Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Never-Complainers, Workaholics, and the Balding-and-Manly

1. I have a problem that might not be a problem.

My fiancé (dating three years, engaged eight months, living together two years) never complains about me to me. Not ever. He's never once asked me to change my behavior in any way. Okay, once he asked me not to leave a wet towel on the bathroom floor. Like a year ago. And he was right — that was gross of me. We have had serious discussions about just about everything, and some of them have turned into proper fights (which we always resolve quickly and good-naturedly with much concern for the other person's feelings, etc. etc.). But I always initiate them. I swear it: we would Literally. Never. Argue. About. Anything if it weren’t for me. It just wouldn’t come up. I’ve even tried to stay silent on obvious disagreements or sticking points, but he just never speaks up.

I should clarify that he’s an otherwise wonderful, normal, kind, super-intelligent-but-a-bit-shy person who actually does know how to speak and who communicates his love for me quite well. And who complains often and loudly about other things, like work and politics.

I’ve mentioned this to him before, and he doesn’t really have an explanation. I’ve mentioned that it worries me, and he says it shouldn’t. What to do?

Some guys complain all the time. Some save up all their complaints to throw back in your face during a fight. Some never complain and then all the complaints build up in their body and they just explode and disappear forever. None of that is all that charming. Is it possible that you're just wonderful and he doesn’t have much to complain about? I wouldn’t go searching for problems you don’t have. But if it’s just killing you, if you just need to know that he will complain about something worth complaining about, you could start doing things you think he should complain about, like leaving open cans of beans all over the place. Or get a weird hat and insist on wearing it everywhere. Something with, like, deer antlers. 

I don’t know that you should go out of your way to incite discord just for the sake of seeing whether your man is capable of dealing with bad stuff, though — he probably just complains to someone else about you.

Just get married. That'll give you guys both something to complain about soon enough.

2. So, my situation is this: I'm getting married in a month to a great guy who really loves me, but he has this weird quirk ... he’s an attorney, and he simply won't stop working. Fifteen hour days, every day, even weekends. I only work part time while I'm finishing school, which means I'm spending A LOT of time at home, alone.

I’m getting more and more frustrated with his lack of ability to stop working, ever. He’ll say he’s going to leave in 10 minutes, then arrives home three hours later, only to get his laptop out and keep going while pretending to watch TV. I need him to be available to do final vendor meetings, and to actually get our marriage license, and I'm honestly concerned that he'll refuse to make time and we'll be scrambling to get downtown the day before the wedding. He even said that if a work emergency came up, he may skip the rehearsal.

He says he’d rather be at home, but I feel like if he really wanted to make time, he would. When I try to talk to him about it he just makes sad noises and gets whiny about how he wishes he didn't have to work so much. I'm also worried about his health, as his father died young from a heart attack. What am I supposed to do? Am I just being selfish about wanting some of his time?

Attorneys work crazy hours and bill by the hour. Your guy should make the time, it’s true. He obviously feels a lot of pressure to work. You need to insist on time for just the two of you, with no laptops and no skipping rehearsals. A groom’s wedding rehearsal is a good excuse to miss work, even if your client is on death row. It also sounds like you have a lot of time on your hands, and you should stay busy, too. It can be depressing to be cooped up. Work does suck, but it also gives us a sense of purpose, a feeling of belonging.

So, institute work blackouts for him. For example, "Honey, you need to come home and watch Death Wish with me." I mention Death Wish only because I just re-watched Death Wish on AMC and it’s the first movie that popped into my mind. No computers, no working. Death Wish. Make plans and dates with him that are clearly not breakable. And when he’s late you have to go nuts on him. It sounds like you have one of those whimpering dudes. He probably hates being yelled at and feels guilty at the drop of a hat. You just have to be tough with this dude. My friend’s ex-husband became an attorney and that was the end of it. He worked constantly, neglected his family and they broke up. And now all he has is work. Refuse to be neglected!

You could also get him fired through some kind of crazy scheme so that he’ll have plenty of time to spend with you. But I’d go with you being firm first. Being a workaholic isn’t a quirk. It’s a lifestyle, and difficult to overcome. But if he loves you he will make the time.

3. My dad is dying of cancer. Pretty soon, probably. Like, weeks at most. And I've been seeing this guy, who I think I really like, but it's only been a month. How do I deal with this? He knows my dad is sick, but only in vague terms, and shit only got real in the last day or so. Obviously one month is way too soon to dump all my feelings on him, but I also don't really want to tell him to go away for however many months I'm going to be grieving. What do I do?

I’m really sorry about your dad. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a little help. The death of a parent is as serious as it gets, and maybe this guy can help you get through it a little better. You shouldn’t keep this from him. If he runs away or can’t handle it, well, that’s on him. Let him in a little. I don’t know if he’ll be ready for all of your feelings all at once, but let him know what’s up. Let him know you like him. Don’t tell him to go away. Never chase someone off because you think they can’t handle what you’re going through.

4. One of my closest friends is a man who has been balding since his late teens. He is now about a Jean-Luc Picard on the scale of balding-and-manly. He's in his late 20s. My close-knit circle of friends often tease him about his lack of hair, and he always seems to brush it off with a laugh, but it isn't hard to see that he's self-conscious about his looks (he always wears baseball hats, is sad about the lack of girl attention, etc.).

I've known this guy since we were kids and have always felt a little protective of him, so it bothers me to see our other friends hurting his feelings (albeit lightheartedly). Should I confront my other friends and tell them to back off, or should I keep my mouth shut and let him tell them to knock it off? I don't want to embarrass him by bringing it up in front of everyone and causing a scene.

I am bald. I get teased. It comes with the territory. I don’t exactly look like Captain Picard. But some people prefer bald guys and find them super attractive. You could say something individually to your close-knit circle of friends, one by one, like, hey, don’t you think we should give Captain Picard a break about his hair? I mean, he’s manly and nice, and no one likes being teased so much. Or even, “I worry that we tease Captain Picard about his hair too much.” It’s nice that you feel protective, and it’s sweet of you to feel concerned for your friend. And they’re probably working on some kind of magic laser that'll cure baldness soon anyway. I keep expecting toupees to come back in a retro hipster Williamsburg Way. I’ll be ready.

Previously: New Friends, Surprise Babies, and the "Rare Phenomenon."

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 magicinfoto, via Shutterstock

267 Comments / Post A Comment


#2: definitely follow the Priscilla Chan school of getting your workaholic to spend time with you! Work blackouts, scheduled number of dates per week, etc. If Mark Zuckerberg can do it, so can this guy! right???


@redheaded&crazie This is what I was going to comment! Get him to commit to 2 hours of uninterrupted together time per week.


@Slutface He's a lawyer, though, I'm assuming corpo-lawyer given the hours, so the only real solution is going to be for him to get another job. He's probably not working 15 hour days by choice, because he isn't in a fascinating, inspiring, or even remotely interesting profession. Unless her boyfriend is a supreme court justice? In which case, she should stop complaining because, that is awesome.

RK Fire

@WaityKatie: Do you think the Priscilla Chan method isn't feasible for corpo lawyers? My man is neither a lawyer or CEO, so this has never been an issue for me. I'm just genuinely curious.


@RK Fire Maybe for partners, but associates don't have any control over their working conditions, really. Unless he wants to move to a 'part time' (40 hours/week) or 'staff attorney' (used to be "mommy track" - basically less hours at much less pay) position. Or get a job with the government like all the cool lawyers do (ahem). In this economy right now I'm sure he is terrified of getting laid off if he doesn't work the hours, so he probably can't really make himself unavailable for work if his bosses want him there. I mean, I think corpo-law is BS and a total waste of humanity, but she needs to realize that if he's committed to that track, this is how her life is probably going to be.

Lily Rowan

@redheaded&crazie Athough Priscilla Chan was in med school, so I bet carving out the time was also hard for her.


@WaityKatie Well, that's true to a certain extent, but not completely. The guy can push back on things (like his fucking WEDDING REHEARSAL, HELLOO), but has just chosen not to. Yes, big law firms will push you to work 24 hours a day if you can, but people can and do take time out for their families and for important things. It's one thing if he's working on a big case and there's an end point in sight, but if this guy just works 15 hour days every day including weekends then it's just how he is and wants to be, because work is his priority.

Dump him. Not because he's a bad person or doesn't think she's special enough or whatever. It's just not a good match. Telling a young corporate lawyer to take a break for 2 hours and watch a movie isn't going to work. Just... no.

It's going to be like this. All the time. Forever. I promise. I was raised by these types of workaholics. When you marry in sickness and in health, sickness includes chronic workaholism.


@redheaded&crazie Wait, so you're saying she should start a major publicly traded corporation, hire her boyfriend's firm, and then pay $300/hr for his personal time?

Not a bad plan, actually...


@thebestjasmine If the LW wants to be with this dude, and he is an early-career corporate lawyer, she is going to have to put up with a ton of time alone, but there are ways to mitigate. TBH, I think A Dude was a little short on this answer. There are ways to deal here, like a) not saying you will be home in 10 minutes and actually coming home 3 hours later, b) not pretending to watch TV while really working, to name 2 obvious ones from the letter. Lawyer guy needs to be honest with himself and his fiancee about what is possible, prioritize the things that are unbreakable (like the rehearsal of his wedding) and work out how to communicate about work that must be done. On the plus side, he probably makes a lot of money. From the perspective of both a sister and a daughter of a corporate lawyer, I am not honestly sure it's worth it, though.


@S. Elizabeth I wouldn't go straight to dump, but I would put off the wedding because no, it's not going to change unless there are consequences (and it might not change then). You can't go getting married wondering if the thing you Can Not Tolerate is negotiable or not, and it sounds like she doesn't know. If it isn't negotiable, then she needs to take the next step and decide if she can live with it.


@redheaded&crazie I agree. I was married to a workaholic like this, and it never. ever. ever changed. He missed graduations, birthdays, Christmases. It will never change. If it's important to him, he'll make time for it. Sorry to be blunt, but it's true.


@S. Elizabeth I came down here to say the same thing. There are some firms where maybe he could be pushing back, but he's too spineless to do it, but there are plenty of places he could be working where he's legit required to be working this much, and would actually lose his job if he said no. If he's young and already in such a position, I don't think it's going to change, whether or not you impose "date nights" or whatever. Something about the tone of the letter (and the little I know about firm life) tells me that brosef isn't going to suddenly find 2 hours in his day to hang out any time soon, and the least of your problems is going to be figuring out when to get your marriage certificate. He may love you as much as a human could love another human, but that doesn't mean he won't put his job first.


@candybeans Nope -- if he loves her as much as any human could love another human, he won't put his job first. He may love her as much as HE could love another human, but that just means that he's never going to love someone enough to put his job second.


@thebestjasmine I agree. My husband is a second-year associate at a large Manhattan law firm that apparently is referred to affectionately as the Death Star in certain circles. He works crazy hours, but we spend a least an hour hanging out in the evenings (before I go to sleep, and he keeps working...), and with some exceptions, he takes at least one weekend day off (or mainly off - he'll still check his blackberry, but he's not WORKING).


@thebestjasmine But she's just a HUMAN and this is a JOB. A glorious, glorious job. The opportunity to kill yourself to make money for other people. The American Way!


@thebestjasmine I suppose it would've been more accurate to what I was trying to say to have wrote, "he could love her as much as he could possibly love another human," as opposed to as much as someone else could love another person. This is obviously all speculation, but he sounds like the sort of person who is just going to put his job before his relationships. I do believe humans possess the capacity, as a species, to put people before shitty biglaw jobs, in case it didn't seem that way from my shoddily-worded comment.

tin can phone

@WaityKatie @redheaded&crazie So, both my parents are workaholic lawyers and my dad is a corporate lawyer at a Fortune 50 company. Which is to say, I know this lifestyle well. I was basically raised by nannies because for my entire childhood my parents were clocking 80+ hour workweeks, not including Big Deal Crunch Time. BUT. My parents never missed Christmas or my piano recitals or my entire-weekend-long swim meets. They would take turns so that one parent would always be there. Yeah, it was really hard to make that happen. It meant often working Sundays or going back to the office after my soccer games or whatever, but they still showed up and let me know that I was important to them and that they were trying their best not to be phone-it-in parents. So I disagree with people saying "it can't be done" simply because of the nature of Big Law or corporate law in general...it can be done but you have to have your priorities solidly in order. This dude just sounds like he needs a kick in the face to remind him that no, he has *some* control over his time...although, granted, until you make partner that control is pretty limited. But seriously, I don't care where you work, missing your own wedding rehearsal is mad bogus, completely unnecessary, and not really a good sign for the future.


LW2: Has he always been this much of a workaholic, or has it gotten worse recently? I obviously DO NOT KNOW the whole situation, but is it possible that he really hates the whole wedding-planning stage and is keeping himself extra busy to avoid it all?

I only ask because you mentioned needing him for "final vendor meetings," which raised a red flag as I think it would send many guys running for excuses to stay busy. Forgive me if I'm way off base. Believe me, I'm not trying to downplay the situation--I think work blackouts are a great and necessary solution, but is it possible that there are other stresses in your life that you both need to "black out" sometimes?

Lily Rowan

@OneTooManySpoons If he works for a big-city big law firm, he really does have to work all the time because everyone else does, and he's still proving himself. (After he proves himself, he'll probably still have to work all the time.)


@Lily Rowan Echoing this. If he works at a big law firm and DOESN'T work 24/7, the firm will quickly and easily find someone else who will. But maybe him getting fired would be a good solution to LW2's problems? (Kidding!)


@Lily Rowan Oh definitely, definitely. I should clarify that if he really has NO control over these hours, then it's a different issue. But the LW seemed to be implying that it's (at least partially) HIS issue, and if she is correct, then they need to identify why and come up with some solution.


@Lily Rowan I agree, and (@LW) I say this as an attorney at a big firm: if you're getting frustrated, now, with the hours he's working, then you might reconsider marrying him. Unless he has concrete plans to leave his firm or go part-time, it is not going to get better. If his working 15-hour days forever is a dealbreaker, then better you get out now.


@themegnapkin Just another attorney chiming in here to say, THEMEGNAPKIN SPEAKS THE TRUTH.


@themegnapkin Also: I think it's relevant how senior this guy is. If he's a year out of law school, then he is lucky to have a job while many of his classmates are still unemployed and being crushed by crippling debt. In that scenario, his cutting back on his hours could mean he loses his job, and his workaholism could be temporary, lasting just long enough to put him in a good position with regard to his loans. If he's been working at this pace for several years, though, then unless he absolutely sucks, at this point he has enough experience that he can find a job that will not swallow his life.
But, either way, skipping your rehearsal dinner for work is lame and a huge red flag.


@themegnapkin Yeah, that rehearsal dinner line really tipped me off. If he's willing to this miss, what wouldn't he be willing to miss (aside from maybe the birth of your babies?


@themegnapkin It's also relevant which city this guy is working in. If it's NYC, then 15 hours everyday might be accurate and everything else you said. If it's a smaller big city, this LW needs to also talk to her fiance about working more efficiently than he is now. My husband is a lawyer at a big firm in a big city (smaller than New York) and, yes, he works 10-12 hours on a normal Monday-Friday (if he's on a super busy case it could be 15+ hours a day plus long weekend hours, but with an endpoint in sight). I think 15 hours everyday either means he's at the worst of the worst soul-crushing NYC firms, he's on a case that is about to go to trial, or he is working really inefficiently. LW needs to talk to her fiance to understand what his yearly billable hours requirement is (it sounds like he is on track to bill 4,500+ hours, which is ridiculous) and to understand if there is an endpoint (is it a particular case or partner that is the problem? does he want to do this for the long haul?), or if there's something he could do differently. Partners and associates at big firms in big cities work long hours, but they also take time off for major life events by setting limits. Their spouses/partners deal with it by understanding how much of it is unavoidable and how much they can refuse to accept.


@Lily Rowan are law firms somehow exempt from labor regulations? This sounds awful! Especially because I keep hearing how many recent law grads can't get jobs, if they need round the clock lawyers why not hire two instead of getting one to burn out through workaholism?


@queenieliz I keep wondering about that labor regulations thing as well. I get that people keep long hours despite the legal guidelines but the way people talk about corporate law here in the comments makes it sound THIS CLOSE to slavery in some cases. I feel like there really shouldn't be ANY reason to say "Well I can understand missing the rehearsal dinner." WHAT! I feel like that's a place where you draw a line.


@OneTooManySpoons It's partly the culture of law? Also because you bill your own hours, so it's oddly a little bit like freelancing re: the hours and labor. But people go in expecting to work obscene hours for obscene pay. Problem is the obscene pay doesn't exist anymore (if it ever did for people who aren't Harvard grads) but the obscene hours do. Because it's just the way things are!

TBH I don't think obscene pay would justify 15 hour days + weekends. It would have to be REALLY OBSCENE. Or I would be, like, doing something important. Like saving the rainforest or getting innocent people off death row.

Emma Peel

@Scandyhoovian I believe, re: labor regulations, that most salaried professionals are considered "exempt" employees -- i.e., no overtime, you knew what you were signing up for. A friend of a friend used to work at Goldman Sachs and routinely was at the office until 3 a.m. Like almost every day.


@AllisonWonderland Completely! My boyfriend works for big law, mid size market and typically pulls 10-12 hour days. I'm an 8-5er government attorney. Ultimately, you have to set boundaries. I don't care that while I go to the gym and run errands on Saturday, he works, but I make it clear when plans are set in stone. Sometimes, this means he works times when I would I prefer to have him commenting on reality TV with me. You make it work. Despite the fact that I would rather drill my eyeballs then do the type of work he does, he is actually passionate about it, which helps me to be more forgiving with his work schedule. I also cherish alone time.


@AllisonWonderland Yes, I was thinking this. Believe me, I spent years with a Tokyo consulting firm--I'm no stranger to insane work culture. But not everywhere is quite as bad as those mega-cities. Also, I think the fact that the LW described it as a "quirk" really threw me... as if this is different from the norm for him? Different from his local peers?

Basically, having very little idea of the LW's situation, I thought a few things could be happening: 1. This is just him, and it's not a quirk, and it's a lifestyle she needs to ask herself whether she can accept, 2. He's been slowly turning into a juicebox and staying away at work longer than he needs to, 3. Things at home are getting more stressful (wedding planning will do that!) and it's become a cycle where he starts working even more to avoid being overwhelmed every time he comes home. Who knows? I could be way off.


LW#1, he might now be annoyed that you're complaining about him not complaining about you.
Unless you suspect him to be a secret rageball, let that shit go and enjoy the fact that you're not experiencing the alternative.

Leon Tchotchke

@applestoapples I absolutely do not want to be like THIS IS SECRETLY THE LW'S PROBLEM I CAN TELL IT IS YOU WHO ARE THE HULK, but my nasty gut reaction was "How has LW1 reacted when he HAS complained?"


@applestoapples I still think you should leave open cans of beans everywhere and see what happens.


LW1: Some people are just chill. It's really not a problem.


@nyikin and they are a totally foreign subgroup of the population to me


@nyikin Yeah, I'm a pretty easygoing dude about interpersonal stuff (I do get worked up about work and politics) and I have to reassure my girlfriend, and friends, that I am not crazily bottling up my rage and really will say if something is bothering me.

ETA: I do give her shit about eating in bed all the time, because who does that?


@nyikin Is he chill though, or nonconfrontational? That is the question that needs to be asked.


@Megano! Indeed. I've never been mistaken for nonconfrontational.


Present! I eat in bed all the time! I live with roommates and like to have quiet me-time so I just eat in bed for dinner and weekends while reading, or watching Hulu or whatever. Eating in bed = the best.


@Megano! Well, they're able to resolve fights amicably and she's made it clear that he can bring up any problems he has to her. It just seems like he's one of those people where little things in his relationship don't really bother him too much.

I will say the danger is that he may not realize when the little things he does are bothering her, but it seems like when that happens, LW1 brings it up and he is able to address it.

Maybe I'm just viewing this too strongly through my own personality/experiences though.


@toastercat (I eat in bed for exactly this reason too, but shhh, don't tell my girlfriend!)

Anne Helen Petersen

@nyikin He might also be secretly Buddhist. They let annoyance wash over them. I know this because my BF also never gets annoyed with me and that is why.


@stuffisthings Just wanted to jump in here to say that I loooooove eating in bed, sorry for partying.
(Agreed with everything else you said though! Some people are just easygoing/chill and it is AWESOME, why would you ever try to make them complain more?!)


@toastercat Eating in bed = the crummiest (literally)? I love me some snacks and Hulu, but shit gets crunchy if you're not careful.


@nyikin I eat in bed sometimes and with the boyfriend too. It's great! Like a little picnic.


@stuffisthings sorry dude, you got another eat-in-beder here. freaking love it. (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH HATING IT, I get it, I hate crumbs in my bed so)



Last month we had a big thunderstorm so we opened the blinds to look at the sky, put on Ghostbusters, crawled into bed, and ate kraut dogs. It was the best date we've had in the past two years. You're missing out.


Lady marrying the lawyer. I would call your wedding rehearsal a great big unbreakable date, and for him to have even floated the idea that he might have to miss it for work is a giant red flag. Even if you don't think this has anything to do with you or the wedding.


@noReally This is lawyer-lore, so take it with a grain of salt, but at my last job somebody told me the story of a law firm associate who was told right before he was about to leave for his honeymoon that he had to cancel it and come in to work on whatever "big important case" he was assigned to. The story was that this guy went back to his office, gathered up his stuff, and walked out, never to return again. I've also personally known big firm lawyers who had to cancel their vacations at the last minute (including one who had to cancel going home for Christmas) because of last-minute work bullshit. It's pretty par for the course in big firms.


@noReally I totally agree. My perspective is heavily influenced by the fact that I've known a few workaholics who were a bit older (in their 40s and 50s). The point is some people have periods of intensive working (graduate school, medical school, starting a new business) but then settle into a mode that includes time for a spouse and kids and friends. And some people are really and truly workaholics. If they are in a relationship, they make promises to try to appease their partner, but they're really fighting against their nature. Things can work if they're paired up with someone who has similar expectations (I kind of get the feel that Mark Zuckerberg and wife might be this way). For the older workaholics that I knew, it seemed that one of two things happened. Either their spouse finally grew tired of them never being around and they got a divorce or the couple was still locked in a depressing pattern of promises and disappointment that left both dissatisfied.


@noReally It's true. I was once in the middle of a one week vacation (we get four weeks per year, but can rarely take al that) in California while working for a large Manhattan firm, when I received a call from a partner, who informed me that I would be flying back to NYC later that day with a two-hour window to take a cab to my apartment, unpack my suitcases, and re-pack them for a flight BACK to the west coast even later that evening. I wanted to die. It was a common occurrence, and the firm I worked for was considered one of the "friendly" firms.


@reykjaviking What?! Why?

Reginal T. Squirge

I can't tell if this Dude is joking or is just really bad at this.


@Reginal T. Squirge I thiiiiiiink the toupees coming back into style is a joke.

I hope.

Reginal T. Squirge

Ok, 3 and 4 are a lot better. 1 and 2? Not so much.


@Reginal T. Squirge yeah, my feelings too. 3 was good. 1 & 2 I was like "Did you even read the letter?"


@redheaded&crazie I give it 6 months.


@stuffisthings you know, I'll take that bet.

Porn Peddler

1. Have you gone to pre-marital counseling? Not the kind you attend when you have a specific problem...the kind where a professional analyzes your ability to resolve conflicts within the relationship, where those conflicts might arise, etc. Think about it! It's a good thing for anyone to do if they are getting married!

2. Let me be clear that I think your fiance is in the wrong and needs to insist, to whoever, on time for himself and for his lady. What exactly does he expect to get out of marrying someone that he doesn't bother to make time for? That said: when I did not have much going on in my life (lack of friends and community, new city problems basically) Mister always felt really overwhelmed to come home, because I was always like MISTER AWLGOHNJGAER HIIIIIIIII as soon as he walked in the door. So he would work overtime, go practice welding after work, go on quests for weird shit, etc. and come home late all the goddamn time. I think it's a shitty thing to do, naturally, but, do you have other people in your support system that you'd be happy to see when your fiance is not around? You should hang out with them and....maybe your fiance will come home late and be like hey where is my lady. I don't want to say he is taking you for granted (but maybe I do) but...I hope you have community and friends and plenty of stuff to do. My brother is a lot like your fiance, and he cannot date ladies who do not have A LOT going on for themselves. Is that you? I still think your fiance is a dick for being whiny and not making time for you and then.....marrying you.


@Third Wave Housewife Yes! My partner is similar - non-confrontational, doesn't complain much, doesn't like fights - and we just went through pre-marital counseling and it was AWESOME. It just gave us the opportunity to talk about stuff that we've both thought about before but never really put words to, like our conflict style, where we see ourselves, etc. LW1 - I highly recommend it!


@twocats @Third Wave Housewife Huh. Not sure I agree. I guess counseling/therapy is kind of never bad (my friend says it's like flossing), but some relationships are just chill and there's nothing wrong with that.

Cat named Virtute

I like this Dude a lot.

LW3, I'm so sorry about your dad. I think you should let your new dude know, and give him a rough idea of what you think you're going to need (obviously this is liable to change because grief is awful and inconsistent and full of terrible surprises). If he stays, you've almost certainly got yourself a solid dude, and if he doesn't, he's not the kind of guy you need around right now anyway. So many hugs to you.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Cat named Virtute The best advice I ever got re: dudes (and, really, people) is that it's important to give them the chance to come through for you. Scary, yes, but with potentially big rewards. (And if not, at least you know to put your energies elsewhere and there's never any "what if..." self-torture!)


@Cat named Virtute I concur LW3. I just went through this same exact situation over the holidays. I went on 1 date with this dude and had to leave for a few weeks while my dad passed on. Turned out this dude also lost his dad to cancer (at a young age) and was more there than I even needed him to be. If this guy isn't understanding about your situation, it's on him. Not you. Things will be rough for a while. Take time if you need to. I hope things work out for as best as they can. Sending internet hugs.


@sudden but inevitable betrayal Yes-- it can be really surprising (but great!) to see who will come through for you if you give them a chance. Many of my close friendships were just fun ladies I liked until they were the person who stayed up talking to me when I was really going through something.

I don't think she needs to worry too much about when or how to tell him, mostly because I know if it were me I would stress myself out trying to script it and wait way too long to ask for help. But she should be honest when he asks what's up with her, why she's not available coming up, and see what happens.


@Slapfight (and LW3): Absolutely. I also just went through this, unfortunately, and my on again/off again man was a real trooper, and a total source of comfort. But only because my lady relatives convinced me that I had to let him decide how to be there for me, and not just assume he wouldn't come through. A Dude is right. Hugs to everyone :)

Lily Rowan

@ all you guys: I'm so sorry for your losses! So sad.


@Cat named Virtute me, too, I like this dude. I kind of like the no-nonsense, least-interference kind of advice. I feel like he's putting things out there and letting the letter writers use their brains, too.


@thisisunclear @Cat named Virtute @LW3 My mom died suddenly right before Christmas when my guy and I had been together for only a couple months, and "unofficially" at that. I basically became an insane person all around, and hastily announced to my boo that I was moving back to my hometown to be with my family, pretty much expecting him to be like "Good riddance, you nutbag." Instead, he moved with me! Then I was unemployed and dealing with major depression for the following six months, and he basically just hung around and helped me out, and now things are a whole lot better and our relationship is super strong. So just lay it all out for your guy, and maybe he will be amazing, too! And if not, fuck him. Hang in there, and make sure to take care of yourself. (And let other people take care of you, too!) xoxo

Gracefully and Grandly

I know wedding planning introduces a whole set of problems to otherwise great relationships, but the part about possibly skipping the rehearsal dinner (really, even suggesting it) or about reluctance to take the time to get a marriage license makes my spidey sense tingle. I understand high pressure jobs and needing to work a lot. Nobody at work is going to give him a gold star for skipping his rehearsal dinner (though maybe that's naive of me to think?) Making time when you're busy is work/not easy, but being married is work (so I hear). So get to work.


@Gracefully and Grandly Not sure how these letters are routed, but I think the soon-to-be-marrieds might benefit from A Married Dude/Lady's perspective - someone with experience navigating long-term relationship stuff. Maybe this dude has that experience, but his approach to LW 2 was... yeah. Not constructive to tell her to "institute" together time when this is probably an issue that her fiancé first needs to *know* is a huge issue for her and their relationship and then agree to work on together.


@julia Yeah, I found that advice really pointless. He's an adult, she can't make him do anything, so how is "instituting" couple time or blacking out an event different from the asking and saying "no really, this is important to me" she is already doing? She's not his mother.


@Gracefully and Grandly yeah this sort of pinged my "hmm" radar a bit--if he's willing to skip the rehearsal dinner and is reluctant to help in the planning, it sounds to me a whole lot like "I value my job more than this relationship." I hate to make that assumption right off the bat but I feel like someone who is willing to skip out on parts of a wedding because he feels like his time is better spent at work is not really all that excited to be getting married.


@Scandyhoovian parts of *HIS OWN* wedding, I should say.


@Scandyhoovian Yeah, I had the same reaction. LW2 seems mostly concerned about wedding planning (although I would totally skip "final vendor meetings" if at all possible), but I think it's a great snapshot of what their life will be like.


@Scandyhoovian He hasn't made time to get the marriage license! To me that is screaming sirens and red lights and AAOOOGA AAOOOGA RETHINK THIS DECISION.


LW3: First of all, I am so sorry. I hope you cherish your time with your dad, as hard as it is right now.
Second of all, tell the boy what's going on. I had just started dating current BF 3 years ago when my mother became very suddenly ill and passed away. I hadn't even acknowledged that we were dating, really. I told him what was happening, and he was so consistently by my side that I now can't really imagine life without him. At absolute minimum, it helped him understand the batshit CRAZY totally non-functional that I was afterwards.


@LabRat "Never chase someone off because you think they can’t handle what you’re going through." That line really speaks to this. You go, Dude.


Dudes who save up all their complaints to throw back in your face during a fight are the worst of all those I think.


@redheaded&crazie I've never had a dude do this, but my mother does. It took me years to learn not to do it in a fight... and I occasionally need reminding.


@SarahP The only time it's happened to me, I don't know if this makes it worse or better, but after raking me over the coals he admitted that's what he was doing. "It wasn't that big a deal and I wasn't that upset but I just wanted you to know that I can be mad at you for things too."

UM. ?????????


@redheaded&crazie My dude (who is balding and hot) does this sometimes. I don't think he realizes it. He is usually chill but then all of a sudden he will get fed up with something I didn't even realize was a problem and then begin to cite past examples of the trespass he has miraculously committed to memory. It is annoying to me because I'm the opposite. I say right away when something bothers me (which sometimes feels like nagging). So I don't know which is better or if I should just stop dating humans.


@redheaded&crazie I fear that I may do this sometimes, even though I don't mean to? I'm usually really easygoing and generally don't want to make a fuss about minor things (which may be hard to tell from my constant bitching about inane things on here, ha!), but during the few sort of relationship-ending fights I have had, I do tend to bring up the things. Like, "Oh, and another thing! You always get drunk and insult me and then say the next day that you don't remember! And you made fun of me in front of my friends that one time! And! And!" So it might not be totally that he's intentionally "saving things up" to throw in your face, but that there's just a point where it's TOO MUCH and he's like "I've HAD IT with this crap!" and the stuff just comes out?


@WaityKatie I think the times it's okay to do are times when it indicates a larger pattern of something. There are a lot of things that are no big deal the first or second time, but once they happen more, they're indicative of a bigger problem. In THAT case, I think having examples is important. It's sort of like you're staging an intervention for a particular behavior.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@redheaded&crazie In my relationship, I am that person. :( I've never said them out loud, because my dude is so calm and reasonable and when he's being shitty he cops to it pretty fast, but when I get mad I dredge up every reason I've ever had for being mad and prepare to throw them in his face (and then stay really worked-up after the fight/discussion). I'm a work in progress. :/


Ive dated someone who would say things in a fight like '14 months ago you said xxx and it hurt my feeeeelings' and that was the worst, but hopefully this guy isnt a bottler and is just kinda unfazed. I like boys like that. Part emotional zombie, part sweethearts.


@sudden but inevitable betrayal i mean, i have my own (many, significant, awful) problems when it comes to healthy conflict resolution. i just find "you're mad at me about this so I'M going to be mad at YOU about THIS" to be a really toxic way of dealing with shit.


@SarahP Ha, staging an intervention, I will use that! I just feel like sometimes I tend to blindside people because I don't complain much about a behavior that bothers me but then after they start escalating it there just comes a point where I've had enough and I just go off on them. Although it's always some kind of dealbreaker thing, like they aren't being respectful of my time or that they are always taking advantage and then not being there for me in return, so ending those situations is usually the best way to go anyway.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@redheaded&crazie 100% agree. (The first step is admitting you have a problem?)


@sudden but inevitable betrayal ah yes, self-awareness. my favourite step. i don't remember what the second step is though because it sounded too hard.




I didn't want to say anything at the time, but there it is


@atipofthehat I'm sorry! I'd do anything for you to forgive me! Do you need me to buy you a bottle of tequila? Drink a whole bottle myself? Invent a time machine and go back to that day so I can do it all over? HOW CAN I MAKE YOU LOVE ME AGAIN.

(a sample of how i deal with people being mad at me which is toxic in its own way)



Okay next time you have to get so drunk you let me draw faces on your kneecaps with a sharpie


@atipofthehat just my kneecaps? you can do that when i'm sober!


LW1: Your fiance is awesome. This unfortunately means that you are an asshole. Welcome to the fold. I should add that I mean this in the best possible way. He sounds like a great guy-stop worrying!

Signed, someone with a husband that never complains about her behaviour, yet has no compunction doing so.


@BosomBuddy yo, hold the train! from one "asshole" to another, I don't believe/agree with that sort of label for people who "complain a lot" to those who don't.
liiike, I struggle to not nag/complain. I'm very type A and more than my fair share of neurotic, and so this is my achilles heel. Does this mean I'm an asshole? maybe, but more than anything it means I believe in "better out than in" and have to curb that tendency sometimes so that the people I love can just relax and live. Does this mean that someone who doesn't do it isn't an asshole? maybe, but maybe not - i've known of the oocasional non-complainers who have beefs, but keep them in. and just like gas, it eventually expands to the point of explosion and then they just up and leave and move elsewhere. IT'S RARE, but it does happen, and I think this is what our LW1 sister is concerned about.

(i see that you consider yourself an asshole too, so unless you're just 100% joking, STOP! you're not an asshole! well, maybe you're an asshole, but I strongly doubt that because YOU'RE ONE OF US!)


@teenie Yes, I am joking.

It was my way of expressing that I, too, am type A, and waffle over what to let out and keep in. And when I do let it out, to make sure I do so in the most productive way. That does not always happen, however, and then, yes, I do feel like an asshole. Especially in comparison. I am not actually hateful or mean-spirited, I just have opinions and voice them, but often question them.


@BosomBuddy @teenie I AM ONE OF YOU TOO!!!


@BosomBuddy Count me in too. At my last work evaluation, you should've heard how many times my manager used the word "proactive." Ha!


LW1: "We have had serious discussions about just about everything, and some of them have turned into proper fights (which we always resolve quickly and good-naturedly with much concern for the other person's feelings, etc. etc.). But I always initiate them. I swear it: we would Literally. Never. Argue. About. Anything if it weren’t for me. It just wouldn’t come up. I’ve even tried to stay silent on obvious disagreements or sticking points, but he just never speaks up."

I had a boyfriend like that, once. It drove me insane and is one of the major reasons I dumped him. You probably shouldn't dump yours because it sounds like you're really into him, BUT I understand where you're coming from, it can be a real problem. I have no advice, though.


@timesnewroman basically my point was that Dude was way too dismissive.


@timesnewroman Eh, I wouldn't worry about it.


@timesnewroman Actually yes, I think the dude was way dismissive of this (although I liked him, otherwise)

What LW1 is describing would drive me absolutely crazy. It's not that I want a constant steam of fighting or complaining, but if there's NOTHING then I assume there's something festering?


@timesnewroman mine was like that for a year and a half and then he dumped me on friday, so seriously, it is a valid concern. it is hard to tell whether someone doesn't have shit to work out at all or has shit to work out but refuses to work it out WITH you. the latter is an issue after a while. the former isn't. SOOOO yes, I agree, too dismissive!


@all, mmm, and just to clarify that my ex wasn't a festerer, he was just a chill guy, but his being chill didn't suit me. I need someone to fight with. I also would like to not feel like a horrible nag all the time.

je suis un ananas

@timesnewroman I was married to someone like this.
Very chill, not a "festerer". But the problem is that, for me anyway, I could never see this as him just being chill. I consistently thought there HAD to be something going on beneath the surface that he wasn't telling me. No one is that calm, right? RIGHT?!
He would always tell me that really, nothing I did bothered him. But I need confrontation or some form of tête-à-tête to let me know that the other person is paying attention.


LW#1: I too have a gentleman caller that refuses to complain about my habits, which are decidedly annoying. The key here is to look at how he deals with annoyances from his family and friends. The red flag to me was that my beau would refuse to confront ANYONE in his life, choosing the quietly resentful route instead. He just suppresses his rage into tiny compartments and pulls them out two years later during mental breakdowns. If your dude is one of these -- aka not "just chill" as a commenter above suggested -- he doesn't need you to be demanding that he complain about you, he needs overall assistance in confrontation and self expression.


@christonacracker cosigned - my low-complainer mate never really complains much about anything unless he's in a grump. which is rare. and then he complains about everything (including me, to my face). so if he's a kvetcher in general to you about other stuff, but never about you, then yeah - he may need some communication coaching.


@christonacracker This is a good point. For a long time I worried about pretty much the same thing as the LW. But looking around, except for one or two people in his life who are begging to be killed with fire, my boyfriend gets over everyone's misbehavior and eventually finds it funny. Even people who went through years of being awful, he was able to keep up a certain level of affection even as he lamented their shortcomings. Like, he's still friends with someone who broke their lease, left him to move out on his own, still won't admit to taking some of his stuff, and he ended up living in some friends' basement for a year where the rest of his stuff was destroyed by a flood. He still gets coffee with that girl when she's in town.

This is also comforting because it means my elaborate dishwashing avoidance schemes actually rank pretty low on the scale of "stuff Matt has lovingly forgiven".


Has the lawyer always worked this much since you've been dating? If so, it kind of seems like he's looking for a wife to take care of his outside life while he's being a workaholic. In exchange you get money and lots of independence. Could you be happy with that? You'd have to fill your life with other things since he won't be around that much. Why are you waiting until just before the wedding to figure out your mutual lives? This is the kind of stuff that people get divorced over and that leaves kids bitter (the ones who get sent to expensive boarding schools and who don't really know their parents).


My never-complainer is so nice and never causes problems, but also I'm really worried about my never-complainer.

No, but seriously, I have one of those, and it can be a little worrisome.


@NeenerNeener I have a non-complainer, too! But it's more because he's an awesome communicator than because there's nothing to complain about. For example, instead of complaining how I keep coming home way later than my stated ETA when I'm out with friends, he'll say something like, "Oh, hey, next time you're out, can you text me if you're going to be home later than you said?"

Quinn A@twitter

@NeenerNeener Me too! I'm like "It's been seven months! YOU ARE NOT STILL SUPPOSED TO THINK THAT I'M PERFECT." But then, it's been seven months, and the only thing I complain about is that she takes on a caregiver role all the time and people take undue advantage of her incredible kindness. And I am very definitely not a never-complainer.

Good communication and awesome partners for the win? I hope?

(I totally do worry about the fact that my relationship seems to be as close to perfect as is humanly possible. I keep thinking that I'm going to find out that she committed genocide during that year she was out of the country or something)


@Quinn A@twitter "Mia Dini is an anagram of Idi Amin! OH MY GOD I KNEW IT!!!!!"


@alannaofdoom Oh my God this made me laugh so hard


There's no such thing as not having time. You just have to make the time. If he won't make the time to do important wedding stuff with you, that is a red flag and you should not get married. Grown-ups know how to prioritize and organize their time effectively.
A girl whose ex said he had no time to go grocery shopping or pick up his mail, but would go downtown to play boardgames and drink coffee with his friends for hours.


I....don't see the problem with LW1? I would just assume I'm perfect.



Results of promise to have open communication re: any/all issues in our relationship:
Me: So, I feel like a jerk for instigating little arguments. You don't secretly harbor any problems with me, do you?
BF: I haven't told you that I have problems with you, have I?
Me: *looks around wide-eyed* Noooo...??
BF: Then I don't have any problems with you.
Me: *swoon*



Upon further reflection, the exchange above happened in a moment when I definitely shared LW1's feelings. Since then, I have "just assumed I'm perfect." Because I am! Ha. Well, really, I'm just trying to be more aware of my actions and figure out his distress signals. It's a fairly new relationship.

BUT. I am able to "just assume I'm perfect" because this is the happiest, most mature relationship I've ever been in. Past exes were definitely extremely non-confrontational, or passive-aggressive, etc. and then things fell apart, whereas my father falls somewhere between "intense complainer" and "verbally abusive". So maybe LW1 is used to the extreme non-complainers or over-complainers in her life, and it's still quite shocking that she found someone who loves her as she is.


@beeline96 My hysterical alternative:

Me: Complaint about boyfriend
Me: Hm, you know, boyfriend never really complains about me.
Me: Hm, you know, no one has really criticized me lately!
Me: Oh god, what is so wrong with me that no one will even hint at it?!


@themmases I definitely feel that.


@JessicaLovejoy Well duh, you are perfect. NEXT PROBLEM PLEASE.
@themmases I'm there.


The bald-guys-don't-get laid thing is actually true? The bald guys I know get tons of action (although maybe that's because they're in their late '30s vs. late '20s). I mean, Jason Statham?


@b3k I don't think being bald is at all an impediment (so long as you aren't sporting a comb-over or the friar tuck look). Bald dudes are just as hawt as their hirsute counterparts.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@b3k This is probably just me being an asshole, but I always assume that men who say that women don't like them because they're bald (insert any other physical trait) have something else wrong with them that's a way bigger issue (Nice Guy Syndrome).

My dude is full-on Picard bald (and hot!), so maybe I'm biased.


@b3k - It's totally a negative in your early 20s. I was mostly bald by like, 24? Something like that. I remember when I realized my hair was thinning - it was shoulder length at the time, and I got really drunk one day and listened to Pavement's "Cut Your Hair", and "Hair" from "Hair" and a bunch of stuff like that. And then I got it cut really short.

By 26 a beautiful woman I had a huge crush on said "You need to just shave that. Let's go to the barber right now. Tell them #2."

I was terrified - it's so weird / scary losing hair, and having people make jokes is terrible. But I did what she told me and...]

...and I mean, it's noticeable when you're young. I stopped wearing hats, as mentioned too many times before, because I'd be talking to a lady, take the hat off, and....you'd see it in her eyes, them darting to my bald dome, then the corners of the lips turn down a bit. That sadness was the worst.

But of course, not all of them. Some ladies like dudes skinny and hipstery in painted on jeans, some like big ol' bears, some like super-abs and some dudes can rock the full Gandolfini and still rock it. I've found that as I approached, and finally hit 30, the number of single ladies who give a fuck about my lack of hair has been decreasing, but it still happens sometimes. To each their own, I guess?

But also, bald dude's friends will make fun of him. If not for bald, then for something. I don't know how lady-friends work, but dude friends bust each others' chops constantly, about everything, even when it hurts. Then sometimes we get drunk and say "Yo, Tony, cut that fucking shit out." And Tony says "Don't be such a baby about it, I'm never gonna cut it out!" - cuz that's how we act. But secretly, he does cut it out, cuz he feels bad about hurting his friends feelings. Dudes are weird.


@b3k I think it's all in how they spin it. I have a friend who is clinging to the full-on horseshoe hair thing instead of embracing it and going full bald. He's got a girlfriend now, but it was a hard road.

Lily Rowan

@sudden but inevitable betrayal OOh, that's an excellent point.

But I would guess that a bald guy in his 20s generally looks older than he is, so women his own age might think he's a creeper and not give him a chance? He'll be fine in a few years. Assuming he is fine. (Not just foiiiine.)


@b3k I've noticed this. I've had thinning hair for a while, and in my early 20s, it WAS a problem in attracting women (I think; hard to isolate that variable out from everything else about being an early-20s-year-old). Now that I'm pushing 30, it's just not as much of an issue. The women I date are more mature and more open to the idea of dating bald-ish men, and I'm probably a lot less insecure about it, having just lived with it for longer.

But for young dudes who are balding? Yeah, man, that sucks. It gets better?


@OhMarie It's cool if you pull back the hair you have left into a scraggly ponytail, right? I mean, so the hair's still there, it's just in a different place...


@leon.saintjean Ummm I think (hope?) I'm not alone in that I definitely thought you were A Dude today, because a) this guy was great, warm and wise, and b) you've mentioned your baldness and no-nonsense approach before. And because all of us have been clamoring for you to serve as A Dude for Quite Some Time, and Edith and Jane love us and want us to be happy.


@BoozinSusan I think not literary enough to be him.


@b3k Speaking as a lady (but not A Lady) whose boyfriend has gone through a whole pile of hairstyles/lengths in the years we've been together, I think he's hottest when it's whoops-I-forgot-to-put-the-guard-on-the-clippers nearly-bald. Love dudes (and Dudes) who embrace the bald if it comes to them. What's the best way to spoonerize confidence+sexiness? Sexidence? No. Someone more clever than me, fix this.

Obligatory link to the fabulous Patrick Stewart on Baldness video. If you (ahem, @leon!) haven't watched it, WATCH IT. He is the best.

And finally, paging @Statham to the thread, @Statham to the thread.

Flora Poste

@b3k They just need to know there are some young bald-fanciers out there! I'm 22 and can't resist a skinhead :)


I'm dying to know what's on the other end of the Jean Luc Picard Scale of Baldness. George Costanza?


@stuffisthings After thorough analysis I have identified the following markers:

Level 1 - Jude Law
Level 2 - Jason Statham
Level 3 - Sean Connery
Level 4 - George Constanza
Level 5 - Jean-Luc Picard
Bonus Advanced Level - Vin Diesel


@muggles Needs more Larry David.


@stuffisthings Any dude with a combover. Combovers are the opposite of sexy.


@stuffisthings Hmm yes... he has the hairline of a Connery yet with the long, flowing locks of a more hirsute man. A fantastical chimera of baldness.


@stuffisthings - "Slightly younger/taller George Costanza" is basically what I'm always going for.

....and, then I made the mistake of looking at wikipedia to see how old Costanza was when the show started, and realized he was the same age in Season 1 as I am now. This is going to be the Summer of George.


@leon.saintjean Keep aiming high dude! =P

je suis un ananas

@stuffisthings George Costanza (Jason Alexander) has hair now! It's so weird, he must have gotten plugs or something. He is the spokesperson for a charity and an ad for said charity was playing before a movie I went to see recently. I can't remember what the charity was because all I could do was stare, agog, at George with hair.

But seriously, bald guys can be very hot. The key here is to embrace it. Shave that shit off, no combover, no horseshoe, and hold your head high.


@muggles Wait, is one end of this sexy and one end of it not sexy? Or merely different levels of hair loss? I am confused.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Just an objective measure of hairiness, culminating in the spectacular baby-bottom-smoothness that is Vin Diesel.

But all examples of hunky bald men werqin' their baldness!


@muggles Okay, I am less confused now! But seriously, Vin Diesel, HOW DO YOU GET YOUR HEAD THAT SHINY?


LW2- Okay- I'm a lawyer and there ain't no way he needs to work that much. All sorts of warning bells going off on that one. Does it happen on occasion that one needs to work that much? Yes, like during trial prep or a particularly huge merger & acquisition- but there are always leaner times where you get a breather. If he's like this 100% of the time one of a few things could actually be happening:

1- He's not very good at his job and needs to make up for being an imbecile and not billing enough hours. Maybe he needs to consider a career change. No one can maintain that kinda pace;
2- He's not very good at being a fiance. In which case, he needs to shape up or ship out; or
3- He actually works for slave drivers. Could happen. Lawyers are assholes. Which means maybe he should think about a move from that firm, because there are plenty of lawyers who, while assholish, are not slave drivers.

Roxanne Rholes

@Kirs I worked at a mid-size firm and some of the most respected people in the office were the people who would put their foot down and say "not tonight, my family needs me at home." It also seemed like work got routed according to who would be willing to do it - the management knew who had kids, who had sick family members, whatever - and would assign the work to people they knew would do it. LW's manfriend needs to put his foot down...either he'll be more respected for it, or he'll get fired. And if he gets fired, fine. Because he's working for assholes.


@Roxanne Rholes Ok, but if he gets fired, who's going to pay for the wedding?

Roxanne Rholes

I guess what I mean to point out is that there's a serious risk that either his job isn't going to work, or their relationship isn't going to work, and one of the two might have to get the axe. And personally, from my experiences, I would hope it would be the job, because, you know, love and romance and shit.

I guess my dream solution would be for him to start looking for a different position, and for them to postpone the wedding until he found one. I mean, a rehearsal dinner with no groom? I would hate to be that bride.


@WaityKatie I keep thinking that this must be going through his head in some way. She is still in school, working part time, so he must feel some pressure to be the bread winner, right? I'm obviously taking this from the perspective of the big-firm lawyer that I am, but there is definitely a mindset within the legal culture, in this economy particularly, that you have to bill as many hours as they'll give you (or that you can find) to keep your job. When you're the primary source of income in your relationship, that creates additional pressure on top of the high-pressure work environment that is inherent to law firms anyway.

I agree that for a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding, he has every right to put his foot down with the partners he's working for, and I think even the most brutal of firms (and their clients) will respect that. But asking him to take time off of work for things like vendor meetings isn't the kind of thing that I can see his supervising attorneys respecting.

Again, though, I take this from his perspective, so am obviously biased.


@Kirs but thanks for your perspective! because if one more commenter implies (or, you know, says) that being a big law attorney = your kids hate your absentee workaholic guts . . . well, i don't know what. but i don't like it!


@Kirs OK so I cannot say I have experience in this situation in particular, but I have two separate half-like-this experience experiences to share.

First, I am engaged to a chef (please don't ooh and ahh and tell me this is glamorous. It is not, 90% of the time). He is expected to work at least 12 hours a day, which means we get maybe 1-2 hours a night together. This is only because I'm lucky enough to have a job with flexible hours so I can routinely go to sleep at 1-1.30AM and get enough sleep. He *sometimes* gets two days off a week - Sundays and Tuesdays - and other times works one or both of those days, or has to work a double (15 hours days) in order to get a day off.. Yes, it is sometimes VERY hard that he simply cannot be here for holidays and birthdays (mine included!). We can't take weekend trips. But I went into our relationship and subsequent engagement knowing this. I like the recommendations that she go out and spend time with friends - my fiance encourages me to do so - and get comfortable spending time alone. I'm lucky that my fiance is respectful of the most important things regarding me and our wedding. I, in turn, am understanding of the hours he works.

I know that big-firm lawyers, especially in NYC, and even more especially at the beginning of their careers, have even more ridiculous job hours. My best friend went to Harvard and is at a Top 5 law firm in NYC, and his hours now are NUTS. Regularly spending 12 hours+ a day in the office, including weekends. This is partially because he is new and is still getting acclimated to doing the work. This is also partially because of the pressure - like other commenters have said - if LW2's fiance won't do it, someone else will. It is incredibly competitive in these firms, especially given the job market.

Instead of "instituting" anything, which honestly I know would get me NOWHERE with soon-to-be Mr. susiequsie, I think LW2 needs to talk to her fiance seriously about his career goals. Is he trying to make partner before 30? What does he see himself doing at 35? Granted, I understand from other comments that if he's truly a workaholic that could easily be for life, but I think these are very important questions to ask. My fiance and I have talked about it at length, and part of the reason why it is easy for me to handle his rough hours now is because I know just how important family is to him and that he plans to pursue different aspects of the culinary field once we decide to have children.

Anyway, now that I've rambled forever...I think this is a situation where some SERIOUS talking needs to take place. She needs to be understanding, and he needs to be understanding. There are two sides to the story.


I have a friend kind of like the one in letter 4 (although not to Picard status yet). I agree with the Dude that you should probably say something to the friends who are teasing him. It may seem like a little thing to them but if he's already self-conscious, even light teasing will deepen that if it's constant.

...also, baldness can definitely definitely be attractive. I will never not have a lusty passion for Picard.


@@serenityfound yeah also I think when it comes to touchy issues about looks, better to err on the side of caution. Like if the dude in question is making jokes about it himself all the time, you can maybe gather that he doesn't think it's such a big deal and follow suit albeit more gently.

If he is sad about lack of girl attention, maybe stick to the "baldness can be v. sexy" line of attack.


@redheaded&crazie You know, get him one of those t-shirts: "IT'S NOT A BALD HEAD, IT'S A SOLAR PANEL FOR A SEX MACHINE."


@redheaded&crazie Not just that it can be sexy, but I genuinely don't notice if a guy's balding. And if I do notice, usually meaning if someone points it out to me, I don't care. Some people don't care about their partners' hair (or lack thereof) at all!


@@serenityfound My current bf is Picard-level balding and pretty chill about it. He is absolutely sexy and attractive. The amount of hair has very little to do with whether or not a dude is attractive, imo, and I still feel a bit surprised whenever dudes express anxiety about thinning hair.

But then, as a small-chested lady, I am constantly anxious about my lack of endowments, despite most of my partners being enthusiastically into what I do have. Internalizing of cultural beauty standards = crappy for everyone.

Gracefully and Grandly

I've been thinking about LW1. Because to me, it sounds like a non-complainer would be awesome to be in a relationship with! Who wants to be with a nitpicker? But then, then! I wondered, what's the distinction between "complain" and "communicate." Because reading the letter again, it sort of reads that she wants more communication but using complaining as sort of relationship check-ins? So I guess the question is not how to get him to complain more, but how to get him to communicate more. And maybe framing it like "I want to communicate more" to the BF will get a different result than "I want you to complain about me more".


@Gracefully and Grandly This is a fantastic point!


@Gracefully and Grandly

I'm in a crabby enough mood today that I'm feeling very supportive of the Marvelous Noncomplaining Boyfriend. Leave the guy alone, already! And wanting more "communication" sounds to me like someone who is expecting her partner to meet all of her needs, which is sad and unrealistic. If he speaks up when things are bothering him, but it appears nothing much in the relationship bothers him, why create drama?


@City_Dater It doesn't sound from her letter that he does speak up when things are bothering him. Or, at least, he won't do it without prodding. The letter writer says that even when they have fights/discussions, she has to be the one to bring them up.



Maybe I just identify with this guy (I would rather NOT have constant "relationship discussions"), but the LW sounds like a pest. He told her to stop leaving her wet towels on the floor, so he'll speak when he's bugged enough. If he's not bringing shit up, why push it? It seems like a need for drama.


@City_Dater I see what you mean! If their discussions are happening not because they have issues they need to address but because the LW just wants to be having these kinds of discussions, UGH.


@City_Dater I am potentially overidentifying with this guy, too. Maybe it's my baggage talking, but maybe he IS bringing up things and she's not hearing them because she's waiting for an all-out argument. The line about him not arguing even when she knows they disagree on something seems weird to me. If she knows they disagree, he must have let her know his opinions/preferences on the matter, so why is she hoping he'll fight about it?


LW#1: my husband is like that. I've been married a long time, and it IS a problem. He is extremely non-confrontational, and I am very direct. He sees my directness as sniping at him, I see his non-confrontation as a lack of engagement (or sometimes, as passive aggression).

This came to a head a couple of years ago, when he was engaged in a years-long bout of law firm workaholism (yes, I have experienced every single issue in this week's column, my husband is also bald and I recently lost a parent). He completely withdrew and became silent and hostile. I was hurt and bewildered, and finally sought counselling. He went with me, but didn't seem that engaged in the counselling either. I tried very hard to work on my own issues, including criticism of him, but things remained off balance if less overtly hostile.

Eventually, it came out that he was having an emotional affair with a secretary at work, lying to me about his whereabouts (he often claimed to be working late during this time) and complaining bitterly about me in long, heartfelt emails (and, I'm sure, in person).

This revelation, which came courtesy of the secretary's significant other, came more than a year ago; I am still processing it. We returned to counselling, but the illness that led to the loss of my parent ended up swamping everything else. I'm still not entirely sure I can get past this.

I'm not, of course, saying that every guy who never disagrees or complains is like this. But if he's holding in and building up resentments, they could be corrosive over time.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@churlishgreen That sounds like a really shitty situation, all around. I'm sorry you're dealing with all of it. :(


@sudden but inevitable betrayal thank you! I'm hoping that the law of averages kicks in at some point and one or two unexpectedly good things happen!


LW2: As A Dude says, I wouldn't call that a "quirk." I would call it his personality and lifestyle, and I wouldn't underestimate the importance of making sure it is compatible with yours. Imagine how it would be to be married to him if this doesn't change - which seems like a real possibility (even likelihood). Maybe I'm being harsh, but I would just hate to see someone enter into a marriage hoping something this big will change.


LW#2: It Doesn't Get Better. You need to know this right now.

I have a pretty good idea what your man is doing - he is proving himself, and paying dues, and learning his job, and all of that. He isn't a juicebox, per se. But, and this is a big, big but - he is all the way out of balance, and at the expense of your relationship. And that is okay with him.

That is not going to get better, not with time, not with marriage, not with kids, not with anything. Because, of course, the issue isn't the working all the time. The issue is being out of balance, and knowing that your imbalance adversely affects someone you love.

You can accept this limitation and find ways to work with it (blackout times, etc.)(although I don't actually know anyone personally who successfully used this strategy - most are still pretty resentful). You can fill your life with other stuff (friendships, work, travel, etc.). Or you can decide that you want/need something more/different than this.

I implore you only this - choose carefully, and honor your choice. You don't get to complain about this later. This is a red flag moment - make the choice now, and you will be happier and more satisfied later, having made the choice with your eyes wide open.

Reginal T. Squirge

@karion Yeah, good luck raising that baby all by yourself, LW2... assuming babies are in the cards for you two later on.


@karion YES. I've got workaholics in the family (not married to one, thank goodness), and this advice is definitive. Whatever you do, don't marry him expecting him to change, LW #2!


@karion I agre. LW2, I have dated your boyfriend (not literally...although they sound like the exact same dude). I have spent Valentine's Day, my birthday, Christmas--you name it, I've spent it alone, feeling like a low priority in his life. I have sat on the floor of his office eating seamlessweb because it was the only "alone" time we'd get that week. And finally, I got fucking sick and tired of it and I left.


@Reginal T. Squirge seriously, I know attorneys whose wives are effectively single mothers raising 2+ kids. At least they don't have to worry about money, but still. . .


@karion I'm nodding my head at every paragraph you just wrote.

The one other thing I'd add is that the letter writer should also consider the fact that there are men out there who will happily spend the kind of time with her that she desires. And there are women out there who will happily marry a man like this lawyer.

I know of two couples who are very happily married in spite of the fact that, in one case, the husband is gone for 9 months at a stretch (military) and, in the other, the partners live on opposite coasts and see each other only on weekends.

@karion I was raised by LW2 and the lawyer man, basically. And one day, LW2, your husband (if you marry this dude) will wake up and realize that he doesn't really know his kids. I mean, he'll know their names and how old they are, and he'll have some ideas about their personalities. He'll feel kind of guilty.

But then don't be surprised when your husband makes partner, and works steadily, and then starts to ease into retirement. And that your kid will be 25 and still resentful of him because he did shit like skip her 13th and 14th and 15th birthdays, never showed up to her orchestra concerts, texted through her college graduation, spent most of her childhood in foreign countries without her on business trips. And when your kid comes home for Christmas and your husband will act all shocked and surprised that she doesn't share his conservative values, is gay, has different plans than he had for her, and never wants him to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, it'll be awesome.

Luckily, LW2, that kid will love you forever. Because you will have basically been a single mom and given her 100% of your attention for her whole life. Oh, and you probably raised that kid by yourself while working full time. And she will send you mothers day cards every year and make sure you're okay once she figures all that out, because she knows your husband doesn't ever pay real attention to you. So hold your head up high and marry that workaholic.

LW2, you can do so much better.


@S. Elizabeth Oh man, tons of self- and father-recognition in your posts... Well hello 10 AM cubicle tears!


@karion Thank you Karion! THIS is the response that should have been written. I hope that LW2 reads your comment and takes heed.

My mom and dad have been married for 40 years now and my dad's work habits have never changed (through two different careers and into "retirement") and my mom has never been happy. Actually, neither has my dad. They both would have been better off with other spouses. My mom could have met a blue collar dude and they could be happily drinking beer in a dive bar right now. My dad could have met a lady as ambitious as him and they could be some sort of power couple, living in a fancy McMansion.
As always, don't settle for unhappiness!

Oliver St. John Mollusc

Just logged in to say SPEAKING OF BALDING AND MANLY, call me, A Dude!


LW1 - I am pretty much the chillest man on earth; I am a cucumber and I am an even keel. My girlfriend has similarly complained that I don't "speak up" enough about things that bother me, but the god's-honest truth is that, frankly, just not a lot bothers me all that much. Things just kind of slide off my back.

I've never had a rage-out or an explosion of all those bottled up emotions or anything like that. If you like the guy well enough, I say, don't worry about it.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Emby Your beard is full of secrets and hidden rage.


Because our society -- and ESPECIALLY the legal profession -- secretly considers workaholism a virtue, the second letter is really tough to untangle. Likely, everyone else in his life is screaming at him to work MORE MORE MORE, and so the fiancee is coming off as a shrill bridezilla who doesn't get His Important Career! But, actually, that's bullshit. Skipping your rehearsal dinner? Come on, dude. I have worked at a large law firm, and many of my closest friends still do, and that's ridiculous. People who do work that is FAR more consequential than what corporate lawyers do also make time for the people they love on a regular basis. If he is making you beg to attend his own wedding, I can't imagine what's going to happen when you want to go to the movies. THIS HAS BEEN ANOTHER EPISODE OF "HAIRPIN PRESENTS: DO NOT EVER GO TO LAW SCHOOL!" Exeunt.


@charmcity I probably say the following at least once a week in response to someone saying "hey, I'm thinking about going to law school": DON'T DO IT. Seriously. Unless you have a deep passion that can only be sated by defending the constitution, then law school is a complete waste of time, money and your life. You will end up in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and forced to do work you'd rather not be doing just to maintain your paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. NOT FUN. NOT FUN AT ALL.


@Kirs Truth. And I would add, you probably won't even get to defend the constitution, you'll be reviewing documents 20 hours a day in a crap hotel conference room somewhere, at least for a while. Then you get to haggle over the minutiae of contracts or transactions or patent applications or antidumping margins.

See also: Dewey and LeBoeuf.


@charmcity Ughhh, I really kind of hate the virtue of workaholism (or "ambition") in our culture. And all that clean-living-busy-busy-busy-where-do-they-find-the-time crap. I mean, I dig that for people who need to be busy/engaged/active all the time (someone at my work uses her vacations to do running and swimming marathons), but that is absolutely not how I am, really. I am fairly unambitious, but I feel like I have to keep up this veneer of work-work-work so I don't get labeled a slacker. (Of course, I'm internetting at work, soooo...)

@Kirs Exception to the rule: If you happen to find a Very Cool Job with a Very Cool Firm. And even then, sometimes you will have to put on your happy face while feeling stabby. Because sometimes, even when your office is cool and your colleagues are cool and your boss is cool, you will still have a "WTF WHY DID THAT MOTHERFUCKER SIGN THAT THING, stupid fucker" moment. I mean, not that I ever had those at my internship, neverrrrr. (alwaysssss)


@frigwiggin I agree. I think there are people who are rejuvenated by being engaged constantly, with other people or activities, but I honestly feel that most people would benefit from more alone/down/reflection time. Maybe that would re-energize folks and make them happier and more effective, and maybe it would give some people an opportunity to really re-evaluate what they use their time to do. It sure wouldn't make them bad or lazy.


@S. Elizabeth I feel ya. I love my job and love my colleagues and have the best boss ever, but I have several stabby moments a day. Usually because opposing counsel are a bunch of juiceboxes or my client has done something insanely stupid, like forge a document. At least I work in-house, so I don't have to worry about billable hours. But that also means lower pay and me eating lots of ramen noodles these days.


@S. Elizabeth Yeah, I don't mean to say that all lawyers are miserable! I like my job, even though it can be pretty stressful. I like working on stuff that I consider meaningful, and it's tough so it doesn't always work out my way all the time = STRESS! I do think that lawyers tend to complain about HOW MUCH they work and HOW DUMB everyone they work with is, etc. Like our jobs are sooo much worse than any other office-type job! Seriously, lawyers are not oppressed child coal miners. I just want to tell people to get over themselves and/or use their prodigious intelligence and education to change their situations. Happiness at work is not a sign of weakness!

RK Fire

@frigwiggin: Yeah, I struggle with this a bit too, even though I am not a lawyer. Part of me feels that in order to be a Good and Ambitious Nonprofit Sector Employee Dedicated to (Multiple) Causes, I should be serving on boards and volunteering my time to all of these causes.. even though I like spending time with my husband, doing somewhat sporty things, and sleeping. I'm trying to find a compromise but honestly, I'm sitting on a board right now and feeling meh about it. I should probably step off when I get a chance. It takes all kinds, right?


@S Elizabeth-- yeah. That is work. I saw Sarah Vowell read a bit ago, and she pretty much said she has her dreamiest dream job and still spends a fair amount of time at it doing sucky stuff. Like vomiting over the sides of boats.

Work. Even when it is awesome, it sucks.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

Aw mansies. My workaholic dude and I had to put stuff on hold for the next two months until his shit calms down (he does film stuff so at least the craziness is intermittent rather that constant). It happened when we had juuust started seeing each other and it was going awesome but we didn't have enough of a history for him to start telling his clients to eff off so he could spend time with me. So now we're on this weird, not-together-but-hoping-to-be-soon hiatus. Unlike LW #2's dude, he actually said "I need to make some serious life changes because I can't live like this, and it's clearly a problem that I don't have time for a girlfriend," so I'm cautiously optimistic. It just sucks because I don't want to sit at home every night pining for this dude and building him up to be THE ONE in my mind, but nor do I want to date anyone else because he's so so awesome :(

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@quickdrawkiddo It sucks but it sounds like the sucking is temporary (hahaha ohhhhhhh), so that makes it good? Kind of? Also he sounds like a grown-up, so huge congrats on that!

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@sudden but inevitable betrayal He is easily the most grown-up of all the dudes I've ever dated! Which is so cool to me, and part of the reason I reeeeally don't want to give up on him (which is huge for me since giving up is my usual coping strategy in times of romantic distress). And I guess if something like this had to happen, I'm glad was during early summer when there are a bazillion parties and barbecues and other frivolities happening to take my mind off him. So yeah, it could be way worse! Also, the temporary sucking joke gets a *fistbump*.


while it's entirely possible LW2's fiance may have to skip the rehearsal dinner... there's no reason on earth he had to TELL HER THAT.
"OH. By the way, if your grandma were to die and I had a big case I'd have to skip it. JUST SAYIN"
That ain't good. He's already planning an out, which is beyond red flaggy. (flaggy a word?)

Oh LW1. I feel ya. My bf and I have been together nearly 2 years and we've never fought. Well, we had a half fight but it wasn't even a fight and it was about somebody else. It worries me more than it should perhaps?


In regard to LW2: I don't know shit about how many hours lawyers have to work, but I can say that A Dude is correct about "whimpering" dudes. This workaholic fiance sounds like one, & you do have to be tough on him. Right now, he's bending to his workplace because they're currently the ones who are toughest on him.

@fabel They also sign the paychecks and have the ability to ruin his career if he's determined to stay in Big Law.


@S. Elizabeth Right, but there should be some sort of balance? & I'm getting the impression that he doesn't know how to set boundries with them.

@fabel The problem is that he may not have the ability to do that. This is because corporate law is a bitch and you should never go into it.


@S. Elizabeth Also, there's no indication that he even WANTS to do that.


LW1: I think I am probably like your fiance. My boyfriend and I have been together over a year, and have never had a proper fight, and I am TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT (although now I am worried that maybe he thinks I'm secretly full of bottled up rage? I'm not!)

I've also never had a proper fight with my best friend. I think once, she had said she would go to the grocery store with me and then went with her boyfriend instead and I was angry with her for a day? But then she apologized and I apologized and that was the only time since we were roommates freshman year that we fought, and we didn't fight, we both just felt bad for a day...

I DO fight with people who are fighters, but I prefer people who are not? Like, I don't think I am a doormat. I have taken part in fights when necessary. But I know when I am with the right friend/man because they have the same approach I have - we both actively try not to hurt or anger the other person, we tell how we feel or what bugs us.

It isn't that I don't annoy my boyfriend, I DO, and I know exactly how: I'm bad at time-management, don't read directions, squeeze the toothpaste wrong, etc. And he knows that he sometimes drives me crazy by: being controlling in the kitchen, inviting me over and then studying all night (he is a grad student). But we've never argued about these things. We talk about it, are both aware of and own up to our imperfections, and try to fix it.

Maybe this is not what you mean, but I DO think that people have different levels of comfort with fighting as a way to resolve conflict (it is not the only way). When a conversation with my SO reaches the point that we are fighting, something has gone wrong.


@MissMushkila This! I am like you, in that my close relationships are relatively fight-free but that I will fight with people who are fighters as well (I'm not one for mincing words or letting stuff slide if it bugs me either, so if there IS an issue it's usually quickly resolved). I mean, I am often told I was very lucky to never have a roommate in the past 10 years with whom I've had conflict above the level of "your dog peed on my bookshelf, please replace those books."

I second your point of "When a conversation with my SO reaches the point that we are fighting, something has gone wrong." That's exactly how my fiance and I work as well.


@MissMushkila I also think that what some people might call a fight, someone else would call "talking it out" or "conflict resolution." When my SO and I fight it's more of a conversation, but I have friends whose fights will end in yelling and slammed doors. Maybe LW1 is used to more dramatic fights and her guy is more low-key?


@twinkiecowboy This, but also the opposite? I've dated a guy who interpreted all of my calm, low-key conflict resolution conversations as "Why are you trying to fight with me??" Gah.

le mango

@MissMushkila I'm in a 2.5 years-without-a-fight relationship over here. It freaks me out a little, because I'm starting to think about spending my life with this guy. But what if one day, there really is something to fight about, and it turns out he fights dirty/mean? I'd want to know that before the ring is on my finger... but I'm not willing to instigate a needless fight to find out. What's a girl to do?!

sarah girl

@twinkiecowboy Yesss - I am very low-conflict (and my current guy is too, hooray!), but I had an ex who was raised in a more fighty household and just DID NOT UNDERSTAND IT. He would gripe at me about being too passive (what?), gripe when I told him I felt anxious when he flew off the handle about what I considered to be minor issues, etc etc etc.

Don't get me wrong, he was a juicebox, but I can also understand that, being used to disagreements = yelling arguments, he sort of got programmed to think that things couldn't be RESOLVED without an argument. Fundamental incompatibility there.


@Sarah H. another fundamental incompatibility when you can't even agree on the definition of a fight. so one person is like "oh we argued, i cried, there was anxiety, that's a fight" and the other person only thinks it's a fight if you're screaming at each other and telling each other to fuck off.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@fabel Aaaah me too! Though for me it's been more of a problem when sorting out conflicts with my girl friends - I actually made one of my friends cry at a bar when she made a big generalization and I asked her for examples to back it up.


@fabel This is me and my mom. She interprets any sort of disagreement as a "fight". So for her, "low-key" stands for "complete conflict avoidance".

I feel like writing "Ask A Law Student." Someone else should write "Ask A Lady Who Works As A Lawyer."


@S. Elizabeth I would write it, but the tone would be too dark for anyone to want to read.


@S. Elizabeth It'd be a pretty easy article to write. Because the answer is always "Do not go to law school. Ever."


@S. Elizabeth I'd love to write that. . . I feel like we have enough lawyers here that we could cover a bunch of different angles - Ask A Public Defender, Ask A Small Firm Lady, Ask An In-House Lady Lawyer, etc.


@Kirs I would say "don't go unless it's free and you want to waste 3 years of your time, but also consider a trip around the world and/or joining the peace corps before you do that."


@S. Elizabeth I feel like it's possible to just click on the username of anyone who mentions being a lawyer ... and find a dozen old comments about why no one should go to law school :)


@WaityKatie The crushing debt alone should be enough to keep anyone from going to law school. Could you imagine the kinda trip I could have taken with $150,000??? I'd do it all again if I could do it for free. I rather like what I do for a living. But this 1500 a month repayment plan is slowly killing me.


@Kirs This times a thousand. I'm super lucky to have a job where I can afford it, but jeebus, when I think of how long I have to work this soul-sucking job so that I can continue to afford the loan repayments, it sends me into a total spiral of despair.


@S. Elizabeth You and WaityKatie missed our last thread last week! Good times.



@Kirs and @hulia, I feel you times a billion. Even investing 150k just randomly would have at least paid some returns. The cost far outweighs the value of even the greatest legal career at this point, and most legal careers are not great at all, and many are in fact incredibly horrible.


@automaticdoor Congrats! It really isn't all bad, I swear. I just bitch about the law a lot because I feel trapped in a job I hate and the opportunity just -whooosh!- dried up in 2009 so it's hard to find a better one.


@automaticdoor HUZZAH!


@S. Elizabeth IN (lady who works as a lawyer and has done so for a non-profit, two small civil rights firms, and The Government).


@automaticdoor Congratulations!


@automaticdoor me too! congrats and YAY


@WaityKatie also - I actually really like my job, despite working in BigLaw. There are definitely parts about it I would change if I could (the hours, obviously), but I do interesting work with brilliant people.


@blahstudent YAY

@everyone thank you!


@S. Elizabeth I volunteer for "Ask a lady lawyer who got the hell out of law." BUT, i don't mean to take away from the recent graduates and those who like their jobs - congratulations and good for you.


@themegnapkin Super-late, but in for Ask a Public Defender! Though usually my answer is "never let them search anything."


4 Rules for Losing it

1) Confidence – People like hair, sure, but you can’t lead with that any more. People like confidence too. Buzz it short, and acknowledge what everybody already knows. Everyone sees through a comb-over or a fluffed-up hairstyle, a buzzed/shaved head makes you look confident, masculine, capable, and dynamic.
1b. Don’t list all the hot bald actors. It doesn’t really matter, because you probably look nothing like Ed Harris anyway. Buzzing/shaving won’t make you look like one of the bald movie stars; it’ll just make you look like you, owning who you are.

2) Dress Nice – A man with thick, lustrous hair can pull off baggy, tomato-sauce-stained sweatpants. You can’t anymore. Get clothes that fit. Make sure that your shirts sit properly on your shoulders, spend the extra $9 to get your pants tailored. Tuck in your shirt. Your new look – buzzed hair and all – is about efficiency, confidence, and masculinity. You’re a grown up now; dress like one.

3) Stay in Shape – Same as rule #2. Don’t compensate (the super-buff bald guy is almost as bad as the bald fatty) but a fat bald man has two visible strikes against him. Potential partners (women especially) can get passed one negative attribute, especially one that purely genetic.

4) Humility. Confidence without humility reads as arrogance. Once you’re used to being bald, make an occasional joke about it. Don’t make every conversation about the top of your head, but a few jokes accomplish some important things. It beats people who would make fun of you to the punch, it shows that you’re secure enough to laugh at yourself, and it acknowledges what everyone notices, but is too polite to say.

Bald men get laid. It’s anxious, self-conscious, defensive ones who don’t. Follow these steps, and pass them on to the newly-balding.
(Also, stay away from anyone who tries to convince you you’re not going bald. They’re trying to be nice, but it makes it harder to own it.)


@grinning This is good advice for life in general.


@grinning Wow. Just... wow.

3) Stay in Shape – Same as rule #2. Don’t compensate (the super-buff bald guy is almost as bad as the bald fatty) but a fat bald man has two visible strikes against him. Potential partners (women especially) can get passed one negative attribute, especially one that purely genetic.

I am not a man, and I do not date ladies. So. But. If I were a man with luxurious hair and a ripped body, I wouldn't be too thrilled about dating women who say this kind of thing about any fat person.

Because it is sizeist and makes assumptions about what people find attractive. It also makes assumptions about what makes people fat. Which, no matter how much you might wish otherwise, is not an issue of Calories In, Calories Out.

Also, one of our beloved boy pinners is a self-confessed bummed out slow dater who is fattish and baldingish and we all sit around telling him how fab he is because he is an awesome persona and that it's shallow to discount his awesome on his size.

So I hope he hasn't read your comment. It makes me want to cry and it doesn't apply to me.


@PistolPackinMama You've perfectly summed up what rubbed me the wrong way about the comment above. Nothing about this list applies to me, but it still makes me feel lousy. I feel like the attitude that fat = lazy = strike against you creates an atmosphere in which everyone ends up feeling worse about themselves.


@PistolPackinMama Yeah, seriously. The advice about confidence is good, but I cringed at the weight bit. Let's just not criticise people's appearances - it doesn't really help anything, other than making people feel bad about themselves. And everyone finds different body shapes attractive and sexy.


@PistolPackinMama Have I told you recently that I <3 u? Because I dooooo.


@PistolPackinMama well said.


@PistolPackinMama Yes how dare someone be sizeist on a comment about... How to stay sexy with no hair. You know, because the one has nothing at all to do with one's individual efforts and is totally genetic. And the other is weight. (Speaking as a chubby dude with a luscious head of hair.) Also: pateist.


@stuffisthings (I do quite like the commenter I think you're talking about though, just to be clear)

m. marie

@grinning I have to say I have nothing against super buff bald guys and I really don't think a lot of women do either. If you compensate for balding by working out and becoming super hot, that is... not a bad thing. (Obviously juicing is no good, but Ryan Reynolds levels of super buff? Yeah, that's not gonna get you turned down for trying too hard...)


Baldness and fatness are similar, yeah. If someone's worried about looking good--meeting the lowest common denominator of conventional attractiveness--when they are in possession of a trait that is not conventionally attractive, it's not the worst thing to give them sexy tips.
I mean, fat dudes are the best, I love fat dudes, but if a fat dude was like "Ink, how do I stay sexy although I am fat?" I would be like "Brother, wear nice pants that hug your curves and toss your baggy shirts." No hairplugs/diet, just--these are tips to help your body in its natural element.
It's not sizeist/pateist to help people feel more confident embracing their traits. No one's saying "you went bald, shoot yourself in the head and leave the reconstructionist a $50 for a wig", they're saying this is how you do it.


And then I'd fuck him. Real good.


@Inkcrafter I disagree. The best way to be sexy is to feel sexy. You can look like Quasimodo, but if you feel sexy, and know you're sexy in your heart, you are sexy. For goodness sakes, look at Stephen Hawking: could he have more strikes against him? And yet women were fighting over him. Look around. I've seen old people, fat people, skinny people, "ugly" people, people with all sorts of things "wrong" with them, and yet people throwing themselves at them. Why? Because they were confident about their own worth as a person, regardless of their apparent physical flaws. People are sexy when they know what they're worth, not when they're wearing nice pants or have the right haircut.


@carolita Woman, you are making me want more thumbs.



Referring to people as fatties? Not cool. It's a derogatory term, and its couched in a body-shaming, dehumanizing sizeist (yes, I said it) discourse about the acceptability of fatness. I would really like it if we could just drop that kind of language around here. It's not necessary.

Whether or not this advice is good (I agree with @carolita in this, but whatever, people differ), it's still couched in false universalizations and inaccurate assertions. The general quality of the advice does not make false things true.

I am not trying to dictate anyone's personal tastes. Fuck where you fancy, and have fun doing so.


@PistolPackinMama Eh. I see what you're saying here. I just thought the whole "owning it and taking care of yourself" bit was cool. But yeah. The "perfect bod" dictates not so much.


LW1 -- your dude sounds a lot like my dude, though his not complaining doesn't worry me. He rarely ever complains, but then at the same time, neither do I. We're both pretty chill people. And if there IS an issue we communicate it, but it never really feels like "complaining," if that makes sense. I think the really important distinction to make is, are you worried if he's just not communicating with you AT ALL? Or is it that you're convinced you're annoying the crap out of him and he just doesn't say anything? Because I think those things are different. The first would be a communication issue, and the second would be a trust issue on your part.

You never know, maybe he's just one of those really laid-back dudes who doesn't have much to complain about, they do exist!

ann aunamis

Thank you for this last line to #3:
"Never chase someone off because you think they can’t handle what you’re going through."
This is so true, and I had to deal with this recently with a guy that I really liked. He was afraid to tell me what he was going through and instead pushed me away and made me wonder who the other woman was. When he finally told me that he had serious depression, I was like, oh, is that all? I used to work with schizophrenics, it doesn't scare me.

Also, #4, that guy should just man up, take off the baseball caps, and tell everyone to STFU. Bald is sexy. Being self-conscious about it is not.


I love alone time and have ended relationships over not getting enough of it. New solution: date an attorney!


@angelinha atta girl! :)


I'm glad to read the positive comments about balding dudes. For, umm, a friend of mine.

Jane Dough

@Non-anonymous I'm married to a bald guy. I had to marry him, because he was the sexiest guy I've ever known.


LW 2, the reason he's working so hard is to make sure you and he and your future little kiddies are secure. That's why he "gets whiny" when you bring it up; he's actually doing it to protect and support you, not to avoid spending time with you or to not have to help out with the wedding prep. A "work blackout" may be good, but it will make you feel better to understand that he's just trying to do all the work he can now to guarantee solidity in the future.


@ailimebkwds3 That's a whole lot of assumption packed into one comment. Some people still keep their crazy work habits long after financial security has been achieved. It's because it's in their nature, for whatever reason.


@BoozinSusan You're definitely right. But I think it's easy for women to jump to conclusions about a man's behavior based on fear. There are a ton of workaholics out there, but I think there are also a ton of guys who are earnestly working because it's the only way they know to secure their futures. (My brother is currently living in Bali with his wife and working 50 hour work weeks to try to be eventually financially able to move her to America). I shouldn't have phrased it so absolutely in my first comment, but I got annoyed at all the "DUMP HIM"-type comments above haha.


LW3 here. My dad died in March, and the boy (now my boyfriend) has been absolutely fantastic. He visited my dad in palliative care, was incredibly helpful throughout the funeral, and has been there for me no matter what I was feeling all the way through this. Giving people a chance is always a good idea. When I wrote the letter I was pretty sure I liked him, and now I know that I love him.


@number3 Yes. My dad was very very sick when my Gentleman and I started dating, and he made a point of visiting my dad and getting to know him as well as he could in the few months we had. Dad went into the hospital for the last time when Gentleman was on vacation with his parents, and he bent over backwards trying to find a way to come back and be with me. He ended up getting back the evening of the day Dad died, and he spent time with my family, grieving with us. He was super helpful with the funeral, and made a point of spending time with my family even when I couldn't, and he stuck with me even when I was a frozen, grieving mess and wouldn't let him touch me for six weeks. Messy grievingness is a trial by fire; maybe he'll run off, but maybe he'll prove to be AMAZING.


@number3 I'm really sorry about your dad. I'm glad you gave your boyfriend a chance to help you, and even more glad that he did.

Jane Dough

@number3 He's a keeper.


My husband works an average of 12 hours per day-6 days a week.He does not take care of himself very well.He wants to make sure all the bills are paid.The only day off he has is Sunday,he sleeps all day.

Brigitte Grisanti

H.L. Le Chatelier@twitter

Number 4's problem isn't that he's balding, it's that he's insecure. Getting your friends to back off will assuage your own conscience and maybe spare him a bit of embarrassment, but if you want him to happy and bald, make him stop wearing hats and tell him to start initiating contact with women instead of waiting for their attention. Most women will prefer a guy with all his hair to one that's balding, of course, but that doesn't mean they won't respond to one if he's charming.


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