Mom: "If someone asks you advice about killing themselves or killing somebody, you need to direct them elsewhere. People take things seriously and they will find you and track you down and kill you. If you think I'm joking or exaggerating, I'm not. You think I'm being overdramatic, don't you?"
Me: "No! I'm trying to transcribe, you're talking too fast."
Got it? Okay!
Also -- we'd like to invite you -- the reader -- to chime in with your advice if you've got it. Also, this is sort of a test run. Hav's coming out to NYC in a few weeks, so we'll do an advice vlog for a few special questions, and we're gonna cover some questions on ichat, etc. So send us more questions, we need more questions, more! more!
Dear H & R,
My new boss recently relocated desks and is now sitting next to me. Her ringtone is 'Clocks' by Coldplay, and every time I hear it ring I want to throw myself off the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Her taste in music is severely affecting my time in my cubicle. My co-workers have advised that raise this issue directly with her, however confronting people just isn't how I roll. If you could suggest a more passive aggressive solution to my problem then it would be well appreciated.
-Cold for Coldplay
Haviland: Confront. Srsly. Try this, "hey, would you mind turning your ringer to vibrate?" You obviously need to learn to be more aggressive. Do it with a smile, and your boss will understand. She's being very disrespectful to have a cell phone ringing in the workplace, anyway! This happens in dressing rooms all the time, and the best way to go, for sure, is just to ask nicely. I'm all about the direct approach. (of course you could just say, "oh em GEE!" every time it rings, but like i always say, why waste that kind of time?)
Riese: Although I'm a big fan of passive passiveness and aggressive aggressiveness in relationships w/friends, I fully support passive aggression in the workplace. What Haviland is suggesting is the kind of thing you might do if you were a confident, pro-active, forward-thinking problem-solver with a great deal of poise and direction. I'm not like that, I'm a wimp at work. Let's go:
1. Find out what music she hates the most and make that your ringtone, then set your phone to email alerts so it'll go off all the time. I can email you all day. Oh wait, I already do, Secret Person. She'll get so annoyed that she'll start to question her own behavior.
2.Next time it rings, grab it and throw it against the wall and go 'I HATE COLDPLAY!'
3. Start playing "Clocks" by Coldplay on an old-school boom box on repeat all day so she can't tell if it's her phone or the boom box. And if she's like "Stop playing Clocks on repeat all day, it's annoying," say, "Funny you should mention that ..." and so on.
4. All of those things take longer than just confronting, but c'mon, what else are you gonna do at work? Work? Right-o.
My girlfriend is moving cross-country to live with me (we've lived together before, so those dynamics are worked out). So, what should I do to make things easier for my girlfriend when she moves here? I worry pretty equally about the outcomes of either forcing her to hang out with my friends endlessly (whether she likes them or not) or leaving her at home alone all the time while I go socialize. Not that I don't think she'll make her own friends, of course, I'm just worried about the transition period between cutesy I'm-so-glad-you're-finally-here-let's-do-everything-togetherness and normal (somewhat separate, I hope) lives. Any advice would be appreciated.
Riese: So I have this theory which's that people expend the least amount of effort possible at all times in order to make it from sunrise to sundown without slitting their wrists. Which's just to say that if she gets on w/your friends straight away, she'll probs never bother to make her own, and then you'll be trapped in a 24-7-togetherness that'll eventually lead to either double suicide or the end of sex. I think you must ask yourself: "Do I truly want my girlfriend to attend this social event? If we didn't live together, would I invite her?" and if the answer is "yes," then invite her. But if you start inviting her for any reason besides a genuine desire to have her there (e.g., obligation, wanting her to feel included), that'll get unhealthy fast.
I did the cohab thing once. Howevs, 'cause I'd cheated on my boyfriend with a pledge at his fraternity as a prelude to what I saw (incorrectly) as our impending breakup, I was actually formally prohibited from attending his social gatherings. Then about four months post-cheating, he went out of town and his "brothers" invited me over and ragged on him all night and I had an a-ha! moment. Was there a point to this story? Oh, then I dumped his ass and his "brothers" helped me move out. Don't let that happen to you. Hey-o!
Ok, enough about memememee. Also, totally JK'ing, I just wanted to talk about myself and be humor, that would never happen to you, speaking of you; let's get back to you. Leaving her at home alone won't do anyone any favors, 'cause she's not gonna make new friends with your couch (howevs, there is the internet!). Work or school will be the best area for her to have a life separate from yours. Also, make out frequently and when she arrives, answer the door in nothing but whipped cream.
ALSO! (omg, I have so many feelings about this) If it's a big group gathering, you never know who your gf will click with. Maybe she'll end up being besties with a peripheral friend. Magic social evolution! KaZAM! It's not bad to have many of the same friends as your girlfriend, it happens often, just try to be aware of it happening organically instead of by default, if it does.
Tinkerbell says that your girlfriend wants a vodka-tonic and a back massage.
Haviland: I basically agree with the Riesling, except I haven't had the experiences of which she speaks, with the frat boys, etc. The main thing is to make sure you're still living your life, even while she's entered it. You absolutely do want to make her comfortable, but not at the expense of making yourself miserable. Make sure she feels like your place is also her place, and that can be as simple as picking out some cute things to decorate - candles, throw pillows, autowin collages, whathaveyou. I'm hoping she has a job, and she'll be able to make friends there. In any event, you should talk about this with her - tell her your concerns and that you are excited about making a life with her, but are cognizant of being too codependent, and want to keep your relationship great and sexy and honest and healthy. Hopefully she'll be respectful of your alone time with your friends, she'll meet her own, you'll have date time, alone time, etc...and it'll all work out. Just keep those lines of communication flowin'. (Did I just say that? oy...)
Riese: The main thing is to be sure you make an effort to maintain some romance and mystery -- a romantic night out is often less romantic when you witness your partner preparing for it, instead of seeing her just show up looking fantastic. Don't pressure each other to check in all the time (it's nice sometimes to go to Wal-Mart w/o your SO knowing you're going to Wal-Mart) and be sure you have lives just separate enough so there's still stuff to talk about. Like don't be "How was your day?" "Um, you should know, you were there for the whole thing." Etc.
How can you make people attracted to you without always having to be the friend... i.e., I would rather not be Ross to the Rachel, the Will to the Grace ... In other words ... what do I do?
-Friend Without Benefits
Haviland: Oh, honey, haven't we all been here! You can't make anyone like you, dear - it'll just happen. If you're into someone and you're not sure if they reciprocate, flirt a little bit and try and figure it out, or ask one of their other friends. Leave a little "circe" (gift) at their place or at their work...nothing too romantic at first - better if it's sweet and/or funny. Make sure whatever it is can later be sluffed off as being a friendly gesture, but also, something that, if they are into you, they'll think is super sweet. If you find that they aren't into you, let it go! Don't waste your precious time obsessing over someone with whom it just ain't gonna happen!
Riese: I think what Haviland is saying is "lower your standards." Howevs, I think you can sometimes win someone over by showing them (subtly!) you can treat them right (if that's what they want) ... or by making yourself indispensable to them, like make them super codependent on you and then be like "look, either we take this relationship to the next level, or I'm outta here," and then they're like "fuck, I better keep you around otherwise who's gonna make dinner?" Mostly, I'd say that you need to talk about other romantic exploits (make some up if you don't have any) to make yourself seem like you're being desired by people all over the world.
But srsly, the most attractive trait a person can carry off is confidence. If you don't wanna be slotted as a "friend," then you need to be someone who knows what they're doing. Don't confess anything embarrassing or radiate neediness or inexperience right away. That'll come later, once you've already had a few rounds of riding the hobby horse wink wink.
1. Axe Body Spray.
2. Be mysterious and aloof, or better yet -- mysteriously aloof.
3. Didn't Ross & Rachel end up getting married? Just sayin' ...
4. I believe a great pop song once sang, "I can't make you love me if you don't, I can't make your heart feel something it won't." Right? Yeah. Think about it -- you can't force someone to be with you and you wouldn't want to. If they don't see how fabulous you are, then they're not the "one," 'cause "Thinks I'm fabulous" is a very important trait in a partner.
5. Get drunk and go to Manhunt.com, it works every time.
Haviland: I agree about the confidence thing, but the other advice? hm...maybe the axe body spray...this is a very good idea.
Riese: Secretly, I think my brother wears Axe Body Spray. And for someone with my genetic makeup, his luck with the ladies is not too shabby.
I've been with my girlfriend for about ten months. We're good together. The only problem is, she bites me. Really hard. I don't know how to explain away neck and shoulder bruises. What do you suggest?
Riese: Listen up, Semi, I told you to just say you fell down the stairs! Oh wait -- ten months. NM. Um, okay anonymous Bitten, if you were my friend and you had neck and shoulder bruises and I was like, "what are those?" and you went, "my girlfriend bites me. Really hard," I'd be like HOLLA! and give you a high-five, and then we could go to the record store and have a few beers, maybe listen to some rock n' roll, etc.
But seriously, I think you need to make up a story -- like tell your girlfriend, "OMG, so apparently everyone at work has been chatting about my shoulder and
neck bruises and they think that you're like, abusing me, or -- I dunno, everyone's looking at me funny and thinking i have some sort of sordid secret life. So you have to stop! I know it's hot and fun, but I can't explain away these bruises forevs!" or something. Also, are you sure she's not a vampire and she's actually eating your blood? I think there was an L Word episode about this.
Haviland: I don't know about "making up a story." I'm never a fan of this. Do you like the biting? If not, then just ask her to stop, that you're into her, but not into that. If you do like it, you should just ask her to take a nibble on all the places that people at work won't see. What I would do is tell her she's really sexy (make sure to boost her up, so she doesn't think you're putting her down) and all the true things you love about her and her biting, but tell her you're afraid people are staring at your bruises. Suggest some places to nibble that aren't so visible.. In any event, talk to her about it - tell her this is kind of hard to bring up (obvs it is if you're writing to us about it and not just talking to her) but that it's important to be honest, because you do really think the relationship is great and that you're good together. This is a minor thing. The thing is, if you're in an intimate situation, and your mind is on "omg there she goes with that - how am i going to explain it this time?", then you're not really being all that intimate, and your mind is taken off of her. And don't you think she wants it to be on her and how good she's making you feel? So, thats the deal...communicate.
Riese: While we're on the topic, FYI ... DO NOT TOUCH HAVILAND'S FACE."
Haviland: "Do NOT touch my face."
Riese: "I just had another idea -- coat your body in poison, like people do when they don't want to bite their nails."
Dear H & R,
I came out to my parents two years ago, when I was 18. My mom's Cuban (w/very strong religious beliefs & "family morals") and my Dad had just been getting back into religion again. My mom stopped speaking to me for five months and my Dad thought I should let go of all my sins so God would forgive me, but I don't like being forced into religion ... or anything. Also, they asked me not to tell my younger brother, who was 15 at the time, and I agreed to wait 'til he was older -- I guess I wanted to give my parents something.
Last November, I put my foot down. I told my Mom I didn't want to just be "tolerated" and I had a right to tell my brother and so I did. He said he kinda already knew but it was still weird and when I tried to talk to him about it, he'd just shut down.
To make everyone else comfortable, I never talk about being gay or about girls I find attractive, but it's getting to a point of ridiculousness. Today I was driving my brother home from school, listening to Katy Perry's CD -- she sings "I Kissed a Girl" and "UR So Gay" (although Perry herself is straight). My brother FLIPPED OUT and asked me to change the song 'cause the last seven songs have been about "that." He can't even say the word "gay."
I love him so much and I'd do anything for him, but I'm getting so tired of trying to make everyone else comfortable while sacrificing being myself. I don't ever overstate it or throw it in anyone's face, and I never would, but I think listening to a song that mentions girls kissing each other or uses the word "gay" shouldn't be a problem.
Am I overthinking this? How do I approach my brother w/o him shutting down? Do I have a right to feel the way I do?
-IM So Gay.
Riese: Do you live at home with your parents? I feel like maybe you feel a little guilty for being gay 'cause they've told you to be, and that repressed self-loathing enables you to not feel you've got a right to actually be a whole person and demand that your whole person be loved and respected like everyone else.
Have you had a girlfriend? I'd suggest that you find a smokin' hot girlfriend who's totally into you, and then bring her over, and your brother will think it's hot and your parents will be like "omg, there are lesbians who don't wear flannel and chop down trees with hairy armpits," and she can win them over, etc. Actually I think what I am describing is a prostitute (not a bad idea!) In general ... I think it's hard to live your life feeling any kind of guilt for how you've chosen to live it. You'll never be able to feel fully comfortable in your skin until the people who love you can look at your skin and your face and your whole self and say, "it is good."
Haviland: I have a lot of feelings about this. Do you have anyone in your extended family or family friends who could be your ally on this, and help you to talk with your family? You need a team. Sadly, many, many people go through what you're dealing with - a family who believes fully in the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. So you're left feeling that if you even reference possibly thinking someone might be attractive, that you are being sinful and inappropriate and wrong. YOU ARE NOT WRONG. It's amazing that you told your mom you didn't want to just be tolerated -- maybe you can take it a step further and get her help on this? I think it freaks out families to think of their kid/sister as being gay because it, annoyingly, puts their mind into thinking of that person (you) in a sexual situation, and no one wants to think about their sister or kid having a sex life. What's important for your family to understand, and MORE importantly, for you to really be at peace with, is the fact that being a gay is really not a big deal. Really. Instead of dating a guy, it's going to be a girl. That's all. Align yourself with an ally or two, or 100. They are out there. You've found a blog full of them here, in fact! Didn't Jimmy get the memo that lesbians are hot? Send him the links to our websites! I'll leave you with this, from "Silent Legacy" by the Queen of being guilt-free about who you are, the extraordinary Melissa Etheridge, "Mothers, tell your children -be quick - you must be strong. Life is full of wonder. Love is never wrong."
Riese: I think you need to ask your Mom what it is precisely that concerns her -- is she worried you'll be poor w/o a man 'cause women have unequal earning power, or that you'll be ostracized, or is she legitimately worried that you're going to hell? Confront those concerns head-on. (Directly to the forehead.) Also, I feel like a lot of homophobia stems from the homophobic person being angered by/ashamed of their own gay feelings (a.k.a. The Fairbanks Syndrome) (see also: the evangelical Christian preachers getting blown in gas station bathrooms). 'Cause sometimes we're all a little bi. Ask your brother what exactly it is that bothers him -- is he embarrassed? Grossed out? (and if so, point out the idea of thinking about him having sex with a girl also grosses you out). Maybe if they're just worried what other people will think, you can offer them your closeted behavior around their friends and family in exchange for love within your immediate family. Or say you understand they don't approve, and that that'll never change, but you'd like to be able to be yourself around them, and that accepting you doesn't mean they're backing down on their beliefs. Ultimately it's their problem -- you've got no problem with how they live. They're the ones creating all this drama.
They need to know it's not their "fault," and that it's not gonna change. Show them books and movies and shows and Ellen & Portia! As long as you internalize their loathing, they'll get away with it -- they probs still think you can change, 'cause they don't understand that it's a part of you that you can't change. Once they do, they'll realize they've got two choices: accept it, or loose you. And the art of losing is hard to master, no matter what Elizabeth Bishop says.
FYI; there's nothing in the bible against lesbians. Just -- so you know. As Ruth told her gay son in Six Feet Under when he came out; "I don't get to chose which parts of you that I love like some kind of chicken."
Haviland: Yes, asking your mom what scares her so much would really put the ball in her court. Also, the more I think about it, I feel annoyed by everyone always saying that they aren't flaunting their sexuality or whatever - like as though you are walking down the street naked, waving a pride flag? I don't really get this. Most lesbians I know are pretty boring, actually - they live in homes, some of them have kids, many of them engage in gossip and obsession, not unlike seventh grade girls...but basically, if "flaunting" it means just being cool with who you are, whats the problem with this? I used to feel awkward about holding my girlfriends hand in front of my parents. But then I had to think, ok, if this were a guy, would I feel awkward? Well, probably. But the point - when you are passionate about something, don't you want to share it with the people you love?
Riese and I obvs have SO many feelings about this, and since I've been thinking about it for 15 years (srsly, I'm not kidding about that), I have a lot to say, and I feel like many of our readers might have thought a little about this, too! So, let's continue this dialogue!