hurt, hearing your statement about what you need next from them, and then they would take action so that you could know, over time, in your bones and your gut, that BOTH of you are no longer in that same place where that person hurt you before.

As you said, this guy can say sorry, but he's got no plan and is taking no action to show you that he's going to ACT or BE different. In fact, when you have expressed your needs to him before, he's turned that around on you and called you a bitch.

I know you want to give him one last chance, but what has he done differently to earn that chance? If all he does is say sorry look sad and then go right back to being verbally and emotionally abusive to you, endangering your health by not getting his Herpes outbreaks treated, messaging ex-girlfriends behind your back... Then nothing has changed. This guy is going nowhere.

The thing is, you can't make him do anything different. What you can do is to look at what you'll do differently. I think your focus could shift from him doing something - you've already given him plenty of chances to act differently! - to yourself taking better care of you. If you had a best friend who was in this same situation, how would you want her to act? How would you support her to do what she needs? Do those things for yourself, because you can, and because sadly, he's not going to do them with you. Think about getting yourself some counselling, perhaps.

Even right now, you can start to refocus on yourself. If you take a deep breath, really feeling yourself breathing in, breathing out, notice if you're hungry, thirsty, tired, if you need to move around, notice what you need - and then do whatever it is to make yourself comfortable, or to make yourself feel better. The next time those 5 hours come around (if you decide to wait for them to come around again), you can take the same deep breath, check in on yourself, notice what you need, and then try to act from that place. Maybe it'll be to leave the room, get in the car, drive to a friend's house and tell him or her you really need to talk because you're in an abusive relationship, and you need help. Or maybe it'll be to look up a counsellor online. You can do it. It can all start with small steps.


@Goodness Me! Staying with in abusive boyfriend happens because you have a problem completely separate from him, and that problem will need to be addressed before you will be able to get away from him and all other abusive relationship situations. Speaking from experience here. Get the help you need, and fast - a life free of abuse is most definitely worth living.


@Sparrow by the way, this: "because you are a good partner and someone else used that against you ... You can see a good person in your partner even when other people wouldn't, you can exercise an unusual amount of compassion, and this partner noticed that you would put up with things that other people wouldn't." from that rookie article made me cry so hard the first time i read it. actually reading it now still makes me cry.

it's a really good article.


@atipofthehat This needs to somehow be posted everywhere, all the time.
Or, you know, made into an actual PSA.


@Goodness Me!
Okay, gotta throw my hat in the ring.
Plenty (So many! Love you all!) of people have made it clear that you need to leave, and fast - so let me hammer on the point that once you do you CAN NOT go back. At all. Even a little.

"Clean break" has been said a lot, but I think it should be expanded: No more contact. Don't take his calls. Do the thing where you change his name in your phone to "Will only hurt me" or something (God, this is such good advice, why couldn't I have heard it when it was acually useful for me?). No "closure". That's only baiting yourself. When you clear out your stuff from the house do it when he's not there and/or make sure you have a supportive friend with you.
HE WILL TRY ANY AND EVERYTHING TO CONVINCE YOU TO COME BACK. DO NOT LET HIM. It's all false promises. He's shown you that enough times already.

I completely understand the "wanting him to wakeup" feeling, but it's not going to happen. At the very least, not with you still there. If you keep putting up with him there's no incentive.
If you really want the best for him still, after all he's done to you, know that leaving is for his own good too. If he's going to "wake up" losing you is the best chance of that happening.

And if he does come around once you've left and wants you back? Well, karma is a bitch. Because he burned that bridge, and by the time that happens you will have SO moved beyond it all.

We all love you. Seriously. Make no mistake that you need to take everyone's advice. Soon. Even if you can't do it immediately. That's okay. But it needs to happen and we're all here to support you in the process.
Fucking thread bomb if you have to. It could be another post about elements where everyone is joking and making bad puns, but if you need something just show up and ask. NO ONE will mind.


@Goodness Me! Everything that everyone has already said rings so true, and I hope you know that we really all do mean, from the bottom of our hearts, that we are here to help you in whatever capacity we can, individually and as a group.

My mom had to leave my father last year, after the last straw, which was trying to convince her that HIS DESIRE TO HAVE A SECOND WIFE was completely rational and Christian and she was crazy not to go along with it. I just texted her to tell her how proud I am of her.

Personally -- if you ever need anything, anything at all, my email is allicooke5(at)gmail.com. IF you live in NYC I will take you out for coffee, help you pack, whatever you need. I mean it. You are not alone, and there are so many people who care about and love you. He is not one of them.

Any One Ninja Plot

@Goodness Me! I am reading this all in a blur so it's hard to remember who said what, but echoing three things here:
1) Echoing everyone who has said that everyone has said everything there is to say but here is some more virtual support for you.
2) I know you've chimed in here and said that you are giving him one last chance, but as was said, he's already had too many last chances. Leave now. Do whatever you need to do. Sleep on couches, move back home, and I don't know your financial situation but is kicking *him* out an option?
3) PINTERVENTION. Do you not have anyone to stay with? Do you need to just get out and sit in the fresh air and hear this advice live? I'm sure there are pinners wherever you are who could pin-up and provide in-person support.


@Goodness Me!

Good girl.

Call ME crazy, but I feel pretty dang close to positive that it's a matter of WHEN and not "IF" that shit happens some more. Ah, "just a hunch".

It's not going to stop, and it's totally NOT OK and not an acceptable way to live.

To repeat: It is NOT an acceptable way to live.

You wouldn't let anybody you love get exposed to that shit if you could possibly help it... because you are a compassionate person. You would *never* *ever* subject HIM to that kind of abuse. Because that would just be wrong. It's just as wrong to take it. Look at the outcry from your hairpinners. We're hurtin' for ya, gal.

So... I do TOTALLY get not taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, plus, yea, there are logistical considerations, so I think you are being really smart in trying to deal with the sitchu, by planning for it and waiting for the time when emotionally you are motivated to GTFO in the heat of the moment when it's the obvs thing to do and not during the "all good and lovey" phase when emotionally it's a bit harder. When that shit comes back around and you're all "I don't deserve this shit, I deserve better" you will have prepared for that moment (so decent of you!) with a plan, and then:


Hey... maaaayyyyyyyyyybe that day will never happen. He'll "change", he'll "realize." But let's be honest here. He won't. You're giving him his "last chance", and maybe since YOU really mean it, he'll wise the fuck up. But, most likely, he's just gonna find another sucker. That sucker WON'T be you. (And, maybe, his next gf won't be such a nice girl, and won't take that shit, maybe she'll help him more than you ever could by giving him the tough love and putting the fear of god into him in a way that you cannot because you're too kind). But whatever happens, YOU will break free from this vicious cycle, because YOU have the SUPPORT of all of the HAIRPINNERS here, and that is not nothing.

These men and women here do not want to see you treated like shit. Because you are a part of us, and it would be treating us all kind of crappy, by association. We'd have to all go over and kick his ass, and you want to spare him from that right? Because I think I heard some people mention fire. The hairpin mafia, you do not want to mess. For his own good, for your own good, and for the good of all these peeps who have posted "feeling your pain," we will all toast you again and again once you have made the break and for reaching out for help now.

I've had difficult/painful relationships, and I've had more healthy relationsips. And let me tell you, I have learned from all of them, and loved every person, but the good relationships.... It's just SO MUCH better. And relationships that HURT are just really not the way to go. At the end of the day, Life really is just TOO SHORT FOR THAT. You're not going to get to "do it again, differently". You have to do that now. Do you want to FEEL SHITTY?

And, even it it's "just a few days" emotionally, that shit lingers. Your heart doesn't "get over it" just because it's "only sometimes". It etches. It carves grooves in your heart that NEED TO BE HEALED, not REINJURED OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

See you on the other side, sunshine! And in the meantime, take care!


Want to add my voice to the chorus of Pinners offering in-person aid - if you're in SW Pennsylvania, Goodness Me!, please don't hesitate to reach out. (honeyloupe at gmail)


@Goodness Me! Oh honey. As someone who has been in your situation (not the exact situation, but in a relationship with an emotionally abusive juicebox whose daily goal was to make me feel like a tiny piece of shit), get out. Now. Yesterday. You will be so happy you did. As everyone has said above, it's hard, but you need to do it for yourself.

And like atipofthehat said, get some counseling. Trust me on this one, because I waited almost 5 years to get to that step, and it was the penultimate in my healing process. You are a fucking Viking warrior queen (or whatever badass imagery you prefer) and you deserve to be treated like one. Don't put up with anyone's shit. Believe me, a good guy will admit when he's wrong and/or being an asshole, and he'll do whatever it takes to prove it to you. Lots of love and supportive energy headed your way, darlin.


@Goodness Me! I didn't see your update until I'd already written my first response, but as others have said above, congratulations on taking a MASSIVE step. And, as others have said above, us 'Pinners are everywhere, and you can bet your bottom dollar this one in ATL has your back.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@macaroni Seconded. We're so proud of you, Goodness Me, for getting yourself ready to leave him. But don't wait until the next time he drinks for this one last chance. TELL HIM that he needs to stop treating you this way all the time. If he doesn't change immediately, seriously, run out of there. Do whatever you have to do to just get away from him.
If you're in Montreal I'll take you to whatever pub/chocolate cafe you want.

Better to Eat You With

@Goodness Me! I'm way late to this game (psychotic four-day bookfair ate my internet time), but that feeling of helplessness only gets worse. The more time passes, the less you'll feel like you're able to be yourself. Eventually you won't know who that self is. I hope, since I took so long, that you're already gone.


@Goodness Me! Oh love, I'm so sorry this has happened to you. I'm glad you have an exit plan now! I want to join everyone in encouraging you to go ahead and enact it now instead of giving him (another) one last chance.

Remember these things:
1) You're not crazy and you're not a bitch. And even bitches and crazy people don't deserve that kind of treatment anyway.
2) He no doubt knows that he is cruel when he drinks. If that truly bothered him, he wouldn't drink. (He can't even claim addiction here seeing as it only happens every couple of weeks or so.)
3) 5 hours a week may not sound THAT bad, but any amount of that treatment is too much. I promise that there really are men out there who never treat their significant others that way. You don't have to settle for someone whose treatment of you is "not THAT bad."
4) You are a real, live, valuable human being and YOU DESERVE BETTER!

It will be hard to leave. I really don't blame you for being reluctant. That's a completely normal feeling! But you have nothing to be ashamed of and you absolutely should get out, because this shows NO viable signs of improvement. I work at a domestic violence shelter, so I can tell you that leaving is tricky and he will probably try anything to get you back, including come looking for you, so be prepared for that. Enlist the help of friends if need be. But do what it takes to get out of there. This man is destroying you, and, again, you deserve so much better.


@Goodness Me!
Just wanted to chime in and say if you're in Portland Oregon, I'm also officially offering in-person help. Car to help you move your stuff, coffee dates, whatever. Take care of yourself! We're here to help!


Being a student is sometimes really hard for the partner supporting the student. I say this as someone who was that person (including a big move and huge changes to my life that I was excited to make but were HUGE) and recently we came to the conclusion that my stress and his stress about this were not making for the happiest of relationships. It took a while to acknowledge that the school part is a thing that you can't ignore, as much as you WANT to be supportive and you WANT to maintain your relationship and not have that be a problem. Some people work well in those settings (a lot of work, deadlines, homework, major responsibilities that are kind of defining them as a person), but others really put so much into it, with so much fervor, that they are feeling 100% satisfied and might not notice that the other person isn't as much. But definitely the first step is to talk about it. We were in denial about having to schedule the time for each other even though we did talk about it, but also we laughed at other people who did that in the structured way! Now who's laughing?? This is not to say the relationship is doomed, because you might be successful in "refocusing", but the only way to know that is to try and then to not worry about what might happen. If you're in a relationship, you have to be happy with it too and it sounds like letter writer number 3 wants to make that happen.


@Opos Being a student in a relationship is HARD HARD HARD. Gentleman and I are both students, and it is so tough to give each other the time we want to give/spending the time we need to on our studies, and it's made a bit trickier by the fact that we don't live together (and don't plan to at this point). Ever since this one Thursday when we accidentally stayed in bed cuddling all day, we have a "Thursday" policies-- if we haven't had enough time together, we choose a day to be a "Thursday", or a half-Thursday, or hell, a couple hours of Thursday, but we set it aside just to cuddle.

femme cassidy

Dear LW1, my best friend is a dude whose close friendships are almost entirely with ladies, and you know why? Because he is a GREAT DUDE. He is funny and charming and nerdy and sweet and does not have a lot of interest in stereotypically dudely things and just wants people to hang out with and drink margaritas and watch The Bachelorette. He's the greatest (and he's coming to visit me in FIVE DAYS and I am seriously so excited I could weep), and any girl who locked him down would be super lucky! Not all dudes-with-lady-friends are created equal, but if your guy is anything like my bestie, have no fears about proceeding. (Also, have no fears about his friends trying to get up on him, because we're mostly lesbians.)


@femme cassidy Yep, this pretty much describes both my best friend and my father. Some men just get on really well with women in a platonic ways. It's definitely not always a warning signal!


@femme cassidy Yes! I have a dude in my life like that, and he is THE BEST! I am always so excited to meet his ladyfriends because he has awesome taste in ladies, and always try to make them feel welcome and like an part of the group. And while most of that is because that's how I am, a little bit of it is a play because pleeeeeeeease don't take my awesome friend away from me! I am always supportive of friends putting their relationship over their friendships (provided it is a healthy relationship and a reasonable request), but I would be so sad if he dated a jealous girl and she had trouble with us hanging out.


@femme cassidy Agreed. One of my best friends has mostly women friends, in part because of his field. Heck, my dad (who is amazing) has mostly women friends! I don't see this as a very big red flag.


@femme cassidy My partner has mostly women friends. Someone once asked me at a party 'is he always surrounded by laughing women?'. Yes, always, because he is amazing and hilarious and charming and caring. He has dude-friends, but not as many, because he wants friends he can actually talk to about things and emotions. I endorse this, because as fond as I am of his emotions, I think it's important to have other supports.


I'll say this about friends: The best people I know (and are friends with, c whut i did thar) have friends from many different strata, and in either gender. Those with exclusive or rigid categories of friends, well, they would be the ones that I would say, 'bring the drama.'


@Too Much Internet: I should further say; there is a difference between becoming friends with a demographic because of simple schedule and exposure, and actively choosing those friends to construct a specific circle. A passive collection of friends may skew in a direction just because of circumstance. An active collection of friends may be more revealing, psychologically.


@Too Much Internet Damn, that is so well put.

Oh, squiggles

@Too Much Internet Yes. I would be more leery of someone who says "It is just easier to be friends with _____" The makeup of your friend circle has to do with a lot of factors, but provided you don't actively discriminate, it's all good.

Maybe this also falls under the category of "Seriously, can we all stop judging each other based on the set of genitalia we were born with?"


I wish LW1 had told us how many friends total the guy has. If it's a small number, then sheer chance could be a big factor. Maybe he always has a small circle of friends and doesn't make new friends easily. In that case, then just happening to drift away from one or two male friends could be enough to turn him into an only-has-female-friends oddity, without him actually having any aversion to male friends.


This advice is very sad. The only appropriate response to LW4 is: "How do YOU feel about putting sex on hold?" Sex is a reasonable need. A guy is not a "good guy" because he wants sex less, just as women are not "good women" on account of abstinence.

In fact, I see the logic that puts sex "on hold" once feelings develop a huge red flag. It's fine to want to wait to have sex, but if you'll only fuck me if you don't care about me, that does not make me think you're a "good guy."


@dham Agreed! Something about that sat wrong with me and I couldn't quite put into words why that was, but you just summed it up perfectly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a healthy sex life in an adult relationship. There's also nothing wrong with NOT wanting it but either way both parties need to be in agreement as to what they want/need.


LW#1 - I think the most telling thing in your letter was that he "admits this is a problem." Forget what is normal, if he thinks it is a problem, there surely is something off there. My spidey sense says it is some variety of an insecurity issue, but hell, everyone has their insecurities.

My only advice is that you don't try to fix his insecurity on this issue. All you know is that he thinks he has a problem. See if he does anything to change or improve it. If he doesn't, you have some really valuable information about his character. Yay for that.

LW#3: He is all the way out of balance. He is an "all or nothing" kind of guy. Also very good information to know about someone.

LW#4: I read this to be "let's slow down," but after reading Nicole's take on the "slut or wife" dichotomy, I am more leery. I would slow it down and pay closer attention to who he is, rather than how the relationship is progressing.


@karion Good point re: LW#1. Maybe he just doesn't know how to FIND manfriends, and I get that. So maybe start by having him hang out with you and your dude friends if you've got 'em, and maybe try to make some new mutual friends as a starter. Take lessons or join a club?

Nicole Cliffe

Sometimes I worry that I'm too quick to encourage other women to solve their shitty relationship problems with fire. I mean, I'd hate to actually see one of us on the news one night with a frazzled expression and an empty can of gasoline.

Other times, I just re-read the letter, and I feel better about it.


@Nicole Cliffe I've always interpreted it as a metaphorical cleansing emotional fire. (But also real fire when necessary).

17th Floor

@gobblegirl Righteous verbal fire could also be applicable? Right?


@Nicole Cliffe I came thisclose to having Diet Dr. Pepper all over my laptop. Thanks.

Oh, squiggles

@gobblegirl Or the fire of righteous indignation? I like that one.

Moon of My Life

@Nicole Cliffe I know I'm a little late to the party, but I thought I'd stop by to say that anyone who does ACTUALLY want to see a horrible man get set on fire (literally) get yourself to the move Gone post haste!


Pro tip for the care and feeding of obsessive grad students: it's really really difficult to get people to disengage when they are feeling overwhelmed and guilty and faced with visual reminders of the impossible amount of work they've got to do.

So-- when you spend time together, do whatever you can to get him off the couch and out of the house. Do not go to the bars where the sad grad students drink, do not go to the coffeeshops where they congregate anxiously. Do whatever you can to carve out physical spaces that are NO GRAD WORK zones. For six years, my boyfriend refused to set foot in the dive bar where I hung out with school friends, even though it was around the corner from our apartment, insisting we walk the extra half mile to a different bar, much less popular with the Foucault-reading, whiskey-drinking, chain-smoking masses. In retrospect, this was a very good policy.

As for taking care of yourself, it sounds like you're doing what you can already. But, as much as it pains me to admit this... we got a cat. And I think it helped my boyfriend (the non-grad student) a lot.


@MerelyGoodExpectations Yes! And as somebody who basically was previously her boyfriend, I have to say that you (hopefully) learn to balance everything out a bit better after your first year, which is the worst year in most grad programs. Making a bunch of friends outside my program really helped me. So don't give up hope, LW!


@HeyThatsMyBike This is important too-- I'm guessing if this letter came in a batch with the others answered here, it was written near the end of the boyfriend's frist semester of grad school AKA the worst time of life, ever.


@MerelyGoodExpectations I slept for a week after the end of my first semester, basically.

hahahaha, ja.

@MerelyGoodExpectations: Somewhat relevant link -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlu9EezRWA8


@ietapi Ha! Incidentally, that was filmed where I attend graduate school! Too fitting.

Nic Knack

@MerelyGoodExpectations Yes! This is good! Because misery loves company and half of being a grad student is complaining about it to other grad students. And I can say this because I am one.

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@MerelyGoodExpectations uggghhhh my partner and I also got a cat in her first semester of grad school and it was THE most stressful and traumatic experience of our relationship. I sprouted a brand new crop of grey hairs during that semester. We both love cats and wanted one so bad, but that cat... crazy-making. Not all cats are created equal!


@MerelyGoodExpectations Boyfriend is PhD track right now, 2nd year in... Mechanical Engineering... we are having the same issues right now. I'm in my senior year of undergrad, student teaching, so I have my fair share of busy-ness, but he is doing all the extreme things LW's bf is doing. Thanks for the pro tip!


I wish there was an index of topics covered by A Dude. I'm currently wondering what constitutes a brush-off (is not responding to a text a complete brush-off? does it mean nothing? why do dudes suddenly stop communicating for seemingly no reason), but I bet it's been addressed by A Dude in the past. Because I'm sure it's not just me that this always seems to happen to. I hope =(


@manshan Consider the brush off as a favor - the dude brushing you off is very clearly communicating that he is a juicebox who is not worth your time. Delete him from your phone and be grateful you're finding this out now.

And I'm sorry - you are not the only person it happens to, and it sucks, and it is horribly rude. But seriously, you do not want the horribly rude person who does this kind of thing.


@Bebe I know, but it's just so crazy! Like sometimes it is obvious like ok this dude just doesn't really like you and he never did, but sometimes it's like wait why did you just pull this complete 180? Ugh!



Advice topic index -- what a great idea!

Edith and Jane, are you listening?

femme cassidy

Regarding the no-sex-because-I-no-longer-think-of-you-as-a-whore rule: I find it very weird that the Dude was like "It's sad that you're upset by this." Because... women don't have sex drives, and therefore do not care whether they're getting laid, as long as they have (potential) True Love? Dude: If someone I was dating decided that withholding sex would strengthen our relationship, I would be like "um, peace." Not because I would suspect that they didn't like me, but because I LIKE ORGASMS. Just FYI.


@femme cassidy I love this. For my bf, relationships are very black or white (ie., "whore or not"). We are struggling with this, because since we stopped just fooling around and became an actual couple, the sex has changed, and it makes me sad. We still have it, of course, but it's different now. And I kind of miss being his dirty little whore? I mean, shouldn't it be the best of both worlds now??? Ugh :(


@femme cassidy I don't think it's quite fair to say that the guy thinks of casual sex partners as 'whores' and that's why he wants to hold off on sex. The way he phrased it to her sounds like it's more of a personal emotional thing for him. . .like he either needs to be detached or all-in, and having sex with someone he really likes before it's a relationship can lead to confusing emotions for him. A little odd but not necessarily offensive. I am totally with you that Dude's response is off, though; it's totally fine for him to want to hold off on sex, but it's totally fine for that to be a dealbreaker for her, too.


@paddlepickle I read it as being a little tongue-in-cheek, I may be wrong...

Oh, squiggles

@femme cassidy Silly me, I thought sex actually helped make a relationship stronger. Can't believe I fell for all those scientific studies that showed this effect in the brain happening because of all those lovely hormones/neurochemicals ect. I am a silly goose.

femme cassidy

@WastedPaper Dude, I am mad at your boyfriend now! If he knew you liked the dirty stuff before you were his girlfriend, WHY IN GOD'S NAME would he cut you off as soon as you hit Terminal Relationship Velocity? Unless it was some weird kind of sexual bait-and-switch? THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME.

@Awesomely Nonfunctional Clearly the slut-chemicals are having a negative effect on your delicate ladybrain.


@femme cassidy I know - I'm mad, too! But he's Aspie, so I do try to give him some leeway with certain things, mainly because we just don't brain the same. And I'm not even sure if Asperger's has anything to do with it? What I do know is that he can't serve up a hot fudge sundae and then expect me to be o.k. with plain ol' vanilla for forever after. Soooo... I'm not sure about where this relationship is headed, because I'm An Old, and I know what the hell I want dammit! He's so wonderful in other ways, I'm willing to put in a little work and see if I can get that man's freak flag a'flying again.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

People who categorize their friends - as in, "I'm only friends with this type of person" - likely aren't doing the work necessary to build real friendships. It's hard getting to know other humans, male and female, but you can be surprised by the results!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I am only friends with people who are AWESOME.

hahahaha, ja.

Hmmm. I like pretty much all of what has been said about LW1, but have noticed something: Dudes have offered that they happen to be friends with many women because men can be too bro-ish, and I appreciate dudes who don't have to bro out with other dudes 100% of the time, but I wonder if this is getting a little bit into the "I am friends with men because women are exhausting" category. I mean, no one has said "I'm a man who is ONLY friends with women because gawwwd men suck," and I totally get that everyone who has commented has done so from a good place and is just giving examples of good guys who are friends with women. I just feel like the "I don't like stereotypical guy things" line doesn't sit completely right with me.


@ietapi A friend of mine says that it's not just that he doesn't like stereotypical guy things, but that he got bullied pretty severely because of that at school – always by other boys. (He's straight but has mannerisms that often cause people to assume otherwise.) Surrounding himself with kind, bookish girls was a survival strategy, as was a certain wariness around other boys, especially super-masculine ones. He's in his early thirties now, and starting to have some guy friends, but I don't think he'll ever be as comfortable around guys as he is around girls.

hahahaha, ja.

@nik: Oh, I'm very sorry to hear that. :( His being more comfortable around girls is completely understandable. I was in no way trying to discount individual people's experiences, and I think situations like these are terribly tragic and a symptom of the underlying current of macho sexism in society. I was just pointing out that in trying to avoid one thing ("I'm only friends with dudes, brah") we run the risk of veering too far in the other direction ("I'm not friends with dudes because they tend to be too bro-y").


@ietapi Yes, definitely, I get that, and I think it's a dumb idea to boycott all dudes just because some dudes are bros. (I don't think LW1's boyfriend sounds too bad, though.) I guess I just meant that, knowing my friend's story, I try to cut people a lot of slack when they're wary around people of their own gender. Girls are often horrible to other girls and boys are often horrible to other boys, and I'm not surprised that sometimes people leave school convinced that they can never be friends with someone of their own gender. But it gets better!


I just love this line:
"I'm familiar with the phenomenon of girls being friends with mostly guys because they "just don't get along with other girls," which essentially means they're a little crazy and enjoy tormenting the meek boys who are secretly in love with them"
I do have to add though, that I do know guys who exclusively have all girl friends. notably, my last ex-bf. only PRETTY girls too. That he had feelings for at certain times before. Wait, am I this letter writer from the future?

Atheist Watermelon

@oatmealshrapnel MY LAST ONE TOO. oh wait, you knew that already. :-P

P.S. hi!!!


@oatmealshrapnel Ohhhh that is a different thing entirely. My gentleman has many, many lady friends - his closest friends are all ladies. He travels with them on occasion, and sometimes they share hotel rooms, and honestly it is just fine! I love his lady friends! BUUUUT his friendship is not related to the prettiness of said ladies, or their perceived availability to eff, past or present. Also: not all of them are straight.


@oatmealshrapnel I too know a guy who only has extremely pretty girl friends (and there's been dating/crushing with them all too). He's quite pretty and initially charming.
He's also a giant manipulative juicebox. Maybe related. Maybe not. Forever related in my mind.


Guess I might as well mention my pet theory about why it's important to have opposite-sex friends. It's not just to get the other sex's perspective (though that is important). It's also a huge relief, sometimes, to have at least one confidant(e) who stands outside of your sex's dominance hierarchy.


What do we think about LW4's motivations being that he is sleeping with other ladies? My first thought was that he is not ready to be exclusively sleeping with LW, but sees a relationship on the horizon and wants to sow his oats or whatever before that happens. I think he could maybe justify sleeping with her a couple times and still sleeping with whoever else at the same time, but it's maybe harder for him to justify his other sexual partners if he is sleeping with her regularly. I'm not saying that he doesn't like her, or that he is a bad guy...whatever, no judgment...I just think there could be other motivators behind his decision.


Oops, not LW4's motivations - I mean the guy she is seeing.

Vera Knoop

@TorontoLove I was thinking of that possibility, too.


To LW#3, I am also in a very demanding graduate program. It has been overwhelming at times and I felt like I was a failure if I wasn't eternally suffering in order to compete with my fellow students and win the approval of my professors. My sanity and personal life suffered so terribly, that I ended up in a therapist's office with a case of depression. I learned to ask myself things like, "What will happen if I get a B or a C on this exam instead of an A+? Will my life fall apart? Will it mean I'm worthless?" It sounds like he's still willing to put your relationship first but just doesn't know how to do it. I think therapy would really help him. I know a lot of dudes (and really people in general) are resistant to the idea, but I look at it as a really practical approach to correcting an imbalance in your life. In the mean time, try not to make him feel guilty. It sounds like he's an over-achiever who only knows how to be an over-achiever. It's hard to unlearn that. And if this is a question of barely passing his classes, maybe this program isn't for him.

dracula's ghost

Oh god, I know no one's even gonna read this far, and probably this has all already been said, but Grad School Boyfriend Girl:

1. When you first start grad school, you are completely overwhelmed and terrified and appalled and your self-worth feels completely destroyed
2. Thus you really do feel like you have to stay up all night reading Kant and sobbing (um...happened to a "friend" of mine...maybe)
3. HOWEVER, after roughly 1-2 semesters you calm down and Real Life comes back, even though you're still busy and stressed. You start eating dinner again and watching movies sometimes. You figure out how to read quickly, what's expected of you, how to parse all the insane shit your colleagues are saying in seminar that you thought sounded so smart but which you now realize is 85% bullshit. Then YOU learn to bullshit too! And that is a great day
4. UNLESS you are a crazy person. Then you never stop being crazy and pulling all-nighters
5. It seems like you'd know by now if your boyfriend was crazy
6. So, don't worry
7. Give him a full semester. If he doesn't calm down by second semester, have a serious talk where you just get him to agree to ONE THING PER WEEK. Like, "date night" if he feels he can commit to that, but if that is too much right now, even just "date breakfast" or "date coffee" one day a week. If he is any kind of rational human being, these enforced breaks from his crazy internal academic headspace will actually feel good and he'll be like "my god, what have I become"
(NOTE: during "date break," and in the continuing effort to get him to remember what normal life feels like, it may be a good idea to have a rule that you will not discuss grad school, or anything he is thinking about w/r/t grad school. However, this may feel too draconian so use your judgment)
8. He will look forward to these Date Breaks
9. The Date Breaks will get longer/more regular
10. Boom! You're having a normal relationship again suddenly, with only periodic all-nighters and insane monologues about Adorno, instead of all the time

IT WORKED FOR ME, and then it WORKED AGAIN FOR MY HUSBAND 2 years later when he started grad school. We are still together and have 1.5 PhDs between us. You can do it

artificial owl

Extremely, extremely dislike how "dude" perpetuates stereotype of girl with many guy friends being "crazy" or "attention seeking". Very binary way to look at male/female friendships. I hang out with guys for the same reason I hang out with girls - because we have common interests and enjoy spending time together. No tormenting necessary I'd say.

It's fucking 2012, maybe about time to get over social norms of the 1950's.

dracula's ghost

@artificial owl he's certainly not saying girls with many guy friends are crazy. He's saying girls who SAY "I don't have girl friends because I don't get along with women" are crazy.

big difference, I think?!

Lily Rowan

@dracula's ghost Ooh, nice point.

dracula's ghost

@Lily Rowan I'm not crazy am I? I am pretty sure that's what he was saying.

And, furthermore, in college I WAS that girl saying "oh I don't get along with women because they're so mean, all my friends are boys," and I can testify that I was indeed crazy and full of shit.

Lily Rowan

@dracula's ghost I'd definitely like to hope that's what he was saying...


@dracula's ghost Know what sticks in my craw though? Labeling this behavior "crazy". I'm so damned sick of unhealthy behavior exhibited by women being coded as "crazy". It's NOT 'crazy'. Women like this aren't mentally ill. They're not psychotic. They aren't sociopaths. They're annoying as all hell, and no fun to be around, but they're not crazy.

I feel like that is a word that has specific connotations when used to label female behavior, especially when a man uses it. "Crazy" has become the new "hysterical", and I fucking hate it.

Oh er, and also, the entirely problematic usage of "crazy" as bad and the way that stigmatizes people with mental illnesses. That too.

Vera Knoop

@dracula's ghost I think it's a phase that a lot of women go through on their way to becoming more awesome.


I like how the dudes , in their pics, are often doing outdoorsy adventurous things in a catalog-y kind of way. This dude may have just enjoyed a clam bake on the beach with his pals! They are anonymized with their shades in a totally natural sorta way. The whole effect makes em look like fun dudes! Road trips! Campin! Mustache growin! Advice givin!


LW3: if your boyfriend is a law student, then one thing to keep in mind is that if he does really well this first year and gets a job, he might be able to relax some the next two. (law school/high-paying big law firms are weird in that they hire students after their first year, based mostly on their first-year grades.)


@blahstudent also, grades matter so much in law school. i didn't stay up all night every night studying, but sometimes i wish i had . . .


LW3 - I was in a very similar situation with my now-ex boyfriend, but I was the person who never made enough time for him. I was a law student, utterly stressed and overwhelmed, and feeling as though I wasn't getting enough done, and it slowly wore on our 7-year relationship, until finally, in the beginning of my third year, my ex told me he was moving out. And that was that. It was devastating on a personal level, and made getting through my third year (and bar studies) tremendously difficult. Looking back, I still wish I'd handled things differently.

But I think the lack of face time can be dealt with. For one, I wish I'd taken at least one day off per week (ideally, Saturday and/or Sunday), so that we could go to brunch, and do whatever normal things we used to do together. Also, it would have allowed me to recharge and probably work more efficiently overall. There's always this lingering feeling in some of these programs that you're never doing enough, but it kind of doesn't matter how hard or long you work, because that nagging feeling will always be there.

I would recommend talking to him and maybe suggesting some kind of schedule that he really try to accommodate. Like, Fridays should be date night, and he should avoid working on Saturdays, or work up until X time, so that you can make plans after that. It probably sounds weird feeling like you have to schedule yourself into your relationship, but it is temporary, and having some kind of plan might help him figure out his work schedule, and maybe also nudge him to be a little more efficient with his time.


@reykjaviking i just want to add that this: "probably work more efficiently overall" is so true!

personally (and I think this is true of a a lot of ppl) i *can* get things done in technically faster deadlines ... and therefore, i procrastinate and don't start until the last minute

hence why the busier you are, the faster you work ... or something like that


@Opos Being a student in a relationship is HARD HARD HARD. Gentleman and I are both students, and it is so tough to give each other the time we want to give/spending the time we need to on our studies, and it's made a bit trickier by the fact that we don't live together (and don't plan to at this point). Ever since this one Thursday when we accidentally stayed in bed cuddling all day, we have a "Thursday" policies-- if we haven't had enough time together, we choose a day to be a "Thursday", or a half-Thursday, or hell, a couple hours of Thursday, but we set it aside just to cuddle.

tin can phone

@Goodness Me! Oh dear, please leave this jerk! He doesn't respect you or love you but it's not because you don't DESERVE love and respect. You do. Please believe me when I tell you that you always, always deserve respect. You deserve it from the barista at Starbucks, the busdriver, your roommate, the random guy on the train, but especially you deserve it from your significant other, because they are supposed to be on your team! They should never make you feel crazy or small. Leave him even if you have nowhere to go. You'll figure it out, I promise. And you will be much better off without this raging juicebox!! Sending so much good juju your way!


LW3: I was in a very similar situation as you (long-term lady of an architecture student). If you didn't live with him, where would you want to live? Because maybe you should move to that place instead. LTRs are difficult, but I honestly think that living with someone while they are in arch school (or med school or whatever) is worse. In the last 3 years, I have seen arch school break up many formerly fine couples because of the complete break from real-life (including relationships) that it causes. But it's only his break from life - not yours. So maybe you should consider moving back to wherever your life once was or could be. Because 2 or 3 years (not even including summers) isn't that long in the grand scheme of things, but it could end up feeling impossibly long if you're completely miserable the whole time.


@mouthmowski *i meant to say LDRs are difficult.

Jane Dough

LW1: my husband's friends are all female, and some of them are his exes. He prefers the company of women and has no interest in a lot of the typical guy stuff, like sports. I have no problem with it-- the fact that he really digs women (as people, not just to fuck) is one of the reasons I love him.


Dear LW4: If you suddenly do decide you don't want this dude anymore, PLEASE send him my way -- that is my EXACT vision of how I want sex to be!! Augh so hard to find guys who are ok with that.

I'm Not Rufus

On LW4: If you are a heterosexual male who has dated multiple people, there is an extremely high chance that you have been in a relationship where you wanted more sexual involvement and your partner wanted to wait, and you have typically seen a widely divergent set of attitudes about how sexual involvement should correspond to broader relationship progress. You learn to accept this as a banal feature of relationships.

I think that's at the root of the disagreement between the apparent majority of commenters and A Dude. I think A Dude read the letter (as I did) as wondering if not wanting to have sex Right Now was the sign of some kind of dysfunction, which I have to say sounds sort of ridiculous to me. People are different from each other, and that's ok. Different people have different ideas about how sex fits in with the progression of a relationship.

If LW's issue were that she desperately needed to have more sex in her life, then by all means she should break up and find someone else. But it sounds like she's just concerned that someone expressing his own particular notions about how he wants a relationship to proceed sexually might be some cause to wonder if he's secretly a weirdo or doesn't like her. No, it isn't! From the way it's described in the letter, it sounds like the guy likes her and values the possibility that they could develop a serious relationship. And I assume that's why A Dude says he seems like a "good guy" – NOT because having sex with her would somehow be disrespectful.


@I'm Not Rufus If you are a heterosexual woman who has dated multiple people, there is an extremely high chance that you have been in a relationship where you wanted more sexual involvement and your partner wanted to wait, and you have typically seen a widely divergent set of attitudes about how sexual involvement should correspond to broader relationship progress. You learn to accept this as a banal feature of relationships.

I'm Not Rufus

@dham: Of course you're right and now I feel a little sheepish for having put it quite that way. But still, I'm struck by reading a lot of comments above and seeing how many people seem, like, shocked to find that people exist who have attitudes about whether or not they want to have sex that extend beyond "I am/am not attracted to you". A huge fraction of heterosexual women are uncomfortable enough with their sexuality that they feel like they need to check off certain boxes to convince themselves that they're not being "slutty". After some time you figure out that the neurosis often comes packaged with a person who's perfectly nice and eminently date-able in every other respect.

I was uncomfortable and disagreed with posters who were not only being really judgmental toward the guy for having his own notion of how he wants his relationships to proceed (which LW can take or leave if she likes it or not but is, frankly, not anybody else's business to judge) and then, worse, extending it to broader value judgments about the guy in question. I'm trying to figure out why so many posters above are acting like that and I can't help wondering if it's not a matter of just not having dated people like that before. Who knows, maybe there's something else behind it.


Ugh... the whole "dude has no boy friends but he's perfect how can this be" ... can't say one thing about it one way or another. You really can only decide things for yourself. And even then, always be ready to change what you previously thought. That's people, that's life.

I just don't have friends in general. When I meet people, I tend to have more luck with boys, but I just don't seem to keep people in my life. I know that this is partly due to some stupid things I have done in the past. Now that those things are behind me, I also have come to the realization that some people don't fit into group mentalities, or very few. I have only one group of friends I feel comfortable with, and I knew them since childhood. Part of me still wishes someone would explain to me why I don't seem to make friends, ever. I have a very odd personality which is also strong. Almost nothing about me is conventional in any way. Most people find it very hard to contend with the way I think about things. I also see through people very very easily, so I am just not trusting. I also have a very dysfunctional and abusive family, so I never knew what it feels like to trust someone completely. I know that no matter how weird my personality is, there are people out there who will love and accept me. I think the key here is that as soon as someone gets closer to me, I have trouble loving and accepting them, on any level. I don't know how to do this because as soon as I put effort into loving or trusting other people, I feel bored and disillusioned with them. Or, I don't know how to fit them into my life, or I do something dumb and they distance themselves from me. But part of me still wishes I had more people to reach out to when things go wrong, or people to just do things with like getting coffee.

Sorry for the essay, but I love Hairpinners and I feel like I could get some really good advice.


@MalPal Maybe the people you have been getting involved with are not worth trusting. Growing up in a dysfunctional environment hasn't equipped you with the tools to seek out the right kinds of people. You can still learn this skill, but it will take time and there will be some errors. You might also be feeling like anyone who wants to get close to you is going to be dysfunctional, or you might be realizing that some of these people ARE dysfuctional once you get close to you. I don't know you, so I can't say for sure, but you might be meeting people and attempting to be uber close to them and trust them completely before you know them very well. Get to know them slowly, don't attempt to rush the friendship to the superspecialbffs4evar level until you've spent a lot of time with them. Also, I've learned that a good way of approaching things is to not have the same standards for everyone and to trust them to be the person you know they are. I have a friend who is a good guy but that sometimes gets drunk and belligerent, and I trust that sometimes he will be a drunk, belligerent asshole. If you bear people's flaws in mind when you deal with them, you will be less surprised when their flaws cause a problem. Just learn their flaws (and everyone has them) before you trust and love them, and if someone has a flaw you can't deal with, don't love them.

I will also say, though, that you did pretty much explain why you can't make/keep friends with the whole "doing dumb things that cause people to distance themselves from you" bit. Honestly (please please please don't take this the wrong way) you might want to talk to a professional about this? A therapist would better be able to help you work through your problems caused by your family and through whatever is preventing you from making and preserving meaningful connections with people. And again, please don't take that the wrong way! Seeing a therapist doesn't make you cray cray, it just means that you accept that there's a problem in your life and that you can't necessarily fix it without the help of someone who deals with this sort of thing all the time.


(So late!) LW1: There is nothing wrong with your gentleman and his ladyfriends unless it bothers you. My husband's friends are overwhelmingly female as well, and generally it's no big deal. That said: if you start to feel uncomfortable about his interactions with a specific one, or there are clear warning signs that something has changed, please don't just ignore it because you trust him and he wouldn't hurt you like that. A great deal of time and pain can be saved by dealing with that stuff head on before it has a chance to explode in your face.


I didn't like a remark that A Dude made in his response to LW1 regarding "girls being friends with mostly guys because they 'just don't get along with other girls,' which essentially means they're a little crazy and enjoy tormenting the meek boys who are secretly in love with them." I hang out with mostly men, I do say that I don't get along with most women and I don't have a lot of female friends, but I don't want my guy friends to go after me. It's not about tormenting them if they have crushes, I really do just get along with *some* men better than I get along with *some* women. I'm also a boatload of gender-identity issues, so that might have something to do with it. The sweeping "crazy" generalization is annoying. I just find that it's easier for me to be a bro, no ulterior motives of personal validation through social drama.



"ulterior motives of personal validation through social drama"

Not every female friendship has this. That's not fair at all. However, you do mention gender-identity issues, so maybe your situation is on a different level. But the idea that women have conflict in their friendships to make themselves feel good (and men DON'T) is a falsehood. You say "some women," but then you generalize on a very big level.


@mystique I *never* said that every female friendship is filled with drama. You inferred that. I have female friends too, just more male ones. I'm merely speaking from personal experience and referring to myself in Tue context of A Dude's remark... there are plenty of other people who don't want drama.... I've seen plenty both ways, which is consequently why I'm not agreeing with A Dude. If it seemed like I was saying that I am the only woman or woman-like thing that doesn't want to cause drama for sole reason of feeling better about myself, it's not what I intended. I'm fully aware that crazy isn't gender-specific.


What I find weird about LW4 is you're already dating and sleeping together, so it should just deepen and carry on as it is naturally already.

Otherwise, I kinda get it - we all have bad habits. It can be easier to casually sleep with someone than deal with all the emotional messy do-i-like-them-or-not and use it as an excuse to carry on in a pattern you've established before - with no attachments.

If his actions still seem legit, I think that means more than words.


Regarding LW#1: What does the gender of your boyfriends's friends really matter? Are they nice people? Do you like hanging out with them? Do they make your BF happy? Cool. Their gender doesn't mean a thing. Lets all hang out with people we like and not worry so much about whether they're male or female.
I mean, if we worry about the gender of our friends...isn't this assuming that MEN are THIS WAY and WOMEN are THIS WAY...and I know we all think that's bullshit.


To be honest, I have never seen a blog post or an article that was as good and as helpful as this blog post right here. This article holds all the key essentials of a best article and I won't be shocked if it were to get the award for 'Best Article'. bulk sms

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