Advice

On Hillary

43 Comments

Hillary is a a liar hiding a hawkish, plutocratic agenda behind women’s issues and gun control. She may even be worse than Obama on foreign policy issues.

I remember you saying that you supported Sanders but would give up when he had no chance. Amazingly, that still hasn’t happened. It appears all of those Monsanto/Goldman Sachs/Lockheed/fossil fuel dollars paid off last night.

People pay attention to you as an intellectual. We trust you. Why aren’t you criticizing her more?

 

First of all, complaining that a politician is a liar is like complaining about water being wet. They’re all liars. Grow up.

Secondly, I don’t grant your premise that Hillary is hiding a hawkish, plutocratic agenda. Hillary knows how to strategically apply U.S. force projection, but that’s not the same thing as being hawkish. In my humble opinion, she’s the only candidate who could beat Putin in a staring contest, but at the same time, she’s not gonna run around as if her hair’s on fire over ISIS like all those fear-mongering Republican numnards. Hillary is not war-loving. She’s strong. She’s diplomatically not to be fucked with, and nobody ever gives her enough credit for it.

Everyone is constantly complaining that Democrats are a bunch of pussies when it comes to foreign policy. Ironically, it’s gonna take the first President with a pussy to prove that Democrats actually have some balls.

Admittedly, I hate her position on Israel and Palestine, and her vote on the Iraq War will haunt her for the rest of her life, but at the same time, I’m sick and fucking tired of far-left wingers slamming Hillary for having to back up Obama’s foreign policy agenda as Secretary of State.

Also, you’re confusing her economic centrism for a plutocratic agenda. Hillary is not a plutocrat, though it’s an easy mistake to make, because any candidate standing next to Bernie Sanders will come off looking like a plutocrat. No, Hillary is merely a pragmatist when it comes to American capitalism. I’m okay with that. At the end of the day, she’s still a bleeding heart where it counts, and she would be far more effective at actually implementing a liberal domestic policy agenda than Bernie. To quote the philosopher Tina Fey, “bitches get stuff done.”

Oh, and for the record, women’s rights and gun control are not issues you hide behind. That’s incredibly insulting. Maybe you’re a man and you don’t give a shit, but the assault on women’s reproductive rights in this country is no fucking joke. The next President will likely be appointing more than one Supreme Court Justice, and that may or may not tip the balance of the court to one that could overturn Roe v Wade. That’s terrifying. We cannot allow that to happen. Ever. I trust that Hillary would appoint fantastic justices. (And yeah, I know it’s silly, but just the thought of Hillary appointing Obama to the Supreme Court makes me giddy.)

Obviously, Hillary is not perfect, but she is more qualified to be a U.S. President than any other candidate in this election cycle. I love Bernie Sanders and his ideas. Really. I love everything he stands for, but I’m also a huge fan of Hillary Clinton. It requires absolutely no cognitive dissonance to like them both. The idealist in me gets to vote for Bernie in the primary, and odds are, the realist in me will get to vote for Hillary in the general. I’m very happy with both of those votes.

Y’all can quit asking me to hate on Hillary. You know I’ll call her out on her shit when she deserves it, but I’d also be proud to have her as my President.

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Advice

On being worthy of friendship

19 Comments

You answered a question about fixing your own broken-ness and not allowing broken people to burden you anymore by deciding you’re worthwhile. I get that in theory but I’m a people-pleaser all the way and I don’t know how else to make friends. Does the friend-making get easier when you decide you’re worthwhile or do you realize the friendships you wanted are less necessary because you don’t need to be validated? I want very much to be unbroken but I recognize that doing shit for others and letting them cross my boundaries comes from a place where I’m terrified people won’t like me otherwise. I don’t think I’m a funny person and I’m very shy but I’m capable and trustworthy and that’s what I’ve been trying to prove to people. I have a habit of ruining friendships and I’m just so terrible at relating to people and I’m so lonely. What happens when you decide you’re worthwhile anyway?

 

You don’t decide that you’re worthwhile. It’s not a decision. You simply are. That’s the thing you’re not getting.

You are worthwhile. You are worthy of friendship. It’s okay that you’re shy. It’s okay that you’re not funny, and being capable and trustworthy are good qualities, but they’re not the reason why you’re worthy of friendship. Again, you simply are.

Also, you don’t have a habit of ruining friendships. Stop thinking that about yourself. Those weren’t friendships. Those were just people you knew. While you’re at it, stop thinking that you’re terrible at relating to people. You know how to relate to people. You related to me just fine. You’re just a little socially awkward, and that’s something you can easily take steps to improve.

Speaking of improvement, you’re already halfway to a breakthrough by acknowledging that your people-pleasing behavior is based on the fear that people won’t like you otherwise. You recognize the problem. All you have to do now is let it be okay if people don’t like you.

Fuck ’em. It really is that simple.

Knowing in your heart that it’s okay if people don’t like you is the foundation upon which all of your boundaries can be built. If someone violates your boundaries, fuck ’em. You don’t need a person who does that to like you. If someone only sticks around to take advantage of your people-pleasing, fuck ’em. That’s not a friend, and your life will be better without them.

You are worthy of friendship, and it’s okay if people don’t like you. This isn’t a theory for you to get. Those are already stone cold truths. All you have to do now is believe them.

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Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

23 Comments

Was Amber Rose’s tweet about Kanye liking assplay homophobic and super awful? I feel like its small change compared to his whorephobia and misogyny but I’m afraid I’m biased.
Weigh in please.

It’s a fine line, but these days I think it’s a stretch to call that tweet homophobic. Her reply was definitely an attempt at emasculation, but I interpreted it as an assertion of sexual dominance, not an accusation of homosexuality. After all, the hashtag was #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch, not #FingersInTheBootyAssFaggot. Admittedly, the type of toxic masculinity that is emasculated by sexual dominance is the same type of toxic masculinity that equates assplay with homosexuality, which is why I say it’s a fine line. Still, that’s not on Amber Rose.

I’m happy again and I’m really afraid something is going to happen.
You may be in a happy place, but you’re not nearly as happy as you could be, because you haven’t gotten rid of your underlying anxiety. All you’ve done is shifted it into the future. Well, guess what? Something is going to happen. Eventually, life will come along and kick your ass. The trick is to let that be okay. An even better trick is to also let it be okay whenever it happens. I don’t mean roll over and take it. I just mean accept the inevitability of it. I know it’s easier said than done, but that kind of acceptance is the antidote to anxiety.

What’s the cutoff date for being with someone you’re not in love with? Where’s the line?
You gotta draw your own lines, but being in love isn’t a binary state. It’s fluid and messy and emulsified with all kinds of other emotions. If you’re in a relationship where too many of your physical, mental, and emotional needs aren’t being met, ask yourself, is it possible that they ever could be? If so, would it be worth the effort? They are tough questions, but if you can answer them honestly, then the day you’re absolutely sure that your answer is a firm no, you’ve found your cutoff date.

I’m at a university that has a much larger male population. I have my pick of guys, he has virtually no chance with anyone else. How do we deal with this power imbalance?
In a healthy relationship, that wouldn’t create a power imbalance. It only creates a power imbalance if one of you uses it as emotional leverage, and that would be a pretty strong indicator of something unhealthy. You asked this question because it’s obviously come up, but I don’t know whether he’s wielding it as a source of insecurity or you’re wielding it as an excuse to take him for granted. Either way, you two better button that shit up, or it’s gonna be the thing that ends the relationship.

Wait, so what is the difference between overfunctioning and underfunctioning relationships?
No, I wasn’t clear on that. An overfunctioning/underfunctioning relationship is a type of relationship in which one partner overfunctions and the other partner underfunctions. Think of it as being lopsided, but also reciprocal. One partner usually gets blamed for being dysfunctional, but it’s really both of them together who cause the dynamic.

I got pulled over for speeding and the cop let me off with a with a warning but gave me a ticket for not having a seatbelt on. I took the seatbelt off after I got pulled over. I should be happy that I got off on the speeding, but why does the seatbelt ticket bother me so much?
Think of it this way, if you hadn’t taken off your seatbelt, the cop would have written you up for speeding. You were gonna get a ticket no matter what. It’s not that he let you off with a warning so much as he wrote you up for the violation with the least likelihood of him having to show up for traffic court. (If you have the time, contest the violation. Fuck the police.)

I’m aware that I’m being manipulated but in the face of sad puppy eyes and other various circumstances I seem to let it happen. How do I build up my sad puppy defenses? This same person manipulates everyone else I know and it’s infuriating. No one seems to be immune.
This is one of those times when it’s smart to use your temper. (Don’t lose your temper. Just use it.) Train yourself to get a little angry when you’re being manipulated. That’s the best defense against sad puppy eyes. (You’ll get a bratty reaction, but if the manipulation no longer works, it will quickly stop.)

At what point do complementary personalities in a relationship become incompatible personalities?
When the things you have in common form dysfunctional patterns of behavior.

How do I stop craving Chinese food?
I find the quickest way is to eat some Chinese food.

My pride says no and my curiosity says yes. What do you say?
Let your conscience be the tie-breaker. (I am not your fucking conscience.)

If you’re all about killing your ego, why do you refer to yourself as a guru?
Because my ego isn’t dead, and it has a very dry sense of humor.

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Advice

On a nice guy vs a good man

26 Comments

What’s the difference between a nice guy and a good man? I was dating a guy who cheated on me, and even after that I was still convinced that he was a nice guy, but I know he’s not a good man.

 

See. You already know the difference, but let me make it clear. Being a good man is a matter of morality, and being a nice guy is a matter of etiquette.

Calling a guy “nice” doesn’t speak to his character. It just means he knows how to act, usually when he wants something. Nice guys know how to behave, but they typically have ulterior motives, and their true character is often revealed when they don’t get what they want.

On the other hand, calling a man “good” speaks directly to his character. It means that he lives up to a value system that you both share, which typically means he is both reliable and trustworthy.

A nice guy and a good man will often behave in the exact same manner to acquaintances at the surface level, which is why they’re hard to distinguish when you accept people at face value, but when you drill down and get to know either one, you’ll find that only the good man has integrity.

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Advice

On letting go of the anger

6 Comments

Regarding “On Your Grieving Process,” what if it is a year after a traumatic death? The one year anniversary of my brother’s death from cancer is coming up. He was only 32. Sometimes I am numb, but sometimes it punches me in the gut and I am right back in the thick of grief. Not to mention I went through a divorce in the middle of my brother’s illness.

Everyday I coached myself to “just get up and take a shower.” I’ve been seeing a therapist. They put me on medications. It has helped to curb the intensity of the emotions, but I can’t seem to shake my newly found cynicism. I can’t stop seeing/seeking an ulterior motive in everything someone says or does (advertisements, compliments, marriages, etc). It’s as if nothing is genuine or pure anymore because my brother doesn’t exist. It’s as if the world doesn’t make sense to me because my brother isn’t in it. I’m navigating in darkness trying to find a way through to make sense of life and our existence. It’s so exhausting.

I guess none of this really is a question (probably more like a nonsensical stream of consciousness) but I just needed to get it out there. Thanks Coquette.

 

A year is nothing in terms of grief, and the anniversaries will always be hard. It sounds like you’re still very angry, which is an easy place to get stuck when someone you love dies before their time.

I could say I’m sorry for your loss, and of course I am, but what I’m really sorry for is that you’re trying to make sense of something that is completely senseless. You’re exhausted because you’re chasing an answer that doesn’t exist, and you can’t shake your cynicism because you don’t want to yet. You’re not ready.

Naturally, you tell everyone (including your therapist) that you don’t want to feel this way anymore, but you do. Even if you don’t know it yourself. The cynicism is armor that you wear to make sure the world isn’t as pure anymore, because without your brother in it, how could it be? You won’t allow the world to be pure, because that would somehow mean it’s okay that your brother died.

Well, fuck that. It will never be okay that your brother died, and you will never let him go, but one day, you will let go of the cynicism and anger, and that will be a very good day for you.

It’s okay to let it go. It doesn’t mean you’re letting go of him.

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Best-Of Advice

On a broken-people magnet

21 Comments

I seem to be a broken-people magnet. They come to me with their problems and because no one else will step up, I try and help them and end up wasting time that I don’t even have to waste. How do I walk away from this? Some of these people are suicidal and refuse help, I can’t just leave them like that. I need to focus on my own life right now and I can’t keep doing this. What do I do?

 

You are a broken-people magnet because you yourself are broken. You don’t recognize your brokenness, of course. You think you are helping, and no doubt you provide a certain kind of support, but it’s not healthy, especially for you.

Here’s the thing you need to understand: People don’t come to you with their problems. That’s just your way of framing it, and it removes your agency from the equation. What you must acknowledge is that you allow people to burden you with their problems. You allow it.

You allow people to burden you with their problems because you are an enabler with boundary issues who feeds off of being in overfunctioning/underfunctioning relationships.

It makes you miserable, but it also validates you, and you’d rather be miserable than invalidated. That’s the part that cuts to the core of who you are. You’re a person who is so desperate to be validated that you let emotional vampires feast on your time and energy just so you can feel needed.

That’s where you’re broken. That’s the part of you that needs to be fixed, and ironically, there’s no one out there who can fix you the way you keep trying to fix other people. You have to do it. You have to learn how to establish boundaries. You have to recognize when you’re overfunctioning in a relationship. You have to find healthy ways to validate yourself without enabling people.

You say you can’t keep doing this and that you need to focus on your own life right now. Okay, then. Stop doing it. It really is that simple. Just stop. Refuse to allow all these broken people to burden you with their problems.

Oh, but wait. That little voice in your head is already crying out, “but no one else will step up. I can’t just leave them like that.” Yes you fucking can. Not only that, you should.

That little desperate voice is the sound of your brokenness, because it’s not coming from a place of healthy concern. It’s coming from a place of pathological need. It’s coming from your emotional void.

This isn’t about you becoming heartless. This is about you having enough self-respect, self-worth, and internal validation that you no longer need these sad broken people in your life.

If you recognize your unhealthy patterns that are filling an unhealthy need, if you find some internal validation, if you have a little self-respect, I promise, the broken-people magnet will shut off automatically, and you’ll be free to enjoy the company of unbroken people, because you won’t be broken anymore yourself.

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Advice

On your grieving process

12 Comments

My mom is dying. How do I avoid existential crisis? How do I stop being such a sour bitch to the people around me? How do I put my game face on and continue to show up to life when I don’t fucking want to, without medicating with red wine? Will I ever feel normal again?

Also: New relationship of 3 months. He says I’m not burdening him, but I’m not myself. I feel like a goddamn drag most of the time.

Tell me everything is going to be OK.

 

Everything is not going to be okay. Your mom is dying.

Then again, it’s okay that everything’s not going to be okay. You’re supposed to be miserable, and you’re not supposed to be yourself. What you’re experiencing isn’t an existential crisis. That’s not what’s happening. The death of a parent is its own unique kind of trauma, and your grief process has already started.

Everything you’re feeling is part of that process, and your instincts are correct, you do still have to show up for life even though you don’t fucking want to, and you do need to avoid being a sour bitch to people around you. There is no trick to it. You have to drag your ass out of bed every morning and put on a big fake smile for the rest of the world. As for medicating with red wine, don’t let it become a habit, but this is gonna be one of those periods when it happens. Just keep it under control.

Also, the relationship is tricky, especially at three months. On the one hand, I highly recommend you use every available shoulder to cry on, but at the same time, be very careful about falling in love right now. You would be shocked at how many people suddenly find themselves married soon after the death of a parent, and then a year or two later wonder what in the fuck were they thinking. I’m not kidding. That’s a thing that really happens.

The key to all of this is to let yourself grieve. You gotta feel all that horrible shit. You can’t go around it, and you can’t stay where you are. You have to go through it, and you have to come out the other side. You are facing one of the most painful and difficult experiences of your life, and it’s going to suck. The only way to make it suck any less is to accept the grieving process itself in the same way that you’ll have to accept your mother’s death.

Oh, and if it helps, you will feel normal again one day. It won’t come until well after your mother is gone, and even then, you will never feel quite the same. It will be a new normal, but you will get there. It will take time, but eventually you will be okay.

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Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

33 Comments

When you talk about love, I feel like it’ll never be possible for me. What’s wrong with me?
Nothing is wrong with you, but you should ask yourself one question: Why do you feel like love will never be possible? When you can clearly answer why, write it down. Pin it up on the wall and stare at it. That answer is not you. That answer is your enemy. That answer and all of its triggers and sources are everything you should rail against and reject. Now pull that answer down off your wall and light it on fire. Fuck that shit.

I have daddy issues. He has mommy issues. How do we capitalize on this kinky shit without forging a disturbing codependency?
Your use of “kinky” implies that the daddy/mommy thing is playing out in your sex lives. If that’s all it is, you two are fine. (Well suited for one another, actually.) If it’s more than just kink, and your respective parental issues are about enmeshment, then codependency might become a problem. Just watch out for unhealthy patterns of behavior that you recognize from your respective families, and if you catch yourselves becoming your parents, maybe jump into a little couples counseling before things get out of hand.

Does “nice guy with an edge” exist? Where do I find him?
Don’t look for a nice guy. Look for a good man. And what the fuck is an edge? Seriously. Do you want him to ride motorcycles? Do you want him to slap you around a little in bed? Do you want him to be an unpredictable asshole because you’re bored easily and crave chaos? Shit, I don’t know what you’re into. Figure yourself out first and then come at me with something other than a meaningless cliché.

With all this talk of cities, may I ask what you think of Montreal? And what do you think it would take to make a move from Chicago to Montreal not a completely stupid idea?
Okay, first of all, why would you move to a French speaking city that isn’t Paris? Second of all, why would you leave Chicago for a place where the weather is even shittier? Third of all, if you’re gonna move to Canada, why wouldn’t you live in either Toronto or Vancouver? I mean, Montreal? Okay. You must have your reasons, but I don’t know what you want me to tell you.

Was I more lovable when I was skinny?
No, no, no. Stop thinking like that. The moment you equate your conformity to conventional beauty standards with your worthiness of love, you are well and truly fucked.

If you were out hunting and your shot happened to accidentally and unfortunately hit somebody in the face, who would you rather have as the recipient: Dick Cheney or Karl Rove?
Cheney. That’s not even a hard question.

I’m not a fan of republicans and I don’t like Jeb Bush, so why do I feel sorry for him?
Because he’s a sad little goober, and you’re very empathetic.

Bernie or Hillary? Why?
Because the alternatives are Trump or Cruz.

wait so *are* you advocating voting for hillary to keep a republican out of the white house? please go on.
Of course I am. I’m voting for Bernie in the primaries, but I’m happy to vote for Hillary in the general if/when she gets the nomination. It’s not just to keep a Republican out of the White House. Hillary is more qualified to be an American President than any other candidate in this entire election cycle. I like Bernie’s ideas better, but Hillary is a fucking boss. She would do an amazing job.

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Advice

On choosing the people in your life

11 Comments

You recently advised on a father’s limitations. Does this advice extend to romantic partners?

 

No. Romantic parters are not members of your family of origin, so my advice changes dramatically depending on the circumstances.

If by romantic partner, you just mean a typical boyfriend/girlfriend type exclusive relationship (long or short-term), then my advice would be to immediately get the fuck out. Do not stay in a dysfunctional romantic relationship that is causing you serious emotional damage. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but in the end, getting out will always have been the smart move.

If by romantic partner, you mean a spouse, then my advice would be to probably still get the fuck out, but before you go through the stress and cost of getting a divorce, try at least a few months of couples counseling to see if there’s any hope that your partner is capable of change. A marriage is worth improving unless you know for sure it’s hopeless. Basically, go the extra mile with professional help to see if you can become functional before getting the fuck out. (This advice only applies to emotional damage. If you’re the victim of domestic violence, skip the couples counseling and immediately get the fuck out.)

If by romantic partner, you mean anyone — boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or one-night-stand — with whom you share any offspring, then the question suddenly shifts: What is in the best interests of your child? That’s all that matters. Yes, your mental and physical well-being are also important, but your child’s is more important. If your romantic relationship is causing you serious emotional damage, it’s also likely causing your child damage too, so it still may be wise to get the fuck out. Thing is, you will always be tied to your child’s other parent, so no matter what happens, things become much more complicated. There will be negotiations and arrangements, all of which should be centered around what’s best for your child.

When it comes to relationships that are causing you serious emotional damage, this advice also applies to friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. You can’t pick your family-of-origin, but you can pick your families-of-choice. You’re stuck with your parents, siblings, and children for life, but that’s it. Even if you ultimately decide to cut them off, they are still the only people for whom you have to accept limitations. Everyone else you can choose, so choose wisely, never give up your power to choose, and don’t stick around if you’ve made a bad choice.

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Thoughts

On wealth inequality and the 1%

17 Comments

Can you explain this elusive concept of the “1%” and the better method for distributing wealth in the US? Or point me to literature that would help demystify it? My dad was saying that wealth is “infinite” and it isn’t correct to say people own “1% of the wealth.” Is it ok to buy into Bernie’s shtick and be filled with anger towards the wealthy in this country? I think I’m just bummed I can’t afford SF. Help!

 

First, watch this video:

It’s the quickest, most powerful education about wealth inequality in America you’re gonna get.

Also, your dad is an idiot. Wealth is not infinite. Wealth is a fluid concept, but until we no longer live on a planet with limited resources, not only is wealth limited, but it will inevitably be concentrated amongst a powerful few. Like a relentless gravitational force, wealth coalesces and flow back into itself, creating grotesque power systems ranging from the Catholic Church during the medieval period to the financial services sector in contemporary late-stage capitalism.

While the concept of wealth may be increasingly abstract, within a given monetary system, the wealth of individuals can be accurately measured by their net worth. (A person’s net worth is all their assets minus all their liabilities.) When it comes to high net worth individuals, it’s not about how much money they have in the bank. It’s about how much they own (businesses, real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.) versus how little debt they have.

It’s all about ownership, and your father is wrong, because the 1% really do own an outrageous percentage of everything that there is to possibly own, and the rest of us don’t own dollar store dick. What’s worse, is most of us (especially Millennials) have a negative net worth because of crippling student loans and consumer debt.

Now, there’s no general reason to be filled with anger towards wealthy individuals in this country, (except for the Rich Kids of Instagram — those fuckers should all die in a fire.) What we should be angry about is the rigged system that perpetuates wealth inequality in America, and the simplest way to fix that inequality would be to close all the sheltering loopholes and ratchet up estate taxes to previously unheard of rates. Rich people get to stay rich as long as they’re alive, but when they die, the American people get most of that money back instead of it going to the next generation of spoiled rotten heirs and heiresses. All we’d have to do is sit back and wait a few decades as all the hoarded wealth steadily flows back into the treasury where a progressive government uses those funds to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, schools, and eventually the middle class itself.

That’s all it would take. It would be a renaissance of the American dream. Unfortunately, that kind of thing could never ever happen. Even a guy like Bernie Sanders couldn’t pull that shit off as President of the United States without getting totally JFK’d.

To quote the anarchist philosopher Lucy Parsons, “Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth,” and boy, was she ever right.

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