Quick Update

I’m sure no-one has even noticed my lack of posting, but if you have, I just wanted to say I am still here. I’ve got SO MANY Q & A waiting to be published, so huge apologies if you’re waiting.

How to Move On when a Guy turns out to be a Jerk

Your Question How to move on when a guy turns out to be a jerk?

Moving on when a guy is a jerk

the advicist Ugh, it sucks to finally realise you’ve been going out with an idiot. It makes you question your judgement.

All you can do is look for the lessons to be learnt, and then, forgive yourself. 

You acted with the information you had available at the time. Now, with more experience, and therefore more information available, you would have done things differently. Next time, you can do things differently. You will do things differently.

Getting over this relationship is the same as getting over any break up. Just don’t forget to look for the warning signs you missed, make a note of them, and don’t fall from them again.

It’s a life lesson. You learnt the hard way. Sometimes, its the only way to learn.

He was a jerk; you’re no longer with him. That is a triumph. Don’t forget that.

photo credit: Untitled blue via photopin cc

The Homophobic Aunt of a Possibly Gay Son. AKA the saddest question ever.

Your Question I can’t let go of a grudge towards my sister in law. We have had our ups and downs over the last 20 years, primarily good times. I was deeply offended by a comment that she made to me regarding my son. I confided in her that I thought that one of my sons might be gay. Needless, to say she went on to express to me how I should enter him into therapy because if he chose that lifestyle for himself he would burn in hell. I was astounded by the comment. My husband wants me to let it go, but I really do not want my son to be around her. How should I handle the situation?

[No picture, because I'm not having any images that imply gay = hell on this blog]

the advicist
I’m generally against grudges. I don’t think they achieve much, they just keep fuelling anger within you, in then end only hurting yourself.

However. I have absolutely no time for:

1) Homophobes

2) People who identify as Christians, but forget that, in Christianity, they are not the ones in charge of Judgement.

So I am on your side in this. This isn’t a grudge. This is not standing for discrimination.

You confided in her, and she rewarded that with nastiness.

It doesn’t actually matter if your son is gay. The point is, if he were, she would judge him harshly. And that means she doesn’t love him as much as she thinks she does, or else she would accept him for who he is.

Also, I couldn’t answer a letter on Christianity and homophobia without referencing Just Because He Breathes, one of the most powerful (and upsetting) things I have ever read on the subject. I hope your sister-in-law finds it in her heart to love ALL people, just because they breathe.

So, as for what to do next, I’d probably send her that article. I don’t think there’s anything any of us can say that’s more powerful than that.

And I agree with you, I would not want my son around her. I think you have to take a stand on this. Not just because if your son is gay, he needs you on his side. But because all people facing this kind of discrimination need us all on their side, regardless.

Also, google ‘It Gets Better’. What an amazing campaign. If your son is gay, I hope you will be ready to share it with him when it’s appropriate.

How to Say No to Friends Who Take Advantage

Your Question I need some advice on how to say no to friends who take advantage of me?

Friends who take Advantage

the advicist So, you have trouble saying “no”. Remember what did your mother used to say? Practise makes perfect.

Instead of trying immediately to say no to people who take advantage, try saying no to other stuff.

Start with the little things

You might find it easier to practice saying ‘no’ to something good. Would you like to go for dinner next week? If your default response is yes, even though you know you’re flat out, you can’t really afford it, and you’d much rather be catching up on sleep, try saying, ‘Oh, thanks, next week isn’t good for me though’. If you really can’t just let people down like that, try, ‘How about next week?’. Asserting yourself in this small way – by saying yes, but at a time that suits you – will set you up for bigger ‘no’s.

So, you’ve mastered the art of saying yes, with a caveat. Much like the rearranging dinner thing, if someone asked for your help with a move, you could have said, ‘I’d love to help, but I can only stay a couple of hours’. Setting up that expectation before you arrive can make it easier for you to say, ‘I have to go now’.

Now, you can start just plain saying no. Let’s try the dinner thing again. Maybe they invited you somewhere else, where just don’t want to go. Maybe the ballet isn’t your thing, or the opera, or a gig. THAT IS OK. You don’t have to accept every invitation extended to you. So you say, ‘Oh, thanks for asking me. I’m not really into x though’. Again, if you can’ t be that blunt, you can always add a, ‘Do you fancy going to y next month with me though?’.

Baby steps.

So, now say you’re asked to help with a move and you just plain don’t want to. Maybe, as you said in your original question, they are just taking advantage of you.

“Bob, can you come on Saturday and help me move?”
“Sorry Jim, I won’t be able to make it”.

That should be enough. Always.

When People Can’t Take No For An Answer

But people who take advantage of other people often are just generally deficient in manners, so they will often probe…

“Why? Surely you can come for a bit?”

“Sorry, got plans. Bet you’ll be finished up in no time though”.

“What are you doing? You never do anything on a Saturday”.

I often find the best way to diffuse this type of questioning is to call them out on it:
“Dude, what’s with the inquisition? I can’t help, I’m sorry”.

You need a certain firmness. And since you asked the question in the first place… you might be lacking in the firmness department.

On Making Excuses

A common route out of this is to invent other things you will be doing.

I’m not a fan of making stuff up for this purpose. Firstly, because it shouldn’t be necessary, and secondly, because it’s like taking a fake sick day from work. It’s not fun, because you’re constantly wondering whether you’re going to be spotted.

But I know a lot of people might need easing into the world of saying no, so a fake dentist appointment, lunch with parents, or pre-arranged might make it easier for you.

I’m still just a fan of saying, “Actually, sorry I can’t”.

I don’t call it ‘Advice. With Sass’, for nothing. Ain’t nobody making me do something I don’t want to.

photo credit: erix! via photopin cc

Unsolicited Gift Suggestions

Your Question

My brother in laws wife (husband’s sister in law), gives me gift suggestions for her children that are unsolicited. I bought her daughter a nice gift that I was excited to give. Weeks later she randomly sent me a picture of what her daughter would like for Christmas and when I told her I already bought her a gift, she asked me what it was. When I told her she told me she already had two and doesn’t need another. What should I do??

Unsolicited Gift Suggestions

the advicistOh that’s tough.

Tough because my first answer to your question was going to be, ‘Just tell her you’ve already bought something’. I see you did that. And it didn’t help.

Look it sounds like your sister-in-law is rude and has a case of the entitlements. She has no right to ask what you’ve bought, and to then be rude about your choice is the height of bad manners.

However, you’re not going to change her. So you need a new strategy.

Next time, I’d just say, ‘I’d like to keep it a surprise!’. If she quizzes you, stick to the line.

Of course, the easy thing to do would be to ask her before buying anything and accept her suggestion. But I’m not for easy when it means giving in to rude and entitled behaviour. The only way to teach ‘em it won’t fly is to stand your grounds. If you start consulting her first you’ve just taught her that rudeness pays.

PSA: if you don’t like / need / want a gift someone is giving / has given to you or a family member, the ONLY correct response is ‘Thank you!’.

Then donate it at will. Do not even THINK about ‘regifting’ it. I hate that practise. You didn’t like it but it’s good enough to give as a gift to someone else?

Donate it – and then someone who geniunely likes it (and trust me, there will be someone) has the chance to purchase it, and a charity benefits. WIN WIN.

photo credit: CS_McMahon via photopin cc

We Moved Continents And They Still Ignore Us

Your Question
I am British and my husband is American, we have been married for 30 years. We met in the UK and have lived there all our married lives due to my husband’s work. We both retired three years ago and decided to move to the States to be nearer to our son and also my husband’s large, but very close knit family. We arrived in the states six months ago.

We have had most of the family over for dinner with us at varying times but there has been no reciprocation or even an ‘open’ invitation to go and visit any of them. In spite of our efforts, we are being ignored. Neither was there a welcome reception for us when we arrived.

They are an insular and very clique family who have never lived away from the place the were all born and raised and they live in each others’ lives. We now feel like outsiders. I have searched myself to try and understand why they are so totally indifferent towards us.

Over the decades that we lived in the UK, we flew over to visit them on numerous occasions, but not one made an effort to visit us. We are so tired of their selfishness and because of it we have changed our minds about making a new life for ourselves here. My husband and I feel hurt and rejected by the families’ lack of interest in us.

Incidentally, over the years they nagged us about coming to live in the states and then they treat us like this when we arrive. Also, in spite of the distance we always remembered them at Christmas time and sent lots of goodies as well as ‘fat’ cheques when the nieces and nephews got married and graduated of which, some of those have totally blanked us. What do you make of this? Any constructive advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Anna.

The family ignore us
the advicist
Dear Anna,

What an awful situation to find yourselves in – after years of nagging about living so far away, you up and move your whole life, only to be greeted by… silence.

If your main reason for moving to the US was for family, and you are not seeing the benefits, a move back would seem like the obvious answer (as disruptive as that would be).

However, if you were excited by the change, and want constructive advice on staying in the US, I’d suggest turning your attention away from the family.

Not in a ‘snubbing’ way, just so you are not looking to them for a social life and support system. Have you got to know your new neighbours at all? What about joining local clubs or taking classes somewhere?

It’s not easy to make new friends, but if you seek out opportunities to meet new people, eventually you will come across someone you feel at home with. I suggested classes because a mutual interest is always a great basis. Or any causes you’d like to volunteer in support of?

As for what to do about the family, if you a keen to see them, I would suggest you just keep taking the initiative to plan things and keep inviting them over. It may just take a while for you to be assimilated into their ‘everyday’.

And, since you said they ‘live in each others lives’, I’d also be careful what you wish for. Better to have the in-laws turn up when you invite them, and only when you invite them, than having them constantly interfering in your life without any solicitation.

Trust me.

photo credit: Whatsername? via photopincc

Snappy Comebacks for Life’s Not Fair

Side note, before we begin: You guys. You know I am not a fan of Snappy Comebacks. So why do I keep getting these questions? Google. 

Unfortunately, most of the search traffic that comes to this site is looking for one of two things: reasons not to kill themselves, and snappy comebacks. I would be much more upset about the first, except that I can see in my stats how many people are going on to click on links for crisis support.  That cheers me greatly. So it just leaves me to be annoyed with Google that they keep referring people looking for snappy comebacks. 

But what really gets me is that  people come here looking for snappy comebacks, and when they don’t find them, what do they do? Leave immediately, like most of my visitors? Oh no. They’re the ones who ask the questions! So no, I don’t like snappy comebacks. But here we are again anyway. If you want to stop with the comebacks, ask a different question.

Your Question What’s a good reply for “life’s not fair”?


Life Isn't Fair

Brilliant print available from HairbrainedSchemes on Etsy


the advicist  I don’t know that there is one, because, really, it’s a fact.

Life isn’t fair.

Who doesn’t know a good person who got sick? Who doesn’t know a horrible person who got promoted?

Life isn’t fair. To pretend it is is disingenuous.

If you’re just looking for something mean to say, I guess the best I can come up with is, ‘Well YOU certainly aren’t!’.

But honestly, that’s not fair either. Making someone else feel bad, so you feel better, makes everyone feel worse. Promise.

Dealing with Nosy Co-Workers

Your Question  How do I deal with a nosey co-worker who asks too many questions about my personal life? Wants to know what, where I am going when I take personal vacation days. Am I being overly sensitive?

How to Deal with Nosy Co-Workers

the advicist  I don’t think that just by not wanting to share every detail of your life outside of work you are being over-sensitive. If you are, my co-workers through the years will have thought me a very special snowflake.

How much you like to keep your work- and home-life separate it a matter of personal choice. A lot of it has to do with the environment in which you work.

Some workplaces are conducive to out of works friendships, and the hours you put in almost demand it. Others bring together people from diverse walks of life, with different ages and interests, whose only real commonality is the work they do.

I totally understand not wanting to explain yourself.

That said, civility is important. If they are just genuinely being friendly and interested, fine. But when it moves into nosiness, and you dread putting in a leave request because someone (who’s not even your boss!) wants to know the ins and outs, that’s a different matter.

My advice would be to be vague, without being hostile. And even lie if it makes you feel better. Yeah, I have a happy relationship with white lies, as long as that is genuinely what they are.

So when the co-worker asks what you’re doing on your vacation day, you could use one of the following:

  • “Just chilling with friends/family.”

And if they ask what you will be doing, just say you haven’t decided yet.

And if they ask what you will be doing, just say “tidying up the house a bit”. Vague, but not hostile, see?

And if they ask which errands, “Al the ones I’ve been putting off because I’ve been so busy here!”

And then move the conversation along. 

If you can’t get them to stop asking questions, make it clear you’re working: “Sorry, Jim, I’m just trying to total these figures…”, or, “Actually, Jane, I just need to ask marketing something” and put your head down, or walk away.

If you make it clear you’re working, they are less likely to dig, because they won’t want to draw attention to themselves by stopping you working.

If they sense your evasiveness and say, “Why don’t you want to tell me?!”, I’d just say, “Because, honestly, it’s not that interesting. I’m taking a day off, not going to the moon!”

But I guess that depends on whether you’re usually fairly sarcastic and can pull it off. If you stay away from the sarcasm generally, you might just look defensive, and therefore, shifty.

That can be fun though. Nothing like making your co-workers think you’re on some special secret day off, when you’re really just running by the post office and meeting your mom for lunch.

 photo credit: hanspoldoja via photopin cc

My In-Laws Treat us Like Children

Your Question I’m so annoyed. My in-laws keep treating us like children. What can I do?

My in-laws treat us like children

the advicist The problem with being treated like a child is that we often react by behaving the only way we know how – like a child.

We were all children once, and so, when treated such, it’s easy to default to that behaviour.

So be sure that, however they treat you, you show them that you are grown-ups. This means being measured in your responses, not resorting to whinging, shouting, or sulking.

Don’t go tattle-taleing on your spouse, don’t ask them for permission for things you are perfectly entitled to do, and don’t ever ask them for money.

Then, all you can do is live your life. How they treat you doesn’t affect how you go about living your life.

It will probably help if you show them that you are grown-ups now, by behaving responsibly, looking after yourselves, maintaining your home well, looking after your health, and, crucially, by never asking for money. 

But even if you do all of those things, they may still treat you like children. Your partner was their baby once. It’s hard (though healthy) to shift away from that one-dimensional view of them.

The question is, how much are you going to let it bother you?

PS Did I mention that if you want to be treated like a grown-up you can’t ask for money? Just checking that that isn’t the under-lying issue here. Money + families = boundaries / power x ALL THE EMOTIONS.

Ask me how I know.

photo credit: Space Ritual via photopin cc

Open Question: Snappy Comebacks to You Have Nothing Better To Do

Your Question I need a snappy comeback to “you have nothing better to do”.

empty to do list

Beautiful To Do List Available from SamOsborneStore on Etsy

the advicist

I don’t know why I get so much traffic related to ‘snappy comeback’ searches.

I’m just like the rest of you, you know – I only think them up two hours too late as well.

So, help me out? Does anyone have any good snappy comebacks to this one?

(We’ve discussed before how I’m not a huge fan of snappy comebacks in general, and how inappropriate they are for work, but I’m still open to suggestions).

I’m really drawing a blank on this one.