On putting your engagement on hold

Please give me some words.

I am engaged to my partner of 5.5 years. When he asked me, I said yes because I was scared of what would happen to us if I said no again. (He asked me early in our relationship fyi and at that time, I said no).

He’s my best friend in the whole world and we have a good time together.

But I’m in emotional turmoil now. I have overwhelming feelings for a guy I work with (who is married). We went on a night out together and flirted outrageously all night.

I have all the signs of severe crushing; butterflies in my stomach when I see him, heart racing, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping etc.

I don’t want this to be something though. I love my fiancé and I want this to work. I’m scared I’m lying to myself about getting married. But on the other hand I’m scared of sacrificing our happiness for a stupid crush which will never amount to anything.

Help me please. I can’t talk to anyone about this and it’s eating me up.


Put your engagement on hold. Give your fiancé back the engagement ring. Tell him to hold on to it for you, just for a while, and that you will ask for it back when you are ready.

It will be a difficult conversation, but you need to do it. One of two things will happen. He will understand and agree and your relationship will continue, or it will precipitate the end of the relationship. (Whichever happens is what needs to happen.)

If it precipitates the end of the relationship, so be it. Let it end. It’s okay, and it was probably inevitable anyway.

Now, if he agrees to put the engagement on hold and keeps the ring for you, see how that feels. At first it will be a great relief, but sit with it for a while. Wait for the next set of emotions to reveal themselves. That’s when you’ll know what to do. In the meantime, don’t have an affair with your office crush. Trust me. Once you’re off the hook for the engagement, the work crush will spike for a hot minute but then it will suddenly begin to evaporate, because the crush itself is really just a manifestation of your anxiety about getting married.

I’m not saying the crush isn’t real. It is, but it’s also your subconscious’s way of screaming at you that you’re not ready to get married to your fiancé. Once the engagement pressure is off, the crush will no longer have a purpose to serve, and it will quickly seem frivolous. (Unless you indulge in it, in which case, you’ll be making a major fuck-up.)

Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting you put your engagement on hold because you have an office crush. I’m suggesting you put your engagement on hold because as much as you love him, you don’t want to be married to your fiancé (yet?). You’ve got so much denial and cognitive dissonance going on that the crush is really just a symptom of a brutal truth that you weren’t quite ready to face until right this moment.


On knowing stuff

How do you know so much about so many things? I mean, come on, physics, relationships, history, neuroscience, pop culture, international politics, philosophy, economics, spirituality, literature… basically everything! How the fuck do you do that?


The thing I wonder is why doesn’t everybody else? There is so much amazing stuff out there worth knowing, and it’s so much fun to soak it all up.

Let me be the first to say that I am not an expert in any of those subjects. I’m merely fluent in them. I’m a mile wide and an inch deep (maybe a few inches), but that’s all it takes, and the best part is that once you start accumulating subjects, you start to see how they’re all connected. They all intersect.

That’s my trick, by the way. That’s why it seems like I know so much, because I recognize how physics connects with pop culture or neuroscience connects with spirituality or politics connects with history or literature connects with philosophy.

That’s really all I’m doing, just making connections between subjects. I mean, sure. You have to love reading and totally nerd the fuck out sometimes, but it’s so worth it. Once I’m interested in a subject I get voracious. My face is constantly exploding from all the new shit that occurs to me.

Seriously, you should try it. Once you start seeing the patterns that connect everything, it’s fucking magical.



On therapy

Why do people need therapy?

Asked in a weird general way because I get it’s deeply personal, and my therapist asked in our consultation like I should know what I want from the experience before I’ve had it.

Maybe I’m jaded by my experiences so far but keeping the bar low and seeing what they’re offering is fair, right?


Okay. I’ve noticed some interesting changes in the past couple months. Not only do I have a shit ton of new readers, but I’m getting well over twice the number of submissions.

This is a wonderful thing to watch happen, but there has also been a rather fascinating trend as of late. For whatever reason, I’m suddenly getting an overwhelming number of questions that relate directly to therapy.

I’ve gotten a huge spike in people who are in therapy asking for my opinion about something specific to their treatment. I’ve also gotten a massive spike in questions from people who are considering therapy and want to know whether they should try it, how it works, and what to expect. I’ve also gotten a tremendous spike in the kinds of questions that are very serious where the only responsible answer I can give is, “you should really talk to a therapist.”

I can’t explain this phenomenon, but at the same time, I can no longer ignore it, and I feel like I need to put this out there: I am not a psychologist.

I have tons of thoughtful opinions and personal knowledge about therapy, and I certainly know more about the process than the average person, but that’s all I have to offer you. When it comes to serious questions that need to be addressed by a mental health care professional, the best I can do is point you to the nearest mental health care professional.

I welcome all your therapy related questions, and I’ll always give you my thoughts and opinions, but please don’t ever construe that as professional medical advice.

Okay, that being said, the question here is, “Why do people need therapy?” The simplest answer is that good therapy can provide life-changing insights into who you are as a person that have a dramatic and positive impact on your relationships, your patterns of behavior, and ultimately your well-being.

Good therapy improves the human condition. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If every individual, couple, and family in America would spend an hour in therapy during the hour a week that they’d otherwise spend in church, this country would find itself ushering in a new age of enlightenment in less than a year.

Not that it’s possible, of course, but I really believe that.

Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

I’m single this year. What should I get into on Valentine’s Day? I was thinking wine and budgeting, do you have any other suggestions?
One of the greatest parts about being single is not even having to acknowledge that ridiculous Hallmark holiday. I suggest you spend your weekend doing whatever the fuck you want.

Regarding the question about the guy who signed the card “always,” what does it mean when he signs it “much love”?
Oh, Valentines Day. You bring me so many sad and desperate questions. Okay, listen up. This answer applies to anyone asking about how he signed your stupid card: Any word other than “Love” means “Not Love.” Any word that mitigates “Love,” including “Much” or “With” means “Not Quite Love.” Any words that amplify “Love,” including “With Deepest,” “All My,” or “And Affection” means he’s either cheating on you or he’s a douche. (You all deserve this for participating in such a stupid ritual.)

Kasich, huh? Well you did call it. Do you think the sane outnumber the crazies in the GOP or has one of the two major political parties in this county completely lost its mind?
The crazies are only a vocal minority of the GOP, and when it comes to actually pulling the lever, GOP voters don’t fuck around. Trump was never going to get more than 25% of the lunatic fringe, everyone hates Cruz, Rubio is a child, Bush is a chump, and Kasich has been low-key presidential this whole time. Now that the primaries are here, Kasich is gonna pop. I said it last year, and I still stand by it.

Why do I want to know what celebrities’ vaginas look like?
It serves two purposes. One, it sexually arouses you. Two, in a culture that worships celebrity, it humanizes them in your eyes. (That’s me being gracious. I could also say it degrades them in your eyes, in which case you would be a creepy creeping creep. I’ll let you decide that for yourself.)

Do I need to talk to my boyfriend about my impossible crush on one of his best friends or should I just keep that shit to myself and wait for it to go away?
If you tell him, the triangle that forms will detonate your relationship, which was most likely your subconscious plan all along. You’re asking me whether to push the self-destruct button on your relationship, and that’s not my decision. It’s yours, but you should at least know what it is that you’re really doing.

Can you explain more about EMDR? My doctor suggested it could help me, and everything she said sounded a little freaky-deaky, tbh.
It sounds a little freaky-deaky because the human brain is, in fact, a little freaky-deaky. Google that shit. It’s real science. It really works.

Why am I attracted to older men who are in positions of power over me? Is it because my dad is super old?
It’s not just because your dad is super old. It’s also because your mom is much younger. That’s the dynamic you learned. That’s the pattern you’re repeating.

Why does everyone suddenly hate feminism? Do we need to find a better word to describe ourselves?
I don’t accept the premise of your first question, and the answer to your second question is fuck no.

people need to learn 50% of lifestyle is attitude. (the rest is opportunity.)
Preach. (But opportunity is privilege. Never forget that.)


On my lifestyle

Do you really consider yourself part of the 99%? While you sympathize with the poor, most people could only dream about your extravagant lifestyle. Why not donate the money to charity instead of spending it on cocaine and designer clothes?


My first instinct was to tell you to get off my dick, but I decided to make this a teachable moment instead.

To the first question, it’s not a matter of whether I consider myself part of the 99%. It’s math. I simply am. I’ve never even come close to being in the 1%. (Sure, I’ve rubbed elbows and other body parts with quite a few wealthy individuals, but that doesn’t make me one of them.)

As for the political implications of your question, you seem to be suggesting that I’m some kind of hypocrite for not living in abject poverty. That’s silly. Quite frankly, the fact that I’ve peeked over the wall and actually witnessed some of the grotesque decadence of the 1% only makes me that much more fierce of a class warrior.

As to the second statement, you’re both wrong and right. You’re wrong in that I don’t sympathize with the poor. I empathize with the underprivileged. Huge fucking difference. You’re right in that I’ve been in the room for some pretty extravagant shit, but so what? I’m super cute and fun to be around, which in turn allows my lifestyle to have very little to do with my tax bracket. That’s where my privilege comes from. I don’t deny my privilege, nor do I apologize for my lifestyle.

To the last question, I can’t remember the last time I spent my own money on cocaine, and I’ve never paid retail for designer clothes in my life, not that it’s any of your business.

And since you brought it up, I regularly donate to charity and do volunteer work whenever I can. Always have, always will.

Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

What is an asshole, even.
Might I recommend one of my favorite little books, Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James. It covers the topic brilliantly.

What does it mean when a guy sends you flowers and signs the card, “Always”?
It means he went out of his way to not use the word “Love.”

Art should demand something of its audience. Agree or disagree?
Art is the demand.

this is crazy. im a girl who likes anal sex. i’m scared to break up with my boyfriend in part because i worry about finding another guy who is into that, and into it respectfully. is this irrational??
Okay, it’s this “in part” thing that matters here. What are the other reasons you’re scared to break up with your boyfriend? For real, are you ready for the relationship to end? You have to be honest with yourself. If you’re done, you’re done. Worrying about who’s gonna respectfully fuck you in the ass just seems like an expression of denial over your inevitable break-up.

Is this really all there is to life? Work, eat healthily, exercise, make friends, lose friends, date, etc? I thought the future would be cooler. Then again, I thought I would be an Astronaut or a Pop Star or an Actor so maybe my expectations needed to lower at some point.
Why did you capitalize those professions? Such an odd thing to do. As for your expectations, even astronauts, pop stars, and actors have to do all that shit you listed, so I don’t quite know what you’re bitching about. This is a pretty awesome time to be alive. If you’re bored, it’s your own damn fault.

Do you ever sell your old books? It would be cool to receive a book from the library of the Coquette.
I don’t sell them, but I’m constantly giving them away, especially the ones that I love. It tends to leave my bookshelves filled with good-but-not-great books, which is fine I suppose, because anybody who makes it back to my place ain’t judging me for my book collection.

Why does Amal Clooney even matter to you?
Better question: Why does Amal Clooney mattering to me even matter to you?

Why have you chosen not to take drugs anymore?
I didn’t say I’ve chosen not to take drugs anymore. I said I’ve deliberately chosen not to find drug connects in my new town. (Just because you don’t want the number to the local Domino’s doesn’t mean you’ve stopped eating pizza.)

You haven’t moved to fucking Tulsa have you?
I would move to a mental hospital before I would move to Tulsa.


On how to jump off a sinking ship

You never answer, but I keep asking anyway. Maybe I’m a masochist.

I’m trying to find a new job since my company is pretty close to going under. I work for a small town company owned by a big corporation that only cares about the bottom line (of course they do! they’re a corporation.)

Right after they hired me, they fired the only other reporter. It’s just me and the editor now, and we do all the work. We only publish bi-weekly and it pays shit. I can’t afford rent and groceries and my student loans. So, I’m looking for something that I can support myself on. Only problem is, most jobs want you to start ASAP, and I can’t bear to leave my editor high and dry. If I leave before they find a replacement for me, the paper will literally be unable to function and my poor editor would be stuck doing everything by herself. She already does so much, I couldn’t leave her alone like that.

But I can’t stay in this position forever. What do I do? Do I just tell them that I’m looking for a new job? I don’t have a lot of experience, and I’m afraid that if I don’t get hired somewhere else, they’ll let me go because they know I don’t want to stay anyway.


Clearly you don’t have a lot of experience.

Let me tell you how this works. Keep your mouth fucking shut and go find the very best, highest paying job available to you and take it immediately.

Only tell your current employer after you’ve accepted the new position and have a firm start date. Give your employer as much notice as possible, but never let giving notice take precedence over a better opportunity.

Now, I’m sure your editor is a lovely person, but you owe her nothing except courtesy. You owe your paper absolutely nothing at all, and you owe that big corporation literally less than nothing.

The paper will be able to function without you. You are not irreplaceable. Not even a little bit. If you were irreplaceable, you could demand more money, but you can’t because you’re not. Never forget that. Even if what you’re saying is true and the paper couldn’t function without you while at least still paying you a living wage, then that means it’s a sinking ship, and you’d be an idiot not to jump off as soon as possible.

Oh, and yeah. You are definitely a masochist. Maybe even a little bit of a doormat. Loyalty is important, but if your employer doesn’t take care of you, then fuck taking care of them. (And if any of this sounds harsh, remember, you’re the one without any experience.)


On Gloria Steinem

WHY would Gloria Steinem SAY that?? I’ve gone from respecting Steinem and what she has done in her lifetime for women to being infuriated by her for her bullshit about women supporting Sanders, but I feel guilty for feeling that way? No real question just totally unsure how to sort out my emotions on this.


Gloria Steinem is eighty-one goddamn years old. Eighty fucking one. She’s allowed to make a slightly out-of-date but perfectly harmless observation, that in all honesty, wasn’t that inaccurate. Women do tend to get more radical as they get older, and for the exact reason Steinem suggested — they lose power with age where men gain it.

Could she have ended the observation there? Yes, that would have been best, but she was sitting across from a political comedian and she tried to get a political laugh and she made an error in judgment. She made a stupid joke at the expense of young women, and it was neither funny nor accurate. She fucked up on live television. Oops.

Now the international association of the united sisterhood of think-piece writing feminists (of which I am a proud, card-carrying member) has gone puppy-monkey-baby bananas over this poorly worded, off-the-cuff remark.

I get it. It’s always think-piece season, but this right here is some weak fucking tea. Did Steinem say something stupid? Yes. Should she issue some kind of apology or statement revising her remark? That would probably be wise. Do the rest of us wish our eighty-one year old grandmothers were half as woke as Gloria Steinem? Of course we do.

This thing right here (and the thing with Madeleine Albright and pretty much everything with Hillary Clinton) isn’t a product of bad feminism. It’s a product of a massive generation gap between old-school establishment Baby Boomers and marginalized Millennials who are rightfully tired of listening to a bunch of crusty old cunts be disrespectful.

Yes, I called them crusty old cunts, but guess what? We’re all gonna turn into crusty old cunts one day. It’s inevitable. In the meantime, I don’t want to burn Gloria Steinem at the stake, I have huge amounts of respect for Madeleine Albright, and I’ll still be happy to vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination.

I recognize this as the old disrespecting the young more than feminists disrespecting other feminists, and sure, that deserves to be addressed, but I’m also fairly forgiving about shit like this.

Maybe I’m used to looking the other way when old people act their age because my own grandmother was half a racist lunatic. Maybe I’m willing to cut a little extra slack for trailblazing women who literally changed the world. Maybe I’m wrong about all of this. Who knows? But hey, I’ve added my think piece to the pile, and now I can go about my day thinking about something else.

Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

Is it okay to fail?
Hell yes. It’s necessary.

why does it bother me that my boyfriend is bisexual even though I spent a decent part of college hooking up with other girls at parties
Because there’s a double standard with regard to male bisexuality in our culture, and you’ve unthinkingly made it a part of your value system.

“Hooking up” sounds too juvenile and “sexual relations” too Bill Clinton-y. How should I talk about sex with my therapist?
Don’t modify your language to suit your therapist. Say whatever the fuck you want. Whatever gets it out of your mouth is best.

Found $100 on the ground, not attached to a wallet so I can’t really return it. I feel guilty spending someone else’s money, but just keeping it doesn’t mitigate their loss. Where would you donate it, charity makes everyone’s world better right? Sidenote: Should I have just walked past it? Kind of feel weird that I even picked it up.
If you want to donate it, give the hundred to Planned Parenthood. It’s okay to keep it, though. You haven’t done anything wrong.

Are there any sports where women could hold their own if we had integrated men’s/women’s teams?
Baseball, soccer, tennis, and golf leap to mind, but what the fuck do I know?

Have you seen the series Transparent? Should I start watching?
Yes. It’s amazing. The performances are so damn good. The Pfeffermans are a brilliantly written family of spoiled rotten narcissists, each of whom you’ll either love or love to hate. Give it three episodes and you’ll be hooked.

Would you bother taking an ex to court for money they owed you? Or just write it off as an expensive bullet you thankfully dodged?
If the amount belongs in small claims court, I’d let it go.

How did you find drug connects in your new town?
I’ve deliberately chosen not to find drug connects in my new town, but if you’re asking for yourself, the answer is to hang out with people who do drugs.

Do you listen to vinyl?
I have a small but respectable collection.


On chemistry with assholes

If I frequently have chemistry with assholes, does that mean I’m probably an asshole?


Not necessarily, but it does mean something.

Do you frequently have chemistry with people you know up front to be assholes, or people who later turn out to be assholes? Those each mean something different.

If you frequently have chemistry with people you know up front to be assholes, that is to say, you are consciously attracted to them because they are assholes, that speaks to the environment in which you were raised. Specifically, your dad was probably an asshole. If you were raised by a single parent, then that parent was probably dating assholes around the time when you were 11 or 12 years old. Your family environment during that bridge from childhood to adolescence plays a tremendous role in your future relationship patterns. Take a hard look at how you were raised, and if you recognize any repeating maladaptive patterns, fuckin’ fix that shit before it ruins your life.

Now, if you frequently have chemistry with people who later turn out to be assholes, it could mean any number of things. Often it just means you’re a bad judge of character, but it could also mean that you’re a bit vindictive. (If everyone you date suddenly becomes an asshole the moment things end, that means you’re the problem.)

Of course, there’s always the chance that you have chemistry with assholes because you’re an asshole, but if you’re self-aware enough to know that you frequently have chemistry with assholes, you’re probably also self-aware enough to already know if you’re an asshole.

Whether you’re an asshole or not, if you frequently have chemistry with assholes, you gotta go deep and figure out why no matter what the reason, because I promise your life will be fucking miserable until you get that mess out of your system.