Friday, June 29, 2012


"Tens," Office Racism, and a Molehill

1. I'm seeking your advice regarding how to deal with words said in anger. During a fight, my boyfriend of nearly a year basically told me that his friends are "surprised" he's dating me, which I took to mean that they think he's traded down, that I'm uglier than he is. He then proceeded to say he can't help the fact that all of his exes are "tens" and that he was attracted to my non-physical qualities.

He knows that I'm insecure about my appearance, and even though he's told me on other occasions that he thinks I'm beautiful, I'm having a tough time letting go of what he said. Partly this is because while he's apologized, he won't admit that he called me plain. While I know I should dismiss the comments, I can't help but feel that he agrees with his friends. I don't exactly need more reasons to feel bad about myself. A Lady, how can I move on from this?

Oh no. I'm so sorry. Cruel things said in anger are terrible, and they can never quite be unsaid or fully recovered from. (Although sometimes they make character-building scars. Or, something something silver lining.) You're a good person, though, for not being tempted to share with him that you can't help the fact that all your exes were not only more generously endowed but more sexually gifted in general, and that the only times you can come are when you're pretending he's Jeff. Or Luke. Or Bob.

Anyway, so that was good of you. But I'm going to spiral backward from the only things you've said about your boyfriend, which are that 1) rather than admit he's wrong or otherwise graciously bow out of a fight, he's capable of indulging his insecurity and fighting dirty, seeking out one of your most emotionally vulnerable spots to dig into. And that 2) he has — or claims to have — really unpleasant (and, I'm guessing, very young) friends. So, he's either very young and not much of a catch, or not so young and really not much of a catch. But who knows — maybe he'll get better as the years go on.

You don't have to break up with him, obviously (who am I to tell you what to do? Just kidding — *wields magical sword of action*), but from here it looks not so great. The good(ish) news, though, is that ultimately it's worse for him than it is for you. Because while you're hurting now, he's currently stuck being a childish coward. (Alternately: we're all humans who have low moments, and maybe there's more to this situation than a 200-word description can provide.)

So, if you want to stay with him and move past it — and this might sound a little New Age-y, but I'm just going to go for it — I'd say stop trying to make him admit that he called you plain (nothing to gain there!), and start pitying him and his friends. Not to his face, but lightly, warmly, inwardly. It'll give you a powerful glow. And the glow will get stronger and stronger, and he'll sense it, and become increasingly entranced/intimidated. And then eventually you won't like him much anymore, I'm predicting. Because power is beautiful, and can act as an interesting if unpredictable balm. Aaand I'm worried I sound like a crazy witch, but hopefully something somewhat useful is coming across.

2. My boss is super racist and it's creating a whole new layer to the shitty cake that is my job. I made the mistake of telling her that I wasn't a big Obama fan (I left out the part that it's because he isn't progressive enough), and she took that as her cue to start hating on all black people. I figured the shocked look on my face and my total lack of contribution to the conversation would be her cue that I'm not "like that" (i.e., a racist), but she didn't get the hint. The floodgates for her hate speech have been opened, and I am desperate for her to shut the hell up.

So here are my questions:

A. Is there anything I can say to this relatively crazy woman? Can I ask her politely to stop with the racist remarks in my presence without embarrassing her to the point of firing me?

B. Any coping strategies for a super toxic work environment? I know that finding a new job would be the best solution, and I can assure you that I'm working on it.

I know this issue’s a little heavy, but I need real advice. Not your standard "Go tell HR" advice (we don't have HR, it's a small company and I need this job). Any advice is much appreciated.

The best person I can think of to answer this question is Andrew Ti, of the very funny and smart site Yo Is This Racist. So I sent it over to him, and he very kindly responded. Here's what he had to say:

At this point, it seems like the best thing to do would be to make an actual record (i.e., direct quotes, date and time, and who else was there), of every time she says some actually racist shit. Even if you don't end up using it in any way, that record is probably the only ammunition you have in this messed up situation. Hopefully even gathering that information will help you feel a little less helpless and stuck in your situation, while you try to get the fuck out of there, and it could give you some kind of leverage when things come to a head.

But in the meantime, if you honestly don't think there isn't any way to confront her without getting fired (I'm wary that you seem concerned about embarrassing her, which, let's be real, it's sad that anyone even hesitates for a second to embarrass racists), you're going to have to bear it, and just keep working on getting a new job. If it's any consolation, you're not alone if having to grit your teeth at the frankly astonishing amount of racist shit that all of us have to overlook in order to function in society.


3. A bit of context: I’m Australian, in my very early twenties, and last year my very best friend Kate had her best friend from England ("Harry") came to live with her for two months. To cut a long story short, this is more or less what happened:

He left but we kept talking, every day, for the rest of the year. I think about him all the time, I miss him a lot, and he is coming back to Australia in September. Though there are other reasons (his friend lives here! It's a beautiful country!) I'm pretty sure he is mainly doing this for me.

Obviously we live very far away from one another in normal life, so we didn't try to stay together after he left. I have, however, been dating, but no one has really lived up to this dude … until this new guy, Bruce. He is funny, smart, entirely lovely, so pretty that it hurts a little, and, most importantly, lives in my country 365 days a year. We've only just started seeing each other, but I feel like this could be something fairly serious.

Do I wait for Harry — like I've been doing almost all year? We haven't made any explicit promises to each other, but there's an underlying assumption that we'll be together when he comes over again. I have really strong feelings for him … but he lives so far away! Is it a completely dog act to have a boyfriend when he comes over? Should I tell him before he does? Am I making mountains out of English boys? Help me please!!

I'm now envisioning a heap of English boys, you crouched on top, feral, a strip of rugby shirt between your teeth. Get it, girl!

No, but you don't have any obligations to anyone. Although if you start dating Bruce exclusively, it'd probably be the honorable thing to let Harry know before he sells all his belongings in exchange for a one-way ticket and a long-stemmed rose. But he's his own person, making his own choices, having his own adventures, and if you haven't talked specifically about being together when he arrives, there's nothing he can really fault you for. Plus, there are plenty of nice Brucettes out there for him, too, if things don't work out between you two.

PS – Do you think Sandy and Danny made that sandcastle themselves, or do you think it was some little kid's? Either way is a little strange.

4. I've been dealing with an emotional quagmire concerning my ex-boyfriend and his current girlfriend. I broke up with said ex-boyfriend two years ago, but we continued fucking and remained emotionally involved for at least six months after that. Basically, I cheated on him, broke his heart, continued to involve myself with him while stomping on all of those broken pieces of his heart until he finally got it together and told me it was over.

He started dating a girl I had become good friends with post-breakup, who I confided in and looked to for advice. She and I lived together the summer before I moved to a foreign country and he came over often and things were generally unpleasant/awful. I hated seeing him and I felt betrayed by her. I've been away for almost a year now and I have visited home once. I saw the ex and the girlfriend a few times — she and I got brunch and were friendly, but I didn't enjoy seeing her very much. I saw him twice and he avoided making eye contact or engaging in a conversation past "hello." These people live in the same building as my hometown best friends and thus are fairly unavoidable during trips home. I'm going back again in a couple of weeks and I'm getting really anxious about it.

The thing is, that no matter how much I rationalize things to myself I still get incredibly worked up over these people. I've tried to be zen and let it go — on my last trip home I reached out to both of them to get coffee and talk separately, he turned me down and she and I had the aforementioned awkward brunch. My interactions with them made everything worse. I'm totally blinded by irrational hatred and jealousy. They're both good friends with one of my best friends from home, and it makes me feel jealous and insecure about my friendship with him, especially because I live so far away and we don't talk as often as I'd like. Besides that specific point, they generally make my blood boil and kind of ruin my day when I see them or even think about them.

The weird thing about all of this is that I'm really, really, REALLY happy to not be dating this guy anymore. He has serious self-esteem problems that manifest in intellectual elitism and general snobbery, and on top of all that the sex was pretty bad. He's not a bad guy, and he wasn't a terrible boyfriend, but it was not a relationship worth staying in. I've been with the best guy ever for about a year who makes me incredibly happy and gives me amazing orgasms. So WHY do I still get so worked up over these stupid people who don't even live in the same hemisphere as me??? How can I work through these feelings? I've been trying and I can't figure it out. Please help!

How can you work through which feelings? Your frustration that someone you cheated on doesn't feel like indulging your selfish desire to ... what exactly? Prove to yourself that you've still "got it" and could break them up if you wanted? Or your annoyance that your old friend doesn't want to spend much time with the woman who broke her boyfriend's heart?

The answer to both of these, and to the "quagmire," is to leave these people alone. What do you possibly hope to gain? Break off all contact, sever Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/whatever connections, and let them do their thing while you savor your many amazing orgasms.

Previously: Smoking Alternatives, Troubled Parents, and the Unappealing Business Trip.

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

Photo by Ina Schoenrock, via Shutterstock

387 Comments / Post A Comment




@Kate Croy
It's not universally applicable problems day here at Ask a Lady, is it.


One of my favorites movies since i was 6, Grease is part of my life. Dany and Sandy forever.@k


UGH the number system. WHY THE FUCK DOES THIS EXIST. Is this a gendered thing? It seems like a gendered thing but maybe I am just not in the know. I honestly do not go around rating the guys in my life on a scale of 1-10. Sure, I have my spectrum of which ones I think are awesomer/hotter than others, but like, a) I keep that shit to myself and b) I just find the number system so god damn degrading.

I remember once this guy was like "oh yeah you're all 7s" to me and my girl friends and we got angry at him because, fucking sexist, and he was like "yo I thought it was obvious that I was joking because you are clearly all 10s" and, ugh, this story is stupid. i don't even know.

Dump that guy yo. Or, don't I guess. Do that powerful superiority thing. I'm just really not on board with people saying cruel shit when they're angry. I don't know, I guess it happens. Some people are like that. Maybe they should be with other people who say cruel shit when they're angry? Are you like that too LW1? Then maybe the next time you fight you can say some nasty shit to him and see how he likes it (DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE IT IS NOT REAL). Fuck man. Manipulative people. I would get out before your heart crumples.

maybe partying will help


The only time I have encountered it in real life was in a conversation with a fairly sexist man. That was a really unpleasant conversation.


@redheaded&crazie I haaaaaaate the number system. It is completely degrading and just not nice at all, and I don't understand how people get it in their heads that rating people's appearances by numbers is an OK thing to do. Also, WEIRD how 99% of the time, it's used on women (aka not weird at all).


@redheaded&crazie Female here, and I definitely do not rate guys on a number scale. Even the most attractive guy I've dated, I don't know what I'd call him in terms of that scale, because like, he was also funny and smart and junk? And I find guys that are too "attractive" to actually be unattractive. Is that weird?


@redheaded&crazie The number system is inherently infuriating and offensive. My younger brother (who, at 29, is old enough to know better) referenced it in one of our many conversations about why he can't find a nice girl (ahem) and I gave him such a verbal smackdown.


@redheaded&crazie I saw a documentary where they rated people on the number system using the golden ratios and junk to see who had the more in proportion face. So people closer to the golden ratios were 10s, and people less were closer to 2s or 3s. THEN they numbered the people, and let them sort themselves out to see who would be attracted to whom. Generally, people around the same number would wind up together. (Like, a 9 with an 8, and the twos and threes all wound up together.) So, that has nothing to do with dudes being like, "She's a 7 lololol" but I wanted to share.


@redheaded&crazie I've only ever heard it in American sitcoms before, until recently it's popped up a couple of times on things I've read on the internet. Is it a thing that was invented for a film or something and people have just started saying it in real life? Or have actual people always said it? I thought it was just, you know, Barney from How I Met Your Mother and the like.


@GEEKitty I have the same thing regarding too attractive guys (also guys who seem obviously wealthy). Regarding the too attractive thing I think it's their obnoxious cockiness that is probably the real turn off. Same goes for the wealthy dudes.


@redheaded&crazie Yeah, I don't think you even need the assholery in the fight to get to DTMFA on this one. Oh, he called a woman a "ten" (I'm gonna say even if it's you, girlfriend)? SEEYA.

ALSO in regards to the "sevens I MEAN TENS" guy, I advise fire. Lots of fire.


@redheaded&crazie My dude and his friends have a number system: 1 and 0. 1 if you'd hit it, 0 if you wouldn't. I kinda like it.


@questingbeast I remember being on a junior high church trip where the guys did something even worse: an honest-to-goodness list of the girls on the trip in order of "hotness." So upsetting.


@redheaded&crazie the number system is the worst, and absolutely unacceptable for anyone over the age of 12. It's definitely mostly a guy thing to do, although most guys I know personally don't do it/hate the practice. The two guys I know who do are barely-tolerated ancillary persons. It's just so dehumanizing to ascribe numbers to people.

I also have methodological concerns (is there a set of criteria for each number, or is it a sort of normal distribution with 5 as the median? What's the SD? Etc.), but that's a different story...


@travelmugs When I was a senior in high school, a bunch of asshole guys from a neighboring rival high school got in serious trouble (it even escalated to THE LAW) because they wrote and published a list of girls based on their hotness...and (even grosser) how far they were willing to go with boys. So "Jane Doe is only a 6, but she gives head right away." I was humiliated by proxy for these poor girls. The story made national news (Good Morning America, etc.). Ugh.

ETA: I forgot to mention, they published the list where the entire school could read it.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@redheaded&crazie I just don't get how we live in a world where people still think attractiveness is objective. Maybe it's more obvious to me since my "type" is not really typical among straight ladies (I like my men tiny and skinny and pixie-like, I DON'T KNOW WHY I JUST DO). But for serious, all the symmetry and everything not withstanding, everyone is into different things and if this dude still gives a fuck what his friends think? DUMP HIM.


@quickdrawkiddo SERIOUSLY. If you do not like that flavour of skittle, leave it in the bowl for somebody who does! Without comment please.


@redheaded&crazie I seem to recall in another context here on the 'Pin, the general consensus on What's Your Number was "my number is let's play hide and go fuck yourself."

I think that applies here, too.

Also lady #3-- "I admit to stomping on his heart and now I am mad things changed between us all?" He might have been not so great to you in the whole intellectual elitism thing, but you've been not so great in the "cheat and don't seem to see that as an issue" thing.

It's a wash for both of you.

Close that chapter and move along, really.


@redheaded&crazie I thought women used a GULAG-style classification, like "Oh yeah, he's a KTB 3/4 with political tendencies."


@quickdrawkiddo Yeah, this is what confuses the shit out of me. Not only is it objectifying and sexist and all that awful shit, but it also makes the 100% bogus assumption that everyone finds the same things attractive.



Ladies, initiate GULAG protocol 104: destroy invader.

@stuffisthings I give you this warning because, I like you. But there's no hope for you now.


Did @stuffisthings find the micro-recorder concealed in his light fixtures? Or what?


@redheaded&crazie One of my bros smuggled out this samizdat manifesto, The Girlfriend Archipelago. It's crazy, some people get sentenced to 10, 15, 25-year relationships for things as minor as having really nice teeth.


@redheaded&crazie Blaarf. I went on a date with a dude before who told me "we're both solid 8's." I have no idea how he knew my shoe size. He must have a good eye.


@Slapfight the only time that I've heard the numbers about myself, I was jogging near the Marina in SF (aka douchebag central). Some guys walking toward me said "7 or 8?" which I heard because my ipod was dead but I had the ear plugs in regardless as one does. Then as they got closer they both said "7!" at the same time. Then they high-fived.

jane lane

@redheaded&crazie I can remember numerically rating guys only once, and that was in high school and because I was specifically asked to by a 15 year old boy. When I reluctantly called some guy a six, he responded, "no, really? All the other girls say he's at least an 8." Mostly what I got out of that experience was the knowledge that I just didn't find high school guys attractive in the least.


@insouciantlover UGH. Too bad they didn't miss and slap each other in the forehead.


@Slapfight oh my god how amazing would it be to witness that happening


@redheaded&crazie Yes, I hate this system and I hate the whole concept of "leagues" as well. I've dated several guys that people apparently thought were less attractive than me (this is not just a humblebrag, I actually had a friend sit me down once and check if I had self-esteem issues) and my only response was to be baffled and offended. Like, our non-objective attractiveness didn't prevent me from going through normal gut-wrenching love stuff? They always could have, and sometimes did, reject me. I didn't just walk up to random overweight beardy men like "Hey, 4, 8-pussy's waiting."

Oliver St. John Mollusc



@insouciantlover Ha. As a white lady who used to live in a Puerto Rican neighborhood, guys on the sidewalk would discuss me in Spanish as I was walking by all the time, and I wouldn't let on that I could understand. My favorite was when one was arguing to his buddy about just how hot I apparently was, but the buddy just wasn't seeing it: "Mas o menos."


@questingbeast I think that the infuriating number thing (and, it seems, the LW's guy's issue) relates to that weird thing with some guys where they're more concerned about how dating you will look to their peers than how dating you feels to them.

When I was even more foolish than I am now, I had things with guys who honest to goodness were crazy about me, but were so worried that I didn't have the right look to be their gf that they kinda kept it on the DL. (UGH) Contrast: I asked my current guy once if his friends though I was pretty (I KNOW, I'm sorry, why did I ask that?), and his response was like, "Probably? I mean, you are, but why the hell would I care what my friends think about how you look?" So, let's all find sane guys like that instead. No numbers.


@sam.i.am Everything is better in base 2!

maybe partying will help


Yeah, when I first started dating my gent, one of his friends told me I was too good-looking to be with him. At the time I was like...you are a terrible friend, but man if that happened now, I'd pop somebody. My gent is FIIIINE. Also, anyone who says shit like that--about their FRIENDS--is a twatwaffle of the purest degree. Like, don't say things like that about women OR men.

Spinach Party

@travelmugs @olivebee
UUUuuuuuugh, this is terrible!!! And I hate the 1-10 scale thing too. But after reading these comments, it popped into my head that we did something kinda similar with rating Rory Gilmore's boyfriends? maybe?

Or maybe it's not similar since it was fictional people mixed in with real life people and it was more of a listing of how good they were relationship-wise, and not just level of attractiveness? And that it was in good fun and not gross and demeaning? I'm questioning myself now....

RK Fire

@Spinach Party: That was a ranking about relationship suitability! Worry not.


@Spinach Party I think whenever I consider dudes in attractiveness versus each other, I consider the whole personality, you know? I've dated plenty of dudes I didn't initially think were amazing looking but who were funny and smart and therefore became more attractive to me. Yet the 1-10 system suggests judging solely on initial appearance. At least, it has that implication to me.


@redheaded&crazie Dude, some of the GROWN-ASS MEN at my old job did this---ranked the ladies who worked their according to alleged hotness. There was an actual list. And a saying that "A 2 on the street is a 6 in [our place o' employ]." They were fucking disgusting.

@Everyone who made "Gulag Archipelago" jokes: <3 u, nerdies.


You're giving me a hankering for a thread of three adjectives we find sexy. I bet they'd be crazy various.

@Spinach Party
Omg, your name. :D!


@nyikint My brother says he likes to derail the numbering game by asking the other guys what distribution the numbers are in (normal? uniform? Poisson?!). He says it's funny when a gross, sexist attempt at a game becomes an argument about statistics.


@redheaded&crazie The number ranking system is second only to the "perfect two finger gap" (as in the gap beteen your thighs) comment in ways to make me furious/want to crumple up and cry. I still have brief moments when I get upset because I don't have the typical 'hot girl' body that juicebox guys deem to be a "ten". Throwback to my teens I guess? But I'm an adult now so I just put people and comments like that in the box in my head that is very clearly labeled "get fucked".


@redheaded&crazie It would make an awesome gif.


@redheaded&crazie *is being embarrassed about that time me & my girlfriends rated all the boys in our grade 8 class numerically according to looks*

To be fair, when we disagreed, we had space for dissenting comments, but.... still. Yeah. Unkind. And awful.


@redheaded&crazie gotta say, though it's unfair to generalize -- I've dated a couple of very ridiculously goodlooking guys (to the point I was a little embarrassed to be seen with them, believe it or not -- they just looked like strippers or something). One of whom used to kid about it (used to make me sit facing the mirror in cafés because if he did, he was sure that he was "so vain that I'll be looking at myself the whole dinner"), which I found endearing. Some people I only discover are goodlooking once I get to know them. Like my current BF. When I met him, I thought he looked like Woody Allen, an old Woody Allen, not the young Woody Allen. It was a mystery to me why all the gals were throwing themselves at him. Then I noticed that in other lights he's actually pretty damn handsome. He was actually quite spoiled as a teenager because of his good looks it turns out. Basically, he's just totally free of personal insecurities about his looks, but he's not vain at all. It's nice to be with a guy for whom looks aren't an issue one way or another. He just doesn't think about it. Let me be the worrier, regarding myself, I guess.

That said, it's actually pretty easy to generalize about rich guys. I have not dated a single rich guy who wasn't a total bore, twerp, if not an asshole royale. I swore off rich dudes long ago. Let the gold-diggers have them. I never planned on living off a guy, anyway. Maybe that's what these rich dudes think everyone is looking for, and that makes them creeps?


@redheaded&crazie LW1: I'd just dump the guy. If he's capable of coming out with that kind of stuff, well, hell, there's more where that came from, I say. And think about it -- these are his friends he's talking about? When you date a guy, you accept his circle of friends, too. They're who you're going to be spending time with in the future, too. Are these the kinds of people you want in your life? Yuck.


@redheaded&crazie "I've run the numbers and results show that you're 12.6 standard deviations below the sexy mean."

vernon hardapple

@redheaded&crazie Dudley Moore has a lot to do with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_Csa25tMw4


@travelmugs Hands to god, in college an acquaintance of mine received a random FB message from a guy who had gone to her high school whom she barely knew. The message was a list in which he had ranked every single woman he was FB friends with in order of hotness. It was sent to all of them. A couple hundred women/girls.

The fuck.


@mardi Oh that really pisses me off. I remember listening to Howard Stern on the radio when I was around 13 or 14, and he said that a woman isn't fuckable unless she has at least a 3 finger gap. It impaled my 13-year-old self-esteem. I wish I could go back in time and smack my father - who was in the car - for not explaining to me that Howard was a piece of shit and said deliberately inflammatory things for attention.

She was a retail whore

@redheaded&crazie JUST TODAY!!! AT LUNCH!! I overheard these two guys talking about how hardworking this woman was, and one guy goes, "She's a 6, or maybe a 7, but she has a great personality. Her husband is absent a lot and he's lucky to have her." WTF??? Why did he have to bring her looks into the discussion at all? They were talking about this woman's work ethic and her loser husband, so why was it necessary to discuss her looks in that context?

RK Fire

@She was a retail whore: Well, obviously if she didn't have a great personality then her husband would be totally justified for being absent. I mean, who wants to spend time with your wife who's only a "6/7."

/kill them with fire


@heliotropegerbil8 Wait, seriously? I had never, ever considered "the gap" to be a thing, because it has very little to do with your weight-- it's mostly about how your pelvis is built! Although I suppose that's as arbitrary a thing as weight to base attractiveness on.

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

@sam.i.am Your binary system makes my geeky mind happy. So stealing this :)


@sniffadee yeah, it's a thing. i mostly see it in facebook comments on pictures of girls in their bikinis or whatever - guys that i know are otherwise normal and nice! i don't know why it skeeves me out so much. if i had a "gap" would i mind it? i don't know - i do have a complex about my very full thighs so maybe it just hits a nerve.


@redheaded&crazie I think every once in awhile, it is okay to invoke "leagues." Specifically, I know a dude who is pretty cool but can be kind of a downer, and is no Brad Pitt. He has routinely complained about extremely attractive, fun girls who don't return his amorous feelings, and said that other less attractive-yet-still-very-attractive girls are "too ugly" for him. In this case, I feel very comfortable saying that he is always disappointed because he reaches out of his league -- because he uses the exact same system to rate perfectly wonderful women.


@redheaded&crazie hehehe "twatwaffle." I shall cite you in future usage

raised amongst catalogs

Am I the only old-school breakup person who just doesn't ever talk to any of my exes, ever? Why does everyone feel the need to keep KNOWING EVERYONE THEY USED TO KNOW? Especially when things were just so shitty?


@vanillawaif Same here, same here. I know that some exes have a magical ability to forget all the old wounds and morph into friends, but to me it sounds like, HOORAY! MORE PAIN AND SUFFERING FOR EVERYBODY!


@vanillawaif It sounds like this girl has trouble with the idea that somebody might not like her (even though, cheating, heart stomping, still togethering, oh my god). I kind of get that, you just want to believe the whole world thinks highly of you and you can just fix it if you do the right thing in the present and you can make up for the past.

Previous words of wisdom: the person that is more hurt gets to decide when they are ready. So leave that guy alone. He might decide he is never ready (probably). He has probably told his new girl some of the awfulness and that may be what's making things awkward between the two of you.

I mean, damn. YOU'RE still blinded by jealousy and hatred? You cheated on him! You stomped all over him! what the eff? let him live!


@vanillawaif I am with you. the only way that I can heal and move on from a breakup is to STOP FUCKING TALKING TO THAT PERSON.


@vanillawaif Right there with you! I will never, ever, ever understand the urge to be "friends" with everyone you've ever dated after you break up. Just...WHY?




@vanillawaif The only exes I still talk to are dudes I dated in high school and college who a) were part of my "friend circle" and we all just basically traded partners all the time and b) were never serious relationships. I'm not in contact with anyone I've dated post-college, partly by circumstance (none of them were part of my friend group when we met) but mostly by choice: if someone's an ex, it's either because I didn't want to spend time with them and broke up with them or they didn't want to be with me and broke things off, thus hurting me, and why would I want to be friendly with someone who makes me feel bad?


@vanillawaif I just feel like it's cruel and unusual punishment to see your ex down the line with someone else although this is mostly from the perspective of the dumpee. It's just too weird for me to have shared these intimate things with someone only to see them doing the same thing with someone else. Just....no.


@vanillawaif same same. Complete and total excommunication is the only way for me to move on and heal. I'm impressed (and frankly a little jealous of) by other people who can remain peacefully in each others lives.

Lily Rowan

@vanillawaif Ditto, ditto. We are not friends! Bah.


@vanillawaif I KNOW RIGHT? I have no clue why anyone would want to stay friends with exes. If they broke your heart, obvs. And if you broke up with them, well, there's a reason you did that right?

the electric mayem

@vanillawaif I'm a chronic forgiver. Like, I always start out all "I'M SO HURT, WE SHALL NEVER SPEAK AGAIN" and I usually last for a couple months, a year tops, and next thing you know I'm all buddy buddy with my ex. Which is usually way more fun than when we were dating, anyway.

Actually, reading that, I kind of just feel like it means I'm probably dating the wrong people in the first place.


Granted I only have about three "adult" LTRs under my belt, one of which I'm still in and the other two exs I have no contact with, but I totally understand the desire to be friends and am generally on good terms with people I used to date.
My thoughs have always been that friendship is the foundation of any romantic or sexual relationship, and unless a fundamental incompatability as people was the problem that's going to still remain. And would be a damn shame to have to throw away.
In short, you liked each other for a reason. Theoretically a good one.
But clearly shit is usually not that simplistic. My ex from my first really important LTR wants nothing to do with me and we broke up on very good terms years ago and were friendly for some time after. I have absolutely no idea why he avoids me and it genuinely hurts.


@vanillawaif Yes, and this is why I hate that Gotye song, which incidentally came out right when I broke up with my ex. MAYBE I DID REALLY HAVE TO CUT YOU OFF, GOTYE, DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT?


@vanillawaif I think as you get older, breakups end more amicably and while you aren't in love with them anymore, you still care about them. It's also hard to go from one day letting someone fuck you to shutting them out of your life.


@vanillawaif Sometimes things weren't shitty, though, they just weren't working out because we weren't good for each other in a romantic way. I don't think people should have to try to be friends with an ex, but I've dated people whose friendship afterwards was better and more fun than our relationship was, and I'm glad I kept in touch with them.


@NeverOddOrEven Maybe he's dating someone new and is being cautious. If you just start dating someone who has remained good friends with a past serious long-term partner, it could look like a red flag. It's also a red flag if all of their exes hate them with the power of 1,000 suns. I think general ambiguity/non-contact/cordiality is best.


Works in theory, but he lives a couple hours away now and we're both fucking married. He was cool with seeing me when he was in town for a while - even invited me to stay with him when he was living out of state - and then just stopped letting me know when he was around. Even went so far as to pretend he didn't know who I was when a mutual friend mentioned me.
If he's not into it, fine. But something changed suddenly and drastically and I just want to know what the fuck it was!


@Slutface For me, at least, that caring deeply about someone is exactly why I can't be friends with them post-break up. My last ex and I broke up as amicably as was possible but after 3 years with him I couldn't just flip a switch to go from feeling girlfriendy feelings to just friend feelings towards him.

Living My Best Life Far Away from the Hairpin!

@vanillawaif Yeah, once I wake up to the fact that someone is a COMPLETE JAG (oh, hi ex-boyfriends!) I tend to cut 'em out of my life right quick and don't look back. And I'm talking LTRs here. It's painful, but it's always been what works best for me in the few relationships I've been in and out of (no judgement on people who remain friends, but that ain't my style so I get where you're coming from).


@Jinxie Oh totally. I think it depends on the relationship and the friendships usually fizzle out on their own as people move on to new relationships.

sarah girl

@Jinxie I'm the same way - I had several friends-who-turned-into-more relationships in high school and college, and across the board I'm still friends with all of them. It helps that none of our breakups were horrible, it was just kind of "hey, the dating thing isn't really working out for us." There was a tough transition period right after, but only for a couple of months.

All of my post-college relationships have ended with more or less severing. I literally have not heard a word from one guy since the day after we broke up five years ago (and I am quite happy about it); the other two I've seen once or twice since but only in a casual way.

Interestingly, in all those relationships (well, except for one truly toxic one) I ended them thinking "Okay, but we can still be friends someday, that'll be nice!" But it turned out that during the sever period, I'd think more about why we didn't work, see that I was doing quite well without him, make more discoveries about myself... and inevitably, after a few months I had NO DESIRE to be friends or bring them into my life again in any meaningful context.

If anything, I think that's why at the very least an initial sever after a breakup is a really good idea; you need that time to detox, in a sense, to mourn and learn how to live your life without that person. You might come out of it wanting to be friends again, you might not; but, you can't control what your answer will be at that point.


@vanillawaif I get it if things were shitty, but if things just didn't work out I really like be friends with exes. I hate the thought that I would really love someone and then completely cut them out of my life just because we're not fucking anymore. But that only works with a mandatory blackout period in the beginning (which I've learned the hard way, now, twice). It can be difficult but totally worth it. My first LTR is now one of my best friends, and the idea of dating that guy again is like, laugh-out-loud knee-slapping ridiculous. But everything I hated about him as a boyfriend has no relevance to our relationship as friends, so it works great.

I think it's fine if people don't want to do it, but don't judge those of us who do! It's kinda nice sometimes!


Yes! Only once time has passed and wounds have healed and growth has occurred.


@paddlepickle Yes! Exactly!


@NeverOddOrEven I think the "How these people relate to their exes is part of how you should evaluate them" thing has passed into common wisdom, so you have people thinking that they should try to stay friends with their exes for appearance's sake. Which is just like, no, guys. Sometimes your exes are shitty people, and sometimes they're fine but you just bring out the worst in each other, and sometimes they're great but you just don't work as friends. And no matter what, you shouldn't try to be friends with even the ones that you do want to be friends with again until you're both ready to try being just friends. You're just poking an open wound by doing that.


@NeverOddOrEven I need to repeat that as a mantra the next time my most recent ex tries to contact me. There's now been three times where he's like 'heyyy can we be friends?' and I'm like "durrrhh sure, it won't be a problem that I'm still madly in love with you or anything!" and then a month later I'm like 'oh wait I'm freaking out and miserable and unable to date anyone else because I'm in love with you, let's not do this anymore' RINSE LATHER REPEAT.


Lustful Cockmonster

@HeyMatilda I actually never concretely thought about it this way, in terms of seeing them interact with a new person the way they did with me, but YES. That is the worst. It's terrible to imagine and it's even worse to actually see. Unfortunately when it is your cowardly emotionally stunted colleague that broke your heart into one kajillion pieces and has now decided to date ANOTHER COLLEAGUE and laugh and giggle and whisper while sitting behind you, and you can't get/have no interest in another job, you must come up with alternate ways to overcome.

Oh man, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, cutting the cord. Definitely try to do that.


Sure, of course. I'd never advocate forcing a friendship out of obligation or in the wrong circumstance.
Some relationships end because you really should have nothing to do with that person - ever. But when it's just "Oh, things didn't work out... We were in different places in life." and shit like that, I'd hope whatever you did have there could be preserved once you've both decompressed from the relationship and break-up.


@NeverOddOrEven Oh, yeah. It's just you have a lot of people try to skip to that immediately, and I think at least some of it is some weird social performance of being a "good ex" or to satisfy a social pressure to not be a "crazy ex." Generally everybody needs to give themselves some time before they can even try it. You have to switch out of the "banging" gear and into the "just friends" gear. (That is a lot of quotation marks.)

Reginal T. Squirge

I think what often happens is one side of the break-up really wants to get back together with the other so they're "staying friends" so that they can keep the door open for a reconnection. And the other side of the break-up feels guilty for the breaking up so they allow it to continue as a friendship.

...or so I hear.


@Slutface I'm with you. No contact with exes from my pre-30's. 30 and up, I'm on amicable terms with most of them. Sometimes people are great people but just not right for you.


@Grumplestiltskin Oh man, I'm sorry! Weirdly enough, my current boyfriend and I work together and I can only imagine what that must be like. We briefly talked about splitting up (just because we're tired of working together) but duh, we would still see each other everyday only it would be worse!

Cut that cord!

raised amongst catalogs

@paddlepickle Oh, argh! Should have been more clear -- totally not judging, actually very glad that people who love and respect one another are able to remain friends (or become friends again after whatever time is needed apart). My initial reaction was more based on the fact that the LW so breezily seemed to gloss over her actions that broke the ex's heart while not getting why he might not be into being her friend.


@vanillawaif I love this thread! I've only had two relationships of any length or note and both of them ended terribly and I have no contact with them anymore.

I probably wouldn't think anything of this except that the second one is a guy who is apparently (according to him anyways) friends with all of his other exes, every single one, yet he dumped me under the kind of shitty, disrespectful circumstances that mean there will never be any kind of friendship between us ever and couldn't be unless I was someone who generally disliked myself and liked getting shat on by people I care about.

So, there was definitely this self esteem aspect of the situation of "why am I the only person he's dated not worthy of a respectful, amicable end?" and "is there something wrong with me that I apparently only have relationships that end abominably with no room for future friendship?" Glad to see other awesome ladies show that the latter questions is just silly.


@wharrgarbl I was thinking the same thing reading this thread. You really do see advice a lot that says it's a red flag if someone isn't on good terms with any of his exes, doesn't like them now etc. Sometimes a person just made a string of youthful mistakes and the exes really are that bad. I've had more than one who sent me angry, threatening stuff after we broke up and continue to try to contact me years later to be "friends". If anything, that pattern is a red flag about anyone else I'm attracted to! (jk, my boyfriend is awesome and a way better person than me)

I think that advice really only applies if the non-contact with exes is all on the exes' side, or if the guy's description of said exes is misogynist, racist, or otherwise mean and not reasonable. People definitely seem to take it too much to heart as how they should be-- me included, sometimes.



I have a shitty disrespectful ex who stayed "friends" with his ex-wife (if you want to call having lame, awkward, competitive conversations every couple months or so a friendship) and years after we broke up (cheating was a factor, no contact after the breakup), he truly thought we could have a jolly little chat, even tried to come in for a hug, when I ran into him out someplace.
Some people just can't stand the idea that someone is out there disliking them, but for some reason this does not keep these people from being assholes in the first place.


@vanillawaif I literally just had to have that conversation with my ex boyfriend yesterday. We broke up less than a week ago. I do not want to be friends right now. You hurt me a lot. I do not want to give you a list of fun things to do in Seattle. Me texting you about getting my stuff back is not a friendship invitation. Ugggh.


@vanillawaif I'M INSULTED AND HATE YOU FOREVER. Nahhh you weren't even that judgey, I think I was just projecting one of those people who IS judgey about these things onto you. You are definitely right that nobody should force it if they don't feel it.

raised amongst catalogs

@paddlepickle Meet me in the Open Thread to hug it out? ;)


@paddlepickle We need a term for this phase in your relationshipping with someone. Like: boyfriend, anathema, friend. "So are you guys going to be friends?" "Eventually."


@SarahDances I think maybe my ex wrote that song...


@Linette When I told him we had to stop talking the last time, I told him "This doesn't mean I'm not your friend. Just pretend I'm your friend who had to go on a long trip to Tanzania and has no access to communication and will let you know as soon as she gets back, unless she gets eaten by a lion".


@SarahDances YES! THAT SONG MAKES ME FEEL SO GUILTY! Shut up, Gotye!


@paddlepickle Can we do "boyfriend, eaten-by-Tanzanian-lion, friend"?

"Tansy" for short. That's the lion's name. Evidently it's a girl lion. Which would make sense.


@Linette Yes, please.


@paddlepickle oh my lord, me too. Every couple of months he sends me a casual hello text, we exchange pleasantries, then he's like "hey feel free to re-add me to FB anytime or text me, I miss your friendship" and im like "OK SURE SO YOU CAN TELL ME ABOUT YOUR NEW GF AND I CAN CRY AND CRY AND BE UNABLE TO DATE OTHERS/EMOTIONALLY STUNTED FOREVER"



@kittennnnns Literally in the middle of this thread, he gchatted me to ask what the name of that big grocery store in my neighborhood was. Because apparently google does not exist. And apparently my saying "I really need to not talk to you for awhile and that means you need to not test the waters because I have an incredibly hard time saying no to you" wasn't clear enough. Sign.


@vanillawaif YES!!!! I am this way also, and it is the ONLY WAY TO BE if you want to move on and get your life back. I was just in a wedding where I was a bridesmaid and my asshole ex was the best man, and we broke up... at least two years ago? Anyway, I cut him off hard, and you know what, there was no awkwardness on my end. It was like seeing someone that I had a passing acquaintance with long ago. There was anxiety leading up to that, but once it happened, it was fine, no big deal, and this has only cemented my desire to avoid my exes like the plague.

Successful Breakup Plan:
1. Delete their contact information.
2. Block them on social media.
3. Cocktails.


like a rabid squirrel

@Linette Late to this party, but my ex (now friend) and I described the several months of no contact as the DMZ - no contact, thus no malicious actions until we were ready to be friendly again. So "Oh, are you friends?" "We're in the DMZ right now."

log lady

LW1: Break up with that dickhead!
LW2: Break up with that job!
LW3: Bang them both, use protection, don't make any promises or tell any fibs
LW4: Break up with yourself, you sound crazy


@log lady
You have possibly the best username on The Hairpin, and that is really saying something.


@log lady I like the cut of your jib, you. Especially your response to LW4 because it made me snort at my desk.


@log lady

And we have found an excellent candidate for A Lady! It would be a short read, to be sure, but this is AWESOME advising.

log lady

Ask A (Log) Lady? I'm game! The log knows all.


@log lady

You were my best Halloween costume of all time. Cozy, nonsexual, witty, inexpensive. I would take your advice enthusiastically.

Little Goose

@log lady I created an account after being a year+ lurker to comment on you and yours! LOG LADY I LOVE YOU. Whew. Twin Peaks forever, and also your advice is tops! I would totes read "Ask a (log)Lady"

she's full of secrets

@Diana I was the Log Lady last Halloween and my boyfriend was Dr. Jacoby! What sort of log did you have? I ended up painting a cylindrical pillow because I didn't want to carry around a real, heavy log or pay for a log pillow someone hand-stitched or whatever on Etsy.


@Little Goose You and me both :)


@option : I am not sure she is ok :)

Jen Alien-Spouse@twitter

The advice to LW2 to document EVERYTHING relating to the problem is excellent advice for any number of bad work situations.

Today is my last day at a job which I feel quite strongly I was bullied into resigning from, and I wish I had actually documented all of the relevant incidents from the last six months - If not for use in a legal situation, then just for my own sanity!


@Jen Alien-Spouse@twitter
Holy shit yes, everyone log everything ever. It's hard to believe how hard it can be to construct a chronology after the fact, until you've had to do it. By a $5 journal and start logging.


@Jen Alien-Spouse@twitter LW2 might want to keep track of incidents using emails to herself, to have the time-stamps for additional truthiness.

Jen Alien-Spouse@twitter


Exactly! This is one occaision where being an optimist really did screw me over, because I kept thinking that things would get better if I just tried that little bit harder and so I didn't keep any notes until it was obviously far too late.


Nice use of the tech there! Plus it looks less suspicious then suddenly whipping out a dossier and scribbling in it.


@Lemonnier Just not using her work email because her boss may be able to read those.


@nyikint Yes, and not using a work computer, either -- I was thinking after work, or sending herself an email via smartphone, if she has one.

Chesty LaRue

Just an FYI also, don't use a coil notebook, if you ever need to use the thing to prove anything (ever), you have to have a book in which the pages don't come out without being noticeable, so they can show you're not writing whatever and changing your mind and then throwing away pages that, say, make you look bad.


LW4: time to slow your roll, sister. if thoughts are pebbles dropped into the pond of your brain, you keep throwing head sized boulders into your pond OVER AND OVER AND OVER. And it's making you act like a jerk. You broke up with him, then stomped on his heart, then something something something... and suddenly can't stand to see him or your friend be happy? Your brain pond is so turbulent and muddy that I don't think you see how cray this all is.
My advice to soothe these thoughts:
1.) stop thinking for at least 10 minutes daily. try getsomeheadspace.com - it's a really great intro to meditation (and I stole their pond analogy from them because it's really helpful and accurate)
2.) once your brain has calmed down, you'll probably feel a bit better already. With your quiet brain, give yourself some tough love: you don't own these people, you can't control them, and you have hurt/are hurting them with your behavior. stop it. just... stop it.
3.) monitor your progress - once you see yourself feeling better/acting better you'll feel even better about yourself. You seem to maybe be slightly aware that you're acting poorly here, so by moving beyond this and straightening out you should get a good self esteem boost.

Best of luck.


@teenie 4.) THERAPY!!! (seriously, I'm a big fan)


@insouciantlover yes! that too!


@teenie Dang. This is perfect! You should be A Lady.


@teenie YEAH, this. thank you! it seemed like the dominant theme for "advice" for that one was: "stop being so terrible/crazy!" which, not actually helpful. sometimes people get really turned around in their own brain. sometimes when they get turned around it's not super easy to be sympathetic, but that doesn't mean they're hopeless and should just be yelled at and shamed until they magically get better.

aahhh. see also: my very intense feelings about depression and how it can make you a shitty person trapped in your own wacko thought patterns and how people also expect you to just "be happier!"


@kickupdust I hear ya there - I had a rough late-winter this year, and my horror at what I was saying/doing because of feeling depressed was making me wayyy more depressed. in buddhism we say "revulsion is at the foot of meditation", so eventually i was definitely so frustrated at myself that i started meditating daily (again, because I fall off that wagon every once in a while) and it definitely helped me a lot.


@teenie Thanks for sharing that website! I've been sad because I've had to cut down to yoga once a month (budget woooes) and what I miss most is the guided meditation that we do at the beginning of class. Something about hearing someone's voice makes it much easier for me to close my eyes and relax, so this was wonderful advice and very timely. :)

Also, sometimes the so turbulent you have no idea is such a compelling reason to be cray cray. It's good to have a moment to see that whatever you want (attention from ex-dude and his new lady) might be totally unrelated to what you need (maybe a sense of forgiveness for previous bad relationship behavior, which might also lend you a sense of security in current and future ones). Best of luck finding peace, LW4! That's almost always pretty hard, no matter who initiates. :)


@adorable-eggplant So many smiley faces... clearly I am relaxed now.


@insouciantlover I had so many therapy things when I had A Difficult Time, I was like the damn Verzion guy. I mean, therapy, you are amazing.


@kickupdust Yes, 3-7 years later I am still horrified by the way I was when I was depressed in college. Realistically, people have forgiven me (one even agreed to be my forever sex friend!), but I still just... Try not to think about it or describe it to anyone too accurately. It's incredible how much even a "minor," relatively common mental illnesses truly messed up my behavior and relationships.


@teenie!!! You are soooooo nice! This is great, and wonderful, kind advice! I am going to try that meditation, in hopes that I can be you when I grow up, seriously this is so great, thank you for giving us ALL a little Friday sunshine!


@MoonBat hey - thanks!!! i think meditation definitely helps me build compassion, so yeah! check it out!

Bridget Smith@twitter

LW3, serious, important question: is his name actually Bruce? Because that would absolutely make my day. If not, and you just called him that because of the Monty Python sketch, well, ok, that's awesome too. Good luck with your two awesome gents!

Harris, Emmeline

@Bridget Smith@twitter Aha, I wondered that too!? And/or if it's Bruce from Finding Nemo!? What with being Australian and all. High five! And if he's just called Bruce, well, good on him.


Number four, is there no other people on earth you can be friends with? I mean, no one? Do you live in a coal mine that has been sealed shut during an explosion or an Antartic space station? Stop hanging out with them, what is wrong with you? You broke the dude's heart, he moved on, leave him alone.


@parallel-lines It almost seems as if she's searching for a SLIVER of evidence that she could have him back if she wanted to have him back, even though she trampled all over his heart. And she wants the current girlfriend to know that, too. Overall, LW4, you sound unhappy and I'm very sorry for you. Get some therapy, learn to get over yourself, and you'll feel better


@parallel-lines Word.

LW4, really? REALLY? Do some of these people bother to read their own questions before they send them in?

Sorry for hating, except for not really, because COME ON.

Jen Alien-Spouse@twitter


It is a hopeful sign that she is able to see that her previous behaviour was bad. To her credit in the letter LW4 doesn't white-wash her poor treatment of the ex and I think that it is far worse when someone is totally oblivious to their own cruelties, and doesn't get why there is tension.


@Jen Alien-Spouse@twitter Sure, but read that last paragraph. Once again: REALLY? I lost any compassion for her problems at that point.

Poor form to point out weaknesses of the ex she treated like shit and then brag about the "best guy ever" and "amazing orgasms" she's enjoying now. Totally unnecessary and worthy of the most enormous eye-roll ever.

Jen Alien-Spouse@twitter


True - She's got tabs on herself for sure!


@emilylouise Like seriously, WHAT DOES SHE WANT FROM THESE PEOPLE? Does she want them to break up and have them bow down to her and tell her she's the best so she can reject the dude all over again? Does she want them to be unhappy? What do you want from them?


Oh man, one time during a fight, my ex told me I was bad in bed. I did not tell him that HE IS ALSO BAD (because dear lord, he is), AND THEN HE HAD SEX WITH ME. This is generally what happened any time I cried. FUNCTIONAL!


@Megano! I feel weird adding any levity to your story, because damn your ex was horrible and I want to give you an internet hug now, but when I first read this I thought it said "one time during a FLIGHT" and was then really confused when you mentioned the had sex right after part.


@Jinxie Well, we were dysfunctional enough that that is not completely improbable.


Uhhhh, I thought you were a Corgi?


@l'esprit de l'escalier I used to be!


@Megano! Am I an idiot for imagining sex as a team sport? Like, it's not you who are bad at sex: we are bad at sex. Of course, like any team, one untalented person can bring everyone down, so maybe the analogy fails? On the other hand, practice.

Resolved: less comparing all aspects of life to team sports.


@beerd True! I mean, I am the first to admit I am probably not the best at intercoursing. And he mainly just said it to deflect from the issue at hand (as I was pissed at him for constantly being out with friends at all hours of the night and never including me).

Girl Named Jack

@Megano! Well, seriously, how does he expect you to get better at the sex if he wasn't around to practice on? Also, I'm joking, because I can't believe that you are just inherently bad at the intercoursing. I'm gonna vote with the "team" concept from beerd. Let's make it dance-y. Two to Tango!


@Megano! Intercoursing is fun even if you aren't the New York Yankees of sex, and likely it always will be, so here's to your long career.

This analogy is going to die if we try to bring in statistics, however. Sex diaries? Who is the Billy Beane of your bedroom?

I'm still conflicted about the wisdom of sex as argument-ender. I think it depends on whether you’re arguing about an actual problem or a proxy problem or a intractable problems. Sex in the face of intractable problems is likely the best celebration of our mortality.


@beerd Ahh team sport! yes this is so true, thank you

17th Floor

@beerd So spot on. Don't hate the player! Hate the game!

Most of the time, you're just playing the wrong sex sport. Not everybody likes football, some people prefer golf! Not everyone likes reverse cow-girl, some people prefer wheelbarrow!

The team sport analogy is applicable in 93.7 percent of all cases.


LW4 - if you break someone's heart, it is NOT their job to make you feel better about your actions. You were the "bad guy" in this breakup. It doesn't make you a bad person, but putting the onus on the wronged party to soothe your own guilt makes you a jerk. Stop trying to contact them, say a polite hello if you run into them while visiting your friend, go meet some new people and try not to make the same mistakes this time.

34inch Stems

@alannaofdoom -- I love love LOVE that Imperfect Stranger gave LW4 a large dose of truth! I'm really put-off by girls that get possessive over meaningless ex-boyfriends. Do you really need to burn through life leaving a trail of destruction and longing to feel good about yourself?? The world doesn't turn on YOUR terms.
But to LW4's credit (because she's going to read a lot of hurtful truths on this thread) identifying that these feelings are abnormal is the first step to getting over it and on with a healthier life. So good for her! Hopefully.


LW4: Everyone is ignoring your main problem, which is that you use the word "said" (as in, "I broke up with said ex-boyfriend") instead of the perfectly good "the" or "that." Can all people everywhere please stop doing that right now.


@theharpoon Do you remember that article that referenced the hairpin and talked about the way the writing in the comments was very similar? Sometimes I read the comments and I think about how right that article was, even though everyone hated it and argued with it for three days.


@hotdog i (4|\| start writing liek dis (but I do get your point)

OH, and the writer of said article actually published a follow-up piece about the Hairpin, specifically. Which I haven't read because it's not available on the Internet..but I am curious about it, if anyone has.


@hotdog Commenter in-group behavior! But no, I think I missed that article. I'm not here as much these days, too much reading about communication and discourse (which is why I'm saying shit like "commenter in-group behavior"). I see/hear people do the "said" thing in other, non-Hairpin contexts though, and it drives me nuts in all of them.


@hotdog I don't remember disagreeing that commenters sounds like writers on the Pin. I do remember thinking it was a stupid reason to be dismissive of the 'Pin.

As grammar glitches go, I don't really care about the use of "said," though. I expect that has something to do with my vague recollection. Well, that and I spend all day every day at work paying attention to appropriate grammar and eh... I am kind of not interested in it socially.

Probably this means I am not the right person to be remembering that post.


@nyikint I read it! It was something about how the hairpin-tone suffers from something called "BFF-ism" where everyone has to be nice and agree with each other all the time, and that reduces the quality of debate because people are afraid to disagree. Something like that. It talked about that novel that Edith had reviewed, and then had the author on for discussion (? The novel was set in London, I think, I don't remember), and how (in the author's mind) Edith kind of backed down from her criticism of the book in the interview, out of a desire to be nice, or "BFFs" I guess with the author.


@WaityKatie "in the author's mind" = the author of the article, not the author of the book.


@hotdog I somehow missed said article!


Are you talking about the n+ 1 article where the writer charged the commentariat with slavishly reproducing the 'Pin's editorial voice in our comments?

That really irritated me-- I mean, we're all awesome, right? Jeez.


@insouciantlover I think "can all people everywhere please stop doing that right now" is actually the pinner-ism @hotdog is referring to.

i totally suffer from commenter in-group behaviour (suffer from? or my life is enriched by?)


@redheaded&crazie I think that's just a natural occurrence when you hang out with a particular group of people for extended lengths of time. I've adopted many of my friends' mannerisms and phrases and speech patterns, sometimes so much that it often becomes completely irrelevant as to who actually began it. (I do, however, would like to stop accidentally pronouncing umbrella as UM-brell-a.) It fosters a sense of community.

I agree we have that here, but I also disagree that tPin is that they don't become condescending humorless horror shoes (*cough*Jezebel*cough*).


@meetapossum Wow. I don't know what happened with my comment. Last paragraph should be:

I agree we have that here, but I also disagree that that tone means we don't argue here. I've seen a lot of meaningful interesting discussions. The difference with the 'Pin is that they don't become condescending humorless horror shoes (*cough*Jezebel*cough*).

evil melis

nobody talks like me

nobody talks like me at all


@evil melis you mean nobody talks to you and that's because you are EVIL I MEAN COME ON WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM US

evil melis

@redheaded&crazie YOUR BLOOD


@evil melis I DISAGREE


@WaityKatie I feel the same way as that sentiment, but I think its most irritating expression is when people get super het up about "trolling" or any expression of negativity which results in being bitchy in a really embarrassing way. I love The Hairpin A LOT, but I like a bit of bracing dissent as well.

I think I sometimes say "aforementioned" in that same way as the objectionable "said." It's not so much of a tic as trying to sound cute or something. It probably IS annoying!


@Ellie I think there is some truth to it. I have noticed that a few people on here seem to take disagreement really personally, and go right to the personal attack in response, like "oh, you think you're so xyz!" I find that really unnecessary and sometimes it makes me question whether I want to post on here at all. BUT the majority of people here aren't like that at all and I appreciate that. I just hope it doesn't start going in the bad direction as the site gets bigger (like another ladysite did whose name I probably don't need to mention).


@WaityKatie OH you think you are SO holier-than-thou! Sometimes I question whether I want you to post on here at all too!


@redheaded&crazie was that really necessary? can't we all just try on each other's lingerie?!


@redheaded&crazie You're not the only one!

*also today I realized that I use the word "hence" a lot in things I write for work and now I am afraid that I might be using it in normal-life things as well.


I apologize for making everyone paranoid about their speech and commenting patterns. Everyone except evil melis.


@WaityKatie that's crazy. Being civil "reduces the quality of debate because people are afraid to disagree"? so untrue. Besides which, there's plenty of disagreement in the comments, as far as I can see. We're just not rude about it. The day we become less civil is the day I quit. I can have rudeness and trolls over at the places we all know I'm thinking about.


@carolita Hell, we're disagreeing right now!


@WaityKatie I completely agree with what you are saying. It definitely made me back down from commenting as much on the Hairpin once I began to realize that many people react very immaturely to comments that aren't full of radiant praise of the material.

To me, it all ties in with why I just don't have many friends. I don't buy into BFF-ism. I am just not fake. I can't be friends with someone who needs constant approval. Polite, absolutely, and I can enjoy their company in small doses... but I can't live my life that way. I need to be able to have stimulating conversations, debates, and talk about dark things without worrying that my conversation partner really only needs me around for validation and praise.

So, I tend to take the blame for my perception of these types of situations and chalk it up to my social anxiety/awkwardness/avoidance. But it is nice to see my opinion validated by someone else who maybe doesn't have these same problems I have. *It would be nice to be validated but it's more important that we could have an interesting conversation about it*


@MalPal Recently I've been paying attention to commenting habits because the "the Pin/ Pin commenters don't like dissent or criticism" is a fascinating dynamic. So is the fact that people seem to do a pretty good job of actually disagreeing with each other and having it be productive.

Sometimes there is a really interesting negotiation of a fine line between the two states that fails or gets close to failure.

Most interesting of all is, the two co-exist. I am beginning to think they are interdependent dynamics, even though they seem to be at odds with one another.

Currently, I wonder if there is a sort of socializing/norming impulse at work. On the one hand, the urge to keep people in line is an urge to avoid destructive environments. Edith et al. don't control the comments much, so commenters try to, with mixed results.

On the other hand, the commenting environment here also opens up room for some really interesting, meaningful explorations of things- intellectual and emotional. I am pretty sure that without the norming impulse, that space wouldn't (maybe couldn't) exist. Do you guys remember the AACP LW who confessed to being ashamed and overwhelmed by her dirty bedroom space? That is what I mean.

However, that security to confess "I hate that I live in filth" comes at the cost of that censoring/discourse managing tendency.

I am going to disagree that the "be nice" norming behavior is immature, exactly. Or it is and it isn't? Or individual comments can be, but they are part of a bigger system of Hairpin Commenting Culture that is actually very sophisticated.

The thing is, no group dynamic really exists without the give and take of "we gain X things, but we have to deal with Y social cost." If "be nice" impulses/expectations are a boundary establishing mechanism so that other kinds of things can get said, it would make sense.

If that is what is going on, the questions arise, can this commenting environment do a better job of managing the risk of the "boundary dissent?" And is there a way to manage the social cost of the controlling impulse so as not to unnecessarily shut down discussion and make people feel reluctant to comment?

(Side note, someone who is a discourse analysis specialist type could probably say something really interesting about gender and conflict and discussion and such here. But I am not that person. So... discourse analysts in the room? Anyone?)

I've found myself getting defensive about this issue because I am a guilty party AND I am an assertive one. (True confession, I just told a real life friend that I love being a bossy extravert because I have no problem whatsoever trying to establish a conversational tone in a room. Hellloooooo ENFP.)

But defensiveness isn't really going to do much about this, so I am trying to quit it.


When something stresses me out, I intellectualize it!


@nyikint I'm not sure what we're disagreeing about, now that I've read some other comments on this subject. I'm not saying I think we should never disagree or dissent -- I've disagreed plenty. In fact, it's often because I disagree with someone's comment that I actually comment. I was just saying I don't think there's any need to be uncivil. For example, we don't engage in name-calling here. That is a huge thing for a commenting community on the internet. I wouldn't like to see that become the norm here. And we don't engage in bullying, as far as I can see. I don't read all the comments on all posts, so perhaps I'm missing some of this BFF-ing, which, well, I'm not really sure what it is, actually. (I'm not doing it now, am I?) Anyway, I'd prefer that we err on the side of civility. We can always degrade into the usual, with time, I guess. That seems to be how it goes on other websites, from what I gather. But I'm not equating civility with being cloyingly sweet and never disagreeing.


@carolita I totally agree that civility is essential, and that if we don't maintain it, the commenting environment is going to fall apart pretty quickly. But I also think there is a clear line between "trolls" and comments that are just outside the mainstream, and I fear that sometimes when there's a clear consensus about an issue in the comments, people who disagree might feel reluctant to jump in and be the lone voice in opposition. As an example, a while back I went on a few rants about things I hate about our child-centric culture, and I got some blowback from various commenters to the effect of "well, it's clear you don't want children! Shut up now." My comments were not about me and these commenterss know nothing about me. I think comments like that are an attempt to control the parameters of debate. I was not "trolling" by expressing my views on the topic, and I'm confident that none of my comments said or implied that other people's desire to have children were not valid. Yet, I got "oh shut up, child hater" in return. Because it's "normal" to have and want children and people who don't should "stop whining" I guess. I'm sure there are other examples of this that I wasn't personally involved in, but that is the one that comes to my mind. I guess my point is, we should be able to disagree without saying or implying negative personal things about the people who are disagreeing with us.


@carolita No no, I meant to buttress your point - that we (the 'Pintariat) is disagreeing on this thread pretty civilly right now :)

I lurk heavily on this blog about guns and gear that is full of military guys but like the Hairpin, it makes an effort to be inclusive and 'nice'. It creates there, as it does here, an occasionally insular community and there have absolutely been times where they've all piled on one guy, perhaps unfairly. So, I guess my point is...that we're human, and perhaps that's just the nature of online communities, especially ones that people feel like they have a stake in?
Calling the Hairpin BFFs irritates me a little, since I doubt anyone would use that term for those guys, who have pretty similar commenting dynamics.

And @MalPal, many people do share very personal and yes, "dark things" here. IMO it's better they worry that positive responses are insincere than they feel like they can't share at all for fear of being attacked.


@WaityKatie Yes! This is exactly the dynamic I am thinking of! So...

1) Is it valid to say "DAMN, this society is child-centric, such that the non-parents among us end up in a marginal/disparate position relative to the parents among us. Yes. Yes, it absolutely is.

But people jump on that as a hostile statement, rather than validate that feeling. Why? When it's totally a thing women experience?

2) Is it also the case that parents get all kinds of shit for being parents and parenting the way they parent and wanting to give public space to and be validated in the social hostility to parents (and in particular MOTHERS) and kids? Yes, yes it is.

Sooo... what is going on that two entirely valid sets of experience, instead of creating a complex dialogue end up with two sets of people feeling as if they are the ones being critiqued/alienated/criticized.

I know my answer is going to sound totally Someone Does Gender Studies Stuff. But. Patriarchy. There. I said it. The system of patriarchy really, really benefits from having mothers and non mothers fighting over the limited space in the public dialogue for deeply discussed and nuanced developments of ideas around the simultaneous marginalization of mothers and non-mothers.

It seems like a lot of the time, when the "you are pressuring consensus/ invalidating my experience/ being unnecessarily mean/ whatever" comes up, it's about things where it's made into a zero sum game, rather than a situation where a complex perspective can be developed.

This is EXACTLY what happened with Brows- sculpt or don't- from a little while ago. A dude makes a well-meaning but ultimately prescriptive comment about what looks good on women. And a response that is a corrective to that starts, and then more women say "but your corrective is also prescriptive and it's leaving out my experience." It stopped being about a nice dude's unintended privilege-flex and became a "which womanhood controls the debate about this issue."

What? No. That is not what this is about, or should be, anyway.

Patriarchy isn't going to rearrange its priorities any time soon to deal with this discourse hitch. So I guess it's a problem for the rest of us to deal with.

(Notice this is the women's interest part of a bigger series of sibling blogs. We're having this discussion here rather than on the Awl or wherever. I mean, it's a little cove of internet civility. But we still don't always get the multiple-experiences-of-women's-lives thing before a conflict arises as opposed to after. And I haven't registered to comment on any of the other sites, so my bossy intrusive POV isn't shaping any kind of dialogue gendered or otherwise anywhere but here. So...)

I mean, this is not the kind of problem I want a valued internet space to be having. But it seems like just describing what is happening is a start at figuring out why it is happening.

And civility. Yes. Without it, we're kind of sunk, aren't we? I actually think that even on our worst days, we still do an OK job with the principle. But is it possible to do a better job? Like, and actually really good job, most of the time?


@nyikint Would you mind sharing that site? I am dying to do a drive by lurk and see how that looks. It's OK if you want to keep your internet spaces distinct. But if you don't mind sharing, you can jet it to me @ kathleen dot allison dot teresa @ gmail.


@PistolPackinMama PS: I also mean, validated as part of the discourse, not validated as in we all agree on everything all the time.

I mean, there are some things that don't get that acknowledgement. Saying flat out sexist stuff, for example, or disableist language should be smacked down. But disagreeing about a current issue or raising concerns? Yeah, that shouldn't get that kind of treatment.


@nyikint yes, I suspected that the BFF thing was a bit of snide exaggeration. I was actually quite fascinated by Edith's response to the Green Girl author, doing that follow-up. Nobody does that, so it was pretty cool to see that attempted. It's not just a matter of trying to be civil, or "being nice," we are also doing something different by maintaining this tone. I've seen comments get jumped on quite politely but firmly, and thought that was great. I don't think any of us turn away from a strong response to something that's off-base. That makes me very happy. I think that disparager was just jealous of us.


@Bittersweet- you disappeared? But yeah, that is also a distinct possibility, the idea you are floating.

Either way, I am on board with the @melis assessment.


@PistolPackinMama Wow, that was a really long response. Basically, the "be nice" reflex in response to dissent no matter how it is worded or presented is a cultural norming behavior that I observe among most people and I can't stand it. I will say what I think, intelligently, because sharing is what makes people grow. When you tell me to "be nice" you are telling me that expressing disagreement makes me not a "nice" person. I'm going to direct a lot of frustration built up over a lifetime to this thread and just say, fuck that! haha.


@MalPal I agree. It's not "not nice" to disagree with someone, and it shouldn't be taken as a personal assault on someone's lifestyle because someone prefers a different lifestyle. There's also probably a whole thesis to be written about the historical context of expecting women to be "nice," but that's for another day.


@WaityKatie yeah, the number of times over my lifetime that I've been called "aggressive" by a dude, just for disagreeing with him? Crazy.


@carolita I got called "argumentative" (as "all female lawyers are") by a sociopath on a date when I tried to defend myself against his random allegations that I am "not a sexual person" and "not trusting." Apparently he could tell that within 5 minutes of meeting me, and who am I to disagree?


@WaityKatie eew. My antennae go up when I hear things like that: obviously he didn't think you SHOULD trust him, and obviously he was looking for someone argumentative if he dated someone he knew to be a "female lawyer." It's unwise to trust someone who accuses you of not being trusting before they've known you. Nutjob alert! And "not a sexual person" on top of it? Riiiiight. Because you should trust him enough to be in a rush to end the date and jump into bed with a weirdo who thinks you should be as trusting and pliable as a child after being negged? The mind boggles. I've met (and ditched with no further ado) guys like this and thought they were just jerks, but in retrospect I wonder if they're not also dangerous.


@carolita Yeah, he was a piece of work. I was so baffled by his behavior that I just kind of sat there and awkwardly laughed and asked him if he'd read American Psycho. It seemed like he might have heard that before, too. I guess the whole date was maybe one long neg, or just some kind of weird thing he gets off on - insulting women he doesn't know. I think his version of "argumentative" was "anyone who talks back to me," pretty much.


@all I get that you're an aggressive bitch thing from dudes all the time. And I think it's interesting, because I also spend a lot of time agreeing with said dudes sometimes, or being persuaded by them. But man, you take exception to one thing and all of a sudden you always have to be right all the time and why are you so argumentative.

What the fuck.

Part of what grinds my gears is, I have two brothers who are very, very interested in talking and arguing. When things get heated at the table, you have to speak up or you don't get heard. They don't seem to mind I am willing to dogfight with them. They also don't seem to think only men are allowed to be assertive discussants.

Whatever dudes of the world.

@WaityKatie- Came across a dude profile this week where he was like "I like feminists. Except the ones who are feminist hypocrite bitches." Which I took to mean "the ones who disagree with me." It was actually kind of gross/creepy.


@PistolPackinMama Yes, calling women bitches, HOW FEMINIST OF HIM.


@WaityKatie You and I clearly share the same lack of understanding about this guy's sensitive insight, because I don't get it either.


LW4: It's guilt! GUILT and SELF LOATHING. These are sticky emotions! Maybe you feel guilty about cheating on him and fucking with him for 6 months. Maybe always being around him and new lady and them being happy made you realize how much you fucked shit up, and you hate yourself for that. The problem with guilt and self loathing are that it's easy to turn them into anger at OTHER people, when really, you're angry at yourself.

Best remedy: Forgive yourself (try a mantra like: "I fucked up, and this is just how it is now. I can't change it, but I can be better for it.") and then stop trying to force contact with these people. They are not your people, and it is not your life anymore.

Also, just because they live in the same building doesn't mean you have to see them. Does this building have no walls? Is it one big room? Is everyone in the hall all the time? Come on, now. You know you've been trying to run into them to feed your hanger (hate+anger). Stop it. Admit that you're trying to destroy yourself and them, then forgive yourself for doing that for so long, then move on.

Sydney C

@TyrannosaurusWreck Spot on! Someone make this lady a Lady!


@TyrannosaurusWreck Dude, that was perfect. Yes.


@TyrannosaurusWreck true facts.

sidral mundet

Solid fucking advice. And big ups to Andrew Ti, who is the shit.

Lily Rowan

@sidral mundet Although I'm a little surprised he did not advocate just yelling at the fucking racist!!


@Lily Rowan I went on a yo is this racist binge several weeks ago during a boring conference call, and he advocates yelling at the fucking racist in every single scenario EXCEPT when your livelihood is directly dependent on them. No other outs! He doesn't care if it's your 103 year old Grandma!

Lily Rowan

@OhMarie DEFINITELY yell at your old racist Grandma!

sidral mundet

@Lily Rowan I had this conversation with a friend, who was like "You can be nice and it will teach people a lesson!" and I was like "1. Not my responsibility, and 2. Yelling is literally the ONLY fun part of this scenario, why would you take that away from me??"


Such good advice to the crazy in #4. Get over yourself and leave them alone, my god.


Okay, how old is LW4?? By "building" does she mean "dorm"? If so, that's cool, and would really offer some helpful perspective on this. The way she is acting sounds a little like I was acting when I was a youngin and broke up with my boyfriend right before college- I was kindof mean to him afterwords because I couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to hear about all of my post-relationship joy I was having. And then we stayed friends and he told me about his new girlfriend that he started dating right away in college- she was apparently "a lot like me." And once he told me that, I got SO angry- being brought into his new relationship with his words made me feel entitled to having opinions on her and how awful she was (she wasn't, she was lovely) and blabbing them everywhere. And I think her friend's involvement in LW's breakup may be making her feel similarly. When you're 19-22 everything is really vivid and personal and about YOU, and you always want to be friends after a breakup, and I totally understand the whole "small campus/unavoidable" thing. It is easy to build up resentment for someone who you have wronged if you don't get away from them fast enough- it sounds like the friend and ex relationship is probably smarting the wounds of the guilt LW feels for treating him so badly, and making her angry because it reminds her of a not-so-positive time in her life.


@juksie Everything you said, especially this: “When you're 19-22 everything is really vivid and personal and about YOU.” (I had the same thought about the dorms, too. Plus, who lives with a roommate for only a summer and then “moves” abroad for a year? College juniors!)

I understand the pile-on if this LW is a functional 30-year-old adult who could presumably make other friends, live other places, etc. But if she is in fact still in college then all I can say is 1) I empathize and 2) you’ve still got plenty of time to become less of a self-serving control freak about your relationships but 3) it wouldn’t hurt to start working on it now.


@juksie This makes a lot of sense, the thing I found most puzzling about the letter was that everyone she knows apparently lives in the same 'building'. I was envisaging that big tree from Swiss Family Robinson.


@questingbeast I was picturing Melrose Place.


@WaityKatie Be honest though, you always picture Melrose Place. The 90s are OVER, Katie, it's time to move on.


@insouciantlover THE 90'S WILL NEVER BE OVER.


@WaityKatie Are you wearing your tiny backpack purse again???


@insouciantlover I'm actually wearing stirrup pants right now. (casual Friday).


@questingbeast wow I like that better! Okay, let's reevaluate everything I said based on the idea that her best friend and ex-boyfriend live together in a tree. Where can we add in gender confusion, to really make the stories parallel?!


@KatieWK Also, who has to return to this one particular city when they come home from a foreign country, for reasons other than to visit their mom? People who are still going to school there! Wouldn't an adult's friends have scattered a bit more, and she could just pick someone else to visit? Unless, of course, she doesn't really want to, which it also kind of sounds like from the letter? What are Chicago or San Francisco, when your favorite emotional quagmire is in New York?

I feel like there have been a lot of letters like this lately, where everyone's reaction (including mine) is "WTF lady you are terrible" and gradually I start to think, "Hm, sounds a lot like me in college."


I think people are being too nice about LW1's boyfriend. There's a difference between "words said in anger" (tone, a snippier-than-you-meant-it remark) and "tactics deliberately designed to make you feel bad while simultaneously making the speaker out as totally innocent." He used the latter. Break up with him.

Emma Peel

@SarahP Yeah, I think "my friends are surprised we're dating" is just barely on the acceptable end of the words-said-in-anger spectrum; it's ugly, but I can imagine a scenario where that might pop out. But doubling down on it by saying basically "you're the ugliest girl I've dated, but you've got a great personality!" (rather than immediately saying I CAN'T BELIEVE I SAID THAT, MY FRIENDS ARE JERKS OBVIOUSLY AND I TOLD THEM THAT BECAUSE YOU'RE AWESOME and groveling forever) is pretty inexcusable.


@SarahP Agreed! Words *truly* said in anger are followed, in a timely manner, by copious, heartfelt, apologies. So (based on the information provided) either he meant it, or he doesn't know how/ isn't willing to apologize. Neither of which are acceptable!

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@SarahP Yeah the fact that he went straight for the thing that he knew would hurt her the most is really troubling :( That requires serious groveling and probation to even consider staying together, IMHO.

Lily Rowan

@Emma Peel Right?? Even though I can see where saying "I used to pick girlfriends based just on looks, but now I value the whole package, which is why I'm with you (and also my friends are shallow dickheads)" would be OK.

34inch Stems

@SarahP - I agree...and I don't. My boyfriend and I got in a huge fight once about the fact that he felt that I was denying him sex too often (different sex drives, has since been dealt with maturely, this was the very first fight about it). He knew I was insecure about his many ex-girlfriends, but still said to me "I guess I was spoiled in previous relationships and expect things I shouldnt...."
OH MY GODS, did that hurt. That was a year ago and it still stings to think about. But it was the first offense, I told him to NEVER speak to me like that again. I called him out for preying on my insecurities, which was low and not something I'll tolerate, no matter how great the man. It's emotional abuse!!!
He's never done it since. I don't even think he could even if he wanted to, I got the point across very clearly after the fight by soberly explaining to him WHY it was so terrible.
People are imperfect, they make mistakes, but when they do something so hurtful you need to give them a chance to learn from it.

Emma Peel

@34inch Stems I think there are a few key differences there -- namely, that he didn't double down and he hasn't done it again. I have a short temper and said a few completely horrible things to my completely wonderful boyfriend a few times when I was angry, so I absolutely see how things like that get said, and I wouldn't advocate anyone break up because of one thing said during a fight (unless it's something like "I slept with your sister" or "I've been cheating on you all year" or something, obviously).

I think the key is owning up and trying to change. People are imperfect, and when you love someone you often know where to twist the knife, even if you never should... but casting the blame on someone else's insecurities is like the non-apology apology. "I'm sorry if you were upset..."


@SarahP Seriously, fuck that dude. But actually, no, stop fucking that dude. He is awful.


@SarahP I agree. The fact that he wasn't really apologetic makes me think there will be more of that to come. Hello slippery slope of emotional abuse. Wait, no. Not hello. Set that shit on fire and slam the door while cackling maniacally.


@SarahP Yeah, I think almost everyone has said things that were not OK in anger, but I don't think it's normal to go for the throat like that on a specific issue that you know is really painful for someone. I've never done that, even to really terrible exes who might have left me alone if I had, and no one has ever done that to me, even when they were rightly very angry with me (although a couple of the sub-normal exes might have, if they'd known me well enough to know what to say). Not owning up to it completely just makes it worse.

I guess it's possible that he's an OK guy who just said something really, really regrettable. But just because you're an OK person doesn't mean you can always take back what you said.


@themmases My experience with the kind of person who goes after me during a fight has been that once it happens, the relationship is over, no matter how great they otherwise are, because I will never really feel safe around them ever again.

Other people might be able to handle that kind of crap better than I can, but really, LW1 doesn't sound like one of them.


@34inch Stems ha. I've had BF's tell me that, but I didn't take it personally, myself. I just said, "YEAH, maybe you ARE spoiled. I'm not here as sex on demand 24/7, I'm a human, with a job, and stuff do to." Okay, when I was twentysomething, I could fritter all my time having multiple sex sessions with my BF, quite often. But I didn't have much else going on in those days! I'd have been watching TV or shopping with that time. Now, with two jobs? My spare time is a lot less bountiful. Not that I don't totally understand a guy/girl who works butt off 9 to 5 for someone else and comes home and wants to get laid. When I worked 9 to 5, sex definitely was a reward -- you feel like your'e being fucked over all day by an employer, you might as well get fucked for real at home. That's just not my lifestyle anymore. I think it's important to get the sex scheduling norms worked out with someone you plan to be with for a while, so there's no resentment.

(I say this assuming a couple is living together or pretty much so. When dating, I pretty much think it's pretty rare one doesn't want to have sex on the one or two days a week one sees ones beau/girl).


Thank you for calling out LW 4, much more politely and gently than I would've. To me, it sounds like a case of an overinflated ego, though I could see how she might feel betrayed by her friend dating her ex. It doesn't sound, though, that she actually cares about her friendship with this woman, what with referring to her as 'stupid people.' But i agree w some of the other commenters, she is probably young and thus very self involved. That's really the only acceptable explanation.


@LittleEdie Was coming here to say the exact same thing. I'm hoping that if she isn't as young as we think she is, she reads this and maybe adjusts her behavior.


@LittleEdie yeah, basically the sum total of my response to LW 4 is, lady, you are the absolute WORST. Woman needs to go like seclude herself at a silent retreat kind of situation (Holly!) and not come back until she's thought about how awful she is/has been.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

All I could think while reading LW 4's letter is "Why is SHE the one writing in for advice and not the ex or his new gf?" Can you imagine what they're thinking? (CAN YOU, LW 4????) "Dear A Lady, I have this ex who cheated on me and broke my heart and continued to jerk me around until I told her where to stick it, why is she now trying to be my friend? I just want her to leave me alone!" Ugggggh I just can't, this one hits too close to home.


@quickdrawkiddo LW4 sounds eerily like Mr. Teenie's ex who broke up with him, was a complete jerk to him and slept with several of his friends, and then when he started dating me, FREAKED THE FUCK OUT and wanted him back, calling him, guilting and manipulating him, just generally being a grade A asshole. so yeah... there's that perspective. Eventually she pulled herself (somewhat) together, but it took a firm talking-to by Mr. Teenie (and myself) to get her there.


@teenie That has happened/is happening to my younger brother, even as the ex has moved cross country to live with her new boyfriend.
It is sad when it's not infuriating.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@teenie I'm just glad Mr. Teenie and the ex in LW 4's situation are both being mature and not taking any more bullshit. I've seen this kind of thing in my friend group a lot, and when the dude DOESN'T stick up for himself it really makes me wonder what good it does being normal and sane if the crazies always win :( Thank god they actually don't!


Ugh, LW2, that sucks and I totally feel you. I just left a job where my racist boss refused to do anything about her racist and sexually harrass-y assistant. My completely amateur advice is to document everything and get in contact with an attorney and your local Department of Labor. If you decide to quit, you may be able to collect unemployment if you can prove you left a "hostile work environment." Also, next time she says something overtly racist about Obama, you could try to politely say something like, "You know I'm not Obama's biggest fan, but he is the President and I hope that we can agree that the office deserves respect. It makes me uncomfortable when you say disparaging things about him because of his race." or something to that effect.

But, y'know, I'm polite and anti-confrontational to a fault, so if you do do that, you've got bigger balls than I do.


@sam.i.am pedant alert! she doesn't want the DOL, she wants the regional office of the EEOC where she lives and/or whatever her state employment non-discrimination agency is. /pedant alert!


@sam.i.am I'd just look her in the eye and say "my niece (or whomever) is Black." This happens to be true for me, doesn't have to be for LW2. But it will probably make her stop without actually calling her out.


@sam.i.am Yeah, I think the advice is excellent, but I'm wondering if it could be combined with an intense campaign of topic-changing and gentle reproach (maybe once you feel like you're closer to a new job), just so you don't go insane.


@OhMarie I had a similar (less distressing) situation in a very very religious office (I'm super not, but didn't feel comfortable making that known) so people would say things like, "God bless you." and I'd say, "Back 'atcha" instead of responding with something religious. Not sure if I was fooling anybody, but it felt good to draw the line in tiny ways. Also @stonefruit had some great advice. There should be a poster somewhere in your office/break area (assuming you're in the U.S.) and I think there's a hotline, so maybe it's possible to get some anonymous advice?


@sam.i.am I am in the process of documenting EVERYTHING about a sexist, hostile, asshole-ish coworker so I can quit my terrible job and prove hostile work environment and still collect unemployment (because this job is so terrible, I am both working AND collecting unemployment, woo). Document everything, yes! And I like someone's advice upthread of emailing yourself the documentation, for time stamps. (I kept a paper copy of my statement about sexual harassment, but now I'm going to also email it to the supervisors so I can prove they actually received it.)


@che Ugh. Good luck to you!



Don't apologize for being a pedant! That was relevant and highly useful advice.

Mrs. Coach McGuirk

I think that what LW4 has maybe failed to convey in her 300 words is that she is angry about seeing them because she feels betrayed. Her ex's new lady was her confidant during the break up, and then once she was gone, they got together.

This changes almost nothing, but sort of explains why she might be having these feelings.

I once began dating a guy, after his crazy girlfriend, who happened to be a friend of mine (a terrible friend, but a friend all the same) broke up with him. Not the best way to start a relationship, but what can you do? Anyway, we received nasty letter, threats, all sorts of things from her for a while. We are still dating, years later, and I'm pretty sure she still hates us, but at least she dosen't try to see us.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@Mrs. Coach McGuirk I'm hearing your awesome and cogent advice in Coach McGuirk's voice (because I assume his missus talks the same way, natch).


@Mrs. Coach McGuirk yeah, I'm trying to figure out if her issue is that she feels betrayed by the friend that she confided in or if it's about the boyfriend she didn't really want anyway moving on or if it's about her massive guilt and desire to be forgiven by these people that is driving her to continue seeing them.

What REALLY rubbed me the wrong way about her is that she wanted to meet up with each of them separately to discuss. Which, idk, WEIRD. On a scale of 1-10 of "friendliness and non-jealousy w/r/t exes" my husband and I are like a 22 1/2 and even I would be pretty taken aback if one of his exes came into town and was like "hey, Mr. Arrr Starr, let's get some coffee ALONE."

It sounds like she's twisted up in guilt and regret and some sort of unclear need - whether it's need to be forgiven, to feel like she "won" the breakup, to deal with the fact that her friend started dating her ex without a heads up or whatever, genuine desire to make amends or just have all the emotion go away. Whatever she thinks she needs, it all starts with giving them space and giving herrself space in your head from them.


Okay, LW4, everyone's being pretty hard on you, and I'm just trying to figure out what your actual question is. You basically just said "I had relationships with some people and shit went down, I don't feel good about it, but I've moved on and it looks like they have too." Nothing here seems like a real problem, except maybe you're feeling guilty? Not real clear to me... I think the answer to your questions of "How do I work through these feelings?" is pretty simple - therapy! Also, getting some clear headspace and meditating, like another commenter suggested. It doesn't seem like there's anything left for you back there, and you should work on focusing on the relationships you do have (your new partner, the mutual friends), and maybe atone/forgive yourself for the bad shit that went down, if that's something holding you back. The bottom line though, this is about you, and it has nothing to do with them. Maybe journal? FEELINGSART? Just try not to involve anyone else as you sort through it.


@mczz I will say though, points for honesty! What's the internet for if we can't get down and dirty with the terrible things in our lives?


@mczz and stop trying to associate yourself with your ex and his new lady! why are you doing that?!because it sounds like you don't even want to, and i'm sure it feels super awkward and forced on everyone's part. just let it be, stop obsessing over it, and move one. trust me, you'll be sooooo much happier once you don't let it take up so much of you energy.


@mczz I don't know. If I was LW4 and I truly was confused, getting nailed to the wall by Hairpin commenters would probably do the trick and clear my headspace out.


LW1’s boyfriend’s biggest problem (aside from the possibility that he is a dirty fighter and shallow) is that he cares WAY too much what his friends think. Who gives a shit how your friends rate your girlfriend? A Lady is right that he should be pitied, because he’s clearly too insecure to handle a long-term relationship. Not everyone’s gonna be hot on your partner for a variety of reasons—looks, personality, voice, party playlists, it’s all a matter of personal taste—and life is too long to keep track of how much envy your relationship/partner inspires in everyone around you. If he felt more confident in himself he wouldn’t need a trophy.


@KatieWK Perfectly said.


LW4: Honey, it's time to let go. Really. When you come back to town to visit your hometown friends - don't go to their apartment. You can meet your friends somewhere else: bar, park, etc.. You need to stop torturing yourself and everyone else.


LW1: You're a pinner, so that automatically makes you a 10. True story. I'm a ten, you're a ten, we are all fucking tens! If he can't see that then dump him. Now.


@Kirs Nuh. I go all the way up to 11.


@Kirs I sang your "10" mantra to the Dr. Pepper song.

Roaring Girl

@gobblegirl I can't like your comment, because you currently have 11 likes, and it's too perfect to destroy with my approval.


LW3-I feel like you do have an obligation to tell "Harry" that you're with someone else. You guys had a thing, and have continued that thing for a year. You feel like he's coming to visit mainly because of you. Yeah, you need to tell him about new dude. It doesn't matter if you haven't had the "exclusivity talk", he's made some decisions about your relationship with him based on the last year of talking and what not, and you owe him at lease the respect of telling him what's up.
LW4-It sucks that your girl friend started dating your ex. But, unless you were friends with her beforehand, she didn't really break any rules. Besides, you cheated on and broke up with your ex. And then you're going to complain about his self esteem issues? I wonder how you actually treated him during the relationship. Sounds to me like I'd have some shit going on in my head if I dated you too.



I agree with you on both counts. Especially though for LW #3, I have to say that you sound like a nice person who's doing something a bit unethical and relying on a lack of communication (on both ends) to get away with it. I mean, no, you and Harry haven't straight up talked about his impending visit (hopefully not move? I feel like it's a move? I hope not! Harry, don't do it till you've talked things over with your lady!)but it seems like although you didn't try to stay together after his last visit, you have an understanding. Or at least, I think you see it that way, and he seems to too? Anyways, it might be time to call him and ask him what's up, and tell him what you're thinking. Having an understanding is usually a good way for a lot of people to get hurt/screwed over.


@treeskier170 LW#3 should definitely NOT wait until 5 days before he arrives to tell her long distance beau that she would feel "yucky" being "intimate" with both him and Bruce, so you won't be able to see him while he's in Australia. And also he should find someone else to pick him up at the airport. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me or anything...


LW#4: You are the problem. Leave them alone.
That sounds harsh, but what I mean is you're the one who is upset, not them. You are also the one trying to force them back into your life, when they (fair enough) have no desire for that. You don't have to keep in touch with all your old boyfriends, and all your old friends. And you don't have to like all your friends' friends. Those are ideas for children; you're an adult who can handle these difficult truths.
If you see them, smile and keep walking. Fake like you're fine, and eventually you will be.


LW 1: a person who is nice most of the time but a jerk when they're angry is still a jerk. And don't think for a second that his remark was some kind of accident. His intention was to be hurtful, so he found something he new would do damage, something that you were willing to risk being vulnerable to share with him. That is a terrible thing for one person to do to another who trusted them.

Or, you know, I don't really know your life, but that's my assessment, I guess?

Fiddle dee dee


"a person who is nice most of the time but a jerk when they're angry is still a jerk"

Oh, yes.


@Norrey Preach. LW1, get rid of this guy and find someone who fights fair. You will not believe how much better your life is going to be.


@Norrey Yeah, that's the thing. People have been using phrases like "well I can understand saying things in anger" or "having a temper", but honestly, if you are a mature person who is ready to be in a healthy relationship*, you don't say shit like that.

*NB - I'm casting a look at my parents' marriage *rul* hard here; growing up with their style of arguing, I know of what I speak.


@wee_ramekin Could not agree with you guys more. I don't understand this "saying things in anger" ... I would NEVER, EVER say something to hurt someone I cared about, no matter how angry I was.
And I bet anything, neither would any Hairpinner.
Strong emotion doesn't make it ok to say / do something awful.


lw1, i understand why it's upsetting that he just volunteered that information and now it's seared in your brain but you're only giving it more importance by constantly hounding him to admit that you're not plain. you might be plain? that's not a crime, and that has nothing to do with your personal character and him admitting it will not free him from his awfulness.


I am LW4, and perhaps I didn't make myself as clear as I should have. I do NOT talk to the exbf or his girlfriend at all anymore. I cut off contact six months ago, and I am not interested in rekindling friendship of any sort. As the more intuitive among you guesses, I'm very young (I'm 21) and am having trouble working through my emotions (IN MY HEAD, by myself, not by talking to these people). I suppose I hoped for some magic solution to not feel upset should I run into them (which probably won't even happen). It's 95% in my head, 4.99% in conversations to close friends with that .001% being real life running into them. Yes, I feel extremely guilty and I'm having a hard time dealing with it. No, I didn't reread my question before I sent it in. I really should have just said, "I have a lot of feelings, how do I make them go away?" Obviously not a question worth asking.


@hollysh No magic bullet, but it sounds like counseling could definitely help. A good neutral sounding board who has some perspective might be able to guide you through working things out with yourself. Good luck!


@wharrgarbl I'm in counseling. But yes, that is very good advice so thank you.


@hollysh Just put the whole situation in a box, label that box "things that are over," and put it behind your winter sweaters in a closet. Maybe literally! Maybe print off your question and put it in a box. Closure or whatever?
But I think it'll help to not talk about it to your friends, even if it's not very often. That makes it feel more real to you, and it also wouldn't hurt to let all your mutual friends forget it happened too.


@gobblegirl Also, good luck! I realize that all my answers to you have sounded kinda mean. Sorry for that!


@hollysh Oh honey. I think you def. want to have a look up there at this comment: http://thehairpin.com/2012/06/tens-office-racism-and-a-molehill#comment-339680

The way out is through, and by through, she means "through your issues." If you've cut of access to them, you don't know how happy they are or aren't. If you do know, it's because you're not cut all the way off. If you're hearing through the grape-vine, it's mantra time.

"Uh-huh. I am glad they are doing well. I feel badly about how I ended things, and would rather not talk about that or them. How is your kitchen renovation coming along?"

And when you're having an "argh why am I jealous" moment, you say "It's great they are close and that they are doing well and I didn't do any lasting damage. And I will never, ever, be a jerk like that again. Boy am I lucky I have a great boyfriend now, who I will not take advantage of in that way."

I was just chatting with someone else wherein we came to the conclusion that learning how to live with the fact that we hurt people we care about is one of the sucky parts of being a grown up.


@hollysh Can I ask more specifically what gets you worked up about them? Are you mostly angry with your friend for dating him? Are there things you're angry at him about? Because I think the reason you're getting such a harsh reaction is that you're expressing feelings of anger but we can't really see any reason that they deserve your anger.

I think maybe the guilt is somehow turning itself into anger as a way to sort of. . .deaden itself? Like you don't want to have to feel completely in the wrong and like these people are justified in not liking you, so you come up with reasons to be angry at them. If that's the case, then I think the key is to

1. Admit that you have no real reason to be angry with either of them, and let go of that anger
2. Admit to yourself that you fucked up with this guy and forgive yourself, like REALLY forgive yourself because everyone fucks up sometimes and if you truly intend to do better in the future, your deserve your own forgiveness.


@hollysh A really underrated solution that I've always been fond of is to burn things that remind you of them, preferably in some sort of pagan ceremony with a few good friends and a couple bottles of wine.


@paddlepickle You are spot on in your analysis. I've got a lot of unfounded anger that I've been trying to figure out in the past year. On some level I'm aware that anger is a cover for guilt and other more complicated emotions. Thank you for your advice.

Being a grown up person. Sigh.


@hollysh hey you, just wanted to say that it's really brave of you to comment and clarify stuff. that's awesome, and good luck with getting your brains a bit straightened out!


@hollysh Glad it was helpful! And good luck!


@hollysh Seconding wharrgarbl here. Counseling of some stripe will really help you talk this out. Relationships are work. Being in them, getting out of them, negotiating what you want against what they want, it's all a learning curve especially when you've only been in the dating pool a few years. Treat this as an experience you can use in the future about what to do/what not to do. We've all (look at me generalizing!) done crap things to other people in our lives, what matters is whether you keep doing them. If you're having guilt, I think therapy can help. And if you're anxious about running into them because you're worried about them judging you, well, we have 0 control over the inside bits of other peoples' brains...not much you can do about that. Therapy, journalling, exercise, time with new friends where you're talking about other things, and - time.


@hollysh I know you're getting a million responses, and I hope I'm not being too repetitive, but I've actually kind of "been there" with your situation. I think it's a defense mechanism. When we feel guilty for hurting people, sometimes it's just way easier to say "Well that person DESERVED me hurting them because I am BETTER than them" and blah blah blah. And the more they prove themselves to be nice, normal folks that you were just a jerk to, the angrier you get, convinced they are just pretending to be normal to piss you off or get to you somehow.
Good luck. It takes years. But it works out.
A Formerly Very Mean Person


@hollysh I think the key to all of this is remembering that they no longer matter. That is what helped me out of a similar feeling of guilt-based anger. The thing you are guilty about? In the past. The people you are angry at? In YOUR past. The way to make the feelings go away is to remind yourself whenever you feel angry that, no matter how you feel, that just simply doesn't matter anymore. You get to control that! You are in charge of it not mattering! Just because you see them doesn't mean that it is going to start mattering again! View all of this as great news, and empower yourself to move past the situation, alone.
And also don't talk to your friends about it because friends are AWESOME at enabling anger because they love you and are friends, which is great at the beginning, but often makes it last longer than it needs to. By forbidding myself from talking about my problems with my guy with other people I was able to stop rationalizing my anger because I was left alone with it, and I realized how silly it was.


@hollysh "Being a grown up person. Sigh." Girl, amen. We never stop having to be these grown up persons, and it's frankly exhausting sometimes. And yet rewarding. And yet exhausting. Anyway, as someone else mentioned it's great that you're working on stuff, and getting to where you can forgive yourself and move on for yours and everyone's sake. That's more than many people ever manage to do. I haven't been in your exact situation, but I've been in a similar-ish one when I was younger and in college and it is confusing as hell. You'll be ok! Take good care of yourself.


@hollysh I think your Feelings are a good sign, actually. If you didn't feel guilt-motivated anger over the way you treated your ex, then there would probably be something actually wrong with you. I did something kind of shitty to an ex of mine when I was 21, and sometimes I still think about it (it's mumble mumble years later, and we've had no interactions since) with a sort of very unpleasant rush of shame. Ultimately I think that feeling of guilt and crappiness, if channeled well, can help us be more thoughtful, self-aware people living lives we're mostly proud of.

I don't mean to be all "get a hobby," but actually maybe get a hobby? By which I mean try to learn something new (not clear whether you're still in school). Knitting or pottery or rock-climbing or meditation or whatever. It can help get your mind out of the rut of Bad Feelings. Anyway, you sound like you'll be all right. Good luck.


@hollysh You'll have a lot of opportunities to change the way you interact with people in the future - you aren't going to be the person who did this/this happened to for the rest of your life unless you make it that way.

Nothing about this requires you to make the same decisions going forward. It might not be easy, but if you can start making conscious decisions to change things, then it'll be easier to do it unconsciously after a while. Time will help a lot, I promise.


@Killerpants (and all the rest of you), thank you for your advice and sympathy. It means a lot to me. I am crying a little bit. Thank you.


@juksie 'Empower yourself to move past the situation, alone.' That's great advice! Also, maybe something I will write on a post-it for myself. I had an experience at the end of a long relationship (that had involved emotional infidelity on his part, with a side of he ended up with the other lady after having made me feel crazy for having suspicions about the way they had been interacting for the whole time we were together. Gaslighting, yup, makes perfect sense to me now.) About a year after the relationship ended, I realized I was angry (I'm not angry often, so I was genuinely puzzled by this development) and I had no idea how to get past it. So my response was to read every book I could find about forgiveness, including Bone to Pick by Ellis Cose which talks about formal reconciliation processes and personal ones. It was really heady and intense (also, heartbreaking) and it helped me realize that forgiveness really is a) powerful and b) a gift to yourself. But it was a complicated enough book that it left a lot of room for talking about the unforgivable and how righteous anger is also a valid response, which I thought was important because sometimes it feels like there is a lot of pressure to automatically forgive, in order to be the 'better' person, but that's part of what kept me in an unhealthy and demeaning relationship. Sometimes not forgiving is the more powerful response, if the injustice is ongoing, because anger can give you strength to change.


@hollysh Crying in a "thank god for nice ladies on the internet way," of course.



Listen, everyone in the entire world has been a shitty person at some point or other. Sometimes it's a very brief, yelled-at-someone-for-no-reason shittiness, and sometimes it's a more extended shittiness, but you are by no means the only person who has ever been unkind to another person.

That's not to say you shouldn't strive to be a better person, which it sounds like you're taking lots of steps to do, but this is the emotional equivalent of being five years old and telling your mom that you hate her. You're five. You have no idea how devastating those words are to her, and when she tells you this story later, you will be struck by crippling guilt even though YOU WERE FIVE.

It's a little like that, except you're 21. You probably had an idea that, in your heart-breaking behavior, you were not behaving the best way possible, but it presumably seemed like an acceptable way to act at the time. And then you found out it was not even close to acceptable, and that you damaged another person, and that feels awful to know that you've done that.

If that sounds about right, then know this: it'll happen all your life, but you will get better. You get older and wiser and better able to judge how your actions are affecting others, and you will look back at this guy with a lot of regret, for sure, but you'll be able to look at it more as the lesson that taught you to be a kinder person, and you'll stop feeling guilty, and maybe feel grateful instead, and regretful still, but not scared anymore of seeing yourself-as-you-were-with-him.

In the same way you're not embarrassed, not really, with once being a child and doing the dumb things kids do, even though you'd never do that stuff now. Because you know better.


@hollysh I think lots of people are already giving you great advice, but I also want to point out that there really isn't such a thing as closure. Closure is a myth and it will happen with time as feelings fade and you move on. Accept that and I think it will be easier to let those feelings fade - there isn't going to be a resolution and that's just fine.

Being young is not really an excuse for poor behavior, but it is an explanation and a very good one. I think the closest to a good outcome here, rather than just seeing this situation grow smaller in the rearview mirror, is realizing that you've now learned the ramifications of cheating and of unclean breakups.

Time will help, as will accepting that time will help and that it's OK to not be quite over it yet as long as you realize that's where you want to be and where you are headed, emotionally.

Blousey Brown

@insouciantlover I did that with a good friend and some wine. And one year later, that friend started dating the very guy I was trying to let go in the fire! We never even dated; he just led me on for a long time and it messed me up. It's a punch in the gut after all the heartache I confessed to her about him. They both have every right to see who (whom?) they please, but she lives next door so I have to see them together all the time. It's humiliating. I've stopped spending time with her because it's just too awkward. She misses me and I miss her, but I simply don't feel the same about her anymore. I certainly don't want to be anywhere near him. While I don't believe in being possessive about exes or crushes or whatever, I thought there was still some sort of friendship code involved.

I do relate to LW4 because of the trouble I've had letting the situation go. Am I gonna have to have ANOTHER pagan wine fire?


@hollysh Aww, sweetie, this too shall pass. Time is a motherfucker because it takes forever, but it always works. Hugs.


@Blousey Brown Double pagan wine fire seems like a good solution. That really does sound tough though, so other suggestions include branching out and finding new friends. It really helps when dealing with the pain of loosing old ones. But sorry. :/

Blousey Brown

@adorable-eggplant I really appreciate that because I often worry that I'm being emotionally immature about it. She's always handled it well by being up front about it. I gave her my blessing (what else could I do? I was with someone else by then too) but told her it would just be awkward for me. She has tried hard to see me, inviting me on walks like we used to do. I stay friendly but always say no thank you. I've definitely unplugged from that social circle (hers and one of mine -- which he's part of) and made some new friends. It's a real loss though because I loved our friendship. And we live next door! In houses that we both own, so we'll be here for a long time. Anyway, thank you.


@Blousey Brown Well, I'd say time can change a lot of things. So maybe don't force it now while things are fresh, but revisit in a few years when you're both in totally different places (metaphorically). Sometimes I like to think of friendships as on 'pause' rather than finished. Hope that helps a bit. :)


Sigh. I have such a crush on Andrew Ti. I just want to have his non-racist babies. (Just kidding...sort of)


@klemay that deleted comment was probably him, thinking about taking you up on your offer and then being too modest


@lesleygee @klemay Hit him up on his pager, y'all.

Does Axl have a jack?

Heh. For about 0.7 seconds I thought I had drunk-Asked A Lady question 1 and didn't remember writing it, what with the feeling inferior to the 'hot' exes and all. But then I got to the part about him purposely making her feel that way: DTMFA. Really, insecurity is a special form of hell even when it's purely internal; it doesn't need to be enhanced by someone who is supposed to care about you.

Dating a Dude Whose Ex Could Be a Victoria's Secret Model


@Does Axl have a jack?
Ugh, I can relate! To make matters worse, I mistakenly thought one of my dude's exes was, in fact, a model (meaning he had TWO model-status ex-gfs, since his latest ex is also quite stunning) until I discovered that the model was his best friend's ex who happened to have the same name. (Actual ex: appears lovely, but not paid to model half-naked.) Not gonna lie... I breathed a whole bunch of relieved sighs when I figured that out.

Also, I'm working on my personal self esteem issues and trying to cut down on Facebook. Dude thinks I'm beautiful the way I am.


@Does Axl have a jack? A (very attractive, at least to me) guy I dated in college once made a comment in front of me that he dates girls for their personalities, not their looks. Ah-SCUSE ME?!

White Rabbit

@Does Axl have a jack? I'm plain and have not yet learned to embrace it. My attractive ex (think sociopathic Russell Brand (or is that redundant?)) treated me like dirt, dramatically ran off with another woman in rom-com-gone-ugly fashion, and now he's dating a nude model. Just, ugh.

the little c

"I'm now envisioning a heap of English boys, you crouched on top, feral, a strip of rugby shirt between your teeth. Get it, girl!"

Perhaps I have been swooning over/watching too much Sherlock lately (where perhaps=definitely), but I found this particularly hilarious.


@the little c - "Too much"? I don't understand that phrase in this context.

the little c

@alannaofdoom "Too much" = ignoring real life boyfriend to hang out with television boyfriends. Where television boyfriends = the stars of Sherlock.

I definitely didn't blush with embarrassment as I typed that. Not. at. all.



Jesus fucking Christ, I fell into the deepest and most soul-sucking Sherlock-inspired black hole a week ago. I've watched all the episodes multiple times, read ALL OF THE SLASHFIC OMFG, google-researched both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman on the interwebs, and just last night realized that I now have an *actual crush* on Benedict Cumberbatch. I haven't crushed this hard on someone since the TSG (Taco Shack Girl). For the first time in my life, I have a real crush on a celebrity.

It is, frankly, a bit Not Good.


@all Hey ladies! Go here; we're discussing Sherlock fanfic on the Friday Open Thread! :D


@the little c I had a roommate who said she found her boyfriend to be really ugly. She was a real piece of work, though.

I've dated a guy I didn't think was particularly hot, physically. I wasn't repulsed by him, and I was attracted to his non-physical attributes, but I'm not blind, I knew he was funny-looking.

Also, included in the "sex and relationship talks" my mom had with me as a teenager was the advice "Only date guys where you find at least one physical attribute attractive. It makes the sex a LOT easier". Thanks mom?


My long-term high school/college boyfriend called me plain, to my face, on more than one occasion. For years, I decided that he was right and that was okay - he was just being honest. He liked me for other, superior reasons. We were intellectual kindred spirits! Or something!

But fuck that. I dumped him for other reasons and, a year later, found a man who won't shut up about how gorgeous I am. That's the way to be. Trust me.


SURVEY QUESTION: Does anyone ACTUALLY ever date someone they don't think is that attractive, because they 'like their other attributes'? Or is that only ever a thing you say if your friends don't think your SO is hot and you're a wimp, or if you're trying to hurt someone?

I've dated people I maybe didn't think were so hot at first glance, but when combined with their other attributes I started to find them hot. . .which is a totally different thing than not finding them attractive but liking other things about them. I don't think I could ever continue dating someone if I weren't regularly super stoked to take their pants off.


@paddlepickle I have dated plenty of guys that in retrospect, physically, I am like "WTF?" But who at the time I really liked as people like with their personalities and stuff. So yes. Love is blind, as they say, but it's vision usually starts to clear up once the object of that love starts to act like a jerk.


I did this a couple times and it always ended poorly. Ah well!


@annev6 Hmm, yes, I can say this about one person I've dated. But the "WTF?" was totally retroactive, so I don't think it's the same thing, ya know? At the time I thought he was hot, it was only afterwards that I thought he had a stupid ugly face that matched his stupid ugly personality. So even if we were fighting during that time I couldn't have said "WELL YOU'RE NOT THAT GOOD LOOKING!" and meant it.


@paddlepickle Oh, yes yes, that's what I meant was that the WTF-ing was retroactive. While in a relationship I rarely remember being concerned with someone's looks. So yeah, that's pretty weird that he was even able to bring that up.


@paddlepickle I have dated a guy I was attracted to (as in, "I want you!") but who I did not think was at all good looking. I was honestly attracted to him for those "other attributes" but I never really deluded myself into thinking he was hot. (It ended poorly, though probably not from lack of hotness.)


@paddlepickle I'm with you. I want to be physically attracted to the guy I'm with. If I don't think he's HAWT then why bother? What's great is that most of us have varied tastes and attractiveness ideals so we aren't all gunning for the same 5 hot dudes.

Example: Give me tall, broad shouldered, bald dudes with slightly crooked teeth, and an oddly shaped nose and I'm probably going to go bonkers.


@paddlepickle Well, I think what can easily happen is that a person's appearance alone might seem like nothing to write home about at first, but then their personality attributes MAKE them attractive. As in, you become physically attracted to the person as you get to know them, even if the person did nothing for you at first glace.

And then there are also some of us who are just naturally attracted to slightly odd-looking people. I've got a friend who is exclusively attracted to the standard Textbook Hot men, and whenever I've mentioned specific men that I find attractive (who often tend to be a little funny-looking, objectively speaking), she reacts with a slight air of horror.


@werewolfbarmitzvah I do not find textbook "hot" dudes attractive; they're too boring looking! Also I have a reputation for dating adorably awkward men. But one of my friends just loooooves a (in my opinion) dull-looking guy in a golf shirt and bright pants.


@paddlepickle Oh! I know this one! I recently read an article in Salon or someplace (I don't remember where, but it was a tie-in to that new dating service/thing that matches people based on smell compatibility) written by a woman who married a guy whose smell she was repulsed by. And he was also repulsed by her smell, and told her about it all the time! Like, "Can't you get a stronger deodorant?" and "You smell really bad in the mornings." They got married because she "didn't think sex was important" and "he had so many other amazing qualities." But then after like 10 years she realized that they had to get divorced and now she's with a wonnnnderfullll mannnnn whose smell she likes. Yeah, I don't know, that article was insane to me.


@werewolfbarmitzvah Give me like, ANYthing with a beard. That is basically my only requirement. It is a little bizarre, and I am SO glad that my father doesn't have a beard or it would be creepy in addition to bizarre.


@WaityKatie Hahahaha. Yeah, don't marry someone if you think they stink. I think this is a good rule.


@paddlepickle Yes. I dated someone for three years that I thought was kinda cute, but realized later after I broadened my dating field via the good 'ol okc and dated a couple guys I genuinely found/find hot how big of a difference that can make. My sex drive like, at least, tripled.


@paddlepickle My first LTR was with a guy that I initially found neutral to unattractive and then fell madly in love with, finding him ridiculously hot, personally.
However, even while madly in love, if I had been forced at gunpoint to state what I thought his "objective" number was, it probably would have been around a 5. Because while I found him super hot TO ME, the part of me that remembered what he looked like before I was in love him didn't disappear.
I think this might make me weird? Based on the other comments? Because I feel like this has been true in all my serious relationships. I found them super hot after falling in love, but could kind of separate myself from that in certain situations and see them like I did before I loved them.

Stacy Worst

@WaityKatie I'm totally convinced now that smell is the most important thing. Evolutionary biology crap or no. One dude i was with... great on paper, pretty good lookin', but the pheremone thing just wasn't there, and neither were the sexy times. Current dude though... I actually try to get him to shower and wash his hair less often (which he won't do). It's really this visceral thing and has nothing to do with looks, or personality, or anything. It's a good thing he's decent all around, because I'm kinda helpless against it.


@Sister Administrator I agree, and I am convinced this is part of why I have had so little success with online dating. (the other part is that everyone misrepresents themselves so much that you're pretty much choosing at random). Although, sometimes it can switch! Like, I'll have sex with someone and then over time start to really like his smell. That's kind of weird. Although other times that just doesn't work at all.


@Sister Administrator Haha me TOO! Oh man, that smell thing is bonkers. I've dated a couple of people who just smelled off to me, and I wish I'd called it off earlier. Now, I think my gentleman friend is minorly weirded out by how many times I've described his odor as "intoxicating."


@paddlepickle I have dated someone who I found physically 'neutral' although he had many fine qualities in other ways. After the initial New Relationship Energy eventually fizzled out, I just started feeling more and more platonic about him. I basically consider it a painful lesson that physical attraction is important and not shallow, which is something that I've struggled with due to low self-esteem issues.


@paddlepickle I have never dated a dude I found to be attractive. None of my relationships have ever worked out or lasted more than six months. I am pretty sure that in this case, correlation does imply causation.

White Rabbit

@Sister Administrator Yes, totally. I've had the same experience. In a way, I wish I hadn't, because now the bar is set so much higher, lol. I've also read that men with higher levels of testosterone have a scent that's more attractive/addictive to women. That sounds good to me, except I read it in the context of studying psychopaths/sociopaths, and I realized that both of my abusive exes had intoxicating scents. Sigh.

Stacy Worst

@WaityKatie I've been thinking a bit more about this, and how your like, visual attractiveness is different from other physical (but not visual) traits, like how you smell. Would it ever be so devastating to be called a seven on the smell scale? That would seem ridiculous! And yet the effect you have visually, given a certain baseline of hygeine and personal care, is similarly both subjective and somewhat beyond your control.


Ahhh the answer to #4 is just so perfect.

I have a similar situation. Not with my direct boss, but with one of the heads of our company who seems to think it's like super funny to imitate all the Indian guys' accents TO THEIR FACES. Like, all the time. Like every day he is doing his over-the-top Indian accent as though it is some kind of comedic gold even though no one EVER laughs at it except for the employees he's doing it to - who are his DIRECT UNDERLINGS - who give him mercy chuckles because HE IS THEIR BOSS. It's weird because although it bothers the crap out of me when I overhear it, since he's not my boss and not doing it to me I, ultimately, would rather just not get involved. Bleh. Racists! They be everywhere!


@annev6 D: D: D:

Emma Peel

@annev6 Ugh, that's so terrible. If you work at larger company, could you give an anonymous tip to someone in HR? I understand not wanting to get involved, but this seems like a situation where a bystander who doesn't report to racist-boss, and isn't being mocked, might be able to do some good. Just a thought, if there's a way you can do it without drawing racist-boss's ire.

dj pomegranate


At my last job, we had quite a few bilingual employees, some of whom were Arab. Our work involved lots of talking to people in Arabic, which is why they even hired bilingual people to begin with. One day our newly-hired (NOT BILINGUAL) supervisor sauntered into our cube room and said, "[random Middle Eastern sounding gibberish gibberish gibberish] Ha ha look, now I am speaking Arabic too!! [gibberish gibberish]!!!" We were all dumbfounded. Seriously I don't think anyone reacted.

She later made it company policy that all phone calls and emails should be conducted in English. Despite the fact that we had fluent Arabic speakers and our Arab business partners were not fluent in English. I just cannot even with that lady.

I unfortunately have no solutions for the LW, since my solution to that problem was "quit and go to grad school." But I'm pulling for you, LW!


@Emma Peel We're unfortunately one of those companies that out-sources most of its HR stuff. The only reason dropping anonymous stuff bothers me is because I would hate the boss to think it was one of his own employees (for the employees' sake). Sigh. It really is amazing how insensitive people WHO ARE BOSSES can be.


@dj pomegranate That. Is. INSANE. How do people like that get hired as other people's bosses?!?


@annev6 Considering how many people are out of work these days, I am constantly amazed by some of the kinds of people who still have jobs!

dj pomegranate

@Mira I think this basically every day. My office is the best, srsly, but my bf has stories from his office of such laziness, racism, and general incompetence that it makes me want to BURN THEM ALL WITH FIRE. Seriously, so many people want jobs right now, how do these people have jobs? How, universe?!?!

sidral mundet

@annev6 Anonymously drop a note to his boss--type it and leave it in his mailbox. Note explicitly that he's a huge liability to the company! Suggest that you think he needs to attend stop-being-a-racist training (aka cultural sensitivity) if he gets to keep his job. You can describe it from an outsider's perspective if you think it'll get someone else in trouble!


@dj pomegranate Cause once you're in it's a lot harder to get fired, especially in larger companies. I worked a temp job with a woman who went out of her way every day to make her coworkers miserable while doing the minimum possible work and it blew my mind that I was about six times more efficient and a TEMP while this woman had full benefits! If only the world was logical and everyone was assigned jobs based on their competence.


LW1--It seems like there are actually a few separate issues here, and dealing with words said in anger is perhaps the smallest one. If this is part of a pattern of behavior of either ranking women (blergh), being influenced by his lame-sounding friends, refusing to apologize and take responsibility for his actions, or making nasty comments aimed at you, don't worry about the rest of what I write here. Don't use it to justify putting up some guy who makes you feel lousy. As you say, no one needs more reasons to feel bad about themselves.

Still with me? Any time you're in a fight and nasty words get said, there are a couple things to remember afterward:

1. Our brains and bodies are wired so that when we remember an emotional event, we re-feel what happened in it. These pathways are strong and hard to break down.

2. We tend to focus on negative stuff. My husband, for example, once told me I wasn't any fun, or never had fun, or something. The ratio of "you're fun" to "you're no fun" comments in our relationship is like 1,000:1 over nearly 10 years, but that 1 is indelibly burned in my brain because it hurt.

So, basically, in these situations, we're fighting against human nature, body chemistry, and psychology. We're kind of screwed. Time helps. Being in a relationship where you really can trust the other person helps. Having a partner who is willing to just apologize already helps.

But as I say, it seems like there may be other issues here. Or not. It's hard to glean too much from about 150 words.


@Raptor41d The negative stuff always sticks! I went out with someone and one of his roommates told him I "seemed boring" (which, obviously, he told me about . . . which I guess is OK because if he shared this opinion he probably won't have told me?). Clearly it stuck with me because I have repeated it to almost everyone I know (viz.)!

Jane Err

If every guy ever doesn't think that the girl he's currently dating right this second is a fucking 11, he should have the courtesy to move on and let her find someone who does, and vice versa.


@Jane Err Right?? I am SUPER HOT but stuff dudes (I was dating!) have said to me: "I think you're pretty even if no one else does." "My dream girl is a green-eyed redhead" (I am a brown eyed brunette.) (Pointing to an American Apparel ad): "You're almost as cute as her." "You're not the best sex I've had." Seriously DUMP ALL THOSE MUTHAFUCKAS.


Love the advice to LW1 (giving marks out of ten in the first place is unromantic, shitty and mean), but the advice to LW3 seems off. They haven't made any explicit commitments, but if someone had been talking to me every day for a year I'd expect them to tell me if they're now in a relationship, definitely before I get on a plane to Australia to see them. Doesn't matter so much if new guy is a flash in the pan, but if you do really like him he's probably a better bet than Harry (having watched people struggle through massively long-distance r'ships). I'm tempted to suggest not committing to new guy just for the romcom-like situation it would create when Harry does show up, but frankly it seems courteous to let Harry know you've been seeing someone.


@angelene Yeah, this type of Keeping Your Options Open usually leads to losing said options completely.


@Amphora At least if Harry knows her romantic status he'll be prepared and able to enjoy the trip, rather than jumping on a plane with a big bouquet only to be romantically crushed on arrival, like George Clooney in that film about aeroplanes. With the jet-lag, too. Imagine!

fondue with cheddar

"Because while you're hurting now, he's currently stuck being a childish coward."

That's EXACTLY what I told myself when my ex left me. Only I didn't hurt for very long (because I realized he's a childish coward). I WIN!

Nate Jones@twitter

Is anyone else amused by the fact that LW 4's situation is the complete and total opposite of the standard Ask A ____ template?

Instead of "This guy is awesome but yadda yadda and now he did bad things to me," it's "i did bad things to this guy, but yadda yadda and now here's how much he sucks."


Ugh, my mom is like LW2's boss. Except she's fully aware that I'm not racist and am super uncomfortable with racism. Here's how a conversation with her goes: "I know you're not 'like that' (racist), but really. [Insert awful, racist statement.]

I don't respond, and just awkwardly change the subject.


Uhhmmmm yell at her, I guess?
This reminds me, gotta ask my manager why she whispers everytime she says "Black".


@Felicia Maybe, "Hey, mom, not only am I not 'like' that, but it bothers me that you are. I respect/love you as a mom person, but if you continue to be a bigot around me I will have to [insert threat you feel comfortable following through with, e.g., distance myself from you, always call you on your prejudice, let loose screams of primal rage]" Dealing with these issues in the fam is really tough, because it's hard to do the never speak to me again method, which is my absolute favorite strategy for dealing with racists.


@Felicia @adorable-eggplant Yeah, I've practiced that speech a bunch of times, but my mom is sort of crazy. Well, not even sort of. And if I offend her, she might not let me see my little siblings, and they're sort of like my practice kids. And if you met my 6-year-old brother, you would know why I couldn't handle not hanging out with him anymore.

But eventually, I will work up the courage to say something like, "Hey mom, that kind of makes me uncomfortable. Could you stop with that while I'm around.?" Or maybe I'll just get really drunk and yell at her. I don't know.


@Felicia Oh man, younger siblings. That's extra tough. :( Stay strong and be diplomatic, then. :)


@adorable-eggplant My parents are pretty racist, but I notice they've learned to hide it very well around me, particularly if I have the BF along with me. You know why? Because I call them on it IMMEDIATELY and without mercy, and they know if they pull any crap, there's going to be an embarrassing scene right in front of everyone. They don't want to be embarrassed in front of someone else. My dad has actually put his hand up in surrender at a mere look from me, when politics got mentioned. (interesting how politics and racism merge these days)

Bosses, on the other hand, you just have to say something like, "I don't want to have this kind of discussion in the workplace, it's unsettling and interferes with my ability to work." You don't have to embarrass your boss and get yourself fired. But you CAN note what you said politely to ask for that kind of talk to stop, the date and time, and report him later eventually, if necessary. I'd simply look for a better place to work, though I know it's not easy these days. Even must looking around will help you feel freer.

Mr. Kitty

As someone who has juuust exited an abusive long-term relationship, LW1, get out. He said that awful thing to you in a fight because HE'S BEEN THINKING IT ALL ALONG. He brought his friends into it. That's almost as bad (or sometimes worse, depending) as bringing his family into it. How does he expect you to feel around his friends now? Happy? Accepted?

Ugh. I'm in a period of *enlightenment after coping with recent physical abuse and I just don't want any woman ever dealing with any of this bullshit. Ever! I'm sorry, but who the fuck cares if his "friends" think you're not a perfect 10? Oh, right, he does. You wouldn't have written into an advice columnist if your gut feeling didn't tell you to.

*also wine drinking


@Mr. Kitty Right? I've been in an emotionally abusive relationship before, and LW1's description of her fight reminds me SO MUCH of the shit that I dealt with when I was dating that juicebox.

Seriously, LW1, don't put up with that shit. It's not going to get better, it's going to eat away at you until you believe that you are plain, that you are not good enough, that you are inferior, and it will take a long, long time to undo all of the damage his words have/will cause. I mean, there are other commenters who have already pointed this out, but his intent while you were fighting was to wound you as much as he could. And that's not what you do when you care about someone. It isn't normal or ok, and I'm sure you know all of this, but sometimes having an internet stranger say it at the end of a real long comment thread can work as a gentle reminder.

And Mr. Kitty, good for you for getting out of that mess, and I'm so sorry that you had to deal with an abusive relationship.

White Rabbit

@Mr. Kitty Virtual hugs and huge props to you for ending your abusive relationship. I'm a fellow survivor, and my alarm bells were also going off while reading her letter.

And I'll second what @nervousrobot said.

It's so easy for someone looking in from the outside to minimize/rationalize that kind of behavior, but those of us who have experienced it and know that this is how abuse often starts can't help but jump up and down and wave our arms in an attempt to spare someone else that misery. Here's hoping the LW heeds our warning.

White Rabbit

@Mr. Kitty & @nervousrbot You might want to look into Lundy Bancroft's writing, if you haven't already. He also runs retreats during the year for survivors of domestic abuse. These were an important part of my healing process, so I wanted to share.

Janine Acevedo@facebook

LW1, LW1!
“Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal — as we are!”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre


@Janine Acevedo@facebook could be said from the other point of view, too -- we generalize about good-looking people. I've met some ridiculously good looking men who were actually insecure about being treated like little male bimbos, longed to be taken seriously instead of viewed as objects by people they would like to have been loved by. Just like some women. Everyone can be an asshole to another, based on being goodlooking or not goodlooking.


I thought Mr. Ti's response was overly reactive and a little silly. No racism is NOT silly and should be taken seriously. I totally agree with that. But when I envisioned the boss taking her comment as a cue to launch into a racist tirade, I envisioned my redneck parents and relatives doing the same exact thing with each other. It is quite possible that your boss is just used to being around other people who think the way she does. She may be completely unaware that other people are NOT okay with that sort of thing. So, in this case, I really feel that your energy would be better spent simply saving any reaction for if and when she says something truly outrageous or acts upon her racism.


@MalPal Yeah, but. Saying something that could be construed as "hating on all black people" IS outrageous. And saying something racist IS acting on your racism. Would we use the same argument if her boss was was used to being in a sexist/macho environment and consistently belittled women but didn't outright sexually assault anybody? I think Mr. Ti's response to this was spot-on and not at all silly. Casual and institutionalized racism, like casual and institutionalized sexism, is just as socially destructive as more "outrageous" displays of racism, etc. And there is NO REASON to imagine that we need to wait for something terrible to happen before we address it. Why should anybody not feel empowered to stand up against something that sucks? Why shouldn't we feel like we have the agency and the right to use our energy to address things that are troubling and unacceptable?


LW4 - You've got to do some soul-searching honey. You're fixated on these people because they represent emotions and happenings in your past that you have not completely worked through. I think that this is an opportunity for you to grow and you need to take it. You absolutely need to let them go. Cut off from FB, etc. Stop calling when you visit home. Maybe stay with other friends. Easier said than done but I think you will be a lot happier in the end without all this emotional baggage. *Coming from an expert baggage carrier. Expert.*


LW#1 When my bf and I got together his future brother in law (at the time) told him he could do better...I was a little peeved when I found this out but as the BIL got to know me he admitted I was the best thing for him. So moral of the story, don't let his loser friends get you down. I'd let him know how he upset your feelings, just be open and let him know. Don't let it boil up inside of you.


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Elizabeth Mark@facebook

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