“Cutoff Culture” And the Myth of Closure

Every once in a while, the universe likes to drop a subject in my lap. Last week, several of my readers forwarded me an article on Medium called “Shining Light on Cutoff Culture“, a think piece by one Jeff Reifman, about closure and communication. Evidently, Reifman’s heart was broken by “Emma” when she not only callously dumped him but engaged in what I call “The Nuclear Option” and he never got the closure he was hoping for.

"We're gonna test that  'not if you were the last man on earth' stance of yours, Mabel..."

“We’re gonna test that ‘not if you were the last man on earth’ stance of yours, Mabel…”

To Reifman, this is a crime beyond imagining. To him, “cutoff culture” is a horrendous violation of the rules of love, a callous disregard for the emotional well-being of another person (specifically… him) and should never ever be performed except under stringent circumstances.

Needless to say: I’ve got some opinions on this. Reifman’s rant about Emma’s cruelty is something I see fairly often from guys – and it’s almost always guys – who rant about how women owe them an explanation and why they need “closure” on the relationship. But we’ll get to all that in a second. Let’s take a look at what Reifman had to say, in his own words.

The “Violence” of Cutoff Culture

Reifman’s piece starts off pretty much as you’d expect: begging for sympathy by explaining just how much it hurts to be cut off by one’s ex:

Most of us don’t blink when a friend says they’ve cut off an ex. But if you’ve ever been cut off by someone you care deeply for, then you know how distinctly painful an experience it can be. While it may be socially acceptable to cut off communication with our exes, we’re not always cognizant of the impacts on ourselves and our former partners. When we cut off, we may do so from anger but often we may be avoiding feelings of discomfort. Furthermore, if the person being cut off has trauma in their background, the psychological impacts can be devastating.

Got that? He wants you to realize that this isn’t just about him – he’s concerned about the potential psychic damage to the cut-off-er as well.

I’m not talking about distancing ourselves from those we casually date or asking for space after a breakup or simply choosing not to be friends with our exes. I’m talking about breaking off all contact with the most intimate person in our lives without civility — refusing to answer the phone, reply to emails, or acknowledge any aspect of their communication or needs — often without explanation.

Remember this paragraph. It’s going to be important later on. Especially that “without explanation” part, something that he is going to emphasize over and over again.

Now, to set the stage: Emma, Reifman’s ex, was a (much younger – this is going to be important, too) woman he met in a New Media class. The writing’s a bit unclear as to whether he was TA’ing the class or not (which is potentially a tricky issue in and of itself) but long and short: they had a whirlwind affair of four months, after which she ended things, an ending that he insists he foresaw because of the vast differences in their ages. As they were ending things, Emma gave him the traditional softening-the-breakup line: “we can still be friends.”

.

Pillow Talk

 

Following our breakup, she continued to say she wanted to be friends. At the last minute, she canceled our first night out as friends and tearfully said she needed a week of space. I left the ball in her court and didn’t hear back from her. She completely withdrew. It was a very painful time for me, and she later acknowledged that it was for her as well.

After nearly a year of silence, I reached out to her and we began a series of conversations toward repairing our friendship. She said she had recently begun dating someone new and I think it was difficult for her to talk to me about our relationship. Her response was to withdraw again. There were misunderstandings and miscommunication.

She stopped responding to my email and when I called to inquire she blocked my number and emailed me to stop contacting her. Over a space of nine months, I wrote her two kind emails in the spirit of healing. Finally, she replied, “I do not want to see or hear from you ever again” and threatened to file an anti-harassment order against me. The open, thoughtful, communicative Emma I knew had vanished.

This, evidently, is a crime too great to be borne. One simply does not break up with Jeff Reifman and not explain themselves!

Emma once told me, “You’re the first one to want me for me,” but her abrupt about-face might make you think I ran off with her best friend or boiled her rabbit … I did neither. In fact, to this day, I have only guesses to make sense of her hostility to me.

Because Emma’s withdrawal and eventual cutoff surprised me so much, I had a lot of intense emotions and questions about what she’d experienced and the choices she’d made. Rather than face my need for explanation and desire for resolution, she chose to withdraw.

Face his need, Emma! Face it!

But what kind of post-breakup relationship, exactly, was Reifman hoping for from Emma? Well…

The friend who was told to break up via “JSC” told me another story. One of her friends chose to have sex with a lover after breaking up with him; she said even in the midst of ending the relationship, she wanted to “be generous in spirit.” While I don’t necessarily advocate taking things that far (in part because it can create confusion), I embrace the sentiment.

nope

Because of course he would.

Now, as tempted as I am to just repost his article and comment line by line, I want to get down into the meat of some of what he’s talking about here with regards to “cutoff culture”, closure and the psychic toll of breaking up with someone.

You Aren’t Owed Anything

One thing that’s impossible to miss – as the always-excellent Captain Awkward points out – is that this entire rant is dripping with entitlement. There are occasional concern-troll-y musings about how this is bad for the one doing the cut-off as well – the subtitle, after all is “Cutting off exes not only hurts our former partners but limits our own growth as well.”1 – but let’s be honest: this is all about what Reifman believes he’s owed by Emma and, by extension, all his other exes ever. He wants her back in his life  (on his terms). He wants closure. He wants her to heal his pain because he’s had a shitty childhood! But – and this is critical – he is completely out of fucks to give when it comes to Emma‘s needs or wants. It is literally all about him. Case in point:

Cutoff culture is violent in its own ways. The person cutting ties gets what they want, but the person getting cut off is left in a situation where what they need or want doesn’t matter.

Emma’s last note included the phrase, “Apparently, what I want seems irrelevant to you.” She didn’t realize the irony that what I wanted had long been irrelevant to her. Being on the receiving end of a cutoff, surrounded by friends and culture that just expect you to get over it, can leave you feeling utterly powerless.

 

 

DeanWhat

 

The mind scarcely has the courage to boggle. In fact, I’m fairly sure the mind just curled up in the corner, making “buh-buh-buh” sounds as it flicks its finger over its lips.

First of all: I’m sorry but no, not wanting to talk to somebody is not “violent“. Dear God…

Secondly: This is from someone who has repeatedly ignored the fact that Emma has indicated that she didn’t want to talk to him again, ever. Who “coincidentally” took a date to the restaurant where she worked. And yet, he’s complaining that she is not conforming to his desires about how she should behave after they break up.

But not to put too fine a point on it: no, your wants or needs don’t matter. Does that sounds harsh? That’s because it is. But that’s how break-ups work. You don’t have to justify them and you sure as shit don’t get to dictate terms afterwards. Break-ups are the ending of relationships, the cutting of ties. Once you’ve broken up with somebody, they don’t owe you anything except giving your shit back. They aren’t required to hold your hand as you process your issues. They don’t need to be “generous of spirit [and vagina]” while you’re trying to get over them. Saying “I want to stay friends”  ((In those moments where they’re being serious rather than trying to make the break-up less awkward)) is a goal, not a sacred blood-oath bound under the all-seeing eye of Shuma-Gorath.

If, if, someone wants to make an effort to make sure you’re ok afterwards, that’s very sweet of them. They’ve got a good heart. But it’s not a requirement. 

(And before anyone brings it up: yes, I talk about requirements when you’re dumping someone. I consider not causing someone unnecessary pain to be key part of being a good man rather than an asshole. Now stop trying to out-clever me and pay attention.)

And – importantly – you’re not owed an explanation and you’re not owned a “resolution”. Why? Well that’s because:

You Make Your Own Closure

Over and over again, Reifman insists that everything happened without explanation and that he needs “closure” and that he deserves some sort of “resolution” to the end of their (again: four month) relationship. This is something I see over and over again – mostly from men, but from women too – people complaining that they can’t get over someone because they need “closure”. In theory, the idea behind closure is that either by confronting the issues that ended the relationship or having a final airing of grievances, the afflicted party will finally be able to tie their relationship up in a neat bow and sail off into the sunset. Except… that’s not only not how things work but that’s usually not what they want in the first place. Nine times out of ten, when someone’s looking for “closure”, what they’re really looking for is vindication. They want an explanation that they can accept – preferably one that explains why they’re the wronged party. But here’s the thing: you don’t really want the truth because the truth is ugly. The truth is unpleasant. And frankly, the truth isn’t going to satisfy you because the truth is messy. It’s not always going to be something you can understand or wrap your head around. Sometimes it’s going to be “you make my vagina cry”. How, exactly, is that going to help you “get over things”? What resolution is that going to give you?

500DaysSummer

Demanding “closure” or “resolution” from your ex is usually less about healing from the relationship and more about adjudicating it. It quickly becomes denying the legitimacy of the reason for your break-up – as though this will somehow annul the break-up and magically make you get back together again. Other times it’s less about “resolution” and more about lashing outIn Reifman’s case, what is he going to talk about? That she’s not allowed to pull The Fade after she’s already broken up with him? That deciding she didn’t want to talk to him is a crime against something something TOUCH MY PENIS? That Emma is a shallow, horrible bitch because she didn’t handle his delicate fee-fees properly?

Reifman insists that by not letting other people know why you’re angry, you’re missing out on the ability to let them make amends. But there’s a point when “making amends” isn’t possible, nor is it even desirable. There’s a reason why there’s a codicil to AA’s 9th step: you attempt to make amends except when doing so will cause more harm. Sometimes that desire to make amends has absolutely nothing to do with actually fixing things and more about how you feel… and that’s only going to make things worse.

It doesn’t really matter why you broke up, only that it happened. Sometimes it’s something you can learn from and not repeat in the future. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not being compatible. But rehashing the relationship isn’t going to fix things or magically make you get over it. The way you get closure is to learn to let it go. You accept that things are over and move the hell on.

Handle Your Shit

Among the many, many red flags and head-scratchers in Reifman’s piece is that he insists that Emma somehow had a duty to be gentle with him because he was abused by his mother and this break-up was incredibly triggering.

Cutoff for someone with attachment wounds can be especially painful. I was raised by an abusive, likely bipolar mother. She physically abused me from age seven to fourteen. After she’d hit me, I would often sit alone in my room in complete disbelief that this was continuing to happen to me while adults who knew, such as my father and uncle, chose not to intervene.

My mom regularly oscillated between loving and abusive behavior toward me but it took me nearly a year to realize exactly how Emma’s reversal had brought up my feelings of past trauma. After all she’d said about remaining friends, Emma’s withdrawal so shocked me that it reactivated my earlier experience of disbelief and suffering in isolation, essentially triggering episodes of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While I sympathize with the fact that Reifman comes from an abusive background, I want to point out that all of this is from a relationship that lasted all of four months. If the break-up of  short-term relationship is enough to send Reifman into full-blown PTSD, then might I suggest that perhaps, he shouldn’t be dating for a while? Because quite frankly, if he can’t handle a break-up without having a break-down, then he’s not in any position to be dating. And that, is all on him.

It’s almost impossible to end a relationship without pain, and in an ideal world, we’d try to make sure we don’t cause unnecessary pain in the process. But not only is this not an ideal world, but it’s not her job to life-coach while you heal. For that matter, is also not her duty to provide you with an emergency vagina – hers, or somebody else’s – while you’re trying to get over her, “generous of spirit” or no.


It’s not that I don’t understand his pain; I’ve been there, done that and I have the angsty LiveJournal rants to prove it. One of the defining moments of my life, one that put me on the path to where I am today, was my getting fucked up by being dumped. It was only a six-month long relationship, but it took me more than a year to get over it. The difference between Reifman and me is that I’m willing to admit that this was kind of ridiculous. I spent all that time wallowing in how wronged I was instead of recognizing a) the relationship would never have worked out, because b) I didn’t have my shit together and c) I needed to let it go. Accepting that I was being an idiot was a key to my development as a person. After all, part of being a grown-ass man or woman is being able to take care of your shit, something Reifman seems to refuse to do. Instead, he puts the blame everywhere but on himself.

I believe that men are especially vulnerable to cutoff culture because of cultural expectations around masculinity. Women want us to be passionate, masculine lovers, yet we’re expected to turn off our emotions and let go the moment we’re dumped. If we persist in asking for communication from a woman who has cut us off, we may be considered a perpetrator, as exemplified by Emma’s threatening me with a court order.

[…]

Furthermore, and this will also be controversial, this particular realm of sexuality and breakups is one in which women wield more power; it’s easier in our culture for women to find emotional and physical intimacy when a relationship ends than it is for men.

I remember Emma described during our breakup that her housemate would cuddle with her as she cried; with no such support and few single friends, I was left to watch TV with my cats. It’s rare for men to have the rich emotional networks of support that women do.

First of all: holy fuck, yes, persisting on asking for communication from someone who doesn’t want it is absolutely grounds for a restraining order. That’s got nothing to do with “cutting off your emotions” and everything to do with not being a goddamn stalker. Jesus, the fact that I have to explain this…

But more to the point: yeah, it sucks that men are socialized to be detached from their emotions and we’re discouraged from having emotionally intimate platonic relationships. But that doesn’t mean that your ex is required to be your shoulder to cry on or to put up with your constant need to rehash the relationship until you get an answer you’re satisfied with. She’s not your girlfriend any more, nor is she your goddamn therapist. If you don’t have friends you can go to for support, well I feel bad for you son, but that’s not her problem. That’s entirely on you. You and you alone are responsible for your own healing.

This means that you can’t expect someone to be giving your emotions extra-special care and handling literally years after you broke up. If you’re thrown into full-blown PTSD after a break-up, it’s your job to get your ass the therapy you very clearly need. Yes, you should take care of yourself. Seek comfort. Practice self-healing. But don’t expect anyone else to do the job for you… especially your ex.

The Point of the Nuclear Option Is To Heal

A lot people seem to misunderstand the point of the Nuclear Option – what Reifman calls “cutoff culture”. It’s not about “hiding from consequences” or “not dealing with difficult emotions”, no matter how tempting it is to rationalize things that way. It’s about healing.

Breaking up with someone is rarely easy, regardless of whether you’re the dumpee or the dumper. And no matter which end of the break-up you were on, you’re going to need to recover… and you’re not going to be able to recover if someone keeps picking at the wounds.

The Nuclear Option goes both ways, you see. On the one hand, you need to not be continually torturing yourself by constantly flagellating yourself over your ex. Facebook-stalking her to see if she’s thinking of you (or, more realistically, if she’s dating someone else) and sending drunk texts at 3 AM are all ways that we deliberately poke our fingers into the holes and make ourselves feel worse. It’s the worst kind of self-indulgence – it serves absolutely no point except to keep the wounds open and makes it impossible to get over them. You’re not letting yourself move on because you’re making every day of your life about how You’ve Been Dumped. Getting over someone takes distance and perspective and you can’t have that if you’re not letting the past be the past.

At the same time, it’s impossible to move on from things when your ex refuses to let things go. When your ex doesn’t want to let things be over, when they’re constantly looking to rehash the relationship with you or making incessant demands for your attention and affection, you can’t move on. They’re acting like an anchor, holding you in place when all you want to do is move forward with your life. And so, as cold as it may be, you have to cut them loose. You absolutely have the right to set your own boundaries and to enforce them.

And if you’re the one being cut off? I feel bad for you son, but, well…

getoverit

You aren’t entitled to access to somebody just because you dated. Sometimes there’s no compromise, there are no answers and there’s no maintaining a relationship of any kind. They aren’t required to communicate with you if they don’t want to and they sure as fuck don’t need to justify their reasoning to you. Look at it this way: either their reasons make perfect sense – which you should respect – or they’re being a callous asshat, in which case you should be glad to be rid of them. Either way, the results are the same: all you do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on because in the end, wallowing in your misery isn’t productive. Self-pity parties just prolong the pain and don’t get you anywhere and make you look pathetic.

(Also: “blocking people on Facebook causes stalking”? Blaming domestic violence on women making you feel helpless? JESUS FUCKING TAP-DANCING CHRIST, dude.)

Yes, it sucks. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. But in the end, complaining about cutoff culture and begging for closure doesn’t help. In the end, you have two choices: you can cowboy up. Or you can lay there and bleed.

It’s up to you.

  1. Emphasis added []

Comments

  1. I know you already address your "How To Break Up With Her" article, but how do you reconcile saying here that people aren't owed an explanation and then saying in the other article that the person being broken up with totally, 100% is owned an explanation? (Heck, it's even one of the subject headings there.)

    For what it's worth, I was the dump-ee rather than the dumper in my most serious relationship, in which my ex-wife informed me that essentially she'd never actually loved me and the whole thing had been her playing along for lack of a better option. I'd have probably been happier without that explanation, so that might colour my opinions here. I think on balance it's healthier for dump-ees to learn to let go of their need for an explanation than for dumpers to feel obligated to give an explanation. (If anything, the more you tell people who are splitting up with others that they owe their exes an explanation, the greater the implication that dumpees should feel like they are owed an explanation, no?)

    FWIW, I cut myself off from my ex and their world and that was the secret for me finding happiness after the relationship, not any explanation offered. Whenever I found myself thinking back on it and getting down, I just remembered that great Gary Numan concert we went to… and one song in particular.

    • There's a difference between "you're owed an explanation" and "you're owed THE EXPLANATION YOU WANT."

      Suddenly disappearing while in a relationship and refusing all contact = not cool, and the dump-ee IS owed at least a chance to know that the relationship is officially over. However, the dump-er is not required to then sit and hold the dump-ee's hand and answer every last question they have about dissecting the failure of the relationship, and they're definitely not required to give anyone another chance (or two or seven).

      • I think we're using "an explanation" differently here – you're using it as "an explanation of why the dump-er is behaving differently" (answer: they're breaking up with the dump-ee), I'm reading it as "an explanation of why the dumper is dumping the dump-ee in the first place" (answer: much mroe variable). So I think there we're basically in agreement – you have the right to know whether or not you're still *in* a relationship, you don't have the right to demand an autopsy on the relationship's corpse.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I think he clarifies above. You as dump-ee are not owed an explanation. You as dump-er should, as a decent human being, provide an explanation. These two things can both be true.

          • Vicboss says:

            I'm not actually sure that both of those things can be true. I just had a lecture in my philosophy class which talked about the fact that every right a person has requires an obligation on the part of another. As an example, if I have the right not to be murdered, you have the obligation not to stab the shit out of me without justification, right?
            So if the logic applies the other way around, rights require obligations to enforce them, but obligations imply rights. Rights —-> <—- Obligations
            So I think you are either owed an explanation or you aren't, and you should either explain or your shouldn't, both of these things can't be true at once. I'd rather err on the side that nobody is OWED anything in a relationship, and that relationships are merely voluntary exchanges between people which can terminate at any time without explanation if one side no longer feels like volunteering what they have.

          • I don't think saying you should provide an explanation is meant as an obligation. It's something that would be nice but isn't required of you, like giving to charity. No one is obligated to give to charity, but it's still a good thing to do.

    • celette482 says:

      I think part of the story here that Reifman doesn't tell is whether she ever said "Hey I'm breaking up with you because this isn't working out" or not. My gut feeling is that she in fact DID give an explanation (I'm not feeling it). This doesn't seem to be a case of "Dropped off the Face of the Earth" Instead, it seems like she did talk to him about it once, when she first called things off, and then he decided 9 months later (NINE MONTHS. AND THAT WAS OVER A YEAR AGO. THIS IS TWO AND A HALF YEARS IN THE MAKING. For a 4 month relationship) that he still needed info.

      I think it is shitty to vanish, especially once a relationship is established. But beyond "Hey, we're done," there isn't much more to say.

      • True that!

      • raindancing says:

        Well, and she must have actually had the break-up talk, because he says at first she wanted to just be friends.

        • thathat says:

          The thing that squicks me (one of many) is that he claims she had trouble "talking about our relationship"–after she started dating someone else. So that, to me, reads as him pushing her, now that she's apparently Ready To Date Again (or just Dating Where He Can See Her), to talk about why they didn't work, and really, is new guy so good, I'll bet new guy and you don't have a connection like WE had… and her going, "Hey, I don't wanna talk about this." And him going, "Oh come on, let's figure this out." And eventually she just decides, "welp, I don't want this guy in my life since he can't seem to have a conversation without making it about our dead relationship. DONE." And he was like, "What? This came out of the clear blue sky!"

      • eselle28 says:

        Yeah, it sounds like there was a clear break up talk here. The difference in expectations was that he had expected she'd want to and be able to maintain a friendship, and she ended up not doing that…which I think is okay. Sometimes people say they want that in good faith and then reevaluate whether the friendship has anything to offer or whether the other person will be able to accept friendship rather than dating. Given that this guy has been focusing on this for two and a half years, I wouldn't blame her at all if that was the decision she made. I mean, does this guy seem like someone who'd be willing to be friends after a break up without trying to slip back into a relationship?

      • Waddles says:

        I suspect there might be a healthy amount of not wanting to hear certain things. In any case, it's not a genuine obligation to give someone a reason, just a decent thing to do (unless the reason is something hurtful like crying vaginas, or something). There are certain things that are better to do, but not an obligation. And the list of genuine obligations beyond not physically assaulting someone is pretty low (I suspect that believing anything else goes a long way towards causing the kind of entitlement in the quotes). I also heartily agree that the last person who should be offering you therapy for you messed up childhood is your ex, unless you've genuinely gotten over the breakup and are genuinely just close friends.

        • celette482 says:

          Yes, but I really want to push on whether the dumpee ACTUALLY wants to hear an explanation. I've been dumped. I've wondered why. It's occurred to me that I actually didn't want to know why, since the why was going to be "The list of things I hate about you" and at least some of them would be unfixable anyway.

          The answer to why we're breaking up is always "I don't like you any more." It might be because I like someone else better, or because I never liked you at all but I'm bored, or it could be I realize some deep aspect of who you are is just unacceptable. These aren't easy things to hear and they won't make people feel better.

          Again, very different scenario than the Kidnapped by pirates or possibly lying comatose in a hospital Vanishing Act.

          • I am trying to think of any explanation for a break up that: a) would not hurt and b) might be useful to the dumped and am drawing a blank. They are either so vague/platitudinous (not a word) as to be meaningless (i.e. It is not you, it is me; we just grew into different people) or things that are going to hurt no matter how they are delivered (ie I am just not attracted to you anymore, I cannot live with X or Y or Z).

            Personally I think people seek explanations to turn their sadness into anger at their ex and paint them as unreasonable, bad people.

          • thathat says:

            Pretty much the only thing I can think of is something where both people have to acknowledge that they want very different things in life (one wants children, one doesn't; one wants to move to a big city, the other wants to stay in their hometown; one wants to have a poly relationship, the other is only comfortable in a monogamous relationship), and a compromise from either person will be more likely to lead to resentment and grief than not.

          • eselle28 says:

            I can think of a handful that would be useful, though they would hurt:

            "I'm ending things because I'm sleeping with your friend. When I move out, I'll be taking my things to their place." (Although this is a spectacularly shitty thing to do in the first place, if you must do it, it's better the person learns about it now rather than later.)

            "I'm ending things because your substance abuse problems are out of control." (Unlikely to bring about immediate change, but probably worth saying.)

            "I'm ending things because this long distance relationship isn't feasible anymore."/"I'm ending things because I've decided I won't be able to commit long term to someone who has this particular incompatibility." (I think these ones can actually help someone move on.)

          • Delafina says:

            There are some (and even with these the breakup's still going to hurt, but hearing the reasons isn't necessarily going to be as painful).

            The different life goals is a big one — one person wants marriage, kids, etc. and the other person doesn't.

            Here's the thing, though: when that's actually the reason for the breakup, it's not going to be a shock. You may not know the day it's going to happen, but you know it's going to happen at some point.

          • Only Eselle's #1 and maybe #2 would be coming out of the blue, I bet. Fundamental incompatibility on kids, marriage, life goals would be known and almost need no explanation and are not exactly useful for the future since at some point in every relationship you will have to learn this.

            Everything else, for me, I would not really want to hear it because it would hurt and not change anything.

          • eselle28 says:

            #3 can come semi-out of the blue if one of the people in question was still making up their minds on the issue when the relationship began. I've known several relationships that ended with something along the lines of, "You know I've been undecided about whether I'm up for monogamy/children/marrying someone from a different culture/moving back to your home town/whatever. I've been doing a lot of thinking about it, and I've decided that I'm not."

          • I've likewise known some people who were on the fence and came down on the "not going to be compatible with my partner anymore" side. But also, people who wouldn't even have described themselves as "undecided" can and do change their minds, even on some of the big issues like religion, life goals, having children, etc. (which can be a very nasty shock for the other person when they do–good Lord do I never want to go through *that* again).

          • eselle28 says:

            Yes, I've seen that happen as well, with both children and religion (not so shocking, I suppose, since those are subjects people tend to think about more seriously at some points in their lives than at others).

          • thathat says:

            You'd think they'd be known, but not always? If, say, both partners want something different, but they're just going with the thing Partner A wanted (either because they discussed it and mutually decided, they "discussed" it and Partner A decided, or they never discussed it at all), when Partner B pulls out that reason, it's almost more of a shock to Partner A, who was getting the thing they wanted, and therefore thought the relationship was going really well.

          • Eh, the fundamental difference on kids (and where each of us ultimately wanted to live) thing was among the reasons I gave my ex when I ended my longest relationship. (I knew he would bug the everliving shit out of me if I didn't give him a reason…he still bugged me even with my reasons, but at least then I could say that yes I HAD thought about it and I wasn't going to change my mind, and he'd have his "proof"–golly, what a shithead.) He still acted like it was a gigantic shock, and like he didn't think those things really mattered because of LOVE (because when a lady's in love, she'll give up her dreams and risk her health popping out babies, thus giving him everything he wants, right?). People can be very deluded, if they think they're the center of the universe.
            Not that that means I disagree with what you, Dr. Nerdlove, or anyone else has been saying thus far.

          • There are some, and I've had some:
            – I'm moving to a differen country. (Which turned out to be an excuse, the actual reason was:)
            – I'm actually not really over my very recent ex, I'm still in love with her. (I suppose this can be hurtful in some cases, but I wasn't hurt, I was pleasantly surprised to get closure and glad that it wasn't something I had done wrong.)
            – I have too much stuff going on in my life right now, and therefore I don't have enough headspace to be the boyfriend you deserve.
            – I don't see myself moving to your country and I don't want you to move country for my sake.

            Differences in life goals can also be one. The breakup still hurts, but the explanation doesn't make it worse.

          • I'd agree that there are Helpful Explanations and Hurtful Explanations (and sometimes, Heck if I Have an Explanation I Can Articulate). But I don't actually agree that "I don't like you anymore" is *always* the root cause of a breakup. My last breakup, we both still really liked each other and really wanted to be together, but we wanted such widely divergent things from life (including in a few major areas where compromise isn't exactly possible, like "should we have kids or not") that we eventually reluctantly acknowledged the relationship just wasn't going to be sustainable.

    • I think it really has to be dealt with on a case by case basis. Giving the other person an honest explanation for the breakup is a decent thing to do. If you're breaking up with someone and want to be considerate about it, it's a good idea to try. On the other hand, if you've been dumped and are not handling it well, assuming that you are owed an explanation (which usually implicitly means an explanation that *you deem acceptable*) is not going to make the situation any better. Best to just dust yourself off and work on healing on your own.

      Basically, as a general rule, when breaking up with someone, try to be considerate. But when being broken up with, you don't get to demand that things go your way.

      As for cutting people off, I'd say the ideal way to go if it comes to that would be to explain why you're doing it, THEN go full nuclear. But I'm aware this is far easier said than done. Often the other person might try to argue your explanation if it's not one they deem satisfactory, as if the breakup is somehow up for negotiation and they have to agree to your terms.

    • pauldwaite says:

      I think it’s because the previous article describes how you can a decent job of breaking up with someone. This article describes how you can (and should) deal with someone breaking up with you.

      There’s no objective cosmic scale of justice judging how right a given break-up was, or providing standards to be applied to every break-up. There’s just two people trying to work out how to deal with it their situation, between themselves.

      And there’s no cosmic police force compelling people to behave wonderfully in relationship situations. Which means if you're trying to *make* someone provide an explanation for a break-up, you've gone vigilante, like Batman. And you, sir, are no Batman.

    • to add to everything that's been said, some people also just don't accept the reason for the breakup as valid. I've broken up with someone before because things were just going nowhere. We were at two very different places in our lives and it was very clear to me that we were incompatible despite trying to reconcile our differences. This apparently was not a "good" reason. But I didn't want to stay in a relationship that I was feeling was unfulfilling, so despite the fact that he kept hounding me for the "real" excuse, I had already given him my explanation. I didn't know how to explain it better without getting angry and mean, which wasn't something that I felt either of us needed. Unfortunately, you can't force someone to feel a certain way, so even if one partner may feel that they other's reasons are invalid or wrong, they still count for the person giving them.

  2. Niteynite says:

    Breaking up with someone and not telling them why is one of the worst things you can do to somebody. So is breaking up via text or email. Of course you have that option, that doesn't mean it isn't a universally bad one. I'm sorry Doc, but I can't give anyone a pass for pulling the biggest pussy move out there.

    I've been there before, with a three month relationship that ended by her avoiding me for weeks in the hopes that I would end it so she wouldn't have to. She could have saved me so much heartache had she simply told be she doesn't want to date me.

    To this day I still wonder, why didn't she just do that?

    • To be honest I think what's of primary importance is that a breakup is unambiguous. Is an explanation nice? Sometimes, but the recipient's got to be ready to hear it and you might not feel like you can enunciate it in a way which doesn't make it sting all the more. Is a breakup face to face nice? Yes, almost all the time, though if you're actually afraid of the other person's response you shouldn't be obliged to put yourself in danger just for the sake of politeness.

      To me, the one, true, unbreakable rule is that you make the breakup unambiguous. Saying "It's over" via a text and immediately vanishing from the other person's life is highly suboptimal, but it's at least stark enough that it can't be rationalised away. Drifting away without even a clear statement that the pair of you are done, like your ex did, that's just cruel.

      • celette482 says:

        I agree with you. But I don't think she vanished. This guy is hella biased and he doesn't say "She literally disappeared, we had a date planned and everything" and if that had been remotely the story he sure as hell would have said that. So, I think reading between the lines, she did say "Hey we're breaking up" at least unambiguously. THEN she did the cut off.

    • Stardrake says:

      Women have their own set of cultural baggage, and part of that is that they’re conditioned to avoid confrontation (and initiating a breakup, however remotely, is a form of confrontation). She probably wasn’t deliberately trying to hurt you, she was just putting it off and off trying to think up how to tell you.

      Kind of like the even darker twin of approach anxiety, when you think about it.

    • eselle28 says:

      Trying to goad someone else into breaking things off with you is a cowardly move, but I think all the other rules you set out depend on the situation. I've broken up with people by text and phone and been broken up with that way. If you're in a relationship where you tend to go on a date or two a week rather than hanging out at home on a regular, unscheduled basis, I think it makes some sense – especially if there's some commuting time involved. Getting The Phone Call of Doom sucks, but getting dressed up and leaving work early so you can meet for dinner only to find out you're being dumped sucks more.

      • celette482 says:

        Yes. My last major break up was a phone call. but you know what? I was about a month from flying out to visit him (we were on summer break from college) and it would have been WAY worse to do it in person and WAY worse for him to drag on for a month.

        • eselle28 says:

          If it's long distance (even temporarily), I'd say it's often the more ethical move to end things by phone or Skype. I think my friend who flew to England only to be told by her boyfriend that he couldn't handle dating someone who lived on another continent is still cursing him for not telling her sooner. Plane tickets don't grow on trees.

      • Thereal McCoy says:

        Oh god, yes. I would rather be broken up with by phone or email, or hell, text, if you must. Don't make me go somewhere when I am just going to go back home 5 min later, and for the love of dog, don't come over to my house and be in my space after breaking my heart. gtfo. Yeah. Phone, man. All the way.

        • eselle28 says:

          Even worse than going back home 5 minutes later is when you're expected to sit and glummly eat your meal with your newly minted ex. I mean, there are some exes I could have done that with. But I guy I was still pretty nuts for who'd just told me that he was bored and wanted to see other people? That in person break up wasn't doing me any favors, especially since it was my turn to pay.

        • Oh man, ain't that the truth?

          My last break-up was with someone I was living with. He was really angry at the time because I made alternate living arrangements before we had the break-up talk, but what was my alternative? Break up with him and then force him to share an apartment with me until I could find another place? That seemed needlessly cruel, and if I was breaking up with him, making him feel like he needed to go live someplace else felt incredibly unfair, too. It sucked to make plans without talking to him first, but I knew I didn't want to continue the relationship, so the only thing I could do was minimize the damage post-break-up. I still feel like it was the right choice, although I don't know that he ever came to feel that way.

        • Gentleman Horndog says:

          I have an ex who was (and quite possibly still is) really pissed at me for breaking up with her over the phone, but I honestly don't harbor a lot of guilt over it. We only saw each other once a week or so, and spending the next week stringing her along and pretending she was still my girlfriend after I'd already decided to dump her sounded kinda fuckin' cruel. I offered to come over to her place for an "important conversation," but she knew where I was going with it, and asked me to just get it over with (which I'm willing to bet she leaves out when telling people what a dick I was for breaking up with her over the phone).

          I feel like "I'm pissed at you for breaking up with me over the phone" really translates to "I'm pissed at you for breaking up with me and will take this opportunity to seize the moral high ground". Break-ups suck no matter how you do them; it's all about finding the least-awful way to do it.

      • And if the relationship was abusive or toxic a face-to-face break up could endanger the one ending it. Maybe texts and phone-calls aren't always ideal, but sometimes they are necessary.

        Whether it's because the other person lives thousands of miles away, to being afraid of violent reprisal or manipulation.

      • Yeah, let's see: Neither of my two attempts to dump people happened as I hoped. I tried to use e-mail both times due to both fear for my safety and the communicational ease of being able to say everything I wanted to say at once, but Ex #1 called me before seeing my e-mail and Ex #2 was incessantly texting me,I was extremely pissed at him, and he wouldn't check his e-mail, so I ended things that way.
        Meanwhile, I've been dumped via e-mail (thrice), in person (twice), via text (twice), and had someone fade without an explanation (once). I'd say that it hurts the least via text, but that's probably only my biased experience since the two people who "broke up" with me that way were short noncommittal flings who I wasn't very attached to. The fade was the one that threw me for the biggest loop, the two in-persons were embarrassing because I started crying, but one of the e-mails hurt the worst because it seemed designed to hit every weakness I had. But honestly, it doesn't matter what method you pick. Someone is going to feel hurt. There is no perfect way to break up with someone that preserves everyone's feelings so you can be friends.

    • She didn't break up with him by vanishing, though. Regardless of HOW they broke up, they did. Then she cut him off. And that's what he's complaining about, and what he needs to get over.

      Yeah, it'd be horribly shitty to break up with someone simply by disappearing (not only shitty, but potentially terrifying for them). But that's not what happened here.

    • Delafina says:

      I'm with you on doing it via text or email.

      I disagree with you on whether not giving an explanation is "one of the worst things you can do to somebody."

      This person doesn't want to be in a romantic relationship with you anymore. Why do you need a reason?

      • thathat says:

        I'm only with them on the email to a point. I've known friends that needed to break-up via e-mail. Usually it was because any attempt to break up with the other person face-to-face lead to being "talked out of it" and sex, but as soon as the person trying to break up wasn't in the same room as their ex, they would realize how badly they needed to break up. (In at least one case, they did eventually need to go with the nuclear option, and it was rough.)

        • Delafina says:

          That's fair. And obviously, if you're in a relationship with someone who's violent, your physical safety trumps trying to break up with them in a compassionate way or giving them the courtesy of a face-to-face discussion.

      • "I do not want to be in a romantic relationship with you" is a reason, is it not? Sure seems like one to me.

        • Delafina says:

          Eh, not really. It's sort of a tautology: "I want to stop being in a relationship with you because I don't want to be in a relationship with you."

          But it doesn't matter, because you're not owed a reason.

      • Niteynite says:

        Well that is reason right there. And not an irrational one either. Sometimes relationships just lose that spark. But when one half thinks things are going great and the other suddenly ends it, they are going to wonder where they went wrong. And because it's on such an emotional and personal level, it can be one of the worst things you go through.

        An even better question: Why not give a reason?

        • I do not want to date you or I am no longer attracted to you or I do not love you anymore are reasons.

        • eselle28 says:

          I think that sometimes it's a good idea (not an obligation) and that sometimes it isn't. Some reasons not to give a reason:

          – There isn't a reason aside from, "I don't want to anymore," which most people who make this complaint don't accept as a complete answer.
          – Disclosing the real reason could cause harm to the dumper. Think a teenage boy with conservative parents dumping a girlfriend because he's pretty sure he's gay.
          – The reason would be extremely hurtful to the listener without offering any useful feedback. I'm thinking of something along the lines of, "I never was sexually attracted to you, and I didn't ever like you that much, either. I only dated you because I was feeling desperate."
          – The dumper has already made a number of complaints about the relationship, and the dumpee doesn't have a good history of listening to them. I think this is a pretty common pattern, where one person has been griping for months or years about unfair distribution of housework or bad sex, and the other person hasn't shown much interest in fixing the problem. In these situations, I can see why someone would want to end things quickly rather than giving someone the opportunity to beg for another chance.

          • My ex has been asking to try again (and then wanting to know why I say no I do not want to) now that the house (our last link) is in closing (can I have a YAY!!). what am I supposed to say? "You were an abusive asshole and I would cut off my own arm before having you in my life again"? And then have it turn into a fight about how that is not true?

            F*ck that shit. You get radio silence.

          • eselle28 says:

            Oh. Isn't that just the worst? I've found that some of the worst asshats are the same people who want to discuss the demise of the relationship to death. I guess they feel that if they can keep talking, they might be able to sell the idea that both parties were at fault ("mistakes were made") and take the emphasis off of their misdeeds. Sorry he keeps clinging on.

            (You can have many, many YAY!!s. You certainly deserve them after that wait!)

          • I think he is still shocked that I broke script and signed the divorce papers because that was not how the game was supposed to be played. He does not want to be married to me but hates the fact that I do not want to be married to him.

            And thanks for they YAYS! corks are going to fly when everything is wrapped up

          • enail0_o says:

            YAY!!! (to the house closing, boo to the ex)

          • You get many YAYs from me reboot! :D

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Ohymyfuckinggod. Closing. Getting rid of a house you no longer want is an unbelievable relief. YAY!!! for finding your way to the other side of that.

          • No more mortgage and rent….I can actually start saving again :) :) :)

            And maybe afford to get more pets, or at least foster :)

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I can't tell you how long it was before thunderstorms and other nasty weather no longer elicited a response of "Gosh I hope everything is all right across town at my hou– OH RIGHT I SOLD ALL THE FUCKS I COULD POSSIBLY HAVE GIVEN HA HA HA HA!!!"

          • Wondering says:

            Huzzah on being in closing!

          • AstralDazzle says:

            Good examples. In addition to the last one: not always griping but bringing up repeated issues/potential issues in a trying-not-to-threatening tone. "Are you concerned about/would you like to do something together to address issue/potential issue/thing that seems to be bringing/keeping you/us down." (See how many slashes for all the variation on trying to bring it up without being a bitchy nag making ultimatums! Although, yes, I need to work on being more assertive/direct in the future, but why have I felt like I have to walk on eggshells, why was the response always "At future time when the scapegoat I'm blaming all the badness on will be removed or we will figure it out", hmmm…..)

        • Because it was an abusive relationship.

        • Delafina says:

          Because it opens it up for the other person to argue, to try and make it a competition as to who put up with more, to claim they'll change, all that stuff.

          And you don't owe them a reason.

          If you don't want to be in a relationship with them anymore, whether it's because you met someone else, or you have fallen out of love, or sex with your soon-to-be-ex isn't doing it for you, or you can't stand the way they chew with their mouth open, you don't want to be in a relationship with them anymore. End of story. You don't need to tell them why.

          • "Because it opens it up for the other person to argue, to try and make it a competition as to who put up with more, to claim they'll change, all that stuff. "

            Which is exactly what this guy wants. As other people have pointed out, it sounds like they had a standard breakup talk. They even talked DURING THE RELATIONSHIP about how it was unlikely to be a long-term thing. In fact, he mentions a number of reasons she gave for breaking up: the age difference bothered her, she liked being friends but didn't like being lovers, she just wasn't feeling it, and eventually she was friggin' dating someone else. (He's deliberately vague about the timeline here, but it sounds like he reopened communications right around the time she got a new boyfriend–what a coincidence! Almost as amazing as the time he just happened to accidentally show up at her workplace during her shift!)

            Bottom line: he thinks he can argue or bully her back into a relationship, or at least some of that post-breakup sex that a polite ex would offer. He doesn't want closure; he wants to reopen a subject that's decidedly closed. I guarantee that any further explanation Emma could possibly give would be answered with "you're wrong and here's why" or "that's not a good enough reason, give me another one." Or maybe "okay, I'll change this one thing, now it's all fixed and you have to take me back." There is nothing that would make him respond, "Oh, that makes sense, I'll move on now."

        • I'm just gonna leave this here: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3300

          • chinchilla says:

            Someone pretty much did that to my ex after getting sick of listening to them moan about whhhhyyyy did she break up with meeeee.

            I was pretty mortified, but probably not as mortified as he was :-/

      • Personally, I like knowing what/if anything I did wrong. That way, if it's something I can change, I can do that with the next guy. Last dude, he ended it with text, and I straight up asked him if I'd done anything wrong, and he said that he just thought we weren't a good match. Which, he was right.

        I don't think we're owed an explanation, but it's really nice. I also think the big issue is that if someone doesn't reply, we should respect that.

        • Delafina says:

          Yeah, I don't think anyone's arguing that you CAN'T or SHOULDN'T provide an explanation. But "things you could do for your ex" and "things you are obligated to do for your ex" are two separate categories.

    • Don't know about "drifting off"…but seriously get the fuck over yourself on the phone/email thing. Let's be honest, most people who hear "I'm breaking up with you" are going to have severe emotional reactions. Most will act on those emotions by making a huge production of it. Who the fuck wants to be around for that? And better question…* why should they have to be*? So the the dumpee and vent and rail at the dumper for what a horrible person they are? So the dumpee can try to "punish" the dumper for daring to utter the words? Because that's what it's really about, usually, because those are how humans tend to react to feeling hurt. So no shit sherlock, she doesn't want to say it to your face, because she doesn't want to be anywhere near the rage-tornado directed at her that inevitably will follow.

    • But that's not what happened. Emma didn't dump the LW , not tell him, and expect him to find out via telepathy. He's mad that after dumping him she refused to play Mommy and therapist to his issues.

  3. Regarding the idea that exes don't owe anything after the break-up, this is something I've been pondering for a while: do exes owe other people outside the relationship the truth?

    One of the things I've struggled with a lot in the past is that after break-ups, my exes tell subtle/blatant lies to mutual friends, and I end up with a lot of blow-back, as my friends almost always believe the ex. For example, an ex will spend weeks/months acting distant or passive aggressive until I finally dump them out of exasperation, and they then present themselves to mutual friends as the one who was "rejected." Then when I try to talk about the breakup at your usual Healing with Friends and Alcohol, my friends will correct me/try to insist I'm wrong or lying or misunderstanding, based on the lies my ex has told.

    I know my ex doesn't owe me anything, or have any hand in my healing-but it is pretty damn hard to process things and move on when your friends won't believe or acknowledge your experience due to the way the ex controls the narrative.

    Don't get me wrong, I think this guy is a douche of the highest proportion, and I agree with almost nothing he says. But I'm not sure how I feel about the idea that our exes don't owe us anything…. not the truth, not respect, not some amount of privacy or dignity (like, hey, publicly announcing to our mutual friends how awesome it is to be free of me strikes me as kind of not cool.)

    • embertine says:

      Marty, I have been on the receiving end of a particularly horrible version of this so I do know how you feel. When I eventually dumped my abusive ex, he told people that he dumped me because I was too clingy. He then drove me out of the college where we were studying, and in my absence told our mutual friends that I was stalking him and had sent threatening letters to his family. I can see how "refused to take my calls" became "is stalking me" in his mind. Oh no wait.

      I did lose friends over it, and it was many months before I managed to get my side of the story out to even a few people. I daresay that there are folks today who still think I'm a nutter for things I didn't do. And I won't lie, it still hurts ten years later that I have been unfairly judged. Partly because there are people probably working in my industry today who believe those things, and that has a non-zero chance of hurting my career.

      The only way I have managed to find any peace over this is to accept that the situation is out of my control, that he is an irredeemable douchenozzle and that I have enough people in my life who love me and know the truth. And that's all I can do. I hate the "be the better person" narrative, but I do think that with breakups, if you are straightforward and respectful, then no-one can fail to notice how much more awesomely you are behaving than is your ex.

      • "If you are straightforward and respectful, then no-one can fail to notice how much more awesomely you are behaving than is your ex."

        Well they'd have to know me and be around me to notice that, is the problem. Sometimes it seemed like no matter what I did, I was crazy/not honest enough/not forward enough/not distant enough. And I admit, right after a break-up, I'm not in the Best Most Mature Person Ever mindset, so any missteps I do make are just further fodder for the ex.

        I dunno, maybe you just have to accept that you're always the Bad Guy.

        • celette482 says:

          Then what's important is to remind yourself that what he said wasn't true before, so you'll want to make sure you don't make it true now!

          In other words, he's telling a story about how poorly behaved you were. No one knows what really went on during your relationship, but watch yourself so that your behavior post-break up doesn't make it sound plausible.

    • These people are not your friends. Real friends do not do this to people that they care about.

      • Yeah but they're all I've got.

        • Thereal McCoy says:

          I don't think you deserve the down votes you got for this comment. Making friends is hard, and if all you've got are casual acquaintances, that's what you make do with. You can't be an island all the time.

          • Eh, people here and on the forums hate me-I get down votes for pretty much anything I say. I'm used to it…

          • My hope is that the downvotes are kind of sympathetic. Like if someone upvoted your post it would seem like "Yay being hurt by people just to have some kind of friends"! As if they supported the idea that it was okay that you were being hurt by these people. I think it's likely people are downvoting it because they want you to want more for yourself, that they disagree that "They're all I've got" is a good enough reason to be treated badly.

            But I agree with Thereal that making friends is very hard, and that sometimes we make compromises in certain parts of our life for some sense of satisfaction in other parts. And since I know you are in a healthy loving romantic relationship, it makes me feel a bit better saying it's okay for you to put up with such friends. I don't think you deserve to be treated as you are, but I think if you can be your own champion and just shrug off their stupidity, you'll be okay :) .

          • I hope for better friendships, as well. I am just hesitant to make "perfect" the enemy of "good" and take out my entire social support network with a single bomb, ya know? Like some people can function with very few/no friends, but I have a tough time doing so. Thanks for your encouragement, though.

          • fuzzilla says:

            I've found that making new friends and quietly fading on the not-so-hot friends works better than a definitive, dramatic break.

            Oddly, your tale made me feel slightly more hopeful about OKCupid – hey, no mutual friend drama if things go south…

        • Up-voted to show support. I've been where you are, with friends who don't treat you well, but are better than nothing. I hope for new, healthy friendships for you!

      • Stardrake says:

        Agreed. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about who among my social circle I should actually consider a ‘friend’, and one of those is that someone who will make a judgement without sincerely hearing my side of things is someone who’s opinion I don’t care about. From what I’ve read, it sounds like you don’t have the option I’ve had in responding to a betrayal in one social circle by focusing on others – but unless you really are living in a small town, there probably are other people you could get to know who are a little less toxic. Of course, finding them is the hard part…

    • celette482 says:

      Not much you can do about that, I'm afraid. It sucks, but trying to put the truth out there just makes you (you being the person whose side isn't heard) sound desperate. People believe the first story they hear, and a lot of nasty people can be very persuasive when they want to be. This is one of those "vindication may never come" moments. In my experience, slightly over half the time, the true colors come out, but that's no guarantee.

      Of course, it's also really important to keep your own experiences in mind when it happens to other people.

      • "Of course, it's also really important to keep your own experiences in mind when it happens to other people."

        Hmm not sure I follow what you mean here. Could you expand on that?

        • celette482 says:

          The next time a couple in your friend circle breaks up, keep an open mind about "fault" and don't just jump on the first story you hear without thinking about it. There are three sides to every story, my side, your side, and the truth.

      • embertine says:

        Yeah, agreed. Evil Ex™ has NPD and is a pathological liar, so a loooootttt of people who initially were all "Hmm, this fellow is charming and persuasive, poor him dealing with a succession of exes who were all driven to acts of madness by his amazeballsness!" have now been let down by him and think he sucks. Whether this gets them to look back on some of the things he said about me and unleash the chinstroke of scepticism, I will probably never know. But I am hopeful.

        • AstralDazzle says:

          I probably don't know you or your Evil Ex. But please know that for some of us who knew the "exes" better than we did the "yous", we have watched the Jeff's and other Evil Ex's of the world as they pull this crap, and we totally were not skeptical and believed your version of events (even when we heard it from their perspective!) because hmmm, we have seen the growing collection of red flags, there seems to be a pattern here, and wait, did he just use me to piss her off?, and I'm beginning to think ex-before-you *had* to go to the ultimate betrayal "acts of madness" lengths she did to get rid of him…

    • enail0_o says:

      I think those things fall into the category of basic decent and respectful behavior towards anyone, not things specifically owed to an ex. Lying about interactions, saying mean things about them to mutual friends and so forth, wouldn't be okay to do to an ex-coworker, an ex-friend, a casual acquaintance.

      I think what no one owes their ex is a relationship of any form.

    • raindancing says:

      I don't think that post-relationship anyone "owes" anyone anything.

      HOWEVER, there are things that decent people do not do. Such as telling nasty lies to third parties.

      I think that the distinction is important, because it can save your sanity. If it's something you believe you're owed, the temptation will be to rail against the unfairness of the universe, and possibly even to try and get the honesty you feel entitled to out of your shitty ex.

      However, if it's framed in your mind not as something you're owed, but a marker of just how horrible a person your ex is, then even though it still hurts to be the subject of lies, you don't have the additional feeling of being robbed of something you're entitled to.

      I went through something similar with ex-friends, and it wasn't until I made that mental switch that I was able to let go of a bunch of bitterness.

    • thathat says:

      I think that would fall under the category of your ex causing unnecessary pain. Considering that it is something your ex is *doing* (lying) rather than *not doing* (talking to you post-break-up), I think it's not really the same thing. Relationship states have nothing to do with the fact that people, in general, probably shouldn't be telling nasty lies about other people. It's not something "owed"–it's just a dick thing to do.

    • eselle28 says:

      Yeah, I can accept that there are some limited ex duties in cases where people can't completely go their separate ways. If you have children together, you have a responsibility to coparent as well as you can. If you work with your ex, you shouldn't try to get him or her fired. If you have mutual friends, it would be a really shitty move to disclose your partner's sexual fantasies to them.

    • Delafina says:

      "Regarding the idea that exes don't owe anything after the break-up, this is something I've been pondering for a while: do exes owe other people outside the relationship the truth?"

      No.

      If they're ethical people, they shouldn't lie about it in a way that makes you look worse (which it sounds like your exes did, which doesn't speak well of them as people), but they don't owe anyone an explanation. "Things weren't working out," is as much information as anyone needs.

      • AstralDazzle says:

        I agree. Also, when it involves mental and physical health issues or sexual compatibility issues, I don't think those things are necessarily other people's business. This is especially true when you have a lot of friends in common. But in a couple of relationships where it became clear that the guys weren't ready/willing to deal with their/our issues, I also didn't let any of my other friends know of problems that were coming up during the relationship because they weren't my things to tell others about. So when relationships ended, it looked like it was "out of the blue." I accepted the "bad guy" designation, but most people accepted "there were long-term compatibility issues for me." In both cases, friends who also remained friends with my exes long-term were able to see a bit more of the underlying issues.

    • Vancouverois says:

      I think you don't anyone outside the relationship an explanation. It's none of their business.

      If you do explain, though, you may be putting the people you explain to in an awkward position. If they're your friends they will want to agree, but if they're also friends of your ex they may feel obliged to defend him.

      I think that in the best of all worlds, they will listen and not comment; and you will vent but not expect them to agree with you or take your 'side' in any concrete way. But perhaps you'll find that insincere.

    • I personally would probably rephrase that as "our exes don't owe us anything…except basic human decency." So, they don't owe us an explanation or emotional support or friendship or another chance or continued contact or whatever other things we might like for them to give us. They do owe us the same minimum standards of common courtesy that should be applied to anyone. So, no doing something deliberately malicious, no blabbing secrets or spreading untruths, no spiteful lashing out or trying to turn others against us or otherwise being horrible.

    • While I don't think you owe other people every, single, sordid detail that doesn't mean you have free reign to lie about your ex.

      If you don't want to talk about it, or it's too painful that's fine but I agree lying to make yourself look better is a dick move.

    • Marty, having experience something similar (but notably different in that I was being stalked by a man who entered my apartment without my permission, and would go into my room when I was sleeping to 'check up on me' and would not accept that I cut off contact until I involved the police) some people do not accept that the person they know could be terrible because 'he's such a cool guy!' I had people tell me that I should be nice to him, that he was going through a rough time, that it was a cultural miscommunication…and we weren't even dating. I have a lot of sympathy for your situation. Know that you are right in what you are doing (because you are doing what is right for you), and more importantly, only talk about things like this with people who are Team You. Admittedly, this can be difficult, but I find that I have much less grief when I'm not forced to constantly justify myself and my actions.

  4. StarlightArcher says:

    Cutoff of communication is violent? As is violent violent? As is the derivative of violence? I… I think I'm gonna let the expert handle this…
    http://youtu.be/G2y8Sx4B2Sk

  5. Others have said what I wanted to about how people should break up while being decent human beings. Although on a personal note, I think that Emma’s age does bear noting. In my late teens, most of my relationships ended when she decided to fall off the planet one day. By mid 20s, most people do develop the empathy to realize that’s a scummy move.

    Reifman does have a tangential point, though. When someone who was a huge part of your life suddenly isn’t there any more, it’s totally understandable if you go into a state that’s basically mourning. This isn’t the ex’s responsibility to handle, but it does prove massively unhelpful when other people (most notably, friends who you’re turning to for support) have no response other than “get over it”.

    • She did not just fade, though, because she told him that she wanted to break up and just be friends after she had some space. A YEAR later (and while in another relationship) they reconnected and attempted friendship. It failed (and if I had to hazard a guess as to why it would be that he could not stop seeking an explanation for the original breakup). Then she went nuclear. When she faded they were a year out from the breakup.

      • eselle28 says:

        I'm not even sure if they attempted a friendship when he contacted her after the breakup:

        "After nearly a year of silence, I reached out to her and we began a series of conversations toward repairing our friendship. She said she had recently begun dating someone new and I think it was difficult for her to talk to me about our relationship. Her response was to withdraw again. There were misunderstandings and miscommunication."

        One reading of that is that they both made an honest attempt at reconnecting and it didn't work out, but I think it's possible he took that from him writing her asking for explanations and her responding in a way that's polite but not seeking to be friends. But this is one of those cases where it's hard for me to say what went on here, because the author's views and admitted behavior are odd enough that I can't trust him as a narrator.

        • True that. He is not a reliable narrator.

          She definitely did not just pull a fade, though, if he got the "let's just be friends" talk

        • Thereal McCoy says:

          "There were misunderstandings and miscommunication."

          Mistakes were made.

    • thathat says:

      Honestly, from the way he wrote about his friends (and the fact that he is still whining about this particular hurt almost two years later, to the point of making a giant, shaming blog-post that is also probably a passive-aggressive contact attempt), I got the impression that they didn't want to KEEP dealing with it. I've comforted friends through breakups. But if they're still hung up about it for longer than the relationship lasted…eh?

      • Agreed.

        At some point, you have to start dealing and stop moping. If you can't stop, you need to seek some professional help. If you won't stop, then you lose the right to complain when your friends get tired of having this conversation for the five-thousandth time.

  6. No you don't need nor are you entitled to an explanation beyond "this isn't working for me." I don't get this need of an explanation. All an explanation does is turn the dumped into a broken record of "I can change." When I'm dumped I do not want a detailed explanation of what the person doesn't like about me. Let me repeat it. I do not want a detailed explanation of what the person doesn't like about me. It's bad enough that I'm dumped. Immediately after being dumped I seek out my friends for comfort and support (not sex), activities (other than drinking) I'm interested in and the things I loved doing before the relationship took up so much time. If you suspect there are aspects of your self you'd like to change, get into therapy. If you are wanting to spend time getting through the break up with the person who dumped you, find a therapist.

    • celette482 says:

      And really, what do you think the person who just decided that they don't want to spend their life with you is going to have to say about you? Hint: it won't be easy to hear.

  7. When I broke up with my ex after a long-term relationship I tried to talk him through why we’d broken up, why we wouldn’t be getting back together, why we really shouldn’t be talking at all, etc. in the hopes of helping both of us develop some introspection. This turned into over a month of downright abusive communication from him because he couldn’t accept my reasons (even though we’d been having problems for a couple of years before we broke up and everything I brought up had already been addressed while we were still together). Eventually, I followed the advice my friend had given me the night of our separation, which was to cut off all communication with him. At the time, I recognized that he was refusing anything that didn’t fit what he wanted, and it made life hell for both of us. I have to recognize my own part in this as well, because if I’d gone nuclear in the first place, it probably would have been better for both of us, at least in the short term.
    While it does really hurt to be cut off, in the case of this guy it really does seem to have been the best option. I doubt that any reason she could have given would have been acceptable to him, and as the good doctor mentioned above, he would probably have attempted to negate her reasons anyways. It would have simply prolonged an already painful breakup (and really, that’s what happened with the continued communications).

  8. toddsmitts says:

    "Cut off culture? Tell me I'm not the only one who'd never heard of this before reading this article.

    Not everything is a "culture", right?

    • eselle28 says:

      I think it's just something he made up. I've never seen it anywhere else. Nor do I think that it's some kind of newfangled thing. If anything, I think there's a lot more pressure these days to at least feign a friendship with an ex, sometimes even in cases where the people haven't known each other very long.

    • Waddles says:

      There are hill tribes in the Andes whose courtship rituals involve brutal text breakups. Entire villages will pack up and move to another valley in the middle of the night to avoid honest discussion about the merits of migration. The UN has launched a series of increasingly exasperated attempts to establish contact, but its anthropologists have all been blocked on Facebook.

    • thathat says:

      To me, it reads as an unsettling attempt to make this seem like as harmful a thing as rape culture, co-opting both vocabulary and concerns (domestic violence, healthy relationships), but making it all serve him and his hurty feelings.

      • eselle28 says:

        I have a nasty suspicion that this entire essay was written as a way to justify stalking, and to continue to do stalky things without explicitly violating the request not to contact her further.

        • thathat says:

          "It's not stalking, it's *healing our souls!* Both of ours! I'm thinking of you, too, ex-honey!"

          • eselle28 says:

            And look at his follow up on his essay: "I believe in creating a safe space for people holding all points of view (Emma’s too)." Isn't that sweet of him! He wants to create a safe space for the woman who threatened to get a restraining order if he contacted her again to have a dialogue with him.

          • thathat says:

            Oh geeze, he wrote a follow-up essay? Exactly how "misunderstood" does he feel?

            I really am starting to hate that schtick about "people holding all points of view." Y'know, the "well, my point of view is equally valid, *you're* being intolerant." bit that refuses to acknowledge that some "points of view/opinions" are inherently more harmful than others (homophobia, racism, believing you should be able to put yourself into a woman's life because you feel sad if you can't…things like that.) Just makes me wanna sic Harlan Ellison on 'em.

          • eselle28 says:

            He did indeed…and in it, he promises to publish a further follow up because "[t]he resulting rage and controversy is a sign to me that this topic needs our thoughtful attention and healthy communication."

            (That being said, it's not cool that someone sent something to his house.)
            https://medium.com/on-relationships-dating/43e6b5

          • thathat says:

            Ugh. My mental image of this guy is someone holding his hands out, palms down, saying, "people, people, can we just be *reasonable* here?" with the smarmiest of benevolent smiles.

            Just the attitude of "I said something that made people upset. Clearly I'm onto something." Classic psuedo-intellectual , mistaking reaction for depth.

          • shaenon says:

            Oh, good, he's decided to expand this into an entire series of essays probing the socially relevant question of why our wrongheaded modern culture made his ex-girlfriend think she had the right to leave him. This will totally prove she was overreacting by threatening him with a restraining order.

            That poor woman.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            At least there's a bright side: This should make that restraining order a gimme. And should damage his ability to date for as long as Google is a thing that exists. (I hope.)

          • The Truffle says:

            This part is priceless: "In addition to those who have been upset, a number of men and women have written me to express they’ve been deeply comforted by this essay." See that? The lurkers support him in e-mail!

          • His writing style is eerily similar to that history teacher at the community college in Pasadena that was schtupping his students.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You're entitled to your point of view when it comes to matters of opinion. I'm entitled to judge you for it. I blame the news and those dumb "learning" shows where patently stupid ideas have to be given equal time. "I'm not saying it was aliens. . ."
            "Yes you are and you're a dumbass. Go away."

            Now that said, this guy published his opinion on his blog. He doesn't deserve to be attacked any more than anyone else who publishes controversial opinions. Thoughtful engagement is good. Ignoring him completely is good. Using his article as an example of what not to do is fine. Hell, I'd say telling him he's a dumbass is fine, if not helpful. Sending him "inappropriate" packages (see the follow-up article) at home is not.

  9. As someone on the receiving end of this, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this whole thing. On hand hand, yes, obviously she's not legally or morally bound to give me anything. On the other hand, it really, really sucks when someone you care for just literally stops talking to you, out of the blue (INB4 someone tells me to "suck it up and get over it." I did, thank you). In my case it was a long distance relationship that ended when she literally just stopped responding to my texts, like a month before I was coming home from school and would see her again (we hung out in the same friend group, so that was happening regardless). I would have loved something as clear cut as "Don't talk to me again."

    I think maybe the break-upee deserves at least a clear ultimatum that it's over, and to know how the break-upper wants to proceed. At least give me an opportunity to quickly move on.

    • He got a clear "it is over", though, which is why he got the "let's just be friends" speech.

    • eselle28 says:

      I don't think anyone's arguing that. This guy got a "let's be friends" followed by a cancelled attempt to hang out as friends followed by a year of silence, though. He was at the very least aware that she didn't want to date him anymore, and it sounds like he realized pretty quickly that she didn't want to be friends, either.

    • Delafina says:

      "On the other hand, it really, really sucks when someone you care for just literally stops talking to you, out of the blue"

      I suggest you reread the article. That's not what happened. She DID give him a clear breakup. She broke up with him but was willing to still be friends. He was creepy and stalkerish (and his whole digression about how she should have behaved more in the spirit of the woman who continued to have sex with her ex after they broke up is pretty telling about what he wanted from her), so THEN she cut off contact.

  10. Delafina says:

    And then he wrote an article moaning about how Amazon and other tech companies have ruined dating in Seattle by bringing all kinds of guys here*. And though Reifman actually admits that he's not interesting, he complains about how with all those options, women on dates with him seem to get bored and uninterested pretty fast.

    CRY MORE, DUDE.

    *So, of course, I'm sure he's doing everything to make sure Seattle's tech culture is friendly to women so it starts attracting more of them to balance out the men. Right? Right?

    • eselle28 says:

      Yes, that's why we should be fair to women…so tech guys can have more equitably distributed sex.

      Sigh.

      • Delafina says:

        My point isn't that guys should be fair to women so that they get more sex — my point is that a dude in tech who's lamenting the lack of women in the area should, logically, be doing what he can to make sure the area isn't actively driving women away.

        I'd love for everyone to fight for fairness for the right reasons, but after being in this fight for half a decade, I'll take the motivations I can get, whether it's gay guys promoting fairness to women because egalitarian environments are also easier on them, guys promoting fairness because they have daughters, or whatever.

        • eselle28 says:

          That's fair. I guess anything related to this guy gives me the icks at the moment, because I think he's probably a pretty dangerous person to have around. All the other guys lamenting about Amazon are welcome to rally for a more positive culture.

          • Delafina says:

            Yeah, my point wasn't to nominate him for membership in the Women's Tech Worker League of Justice or anything — it was to point out the fundamental hypocrisy of tech dudes with userish mindsets about women and sex complaining that there aren't more women in tech/tech-driven areas.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        No, that's not the reason but it is the side effect. http://thecodelesscode.com/case/139

        • Delafina says:

          !!!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm not sure how to take that. I hear it as the noise in Metal Gear when you alert a guard and he gets a "!" over his head.

          • Delafina says:

            It's good stuff.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            So, digression. . . when last I was in Silicon Valley, there was a very interesting article in one of the local weeklies about geek call girls. Basically, geek women with the looks and personality to do the job were moving to Silicon Valley precisely because there are a bunch of busy, single guys with disposable income and relatively few women. Its an entire cottage industry where they can make a few thousand dollars for a weekend of being a guy's con date with benefits. Both sides love the idea because they get to spend their time with people they're interested in on a level that goes deeper than just looks.

            I think its a fine thing in itself but the article did point out that the Valley has such a distorting effect on local demographics that you may have to drive two hours to get somewhere where the population has relative gender parity. Even accounting for all the non-tech jobs and the like, the heart of the Valley is up to 75/25 male/female.

          • Delafina says:

            Hmm, while in general I'm in favor of people selling whatever they want as long as no one's coerced on either side, given the tech industry's hostility to women in general (and the Valley's the worst), I don't like that trend. I had a hard enough time dealing with men at cons asking to speak to "someone who's actually on the development team" for our games without them having encouragement to assume that if I'm not a hired booth babe, I'm a fucking call girl.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I can definitely see that. I tend to see the call girl's viewpoint but I hadn't thought about the potential of "cute girl, bro. How much is she costin' you?"

            Sadly, this is the Silicon Valley viewpoint. Don't fix things, buy your way out of them. Or break things in the way that makes you a massive profit then when government eventually catches up, sue for peace and cash out.

          • Delafina says:

            Yeah, I don't have an issue with booth babes because I think women shouldn't be paid if they want to make a business out of their beauty.

            I have an issue with it because it makes cons worse for women who actually work in tech/games. I'm not there to be eye candy.

          • AstralDazzle says:

            Continued digression: And who can afford to work in the non-tech sector with rents and housing prices what they are? I certainly pass up the listings for interesting jobs in my professional field I see listed there. There are so many affordable cities in the country. I mean I get wanting to conveniently network and amass capital and all, but I also think the company founders get caught up in the status competition of it all and don't see long-term consequences.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I would disagree. I think they see the consequences just fine and think a country full of Silicon Valley-esque city states would be a fine thing. I have some evidence of this based on how large startups both in the Valley and outside of it tend to become a sort of privatized government, providing transportation, redevelopment and other services which are lauded internally but do not necessarily have any relation to what the current residents need or want.
            Zappos has taken over funding the First Friday art nights in downtown Vegas. They fund startups that move downtown. They've bought up and helped finance a lot of downtown's redevelopment. Businesses have moved in to cater to the new hipster clientele. Hell, one hotel's lobby is basically Zappos' after work bar, complete with bean bag tossing range. The problem with this and with, say, the Google busses, is that its done with a blithe certainty that what's good for them is good for everyone else. It has a warping effect on the local culture as people have an incentive to chase what the Valley bazillionaires (Tony Hsieh in our case) think is good as opposed to what the public does. It has a warping effect on the local government as these guys tend to do what they want now and expect special treatment if it later turns out to be illegal (like Google busses using municipal bus stops) because they bring so much money into the local economy.

          • AstralDazzle says:

            Interesting and pretty disturbing to hear what's happening as it's happening in Vegas. I guess none of these guys ever wants to have a family or can maybe just buy that if he wants? Wait, these guys aren't mad that women are golddiggers; they're mad that they're really not!? They believe the myth that if they just had enough money they could buy love??? Because they've bought everything else?? (Also BTW, I've had to deal professionally with parents who thought they could just buy their way out of a child's mental health, education, LD, substance abuse, criminal, etc. problems, so it's not so much not seeing consequences but thinking there won't be any for *them* because *money*. Obviously.)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Oh, I can't speak to gender issues. I think they get too tied up in the corporate cult to realize that driving women out of your professional life also drives them out of your social life. This is Vegas, we've still got tons of women in the service and entertainment industries.Its the Valley where if you want to live within an hour and a half of where you work, its hideously expensive. So only people who work high paying tech nobs can live near where they work. So if the tech jobs are 90% male occupied, there aren't many women in those neighborhoods. Unintended consequences are a bitch.

          • Delafina says:

            "Oh, I can't speak to gender issues."

            Maybe you should learn about them before advocating that the rest of the country become like Silicon Valley.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Um. . .who was advocating that? I find the entire attitude of "I'm clever and people throw money at me so I must be right" ridiculously toxic and entitled.

            Although what I meant by "I can't speak to gender issues" is that Vegas is still pretty well balanced in that respect.

          • Delafina says:

            Oh, whoops, I misread this "I think they see the consequences just fine and think a country full of Silicon Valley-esque city states would be a fine thing." as you saying a country full of Silicon Valley-esque city-states would be a fine thing. Sorry!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Oh, dear Zod no! I think if the startup culture crawls any farther up their own ass there's going to be a loud *POP* and San Francisco will become an island.

          • Delafina says:

            Heh, yeah, no argument there. They're about due for a reality check.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sadly, I agree with what they're trying to do in principle: build a better world through technology. Its just that the end result seems to be building a better world for themselves and their investors through technology instead. Empowering everyone becomes empowering the technomancers.

          • The new priesthood, yo.

          • Delafina says:

            Yeah, there are way too many Ayn Rand-fans in tech, unfortunately. Tech dudes only apply their critical thinking skills in some areas.

          • Delafina says:

            A country full of bro-dude enclaves where you can't get a 1-br for less than $1500/month?

            Yeah, even though I live in a techie town and like it, I'm glad most of the country isn't like it is here.

    • thathat says:

      I really can't help but feel that this article has pretty much shot his chances of dating well for awhile. I mean, it may as well be titled: "Attention Women: If You Break Up With Me Without Sufficient Reason, It Will Take A Restraining Order To Get Me Out Of Your Life." (Although he is, apparently, a millionaire, so…he can have that going for him?)

      • Except a millionaire has the means to go super stalker (drones anyone?) and hire a good defense to fight restraining orders. Even scarier!

        • thathat says:

          Well, for that matter, apparently he's got some article about playing hide-and-go-seek with a guy trying to go off the grid to see how effective the guy's methods were. So he may not be Batman, but he's definitely got more potential-stalking tools at his disposal than the average joe.

        • Delafina says:

          Well, yes and no. I think Reifman hails from the days when 1 out of 10 people working at MS were millionaires, but a million doesn't go as far in Seattle these days as you'd think. I mean, they tell you you need a million in your retirement account just to be able to live a middle-class lifestyle after you retire. (They say you should expect anywhere from $250,000-$500,000 just in health care costs.)

          • thathat says:

            What will some moths and a few wooden nickles get me?

          • Delafina says:

            In Seattle? I dunno, the wooden nickels might actually get you something because hipsters are into that sort of stuff.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Used to be, n San Antonio, a few wooden nickels would get you delicious root beer. Not sure if it still does now that the Hall of Horns isn't located at the Pearl Brewery.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        Really? He's a millionaire? Cool, can we all agree to remember this article and link back to it the next time some tool starts whining about how girls would totally be into him if only he had more money?

      • Very true.

        OTOH, he's done us the public service of announcing what a jerk he is, so you don't have to find out two months into the relationship and wish you'd decided to wash your hair rather than go on the first date with him.

    • Brandon says:

      The answer for R and others who think along those lines needs to be about what they can do to work on their behavior, mindset, and attitude, rather than saying "Well, there just aren't enough women here. That's why I'm single." Because even if he could transport himself to an environment where it was 50-50, or even one where women were the majority, he would still fail because he would still be an unlikeable and unattractive person (due to his poor behavior, mindset, and attitude). I learned that personally after going from being a soldier in the US Army stationed in small towns to living in a major metropolitan area and going to what is considered a party university. To make it about your environment, rather than yourself, is to avoid taking the personal responsibility that is needed to succeed at this and makes things better for everybody.

    • I would think writing this and all his follow-up articles would be what will make him dateless in the future. For all eternity a big red flag will be waving for any woman who thinks of dating him.

      The environment did not need to shoot him in the foot. He did a pretty good job of taking out his feet all by himself. I am sure his follow up "dialog" will go a ways to taking him off at the knees.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      So, of course, I'm sure he's doing everything to make sure Seattle's tech culture is friendly to women so it starts attracting more of them to balance out the men. Right? Right?

      Zod, I wish Silicon Valley would figure that one out. . . downtown Vegas, for that matter, which is turning into Zappo's Valley.

    • Oh fuck. He lives in my city. Not cool.

      Also, is anyone else hearing thinly-veiled racism in the words "tech companies […] bringing all kinds of guys here"?

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        It could be that but regionally 'all kinds of x" can also mean "a metric assload of x".

        "Dude's got all kinds of marshmallows!" might mean that he brought ten bags of the same type, not that he bought a box of Lucky Charms.

  11. devicat26 says:

    When I broke up with my ex I did the 'let's remain friends' thing. The only thing that did was allow him to think (in his own mind) that I was lying about not wanting him romantically and basically allowed him to backdoor his way back into a relationship. This accumulated in him popping over to my home, three in the morning and announcing that we were going to get married someday.
    Cue full-scale freakout on my part and then a full on stalker situation as he kept demanding that I was lying, that I had no reason to end our relationship and that I was being unreasonable. Ten years, TEN YEARS and he still occasionally tries to contact me – most recently through facebook telling me we should still be friends.

    • thathat says:

      Oh, holy crap, that is freaking TERRIFYING.

    • eselle28 says:

      Yikes. I'm so sorry you still have to deal with this scary, scary person.

      • devicat26 says:

        y'know, that's the sad part – it's like he was a benevolent stalker. He was quiet, he was nice, he and I had lots of things in common but there was a part of him that just…didn't live in the same reality as the rest of the world, or something. There are also behaviors that I'm just realizing today that were extremely red flag-y but as a young woman (early 20's) I didn't know any of the terms for what he was doing. Only that occasionally he would do or say something that would make me really uneasy.
        Prior to the 'WE'RE GETTING MARRIED' bomb he actually moved across the nation to my city and was looking for a rental in my neighborhood, because that's what good friends do right?
        Fortunately the whole relationship blew up before he was locked into a lease. As I recall that was one of the worst summers of my life.

    • Delafina says:

      Oh wow, I am so sorry you're dealing with that. :(

    • StarlightArcher says:

      God that sucks! I'm sorry this nutbag won't understand that "no" is a complete sentence. I had an ex go the opposite way when I made the "let's stay friends" mistake. He thought that meant we would get coffee, braid each others hair and share all the details of our day. What I meant was "I won't try to set you on fire with the power of my hatred" …..yeah, there was a lot of whining that I had lied to him and was a meany who didn't deserve friends ever.

  12. lisbeth says:

    This makes me soooo angry. For all the reasons you mentioned, and all the reasons the other commenters have mentioned, but also because: I really *was* cut off. My long-distance partner (of >1 year) simply stopped communicating from one day to the next. I had to eventually ask a mutual friend ‘ehm, I’m pretty sure I was broken up with, but could you maybe check because I am really, really confused right now?’ And hell yes that hurt. Like I wasn’t even worthy of basic respect. Like I was worth *so little* to the person I loved and who claimed to love me, that even bothering to send an ‘it’s over’ text was too much effort. For this guy to compare his break-up to that is insulting.

    • I was cut off once, by a best friend of ten years. She just stopped talking to me one day, and frankly, it took me a while to understand I'd been totally dumped like that. At first I tried to contact her because I thought something was wrong, something had happened. But no, she just… cut me off. I realized she'd done that before to other friends and I understood what had happened and moved on. And that was a ten-year-long friendship. This guys being so whiny about such a short relationship is frankly astounding to me.

  13. I’m really getting tired of practically every act or subgroup being described as a culture these days. It seems more than a little excessive to describe a particular style of break up as a form of culture. It’s a way you can make yourself into a victim of larger forces beyond your control. Just because I’m rejected a lot doesn’t mean that there is a rejection culture that seeks to subject certain people to continual romantic disappointment.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      "Just because I'm rejected a lot doesn't mean that there is a rejection culture that seeks to subject certain people to continual romantic disappointment."

      I hope this doesn't come off as patronizing. But that one sentence encapsulates why I have hope for you. :-) (Seriously, how many times have we heard about how them evil wimmins are dropping nuclear rejections on bros just for the lulz?)

      • A lot. One of the bugs or features of the Internet is that it acts as a source of unrestrained id and people put things on it that are best left unsaid or if they need to be expressed put in a journal and kept private. Most of the rants on the Internet are about the same level of a drunkard's complaint. People are making all these molehills into mountains and its revolting. Whats worse are the repeated crimes against the English language committed by everybody. I presume other languages are also victims of poor grammar and word usage on the Internet.

        • Delafina says:

          Dude, I've defended you before when people were nitpicking your typos, but don't throw stones from your glass house.

  14. suddenlyflash says:

    Maybe, I'm a raging hypocrite. Maybe, it's something in the font. These dashes do not infuriate me. I always like your writing.

  15. Your ex cannot help you get over them and you cannot help your ex get over you. Period. It just doesn’t work that way. I really, really hope the backlash from Reifman’s article will give him the self awareness he obviously needs. I would even bet that he didn’t write the article as some sort if cathartic exercise but as a way to shame Emma and show her how right he is.

    • The Truffle says:

      I love how he just so happens to show up with a date at the restaurant where Emma works as a waitress. Coincidence? I don't think so.

      "Lookit me now, Emma! I got a hawt new date! I'm SO over you! See, I know you're mad! Get over it, Emma, 'cause I got someone else! So NYAH, Emma! NYAH!"

      • I've got better money on

        "See? I have a life! Now stop working NAO and tell me whyyyyyyyy we broke up!!!!"

        One spares about a second to wonder how the current date felt to be taken to the restaurant where the Much Lamented Ex worked. This guy doesn't need dodgy blog posts to drive off dates.

  16. Here's my story. My ex boyfriend broke up with me a while back(around five years now). We had dated for a few years. When my ex and I broke up, we tried remaining friends, we took no time to cut off the relationship, we saw each other at school, at his house, at mine. When I say we tried to remain friends I mean practically every time we saw each other we had sex, or at least acted warm and fuzzy, whether he had a girlfriend or not. I didn't date because I was still in love, and was convinced he'd still love me. It wasn't until I realized that being around him was bad for my mental health (around 3 years later) that I finally knew I had to cut him out, and that's what I did, no phone, no Facebook, no im, I missed him immensely, but I was trying to not hurt myself emotionally . We didn't talk for around a year and a half (made easier by my moving away for grad school) but one night I decided I missed his friendship, so I texted him, we're friends again because the warm fuzzy feelings are gone, it took the nuclear option to get there. I've dated since and even though it hasn't been serious with anyone, it's a big step. People that get this mad about getting cut out don't want to be friends, they want the relationship to be on their terms. (not arguing with the good doctor at all, just sharing some real life)

  17. For all the guys (I assume they're mostly guys) crying about how unfair it is, and how *out of the blue* it happens – I'm gonna wager a guess and say that no, it's not *out of the blue*, they just can't deal. People seem to conveniently miss all the requests to stop, to be done, to stop sending emails, to stop texting, calling. I had to do this once, and I tried HARD not to, but the absolute, complete lack of respect for any of my boundaries pushed me over the edge. And I am *sure* he and his friends sit and complain about what a bitch I am. The way that men can entirely disregard, to the point of genuinely not even realizing they exist, the feelings and desires and requests of women, especially in a situation like this, is mind boggling. Please understand – when you have someone who really and truly WILL NOT leave you alone, no mater what you say or how you say it – it can be actually scary. Even with your need for explanation, closure, whatever. If she (or he) tells you to stop – then you stop. End of story.

    • Holy SHIT – I just read through his entire article, and the entire thing is ridiculous – but near the end I found this:

      'I believe that most domestic violence is the result of men with trauma histories reacting to powerlessness in response to experiences with their ex, friends, or family. '

      Can't imagine why women would feel they need to end communication. This guy is a hazard.

      • thathat says:

        Yeah, if *that* isn't a veiled threat, then it's doing a very good imitation of one.

        "Hey, y'know, being ignored like this, you ladies making us feel powerless because we can't get your attention on our terms…it's the sort of thing that can make some guys get…violent. I mean, not me, of course. But. Y'know. *Some* guys."

        • Wondering says:

          Which is basically Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction who "won't be ignored."

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          This here's a real nice store you got. You know, you should consider insurance. It'd be a shame if someone, not me but someone, were to come in here and smash da place up.

    • Yep.

      It's not that she didn't say no. It's that he doesn't want to hear it, and in his mind, what he wants trumps what she wants.

  18. I'm trying very hard not to utterly rage right now. The fact that this guy is using his past as an abused child as an excuse to publicly shame his ex for not wanting to be part of his life is such utter garbage has me nearly frothing at the mouth. I have lost track of the amount of times I have said this before and will probably be stuck saying it for the rest of my life: Our pasts neither excuse or justify our actions fucktwit! Grow the fuck up, go to a therapist and learn to deal with your shit.

    • My god, people twisting things to their own advantage. How utterly human.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      It's almost as though there are thousands, nay millions of people who have terrible experiences in their past yet somehow make it through life without being assholes to the people around them.

  19. Vancouverois says:

    You know, sneering at the guy doesn't make your case stronger, Dr Nerdlove. It just makes you look like a jerk.

    It also undermines the things you've said in the past about needing to define a new kind of masculinity. The guy is expressing his feelings, and explaining a part of his past that is no doubt very painful for him – and you feel perfectly free to ridicule him and "his delicate fee-fees". That makes you look like both a jerk, AND a hypocrite.

    There's no need for it. You can take issue with what he's saying, and express doubts that it's the full story, AND do all of that firmly and clearly, without being such a total asshole about it.

    • eselle28 says:

      I don't think the writer is expressing his feelings from a place of genuineness. To me, it looks like he's using them as a weapon in his continued stalking, and in an attempt to manipulate people into condoning his behavior. I think that deserves ridicule.

      If he'd shown any self-awareness that he was hurting others or if he'd made a genuine attempt to shield Emma's identity rather than explicitly wanting her to join the conversation, I'd be a lot more sympathetic to an essay about his sadness over his break up.

      • Vancouverois says:

        Note that your first paragraph makes a very important point that Dr Nerdlove completely overlooks (instead snidely implying that Reifman just needs to man up and deal with his issues, and is inferior to Dr NL for not having done so already). And you say it without once sneering at Reifman or mocking him – and that makes it all the stronger.

        Also, keep in mind that Reifman isn't the real audience for this article.

        The real audience is, to a large extent, the kind of people who might do something similar. And I'm pretty sure you can reach them more effectively by calmly saying "hey, you may not realize it, but this is manipulative behavior and makes you look really evil and manipulative" than by sneering at them and mocking their pain.

        • Delafina says:

          Actually, mocking Reifman is a pretty effective method of demonstrating to others how manipulative, stalkerish, and pathetic that sort of behavior looks.

          • Vancouverois says:

            If the behavior you're talking about is the mocking, then I agree; relentless mocking looks manipulative, stalkerish, and pathetic.

          • Delafina says:

            And if DNL makes it into a series of articles about Reifman, then it might qualify for the "relentless" descriptor.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No, relentless mocking tells people who would do what this guy did, writing an article justifying being Christian Grey In Training, that they're not being sensitive, egalitarian human beings. They're being dumbasses. I mock the "I'm not saying it was aliens. . ." guy for the same reason – his point is only worth discussing because some idiot might believe him.

            Yes, when someone breaks up with you, whether you're a man or a woman, you have to put on your big boy/girl pants and take responsibility for your own feelings instead of expecting your ex to be responsible for them. Time, getting over it, moving on, using your support network, crying on someone's shoulder or even therapy are all values of :put on your big boy pants" in this instance.

            If someone doesn't want to take responsibility for helping you heal and you continue to pursue them for it, you're harassing at best.

          • Vancouverois says:

            "No, relentless mocking tells people who would do what this guy did, writing an article justifying being Christian Grey In Training, that they're not being sensitive, egalitarian human beings. They're being dumbasses."

            There's a big distinction to be made between people who would write an article about this, and people who have felt this way after a breakup.

            Either way, it tells them that you, personally, have no sympathy or respect for their position. And that is not necessarily, or even likely, going to make them re-evaluate it.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Doc and the commenters in this thread aren't mocking this guy because of his feelings. They're mocking him because of his actions.

            And I got $50 that says "Emma" truly does not give a shit if he leaves her alone because he finally realized his behavior towards her was deplorable, or if he leaves her alone because he's embarrassed by all the big ol' meanies on the Internet making fun of him for acting like a creepy entitled stalker towards her, or if he leaves her alone because she's finally slapped him with the restraining order he has so richly earned; as long as he leaves her alone.

          • eselle28 says:

            Yes. If he'd written an essay about how he feels it's unfair and damaging to not be able to have a closure type conversation with his ex, but his attempts to contacted her had stopped after she said she was in a relationship and didn't want to talk about their break up, I think he would still have run afoul of Nerdlove's recommendations but would be treated in a gentler manner. Well, okay, if he'd done that and also left out that squicky domestic violence bit.

          • Doc and the commenters in this thread aren't mocking this guy because of his feelings. They're mocking him because of his actions.

            I think this is the key point. Vancouverois, you've brought up the "delicate fee-fees" line several times. But if you read it in context, DNL isn't mocking the guy for having those feelings, or for expressing them. He's mocking the guy for expecting Emma to cater to them, long after the two of them had broken up and after he's essentially harassed her into deciding she wants nothing more to do with him. I suspect there's also an element of mocking the idea that his feelings really are as delicate as he's trying to claim, given that he's wielding them like a sledgehammer.

            I don't think it's a gendered mocking, either, because I'm pretty sure a woman who expected a guy to be willing to chat about their relationship years after it had ended and made this big a fuss about it would be mocked quite soundly all over the internet.

          • Vancouverois says:

            The very phrase mocks his feelings. The context doesn't change that in any substantial way.

          • username_6916 says:

            But, there are folks in here saying, "Wait, he's feeling like this *two years* later? What's wrong with him?" and "He compared it to the death of a family member? He's clearly sick in the head and needs *therapy*". That is mocking him for his feelings.

          • thathat says:

            "Feeling like this"="Feeling as though after a woman has broken up with him, moved on, dated someone else, and told him to stop, repeatedly, that he is still entitled to her presence and comfort years later, and not in the emotional upheaval that immediately follows most break-ups."

            Also, I will again note that in these parts, from what I've seen, the suggestion to get therapy is not one of scorn or mockery–it is a legitimate suggestion. Therapy isn't something that "only crazy people get." Therapy is for anyone who is in pain, especially if that pain is getting in the way of living their life. Still being hung up on a four-month relationship that ended two years ago? Therapy might be a good answer. Being broken-up with and cut-off triggers emotional trauma from your childhood? Definitely a good idea to get therapy.

            Then there's what Mel said–a lot of his feelings seem less than genuine, because he's using them to try and justify his really awful actions. Does the loss of a four-month fling *really* feel like the death of a family member? If it does, then yeah, he probably does need therapy to help process that emotion.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yeah, this. Its not "dude, you nuts! Get help, homie!" Its "your reactions to this situation are not signs of a healthy person. Breaking up with people hurts, I get that. You might want to find a therapist who can help you deal with this in a healthy manner."

            If I'm mocking this guy its because he can't take "don't contact me again" as closure. There's a pretty clear subtext of "you refusing to let go is the problem", he just refuses to see it.

            If i'm mocking the article its because its a manipulative travesty of a piece of writing that provides quite a bit of evidence for why things went the way they did while still avoiding taking any responsibility for them.

          • eselle28 says:

            Yeah, his argument in his essay (if it's read assuming the best possible faith) is that he's hurting terribly from the end of this relationship and desperately needs help, and that Emma is the person who should provide this help. It's fairly reasonable and in good faith to respond that since Emma does not want to and should not be obligated to provide that help, he should seek it out from people who can and will. A therapist is a fairly obvious suggestion, especially since he's compared his pain to a psychiatric disorder.

          • username_6916 says:

            "Does the loss of a four-month fling *really* feel like the death of a family member?"

            In my experience, absolutely. Is there something wrong with this? Am I not supposed to feel this way and need someone to convince that I was wrong to ever feel this way?

            And this is what I'm complaining about. When I said "Feeling like this", I very clearly meant feeling a great loss after all these years.

          • Nothing wrong with feeling it. Something wrong with expecting your fling to heal you and make you better with his/her time, attention, and sex. Something REALLY wrong with continuing to contact someone who asked you to stop contacting them.

          • eselle28 says:

            That's not the only way of reading that statement. Some people take the deaths of family members in stride, but it's certainly not unheard of for someone who's experiencing serious life disruptions and acting out in ways that harm others after a death to be referred to therapy. If this is that serious, Emma's friendship isn't going to fix things.

            I'll admit that I'm skeptical of his claim, but it's mostly because he seems insincere and dishonest in other portions of his essay. Some people genuinely are grieving years after a breakup. Sometimes that's a signal that they need to seek help from sources they haven't tried before.

          • I have an addendum to my comment and an illustration of why although feelings may be very, very real and are not bad to have, therapy might still be in order to cope with and process them until they are manageable.

            I was on a PRT in Afghanistan doing a simple follow up on a small girl's school. When we got there everyone was dead and not an easy dead. Although this was not the worst thing I had ever seen something in me snapped. I picked up a pistol that was laying in the ashes, put it to my head and pulled the trigger. Obviously it was not loaded because I am typing this.

            My feelings at the time were very real.

            My feelings were not wrong.

            My feelings (and actions) were a giant clue by four that I needed therapy STAT because I was obviously not processing them well.

          • physicsnerd says:

            You aren't the only one to feel like that.

            In fact, visiting a therapist reveals how common this sort of feeling post-breakup really is. Something else that therapists know is that no amount of 'discussion' with the ex, particularly if the ex is not interested or has already said what they want to say, truly helps someone through this. Something therapists are good at is helping people find closure in an internal manner that doesn't rely on an ex to come forth.

            There's also a good reason why breakups are compared to death; in death, the dead person is not going to come back and neatly tie off all loose threads for the living. The living must learn to cope, and eventually live a full life without needing closure to be given by the person who is dead.

            Also, it's a bit ironic, because he had closure. He had information that the relationship would not continue on any level, and that she was moving on and expected him to do the same. He rejected that. So it's a fairly safe bet with something as final as what he was given, if he thinks it's 'not enough', there is nothing she can say or do that would be 'enough'.

          • Delafina says:

            Actually, though most people don't like admitting it at the time, finding out that everyone thinks you're an asshole at best and potentially a criminal DOES make most sane people moderate their behavior.

            And you SHOULDN'T profess "sympathy or respect" for entitled, selfish positions.

        • eselle28 says:

          I'm going to note that I've been sneering at Reifman throughout this comments section.

          I don't agree that the real audience is people who might do something similar, either. This is the same as the creepers issue. The guys who engage in this behavior are mostly bad people, with a few being okayish people who really have some work to do before they can interact with others safely. Reading an article like this isn't going to change their minds. However, seeing others treat this behavior with the derision it deserves may give the Emmas of the world confidence and encourage their friends to support them rather than emotionally manipulative stalkers. People who might know an Emma seem like the most likely targets, and I do think that humor and contempt are wise choices.

          • Delafina says:

            Well, and in addition to supporting the Emmas out there, it also calls out this behavior to mutual friends who might be squicked out by it but not realize the implications of how bad it is, and may make them more likely to support the Emmas.

          • eselle28 says:

            Yes. A lot of guys who do what Reifman has been doing aren't quite as ham-handed about it, and manage to frame the situation as the mean rejecting person harshly stomping on the delicate feelings of the rejected person who just wants closure. It doesn't sound like these two have common friends, but for couples who do, this can make life terrible for the victim and sometimes even convince them to maintain a relationship with the stalker.

          • thathat says:

            Shoot, when my buddy finally broke it off with a let's-just-be-friends-ex (I've mentioned her before), her current boyfriend happened to have been a friend (sorta-ex) of my buddy's then-girlfriend (I have flowcharts somewhere). When he blocked his ex and stopped responding to her calls/texts, she used her boyfriend's phone (or maybe the boyfriend himself) to text my buddy's girlfriend, telling her that really, they all needed to meet and hang out and let's all be friends, and this is so mean, girlfriend, can't you see that you're hurting him by not letting him be friends (read: date/sleep with/spend all his time with) me?

            Mutual friends trying to make you be "nice" are the freaking *worst.*

          • thathat says:

            Right. It's one more case of pulling this sort of crap out and shining a big ol' spotlight on it, so you can see all the cracks and dangerous flaws with this kind of thinking. The scariest thing about the original article is how hard this dude is trying to present himself as The Reasonable One.

            It's so easy for guys to make themselves out to be The Reasonable One and their ex-girlfriends to be My Crazy Ex. Either she's too emotionally involved–ain't that crazy? Or she's hysterically overreacting by cutting off all emotion–women, right? Who can figger 'em?

            And what makes it scary is to a lot of people, just reading the initial article, it might be easy to nod and think, "yeah, he *is* reasonable. Those all sound like very logicked points of great wisdom."

            I'm of the mind of Mel Brooks–when you find hateful ideas (especially insidious ones than can disguise themselves as reasonable), you mock them. You point at them and mock them and do what you can to make sure nobody takes those ideas seriously.

          • Vancouverois says:

            " it might be easy to nod and think, 'yeah, he *is* reasonable.' "

            Indeed. And sneering at him and mocking him only reinforces that impression that he must be the reasonable one.

          • Delafina says:

            Uh, what?

            I think you have that backwards. Reasonable people generally aren't effective mockery targets.

          • Vancouverois says:

            You're presuming that the mockery in this case is effective. I don't agree that it is.

          • eselle28 says:

            Dude. If you want to write your own blog post gently pointing out all the errors in Reifman's judgment, go for it. I don't think Nerdlove's going to rewrite what most of his commentariat seems to think is an effective article.

          • thathat says:

            Not…really?

            Humans are social creatures. If folks that we generally think of as pretty clever, and a whole mess of people besides say that someone's behavior is ridiculous, we tend to not want to emulate it.

            If mockery made people think an idea was reasonable, The Daily Show would be the most effective Republican campaigning element on tv.

          • Vancouverois says:

            Well, I'm not in the US, but: Isn't the Daily Show basically preaching to the converted? How many Republicans do you think have watched it and changed sides because of its mockery?

            Mockery may shore up support for people who are already on your side, but I do not think it's all that effective a tool for winning people over.

            Personally, when somebody is relying on mockery in an argument, that makes me suspicious. It leads me to think they're trying to intimidate others into agreeing with them because they can't do it with logic.

          • eselle28 says:

            The Daily Show isn't trying to convert conservatives. It's trying to simultaneously entertain and inform its liberal/apolitical viewers.

            My perception of mockery varies depending on the target. If it's Neo-Nazism or some conspiracy theory about how ancient aliens were behind 9/11, then I respect mockery more than attempts to engage illogical and deluded people on even ground (which is one reason why debates with young earth creationists frustrate me). I'd put this guy in that category.

          • thathat says:

            Well, it's a good thing DNL isn't "relying" on mockery, just utilizing it along with facts, logic, and suggestions. He's basically only mocking the things that are already in and of themselves absurd.

            Which is what the Daily Show does. The viewers probably lean more center and left theses days (partially because the US right has become so extreme that many younger Republicans don't really want to be a part of it either), but he doesn't just poke fun at politicians on one side–he points out absurdity, stupidity, and amorality in politicians and public figures regardless of which side they're on, and is willing to engage–and have respectful discussions with–people on the other side. Some of them he even calls friends.

            But human nature is pretty simple–when the absurdity of a concept is brought to light, most people see it as an undesirable concept. Will you convert all the die-hard guys who really want to feel entitled? No, but you weren't going to do that anyway. Catharsis is nice, though.

          • Well, actually, the Daily Show helped convert me.

            Back in my early college years, I leaned much more heavily to the right on the political spectrum. Gay rights was one of the few areas where I was staunchly liberal from an early age. I started watching the Daily Show my freshman year of college, and while some credit has to go to my Pol. Sci. professors, it helped point out a lot of things in an amusing way that I'd never thought of before. ("Huh. Why DO they say small government but then insist on passing legislation around how women should use their reproductive system?")

            Mockery and shedding light on things in an amusing but sneering way really CAN convert those who stand on the edge or near it.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            My friend, I do not think that works how you think it works.

            Like, I get the idea. Your premise is that any proposition must be met with a well reasoned counter-argument and any ad hominem just serves to undercut your clear and logical point. I disagree.

          • Vancouverois says:

            No, I don't believe that ANY proposition must be met with a well-reasoned counter-argument. However, when a position sounds reasonable on the surface, I think it's much more productive to pick it apart logically than to deride it. Reifman isn't saying it was aliens; he's expressing feelings and a reaction that are pretty commonplace after a breakup (and which Dr Nerdlove seems to have experienced himself).

          • thathat says:

            A) Just because the feeling of being entitled to your ex's presence and comfort after your break-up are common doesn't mean than they are acceptable, especially if you choose to repeated act on it.

            B) These feelings are not generally commonplace two years after a break-up from a four-year-relationship.

            C) No, Reifman isn't saying it was aliens. He's spouting some much creepier, much more harmful ideology than that, but equally wrong.

          • Nothing he expressed was reasonable at all. And it is not exactly common for breakups to involve one party wanting a restraining order.

            He was "reasonable" in the way preppers and Armageddonists are reasonable. You have to accept an unreasonable premise from the outset.

          • eselle28 says:

            He's saying that a woman who dislikes him enough to take legal action against him should be expected to provide him with friendship, comfort, and closure two and a half years after the end of a four month relationship, with a hint that he wouldn't mind if she had provided some sex as well. I'm going to put that in the aliens category.

          • Aliens seem kind of reasonable in comparison.

          • eselle28 says:

            True. Only some aliens engage in non-consensual probing! There are also perfectly nice aliens who built lots of nifty architecture for early civilizations and others who live quiet, unassuming, comical lives in the suburbs.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            The other guy isn't saying it was aliens, either. He's just pointing out how we can't explain some things and that explanation could be aliens. Same thing with 9/11 truthers. They don't have answers, they just have unanswered questions. Of course both are based on ridiculously flawed premises and their conclusions are crap.

            I think unreliable narrator here is doing a fine job of using the same formula. Take an answer you don't like, mangle some of the facts that you have access to, come up with a different answer that is more satisfying to you personally. I'll grant you he didn't take the last step and phrase it as a question or equivocation.

            He uses comparisons to a loved one dying, "serial abandoners" whatever those are, childhood trauma, he speculates that Emma (I hope that's not her real name) treated him this way because of some trauma of her own without proof. . . just go read the article, the parts that aren't overtly horrifying are completely out of context quotes used to justify getting what he wants or are taking a solid idea and running off in his own direction with it. Its up there with "well there's no photo of the plane so so it wasn't really a plane". A real teardown of all the flaws in his logic wouldn't be an amusing read. It would be disturbing.

            Yes, its common to feel all shook up after a breakup. Its less common to write a five page paper two years after a breakup on why someone that doesn't want to be around you owes it to you to try to be friends. That's not a good way of dealing with the pain of a breakup.

          • Vancouverois says:

            "A real teardown of all the flaws in his logic wouldn't be an amusing read. It would be disturbing."

            So, why would that be a bad thing? Don't you think that would be a better and more effective way of getting the message across than using snark?

          • eselle28 says:

            The people who are already open to reading serious discussions of abuse and stalking have already read a bunch of them and don't have much to learn from this. The sort of geek-adjacent dude who might have a buddy who's treating some poor woman like this often needs a little sugar – or a few mocking gifs – to make the medicine go down.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I think I have better things to do with my time than write it and you have better things to do than read it. Maybe you can convince Jenny Trout to take a pass at it. I do like her breakdown of the 50 Shades books.

            Short form – no, I don't think it would be more effective. Formal debates are far less effective than appeals to emotion, especially for something like taking responsibility for dealing with your own feelings instead of expecting someone who already broke up with you to do it. However, I didn't write this blog entry so Doc does a far more reasonable dissection than I would.

            TL;DR – It wasn't aliens

          • Vancouverois says:

            The truth is out there! :-P

          • The research backs you up on this, by the way. Formal debates are about the worst way out there to change anyone's mind.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yep. The problem is that arguments aren't won in the mass mind with facts. Rhetoric is a 2,000 year old art form that's been in constant development. The best you ca do is try to use that power for good.

          • Vancouverois says:

            That's a pretty sad comment on humanity if so. What research are you referring to?

          • Psychology, education, and communication research, mostly. Paluck & Green have a good overview of what works in the area of prejudice reduction, and Twersky does good work on the problems of people drawing conclusions from data; I can't think of a good larger meta-review across multiple topic areas, but I'll poke around my collection and see what I can come up with.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I would have thought it was a pretty self-evident commentary on humanity. When was the last time you saw a product or a politician lead with facts instead of flash. These are the people on the cutting edge of what used to be rhetoric, the ones who make the ads, that is. If well reasoned arguments alone could convince people, we wouldn't still be debating global warming like its maybe a thing and maybe not.

          • Vancouverois says:

            In politics it does pay to appeal to emotion, certainly. But demagoguery generally appeals to emotions like fear and ego – any mockery involved is directed at the people being depicted as the enemy, not the people the demagogue is trying to win over.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Really? Because I see plenty of mockery of ivory tower liberals and gun toting inbred rednecks designed specifically to say "if you believe this, you're one of those dumbasses."

          • I think you might appreciate this post on the article, and the comment discussion there: http://captainawkward.com/2014/05/12/entitlement-… There is still a little mocking, but mostly a breaking down of how disturbing and creepy it is.

          • Vancouverois says:

            Thanks for the link.

          • Delafina says:

            In what universe does Reifman's stalking and entitlement sound reasonable on the surface!?

            Like, 1 paragraph in it's clear that this guy does not have all his marbles.

          • eselle28 says:

            I think there is a universe, but it's kind of a scary one. I have seen this kind of behavior excused by people who are already highly predisposed to believe that a rich businessman's judgments are generally the correct ones and that women (particularly young ones working in service positions) are craaaaaaazy and overreact to everything. I've seen similar logic applied in rape and sexual harassment cases. I was actually kind of glad that this was quickly called out as frightening behavior.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Now I want to start carrying a bag of marbles just so I can walk up to someone and go "excuse me, I think you lost these."

          • AstralDazzle says:

            Sadly, in dysfunctional ones, this would be reasonable, and there are still an awful lot of dysfunctional ones!

            Families that don't believe in drawing or respecting boundaries, that excuse increasingly egregious behavior, protect the abusers.

            Friend groups that like Jeffs because they are the center of the social circles (and maybe have the money, charm, etc) to be given the benefit of the doubt.

            Young people fed on a steady diet of rom-coms and music, in which this behavior is "romantic" and "dramatic" and "intense" because they've never been exposed to sites like this or information on the continuum of abuse, control, stalking.

            Communities in which a rich, successful man is always right because of patriarchal norms (sometimes upheld by the elder widows of the community).

            I *might* have some personal experience with all of these in various situations. So, I for, one welcome the mocking because it is so gd validating and healing to hear, instead of the defenders in the above groups, "nope, your instincts are right on in" this tone!

          • raindancing says:

            Yes, the mocking is definitely helpful to those that have been at the receiving end of behavior like this before. Someone in the comments at Captain Awkward said it better than I can.

          • raindancing says:

            Here it is: http://captainawkward.com/2014/05/12/entitlement-

            There have been a lot of excellent replies to this, but I just wanted to add one short thing. That “mocking” thing? That you disapprove of? It is necessary.

            Jeff is a high-ranking (millionaire, remember?) cisgendered heterosexual white (I would bet money on this) man. Practically EVERYONE here is lower on the social ladder than he is. (Practically everyone in the U.S. is, for that matter, but set that aside…). Emma is a woman who is not a millionaire (I don’t remember any mention of her race in the article, so I am assuming she is white also). She is lower on the social ladder.

            Therefore, when Jeff wrote this article, whether he meant to or not, he was using his higher social rank (privilege) to lend his words — his version of events — a sheen of authenticity. He has status and money and rank and access to places that will publish his self-pitying screed and call it “an opinion piece.”

            Emma does not have access to all of that, and neither do most of the commentariat here. (If anyone here is a millionaire, I am not aware of it.) The only thing we have access to is our community, our ability to share our understanding, willingness to pick apart bad arguments, outrage, and a forum to share all this. Humor is a tool, and in this case, it is a tool being used to a) help prevent everyone from bursting into tears or swearing because this kind of thing comes up so often and b) to focus attention where it should be: on the flaws in Jeff’s argument. (The commentariat here are punching up, not down, if you are familiar with the terms the comedy people use.)

            “Mocking,” in this case, is being done by those who have less power in order to point out that the emperor, indeed, has no clothes.

          • username_6916 says:

            In this instance, specifically talking about dating and courtship, I'd say that say that "Emma" is higher on the social ladder. She's not only more successful than in these areas than Jeff is, but being a woman is an advantage in these areas. It is the people who have found happiness in this area of life mocking the person who hasn't. This is punching down.

          • We actually know nothing about Emma and her happiness. We know she was seeing someone at some point after the breakup. Jeff was dating as well since he took his date to the restaurant Emma worked in, but beyond that their success or lack thereof is unknown..

          • eselle28 says:

            Emma isn't doing the mocking, either. Although I'm going to guess she's aware of the essay at this point, since the person written about would be entirely identifiable by her friends and family members, she's chosen not to respond at all.

            A lot of the people who are on the mocking side are themselves single and struggling with dating.

          • shaenon says:

            But she's a woman! All women are socially adept, self-confident, and great at handling romantic relationships! Especially college students in their early twenties. I know when I was that age, I was the Love Master.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Except
            A) Emma's not throwing and punches
            and
            B) We're not talking about success in relationships. We're talking about who owes what to whom after they're over.
            and
            C) Even given that, what we're really talking about is someone's wanting to be left alone being treated as less important than someone else's need to maintain contact. They have been apart at this point six times as long as they were together and he still hasn't gotten his act together. So what we really have is:
            D) Someone using their position to forward the theory that they should not be responsible for handling their own issues.

          • username_6916 says:

            "A) Emma's not throwing and punches "
            s/and/any/ ?

            Agreed. I suppose I should instead be targeting people who are mocking his "wee wee fee fee" in this thread and in TFA.

            "B) We're not talking about success in relationships. We're talking about who owes what to whom after they're over. "

            The question of who has the advantage here has a lot to do with who has success in relationship(s).

            "C) Even given that, what we're really talking about is someone's wanting to be left alone being treated as less important than someone else's need to maintain contact. They have been apart at this point six times as long as they were together and he still hasn't gotten his act together. "

            If we leave out the part about the amount time apart, agreed. A big part of my annoyance I have towards this sort of comment is it comes with the suggestion that you shouldn't be upset about the failure of a relationship two years later. I most certainly am, although my circumstances and who I am upset with are completely different. I'm still in contact with my ex, and when she wanted space I gladly gave it.

            "D) Someone using their position to forward the theory that they should not be responsible for handling their own issues. "

            As opposed to those who use their position to mock the miserable looser who's bad with women?

          • eselle28 says:

            No one's mocking him for being bad with women. They're mocking him for stalking someone and trying to justify it as a natural reaction of not receiving the attention he was entitled to. Additionally, as one of the people doing the mocking…I'm in my 30s, female, and not-very-happily single. Even if you claim this dating privilege nonsense (I don't, because the primary issue at hand is stalking), I'm punching up when critcizing a male millionaire in his early 40s.

            The author doesn't characterize himself as being bad with women, either. Available evidence suggests that he takes his breakups hard, but that even though he's in his 40s, he was able to date a substantially younger woman. That's not generally a sign of struggling romantically. He's also had at least one date since, and his essay suggests that he's had partners before Emma, as would be expected for a man his age.

          • thathat says:

            "Bad with women."

            Oh. Wow.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, so the people mocking him are punching up. Both sides can end a relationship at any time. It just so happens in this case that the guy didn't want to. Flip the genders and I'd feel the same way. Put on your big girl panties and take charge of your own emotional health.

            The thing about leaving out the time apart is that's like saying "if you don't count the drunkenness, the accident wasn't his fault". Its a major component of the overall picture. Am I still upset over relationships that ended badly? Sure. I'm not going to go back and insist that my ex and I revisit them. That's the unhealthy part.

            And hey, guess what, man mocking him here. I'm still punching up on the Microsoft millionaire. I'm not mocking him for being bad with women. I'm mocking him for failing to take responsibility for his own damn life instead of expecting his ex to fix it for him.

          • username_6916 says:

            I still find it amusing how people consider "millionaire" to be a huge chunk of money. My parents are almost "millionaires" because of the housing market. They still drive decade old cars, shop at Wal*Mart and play the lottery. I still had to pay for a big chunk of my education.

            In a place like the Bay Area, it almost seems as if "millionaire" is just the starting place to be considered a good provider and a good husband. A requirement that society doesn't ask of our young women, I might add.

            "The thing about leaving out the time apart is that's like saying "if you don't count the drunkenness, the accident wasn't his fault". "
            The issue is, I'm not trying to say that the accident wasn't his fault. He is crossing a pretty important line here, I don't dispute that.

            But at the same time, "Just forget this ever happened feel better" aka "take charge of your own emotional health" is worrisome too. It's telling him not to feel hurt or wronged about the breakup that I object to. By all means tell someone to respect other's boundaries, but don't tell them what to feel.

          • eselle28 says:

            We're referring to him as such because that's how he referred to himself. I'm also going to point out that he's not a young man. He's a middle-aged man who is able to date young women, probably in part because he can position himself as a good provider and a good husband. A woman his own age has a much harder time dating than he does, regardless of her financial status and even if she doesn't aspire to date 20-somethings.

            "Take charge of your emotional health" means "Find someone other than Emma to work out these issues with to at least the point where they're not causing you to harm others."

          • thathat says:

            At what point did anyone ever say that "take charge of your own emotional health" meant "Just forget this ever happened feel better."

            I'm starting to see a pattern where you say "you people are saying This Thing, and that's terrible," and then everyone says "We didn't say This Thing, we said That Thing." And you keep arguing against This Thing.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            "take charge of your own emotional health" is worrisome too. It's telling him not to feel hurt or wronged about the breakup that I object to. By all means tell someone to respect other's boundaries, but don't tell them what to feel.

            That is quite precisely not what it says. Feel as hurt as you want. Feel as wronged as you want. Then figure out how to get over that because your ex does not owe it to you to fix that for you. So talk to your friends if you need to. Scream about it in the car. Go to therapy. Get fucking hypnosis if need be but its your problem to get over, not your ex's.

            That's what taking responsibility means. It doesn't mean you can flip a switch. Hell, there were times when I was like "this has been over a month. I'm done. I just want to not feel this crap now". No, it doesn't work that way but there are sure as hell steps you can take so you're not still agonizing over it and blaming an entire culture two years later.

          • Wondering says:

            "but being a woman is an advantage in these areas"

            What does that mean?

          • Careful, I suspect we're about to hear how women have a much easier time finding sex and love than men do because EVOLUTION.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No, this is an Adam Smith argument, not a Charles Darwin one. Women have a higher market value in relationships therefore they can treat men worse and set up all sorts of barriers to make sure only the best men get to their product (sex). Mind you this is based on comparing the 10% most conventionally attractive women to all men and pre-supposes that any man would be as good a "buyer" as any other.

          • username_6916 says:

            I've read that paper. While it contains a grain of truth, it ignores fundamental truth that people are not fungible. We are not all the same. What we want, what we need and what we can give are different for every relationship. If I had to draw an analogy to economics, it would be bartering, or perhaps the trading relationship between nation states far more than it reflects the simple "Cash for goods" kind of transaction they point to in that paper.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            And yet you're happy to make it cash for services a little farther down the thread.

          • username_6916 says:

            Being a good provider is one of the most demanded attributes in a husband. That doesn't make it sufficient to maintain a relationship these days.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            It may be around your crowd. I don't know any woman who doesn't expect to provide half (more or less) of the income in er family.

          • username_6916 says:

            Not evolution. Culture. What men and women and women find attractive and how we go about courting has changed far too quickly to be hard-coded into our genes.

          • username_6916 says:

            Darn Typo:
            What men and women find attractive and how we go about courting has changed far too quickly to be hard-coded into our genes.

          • Thank heavens I don't have to bang my head against that particular wall. Those people give my discipline a bad name. Though I'm sure that if you explained your comment I'd still think you were at the very least misguided.

          • username_6916 says:

            For any given amount of effort in the area of dating and courtship, I believe that an average woman is likely to have far more success than an average man if all else is equal.

          • "Women's work is invisible to me."

          • thathat says:

            Well.

            Here we are again. It's always such a pleasure.

          • Aw, come on, I give him some credit for resisting the blithering moronitude of the savannah.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            For those of you playing the drinking game at home, finish your beer.

          • enail0_o says:

            Just the one? I have the feeling we'll need a good couple before the end of this one.

          • Okay, I'm taking bets. Plus your guess below:

          • "What men do is effort; what women do isn't."

          • thathat says:

            Just stand there an' look beautiful, shweetheart!

          • "Let's compare the top 10% of women to all men everywhere!"

          • eselle28 says:

            Double dipping! No fair!

          • So – fifty fifty on the proceeds then? :D

          • eselle28 says:

            Sounds good to me!

          • enail0_o says:

            It's a tough choice, but I'm gonna go with this one.

            What does the winner get? I'm guessing alcohol poisoning.

          • "Women possess sex, a critical commodity that men will pay anything for."

          • A critical commodity in short supply, no less!.

          • "Men want physical beauty, while women want money and status."

          • eselle28 says:

            Winner winner chicken dinner.

          • eselle28 says:

            "Distribution of female bodies, limited to those young enough to reproduce and preferably virgins, to men of all ages and levels of sexual experience."

          • eselle28 says:

            "Culturally enforced monogamy and prohibitions against premarital sex ensured most men could attain a mate, lowering crime (with marital rape of course not being a crime)."

          • enail0_o says:

            Pretty sure the prize for this one is that George Clooney eyeroll gif. http://media2.giphy.com/media/xn12oFdfxLF7O/giphy

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well, we're still firming up the rules but evo-psych and women have power in the marketplace are both full beer worthy.

          • Delafina says:

            I was drinking bourbon.

            I probably shouldn't play this game, huh? It might kill me.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I wonder if we could do a livestream version of this at some Con. Set up a physical room with a lot of beer, let everyone comment live and the GM calls out the drinks. Have a camera crew wander through the room to catch choice moments.

          • Delafina says:

            That would be hilarious. Gen Con, anyone? :-)

          • thathat says:

            Nah, that is a Dragon*Con game if ever I heard one. ;)

          • Delafina says:

            Fair 'nuf, but I won't go to Dragon*Con as long as the founder is still getting money from it. Ah well.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Seems like more of a DefCon event to me. The liveblogging aspect is more that style.

          • thathat says:

            He's not, last I heard. IIRC, sometime this year, they finally managed to buy him out with some help from the courts. Not ideal, but I don't *think* he's going to be making any more profit off the con.

            I hope that's accurate, because it's a swell con, basically Geek Mardi Gras.

          • Delafina says:

            Oh, that's good to hear!

          • I want to play this game…

          • Sounds fun. It'd be like your friendly neighborhood Bingo night, only with fewer grandparents and more potential for liver damage.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Interestingly, the very comment "for any given amount of effort" speaks to the flaw in your logic. You'e pre-supposing that women have to put in less effort because they're approached. Now we can go around and around based on the pre-game work women put in when going out and how only a small subset of women get approached regularly.

            We could, but it pre-supposes that someone wins in a given social interaction. Its kind of like trying to be the less attached one so that you have power. It completely overlooks the fact that this is something you're doing together instead of to each other. It pre-supposes that all relationships are created equal and that making the approach is somehow more effort than anything else.

          • Delafina says:

            Do we have to? Couldn't we just point and laugh instead?

          • username_6916 says:

            The pre-game work for me (earn at least $100,000/year aka "have a Job, your own place and a car", remain chaste until I meet someone I feel comfortable marrying, bury all sad feelings) seems a whole lot harder than… What exactly? I'm genuinely curious. The answer I always get is women put more effort into their appearance. I'm not convinced. I for one am not asking for physical attraction, and even if I was the folks I've been attracted to aren't exactly the type to spend hours on their appearance.

            Beyond this, women get more support from our culture at every stage of courtship. Want to leave a good marriage because you think your husband is boring? You'll be so popular you can have a bestselling book about experience. Want to leave a good marriage because you think your wife is boring? You are a pervert who's just trading her for a younger model. Kick your children's father out of the house and out of their lives? He was just dead weight anyways. Kick your children's mother out of the house and out of the life? You're denying these poor children their mother. Marry someone because of an unexpected pregnancy? That's your job as a man, but it's horrible to ask a woman to do that. Want to be a stay at home wife? Clearly, you're an important contributor to your family and society. Want to be a stay at home husband? You are a deadbeat looser. Husband beats you? We'll arrest him, give him justice and get you help. Wife beats you? We'll arrest you and laugh about how you got beaten up by a woman.

            It seems that women have the advantage at every stage of courtship, not just out the starting gate.

          • eselle28 says:

            Your expectations of your spouse are that she be chaste as well. Add that to the list. Unless you're interested in dating sad women, add that to the list as well. What you end up doing is trading looks for money, and you aren't required to play the money game to the extent you're choosing to do so. Living in a large city where salaries are high and housing is expensive and also having a car is a choice.

            Statistics don't bear up on a lot of those claims you're making in the second paragraph.

          • raindancing says:

            Women are sometimes allowed to be a teeny bit sad. They are not allowed to be angry. So add that in there.

          • thathat says:

            Oh, shoot, yes. Or express any kind of emotion that could potentially be seen as "hysterical."

            Oh, and "women aren't supposed to have sex (without being judged for it)"–if we're going by social pressures. And I suppose also "women should fit within these narrow perimeters of acceptable beauty" and all the extra that entails.

          • … I have a hard time taking you seriously if you really believe you have to earn $100k a year in order to have a chance at a relationship. You are aware that the vast majority of men date successfully with a far smaller annual income?

            Your second paragraph mixes some real problems with some delusional misrepresentations of reality. I can't even touch it with a ten-foot pole. Maybe someone else is willing to spend their time unpacking it for you.

          • username_6916 says:

            You know, my father told me not to date until I had a million dollars. He's always impressed on me the idea that money, being a good provider, is probably the most important thing I can be as a husband.

            He's also probably still mad about Loving v. Virginia. I really don't like the world he proposes, but I'm not sure what choice I've got in the matter.

            Beyond that, it seems that most women want someone who has, at the least, "A Job, a car and their own place". They put that straight in their dating profiles. That's just getting out the starting gate. Homes in most major tech centers start at three-quarters-of-a-million dollars. If we want children, that's a huge burden that I'm not sure I can do on less than that salary.

          • eselle28 says:

            To me, this sounds like your own status anxiety more than generalized social pressures around dating. I have professional female friends who I have heard recite pretty much similar lists to obtain an upper-middle class life in the large cities of their choice, generally with a little fretting about their biological clocks on the side. A woman who wants this lifestyle and who isn't interested in marrying a man many years her senior will need to be a provider as well.

            There are other ways to do things. You don't have to pick them, but it's at least worth acknowledging they're out there.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Say, if the guy is supposed to be a provider, where exactly is the woman expecting to be provided for living before they meet? I mean, you're talking $1,000 a month in living expenses in any mid sized or bigger city. So that's a $50,000 a year job to live fairly comfortably.

          • username_6916 says:

            Lots of women want to drop out of the workforce, or work part time once they are married or once they start having children.

            Moreover, $1,000 a month living expenses is… Well… Dirt Cheap from my prospective. You've heard about rents in the Bay Area being north of $2000 for a one bedroom in an okay area. If I move away from home, I'll need much more than that if I'm to move ahead at all.

          • eselle28 says:

            Lots of women may want to (or feel pressured to by society). Most can't have both the lifestyle you describe and stay at home. Only 5% of married, stay-at-home mothers with working husbands fall into the category of people you describe (note that these women are older than other mothers, generally indicating they worked and may have saved prior to marriage). Most families with a stay at home mother lead much more modest lifestyles, and most women who aspire to the kind of lifestyle you do continue to work.
            http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/04/08/after-d

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sure, so that same woman who wants a provider now has to be making the same $100,000 a year that you are before you meet. I'm sure plenty of self-sufficient women like that would like to not work. I'd like to not work. I don't know that very many of them expect it, though.

            Side note – one more reason I don't live in that area. $1,500 a month for a studio would kill any extra pay I made by moving there. Dodging self-driving killer cyborg Google buses is a secondary concern.

          • username_6916 says:

            Hey, I want to *build* self-driving killer cyborg Google buses! :)

            I have an opportunity here. I can live very cheaply at my dad's house in the Bay Area. But, I fear that that comes with some restrictions. The threat of being disowned sting a bit more when it means I'll no longer have a place to live. Maybe I'm overestimating the risk of that happening. I dunno.

            Also, the place isn't really in the best condition. And, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to fix things. I'll bet the fact that the house belongs to my father and it has no fewer than 3 broken dishwashers in it is a bit unattractive. If I were ever to make it that far, that is.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, you want to build cyborg Google buses? Here's Johnny's free tip for the day. Go to Mofett Field, tell the gate guards you're there for the museum or Singulatiry University or something. Go wander around until you see a self driving Google car. Now follow it! Congratulations, you just fond a Google X Lab (there's more than one). This is the one with the quantum computer. Walk right in and introduce yourself.

          • username_6916 says:

            You gotta be careful. I just might do this next time I wander through Mountain View. :)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I think Mofett is slightly north of Mountain View if memory serves and I wouldn't have said it if I didn't expect you to try it. Tracking down that lab was quite a bit of work for me.

          • I would take some time to seriously consider whether the tradeoff you are making is worth it. If you are in tech, you can get a good job in another city with a much lower cost of living, and not have to deal with your dad's toxic ideas about relationships on a daily basis.

            Can I ask how old you are?

          • username_6916 says:

            I'm 26.

            My parents probably wouldn't be around day to day. Up until my dad retired, my parents lived separately in two cities.

            The big disadvantage as far as courting is just how run down much of the stuff is and how little I can do about it. We've got 3 broken dishwashers for goodness sake! I'm a bit worried that even if I choose someone who will not get me disowned, that she'd judge me for all the broken things around.

          • I am actually more concerned about the toxic influence of your dad's ideas about relationships on YOU – and how that means you choose a partner and treat women. If your dad had healthier ideas about relationships, I'd feel more confident about you living with him – but for 26, your ideas about relationships are still very stereotyped in some quite disturbing ways that will make it hard for you to find a successful relationship.

          • And that's because full-time daycare for more than one child can cost so much that having a parent home is the most logical choice.

          • eselle28 says:

            …which is why it's actually more common for stay-at-home mothers to be present in non-wealthy families. Being a stay-at-home parent is less of a sacrifice, and sometimes it's a financial savings.

          • I think you would do well to read the research on women "opting out" of the workforce. The vast majority of high-income women who drop out would prefer to stay at work, but can't get their husbands or workplaces to support them. There's a wonderful book on this subject by a woman who thought she was writing a book about why women choosing to stay at home and how that was a bad thing, and ended up writing about how they were being offered loaded choices and they were doing the best they could in a shitty situation.

          • AstralDazzle says:

            Is this the same book that describes the East Coast upper class communities where men are seen as being lower status if their wives work (even if said wives are elite-educated and holders of advanced degrees and great jobs) because their peers will assume the man is not making enough money and think that his wife *has* to work? (Yeah, I could just look it up, right?)

          • That may have come up in some of Stone's interviews with husbands, but it wasn't a focus of the book. Mostly what she found was that husbands would loudly claim to be supporting their wives in working, while making decisions that profoundly undermined them (like, say, completely opting out of housework and childcare).

          • thathat says:

            "There are other ways to do things. You don't have to pick them, but it's at least worth acknowledging they're out there. "

            Quoted for truth. You're the one trying to play the game on ultra-hard-extreme mode.

          • You know, I do not know any women who expect the man to be the "provider." And I know some devoutly religious women who'd love to stay at home with a large bunch of children. They also realize that such a dream is not likely to happen–so they have careers and provide for themselves until they do get married.

            Post-recession, it's damned near universally accepted that the US is a two-income (or more) culture for the 99% of the population.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Post 1990's S&L scandal recession at the latest.

          • I don't think your father is accurately describing the world. I think he is probably describing a subset of it, and yes, if you act like the only thing you offer is to be a provider then you'll meet women who are looking to be provided for. But the world is much bigger, and women are much more diverse, than your father seems able to imagine. I'd really like to see you expand your horizons.

            One way to do that would be to listen to some of the stories of the women on this site. For example, when I met my husband I was a hot-shot young programmer-to-be and he was a prospective academic researcher in a very poorly-paying specialty. It was clear to me that the money was going to be coming from me and not him. That turned out to be more complex because I ended up getting him into tech (sort of by accident) and then I went back to graduate school for a few years, but now I'm once again the primary breadwinner in our family. Also, neither of us have ever lived on our own, nor owned a house or a car until this year (almost eighteen years later).

            I think other women here would have similarly interesting stories to tell you. I strongly suggest you take them seriously.

          • AstralDazzle says:

            Yep. I've date a fair number of men, none of whom I'm pretty sure made even 50,000 at the time I dated them. Maybe one made more. Sometimes they make a little more than me; sometimes I make a little more than them. But I'm immediately turned off by anyone who brings up material status right away to try to impress me.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm high income myself. I've been married and divorced from someone who made exactly the same amount of money I did. I've dated men who made more than me and men who have been unemployed or only marginally employed. A car is probably a necessity in my area. A job would be preferred. I can't remember the last time I dated a guy who had his own place, though. A lot of men I go out with live with their parents due to high housing costs.

            Ideally, I'd like to run into someone who has a low key, probably lower paying job and who'd like to pick up a bigger share of the housework, but I'm not holding my breath.

          • "He's always impressed on me the idea that money, being a good provider, is probably the most important thing I can be as a husband."

            I can think of at least a dozen things I'd look for in a husband before I'd get to "good provider."

            Also, even if many or most women do want to date men with "a job, a car, and their own place," that does not necessarily translate to "a six-digit salary, a newish car, and a single-family home in an expensive area for which he is the sole owner." For me, that would translate more to "a reliable source of income sufficient to meet his needs and put at least something aside for the future, a reliable form of transportation (which could be a car or access to and familiarity with public transport if in an area where such is widely available), and a healthy living situation (which could be his own place or could mean he lives with family or friends who are decent people and where everyone does their part)."

          • Delafina says:

            "Also, even if many or most women do want to date men with "a job, a car, and their own place," that does not necessarily translate to "a six-digit salary, a newish car, and a single-family home in an expensive area for which he is the sole owner." For me, that would translate more to "a reliable source of income sufficient to meet his needs and put at least something aside for the future, a reliable form of transportation (which could be a car or access to and familiarity with public transport if in an area where such is widely available), and a healthy living situation (which could be his own place or could mean he lives with family or friends who are decent people and where everyone does their part).""

            This.

            I'm generally not interested in dating guys who aren't self-supporting (although there are sometimes qualities you can have that make up for not having one of these things), not because I expect them to provide for me, but because I'm not interested in providing for them. Obviously, if we got married or are even in a long-term relationship, the providing thing changes in that it becomes more mutual and fluid (working in tech/games, layoffs are a depressingly common event, and I don't begrudge shouldering more of the responsibility for a bit if my partner's been laid off), but for a dude I'm just considering dating? I want an equal.

          • thathat says:

            Your father impressed some crappy ideas on you. Sorry about that. Maybe you should take a hint from Yoda and unlearn what you have learned.

            Most women past their early 20's want to date someone who has a job (lower j. It doesn't need to be a career) and a place to live that hopefully isn't his parents. Car is optional in a lot of cities. But even so, I've got a job, a car, and a place that I live on ~$23/k a year. Why even try to own your own home at this point? (Especially without being in a relationship.)

            I'm inclined to agree with eselle. This sounds like some personal anxiety you need to work out.

            A million dollars to start dating. Seriously, your father gave you some lousy advice.

          • When my husband proposed to me, he was unemployed, living with his family, and didn't even have a driver's license. (Still Doesn't). Granted he's the one with the full time job now, but that's mainly because I had to move two time zones west. Had he not gotten that full time job, I would have been the provider in the situation. Personally, I'd prefer us both to be 'providing' so we could take the lower out of lower middle class. But the job market in LA is a harsh reaper.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Funny story, I didn't have a job, a car or my own place (I had roommates) when I started dating my last girlfriend. I don't have a job or my own place now. I like roomates. Living entirely alone is too quiet for me. I've never made enough to support a family on my own. So clearly those aren't dating requirements. Also, since we're talking about dating, how about we don't bring marriage into it just yet. I mean, we haven't even had coffee yet.

          • thathat says:

            ….

            Wow.

            *Wow.*

            I…I don't even know where to start. But it does seem to explain a lot. It doesn't seem to be based on actual reality so much as on…y'know, I don't know what. Sort of 1950's, but edited? Ignoring the social pressures on women because they're invisible to him.

            …for some reason assuming that making a lot of money and "burying all sad feelings" are a pre-req to a relationship…

            I don't even know. But I kinda want a drink.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Take it to the drinking game thread a little upstream.

          • eselle28 says:

            Also ignoring the experiences of lots of women whose 1950s families fell outside the trumpeted narrative. Both of my grandmothers were married mothers in the 1950s. One of them was a nurse's assistant and the other was a farmer, though she wouldn't have been counted in labor statistics (fuck the phrase "farmer's wife," she did as much agricultural production as her husband, while her mother and oldest daughter took care of the "housewife" tasks).

            And, sure, my grandparents were all kind of poor. But not that poor, and I suspect not so far outside of the mainstream.

          • Delafina says:

            Join us in the drinking game subthread. :-)

          • thathat says:

            Also, buddy, one virgin to another–if you don't want to stay a virgin until you find The one…then /don't./ If you do, then that's on you and not even remotely something society requires of you, so I don't see why you list it as something that's so hard but you do anyway. If you can't get any, that's rough. If you're choosing not to…why complain?

            So, in your world, a scant few women getting bestseller deals (seriously, THAT'S what you're going by) for leaving their husbands outweighs the commonly accepted social narrative of "guy trades up for a younger model." Yeah, you say it like it's a bad thing, but it's a trope because it's pretty much expected of most rich guys, and generally much more accepted than leaving your husband because he's "boring"–that gets you the "but he's a good provider/you're a slut" speech. There are disparaging terms for a woman who leaves a relationship too. And, of course, any time a woman marries a man who's older or less attractive, she's a gold-digger, so that judgement on relationships cuts both genders.

            Believe it or not, courts are a lot less about kicking the father out. In fact, RAPISTS can get visitation rights with the the children their victims may have as a result of that rape. And even just in divorces, sole custody is a tricky, case-by-case instance that isn't set in the 50's anymore.

            Marrying someone because of an unexpected pregnancy? Don't freaking do that if you don't want to be married (seriously, how is it "your job as a man" but "horrible to ask a woman"–you need both people to get married). Your only job, as someone who helped bring a human life into the world, is to contribute to the care and raising of said human life.

            If you're still seeing a "deadbeat loser" stigma on stay-at-home dads, then you're hanging out with some crappy people.

            And before you say that women have "the advantage" when it comes to domestic violence, how about you check how many instances of male-on-female domestic violence there is versus female-on-male. It's awful that it's harder for abused men to be taken seriously, but it's another problem rooted in sexism–the idea that women are so week that men can't possibly be victims to them. I have a friend who was emotionally and physically abused by his wife, and he'd still be the first to tell you your list is full of crap.

          • username_6916 says:

            I do want to save myself until I find someone I have a lasting relationship with. Ideally it will be "the One", but we really can't ever be sure. Society doesn't require it, if anything it's pushing me the other way. This is something I do for myself and my future partner. It's not always easy, but I'm hoping it pays off in the long run.

            The fact that her tale of how she left her boring husband behind to travel the world and 'discover herself' was a best seller does say something about our culture, right? That and the fact that women start 75% of divorces, most often without any real cause at all.

            My view is that visitation most often not a day-to-day involvement in a child's life. Physical custody is the measure I use. Most judges are still more likely to consider the woman to be the primary caregiver. Women know that and can use that to argue for more favorable terms in a mutually agreed settlement.

            I'd say that stay-at-home husbands, or husbands who earn less then their wives are widely seen as losers in the broader society, and by women in particular. Divorce is more likely in families where the wife earns more.

            Most sources say that there are as many female perpetrators of domestic abuse as there are male perpetrators. Regardless if you want to label this sexism or not, the net effect is one where an abusive woman has the real possibility of having the power of the law to continue her abuse, whereas an abusive man generally speaking does not.

          • Wondering says:

            "That and the fact that women start 75% of divorces, most often without any real cause at all. "

            Citation, please. Especially for the "without any real cause" part. Not physical abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, husbands who provide nothing more than monetary support (e.g. a car, a home) but not emotional support or love or recognition of their wives' invisible work? What, exactly qualifies as a *real* cause to you?

            "Most sources say that there are as many female perpetrators of domestic abuse as there are male perpetrators."

            Citations of those sources, please.

          • The best data I've seen on divorce is that about 2/3 of marriages are initiated by women, and the single biggest predictor is domestic inequality – usually in the form of "she works more hours, does the bulk of the unpaid work, and has less decision-making authority than he does." Egalitarian marriages (that are actually egalitarian) have the lowest rates of divorce across all couples.

            Now, this is not always the rhetoric people use to explain why they get divorced, but it is far and away the single biggest predictor. I'd have to go back to the studies, but IIRC "bored" doesn't even make the top five list for either men or women.

          • Oh, also there are two reasons why divorce is more common in families where the woman earns more:

            1) Marriage is bad for women on just about every measure; on the few measures where women benefit from marriage, they benefit much less from their husbands. The big area where divorce hits women worse than men is financially. When that barrier is removed, it means the marriage has to offer some real benefit for her to stay. Sadly, a lot of guys haven't figured out how to be adequate, non-exploitative husbands.

            2) The other reason why high-income women are more likely to leave is because male household contributions go down the more a woman earns – regardless of how much he makes. Given that the biggest predictor of divorce is male freeloading, this means that high-income women are more likely to want a divorce – and given point 1, are less likely to be deterred from doing so by practical consequences.

          • username_6916 says:

            In short, this sure sound a lot like the only value I can offer is my income. If a woman earns more or about the same as I do, what use am I in the marriage? What could I possibly do to continually prove myself worthy of human affection?

          • Here are things you can contribute that will set you apart from the crowd, and that are associated with happier marriages and lower risks of divorce:
            – making your wife an equal partner in decision-making
            – contributing equally to household labor and caregiving, including both visible and invisible work
            – treating your wife's ideas and thoughts as valuable
            – learning that she is not the only one who has to compromise her needs and welfare for the good of the relationship

            That said, you have to be a bit careful: a lot of men CLAIM to do those things, but don't, and ongoing lies are not good for a relationship. So you want to think about how you can seriously commit to being an equal partner for a woman, especially if you want to persuade someone to be with you for life.

            However, I think the idea that you have to prove yourself worthy of human affection is the root of your problem here. The things I'm describing aren't about proving yourself worthy; they're about the kind of partner and the kind of man you choose to be. If you believe that the only value you have to offer the world is cash, then I understand why you feel you need a lot of it – but you are setting yourself up to have a very hard time finding a relationship, because you will attract women who think just as little of you as you do.

            I will say that I earn more than my husband, and I thank god for every single day we spend together. I feel that I am the luckiest woman alive, and I have felt that way even when he's been unemployed and earning nothing. He is a man of incredible character who works every day toward being an equal partner to me – sharing everything he has, not just his money.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            what use am I in the marriage? What could I possibly do to continually prove myself worthy of human affection?

            I'm going to take the latter first. You don't have to prove you're worthy of human affection. Humans are worthy of human affection. . . in a general sense rather than in a "you in particular shall provide me with this" sense.

            Now the former: I don't know, what use are you? We really know nothing about you as a person except your income, general field, living situation and attitudes towards relationships. Do you like gardening? Can you dance? Are you good at providing emotional support? You don't have to offer everything to everyone. You have talents and virtues already. Identify those and you'll have a better idea of who you're offering them to.

            Hippies without traditional employment get married. I could be in a relationship with a rich person or a poor one. I'm more concerned that they have something in life that they're passionate about that I'm at least interested in. You're not trying to fill a need for someone as a source of income or transportation. . . well, maybe you are but that's not my recommended approach. Instead try finding someone you're a compatible partner to, someone who has a mutual interest in intertwined lives.

          • username_6916 says:

            Any reason other than abuse or abandonment is questionable in my mind. If you get bored, or 'fall out of love' it's your responsibility to try to make that right, not just move on.

            Most divorces have nothing to do with abuse or abandonment. Hence why I say without cause.

            As for sources: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/V71-Straus_Thirty-Y

          • " it's your responsibility to try to make that right, not just move on."

            Right. So you're saying that after 30 – or 10, or 5 – years of 'trying' to make a lazy-ass husband contribute more – emotionally, financially, physically – to your relationship, falling out of love with, and leaving, his lazy, entitled, selfish butt is "questionable". Right.
            You do know that *both* partners need to put equal effort into the relationship, right? And there's only so much one party can do when the other believes its not their responsibility to do anything. Evidence, my brother, who literally will not even set the table every day, even though his wife cooks, cleans, and does his laundry, every day. She asks him to pick up the slack, he whines about how hard he works – never mind that she, too, has a full time job. If she ever decides to divorce him, I'll be glad to give her my support, and I'll suggest you take your "questionable" bs and shove it.
            Every woman has the right to be treated equally and with respect. Women leave men who do not respect them and treat them equally. Go figure, treating your partner like your maid is very quickly going to cause ill feelings.

          • thathat says:

            There's a reason even the Catholic Church gives annulments for "irreconcilable differences." It doesn't always have to be drastic to be something that can't be fixed. Although I'm also going to point out that "abuse" is a hazy grey area for a lot of people–especially emotional abuse. There are plenty of people who leave a partner because "everything was terrible" but without being able to put their finger on it who, years later realize–oh, holy crap, that was emotional abuse! That was gaslighting! Geeze, no wonder everything was horrible.

            It's a darn good thing that people don't need to prove to a court of you that they can't work it out. Sometimes all the trying in the world can't make a relationship work.

            And dude, I'm saying this in all sincerity and without malice, but I think you really might want to see a counselor. There's a lot that you've said, some of which you said your father taught you, that is just a mindset that will make you freaking miserable. I think you really could use a neutral professional ear to help you sort things out.

          • username_6916 says:

            Help me sort things out? How?

            By doing, what? Labeling me with some trendy acronym that prejudices all who come in contact with me? Telling me not to express an opinion that's unfavorable with the university in a campus newspaper? Trying to coerce me into continuing contact with them? Violating their own professional ethics regarding confidentiality?

            All of that has happed to me. I've got lots of reasons to distrust all things 'mental health'.

            And, at what risk? That I might have everything I think doubted because it's coming from someone who's 'sick in the head'? That I might not be able to get a security clearance or a pilots license or join the military or buy a firearm?

            What exactly would they do? If my family is paying, isn't there a major conflict of interest here. Will this all boil down to 'your feelings are wrong, let's get rid of them'? Is this all just brainwashing me in to doing what other people want of me?

          • Delafina says:

            Sometimes you try to make it work and it doesn't.

            Also, interesting that you don't include cheating in valid reasons.

          • username_6916 says:

            Oh, crap. Yes, I most certainly should have included Infidelity.

            My big fear is that we don't put enough effort into building and maintaining our romantic relationships. That we expect things to always be easy, and are willing to simply go find someone else the moment things get difficult.

          • thathat says:

            And there are people like that. I'm dealing with living with the fall-out from somebody like that. It sucks.

            But "we." I don't think it's that simple. I don't think it's "abuse, neglect, infidelity, or else you're a lousy person who can't compromise." People are too complicated for that. Are there people who "grow bored" and leave? Yup. (I would argue that the social narrative says that women *leave* those marriages, while men stay in them but get mistresses.) Are there shallow people who won't put effort into their relationships when things get hard? Oh yeah. Is that gendered? Not even a little bit.

            Date the sort of people who aren't that shallow. I know it sounds like saying, "Well, if you want to be healthy, don't be sick!" but really, take a good look at the sort of woman you want to date and see if they're the sort of people you would actually like and trust. (Gonna say this: a woman who puts "good provider" as the top thing for a husband, and who requires a man to have a career, new car, and own his own home to be worth her time…probably not the sort of person you should date. Maybe not a bad person, but terrible for your anxiety. )

          • username_6916 says:

            If it's not gendered, than why are most divorces initiated by women? Why is divorce by women more widely accepted?

          • eselle28 says:

            Anecdotal account of a lawyer? Men are more likely to solve marital problems by cheating or by checking out, either emotionally or by actually leaving. Women are more likely to want a clean break.

          • raindancing says:

            If it's true that divorce by women is more widely accepted, then it kind of explains the first question, doesn't it?

            I know a guy who told his wife that he had accepted a job in Australia, and that he would be moving there with his new girlfriend. Officially, the wife is the one who filed for divorce, but she wasn't the one who decided the marriage was over.

          • eselle28 says:

            I kind of want to summon kleenesetar here, because she has the data. I just…I think that there are probably more divorces initiated by women because they're annoyed, but I also do see more "cheating" and more "he already doesn't live here" divorces initiated by women than by men. It seems like a lot of guys in those or reverse situations don't file and wait for their partner to do so.

          • What the research shows is that marriage benefits men more than women, and that women pay the majority of the costs of marriage. Marriage is just plain better for men; why would they want to leave it? Men are also much more likely to get what they want within a marriage, whether that's making major decisions about where the family lives or unilaterally deciding that they don't have to do household chores. Not every marriage works this way, obviously, but on average? Marriage tends to give men what they want at the expense of their wives.

            Of course, when one partner gets really sick the numbers flip around. For example, when one spouse is diagnosed with cancer or MS, 20% of men leave while only 6% of women do.

            So yes, it's gendered, but not in a way I'd call particularly flattering to men.

            I can't speak to the public perception of who initiates divorces, but if you're getting any ideas about this from your dad I'd suggest you treat them with great skepticism.

          • username_6916 says:

            On some level, this stinks of "men and women are equal, unless women are better". Why does "all men are evil" and "no women are evil" seem to be core feminist beliefs around here?

            Most marriages don't break up because someone or other is diagnosed with cancer. You can't point to some sub-category where women behave better while ignoring the broader case.

            Infidelity, abuse and abandonment aren't nearly as gendered as the divorce rate is. I've heard people here try to excuse divorce outside of these circumstances, but I haven't heard a particularly good reason why this is.

          • I'm talking about one particular gendered pattern, which is that men are taught to expect much and contribute little to a marriage, while women are taught the reverse. There are ways in which our culture teaches women shitty lessons, too. This just doesn't happen to be one of them.

            My point is that the number one cause of divorce is a sense of inequity. For women, that tends to tip when they're doing more than twice as much work as their husbands. Men on average start to feel they're being treated unfairly when they are doing just over half the amount of work their wives put in. That's because of the different expectations men and women are led to have about marriage. The cancer thing is just one example.

            I'm totally uninterested in arguing with you about what should be causes for divorce. I'm just here to point out that your ideas about divorce are, well, inaccurate. It sounds like you're projecting your own beliefs – perhaps your parents divorced, citing boredom? – onto the world at large.

          • enail0_o says:

            So…your argument is that because women more often initiate divorces for reasons (including inequality of labour) that you don't consider valid, we should conclude that the millionaire with access to a large audience, is in a position of less power than Emma, about whom we know little except that she is younger than him and was at one point his student?

          • Fuck "fall out of love." How about realizing that the person you married believes they have the right to exploit you, and that they act on it every day? Because a person who behaves like that does not deserve to be married, and you shouldn't be blaming the woman for "not trying hard enough." If a guy wants to stay married, he'd better be someone worth staying married to. The responsibility in this situation is with the exploiter, not with the woman trying to find a way to get her supposed partner to actually be a partner.

            I say this as someone who has made the commitment to be with my husband for eighteen years, and expect to stay with him for the rest of my life. And you know why? Because he's a man whose character I deeply admire. Part of that is not being selfish, entitled, and exploitative.

          • eselle28 says:

            Go poll a group of 45-year-olds attempting to date people of their own age, income, and approximate attractiveness.

          • username_6916 says:

            Including their past experiences over their whole lifetimes?

          • eselle28 says:

            Only if we can include their future experiences over their whole lifetimes. (Which will not help your case, given the picture for women over 60.)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No, ask a bunch of 45 year olds as described what effort they put into meeting people.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            See this mockery here? Its not because we don't sympathize with your dating problems. Its because once a week or so, some version of this exact argument comes up. Its been so thoroughly debated and debunked at this point that none of us has the energy to treat it as a serious argument rather than a sort of autonomic spasm, like the ones induced by Pokemon cartoons.

          • enail0_o says:

            Nice description there, Johnny!

          • Delafina says:

            Oh, that WAS good!

          • username_6916 says:

            So, is this still "punching up"?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Hmm, for me personally, harder to say. Probably punching sideways but I'm from Vegas. I'm an amoral wretch already. For what its worth, if you were trying to tell me your proof that the sun revolves around the Earth, I'd be approaching it about the same.

          • Definitely a sideways punch.

            And yeah, these theories are on the Scientology scale of mock ability. Anyone who came to me with something this stupid and scientifically flawed in a nonwork setting would be mocked.

          • username_6916 says:

            I don't know, it seems that most of the folks who are mocking me are far more successful than I've been.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            As I said, I have no illusions about being a good person. However, see above. If you want to engage in actual discussion, I'm happy to. If you want to repeat Pokemon seizure inducing rhetoric (is it still rhetoric in text?), I'll be happy to continue with my standard formalized response.

          • shaenon says:

            It's pretty impressive, the ability to get to "women are golddiggers who just want men for their money" from a story about a millionaire being dumped by a waitress.

          • enail0_o says:

            You're right. I think we should give some extra points for that.

          • Delafina says:

            You're delusional if you think that's punching down. There is no world in which she's higher on the social ladder than a millionaire white cisgendered man who is also her former professor and former boss.

          • Annoyed Me says:

            FFS, women do not get a magic Wand of Dating +5 just by being female. I am SO sick of hearing that I could just about spit.

            Conversely if we DO get a Wand of Dating +5, someone please let me know where I pick that up,

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Should not say it. . .should not say it. . ."In my pants". *ducks*

          • enail0_o says:

            If it's wrong, why does it feel so right?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I don't know but I hope it feels as good for you as it does for me. ;)

          • AstralDazzle says:

            Yes, this was a stand-out quote among many powerful responses on that thread! Good reading.

          • physicsnerd says:

            It actually reminded me of a situation where a guy, upon leaving a company, decided to mass-email his coworkers and in the long email, call out and name his crush. The media caught whiff of it, and next thing you know, there's a poll about how this woman should date this guy because, I don't know, he was brave or something? She even had a boyfriend at the time.

            Mocking is sometimes the best response to certain entitled men who are intent on getting public support and removing control women have over their own personal lives by submitting what they want without her permission or knowledge to the judgment of her peers to influence the outcome in his favour. It shows that nope, actually peers are not favouring him, taking the pressure off of her.

          • Wondering says:

            That's kind of how I've always felt about public marriage proposals: That it puts pressure on the woman to say yes, whether she would really want to or not, because, hey, everyone's watching! If she says no, well, then she's a bitch, amirite?

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Heh. As a guy who made a public marriage proposal (on stage!), this definitely occurred to me. But by the time I got serious about making plans for it to happen, we'd already had multiple discussions on how it we were both on the same page marriage-wise. Hell, there was one car trip where SHE made a spur-of-the-moment "I'm-totally-kidding-unless-you-say-yes" proposal to ME.

            So I was pretty confident the "Yes" was a foregone conclusion, regardless of circumstances. :-)

            (And just last night she was lamenting how our YouTube video of that evening only had 370 views.)

          • Yup. My rule of thought is 'you don't ask in public unless there's already been an agreement in private'. Which is probably why I enjoy public proposals so much; I just assume they've already talked about it. :D

          • raindancing says:

            Yeah, in the one couple that I actually know that had a public proposal, they discussed it, and she told him that she really wanted a public proposal.

          • Reifman's universe? The universe dreamed up by MRA*?

            *Men's Rights Activists, not the Men's Rowing Association.

          • username_6916 says:

            What does this have to do with Men's Rights Activists?

            In general, I do think this article and most of the comments are in fact mocking men for having the wrong emotions. I did empathize with the guy. But, when we look at the core message given, I tend to agree with Reifman critic's ideas, if not their presentation. I think he does go just one step too far in limiting when we can disassociate with someone.

            I think most MRAs would agree with that idea, even if they reject the whole wrapper of "men shouldn't have feelings" and "society shouldn't care about men" that goes around it here. After all, one of the big MRA talking points is about the lack of resources for men who are fleeing genuinely abusive relationships.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Because, like many MRA rants, it takes responsibility for the male writer's emotions and puts them squarely at the feet of someone who is not the male writer.

          • Plus it also charmingly appropriates the language of oppression to keep oppressing others while still playing the victim.

          • Delafina says:

            No, they're mocking men who are so entitled that they think a woman doesn't have a right to break up with them without a detailed explanation, or get a restraining order when they stalk her.

            And Lee, presumably, was using MRAs as an example of tinfoil hat misogynists to whom this might seem reasonable.

          • Vancouverois says:

            "I'm going to note that I've been sneering at Reifman throughout this comments section. "

            Where? You may have made one or two sarcastic asides; but as far as I can tell your comments have been thoughtful, sincere, and not personal attacks on him or anyone else.

            "The guys who engage in this behavior are mostly bad people, with a few being okayish people who really have some work to do before they can interact with others safely."

            I think it's the other way round, actually; most guys (and girls) who engage in this behavior are okayish but less mature/ less experienced with relationships, and only a few are truly bad people. But of course I have no hard data either way.

            And I don't agree that mockery is going to change anyone's mind. Instead it's going to come across as yet another message that anyone who has similar feelings is weak and deserving of ridicule.

          • eselle28 says:

            I've called him a stalker and an abuser and have mocked both his sincerity and his attempts at framing his follow ups as a useful dialogue. This may be a tonal issue, but let me clarify: I feel nothing but contempt for this man and think he's entirely deserving of ridicule.

            I strongly disagree about the morality of these people, and in this particular case, I'd note that the writer is 43 years old. I think the article above sufficiently focuses on Reifman's actions to avoid that, and that his actions do deserve ridicule. Others may disagree, of course.

          • Vancouverois says:

            Actually, I don't think you have called him a stalker or abuser. You have pointed out that what he's doing looks like stalkery behavior, which is not exactly the same thing.

            In any case, I'd say that addressing the stalkery and abusive aspects of what he's doing is the exact opposite of ridicule. It doesn't belittle or trivialize his actions; instead it holds him to account, and illustrates the full seriousness of the situation in a way that mocking "his delicate fee-fees" doesn't.

          • Delafina says:

            OMG, stop dancing around trying to mitigate what he did.

            He stalked her. It wasn't "stalkery behavior," and it didn't have "stalkery aspects." It was stalking. That makes him a stalker.

          • Vancouverois says:

            You misunderstand me. I'm not saying he wasn't stalking her.

            I'm just pointing out that eselle28 said exactly what he did, and why it's crossing a line, and then left it up to readers to decide what that says about him. Which I think is far more effective than just assigning a label to him.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm happy to label in this case. I tend to be somewhat understated, especially at work where I otherwise write in that tone, but I'm not on your side on this.

          • Vancouverois says:

            It still isn't your labeling that's convincing. It's the reasoning that leads up to it.

          • thathat says:

            " You have pointed out that what he's doing looks like stalkery behavior, which is not exactly the same thing. "

            Now I want to know what the difference is.

            Because I think if someone feels the need for a restraining order, they don't care if the other person is their stalker or just "acting" like a stalker.

          • Vancouverois says:

            See my response to Delafina right above. I'm not saying he was justified or that she's wrong.

          • thathat says:

            But you do seem to be saying that someone–not this guy, but someone–could practice stalkery behavior without being a stalker. I'd like to know what the difference is.

          • eselle28 says:

            Eh. I'll jump in and say that I believe this to be the case as well. Someone who's Facebook stalking or driving a little too often past the house of their ex right after a break up is being a little stalky, but might not be a stalker. Wherever the line is, this guy is way over it, though.

          • Vancouverois says:

            Exactly.

          • eselle28 says:

            I apparently haven't been harsh enough: I believe he's a stalker and an abuser. Is that sufficient?

            There are many ways of responding to stalking and abuse. Mockery can be a useful one, especially among peers and especially in the case of people who would otherwise be perceived as being high status. There are many cases where being ridiculous is more damning than being evil.

          • thathat says:

            The people engaging in the kind of behavior he's talking about are basically stalking their exes–they're putting their desire for a relationship of any kind over someone else's desire for safety and to be left alone. I don't think they're being very good people.

            Mockery is a powerful tool.

            And at any rate, it's not the feelings of loss or grief at the end of a relationship that DNL is mocking here–he even suggests, several times, that the guy should see a therapist, which is a legitimate suggestion in these parts, not a sneering dismissal. What he's mocking is this guy's terrifying sense of entitlement to a specific person's presence, and his (now vindictive) refusal to leave her be.

          • Vancouverois says:

            "Mockery is a powerful tool. "

            And like any tool, it can be used well, or badly.

            I'm saying that in this case, I think Dr Nerdlove was using it very badly.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            And you've spent a lot of digital ink on it. Yes, we get that you think it was less than optimally executed. Your opinion is noted. I personally don't think it was worth taking this far but if you do, by all means continue. I just wanted to make it clear that I understand what you're saying, I just don't agree. I also don't think it needs to turn into a cultural post-mortem on the use of mockery in opinion pieces.

          • Delafina says:

            "I think it's the other way round, actually; most guys (and girls) who engage in this behavior are okayish but less mature/ less experienced with relationships, and only a few are truly bad people."

            No, actually, harassing your ex for — what is it now, a year and a half? And it'll be longer once he gets the follow-up to the follow-up written — makes you a bad person. Not "okayish."

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      I agree this guy is hurting, and am all for giving him the emotional support he needs to move past this … just as soon as he stops acting like a creepy, entitled stalker.

      In the meanwhile, he's acting like a creepy, entitled stalker — so much so that he's raging against a woman who was apparently on the verge of taking legal action to get him to leave her the fuck alone. And as long as he's acting like a creepy, entitled stalker, I'm in favor of pointing to his actions and saying, as loudly and clearly as possible, "THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE."

      And if that means hurting his feelings, I'm honestly more concerned about the feelings of the woman who very nearly sought a restraining order against her creepy, entitled stalker than I am the feelings of the creepy, entitled stalker.

      • Wondering says:

        Agreed 100%. Getting a court order is not an easy thing to do, logistically or emotionally. If someone has been pushed to the point of threatening one, the other party's behavior leading up to that point has already passed beyond the pale.

        • eselle28 says:

          No kidding. In most cases, getting a court order is something people wait on longer than they probably should for their own well-being. It's a lot less common for people to threaten to get them frivolously – I get the impression that a lot of people don't even think about them as a potential remedy.

          It also says a lot that this guy ignored even this serious threat and kept emailing her.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Maybe if the court order said something like this:
            Dear [name],
            I know you need closure, so here it is. I am a human being with my own life and needs. We have been broken up for [time]. Since then you have made no fewer than [number] attempts to talk about our now non-existent relationship. One of the reasons i am not interested in doing this is because you do not recognize my needs or autonomy as a person, insisting on prioritizing your own desire for communication/closure/another chance (circle one or more) over my needs to get on with making a life that you are not involved in. As a result, I am taking out this restraining order against you because of the reasons listed in the formal complaint. Think about it, [name], I took the time to file paperwork and take a day off of work to appear in front of a judge because that was preferable to having to deal with your steamrolling any of my concerns again. You want closure, you got it right here.

      • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

        I just had a thought. Could focusing on guys like this be entirely counter-productive? I doubt he will change, and meanwhile we're ignoring the guys with similar feelings that aren't being complete jerks about it. We (human beings) seem to focus on the negative, and so:

        "I agree this guy is hurting, and am all for giving him the emotional support he needs to move past this"

        I wonder if this would actually happen? Part of me thinks people would just move onto scouring the internet for another creep to attack.

        The sad thing is the jerks often get more attention.

        • eselle28 says:

          No, I don't think it's counter-productive. The problem is that there are all kinds of communities that coddle guys who behave in this way rather than supporting the Emmas of the world, who are both sad about breakups sometimes and the victims of stalking. I would say that victims should be at the front of the line, especially since there's not exactly a lack of resources available to people of both genders who are hurting after breakups.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            " especially since there's not exactly a lack of resources available to people of both genders who are hurting after breakups."

            Having never broken up with somebody, I've never looked for such resources, so I'm not exactly sure to what you're referring. Most guys seem to just throw themselves into work/a rebound relationship/hobbies to distract themselves from the issue.

          • eselle28 says:

            There's a variety of books and online material on the subject, and most relationship counselors also address the needs of both men and women whose relationships have already come to an end. Not everyone takes advantage of those resources, of course, and many women throw themselves into work/a rebound relationship/hobbies to distract themselves as well. For many breakups, these are useful strategies.

            Does that add up to a society that's perfectly calibrated to assist its members with failed romantic relationships? No. There's still some work that can be done. But your suggestion (which, I have to say, is very much in line with your usual suggestions) that we ignore stalking and victimization because it might hurt the feelings of people suffering the lesser pain of romantic rejection is really troubling to me, and it's more troubling because you seem to be focused on gendering it.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            "But your suggestion (which, I have to say, is very much in line with your usual suggestions) that we ignore stalking and victimization because it might hurt the feelings of people suffering the lesser pain of romantic rejection is really troubling to me,"

            Hm, I can't say I can think of other comments of mine along these lines at the moment, besides the one you are responding to. I don't intend to do that, at least not regularly, but I may well be lacking self-awareness here. Maybe you send me a few links to examples on the forum PM system (obviously, you have no obligation, I'm just curious because I'm having trouble seeing it)?

            "and it's more troubling because you seem to be focused on gendering it."

            Generally, when I gender my arguments it is because I feel that that the male side will be alternatively ignored or minimized if I keep it gender neutral. Often when we talk about vulnerable-type emotions, gender neutral language will subconsciously default to a female gender in most people (including myself, often).

          • eselle28 says:

            I strongly prefer not to engage in debates via the PM system, and in any case, we're talking about comments of yours that are public. I'm thinking primarily of your comments on the Ending Sexual Harassment in Geek Culture article (and to a lesser extent those on the Socially Awkward isn't Creepy one), where you seemed again to be emphasizing the emotional needs of men over the physical security of women.

            It would be one thing if here you were pointing out that men can be stalked just as women can be, but you just flatly said that you didn't know if it was a good idea to discuss incidents like this because it might hurt men with similar feelings (meaning what, by the way? sad about breakups? or entitled to their ex's assistance in recovering from breakups? because that last one isn't all that admirable even if someone isn't acting out).

          • Hmm, I read TheWisp's comment differently: "If we want to stop stalking and victimization, it would be more effective to focus on examples of guys who deal with their feelings without hurting others. These guys are in the majority and we should make it clear that they are a) the norm and b) admirable."

            But I guess I can just ask the source! Wisp, did you mean it as an effectiveness argument or as a don't-hurt-guys'-feelings argument?

            I actually think we need to do both. It's not enough to give men positive examples and role models; we also need to clearly, firmly, loudly, and regularly make clear what's beyond the pale, especially when it's behavior that society generally condones.

          • eselle28 says:

            I don't object to those who wish to giving advice to men who deal with their breakup feelings without hurting others, and suspect it may be helpful. There are already several articles on this site that at least attempt to help men who are hurting after their breakups, after all, so it's not as if the site has ignored the problem.

            Counter-productive is a strong word, after all. It doesn't tend to imply "more of this thing but still some of that thing."

          • I think there's an apparently sensible (but faulty) argument to be made that giving badly-behaving men attention in the media is counter-productive, along the lines of "it normalizes this kind of behavior and makes it seem common." Except I think that in fact the problem is that this kind of behavior is depressingly common, particularly (but by no means entirely) among men due to cultural attitudes about who is entitled to whose free emotional labor – so the argument doesn't stand up, but it's also not overtly stupid.

          • (That said, only TheWisp can clarify what he meant. I'm just saying how I read it.)

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Yes, I was saying that it isn't effective to focus on the creeps. Ultimately, doing so leaves men who aren't the creeps, but perhaps feel similar emotions, some of whom may drift into creep territory, feeling invisible,directionless, and without examples. Meanwhile, it does nothing to change the behavior of people who are creeps right now. I'm not saying that pointing out bad eggs is inherently counter-productive, but doing *only* that is counter productive.

            Filling discussions of mens' behavior and masculinity with too much negativity won't work, even if it is all directed at men who deserve the negativity, because it will drive the good men away from the message.

          • eselle28 says:

            This site has a number of articles on coping with breakups and regularly runs letters about men struggling with breakups. There was a letter on this topic just last week.

            Though, honestly, if "good" men aren't willing to hear about the physical dangers women face when interacting with men, I'm not necessarily all that sad to lose them. Being silenced isn't a fair price to pay for…well…it sounds like the purpose of having them hanging around the message is so that they can receive emotional support from others.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Humans have a negativity bias. You have to have many many many more positives to balance out one negative. That's just the way these things work.

            But also, yeah, this site does have a lot of positive stuff. I guess I'm mixing my feelings about The Internet In General and this site together.

          • eselle28 says:

            Have you considered that articles of this type are only a negative for some readers, though? For me, The Cutoff Culture brought a ton of negativity into my life. Seeing people call it out was a positive to me, because it made me feel that people are finally starting to pay attention to the perspective of women in these situations. That's not to paint it as a "who has it worse," but I don't think it's quite accurate to assume that every article is either in the positive or the negative column.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Sure, and I respect that. But, presumably, DNL's target audience is men, not women, and so I think it is fair to discuss how his rhetoric might alienate the very people he's trying to influence.

          • eselle28 says:

            See my comment below about poisonous communities. This isn't just the good guys versus the bad guys.

            And what are we alienating them from, anyway?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Eh, at the end of the day you can critique all you want (and so can I). Doc's paying for server space. He gets to write whatever he wants and everyone else can read it or not. Its not like there's a lack of voices on the Internet.

          • To be fair, the man who wrote that blog wanted attention brought to him and this situation because he apparently thought everything he was doing was normal. Calling out the behavior is a way to show what is not acceptable.

            This post reminds me of the early days of anti-domestic violence education (yes I am old enough to remember those). One tactic was to present normal behavior (i. e. hitting after drinking, hitting because she was leaving you – both very normal and understandable because of "feelings" behaviors when and where I grew up) and break down why it was not OK and not acceptable even if you had "feelings".

            It was most valuable to the boys and men who grew up thinking that this was normal but were not already doing it or had done it in the past because it did not occur to them that one slap was actually not OK.

            This shows for those that do not already know it that demanding explanations and stalking is not OK. I would bet money that there are readers out there who had a bit of eye opening seeing this " reasonable " man's behavior deconstructed (and maybe a blush or two for those who recognized some of their past behavior because this is not rare).

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            "It was most valuable to the boys and men who grew up thinking that this was normal but were not already doing it or had done it in the past because it did not occur to them that one slap was actually not OK. "

            That's interesting. I guess I do assume that these things are *obviously* bad, and that the men who do these things are thus irredeemable. So, at a gut level I'm kind of offended that we're even talking about this. However, it may well be that other men who grew up in different places don't see it as obviously bad like I do, and so need to be bluntly told why these things are bad.

            Now, are those kinds of men reading sites like this and, if they are, are they listening? I'm not as sure about that.

          • eselle28 says:

            Again, you're breaking this down into guys who know this behavior is wrong and guys who do it themselves. There are many, many, many smart geeky men who are potential readers of sites like these who don't stalk women themselves, but who are friends with men like Reifman and who react to their stalking by reassuring them that they've been mistreated and that any decent woman would reply to a friendly email in the interest of both of their emotional recovery.

          • raindancing says:

            This-This-This.

            When people who are doing wildly inappropriate things have the approval and reassurance from onlookers it makes it so much worse.

            Also, I imagine that this site gets a not-insignificant number of young readers who haven't been in these kinds of situations yet. (I say that mostly because it's the sort of thing that the guys I knew in middle and high school would have inhaled.) I think that it's super-important for those kinds of readers to hear this message. Teenage boys get appallingly little explicit information on romantic relationships, and what they do get (from movies and TV, mostly) is terrible.

          • Reifman, the writer of the blog highlighted here is in the tech world, has issues with dating, and pings a bit nerd, so basically the audience for this blog (albeit a bit older).

            So given that, I would say this is the perfect forum since men who might end up like him in 20 years are reading this now.

          • thathat says:

            "Filling discussions of mens' behavior and masculinity with too much negativity won't work, even if it is all directed at men who deserve the negativity, because it will drive the good men away from the message. "

            Oddly enough, what I've noticed is that rather being driven away, most good men rally, look at their own actions, call out bad behaviors when they see them, and use their social position to help make things better.

          • Delafina says:

            I think, if I can presume to articulate Eselle's comment differently, that what she's objecting to is a generally successful tactic used by a lot of male commenters here: when there's an article calling out bad behavior in which men sometimes engage in the dating sphere, they change the discussion from being about why this is bad and why we need to stop it and how we do that to focusing on the feelings and difficulties of the perpetrators.

            It's quite effective (as you can see from the relative number of comments in different threads) at shutting down discussion that focuses on how to make things safer for women (especially in online spaces).

            Or, to reframe it using the foot-stepping metaphor: on articles identifying foot-stepping and pointing out the ways it can damage people's feet, these commenters manage to change the conversation to the feelings and challenges that might cause people to step on other people's feet, effectively silencing discussion about not stepping on feet, and avoiding the point, which is that the FIRST thing they need to do is get off the person's foot.

            DNL has written a bunch, IIRC, about self-care after a breakup.

            That's not what this article is about.

            And as I've said a bunch of other times, I don't mind having those conversations IN ADDITION to conversations about why things like the stalking and gaslighting and entitlement described in this article are bad and the best ways to stop it.

            But that's not what happens, most of the time — most of the time, the commenters want to have their discussions INSTEAD of them.

          • eselle28 says:

            Yes, thank you.

            I would add that I also mind that these objections seem to divide male readers into either unrepentant foot steppers or men who might be hurt by allegations of foot stepping, generally skipping over the possibility that some men who don't step on feet themselves might be contributing to an atmosphere where foot stepping is tolerated.

          • Delafina says:

            Excellent point.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            It's quite effective (as you can see from the relative number of comments in different threads) at shutting down discussion that focuses on how to make things safer for women (especially in online spaces).

            I would say the relative number of comments proves that its effective in creating controversy. Its rather gratifying that by and large it doesn't silence anyone. The more "what about teh menz" comments there are, the more likely an article is to make that most commented sidebar, thus keeping it in the public eye longer.

          • Delafina says:

            That's a good point, but it does tend to exhaust or scare away the women who might talk about their experiences and how not to step on their feet, but DON'T want to have to first prove for the thousandth time that yes, this happens, and wade through all the other derailing bullshit. They either don't comment, or make one small comment that few people reply to.

            Which leaves the only voice that's really being heard on these things, and not subverted into a discussion about What About Teh Menz, as DNL's. Now, he's a great voice to have talking about them, but in part, as these discussions go, even HE'S only being heard because he runs the site and wrote the article that the debate followed.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I get what you're saying, I agree with the concept but my last check had this site's commenters at roughly gender parity. That's pretty crazy inclusive for a dating site for men. Your point is solid but the reality on the ground seems to be that the community rises up against Teh Menz pretty quickly and efficiently while being very inclusive to the opinions of women, who are, after all, the people that guys who read this blog are trying to date. One of my cast has even started reading the comments because its the only issues blog where she doesn't find the comments to be a festering cesspool of Teh Menz.

            Yeah, we had a little futz on the forums and I am sure that dealing with Pokemon seizures gets tiring but the one thing I'd like to think women do not feel in the comments is silenced. Frustrated, derailed, weary from repeating themselves, sure. I think there's a limit to how much of that can be prevented. Silenced, I certainly hope not.

            DNL Comments – come for the derails, stay for the inclusiveness.

          • Delafina says:

            "Yeah, we had a little futz on the forums and I am sure that dealing with Pokemon seizures gets tiring but the one thing I'd like to think women do not feel in the comments is silenced. Frustrated, derailed, weary from repeating themselves, sure. I think there's a limit to how much of that can be prevented. Silenced, I certainly hope not. "

            Those of us who are regular commenters? Sure. That's a good description.

            What about the women who aren't? I've seen a lot of women post one comment.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sadly, I can't speak to anyone who doesn't comment often. Lurkers! Wake up and sound off on this one!

          • Barretts_Salt says:

            Well, as the saying goes, I generally only argue with drunks when I'm paid to — and just how badly *do* I want to teach a pig to sing?

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Is it fair to call this a "tactic," though? That implies that shutting down discussion on how to make things safer for women is somehow the goal and not an unfortunate side effect — and I don't think that's always the case.

            I'm sure it sometimes is — Lord knows we've had some really gross trolls befoul these comments. But I'm really confident LTP/The Wisp isn't one of them; at worst, the guy's just sometimes misguided, and always strikes me as earnestly looking to understand more. Or Vancouverois; he's got a hellacious case of the stubborns going, but I think his point is more that his concerns have more merit than they're (correctly, IMO) being given credit for than that yours is wrong.

            I'm certainly glad that so many women feel safe commenting in this space; it makes it considerably more valuable. But this is, at its core, a men's site — one of the few that isn't a regressive shithole of entitlement and misogyny. I really think it's important to have space for discussions like this one, too, where we can talk about why attitudes like some of the ones that have come up here are misguided and, ultimately, wind up contributing to rather than solving problems, even though the guys who have them may be trying to come from a place of compassion and empathy.

          • Delafina says:

            No, I'm pretty sure it's a goal.

            Not in 100% of cases, obviously, and the degree of consciousness about that goal may vary, but whether it's an MRA, just a straight-up troll, or your average entitled white male internet commenter who either can't stand the idea that other people may want him to restrict his behavior vis-a-vis women in any way or can't stand that there's a conversation going on about women's feelings about men rather than vice versa, I think shutting down the conversation is absolutely a goal.

            I can't speak to what's actually in LTP/Wisp's head (or Vancouverois's), obviously, but I can certainly point to patterns in what he's doing. From the tone of his posts, I don't think that it comes from a place of malice (he's not a troll) — I think it comes from one of discomfort. But ultimately, that's irrelevant to the *effect*.

            I mean, heck, in this case it's actually out there in the open: when you're advocating the idea that discussing this sort of behavior is "counter-productive," you're *explicitly trying to stop/shift the discussion.*

          • eselle28 says:

            I don't think it's always intentional, and I am certain that LTP/The Wisp isn't doing it intentionally. I also wasn't commenting so much about the scope of the site, which is run in its own way and which I think is ultimately a pretty decent place for discussion. But LTP/The Wisp seemed to be talking about the internet as a whole when framing his arguments, and this concept of scaring men away from the message didn't just seemed to be limited to the Nerdlove site (Wisp – is that right, or am I misinterpreting?).

            If that's the case, I think it's at least worth noting that this kind of derailing can lead women to decide that it's not worth trying to engage on these subjects any further. It's a sample of the reasons that women decide to stay away from tech, from cons, from geek culture. I'll say that it's affected me personally. As much as I'm happy to hang out here during boring conference calls and debate gender and dating and geekery, the biggest changes in my dating strategy in the year or so since I found this place were that I stopped being open to dating inexperienced men, started being skeptical of men who shared my interests, and rewrote my dating profile to emphasize my fondness for football and traveling and literary fiction. Not that it's anyone's responsibility to ensure that I feel comfortable dating as a geek, but I think it's at least worth noting that this derailing (on a larger scale, not just a Nerdlove one) does more than just frustrate women who listen to it – and I'd say that it's actually the well-meaning stuff that's more of a concern than the obvious MRA trolling.

          • Delafina says:

            +1000 to your last sentence in particular. The MRA trolls you can write off. It's the non-assholes who believe some of the same crap that I find most wearying, because it's an indication of how widespread and normalized those attitudes are, and how much of a Sisyphean task changing them is.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            But if this isn't the right space to engage the non-assholes, where is?

            This place often is a 101-level space. This place often is about outreach. And I feel like those discussions here are less likely to lend affirmation to really troublesome attitudes.

            I get why you find it exhausting; I'm sure I would too, in your place. But I, for one, entered my own adulthood with a whole shitload of regressive baggage that I had to overcome*, and I'm sympathetic to guys still in the middle of that journey and who are trying to undertake it without being jackasses. Even it means hearing a lot of the same mistakes repeated ad nauseum.

            Seriously, if not here, where? How many good progressive spaces for men are out there? I feel like as a guy trying to figure this stuff out, your choices often boil down to swallowing a bunch of stuff you don't quite believe while knowing that bringing up your concerns (which, honestly, seem perfectly reasonable to you) is derailing without quite understanding why; or seeking the company of men who, if you can ignore the palpable miasma of entitlement and misogyny surrounding them, will at least slap you on the back and tell you you're all right.

            * — And, if I'm being brutally honest with myself, am still overcoming. None of us is a finished product.

          • eselle28 says:

            You responded to Delafina, but I'll again clarify that I think that this is a fine place for these kinds of discussions.

            My point was a little bit different. Many of the arguments I'm thinking of tend to emphasize that talking about women's suffering causes men pain and might dissuade them from adopting feminist views. I think it's only reasonable to in turn point out that seeing a bunch of men read about stalking, see a comment thread full of (mostly) women sharing their stories of being stalked, and then only address the issue in terms of how it perhaps shouldn't be discussed because it might turn off male readers causes women pain and may dissuade them from associating with certain kinds of men.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            "Seriously, if not here, where? How many good progressive spaces for men are out there? I feel like as a guy trying to figure this stuff out, your choices often boil down to swallowing a bunch of stuff you don't quite believe while knowing that bringing up your concerns (which, honestly, seem perfectly reasonable to you) is derailing without quite understanding why; or seeking the company of men who, if you can ignore the palpable miasma of entitlement and misogyny surrounding them, will at least slap you on the back and tell you you're all right."

            It's a shame that the only place we can have these conversations is this site (that I've found). Where's my non-misogynist men's movement? Still looking for it :(

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            With you. So much. Being a guy has its own unique challenges. That women have it harder doesn't mean we have it easy; privilege may be "easy" mode, but it sure as hell isn't GodMode. And there seem to be very few places where you can talk about that without that nasty "Could you despicable fucks please be on somebody else's side?" feeling.

            I think we'll get our non-misogynist men's movement just as soon as "EMPATHY, RESTRAINT, AND MODERATION NOW!!!" becomes an effective battle cry.

          • Delafina says:

            I think the difficulty in having a non-misogynist men's movement is that while a lot of good men are willing to stand up against mistreatment of women, it's a lot scarier to start tearing down the things that oppress men in the way things are set up.

            Standing up for fair treatment for women is actually something that, emotionally, actually plays quite nicely into a lot of narratives about What Men Are Supposed To Be, no? Standing up for the oppressed is heroic. It's strong. It's courageous.

            I'm not saying this to undermine the genuine courage it takes to be an ally in misogynistic environments — it takes a lot, and I love the men who are willing to do it.

            I'm just saying it takes a different kind of courage to fight for your right to NOT be what our culture valorizes than it does to stand up for others.

          • raindancing says:

            That is a really great point that has never occurred to me.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            What is the greatest joy?

            THE JOY OF UNITY!

            Where are we going?

            PLANET TEN!

            When are we leaving?

            REAL SOON!

          • AstralDazzle says:

            "Where's my non-misogynist men's movement? Still looking for it :( "

            Look! Here it is! Right here, developing as everyone writes. What would you like to do with it? Also Jackson Katz has a definite following. Michael Kimmel is another one's work to check out.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I am vaguely aware of those two men you talk about, but they both often still focus a lot on traditional feminist concerns, which is derailing in the other direction (talking about how men shouldn't be violent towards women is still, ultimately, about women). Most of the books and blogs by men for men about masculinity that aren't misogynist are run by middle-aged men talking about the issues middle-aged men have (marriage, fatherhood, family law, etc). Where's the cadre of young het male sex bloggers talking about predominately men's issues? They don't really exist (with this site being a partial exception).

          • AstralDazzle says:

            I'm not exactly sure what they're derailing, especially since Kimmel, for example, interrogates deeply how the strict ways in which men police other men limits men's ability to flourish. This policing is especially prevalent in middle and high school and the cost of deviating is steep. Hence, why there's probably a lack of the types of blogs you're looking for.

            But now that you've found a need, you can always fill it!

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            "But now that you've found a need, you can always fill it!"

            If I had the life experiences to fulfill that role, I'd be doing that rather than participating here :P

          • AstralDazzle says:

            No reason why the blog can't be a journey of exploration; so many are. Plus, an excuse to go to different places and observe the world and talk to people (on a schedule that doesn't overwhelm you, of course.)

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            My (admittedly limited) impression of Kimmel is that he is very academic and sociological in his approach. I'm more interested in on the ground dealing with men's emotions and experiences, in all their complexity, rather than sociological generalizations.

            Like, what if there was a male version of Slate's XX blog? Or Clarisse Thorn?

          • Delafina says:

            Well, let's look at what's on Slate's XX.

            –Article on what single-sex education is like. Presumably from a female perspective, since it's on XX. Googling single-sex education articles gets me a slew of articles from the NYT and WSJ and Forbes on single-sex education, all written by men.

            –Mini-bio on Chirlane McCray. Most major news outlets regularly feature bios on male politicians, and a few on female politicians.

            –Women in love with priests begging Pope Francis to end celibacy requirements. Lots of articles out there about the Pope and things various people want from him, written by men. Stuff on celibacy generally focuses on the priests'/bishops' arguments for and against.

            XX *doesn't* generally focus on women's emotional journeys or even universal experiences.

            It serves predominantly as a corrective to a glut of major news outlets that talk about the news for men, by men.

            The sort of blog you're talking about, for women, wouldn't be something Slate would host.

            So I'm not sure XX is a good analogy. And honestly, most major "women's columns" or blogs or other outlets hosted by major media are basically just the news from a female perspective, because everything else from that media is from a male perspective. Male writers, male executives, predominantly men interviewed.

            As far as what you are describing, however, I think the Good Men Project probably comes closest. I'm not terribly enamored of everything they say, but they are coming at it from a male-centric point of view while trying to be non-misogynistic.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I think the Good men Project, at least the last time I read it, skews heavily to a morose, negative tone. I would call it morbidly unentitled, a tone of "of course I don't think that way and it was horrible. . .but a lot easier, too." I didn't want to trust year old half memories, so I went and looked at their front page. Here's a non-representative sample of the headlines. I skimmed a few of the more promising ones and offer commentary. I was going to make some point about the way the site as a whole comes across but the articles that I skimmed were by and large more positive than I remembered. So maybe its a good day or maybe the site as a whole is moving forward.

            14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes
            Can you tell which is which?

            The Ghost of Yangsuri: Saying Goodbye To My Mother

            Divorce: 5 Keys to Ending the War

            Does Christian ‘Purity Culture’ Set The Bar Too High For Men?
            Note that this one is about Clare and the homeschool prom in Richmond that tries to make a good point and horribly mangles it with backhanded victim blaming. Also, it is written by a woman. I could rant on this one but go check it out yourself.

            The Republican Road Not Traveled

            Religion is Not Welcome in Chinese Schools

            For Husbands to be Happier in Their Marriages, Some May Need to Stop Trying to be ‘Good’.
            This one, I at least agreed with all the topic headings.

            Hood Disease Is Real; So Will it Be Considered in the Courtroom?

            I’m Monogamous and That’s OK

            Why Is California Trying To Build More Jails?

            25 Lessons for My Son About Being a Man, From His Single Mother

            What I Learned While Teaching Black Boys
            Black boys matter. They care, and they have value.
            Da FUQ?

            The Pink Marine: Fitting the Mold (Part 2)
            Greg White wants people to know, ‘If I can overcome my insecurities in a hostile environment, so can others.’
            This one sounds pretty cool and useful to the DNL readership.

            My Favorite Mother’s Day WIth The Son Who Used To Hate Me

            How Ready Are We for Gay CEOs?
            We’ve now gotten comfortable throwing homophobes out of the corner office, but are we ready to accept openly gay corporate chieftains?
            This was surprisingly good and unflinching for what i expect from GMP

            I’m Monogamous and That’s OK
            After much thought and contemplation, Jason Rozek realized he is, in his heart, a monogamous person. And he’s ok with that.
            OK, I kinda liked this one

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            My biggest issue with TGMP, besides their deviations into misogyny from time to time, is that it is mostly middle aged men talking about being a middle-aged man.

          • raindancing says:

            Not to dismiss the difficulty you're having finding people writing about the subjects that you're wanting to read about, but there is a small point I'd like to bring up.

            Derailing is coming into an existing conversation, and trying to focus the conversation on something else. So authors who write a book and put it out there actually aren't derailing anything (although someone who brings up that book in a specific conversation might be). That's why derailing is a bad thing: not because all conversations everywhere have to stick to talking points, but because the participants in any particular conversation shouldn't have to abandon their conversation to focus on the derailer's perspective.

          • Delafina says:

            I think this is a great place for 101-level discussions. And I'm not asking the other commenters to take responsibility for my — or anyone else's — weariness. If it gets to be too much, I take a break.

            But I do think, if it's going to be a useful place for those discussions with well-meaning men while also remaining a relatively safe space, it's crucial to stop that derailing from happening. Otherwise the actually *useful* conversations get buried or shut down entirely.

            Bringing up your concerns isn't necessarily derailing, but when the same concerns get brought up on every article even touching on harmful behavior, that is a problem.

            And I think there's a lot of virtue in saying, "Look, your feelings on this are valid, and your concerns are something that we can discuss, but they're taking over this article's discussion space and drowning out the discussion about the actual subject of the article. There was an article last week on self-care after a breakup that's probably a better place for this discussion (or, there's a thread on the forum about this, or I think it would be great if you started a thread on the forum about this)." And then if they keep talking about it, redirecting them to the appropriate place once or twice, and then ceasing to engage if they keep at it.

            It's not a binary where either we don't discuss men's feelings at all, or we just let the discussion of men's feelings take over every discussion about women's safety/bad behavior by men.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Fair enough. I think we both see this somewhat differently, and I suspect we have differing tolerance levels for non-malicious cluelessness. I'll try to respect that.

          • Delafina says:

            *shrug*

            I don't think it's as simple as we just individually have different tolerance levels — the non-malicious cluelessness has teeth for me, as a woman — but sure.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I wouldn't deny that. But I see non-malicious cluelessness as the cost of doing business in an outreach-oriented, 101-level space.

          • Delafina says:

            Yes, yes it is. And I don't have a problem with dealing with the cluelessness of newcomers.

            *However,* and this is the point I'm trying to get at, when the same posters are saying the same things over and over again, I think those posters should get redirected to the forums or more appropriate blog posts. Because they're not exactly poor clueless newcomers who don't realize what they're doing anymore, are they?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I think, like it or not, that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, I'd love it if i could play the issues article drinking game and come away sober. I'd love it if we could get through one without "women have the power in relationships" or whatever. I think it does need to be called out on a regular basis. However, I think as long as this is a dating advice site for men that attracts new readers, there's always going to be one more guy who needs a refresher course. This is actually a good thing because that guy would never have been exposed to this way of thinking otherwise.

            I'm less happy that you have to be exposed to him but, just like the rest of us, you make the decision to participate with your eyes open. It might be easier if we got more in the habit of moving bigger digressions to the forum but as long as there's a clueless newb (life lesson: there's always a clueless newb), we'll be going over the same ground again next month.

          • Delafina says:

            Yeah, and as I said to GH, I'm fine with it when it's a newb. (Although, even with a newbie, when the discussion has become hundreds of posts and they're still saying the exact same thing, I'd really like to see them directed somewhere else.)

            But there are also regular posters here who sing the same derailing song on each post, and I wish we could prevent them from succeeding at that.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sadly the options are:
            1) Ignore it entirely.
            2) Engage it.
            3) Doc bans them, although he tends to do that only in circumstances where they've become uncivil.

            I'm not sure there is a good answer there.

          • Delafina says:

            Yeah, and I'm saying, when it's someone who's singing the same song for the 10th time, let's ignore it. We've had the discussion with them, and they know where the forums are; let's not let them derail because they're NOT a clueless newcomer.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            Well, I don't think talking about these issues this way has no purpose or value. But, if you are somebody who wants to convert men who aren't already in your camp, THEN I think it is worth it to be mindful of these things.

            If these types of discussions are out there to empower women and make the problems visible, that's one thing. But many of these discussions are framed in terms of "men, stop doing this!", and not just here. If your goal is to change men's behavior, rather than provide comfort/a safe space for women or preach to the converted, *then* I think this way of talking about the topic isn't productive.

          • eselle28 says:

            I asked you this before: What do you think that I want to convert them to? If it's feminism, then I don't understand your argument. Why on earth would I want to convert men to a version of feminism that doesn't involve acknowledging women's suffering?

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I'm not arguing that we shouldn't acknowledge women's suffering! But if the only way you can do it is to write scorched earth screeds against the worst cases while ignoring the good men and the mildly creepy but receptive to argument men, then you're not going to be successful IF YOUR GOAL IS TO GET MEN TO RECOGNIZE WOMEN'S SUFFERING. There are other goals these types of writing can have, but a lot of these pieces, and not just here, seem to have as one of their goals to get men to recognize women's suffering. Especially on a site targeted explicitly at men.

            It's not feminism per se, so perhaps convert is the wrong word. If you want men to be more sympathetic to the female perspective, to be willing to see the ways they themselves might be hurting women unintentionally, the ways they give friends a pass for doing bad stuff, then you can't just have angry screeds against the worst cases. This provokes one of two reactions: "I'm not that bad, so he's not talking about me or the guys I know" or "he's just interested in attacking other men by cherry-picking the worst cases, I'm offended by that, so I will ignore him".

          • eselle28 says:

            But we don't just have screeds against the worst cases here. As you have already acknowledged, there are all kinds of articles here, many of them so cheerfully optimistic that they would make Pollyanna roll her eyes.

            And still, this sort of article acknowledging bad behavior by a man (this is nowhere near a worst case scenario; that would involve violence or death) always seems to attract the argument that focusing on very bad behavior leaves out all the good men. On the other hand, when discussion turns to milder forms of oppression like catcalling, there's a chorus of men saying they'd love to experience that and wouldn't consider it suffering at all.

            Is there any way to reach the group of men you're thinking about without constantly reassuring them that they're wonderful people and anything they or their friends might have done that was similar was well-intended and really not that bad? Because if there's not, I guess I'm okay with not reaching them. I'll settle for setting up some really good enforcement mechanisms to keep the really dangerous people away from the spaces I'd like to enjoy and letting these guys select themselves out. I'd rather that than having to always select myself out to avoid these terrible attitudes.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            I'm not really sure what to do instead, all I know is that when I read these kind of articles I often become angry and less sympathetic to women's concerns for a short time, while more gentle articles that took people like me into account have made me more sympathetic to women's concerns. Take that for what it's worth.

          • eselle28 says:

            I can acknowledge you feel that way. In turn, when I run into this sort of argument, I often become sad and less sympathetic to the concerns of men, particularly men who wonder why there aren't many women in their spaces or who are open to dating them.

            Does learning that make you want to stop talking about your feelings on this issue, though? I'm guessing no, right? In the same vein, I feel that having these discussions – and having them in places where men will see them – is important enough that it's worth upsetting certain men. Sometimes it's okay to be upset.

          • Delafina says:

            Rather than us "taking that for what it's worth," I'd suggest that that's an attitude that you should spend some time thinking about. If reading about other people being unsafe or otherwise victimized makes you angry or less empathetic toward the *victims,* that's not a normal reaction, and there's something else going on there that I'd think you would want to dig out and examine.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm going to derail you right back to the topic at hand here which is that the lesson of this article is "take responsibility for your feelings".

          • Delafina says:

            Bravo.

          • AstralDazzle says:

            1) " can't just have angry screeds against the worst cases."
            As has been mentioned already, the majority of articles on this site do not fit this description.
            The majority of articles on explicitly feminist sites are also about empowering women, not angry screeds against men, although they often address at a deep level of synthesis how patriarchy is embedded in the structure of society. I know an awful lot of women who also wish not to see this and think that if they can just find one of the "good guys" everything will be fine.

            2) Jeff's story is getting so much attention because it is an excellent example of something that isn't the stereotype society holds of a stalker (or a potentially abusive man, as argued by many of the women who ended up in abusive situations that developed over time) but this is the much more common reality that often doesn't get recognized and validated by friends and family because he's successful and charming.

            The two reactions you describe may be yours and may be common, but having watched many people slowly change attitudes about gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. attitudes over time, it's clear these types of approaches are one of many necessary prongs in helping change people's minds.

          • Delafina says:

            Oh, look, tone policing.

            Time to start a new bingo card.
            http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BhhFP9gCYAAmS7i.jpg

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You don't start an article about why we don't hit people with an acknowledgement that most people don't hit people.

          • LTP_aka_TheWisp says:

            "But this is, at its core, a men's site '"

            This^^^

            One of the reasons I avoid explicitly feminist places is I know I'll just derail the conversation; they're not about me. Here, however, I don't think bringing up the male perspective is derailing at all.

          • eselle28 says:

            Within the context of this site, it's a perfectly valid perspective for discussion. That being said, I find it a really depressing and somewhat repulsive one.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            What's depressing and repulsive about it? Explicitly feminist places AREN'T about us; says so right on the tin. Guys can participate, sure, and we can learn a lot, but it's easy to inadvertently derail if you don't completely have a handle on some of the issues being discussed.

          • eselle28 says:

            It's not the division of spaces that I find depressing and repulsive. The perspective that bothers me is one of someone who can't read an article about other men mistreating women without wanting to make it more about himself and the other good men out there, and who feels the need to comment as such in 101 spaces and avoid explicitly feminist spaces where such comments are unwelcome. (This isn't targeted at anyone in particular this time. I think it's common to most of these comments.)

            I get that this space is tilted toward men, but it's not just "Can't it be about women's problems for once?" It's "Can't it ever be about men who aren't like you, or perhaps men who are a tiny bit like you in ways that are disturbing?" There seems to be a desire to pretend that this sort of thing doesn't exist, or at least that it's something that women may have to deal with but that "good men" shouldn't ever have to hear about.

            On a slightly different note, I also find it disturbing that this topic started as a discussion of how people (in this case a woman) don't owe other people (in this case a man) affection or emotional support after a breakup, and has shifted into telling people (initially Nerdlove, but I think by extension women commenting) that they need to provide men with more emotional support if they ever want men to sympathize with problems like stalking.

          • I think the "men who are like you in ways that are disturbing" thing is spot-on. And here's the thing: if you're not willing to look at the uncomfortable ways that you are like the men being described, then you're basically guaranteeing that you'll never see or change the similarity that is causing you the discomfort. If I had one thing to say to every guy made uncomfortable by this article, it would be "Great! You've found something to look more closely at in yourself, or you wouldn't be so upset about it."

            My personal mantra for this year is "Run toward the fear." I'd like to see more men adopt it.

          • Delafina says:

            "I also find it disturbing that this topic started as a discussion of how people (in this case a woman) don't owe other people (in this case a man) affection or emotional support after a breakup, and has shifted into telling people (initially Nerdlove, but I think by extension women commenting) that they need to provide men with more emotional support if they ever want men to sympathize with problems like stalking."

            QFT.

            And now I'm going to practice what I preach and bow out of this vein of the discussion.

            Wisp, if you want to talk about self-care after a breakup and the importance of getting support after ending a romantic relationship, that's fine — but I am not going to engage with you on that subject here, as that's not what this article was about, and I am not interested in enabling the shifting of this discussion to the perspective and needs of the people it was designed to call out.

          • Delafina says:

            Despite what pop culture will tell you, distracting yourself with friends and activities is actually a fairly effective way of handling it, and given that people who distract themselves from breakups, a year later, were found to have vastly lower rates of depression than people who didn't make a significant effort to distract themselves, I'm also comfortable labeling it a healthy one.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          See previous article about silence=tacit approval. Calling people on their shit and presenting an alternative to people who might try to emulate it is valuable.

        • thathat says:

          I think it's less about highlighting this one particular guy (though wow, whadda creep), and more about

          A) Highlighting this kind of behavior and pointing out how toxic and absurd it is.

          B) Letting people leaving a relationship know that taking the nuclear option does not make them a bad or a damaged person. That one's actually pretty hard for a lot of people to believe. Nuclear option on a blatantly abusive relationship, sure. Nuclear option on BAD relationship where you still care about the other person, but every time they talk to you they convince you to try one more time and spin you head around–much, much harder. Lotta guilt happens, which is usually what the person being dumped is banking on. And I don't think that's even such a gendered thing–it can be the guy who needs the nuclear option just as much.

  20. It's pretty obvious the guy was an abusive asshole from the start.

  21. ajamjar says:

    Three sentences leapt out at me

    "She stopped responding to my email"

    "For nearly a year, I’d had only a couple of short email sentences saying she wanted no further contact with me"

    "this kind of behavior dehumanizes the other and sends the message “your needs don’t matter, you don’t matter.”"

    No, it sends the message "Don't contact me again."

    It might feel like it's because she doesn't think you're worth responding to.

    But she's more likely to be thinking 'There's no point in talking to you because you aren't listening to me.'

    And THAT is why she's angry.

    Dimes to donuts, she gave him a soft goodbye, like "wish you all the best" or "good luck in the future", before things reached that stage. Even "I'm seeing someone" could be read an indication that she wants to put the past behind her.

    This guy seems to be arguing that unless someone poses a physical threat, you're obligated to have them in your life. You're not. You're really, really not.

    He doesn't seem to realise he's making unreasonable demands because he's politely expressing them in a e-mail, not drunkenly yelling them outside her house at 3am.

  22. Wondering says:

    Holy crap. Was the original article written by my ex? I mean, it precisely echoes almost everything he said to me when I told him to leave me alone.

    We tried the being friends thing, and it didn't work. And I sent him a two page, single spaced email (I later had to print it out) about why I was cutting off contact with him. Didn't stop him. He "just wanted closure." He didn't "understand all the anger." (The anger because you won't stop contacting me?) He even pulled that "just want closure" thing in front of the judge when I finally took him to court over a year after we broke up. The judge told him he'd had closure; he just wouldn't acknowledge it.

    My ex kept acting like I was being immature and he was being mature because I wouldn't discuss things with him. He also said he deleted the email I sent him and didn't really read it because it was "so mean."

    So, thank you so much for this article. If it had been around back then, I would have linked him to it. He still would have wanted closure, though.

    • devicat26 says:

      Oh my GOD, YES. So much of this resonates with my stalker. I GAVE him an answer, tried the humane 'nice' approach, tried the slow fade but he kept going, I DON'T UNDERSTAND, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS, YOU CANNOT STOP TALKING TO ME. I finally got smart and did the cut-off thing because it was the only thing left for me TO do. AND HE STILL CONTACTS ME A DECADE LATER. So PLEASE tell me how wrong I am to have done that, please. Sometimes there is no other option and one huge part of it is entitlement and what we teach genders about entitlement

      • Wondering says:

        Yeah, mine kept telling me I had unresolved issues that I was refusing to acknowledge and we needed discuss it. No, dude. My only unresolved issue is you still contacting me, FFS.

        I totally understand where you're coming from.

    • thathat says:

      Oh good lord, I love(hate) when they "just want closure" after somebody writers a freaking multi-paragraphed email explaining that it's over. DUDE, HOW MUCH MORE CLOSED CAN IT GET?!

      Good on that judge though.

      ("So mean." Oh my gosh, if someone is "so mean" to you, why do you want them back in your life anyway?)

    • thathat says:

      Actually, I feel the need to quote azurelunatic's comment on Captain Awkward's post about this very article, because it's the best analogy on this I've seen:

      'On the “he is at least owed an explanation” front, he *got* the explanation, and now he is waving the receipt and saying that he never got one, well, he decided he didn’t like the one he got, and can he please exchange it for one he likes better. Never mind that it says “NO RETURNS” up top and also down bottom, and it’s two years out of date.'

      • Wondering says:

        Yes! Precisely! He most definitely wanted to return it for one he liked better.

        He was so bloody patronizing and condescending about it, too.

  23. By and large, a good rule of thumb is: If someone is dead-set on not communicating with you, they've already established those limits and boundaries, and it isn't FOR YOU to redraw those lines. That's true no matter whether you've known the person for ten years, or you just bought her a drink at the bar five minutes ago. The same rule applies. Doing otherwise is weird, creepy, and entitled.

  24. Brocknoth says:

    This whole article reminds me of what's "going on" with me and my ex from earlier this year. Long story short she broke it off and I tried to at least be friendly because we frequent the same coffee shop/cafe and the last thing I wanted was for things to be horribly awkward down the road. Ya that plan friggin' worked. If we happen to be at the cafe at the same time she pretends I don't exist. I've asked the other patrons "what's her problem?" and they've all parroted the same thing "silence is her answer"

    It's been 6 months since the break up. I don't want her to be my friend, I don't want her to take me back, I don't expect any closure, all I want at this point is civility so we can be in the same room and not have it be awkward. My question to you fellow readers is am I asking for too much and am I in the wrong for wanting civility between us?

    • eselle28 says:

      I wouldn't say you're in the wrong, because it doesn't sound like you've been forcing contact on her, but I think it's time to accept that she doesn't want to be friendly with you. I think there's a good possibility that she finds interacting with you to be much more awkward than ignoring you.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      Dude, they're right; silence IS her answer.

      She doesn't want to interact with you. Like, at all. Doesn't matter what her reasons are; that's a choice she gets to make. You need to respect it.

      • Brocknoth says:

        And I have respected it. I'm hyper sensitive to what others think of me due to the mindblindess from my Asperger's so these sorts of little details bug me to no end. I have since removed myself from the equation. I haven't gone into that Coffee shop/cafe in months. On a lot of levels it just isn't the same anymore. Dealing with emotion has never been one of my strong suits : /

        • The situation is not in and of itself is not awkward you just feel awkward right now because not interacting with her is a new behavior. With time and practice ignoring her will come naturally, so just be patient until ignoring her becomes automatic.

          You did not do anything wrong and neither did she. It is just a change and like all changes it takes a while to get used to it.

          • Brocknoth says:

            9/10 when it comes to human interaction I'M the issue. When a consensus can't be reached this is generally how I respond. It's far easier to remove myself than to force what I think is right onto other people. I don't like having to do that but I'm not sure what other options I have.

          • eselle28 says:

            Is it possible for you to go to the coffee shop and not interact with her at all (don't say hello, don't say anything), or are you worried that by some impulse you will?

          • Brocknoth says:

            I get pangs of anxiety being in the same room with her. I thought I was well over the whole thing but I guess not. It frustrates me that I have no control over this. The few times I was there I didn't try to interact with her. There's no point.

          • eselle28 says:

            Okay. It sounds like the problem isn't her, but your anxiety. If you're not even comfortable being in the same room with her at this point, I'd suggest staying away from that coffee shop. In three or six months, you might want to experiment with returning and gauging your anxiety then.

          • What do you want? You say you don't want her back, you don't want to be friends so what's the problem?

            I mean I would just ignore her right back. After all she's no longer a part of your life.

          • wordmonster says:

            The problem is feelings.

          • Seconded. Just act like she is a stranger if you can and eventually time will make it seem natural.

    • thathat says:

      Is silence not civility?

      I mean, I don't generally interact with people at coffee shops that I frequent. I'm sure if there were someone there I didn't want to talk to, I'd keep my head down and pray he didn't try to start a conversation. If he kept pressing, I'd almost *have* to stay silent at that point (a peek into thoughts of people in this situation: "Oh lord, if I give him attention after the nth time he bugs me, all I've taught him is that he has to bug me n+1 times to get my attention.")

      I'm sorry, man, I'm sure you meant well, but asking other patrons "what's her problem" is kind of a not okay thing to do–why drag other people into your business? Now you're not making it about civility, you're making it about attention you feel you're owed, and it sounds like you're making the other patrons uncomfortable (not to mention putting a spotlight on her). They just want a scone, man.

      It really sucks, and I'm sorry it's been rough for you, but really…just leave her be. Mutually assured silence. I promise it'll give you more peace of mind in the long run.

      • "Is silence not civility? "

        No not really. Maybe in a completely fucked up culture like this one it is. But in any normal culture where people act like human beings have been acting for 100000 years its really weird to not acknowledge the existence of someone you know. Hell in most culture its rude to not acknowledge the existence of complete strangers. Funny that even someone with Asperger's understands its completely and totally fucked up. But people here think its entitled for someone to acknowledge your existence. LOL.

        • thathat says:

          Well.

          Silence in this case certainly would have been more civil.

          If someone doesn't want to talk to you, if someone is pissed off at you, then really, they DON'T have to smile and make nice. I mean, I'm from the South–you gotta wave and smile at everyone to be "polite." It's bull. Civility is not the same as being nice. Civility between exes who parted badly is *usually* "let's just not talk to/look at/acknowledge each other if we happen to be in the same building."

          And "in most cultures" doesn't sound right either. There are plenty of cultures in this world where "polite" is "leaving strangers the heck alone unless you want something" and where smiling at a stranger is confusing–sometimes even considered rude. It's a pretty wide world and human beings have been developing plenty of different social mores and customs.

          But we're talking here, now, presumably in the States. So…this is a culture "like this one is" which makes it "normal" for here. And we're talking about civility. Between exes, sometimes "civility" just means the ability to stand in the same room without swearing at each other. Sorry you take that personally. LOL.

        • Once again what do you want? She's not your girlfriend, she's not your friend, why do you insist on having her give you attention when that isn't what either of you wants? Why is just simply ignoring her not an option?

          Because this more like an ego thing to me. It's almost like you want to know that she's still thinking about you, that you're still taking up mental space in her head even when you no longer have a relationship, and that's not cool.

        • Actually in a good solid chunk of the world women do not acknowledge any man they are not related to or married to after puberty. Male best friends from school, neighbors, etc. are all dead to her.

    • Delafina says:

      Why don't you just not talk to her?

    • ajamjar says:

      Being cut dead by someone you used to be close to is a horrible, horrible feeling, especially if you don't know why. It's OK to feel bad.

      But it sounds as if you'd feel better if we told you she was behaving badly.

      Well, maybe she is. Or maybe she has perfectly legitimate and sympathetic reasons for behaving this way. I don't know her and I wasn't in your relationship so I can't give you an answer to that one.

      The point is it doesn't matter who is right or who is wrong, what's fair or unfair. If I said, "yeah, she sounds like a bitch!" it might make you feel better, but it wouldn't make her smile or nod or say hello. Whether it's her problem or yours it doesn't actually change the situation.

      So you have two choices – accept it or withdraw.

    • Brocknoth says:

      Ok there seems to be some confusion here. First off Jen Assman and myself aren't the same person. 2ndly the reason I asked the question in my initial post was because I wasn't sure if I was in the WRONG for wanting her to at least say "hello" instead of acting like I'm a piece of furniture. According to what you folk have said and what the Doc has written clearly I am in the WRONG and I just need to get over this fact but I can't. Being in the same room with someone who is blatantly ignoring me (for 6 months+ and counting) and my not knowing why bothers me to no end because I'm sensitive to these things.

      I have hard enough time making connections with people due to my complete lack of social grace so when a connection I had with someone goes south and I can't piece together the "why's" it drives me crazy.

      I don't know maybe it's the Asperger's, maybe it's the way I was brought up, bottom line is her behavior bothers me immensely and I can't get over that. So I removed myself and I do not go in there anymore.

      While I don't understand her decision I respect it. I haven't tried to talk to her or contact her and most likely never will again. But this is always going to be in the back of my mind nagging at me because I don't get it. I guess this is just how our culture is we aren't direct about anything anymore. In fact I'm not sure we ever were.

      • ajamjar says:

        It isn't wrong to feel hurt and confused.

        It isn't wrong to wish things had turned out differently.

        But there's a difference between feeling regret and feeling resentment. It's the difference between thinking it would be nice if she said hello and feeling angry (at her, at the world, at yourself) when she doesn't.

        When you say things like, "I guess this is just how our culture is we aren't direct about anything anymore" let's be clear that, from the earliest age, women are socialised to be nice and to put others first – and let's be clear that there are men who take advantage of that, who rely on that socialisation, believing if they make a big enough stink of their own hurt feelings, she will prioritise his desires over pesky things like her need to feel safe or comfortable or set her own boundaries.

        You see that entitled attitude running like rock candy through Reifman's piece.

        And, whether you're aware of it or not, it's coming through in your own posts.

        It's sad that the relationship didn't end on friendly terms, but it's not on her to put aside her own feelings to make you feel comfortable.

        All that said, it sounds like you're doing the right thing by respecting her boundaries and stepping away. I hope not being around her will help you to feel better, too.

      • thathat says:

        It isn't wrong to want someone to say hello to you. But if you try once, and somebody ignores you–and this really goes for most people, relationship or otherwise–you drop it. Because ignoring someone–it IS direct. I mean, you understood that she was ignoring you (unless you thought she just didn't hear you, which happens). You *got* that. There's nothing subtle about being ignored. It means someone doesn't want to talk to you.

        From the sound of it, though, you pressed the issue and then tried to get other people involved. Don't do that. Just let them be. You've realized how much that behavior bothers you and removed yourself from the situation, and that sounds like a wise thing to do, and good self-awareness on your part.

        I get how awful being ignored feels. It is a…I was going to say a "pet peeve" of mine, but it goes so much deeper. Being ignored upsets me viscerally and can result in some nice, long bouts of anxiety.

        At the same time, sometimes it's the best option people have at their disposal. Women often use "ignore" because it's one of the safest, "low conflict" methods they have of not getting drawn into situations they don't want to be in. As ajamjar said, women are socialized to play nice. So many times, if someone finds herself in a situation where playing nice is not something she feels she can do…well, if you "didn't hear" someone, you aren't being rude. It's definitely a trick you pick up living in a big city. It doesn't keep people from yelling at you and demanding you acknowledge them or cursing at you, but it's sometimes the best/only option available.

        There are times when silence is the only thing to keep you from yelling. I'm currently stuck sharing a lease with someone who has…well, hurt me very deeply, turned out to be untrustworthy, a few more phrases like that. I cannot bring myself to speak to her civilly. I think she's just an awful person. If she's in the kitchen or living room when I am, there is no "hello." If I walk in the door and she's there, there is no acknowledgement of one another's existence. I don't speak, I don't look at her if I can help it. Just seeing her makes me angry sometimes. I have nothing to say to her that isn't a string of four-letter words. So…nothing. Not even "hello." Because she has lost that basic cordiality from me–because the idea of trying to be cordial with her is too close to the way things were before she showed her true colors, and it doesn't just make me angry. It *hurts.* So. Silence.

        Neither here nor there. But maybe some help in understanding why silence is applied.

        Your ex doesn't want to talk to you. Not knowing anything else, I can't tell you why (beyond a general guess that she's hurt and angry and this is the best way she has of dealing with it gracefully–with silence). But she doesn't want to talk to you. It's not wrong to wish that she could say hi when you see each other and *maybe* one day you will get to that point. Maybe you won't. But you've figured out what you can and can't handle, and you've taken steps to keep away from a situation that would hurt you more, and sometimes that's the best you can do.

        (Also, if it helps, it never even occurred to me to think the other guy was you. You've been perfectly polite, even if I don't agree with some of the things you said. So no worries.)

        • Brocknoth says:

          Believe me if I knew what was causing this behavior it wouldn't bug me so much. Regardless I have my answer that I'm wrong for wanting her to talk to me and that I should just stay away. There's nothing more to be said.

          • thathat says:

            You're *not* wrong for wanting to talk to her. It's alright to want that. The only thing wrong, in this situation, is to press the issue when somebody wants to talk to you.

  25. Gentleman Johnny says:

    Maybe someone should shine a light on the evils of Closure Culture.

    • If only someone would write about it, perhaps on a site dedicated to dating issues. :-P

  26. Kathleen Henry says:

    So, I'm not sure if this is the right place for this, or if I should move this to the forums (please tell me if I should), but long story short-ish, I'm kind of going through the nuclear option with an ex-friend now. Basically, she was not a good friend. I hardly ever heard from her if I didn't make the effort – leading to sometimes year-long silences between us – and when we were together, it was all about her, even if I'd called her up because something bad had happened in my life and I needed a friend. Moreover, I ended up feeling hurt on multiple occasions because I'd find out through mutual acquaintances, or on Facebook, or because I called her up again… about major life changes – like getting pregnant, getting married, breaking up with the jerk whose side she took when I got mad and called him out on being an asshole, etc. So, last year I got therapy, realized this was not the kind of friendship I want, and just did the slow fade. Okay, I also defriended her on Facebook. We hadn't spoken in months anyway.
    But about a week ago – just about a year and a half since I last spoke to her – she sent me a message on Facebook basically saying she's not sure if she's mad at me, or what, but she's sorry she didn't tell me she was getting married/cancelled our trip overseas together, etc. I haven't responded because she's shown, in 'break ups' with other friends and in the 'break up' we had over her now-ex abusive boyfriend, that she can be absolutely vicious if she's hurt.
    I honestly just don't want to respond, because I don't see me or her getting any closure, and I don't want to open myself up to being hurt or to have to sit and listen and be the 'unreasonable' one as she tries (maybe) to convince me to give her a chance.
    But… I mean, common consensus seems to be that just not responding is a jerk thing to do, and it's not like I couldn't write up a short paragraph to say, "not interested in working this out"… so, I don't know what to do here. Anybody willing to give advice?

    • eselle28 says:

      I'm just going to tell you what I see in your comment. You made a long list of reasons not to respond to this woman: You don't want to have her as a friend anymore. You haven't talked to her in a year and a half. She doesn't seem to be interested in being part of your life. She seems to have half assed the apology (she's not sure if she's mad at you?). You have good reason to anticipate that she'll react in a vicious way if you reject her. You don't think either of you will learn anything from this conversation.

      On the other side of things is an axiom that it's rude not to respond to a message like that. I'd say that to the extent that exists, you should consider your situation an exception. I think I'd hit the block button too.

      • Kathleen Henry says:

        Thanks for responding. Basically, that's the response I've gotten from friends and family I've consulted, and I had decided not to respond, but then the comments on this article made me start second guessing. Thanks for the help.

        (incidentally, I mistyped. I should have said, she's not sure if I'm mad at her… but either way, really. I kind of feel like its a half-assed apology anyway)

        • eselle28 says:

          It's still a half-assed apology. Or at least I'd need a hell of a lot more than that for cancelling an overseas trip together. Good for you for sticking with your gut and your friends and family on this. I think you'll be happier not getting into this, because you deserve better friends.

    • thathat says:

      Oof. That's rough. If *you* feel the need for closure, want to make a clean "end of it all" message or anything, might I suggest reading Captain Awkward's article about The African Violet of Broken Friendship? http://captainawkward.com/2012/05/21/251-breaking

      It's a good read to help process what it is you do or don't want to do.

      If you *don't* want to contact her, for whatever reason, I think you seem pretty justified in not doing so.

      • Kathleen Henry says:

        Thanks for the help. I don't think I do want to contact her, but I started to think maybe I should, based on the consensus that I should send some kind of message, just to let her know that I'm walking away. Thanks again for affirming my feeling

    • If I were you, I would not respond. I've been in a similar situation, and what I found was that my option was either to finally cut off all contact once and for all, or keep getting drawn into this person's games. I also knew from watching this person's behavior that if I didn't cut her off, eventually she would go nuclear on me in an entirely different way, likely smearing me to mutual friends, etc. So I elected to do a quick fade and never talk to her again. She's tried to contact me since, but I know I did the right thing. I think you probably did, too. This is only just another upswing in her usual cycle.

      • Kathleen Henry says:

        Thanks for responding. Fortunately, she and I no longer share any mutual friends, so I don't have to worry about her going nuclear, but nevertheless, I've seen her be quite nasty when she's angry, and I really don't want or need to have to deal with having "I need to have my friendship needs met here" be turned into a character flaw, or as a reason to be hurt otherwise.
        Thanks for the help.

    • physicsnerd says:

      Maybe it's a jerk thing to not respond. So what.

      A response might end up as even jerkier, especially if she gets nasty when she feels provoked, and it's unpredictable what might make her feel provoked. In these cases, it is so, so easy in a text medium to say something sincerely and have it sound sarcastic insulting or condescending. So there's the idea that it is the lesser of two evils to just ignore. And a response that would get you the outcome you wanted would require so much work with wording and tone and have so many wildcard factors that honestly, it's probably not worth the effort if you don't have frequent contact. Difficult people are difficult to deal with.

      It is allowed where you really don't see a good outcome to just take care of yourself. It's easy for others to weigh in and say you're being a jerk, because they don't have to deal with it. If confronted about it, just say "I didn't know how to respond" and just leave it at that.

      • Kathleen Henry says:

        Thanks for the response, and the support. I really felt that not responding is the right thing to do, for all the reasons you've laid out and more. I'm lucky enough that I've been able to surround myself (now) with people who would tell me the same (ironically, or maybe hypocritically, said ex-friend would probably say all these things too, if it weren't her I was talking about… :/).
        Thanks again.

    • Don't do it. You don't want her as a friend, she's shown you that she doesn't really consider you as a friend- there's no good reason to contact her, and it's likely to end in tears anyway.

  27. trixnix says:

    Human beings tend to want closure. That's why cliff hangers drive us nuts. We want the continuation or end to the story. The reason Peter Jackson turned a very small book into three, long movies. Plus we're problem solvers so we want to know "why" so we can try to "fix it".

    I've come a long way from the guy who used to throw his weight around when he'd get dumped/broken up with.

    The only bad feeling in my life relationship wise comes from someone I didn't even date. We skipped to the messy break up bit without even getting the fun part of a relationship. Being in the same room as her tends to make my confidence take a nose dive and she has a habit of turning up when you least expect her to.

    I don't expect her to talk to me. It would be lovely if we could sort of be okay with one another but that's a pipe dream and I've accepted she wants not to get back in touch with me. Apart from one message when I thought I was dying, I've made no effort to contact her in years. Because I thought I was dying, what I call the "things not being left unsaid" protocol was put into action where I try to sort stuff out. Got no response from that so left it.

    No problem with the no contact thing. It's just we live in a small city. We will bump into one another from time to time. Last time I felt conflicted whether I should keep out of sight just to avoid bad feeling (she gives me death stares. I barely acknowledge she's there) but I have as much right as her to live in this city and enjoy my life.

    It's sad because it was one of the strongest friendships I've ever had. We went away together, spent a lot of time one on one etc. Both of us have a point and I'm not the same person as I was when all of it happened.

    I dislike the death stares and her friends being off with me. I'm not asking anyone to feel or behave any differently than they do. Just kinda sucks since I've done all I can to sort it out then left it alone and left her alone.

  28. aaronhalfmaine says:

    Really is what I needed to hear right now.
    Got dumped about a week or so ago (Long story short, while we both liked each other a lot, she wasn't really ready to date in any way, so it didn't work out), and while we left on good terms, I feel a little vindicated in not really contacting her again since we broke up (we'll probably have to deal with existing around one another at some point, as we share a friendship group, but that is a problem for Future Aarron to deal with)

  29. Going through messy, painful breakups is just part of living. I have a friend that complains about a similar cutoff a few years ago. It hurts because it feels like an indictment of ourselves. However, it is vital that our own perception of our self worth not be so fragile that another person's rejection throw us entirely out of whack. Reifmanisnt wrong when he says that a total cutoff indicates anxiety on the part of the person doing the breaking up.however, if he hasn't examined why he entered into a relationship with this person or why his reaction to getting dumped so self destructive then he shouldn't be dating.

  30. I got less than halfway through that guy's editorial before it felt like he was being a crybaby and I just had to close the tab.

  31. DrThemoWorm says:

    Yet another thing I've been guilty of in the past. GEEZ, ME, STAHP. Looking back, there's never been an explanation for whatever break-up or… unfriending, I guess?… that's helped me correct my mistakes like I hoped it would (because I knew that there was no bargaining to be done, even back then). All those explanations did, if I even got any, only ended up making me angry and defensive.

    Thankfully, I came to a lot of conclusions similar to the ones in this article through doing what I do best… years of endless introspection and dissection of ideas until it starts to make sense to me.

    Nowadays, I'm still trying to develop my ability to move on from stuff like this rather than to wallow in self-pity.

  32. I wonder how gender stereotypes play into this. I get the impression from pop culture and casual observation that it's much more acceptable for gals than for dudes to cut off someone. The guy must be bored easily, has fear of commitment or lose interest after the thrill of the chase is gone, the gal must have her valid reasons(ranging from safety concerns to the guy not putting any effort in the relationship anymore) but is trained not to tell these reasons upfront.

    • thathat says:

      I'm not sure where you're getting the impression. A lot of times, anyone cutting off anyone else is subject to severe scrutiny as to whether their reasons were "good enough" and mutual friends want them to "at least be friendly" I think it may be more likely that a woman needs to go full nuclear because of the entitlement some guys have that seems to be a cultural thing.

    • I think you're conflating "breaking up" and "cutting off." I see guys get less support for initiating a breakup, but more support for complete cutoff post-breakup.

    • eselle28 says:

      I've seen a very strong pressure on both genders to remain friends after the break up, even if there's no particular reason for them to be. Unless a man has abused a woman (and sometimes even if he has), she's seen as being either flaky and immature or mean and cold if she doesn't want to keep in touch. I think the stereotypes of a man who cuts someone off are slightly different (I think they lean more toward "player" than "meanie"), but I think the level of enforcement is about the same.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Definitely never got shit from anyone for cutting someone off after a breakup.

      • Barretts_Salt says:

        Actually, me neither.

        It helps a *whole* (metric assload? :) lot if you pick them from outside your social circle, *plus* never have more than one or two friends from each social circle.

        But I've seen it in action in geek/geek-adjacent circles — and it's deeply repellent.

  33. This guy. THIS GUY. This essay has been making the rounds of the lady internet and I can't stop obsessing over how slimy it is. What do I even hate the most?

    — All the pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-sensitive self-help jargon about his feelings and his past and his processing. I'm sure he thinks it makes him sound very deep, but all I hear is, "I am so overwhelmingly fascinated with myself that I have no room to give a shit about you."

    — Using his abusive childhood to guilt his ex into staying with him: awful. Making up an imagined abusive childhood for his ex to explain why she'd do something as nuts as dumping him: beyond awful. Also, his abusive past means his feelings are extra legitimate and need to be tended to; her abusive past means her feelings are irrational and can be stomped all over.

    — He brings up the legitimate issue that breakups are often harder for men because they're less likely to have a support system of close friends. But a few paragraphs later he's describing a close friend named Kerry who lets him blow off steam and tells him he's wonderful, and lots of other friends who leant sympathetic ears but eventually got sick of hearing about Emma (or maybe didn't tell him what he wanted to hear). He's got a support system. He just doesn't appreciate it.

    — He's very rich! And successful! Has he mentioned how rich and smart and powerful he is? Because he's a tech millionaire respected by all! Meanwhile, Emma is a much younger, much poorer student/waitress whom he met while in some minor position of authority over her. And what's he mad about now? That she has too much power: specifically, the power to dump his rich older connected ass. Reading between the lines, this is a guy with scary control issues.

    –On a related note, the bit about how, you know, he's not saying domestic abuse is justified, but if you think about it from an enlightened, self-help-book-reading, organic-gardening modern sensitive guy's perspective, usually it's the bitch's fault for not being nice enough. RUN EMMA RUUUUUN

    — HE PUBLISHED HER EMAILS.

    — His yoga instructor says they should be together. Come on, Emma, what higher authority can you ask for?

    — So what does he actually want from Emma to get that vital sense of closure? He never says directly, but he does quote some ideas from a other sources. From this I can gather that he wants her to a) beg his forgiveness for being a bad girl, b) ask what she can do to soothe his feelings, and c) have sex with him. Then he'll finally break things off! Or he'll demand that she stay with him forever or she's no better than his abusive mother, either way.

    • I love your comments on this article so much I am going to buy all your books.

      I had a bad break up with an online friend, someone I never even really met. We used to speak on the phone. She was really abusive and said cruel things to me after she decided I was a horrible person for being younger and prettier. She made comments about my fuckability and how it was unfair. She said she hated me and I made her "stabby". She gave me the creeps and I stopped talking to her.

      She pulled the EXACT same tricks this guy did, even claiming PTSD from child abuse, and how horrible it was that I wouldn't talk to her because she could not be responsible for her actions because ABUSE BACKGROUND.

      This went on for years. I blocked her on all social media and she tried over and over to get back to me for "closure" but she also claimed she wanted to kick my ass and have it all out, because she denies everything she said and claims I lied about her.

      If I did all that lying, then why did she spend YEARS trying to get back with me and coming to my website, and then tried to get my new address when I moved?

      These people don't want closure, they want revenge for you hurting them, for not giving them everything they wanted, especially the opportunity to let them continue to act like asses and then be the first to break it off.

      If someone doesn't want to be friends with you or be a S.O., GET OVER IT.

  34. Brian B. says:

    Without defending Jeff Reifman at all — yep, he's a stalker — I would want to very slightly amend Dr. Nerdlove's absolute position with a brief bit of personal experience. Two of the most unpleasant *and most valuable* experiences of my life were the two times — in the wake of a disastrous relationship-ending social encounter (one ending a friendship, one a short-lived dating relationship) — that I convinced the other person to explain why they had no further desire to spend time with me.

    Now, in both cases, I acquired the explanation by asking, sufficiently irritatingly, *at the moment of break-up*. I didn't chase them down later. And in both cases the explanations were angry, fierce, and detailed, after which I willingly cut off all contact. But while I'm quite sure both the ex-friend nor the ex-dating partner found the explanations almost as painful as I did, both of them gave me important detailed rundowns of crappy things I'd done that I hadn't known I was doing. And both of them were thorough enough that everyone who's known me in the years since has benefitted from my listening, and my fixing my behavior.

    What I did isn't what Jeff did, but Dr. Nerdlove is still against it. I understand why, too. I'm just suggesting he might not always be right.

    • eselle28 says:

      Nerdlove hasn't said that a person who wishes to give an explanation can't, only that they're not obligated to. I don't think your anecdote counters that. Yes, it was a valuable experience for you. For your ex-friend and ex-dating partner, it was apparently an irritating, painful experience inflicted by someone who'd already done a list full of crappy things to them. Why is doing that one more crappy thing justified, especially when there generally are opportunities to check in with people during a relationship about whether you're making them happy?

      • Brian B. says:

        He's saying, I think, that it's wrong to ask for a post-mortem, or at least to ask twice (which I'm sure I must have done to get such a thorough response). The argument in his favor is that yes, being pressed is uncomfortable: I already agreed with that. You say "Why didn't you notice the problem earlier?" I say "Because there wasn't that much 'earlier' to go around, and I was slow on the uptake, which is not surprising because being slow on the uptake is why I'd been doing unpleasant things without noticing".

        I spend a lot of time these days as an informal relationship counselor — people envy my relationship with my wife and assume I must know stuff — and for all that O'Malley talks of the virtues of slow note-taking and self-diagnosis, I run a fair amount into friends who can't figure out what they're doing wrong, and since I have only their reports based on what they've noticed, all I can do is offer tentative guesses (and access to Dr. Nerdlove's site), neither of which are sure to help. Being excoriated in person is *amazingly effective*, if you're willing to listen and let what you hear penetrate. Asking for the excoriation is unkind; but I think that obliviously carrying on, being a person worthy of excoriation, is moreso.

      • Brian B. says:

        I should clarify that a couple of other times I asked people who stopped young dating relationships with me for explanations, didn't get any, and nonetheless left them alone. It would be problematic were it otherwise.

    • The big catch is that unless the person is enraged and unloading all their issues, most people aren't good at articulating exactly what wasn't working for them. Especially when put on the spot like that. The most likely response is a list of empty "it's not you, it's me" platitudes.

      If you've truly been blindsided, it might be worth asking mutual friends. what was going on. They're likely to be more objective and won't feel as put on the spot. But expecting a full breakdown from your ex assumes a lot more self awareness than most people have.

    • Once you lave public school, no one *owes* you a learning experience. It's on you to work it out. It's great you were able to get them to share, but it is NOT owed to anyone.

  35. MagnificentMonocle says:

    Can I just add to this, that sometimes a face-to-face break-up can be simply too emotional? One of the reasons why I never ended my few relationships in person, was that at some point I simply cannot coherently express what I want to say anymore. I just get too worked up. Breaking up by tearfully wharble-garbling in their face doesn’t do anybody any favours. It makes me even more vulnerable and insecure about the whole thing, when all I want to do is make a clear decisive cut. I’ve almost exclusively broken up with guys via phone and one time via letter, because I felt it was more personal than email. Yes, I know, breaking up is always scary and hurtful and messy for BOTH parties. Except when one party is quite certain that the “breaking up” talk will inevitably turn into “explain to me for the next two hours how you dare even think about leaving me”. This has happened to me before and it’s fucking awful. It also seems to be directly connected to me being emotional, as if being sad about a decision automatically meant I shouldn’t be making it in the first place or that I don’t really mean it anyway. If I can prepare what to say or write, without fear of being blind-sided by guilt trips, angry “THIS IS UNFAIR!” outbursts or “you’re just confused” patronising… that’s what I’m going to do. Because my safety and emotional health matters.

    Which is to say I also greatly disagree with Dr. Nerdlove’s assessment, that guys should stick around for post-breakup fallout. You do not need to let yourself be screamed at. You do not need to let yourself be berated for your choice. You do not have to let your choice be second-guessed by a girlfriend unwilling to let go. Hurting someone sucks. Being hurt sucks. However as a grown-ass woman if I get hurt, I will deal with it. Dealing with it may involve lots of ice-cream, yelling and crying into the phone, but it will ideally never involve abusing the person who chose to leave me for doing so. That’s an asshole thing to do.

    Additionally, I believe there are circumstances where just breaking off contact is perfectly justified. Cutting out a guy from my life who thought just because we weren’t officially together he could long-term date as many ladies on the side as he liked without my knowledge, while telling me he loved me, will never involve me telling him face-to-face WHY EXACTLY it is I am leaving. Firstly, because even though he is a grade-A douchebag, I do not want to start a shouting match. Secondly, I believe I owe a person as much courtesy as they have shown me. In this case, a note will do just fine and I think even that is already a greater courtesy than deserved. Because at this point any note that doesn’t simply say “go fuck yourself” is already demonstrating great restraint and dignity on my part.

    Tl,dr: Common decency is a thing. Do what you feel comfortable doing, while being decent. Safety first. Courtesy to those who deserve it.

  36. Densetsu No THX says:

    Deconstructing Closure, Or: Doctor Nerd Love Teaches You To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

    There’s something unconscionably slimy about the way this guy coined the term “cutoff culture” (I imagine, I haven’t heard it used literally anywhere else), for the title of his piece. He was obviously trying to pitch this as the kind of socially conscious think piece that makes the rounds on places like Slate, Salon, and HuffPo, but unlike those *actual* editorials, there’s no bigger, underlying Social Issue to suss out and shed light on here. There’s no “culture” of cutting off. Some times people cut you off, or out, and they have their reasons for it. You don’t get to hear those reasons because they don’t want to have a big fight with you. That’s life. Shit happens. If you can’t figure out why, work on expanding your self-awareness until you do.

  37. MattieTh says:

    Jeff Reifman's article was really uncomfortable for me to read because I have had to deal with an ex-boyfriend just like him for the past 25 years. Let this be a cautionary tale, Jeff, if you ever read this.

    When I broke up with my college boyfriend, "Brian," he was very upset. I knew he was upset, and I felt really guilty about it. Our relationship had started out very intense, but he was controlling and a little obsessive and I was feeling smothered. He reminded me too much of my dad. We were also in a long distance relationship because he had moved out of state to go to medical school and I was still in college. We argued a lot on the phone. I felt lonely and stressed. I was 22 years old and the relationship just wasn't fun anymore.

    Brian was desperate for me to explain why I broke with him. We had several long, painful conversations where I felt I wasn't explaining my feelings very well and he got frustrated and argumentative with me. If I told him he was too controlling, he argued with me to convince me I was wrong. If I was nice, and said that I cared about him but I needed "space" or whatever, he took that as encouragement that I might change my mind.

    After awhile, I just couldn't deal with talking to him anymore. It was awful. So I asked him to stop calling me. He didn't stop so I had to start screening my calls. This was before email or texting. When I stopped answering the phone, he started sending letters to me. He would photocopy sections of love letters I'd previously written him, and mail them to me, demanding that I explain what I meant in those letters and how my feelings could have changed. I didn't respond to his letters. He had started to scare me, to be honest. When he was back in town one weekend on a break from school, he showed up at my house uninvited. I convinced him to leave but he kept saying "just talk to me, just tell me what happened, it is so unfair of you not to explain what happened" — yet he wouldn't listen (and hadn't listened) to anything I said. It was all about his feelings and his needs.

    The constant calls and letters eventually tapered off, but over the years, Brian has sporadically contacted me (most recently, through FB), suggesting that we can still be friends somehow (he is married and has 3 kids) and telling me he needs closure and would like to meet to talk about our relationship. I have refused his friend requests and, after telling him once that I did not want him to contact me again, I have ignored all his messages. Still, it's painful and very upsetting to me that this man, who I did really care about at one time, just can't get over me and still wants "closure". I feel like his need for closure is incredibly selfish. I need "closure" too — I need a relationship that is over, to be over.

    Just one other thing — Jeff Reifman strikes me as pretty clueless since it seems likely to me that "Emma" probably felt weird about the relationship because of their age difference and because Jeff (rich guy, former Microsoft exec etc.) was overbearing and way too intense for her. There probably isn't much more too it than that. Even if she could explain all her feelings 100%, it won't provide the closure that Jeff wants, in the sense of an explanation that is perfectly understandable and reasonable to him. People's emotions, especially when it comes to love and romance, are often not logical and reasonable to others.

    • I would suggest watching the movie "LE DIVORCE", with Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts as sisters living in Paris (great casting, as they really DO look like sisters)… any-hoo… check out Matthew Modine's character (Naomi Watts' ex)… he's just like this ass-clown Jeff… and that's all I'm gonna say, so as to not spoil the movie;-)

Trackbacks

  1. […] “One thing that’s impossible to miss – as the always-excellent Captain Awkward points out – is that this entire rant is dripping with entitlement. There are occasional concern-troll-y musings about how this is bad for the one doing the cut-off as well – the subtitle, after all is “Cutting off exes not only hurts our former partners but limits our own growth as well.”1 – but let’s be honest: this is all about what Reifman believes he’s owed by Emma and, by extension, all his other exes ever. He wants her back in his life  (on his terms). He wants closure. He wants her to heal his pain because he’s had a shitty childhood! But – and this is critical – he is completely out of fucks to give when it comes to Emma‘s needs or wants. It is literally all about him.” “Cutoff Culture” and the Myth of Closure – Dr NerdLove […]

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    “Cutoff Culture” And the Myth of Closure – Paging Dr. NerdLove