Seeing as Trump followers are rioting in DC at the moment, it seems a little crass to put up a column today. The usual Wednesday column will go up either tomorrow or Friday, depending on how things shake out.
I fucked up while flirting with a woman at a convention in 2017, but I didn’t realize it at the time. A year later, I was made aware, apologized, and have worked on changing my ways. This week, I found out that the woman was is still very hurt over what happened; I can only apologize again for my behavior. If it can help others to learn from it and do better, here’s what happened.
At Emerald City Comic Con in 2017, I was talking with a woman I met at a crowded hotel bar. Over the course of the conversation, I was flirting (my wife and I have an open relationship) and at the time, I believed we had a vibe going. At one point, I reached out and weaved my fingers through her hair and gave, what to me was a playful tug. She didn’t respond, so I took my hand back. She mentioned that she simply wasn’t up for or able to do anything. I said “ok, if you change your mind, let me know,” hung out a little while longer and then eventually left to go to bed.
The next day as I was browsing through the dealer’s room, I passed by her booth, said a brief hello and “it was nice talking to you last night”, before heading about my day. The last time I have ever talked to her in person was a brief group conversation in the bar later that night.
Early in 2018, a friend of mine told me that this woman had felt violated by the entire encounter. I was surprised by this, but if I had done something wrong, then I was going to own that. I reached out, both via email and a mutual friend, to apologize (I’ve blacked out names and email addresses to protect people’s privacy):
When I sent my apology through a mutual friend, I made it clear that I was willing to apologize in person if the woman preferred, that I would be willing to stay away from her if we were ever at the same shows again, but, most importantly, that I wanted to make amends.
On February 10th, our mutual friend, in a Facebook Messenger chat, relayed the woman’s response; she asked me to stay away and not speak to her.
I agreed; I have kept my distance and haven’t spoken with her since. Hearing how this woman felt, I began to examine my behavior, including, among other things, the way I acted and flirted with others. I made a point of getting consent before making physical contact and checking in to ensure that everyone was still comfortable and interested. I spent time examining the ways that I remained inexcusably blind to other women’s perspectives or experiences. I talked with various people about accountability, about doing better, about being more aware and more present and the ways that I had to improve. and My friends were honest with me about where I needed to change, which I appreciated and still appreciate. Being held accountable is important.
I also changed the way that I attended conventions. The same mutual friend agreed to come with me to the 2018 Emerald City Comic Con in mid-March, to be able to call me on my behavior if need be. I’ve caused harm with my mistakes; hopefully by talking about it openly, other people can do better and be better.
I understand that the person in question is still hurt by all of this. I behaved abominably, caused her pain and I am truly profoundly sorry.
I have an issue. I’m a 29 year old female. I started dating a man this last year after almost going 4 years without a relationship. I was abused (sexually, emotionally, and physically) by my first boyfriend at 19. I have and still am seeing a therapist.
There are other issues in this relationship. My family is from a different country even though I was born in America and still aren’t at accepting him. He has no strong familial or friendship connections and has a good job and won’t branch out to my friend’s husbands. He sticks like glue to me at a last event dampening my mood.
Lately he’s been getting frustrated. I’m not a morning person and need to stick by strict times for plans so I can wake up on time and not rush. I had finals the last weekend and was up studying. We made tentative plans to meet and I slept in and he got mad at me for ignoring calls and texts. I apologized multiple times for not informing him I was up studying and he tells me how disappointed he consistently is that I need to wake up much earlier.
It’s exhausting. I’m with him for the most part of the weekend and I feel I can’t have 10 minutes in the morning to take a dump or drink coffee. And these last few plans I make and he goes along with it. He knows how I need a set time (10 am, etc) and he’s all lazy about agreeing to a time. He then demands me to get up early and I’m squashing his hopes when I don’t.
I also work with my family and now need to go in next week to the office. He has a week off and I can sense an imploding argument because I need to hang out with him all day.
Now he’s demanding sex out of me, but December was a month I was assaulted and I’m sick of it. He’s been pushy for intimacy and I’m meeting him where I can. I told him I’m waking up with nightmares. I get he’s frustrated but I feel guilty and just want to get it over with so he gets off my back .
I also sometimes leave a cup of water in his sink (don’t live together) and got yelled at for not sticking it in the dishwasher (he claims it’s not yelling but was pissed). He said I was being disrespectful. Although if he leaves dirty dishes I usually wash them and do it so it’s one less thing for him or pick up his dirty clothes. I have tried to tell him that I usually leave dishes in a sink and do it at night but it’s a big deal apparently. Sometimes I’ll do it and don’t get snapped at but I feel confused and hurt when it does happen
I have a bad habit of pulling on sleeve or back of his shirts if his hand is away. We went out recently and he was walking faster so I pulled on his sleeve. And he claims he didn’t yell but his voice was raised and people were staring. He loudly said for me to stop messing up his shirts and he won’t ask again and he said I’m going to ruin all his clothes. I turned inward because I hate being yelled at. I tried to say it was an accident and he said no you always do this and why can’t you just say that you want to hold my hand. He claims I’ll ruin the hem and the sleeves fabrics on a sweatshirt or a t-shirt. I felt like I got slapped in the face.
I know I ruined his watch band because I was absent mindlessly playing with it on his hand. The rubber broke. He said he wasn’t angry but he always tells me how annoying it is or tells me how I ruined it. I even offered to pay for a whole new watch that was like that one he likes but no, it’s complain-ville.
I feel like I can’t do some behaviors. I always knock stuff over at home to annoy my mom (minor stuff like a dryer sheet or pen) and I usually pick it up. He blows up at this. I did it a few times (like a business card) and forgot to pick it up. Granted his place was a mess.
And he said I was again being disrespectful and making his place more dirty. I started crying. I had folded his clothes and picked up other stuff but I feel awful.
Now he doesn’t get why I don’t feel safe. I also got a breakdown at one point when I had to put a cup in his sink and didn’t know what to do with it.
I even put it on the table and he got mad at me for not using a coaster. I never raise a fit when he eats in my car and makes a mess. I just cleaned it. He’s left recycling in my car and I’m the one who cleans it. I feel like making a stink about it but I never saw an issue and just toss it out
I just don’t know if he’s angry at me or just frustrated because on top of my family and my trauma he is being pent up.
Any feedback would be helpful.
Who’s The Victim Here?
Dear Dr NerdLove,
In high school, I was basically asexual aromantic (or that’s how I’d have probably identified if those terms were more commonly known then). I didn’t care much about how undressed, looked or ate. I’ve been a chubby guy for basically my whole life, and since I never really cared about romantic or sexual interest, I didn’t really notice or think about my weight beyond health reasons. Despite being 240 pounds and a huge nerd with Asperger’s, I was apparently considered attractive in high school. Four girls asked me out between middle and high school (who I would always say no to since, with a my less keen knack for social skills at the time, I thought it’d be rude NOT to say no if I wasn’t interested) and I even got a “best eyes” accolade in my yearbook to my surprise. So I had always figured that if I had ever tried to start dating I wouldn’t have too much of a problem.
By the time I actually became interested in girls, however, things had changed. I had gained 50+ pounds during college (between stress eating and not really paying attention to my diet), now up in the 290+ range, and despite having improved myself in other ways (hygiene, not just wearing polo shirts with basketball shorts, not blurting out or rambling on about any interest I had at the time constantly/being a bit more reserved), I didn’t have any luck. I managed a few first dates but either they were uninterested or went for someone else completely or eventually went for people like me (nerdy types) but skinnier. Earlier this year I even reconnected with a friend I had been told had a crush on me in high school. She still seemed interested when we first got in touch on Facebook and there seemed to be a vibe that she was interested. When we met up at a party though, it seemed as though the indications that she was interested in me had faded. While I’m fine with just being friends, I can’t help but feel bad that I may have missed the boat on something good because of my weight.
So this year, now that I had income to spare it, I started investing in getting a girlfriend. Personal trainer, diet shakes, getting on every dating app that seemed decent enough. While my health has improved and my muscles are stronger, my endurance and stamina had greatly improved, I still struggle with actually losing the fat, so my attractiveness physically is about the same. Eventually I did manage a hookup with a girl for a night that was pretty okay, but I wasn’t super attracted to her and I mainly did it so I could actually lose my virginity before 25, and to make all this sunk cost actually end up in something.
Now with some of my older friends and family getting married, and all of them both attractive themselves and marrying someone gorgeous and fit as well, I cant help but start to feel jealous. I mean, I never thought I’d end up with an athlete or supermodel, but the idea of even an average girl being out of reach since, well, I’m way below average, has me pretty bummed out. I feel deep down I could be a great boyfriend/partner/SO/spouse etc, but it feels like the kind of relationship I want to have is both in sight but out of reach, save for waiting till my 30s for someone to settle “below their league” or barring a full Chris Pratt-esque transformation. Going to film festivals and stuff by myself is fun but it’d be more fun if I were doing it with my girlfriend, you know?
TLDR: I’m putting all the effort in but it still isn’t enough to get ahead of even where I was when I wasn’t trying to get a girlfriend.
Trying My Best