Captain Awkward is one of my favorite advice columnists. With a focus on consent, clear communication, and the kinds of boundaries that let relationships flourish - Captain Awkward addresses issues like How to Say No, Boundaries, the Darth Vader Boyfriend, Manners, Captain Awkward's Dating Guide for Geeks, and Enthusiastic Consent. This may seem like an odd site to squee about, but one of the things which makes me happiest is when people who are suffering learn ways to lessen both their and others' suffering. The scripts people offer, the responsibility of the commetariate, the framework it sets up that everyone should be respected and that boundaries should be set and enforced - all of it is incredibly appealing to me, and I've learned a lot from both the Captain and the Awkward Army.
Here are a few of my favorite posts and phrases which set the tone for the advice and the commentariate (do read the comments!) fairly well. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is ones which stood out to me. In no particular order:
How do I deal with a clingy friend who tries to make over my life? is one of the earliest posts, and the phrase "The African Violet of Broken Friendships" came out of it, referring to a way to acknowledge the good in a relationship but let that relationship go.
“Dear Friend, please take this African Violet as a symbol of the close and wonderful friendship we once shared. Please enjoy it in good health, and if you are having a problem or just want to chat, please call someone else from now on.”
The Sandwich Means “I Love You”: A Valentine which is about learning to accept the love that our friends are trying to give us.
I love your friends. They are wicked practical about emotional matters, and when they say “Keep the pills at my house,” or “I will make you a grilled cheese now” they are really saying “I love you.”
I’m sorry your Jerkbrain is translating that differently for you. I think it is hearing “I love you…for now…as long as you don’t actually like start to depend on that love and count on it too much and maybe become a burden? Enjoy this grilled cheese of temporary toleration and eventual judgement and abandonment.”
But your friends? They’re just saying “I love you.” Really.
My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?, which has to do with the phenomena of the Broken Stair (coined by Pervocracy) and incredibly common social experiences.
So, yeah, I wanted to be very clear that these letters are part of a larger cultural paradigm that is a direct outgrowth of male privilege. Can women be creepy? Yes, for sure. They are human and capable of anything that humans are capable of. But when they are creepy, they don’t have an entire culture backing them up and explaining why their creepiness isn’t that bad.
How do I get a Team You? which talks about making a strong support group for yourself - and by extension being part of a strong support group for other people.
The thing you really wanted, though? That person to drag you out to the movies every Thursday or something? That will require that you spend some of your newly reclaimed you-time researching local options to make human connections doing things you like. (And then using at least one of those options). Yoga/exercise classes at the Y? Art classes? Extension classes at a local college/university? Writer’s Group or book club at the Library? Crafting? Recreational sports leagues/clubs? If you’re in a rural area, here is a thread on connecting with people there. I’m not going to fill this post with specific suggestions because I know nothing about what you like or where you live. But no matter where you live, there are people doing something you enjoy, and that’s the best way to find a person you can hook up with for a regular Thursday movie date or something like that. You attend some sort of group or class with people who have a common interest, and when you meet people you like (after a few times) you ask them if they want to go for coffee after class sometime. Yeah, it’s almost as squirmy asking a friend-prospect out as a romantic prospect, but that’s what you do.
My dad hit me., which contains the coining of the phrase: "The House is Full of Bees!" to refer to situations where one needs to listen to their instincts and leave people who are mean to them.
Oh man, it really does feel that ridiculous when you look back on it. You watch one of those horror movies, and the sinister voice says, “LEAVE NOW” and the characters are like “What was that? I’m sure it was the cat. Everything’s cool,” and you’re like HOW CAN YOU BE SO STUPID the house actually told you IN WORDS that it didn’t like you and you’re all me and this house, BFF.
And then you remember your ex-husband who was like, “You’re fat and ugly and I hate you” and you were like “Even though he hates me and told me so, that is just how he shows love. I should live here forever, we are so happy,” and now you can’t make fun of bad movies without thinking about serious social issues.
Of course in this particular horror movie, the cabinets open and shut and the sinister voice says “LEAVE NOW MORTAL” and you’re like, sure, okay, I’m out of here, and then blood comes out of the windows and the house says “WAIT I WAS HAVING A BAD DAY” and you walk back in the house and it says “BECAUSE YOU’RE UGLY” and bees come out of the ceiling, and you leave again and the house is like “NOOOOOO WAS IT THE BEES? I FILLED THE BATHTUB WITH FLOWERS” and you get in the bathtub and the house is like “FLOWERS MADE OF DESPAIR HA HA HA.” Abusive relationships: they are this dumb (in retrospect).
I have extreme anxiety about being touched and hugged. How do I survive an upcoming funeral?
wherein the phrase "Jedi Hugs" was coined to refer to non-physical hugs.
Here is a nice story. At my gram’s funeral, a longtime family friend brought his small son, who was just waking to the wonders of Stars Wars and also was going through a period of not wanting to hug. The friend brought his son to me for a hello, and encouraged him to give me a “Jedi hug.” “I’m hugging you with my miiiind!” said the little boy, encircling air with his arms.
It was in fact just the kind of hug I wanted, and I told him so!