Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

Omg, thank you for posting again
Sure thing.

Did you stop blogging because of the trolls?
Nope, not at all. I’m just living a life over here, and sometimes I have to focus on other things.

I’m 27 and debt-free and I’ve finally given up on the idea that people liking me and being right will make me successful. What now?
Surround yourself with quality people, and find something that you enjoy doing.

I pretty much get all my news from Vox and podcasts. I don’t know if this is bad.
Add the Washington Post and a well-curated Twitter account into the mix, and you’ll be fine.

When I’m with someone, I know my worth. I’m intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic, independent, whatever. If they lose interest in me, I think “your loss, you won’t find another person like me.” Is this arrogance or self-esteem talking?
That first bit with all the positive characteristics is self-esteem. That second bit about him not finding another person like you is arrogance.

I’m 35 and divorced. He’s 42 and divorced. We both want a family. We both don’t have one. I’m not sure if I love him but I know he would be a good and dedicated father. Should I do it? Is it settling?
It’s not settling if having a family is a higher priority for you than being in love. It’s important that he’ll be a good and dedicated father, but make absolutely sure he will be a good and dedicated partner as well.

On the first date, a guy wanted to fuck me. Declined, but said perhaps in the future if he “plays his cards right” (forgive the cliché). Why does it bother me that he referred to it as me “playing games”? It was going really well otherwise, I just needed more time to decide when (if) I wanted to have sex with him.
You literally referenced playing a card game with regard to his pursuit of you sexually. If the “playing games” cliché bothers you, perhaps you should update your metaphors. (And it bothers you because you take your vagina way too seriously.)

Coke, why are people fucking dumb enough to buy and use “smart speakers” in their homes? Do people really not give a shit about their privacy for the sake of mind numbing convenience?
We walk around with microphones and cameras in our pockets all day long. You think that’s any different than having an Echo in your apartment? Besides, nobody with the skill or authority to hack your devices is listening to you. You aren’t that important.

How many times have you changed careers?
Three.

Do you still feel the same way about monogamy as your younger selves?
Yes and no. These days my dial is set somewhere around monogamish.

So… thoughts on 2018 so far?
Better than 2017.

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Advice

On still hearing you

Not looking for a response on this one. In fact, I would be pretty embarrassed if you posted this. I simply owe you an apology.

I’m the one who submitted this over a year ago: http://dearcoquette.com/on-hearing-you/. In a moment of despair, after feeling for a long time like I was flailing wildly, trying to make even the smallest improvement in my life and failing at every attempt, I lumped your lack of response in with the giant mass of external indifference that I felt was closing in around me. Desperate for any validation–or failing that, catharsis–I turned all that frustration into an arrow and hurled it back at you.

Reading your response filled me with gratitude, relief, and even hope; I started to believe, just a bit, in my inherent value as a person. It turns out I trust validation from a complete stranger (whom I deeply respect) more than that of my loved ones; I can’t help but think they’re biased by the fact that I’m already just furniture occupying space in their lives.

However, your response convinced me because your sincerity came across, and that’s when I realized how unfairly I may have burdened you. Reading the comments only supported my fears that I had ridiculously expected you to be responsible for soothing my ego. I’m deeply ashamed to admit that, after following your blog for almost a decade, I forgot that you are a person with feelings, and of course you can’t respond to everything, but this whole community knows you care enough to genuinely wish you could. I saw–too late–how I took advantage of that, and I did not deserve the compassion you showed me in that moment, when I forgot your humanity yet you saw and affirmed mine. I’m beyond grateful that you did, but I’m so sorry that I demanded it of you in the first place. I’m sorry for any and every negative impact that post may have had at the time or any time since—for all I know there were none, but of course I can imagine many, so, for all of them, I’m sorry.

I’ll be honest: I still feel like I’m furniture in other people’s lives. I still believe that I am a cause of suffering to those closest to me, and that eventually I’ll hurt everyone I love. I’m not okay…but I do believe that I have the right to try to be. I am getting help. I’m trying to learn to minimize the misery I cause others, to avoid using my mental illnesses as a reason to take advantage, and to actually ask for help rather than extract it by manipulation. It’s progress, I suppose, since the last time I hit this button.

Thank you for doing what you do, and for being who you are.

 

You are way too hard on yourself.

No doubt your constant Eeyore impression gets annoying at times, but I promise that you are not the cause of anyone’s suffering. You can’t be. People are responsible for their own suffering. That shit isn’t on you.

That being said, having a mood or personality disorder is a totally separate problem than not having any integrity. Good on you for recognizing that you shouldn’t use your disorder to take advantage of people. Keep working on your integrity, and do what you can to quit being so fucking hard on yourself.

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Advice

On unrepentant assholes

I’ve been with my boyfriend almost two years and things are really good between us. We have fun together, great sex, support each other, take turns doing all the boring stuff around the house, try out new things and visit new places together, and generally have a really good partnership going on.

I love him and love being around him, but avoid speaking to him about stuff that matters to me at all costs because I know it will end up in a huge argument and I will want to break up with him.

I’m not talking about stuff like my family or friends or job. If I voice worries about that kind of thing he is a great listener and really supportive. If I talk about my hobbies, again he listens and is enthusiastic with me. I hope I am in return. We believe in each other and encourage each other.

It’s more on a political/hypothetical level that things get ugly. The first warning bell came when I started dating him and saw on his bookshelf the title ‘Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth.’ Or something along those lines. When I asked him about it we launched in to a big argument. I don’t mind debates, but it soon seemed to me that he just totally lacked empathy. At no point is he prepared to concede that, as he isn’t a woman he might not be able to fully comprehend what it’s like to be a woman. He’s all, why should he (as a white man) not be allowed to speak about things because of ‘the accidents of his birth.’ He will argue around in circles about things because he enjoys debating, but fails to ever really listen. Our most recent argument was with him arguing that gay people choose to be gay. He said we should think they have a choice because it is empowering to them, or something equally irrelevant. Time and again I try to explain to him that, just because it would make more sense for the world to be a certain way hypothetically, it doesn’t mean that it is that way; you can’t always reason to conclusions; sometimes you have to accept that there are gaps in your knowledge and that you aren’t the authority on something. He disagrees. He actually said ‘I’ve never bungee jumped but I can have an opinion on it.’ It makes me want to slam my head against a wall.

I don’t know what to do. Am I just being precious and over sensitive? I don’t believe in only being around people who agree with me and always try to listen to other points of view, but I wonder if I’m somehow losing my integrity by being with him.

 

About half of all the submissions I receive are some version of “Hey, CQ. I really love my boyfriend, but it just occurred to me that he’s a chronic, unrepentant asshole. What should I do?”

Over the years, I feel like I’ve been fairly consistent with my recommendation: dump his ass, learn from the experience, and do better next time.

You, my dear, are with a magnificent asshole.

Act accordingly.

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Advice

On sober reminders

A few months ago, I took an overdose of beta blockers, and when I was in the ICU my heart stopped for almost a minute. The doctor showed me the chart where my heart was beating and then it wasn’t, although it was all rather difficult to comprehend at the time and the oxygen mask pushed on my glasses and made seeing clearly somewhat difficult. I remember wanting to ask the doctor if I could keep the chart, but thought that might be inappropriate. I wish I had asked now, because it would have been a sober reminder for moments like these.

I stayed in hospital for a few days and told no one where I was. I was so ashamed. As time went on, I was desperate to get out of that lonely and stale environment. When I got out, I felt so lost and wished I were back in the close quarters of predictable ward life. No one except my therapist knew about the attempt, and for weeks afterwards I wandered around in a surreal reality where my world had changed but the world in general had not, and everyone around me went on about their lives. I wanted to scream.

Soon enough, I returned to work. On the surface I appear to be doing alright. But in some ways, I’m not, and although I’m not exactly suicidal, I’m extremely uncomfortable with myself. I feel quietly desperate and lonely.

I don’t have a question, I just wanted to say that I don’t know how I feel about anything anymore, least of all myself.

 

Since you don’t have a question, I don’t really have an answer, but if I were you, I would go back to that hospital and request a copy of that chart, specifically whatever data and documentation they have of your heart stopping, and then I would go frame that shit.

You may be lost, but you’re alive. Please stay that way for as long as possible.

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Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

My relationship is OK. Not amazing, not bad. I oscillate between wanting to end it, and sinking into another comfortable night of Netflix with someone I love. I’ve never been this comfortable and I feel like it’s sucking out my motivation to improve other areas in my life. Is this a good reason to leave?
It’s not your relationship’s fault that you’re a lazy piece of shit. Fucking handle your business. Motivate. Improve the other areas in your life. Do it now or you’ll get stuck in a pattern where you think the best version of yourself can only be single.

I’m 25 and just started cutting myself again. What the fuck?
It happens. Go get some professional help. If you need a referral for mental health care services in your area, email me here.

Coke, I just got to Sydney for my best friend from high school’s wedding. So amazing seeing her and her family. Then we got to her apartment and met…him. Her fiancé is a total asshole. I’m kind of freaking out.
It’s not your wedding, so you don’t get to freak out. Be cool. Kill the fiancé with kindness, and don’t make any part of the wedding about you.

I need to make a career change, and I know exactly where to move, I know exactly what I need to do to get a job there, I’m close to having a significant amount of savings, and I even have a partner who’s ready, willing, and eager to go with me. I hate my current job, I’m sick of my apartment and my neighborhood, and I’m even getting tired of my entire city. So why I have I spent all my free time full of anxiety, goofing off, and not planning at all?
You’re paralyzed. It’s fear of the unknown combined with an ugly case of emotional and/or spiritual inertia. You gotta push through that shit.

Rupi Kaur? Thought you were above that kind of yuppy wisdom.
Milk and Honey was given to me by a friend who was dying of cancer. Y’all couldn’t have known that, but at the same time, y’all could also chill the fuck out. My book lists are a snapshot of what’s on my bookshelf. They’re not a curriculum.

The friend who introduced me to this blog oh so many years ago passed away unexpectedly and far too early. His funeral is tomorrow and I’m so glad that you’re posting more right now. It’s providing an unexpected comfort and connection. Thank you.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you read this and think of him fondly.

You followed me on Twitter a year ago, and since then, some of the coolest and most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure to know began following me. I’ve actually become friends with some of them. Sometimes, I feel like a fraud because they see me in a better light based on what they think of as a tacit endorsement from you. Either way, I’m still grateful. You are a part of me, even though I have no idea who you are and you have no idea who I am.
Yeah, Twitter has kinda become what Tumblr used to be for me.

Read your post from August 2013, On the harm in flirtation. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Been messaging some married guy back and forth, thought it was harmless since we’re both not interested romantically – but your post made me stop and think. And I realized his wife would be upset if she knew. I just happened to be hitting the random advice button. So glad that’s the one that came up. Thank you.
Glad the 2013 version of me could help.

Hey Coke. Do you know anything about the contents about your identity contained in this review posted recently to Amazon? Apparently, you’re an almost 40-year-old single mom, who fled L.A. because she was unsuccessful in her career and love life, among other things.
Ha! Every single detail of that review is straight-up wrong. The only thing remotely accurate is the fact that I’m a struggling human nobody like 99% of the world. (I mean, duh.) I do love the idea that my identity is an “open secret” amongst some set of people who are either tragically misinformed or completely full of shit. There’s something deeply satisfying about that.

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Thoughts

On a bunch of heavy books

Even though September has passed, any chance we could still get a book list?

Yes, yes. I know I’ve owed you a fresh book list for some time now. Unfortunately, my library isn’t as fun as it used to be, but that’s what happens when an incompetent, narcissistic grifter becomes president and a bunch of punk bitch neo-Nazis feel emboldened enough to march through the streets with tiki torches dressed like little racist Best Buy employees.

We live in interesting times, y’all. I’m still hopeful that this country will get its shit together and the Democrats will win back the House in 2018. I’m also looking forward to the day when the Mueller investigation finally sinks the Trump administration. Until then, stay frosty, and enjoy this list of slightly more serious books about the fucked up world we’ve created for ourselves.

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy Lee, MD

The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage by Jared Yates Sexton

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessions from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur

Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton

Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist by Cristof Koch

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll

The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk MD

Fuck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by Michael Bennett MD

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (They can’t all be serious.)

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Thoughts

On who I was and who I will become

Are you the person you have led us to believe you are? Some part of me feels that this was some weird social experiment that blew up beyond your wildest expectations and now you’ve outgrown the gimmick. I don’t ask this in any judgmental way. I’ve grown with you too, perhaps a generation or two apart. I am not the same person as I was when you were still “Dear Coke.”

 

I’ve been completely open about the fact that this was a weird social experiment that blew up beyond my wildest expectations. Anyone who’s come along for the ride also knows that I’ve outgrown several gimmicks. I’m certainly not the same person I was a mere two years ago, much less a decade when all of this ridiculousness started. Hell, we’ve all grown up. It’s what we do.

What you’re sensing is real, though. My life is much less frivolous now, and the world is a much more sinister place. I’m still living a relatively comfortable life, but after changing careers and changing cities, my day-to-day has taken on a much more serious tone. People depend on me, and I’ve taken on very real responsibilities that would have terrified my former self.

I’ve been making all of this up as I go along, and the question as to what happens next has never had an answer that extended beyond the next six months. That’s still the case. I’m not going anywhere, but I have no idea what this will become in 2018 and beyond. We’ll see. All I can say for sure is that this place will always reflect my true character, and the only promise I can make is that even if I end up having kids one day, Dear Coquette will never devolve into some craft-sharing cutesy-ass mommy blog.

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Advice

On smug little shits who think they deserve my time

Do you care to substantiate your claim that Ben Shapiro is a fascist? Or offer some counter points (backed by peer reviewed sources) to Gaad Sad and Jordan Peterson? Or are you now a part of the anti intellectual regressive left that prefers to just sling terms like “fascist” instead of engaging in the open market of ideas?

This is why you can’t find a girlfriend, Bryan.

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Fun-Sized Advice

On some long overdue fun-sized advice

I feel like you abandoned us when we needed you most.
Don’t be silly.

It hurts when he chooses someone over me. Calls me when it doesn’t work out. And I know it and I hope he loves me. I don’t know why I do this to myself. Every time I forget him he comes back into my life. I let him.
You do this to yourself because you enjoy the pain. The flood of negative emotions you feel when he chooses someone over you serves a greater purpose in your life than the tiny, twisted dose of joy you get when he comes back around. You’re using him as much as he’s using you, and the only person who respects you less than him is you.

I live in a cute neighborhood with a couple of bars not even a 5 min walk from my apartment. Is it uncool, unwise, and/or unsafe to have a drink by myself once in a while to try to meet people (not for hook-ups)?
It’s perfectly fine. Get to know your bartenders. Become a regular.

I work with a bunch of super-‘smart,’ hipster, trendy, young, ‘digital nomad,’ techy people at a company that is basically a glorified recruiting firm for freelancers. Everything is just a little too, I know know…. ‘start-up awesome.’ What is my deal?
Nothing. You’re experiencing the new normal. Keep doing your thing, get to know as many people as possible, and don’t ever get too comfortable.

Why did my fiance’s ex start following me on Instagram? We’ve been together for four years and I’ve never met her.
Please. You’re the evil bitch who’s about to marry her first love. She’s gonna be hate-following you for the rest of your natural life.

I cheated on my boyfriend, and he assaulted me (broken bones, etc.). Both are moral failings of course, but am I self-centered for feeling like the assault was more egregious than the cheating? All of my friends feel as though I deserved it, and are distinctly “Team Ex-Bf”. Does infidelity justify violence? Is this my penance?
Physical violence outside of self-defense is utterly inexcusable. Anyone who even remotely defends your ex is not your friend. Get the fuck out of that situation and as far away from those people as possible.

I’m 19 years old. My mom keeps talking about how she wants to kill herself. I don’t know what to do. I feel useless.
Call 911 the next time she does it. Don’t hesitate. When the emergency first responders arrive, tell them that your mother is suicidal and demand that they take her to a hospital. Go with them. Tell the doctors that she has a long history of suicidality and that you believe she is a danger to herself. Tell them she needs to be put on a 72 hour psychiatric hold. Take control of the situation, and don’t back down. Ignore all the horrible shit that your mother will say to you. It will be scary and it will be difficult, but I promise, if you follow through and get your mother admitted, I guarantee things will change. I can’t promise that your mom will stop manipulating you with her depression, but I can promise that you won’t feel useless anymore.

You’re leaning a little less to the left these days, aren’t you? It’s understandable considering the chaos of late. I wonder if you listen at all to people like Gad Saad, Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson who have reasoned, intelligent ideas on politics, gender, race etc.
Reasoned and intelligent ideas? What the fuck could you possibly be thinking? Gad Saad is a lumbering asshole, Ben Shapiro is a creepy little fascist, and Jordan Peterson is just plain wrong. Ugh. Just because these pricks make the rounds on respectable podcasts that doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. Fucking hell, have some intellectual integrity.

I’m getting very close to checking out early. On an individual level, I’m struggling to keep my head above water. On societal and global levels, everything seems to be unraveling. How do I keep moving forward when it’s getting harder to believe that there’s even a future?
Your problem is that you think struggling is the same thing as suffering. It’s not. Learn to separate the two and you won’t resent your existence so much. Your other problem is that you think there’s supposed to be a future. There isn’t. We’re all gonna die in the next few decades, and on a geological timescale, nothing we’ll do as a species is ever gonna matter. That doesn’t mean you get to check out early. You still have to show up and do your thing.

I was raped 3 years ago in an alley by a stranger. I have just now recently (last 6 months) started therapy for my bouts of PTSD. Why do I feel like my case of PTSD has less significance than say, ongoing sexual abuse or childhood trauma, when I’m trying to discuss it? And why do I care? And why am I letting this get in the way of making any real progress in healing?
In a word? Guilt. You’re letting guilt get in the way of healing because deep down you blame yourself for the rape, and rather than do the hard work it takes to process that guilt, you’re unconsciously taking the easy way out and allowing your guilt to manifest in the form of therapy interfering emotions. Whenever you start feeling like you aren’t as worthy of treatment as others, catch yourself. Recognize that it’s just your guilt talking, and remind yourself that none of this shit was your fault and that you deserve to heal.

I read that Portland has a very racist history. I’ve never been but I liked the idea of it until I read more about its past.
Wow, you’re really gonna be bummed when you hear about the history of literally everywhere in human civilization.

Is it true that you can’t be racist towards white people?
It’s certainly true in America. (You can be prejudiced against white people, but racism requires an element of systemic or institutionalized oppression, and the dominant cultural group is, by definition, not oppressed.)

What’s the difference between making it work and settling?
The low quality of your relationship versus the low quality of your partner.

He just broke up with me. After 7 years. Said he didn’t want to marry me. Why do I feel surprisingly okay right now?
Because you didn’t want to marry him either.

I’m Indian. I started dating this black dude a white ago, and he’s friends with this vegan white chick with dreads. Why does this bother me?
Because vegan white chicks with dreads bother everybody.

House to be completed in October. Should I lock my mortgage interest rate now or wait for Trump destabilize the economy between now and the end of October?
Lock in your rate immediately. That shit’ll be half a point higher by Halloween.

What is your opinion on people who have wine glass charms?
The only thing I feel for them is pity.

I’ve matched with everyone in this small town in Tinder/Bumble for a year now, and no one has replied.
Move.

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Advice

On turning the first page

Six months ago, I moved to a new city after graduating. Five months ago, I met my best friend here, and he kissed me the first night we met but then told me he has a long distance girlfriend. Since then, we’ve spent a lot of time together, traveled together, and done a fair amount of drugs together. Additionally, we have been each other’s support for our respective anxiety/depression. Sometimes it feels like we’re friends, and sometimes he asks me to spend the night when we’re coming down and I do it because I want him and he’ll just ask me all the “what if” questions while we lay there spooning in our underwear. He’s the first person I’ve ever loved, and a few weeks ago I finally saw how unfair it is to me and to the girlfriend that he treats me like a girlfriend even though he has her. I realize I am not exempt from blame here because I should not have let myself fall for him and I should have drawn a line and held my ground when he would cross lines (to be clear other than the one kiss, no sexual line has been crossed, but lines have been crossed). Additionally, something that has been helping me to fall out of love with him is realizing how he doesn’t deal with his mental health problems in a healthy way- he tends to lash out at people, myself included, and then apologizes profusely and does it again a week later. But it’s hard to fall out of love with someone. What do I do now that I’ve realized all this? He is still my best friend here and I still want him in my life. There has been far more good than bad, and when he’s not being weird. which to be fair 90% of the time things are normal, he is an amazing friend.

 

This is really sweet.

You should know, this new friendship isn’t the first chapter of your adulthood. It’s barely the first page. You’ve got so much more headed your way, and if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll be fine.

Keep drawing those firm lines. Cultivate your moral center. Listen to you conscience, and don’t for one second let him or anyone else violate your boundaries. Savor the process of falling out of love more than you did the falling in part. There are so many deeper truths to learn on your way out of relationships than on your way into them.

Keep exploring. Learn. Grow. Enjoy the drugs, but don’t ever let them become the reason you show up to the party. Also, whatever you do, don’t let the anxiety and depression become a part of your identity. That’s your best friend’s problem. He defines himself by his mental disorders. You’ll see it eventually, and it will likely be the thing that finally extinguishes your romantic feelings. That’s okay, though. You’ll finally be able to turn your first page.

Of course, not to predict the future, but as soon as you’re done falling out of love, his long distance relationship will come to an ugly end and he’ll show up at your door making every overture you wished he would’ve made in the beginning.

If you’re smart, you’ll keep the page turned.

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