weekend free-for-all – February 24-25, 2018

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday. It’s hard to talk about this without spoiling it, but it’s two seemingly disparate stories that may surprise you in how they’re connected. It’s beautifully done and I loved it.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,677 comments… read them below }

  1. Full Speed Ahead*

    took a quick trip to Charlettesville Va to look at UVA with my daughter. Can’t believe how much looking at colleges has changed in the past 34 year since I did it!

      1. Full Speed Ahead*

        It’s such a bigger deal now. Colleges are so expensive, kids apply to many more at a time (there is now a Common App, which I didn’t have) and it’s just a lot more competitive to get in to pretty much every school.

        1. Triplestep*

          I remember thinking the same thing in the past ten years with my two kids (one of whom is about to graduate).

          You didn’t ask, but here’s a tip I give to anyone I know who is in this process: Another thing that’s changed since we were applying to college is the data available online, most notably collegeboard dot org. Pay attention to the percentage of the student body that is involved in Greek Life *even if your kid is not interested in Greek Life!*

          We didn’t give this much thought – neither of us had been involved in Greek Life, and our daughter was not interested in joining a sorority. But she has found being on a campus where 25% of the students DO pledge to be overwhelming. She felt that Greek Life pervades everything social, and it has really impacted her college experience.

          This had been her first choice school, and we really liked it for her academically. And even though she likes her department (it’s run by “bad ass women” according to her) and eventually found friends, I believe she will always think of herself as having hated her school.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I went to a small midwestern college where 75% of the students are greek and even though I had an overall good experience it definitely was The Thing social lives often rotated around.

            1. Lady Russell's Turban*

              I may have been accepted to that same college with a full ride academic scholarship. My dad, especially, was soooo excited. I did two visits and was so turned off by the Greek life thing that I said, nope, not for me, and attended another small, Midwestern liberal arts college whose by-laws don’t permit sororities and fraternities. Much better choice for me, if not my wallet.

              My nephew went to UVA and ended up joining a fraternity despite his initial doubts and his parents’ misgivings. He did it for social reasons because he was given enough guff by classmates his freshman year for being a northern, liberal atheist. It ended up being a good experience for him

              1. ThatGirl*

                Was it in a cornfield in Indiana?

                I honestly had a great experience there but it was in spite of the Greek system, not because of it.

          2. Artemesia*

            Terrific advice. Greek life really dominates where it is a big deal and it means a lot of heavy drinking starting Thursday of every week and makes it harder for students who don’t want a Greek experience as it sort of pushes out other social options. Greek life is IMHO a lot more pernicious than it was 50 years ago; there has always been binge drinking for frat boys but the degree to which this now dominates Greek culture is dramatically worse in my observation.

            1. Phillipa*

              Cannot agree with this enough. About 25% of students at my undergrad were Greek, and it seemed like that seeped into every aspect of campus culture, from student senate (where students hoping to be elected only had a shot if they belonged to a house) to assault. As someone who had no interest in joining, the culture inconvenienced me at best and was generally frustrating.

              1. Jill*

                I went to the school which, at least at that time, had the largest Greek system in the country. I’d say about a third of the students were in a house, but it didn’t have any negative effect on those of us that weren’t.

            2. Triple Anon*

              It seems to get worse when they raise the drinking age or get stricter about enforcing it. There’s an, “I can flaut the law because I come from a good family, go to a good school, and have my Greek siblings with me,” sort of mentality to it.

              I hope that wasn’t too political. If so, I’ll understand if it has to be deleted.

        2. Jill*

          The U.S. News rankings are the biggest reason for the increased competition. Acceptance rate is a big factor, so the schools have made a huge effort to increase their number of applications so they can have a lower acceptance rate.

          The top-tier schools are much more competitive now, but there are plenty of second-tier schools that are trying hard to attract good students and are willing to give them quite a bit of aid.

        3. Blue_eyes*

          Keep in mind that a lot of the very low acceptance rates are artificially inflated by students applying to many, many colleges. The actual number of college spots relative to students applying isn’t all that different than in the past.

          1. Mela*

            Yes, this is so true. Being wait-listed means you very well may get a spot, because a lot of applicants are going to decline their spot. Not making this explicitly clear to students artificially raises stress levels.

      2. the gold digger*

        I don’t have children, but I have watched my friend do this. Just the facts that

        1. the parents are so involved and
        2. they actually visit schools

        is so bizarre to me.

        I researched colleges on my own. Wrote to three of them to get their applications. Applied to one early decision and, upon being accepted, decided I would go there. My mom and I finally visited the campus after I was accepted, but if the visit had involved more than a four-hour drive from San Antonio to Houston, I doubt it would have happened.

        My parents filled out the US financial aid form and that was the extent of their involvement. They didn’t even know about the SATs – I took those because my counselor told me to.

        1. Jill*

          On #2, visiting schools is nothing new. 30 years ago when my brother and I were in HS, we visited every college either of us applied to.

          The big difference I see is the number of schools kids apply to. I don’t recall anyone I knew applying to more than 4 or 5. There was a reach school, two or three that you figured you had a good chance of getting in, and a safety. Now it seems everyone applies to 10 or 12. My step-nephew applied to 19.

          Parents are more involved now because the application process is more cumbersome. As you said, in our day, we called or wrote to get the paper applications, filled them out, and sent them back. It’s all online now so it should be easier, but there are so many more little steps you need to do and it’s easy to miss something. I have a friend who is a college professor and her son is a senior near the top of his class, and she said he needed help navigating through it all.

          1. the gold digger*

            Maybe it’s just my demographic, but I didn’t know anyone in high school (I graduated in 1981) who toured colleges.

            And I applied early decision to my college because it was free to apply to that school. I was very relieved to be accepted because I didn’t want to pay application fees for other schools.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I graduated high school in ’86, and toured several colleges. So did my same-age husband, and I would say it was the norm in our group of college friends.

              I am involved in my kids visiting schools in the sense that they are too young to drive themselves or independently afford many airline tickets. With the older that meant she came up with a list, we discussed feasibility, and she added a couple of schools based on our proposed driving route. With the younger there’s a bit more pushing because he’s much less military-commander-planning-a-tactical-assault-on-his-future than the older.

            2. Triplestep*

              I also graduated high school in ’81 and I only visited the schools to which I was accepted, which is how I did it with my kids. As pricey as the application fees are, road trips to visit schools are a lot more expensive. We just let them apply to as many as they wanted, and planned the visits once the verdicts were in!

            3. NJ Anon*

              I graduated high school in ’77. Did not visit any schools but lived near enough to the one i eventually went to that it wasn’t really necessary. I “only” applied to 3 schools.

          2. caledonia*

            In the UK, we use an online application system and you can only apply for 5 programmes at most* – some people unfortunately use all 5 choices at the same uni. I say unfortunately because sometimes they, for example, choose 5 courses within business which we only count as 1 therefore they have wasted 4 other choices. (I work in higher ed).

            * If they receive no offers they can apply again through “clearing” which is when uni’s offer their vacancies.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          It’s so foreign to me also. In the 70s I applied to two schools and got accepted at both. I picked one. My parents were not involved in the process at all. I think they had no clue and that is why. Anyway, I was shocked to see there was an application fee, I was pretty naive about the whole thing. Other stuff came up that puzzled me, too. A friend said that she would be accepted where ever she applied because of filling a quota. I remember thinking that I hoped our society could be less superficial and more concerned about actually encouraging people to grow and succeed.

        3. Gaia*

          Agreed. I graduated in 2003 and did everything myself. It was my education and therefore my responsibility. My cousins are graduating this year and they are also doing it all on their own. So are their friends. I think it is weird when parents are heavily involved like this.

        4. ZarinC*

          My daughter has applied for colleges this year and it’s so different from what I experienced. She attends a high school full of high-achievers (it’s public, but you have to be in the top 10% of the county academically to be admitted) and the average number of schools her peers applied to is 15. 15! My daughter couldn’t even think of 15 schools she would consider going to…so she applied to just 9. Even so, the application fees add up. She had me proofread her essays and I filled out the FAFSA (financial aid) application, but she did the rest of it herself.

          We did do some college touring last year over the summer, but it was part of our previously planned vacation. Her top two choices are both within an hour or two drive and one is my alma mater, so she has visited those campuses many times.

          1. Reba*

            Wow. I did 6 in 2003-2004 and that felt like a lot!

            I read that this trend of mass applying contributes to the exclusive top schools appearing even more so — they get flooded with applications so the acceptance rate goes lower and lower.

          2. Gingerblue*

            I can’t even imagine doing it these days. I was applying in 1996, and only had to do one, since I got into my first choice early admission; that was stressful enough. Fifteen! God.

        5. Trixie*

          A colleague takes her children to tour high schools and middle schools, whether or not there is any real choice available, to make them involved. Great but what happens when junior has to learn that we don’t always get what we want or that we have a selection to choose from?
          This colleague is also a bit of an obsessor/control freak, and then doesn’t understand why her high schooler is crushed by the smallest disappointments.

        6. Becky*

          I actually think it really depends on individual personality and socio-economic status and where exactly you are applying to.
          I graduated from high school in 2002 and my parents were next to nil in their involvement with my application process. If I needed information or signatures from them I asked, if I had wanted advice I would have asked but I was a very independent person.
          But visiting college campuses would not have been an option. My parents had very little money and considering almost all of the universities I wanted wanted to go to were out of state (and the one I did end up going to was 1500 miles away) it would have been too expensive a proposition. If I had wanted to go to a more local school, I guess I could have arranged a visit (even if it was just borrowing my parents car one day) but I doubt it would have crossed my mind, none of my friends or other siblings ever did college visits so it wasn’t a common thing in my area.

    1. Enough*

      I didn’t even do college visits. My son knew where he wanted to go and did early decision (parent’s alma mater) . Dad took older daughter on her college visits (the 3 colleges she applied to and had been accepted to). I took younger daughter on her visits. But these were a bit different as she was being recruited for soccer. So they were over nights and she met teammates and went to at least one class at each school. The youngest is the only one who had the common app and now that she’s applying to grad school wishes they had something like that.

      1. JamieS*

        I don’t really understand parents going on college visits in the first place. My POV is if a student is ready for college than they should be able to navigate the process (visits, applying to school, applying for aid, taking the ACT/SAT, etc.) solo with ideally some financial help from parents for test/application fees and of course their parents pertinent financial info for the aid applications.

        1. Kj*

          If a student is planning to go to a school far away, they might not be able to get there without parental help. And I always advise kids to visit schools- it is really important to get a sense of if you like it. A mistake is costly. Sure the kid should arrange the tour and an interview if offered, but they can’t do it all, especially the travel, without help. Presumably the parents are involved past the kid’s 18th birthday, parents should help. Expecting it to be done solo means most kids won’t go to college.

          1. JamieS*

            I agree parents should help financially if they can and I’m not saying the parents should write a blank check for visits and hope for the best or drop the kids off at a bus terminal with $3 and wish them good luck. They should still give their kid a budget, look over any travel plans, etc. However I think it should be the kid doing the actual work of planning and the parents approving/disapproving the plans. Basically teach the kids some independence while they’re still under the parents watch.

            I don’t think a student who can’t do those things should be going to college. At least not yet. After all their parents won’t be there to coddle them so they have to learn independence sooner than later and taking control of the college application process (particularly the planning aspect) is a great first step.

            1. Gingerblue*

              I disagree, and I do it as a college professor who is pretty fervently opposed to parental interference once the student leaves home and who thinks overparenting is a real ill. We’re talking about 16 year olds making life-changing decisions involving tens of thousands of dollars and critical, culturally-privileged years of their lives. I don’t disagree that the students should be actively involved in the search and application process–they absolutely should be. But there are so very, very many ways for a teen to fuck up their life, not even because they’re making bad decisions, but simply because they don’t have the life experience to ask the right questions. And the narrative that the student should be doing this independently fundamentally privileges upper and upper middle-class kids, who are more likely to have absorbed basic ideas of what you should look for in a college and how you go about that from their families, schools, and communities.

              When I was looking at colleges, it would not have occurred to me that colleges were ranked by outside bodies and that these rankings were a thing you could look up without parents and teachers telling us that. (Granted, this was in 1997; this info is easier to get these days.) If I knew it anyway, I wouldn’t have known what books to look for that info in or had access to a library to find them without parental help. I wouldn’t have known what questions to ask about financial aid or scholarships or student loans, or what the long-term repercussions of any of those things would be for my life; and if I knew those things, I wouldn’t truly have had a sense of the timescale involved in, say, paying back a loan–how can a 16 year old really have a gut sense of what that means for buying a house or getting a car loan a decade later? Greek life was so far off my radar it never occurred to me to wonder what that would do to the social and academic life of a school. I knew I’d rather go to a small college, but in retrospect I was making compromises about what programs were available compared to the resources of a large university. (It worked out well for me, but that was luck, not planning.) And so on. I was pretty involved in choosing a college and I think I did pretty well about it, but I was in no way prepared to navigate the entire process undirected. On reaching college I promptly rejected all forms of parental meddling and went on to a PhD and a career I like and a generally successful life, so I take issue with the idea that not magically knowing that WSJ college rankings were a thing made me a coddled waste of high school junior.

              Once they head off to college, let them deal with more of the paperwork and decisions independently–a good college will be set up to foster exactly that kind of burgeoning independence without allowing real disasters. The gap between high school and college, though, is full of pitfalls which can create serious problems for a young adult for years to come.

              1. JamieS*

                I’m glad it worked out for you but the expectation a parent will coddle their child (yes I consider it coddling and will argue the point to your dying breath) until college, drop their kid off for orientation, and the kid will suddenly thrive and be able to do for themselves isn’t realistic. Colleges won’t allow disasters? I’m not sure where you attended college or what college you work for but if either institution has figured out a way to prevent student failure I’d be very impressed. During my college years, I personally encountered more than a couple students who fell flat on their face mostly because they were never taught how to be independent prior to college. I’m very confident that isn’t some weird unique experience only I had.

                As an aside I’m wildly curious to know where you grew up that you wouldn’t have known how to get access to a library.

                1. Jules the Third*

                  You seem to be arguing that there’s no middle ground, it’s either ‘coddle’ or ‘throw them to the sharks’.

                  I’m going with Gingerblue on this one. Especially about the middle-class privilege. I did most of my own research and all my own applications for college, but my dad was a college professor, I’d visited most of the campuses I considered before I was 10.

                  As an aside, it’s not about access to a library, it’s about knowing there’s useful information relevant to college decisions inside one. If your family’s never gone to college, you might not.

                  You and your experiences are not universal.

                2. Kickin' Crab*

                  I’m also with Gingerblue. My parents are college-educated, though not in this country, and if it were not for my HS guidance counselor we wouldn’t have even known college visits were a thing. (In my parents’ home country, you just go to whatever college is in your district, and you continue to live with your parents until you’re married.) Still, they were able to provide some gentle guidance, particularly with respect to the financial implications of my decisions. I didn’t fully appreciate how privileged even that was until years later when I was teaching in a Saturday enrichment program for low-income teens — smart kids, committed parents, but there was good reason that the 11th grade curriculum was literally, “How to Apply to College,” including Spring Break college visits to several schools within driving distance.

                3. Gingerblue*

                  Okay, that’s a level of drama and deliberate misreading that makes it clear you’re not interested in engaging honestly.

                4. Jill*

                  I agree with Jules. You seem to consider anything other than “don’t help at all and let the kids figure it out on their own” to be coddling. There is a huge middle ground that you are completely ignoring.

                5. JamieS*

                  @Jules, I consider things like having them navigate the application process on their own with parental moderation to be the middle ground. I never said the parent shouldn’t intervene if necessary but I think the intervention should be “no don’t do that, think about what to do and we’ll discuss it”. Basically force the child to think for themselves instead of telling them what to do. I’d also argue your stance of the parent doing for the child to be a privileged stance because it gives kids with college educated parents a clear advantage over those without.

                  @Gingerblue I’m not sure what drama you’re referring to but I didn’t misread what you wrote. You clearly wrote colleges wouldn’t allow for disasters which in this context would mean wouldn’t allow students who aren’t ready for college to fail. Colleges clearly do allow students to fall flat on their face.

                  Also you’re the one equating my stance that the teen should fill out the applications and do solo college visits with buying a house years down the road. If that’s not being dramatic I don’t know what is.

        2. Teach*

          My son’s visit to a large Midwestern unit specifically invited parents – we had some side presentations while our kids had tours with students in their prospective majors. It was helpful – they talked to us about aid, how billing and meals work, campus safety and mental health resources, and a strong, consistent message to have our kids handle applications, housing, registration, etc!

              1. PB*

                This. They don’t tell this to the parents with the expectation that the parents will be managing their child’s life from afar. Parents have been with their kids since before they were born, and now they won’t be. They want to have some idea of how their kids will be living, what the campus looks like, what their day-to-day routine will be, and so forth. Like Gingerblue, I work in higher ed and I’m generally opposed to parental interference, but this all seems reasonable to me.

          1. Slippin' and slidin'*

            Same experience here in a different part of the country. Parents were actually *required* to attend an orientation session unless they lived >200 miles from the school. And in that session, they talked about FAFSA, about educational privacy laws and why they would not tell you your kid’s grades if you ask, about what to expect if you contacted a professor (to be told to talk to your student instead and to be told they wouldn’t answer questions) and they had someone from campus police come in to ask questions, and someone from the student health clinic to talk about what is available there – and focused on mental health. They encouraged parents to remind their kids that they could get free counseling there if the students were struggling with anxiety or depression.
            They said that *IF* the student granted them permission, there is a parental login you could get. It *only* allows parents to pay tuition. I know, because I have this login. I can see tuition and fees, and pay those, but I cannot see grades, schedules, email, what they have checked out from the library or anything else. And I am fine with that. Honestly, the only thing I would change is that I can’t get end of year tax statements myself and have to have my kid download it and email it to me, and, well, she’s flaky and that’s the last thing we are waiting on for filing taxes and has been for 3 weeks….if I pay the tuition, I’d like to be able to get the tax form showing that. But otherwise, I think that boundary is appropriate.
            I personally thought it was a waste of my time, and I didn’t like that I was required to do it (3 hour orientation, with an hour drive each way.) but I did appreciate the “Your kids are adults now, we don’t answer to you” approach.

    2. Artemesia*

      FWIW most places fill much of their freshman class with early admission applicants. Your odds, especially if you are on the cusp of acceptance, of getting in to the school you want are much higher if you go early admission. So if the student knows for sure they want X school, it is an approach worth taking. This is quite different than it was in their parents’ day.

      1. Babs*

        If money is a big concern, I think it’s important to differentiate between early acceptance and binding early decision. Some programs have binding early decision, where if you’re accepted you HAVE to attend. However, for families where money is going to be a deciding factor, it can be really helpful to have several different financial aid offers to compare. Sometimes, these things don’t work out the way you would think. I know several cases where going to an Ivy League school ended up cheaper than a state school!

        Early admission that’s nonbinding is fine, though. And obviously, having an acceptance early on can help with the stress in the process.

        1. Triplestep*

          I never understood this “HAVE TO” attend thing of binding decision. How can they force you to attend if you change your mind? Do they just bill you for the full tuition and then put it into collections if you refuse to pay it? (I know this might read as sarcastic, but I really do not understand!)

          1. Doodle*

            Many of the top tier schools share lists — if a student backs out of early decision at one of them, they will be auto rejected from all of the others. I know this because a close high school friend of mine had to take a year off and reapply: she got in early decision (binding) to, say, Wellesley, and then wanted to back out when she found out she also got into, say, Yale. No go. (Though she did get into Yale the second time also and attended.)

    3. Ree*

      My husband and I have talked about how difficult we found applying/looking at colleges and we graduated high school in 2001(him) and 2007(me).
      Neither of our four parents attended college and none of them(especially mine) encouraged/offered to visit colleges, help with applications(mine were shocked that I had to pay to apply and pretty much thought I was making that up) and mine didn’t pay for even my SAT or ACT test fees. We both ultimately ended up attending our local community college where I dropped out after two semesters due to cost and he graduated with an associates degree.
      He ended up returning to a state school to finish his bachelors degree in 2011 and I returned to finish my degree in 2016(and will be graduating this summer thanks to an accelerated program)
      I should add we both came from middle class families capable of encouraging and paying for application fees and college visits yet both our parents basically stopped parenting after age 16. I think we both would have gone to college and finished the first time if we’d been able to see another college besides our own local CC.
      All this to say:
      Parents, even if your kids don’t want your help, help in any way you can, even if just to bankroll parts of the whole process. I’m downright resentful that my parents didn’t seem to care and still don’t care/understand student loans and it’s frustrating more so as an adult than it was as a high school student.

      1. Betsy*

        I think it is especially important for kids who are first in their family to attend college to be able to access some kind of support. I agree that there’s so much you just don’t know about college if neither of your parents have been. In my case, I did everything myself, except my school took us on one trip to see a university and take some mock classes in one of the programs. Because that was all I knew about university, I ended up enrolling in that program, which didn’t end up to be a good fit.

        I ended up changing majors within that program, so it was all OK in the end. However, it would have been great if someone went through with me and just figured out basic stuff like what I liked and was good at, and which programs might lead to a successful career. I think, in retrospect, I would have been better suited to the Social Sciences, although I was not really aware of that at the time, and kind of floundered around changing majors until I settled on something that I liked. I also was the kind of kid who worried a lot about the future, so enrolling in something that had good job prospects and was quite practical probably would have helped alleviate some of that anxiety.

        1. Jessica WSVH*

          Agreed! My parents didn’t go to college and my high school didn’t have much in the way of guidance. I also floundered around changing majors feeling lost and eventually left without finishing after three years (finished later when I was much older). I started college in 1997 and did some of my own research, but in those days it consisted of grabbing brochures from a college fair. I ended up enrolling at the university one town over and I wonder if I would have ended up elsewhere if I had guidance of some kind.

    4. Full Speed Ahead*

      I know many of my generation and those until recently did everything on their own. But things really really have changed, and IMHO not for the better.

      I am not a helicopter parent. My daughter has plotted her course throughout High School and chosen the path she has wanted to take. But have you seen the cost of college these days? It will probably end of being between 40k -60 k PER YEAR, so 160k – 240k. And I have two kids, and somehow didn’t quite save that amount. So we will see how it all shakes out with college choices, acceptances, scholarships, grants, and loans, but I do think helping my daughter in this choice that could have decades long ramifications for student loans, is a good thing.

      Thanks for the advice about Greek life – and other things – I appreciate it.

      1. Natalie*

        I don’t think you need to plan for quite that much? The most expensive US college is $60K/year, that’s not anywhere close to the average!

        1. Kewlmom*

          Actually, when you include other required fees, books, etc, it can be significantly more. Just looked up my son’s alma mater online for 2017: Northwestern University Tuition Summary. Tuition and fees at Northwestern University are $49,047 USD without financial aid. With room, board, and other fees combined, total cost of attendance is $68,060 USD

          1. Natalie*

            Regardless, I’m talking about typical costs, not possible worst case scenarios. Private colleges’ average tuition is a fair bit lower than Northwestern and it’s an unusual student that pays full freight at a private college, in my experience. Public colleges (in or out of state) are obviously lower still.

            1. Jules the Third*

              Avg private school tuition: $35K (collegedata dot com), which with $15K cost of living / fees / etc = $50K/year. While Northwestern’s a good school, it’s not MIT, Harvard or Yale, so it’s not even a ‘worst case scenario’. California’s public schools are $30K/year (tuition + living), Texas’s are $25K; even though you’re technically right that it’s not as much as $60K / year, it’s still the most significant financial decision these kids have made in their lives.

              Full Speed Ahead is right, it is important for parents to help with this.

            2. Kewlmom*

              Well, you said “The most expensive US college is $60K/year…” which is not the case in my experience. That is all.

      2. The Grammarian*

        The school I attended, a state school in Louisiana, had significantly lower tuition per year. For the meal plan, books and materials, and tuition for an in-state undergrad, it is currently $17,519 (just tuition and fees is $8,854), and for an out-of-state undergrad, it is $22,355 (just tuition and fees is $13,690). It was lower than that when I attended (1999-2003, then 2004-2007 for grad school).

        State schools can provide good value, especially if your students works to get internships and makes use of student services (career services, tutoring centers, academic advisors, etc.–these folks not only help in their areas, but can also find work and scholarship opportunities for students). I worked in writing centers and taught for eight years, so I saw this up close and was one of those staff members who helped students with their scholarship essays, told them about student work opportunities, connected them with professors who could help them with their interests, and so on.

        1. The Grammarian*

          I will add also that I, along with many others in my college class, received full scholarships to this state school, and I only had one tiny loan after grad school that I paid off within a year of graduating. There is something to be said for not graduating with a huge amount of debt.

        2. Becky*

          At the university I attended, undergrad tuition is currently around $2,800 per semester (just tuition, fees and textbooks can vary by class but usually end up totaling less than $300 per semester). That’s about double what I paid when I started, but still nowhere near some schools. The other popular university in the area is about the same. The state university is about $3,500 per semester. The big name elite university a little farther north is about $8,000 per semester.

      3. Jill*

        If your daughter has selected good college prep classes completely on her own then you’re lucky. My son is a sophomore and if left to his own devices he would be taking the easiest classes possible to meet the graduation requirements with no understanding of what he needs to take to get into a good college. And by “good”, I mean a flagship state U, I’m not talking about Ivy league or anything like that. He has his sights set on a specific college and he didn’t realize that it would have specific admission requirements that are a bit above the HS graduation requirements.

        Some of us need to be more involved with our kids’ schooling because they need the guidance. Every kid is different. And just because one might need some extra parental involvement doesn’t mean he/she won’t be able to handle college.

        1. Full Speed Ahead*

          Yes, we got lucky with this first child – she’s very driven. The younger one sounds more like your son. She’s always done the least bit of work possible and doesn’t like to challenge herself. I’m sure we will be looking at a totally different set of colleges with her. And that’s ok.

          My daughters’ differences often have me believing in nature more than nurture.

    5. Kickin' Crab*

      I love Charlottesville! I was there for undergrad, many moons ago, and then returned for residency training. I almost took a faculty job at the med school but was seduced away by another academic medical center at the last minute. But C’ville is my heart’s home.

      For what it’s worth, even though UVa greek life is a definite presence, it’s totally possible to have a fulfilled social life without ever setting foot in a frat house. I lived in one of the residential colleges (Brown, aka the best) and made lifelong friends. We were all slightly eccentric and artsy and weird, and we loved each other for it.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I did! (Well, it was 12:30 here). Well done to the Americans, but I feel terrible for the Canadians.

      1. Artemesia*

        the Canadians were not showing fabulous sportsmanship in their physical attempts to beat up on the Americans. Very ‘unCanadian’ of them. Glad to see the US team win this one.

        1. super anon*

          Almost all of the “physical attempts” would be legal in men’s hockey and in the NHL. For some reason checking isn’t allowed in women’s hockey at all.

          The Canadian team deserved the loss (we played pretty badly toward the end of the game, especially in OT), but it’s a bit much to say we deserved to lose due to checking that wouldn’t even make anyone bat an eye in Men’s hockey (especially when the American team was also being physical, it just wasn’t getting called by the refs most of the time).

          1. Artemesia*

            It’s okay in the game we aren’t playing isn’t a very convincing argument. Sort of like, ‘it is okay because I can smoke it in Colorado.’ A lot of poor sportsmanship.

            1. super anon*

              It’s almost like you didn’t read the second half of my comment.

              It’s not untoward to bring up the fact that body checking is totally fine (and encouraged!) in men’s hockey, because there isn’t a logical reason for it to be banned in women’s hockey. It’s especially ridiculous to claim we deserved to lose because the women engaged in behaviour that, again, is totally fine in the other gender’s game of hockey and is only banned for women because they’re women.

              I’m not even going to touch that absurd legal marijhuana strawman.

      2. TardyTardis*

        But now it’s the Canadian’s turn to keep Justin Bieber! See, there was a rumored bet going on four years ago that whoever lost the gold had to keep him, and the men lost to Canada back in 2014 in Sochi.

    2. Your Weird Uncle*

      I’m from a tiny town in Wisconsin where 3 of the US curlers are from (2 on the women’s team and 1 from the men’s) and we are so proud! My husband curls and apparently the curling club was open and broadcasting the game (we were too tired to go), and I’m certain there are a lot of hangovers to be had today. :)

    3. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

      Me! For both. I’m in CST so it was a very late night for both curling and hockey. I feel bad for the Canadians and I’m not even mad about the one who took off the silver medal. She has a right to be what I like to call the angry!sad.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Nope, did not stay up.
      I did watch a little curling for the first time ever. Hahahahaha omg that was hilarious. It’s totally a bar game, y’all. You will neeeeever ever convince me otherwise. :D

      But I do see that it takes some skill.

  2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    Englanders, especially Londoners: how much is your electric bill per month/3 months/whatever, and have you had any luck with getting them to lower your bill (and if so, how?)?

    I got my bill earlier this month for 3 months’ worth of electricity. I don’t have a meter (long story, but I genuinely don’t have one and won’t be getting one), the electric company is charging me their estimated rates.

    I was also out of the country for more than a month of this time. I spoke with them before I left and tried to see if there was anything they could do. They said that without a meter I was out of luck, so I was planning to eat the cost, which made me angry, but I already feel pretty taken advantage of here, so this was just more of that.

    But the bill is so much higher than I was expecting. Which is why I’m trying to calibrate my expectations to see if I’m being hideously overcharged or if things really are that expensive here–more than 500 pounds for (admittedly winter) 3 months. If it had been 200 or 300, I’d just eat the cost and grumble, but this is really going to be difficult for me.

    So is there anything I could do to try to convince them to lower what I have to pay, even just this one time because I was gone for so much of it? Like email them my plane ticket confirmation or anything like that?

    1. Cristina in England*

      I have a feeling that the long story behind why you have no meter may come into play here, would you mind sharing?

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Basically, my property management company doesn’t seem to believe I don’t have a meter. They’ve told me where it is. I’ve looked there. There’s no meter there. I can’t get them to come out and verify that there’s no meter, so I’m just going to assume that I’m going to continue to not have a meter.

        1. Jess*

          They don’t believe you because it would be unheard of for a self-contained flat to not have a meter. It might not be in the flat. It might be outside the building, or in a random cupboard in the common stairwell, or in the weirdest place imaginable, but you must have a meter somewhere…and if you can find it and give the utility company your proper readings, they will be able to give you a bill based on the energy you’ve used.

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            Nope, they’ve told me exactly where it was and given me a key for it (I don’t have a key to the area where it is). I’ve gone and looked there. It is not there. I’ve shown them pictures of where my meter is not. At this point I don’t know what else I could do to get them to believe me short of, like, going to their office and physically dragging someone there.

            1. Ruby Shoes*

              Their records may be inaccurate, but there ought to be a meter SOMEWHERE on the property. Have you looked elsewhere? There are a lot of random places meters can be, including outside. Have you asked the power company to help locate it?

              I think finding the meter ought to be your priority here. Otherwise you are going to pay extortionate amounts for estimated bills on a regular basis and you really don’t have much comeback.

              1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

                It is really not there. I’ve looked everywhere. It’s not outside. It’s not in this weird wall cabinet I have where other electrical stuff is. It’s not in any of my closets. It’s not where the property manager said it would be. It’s not with the other meters (which is not where the property manager said mine would be). Unless it’s actually inside a neighbor’s apartment, it isn’t there. And two power companies (the one the previous tenant was using and the one I’m using) have both said they have no record of where the meter is.

                1. Jess*

                  Given you’ve already done all the searching for it, it sounds like it’s going to be a right pain to fix and as PX says downthread you’re going to have to make a fuss – I’d suggest both with the property management company and with the energy company sending you the ridiculous bills. I’ll attach some links in a reply – sorry you’re having to deal with this hassle.

                2. Jess*

                  Ofgem are the regulator – I don’t think you’d be able to get them involved right now, but if you’re not getting anywhere with the energy company a complaint to them can be helpful. Their website has a wealth of info and data too : https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/energy-guides

                  It would also be worth checking their typical consumption guides: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/gas/retail-market/monitoring-data-and-statistics/typical-domestic-consumption-values

                  Uswitch is a switching website but gives estimates and is pretty well thought of: https://www.uswitch.com/

        2. Em Too*

          I’m no expert, but what happens if you ask the *company* to come out and find/read your meter? If no-one can find one, whose responsibility is it to put one in? I’d think you’d have a good case for a reduction as pretty certain it’s not your responsibility to measure it properly.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      This is really hard to answer because I don’t know how they could possibly bill you correctly without a meter. Our bills are extremely low but are apparently about a quarter of the average – we pay around £50 a month for both gas and electricity. Every time we move we have an argument where they say it won’t be enough, but we’ve always persuaded them by giving meter readings. With estimated bills you can get any overpayments back once you have an accurate bill.

      I am struggling to advise without knowing why you don’t have a meter or can’t get one but would advise you to try talking to Citizens Advice in the first instance. Your bill does sound really high to me. Your supplier should also have some provision for people on low incomes and a priority register for people with disabilities and illnesses. If any of that applies to you then you could try talking to the vulnerable client team. But CAB is perhaps your best bet to start with. And do bear in mind they will need to know why you don’t have a meter.

      I did wonder if you perhaps think a meter is a bad thing? Or that you can’t have one? I don’t suppose you have seen the standard line in tenancy agreements about not getting a pre pay meter installed and thought you can’t have a meter at all? That just means you can’t have a particular kind of meter.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh yeah and we are in a creaky old three-bed house with bad insulation. But we don’t put the heating on that much. (Don’t need to. Apparently I am descended from polar bears or something.)

      2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        It’s not that I think having a meter is a bad thing. I’d prefer to be charged for just what I used. But I don’t think I’m going to get one before I move out (see my above response to Cristina in England).

        What I was told by the electric company is that they charge people who don’t provide meter readings an average or expected rate, i.e. based on how much electricity they think a “normal” person would use. And given that it’s winter, I was expecting it to be somewhat high, just not *this* high.

        I didn’t think I could use Citizens Advice Bureau (there’s one very close to where I live) because I’m not a citizen, but I’ll look into it.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          CAB should be able to help. I think they also have webchat?

          As to your meter, if the inventory says you have one then you do need someone to verify it. It’s possible your energy company might be able to find it. It is absolutely not ok for you to be overcharged due to the meter being awol – please do try CAB.

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            My inventory doesn’t say one way or the other whether I have a meter. (There’s a spot for “meter” on the list and I don’t remember exactly what it says, but it’s inconclusive somehow.)

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Doesn’t matter if you are a citizen or not, they are essentially consumer advocates.

          I would call or webchat with them first before stopping in the office.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      That sounds way out of line cost wise, unless you are living in a massive detached house somewhere and running the house at 75F all the time. And if this climate was Siberia.

      We have a 2bd 2bath semi-end of terrace and set our heating to 16C or so (upstairs gets hot, downstairs stays cold regardless of what you do and we never spend time down there anyway) and I want to say we paid £40 a month tops so far this winter. We haven’t been gone at all either. The meter reader guy comes every so often and they have since adjusted us from estimated use (something closer to £100!!). Thats our gas bill, I think electric is somewhere in the £20 range. (Other half confirmed combined electric and gas was £73 last month) I am guessing you are in a smaller place than us. One thing to keep in mind is that a drafty place can drive higher heating costs or, alternatively, if you have some F-d up wiring (and believe me, Ive yet to live in a place that didnt have faulty wiring or faulty plumbing) you could be paying for the hall lights.

      Did you ask them how they are able to estimate your usage without a meter? Or is there a meter but it doesn’t reside in your flat? For instance, if your place was an old house or flats subdivided, sometimes the measuring bits are somewhere else. There has to be one somewhere (since you obviously aren’t on a prepayment/cash meter). Does your landlord know where it is?

      Otherwise you may want to ring up Citizens Advice and see what they may have to suggest – this is something I haven’t heard of before unless the meter is somewhere else. At that point you need to gain access to it in order to read it properly and send the info to the provider, who will then credit your account.

      1. Buu*

        I’ve lived before in studio bedsits that have one meter for the building so I paid inclusive rent. Part of me is wondering if your place has been divided badly and you’re paying for more than one flat.

    4. WellRed*

      I live in the US so no advice. However, estimating vs reading a meter: I had a utility company do this every other month. The estimated months were considerably higher so I requested read every month.

    5. Jess*

      Mine is about £50 per month for both gas and electric in a small flat, though that’s with lots of shopping around for the best deal – I feel like I probably use more of both than the average though.

      I’m afraid I also don’t see how they can possibly be billing you without a meter…plus, utilities are fairly well known for high estimates unless you have meter readings, and they run on ancient legacy IT systems and quite often have shockingly little idea of what’s what – I would definitely recommend both money saving expert and citizens advice for dealing with them.

      When I was a student we had a weird situation with meters in a flat that was a house that had been subdivided into flats badly – we had both a gas and electric meter in our flat, but it turned out there was also a gas meter outside the flat that our flat was responsible for, and one year we got a huge bill because the energy company had just realised this (we didn’t know either) and billed us for several years worth at once. It all got sorted out in the end, but wasn’t easy. I’ve also had flats where the meters weren’t in the flats themselves but the meters for all the flats were in a cupboard under the stairs you needed a special meter key to get into, and that sort of thing.

    6. Triple Anon*

      That’s truly insane. When I run the AC all day every day during 100F + weather, my bill is lower. That’s for a house. (In the US.)

      There must be an explanation. Someone or something is using a lot of electricity. Is it possible that you share your services with all or part of another unit without knowing it? How are your appliances? What do you leave on and what condition is everything in? Could there be something weird about the building’s wiring or something that uses electricity? Like maybe a quirky old heating system?

      Anyway, if you rent, I’d start by contacting the landlord. Or have a professional check it out. Maybe an electrician could help. If you rent and it’s related to the building, not something you own, maybe the landlord could help with the cost and fix whatever the problem is. But it could also be a mistake, considering that you don’t have a meter. This is advice from the US, but I’d go to their office and talk to someone in person. That usually leads to the best results.

    7. PX*

      More than 500 pounds for 3 months is absolutely taking the piss. Tell them to provide you exactly what estimates they are using (ie how many kWh they have estimated) and then you can go to various energy or moneysaving comparison websites and do your own comparison. I live a decadent lifestyle and keep my house really warm in the winter and even by my standards, an expensive amount is 80 pounds per month for both gas and electricity combined. Seriously, make a fuss about this.

      Also follow Ramona Flowers advice and call the CAB – its not just for citizens, it basically means anyone who lives in the UK can use them. Call the helpline and talk to someone.

      Also, when you call them and make a fuss, complain about having no meter for a reading. If your property management company say there is one but you say there isnt, MAKE A FUSS. I know from some of your previous posts that you’re finding things hard here and it might seem like this is a lot of effort, but if you dont want to pay this overpriced bill (which it absolutely is), then you will have to make a fuss, and in this scenario, if the energy company need a meter reading, and the management company say there is a meter – make them prove it by coming and showing you exactly where it is.

      Sorry, this sounds like a sucky situation.

      1. Amey*

        I agree, this sounds like far far too much – I have a family of four and a four bedroom house (and I’m on maternity leave so I’m home a lot) and this is far more than we pay. I know it’s a huge hassle but I’d try again to locate the mythical meter (and I agree that the electric company might be able to find it.) It really may well be specific to your flat but in a different part of the building altogether. I think you could also argue hard against their estimate based on number of people living in the property, work etc. I second trying the CAB to help you make this case – citizenship is absolutely not required.

      2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Any recommendations for links to reputable energysaving/moneysaving UK-centric websites?

        In theory, I’m totally down with making a fuss. The issues I’m running into here are that a) I have to make a fuss about EVERYTHING for anything to get done (and I’m a low-energy person, and making a fuss takes so. much. energy.), and b) most of the time, even after all my fuss-making, I’m still not winning these battles. IOW, I came, I saw, I definitely have not been conquering. But it’s good to know that this one in particular really is worth fighting.

        1. PX*

          I would say two of the more common and well known ones are moneysupermarket (just google moneysupermarket energy) and which (their specific energy website will be switch.which.co.uk); they will usually ask you to put in some details about where you live, the type of house you live in and your estimated usage (so use the amount from your bill) and then give a projection of how much it should cost you. Any individual energy company will also have their own estimator available so you can also try those (eg british gas, ovo energy, edf energy etc).

          Hope this helps! Sorry your time here has been so much effort :/ If you need any more tips or advice happy to try and help.

        2. Bagpuss*

          Try http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/
          £500 for 3 months sounds insane. My electricity bill was £75 for the last 3 months. If your heating is electric rather than gas then I’d expect yours to be higher, but not that high.
          It seems to me that there may well be a situation where “your” meter is actually one for more than one flat, or even for the building as a whole. – it might be worth contacting your supplier and asking them to fit a smart meter for your property…
          Another option may be to contact OfGem to see whether they can advise.
          Failing that, try contacting the money/consumer page of a National Paper and see whether they an assist – try Consuer Champions in the weekend guardian, or Jessica Investigates in the Telegraph. bad publicity for your supplier may get results.
          Also check out, and follow, your provider’s complaint process.

        3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          You have to make a fuss for just about anything and everything in this country regarding money and service, I swear. Dealing with UK “service” providers make dealing with Comcast or Time Warner look like a walk in the park. I would suggest bracing yourself now for the move out costs as your agency will knock you for cleaning expenses if all of you are moving out of the house.

          For energy/money saving now you would have to maybe switch providers, which won’t work without a meter reading. Moneysavingexpert as noted above is a good, well-known comparison site, there is also Go Compare. Start with the former as they have lots of information on the site. The electricity regulator Ofgem also has information on their site on switching, including some handy info on complaining:

          https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/complain-about-your-gas-or-electricity-bill-or-supplier

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            LOL. I actually just compared Comcast favorably to some of my experiences here to a friend earlier today.

      3. LAI*

        I agree about making a fuss. I once got a water bill that was like 8 times what it normally should be and had to call/email the water company about once a days for a couple of weeks before we could figure out why. It turns out they had switched my meter with my neighbor, who had had a water leak that month. They were very helpful throughout but it took a while and was a pain. I did consider giving up and just paying it several times, but I’m glad I stuck with it and got it figured out.

    8. Apollo Warbucks*

      Check out the compare the market website you can get quotes and estimates and see offers from lots of providers and also get a fee meerkat!

        1. Lynda Bowen*

          OK, I would recommend that you contact the Energy Ombudsman straight away, especially since the billing company “have no record of the meter”. If they haven’t suggested they send someone out to look for it, then that’s indicative of bad training and you’d be better off going into complaint mode now. They can be phoned or you could use their online form.
          Also, mention what appliances you have and if the heating in the property is powered by gas or electric; let them know how many times you’ve contacted the company about the bill.

    9. caledonia*

      I would a) complain to the company and b) escalate. Use social media if you have it, tagging them in posts, posting to their walls/pages and generally kicking up a fuss. Contact people like those who solve consumer issues like in the guardian.

      To complain, I think that moneyexpert and moneysupermarket will have scripts you can use. Also your management rental company sucks and you should get someone out in person as well.

      That is far far too much money.

    10. Yetanotherjennifer*

      This is a complete wild card thought, but it sounds like you may be in an older building and maybe even a converted house or something. I’m in the US, and on my phone, so my apologies if I’m repeating someone else or being completely ignorant on how things work there. Is it possible that your apartment used to be part of someone else’s apartment and that’s where the meter is? And if that split predates the current managers, they may have been told there was a meter when there actually wasn’t. Do you have a fuse box? If so, you can maybe trace the main wire going into the box and see where it leads. And if you don’t have your own box, then that may be a clue that you’re on someone else’s meter. Also, can you talk directly to maintenance and do they maybe predate current management and would have a better idea about the history of the building? Truthfully, I think sharing someone else’s meter after all this time would be an unholy mess to straighten out, but I think it’s either that or it’s behind a wall somewhere. Good luck!

    11. misspiggy*

      Contact the Guardian consumer advice page. They often get companies in line due to threat of bad publicity.

    12. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      And a follow-up question:

      This is a lot more egregious than I thought, I guess, and it’s not going to be resolved by the time payment is due (this week). Is it normally best in this type of situation to pay the whole thing and hope for a refund, pay a little bit as a sign of good faith, or pay nothing? I’ve never not paid a bill in full before the deadline before in any country, and I think I’m not Googling the right things.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        (I.e., if I don’t pay the full thing on Thursday, say, do they have the right to cut off my electricity on Friday? If I’ll still have electricity and just have some late fees tacked on, is it likely that I’ll still have to pay the late fees if I get the bill lowered? etc.)

        1. Jess*

          Honestly, you’re best talking to citizens advice – they will be able to tell you what the best thing to do is. Energy utilities can cut off your electricity, break into your flat to fit a prepayment meter, etc for unpaid bills, so it’s different from many other situations with bills. Citizens advice will be able to help though.

          1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

            I understand. I’m just worried about what would happen if I can’t get in contact with them before the deadline.

            1. Jess*

              I’d phone the supplier and ask them to send you a new bill, saying it’s a small flat, you were away for over a month, ridiculous level of bill. Throw words like student and hardship around. If they agree to cancel the bill and send a new one, great – take the name of the person who says that. If not, I’d ask to file a complaint and get clarity on if you need to pay the bill when it’s being disputed – I can’t say for sure, but there’s a good chance that you won’t have to. Ask them to come out and find the meter themselves if they need to.

              I wouldn’t take the risk of not paying a utility bill without going through the above, just because the company’s internal systems are so chaotic. I think there’s a decent chance you can stall on needing to pay the bill by phoning them up though.

            2. Jules the First*

              Just FYI, I didn’t pay my absurdly enormous British Gas bill for three months while we argued about it. They sent me to collections and sent about twenty versions of the bill, buy they did not cut off my utilities. That may just be British Gas, though.

              If your property manager insists you have a meter, they should know exactly where it is because they will have had to take readings when tenants move in and out (and your tenancy agreement or inventory should have a move-in reading). It’s not always intuitive which meter is which if there are a bunch of them in a cupboard; your bill will have a meter identification number on it which will also be on the meter itself that can help.

              In the meantime, here’s what you do:
              – hop over to ukpowernetworks dot co dot uk and use their “what’s my MPAN” tool. If you get an MPAN in response, you have a meter somewhere. If not, call the number on the site and they should be able to advise you
              – your supplier is obliged to make “reasonable efforts” to read your meter every two years. They (or UKPN) should have some sort of notes on file to help them figure out where your meter is. Call and ask when they last actually read it.
              – explain to your supplier that you can’t pay the bill in full and that the amount is almost certainly wrong because of your household size (that’s a year’s worth of bill for a single-person household)
              – if all else fails, ask them to check the accuracy of your meter. You may be charged (usually about £50) when they come out and establish that it’s correct, but at least then you know where it is.

    13. Jen Erik*

      That’s more than we’re paying – for a 6 bedroom detached cottage, built more than 200 years ago so no insulation, no double-glazing, plus someone was at home all the time because my elderly mother was ill – which also meant we had the heat on a truly improbable amount. (Also it’s a good deal colder here than London.)

    14. Adereterial*

      What’s the property like? House, flat, studio? All electric or is your heating gas? What tariff are you on?

      I pay about £45 a month for electricity to hear a smallish 4-bed detached newish build house, but about £80 in gas for heating, hot water and cooking.

      I also have an all electric 1-bed flat in a converted Victorian terrace and that costs me about £60 a month, for everything, as there’s no gas supply, so I’m stuck with electric heaters for heating.

      Both of those that was an average over the year – the winter months are much more expensive but as you don’t normally need much heating in the warmer months, it evens out.

      When I lived in London I had a small, purpose built studio that had communal heating and hot water, so I only paid for electricity to light the place, and to cook. That was about £25 a month, with much less seasonal variation. A little more in summer as I was inside much more as I don’t like the heat so I spent more time inside with fans on.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        It’s part of a house that’s been converted into apartments. Heat is electric, but I kept it off when I wasn’t home (and I was gone for more than a month). I don’t know the tariff–I’ll look that up.

        1. LondonAnon*

          I live in a converted Victorian flat in London (top floor) and my meter is in my neighbour’s basement flat. Smart goes for the first floor flat’s meter. We have to ask our neighbour for monthly readings. It’s ridiculous but at least we get charged what be use. Can you knock on your neighbours’ doors and find out?

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            Our last place was a (badly) converted flat that made two flats out of one above a shop on a high street. To read our meter on move in and move out we had to go downstairs to the burger restaurant and ask nicely to read the meter which required removing a padded seat cushion, moving a table, lifting up the top of a benched seating area, twisting oneself and sticking a phone down a hole to take a photo of the display. I think that was for gas – electric was outside our flat in the hall, but the wiring was weird to the point where we had the hall lights on our circuit board – whenever we got pissed off at the dudes upstairs we just flipped the circuit on the lights in the hall and made them stumble around in the dark coming home from the clubs :P

    15. NeverNicky*

      I’ve spoken to Mr NeverNicky (in a “someone on a forum is having problems” no names given, who is an energy consultant. His advice
      1. Insist an the property manager inspecting property and showing absence of meter – you should have been shown the meter on moving in and taken readings but that bird has flown. Double check that none of the other meters are in fact yours.
      2. Contact supplier and in absence of accurate reading suggest a smaller payment until they can give you a correct reading.
      3. Electricity companies are obliged to read meters every two years. If this hasn’t been done for you and last tenant then that’s likely to have been exceeded and that’s a licence issue (ie big fricking deal).
      4. Ultimately the distribution company should be able to tell you where the meter is – but so should the property company/landlord – see 1.

      For any other tenants – always always see and read the meters when you move in even if you aren’t changing supplier.

    16. only acting normal*

      I second the recommendations for moneysavingexpert and the Guardian consumer column, and for demanding to know where the phantom meter is and when the last real reading was.
      £500 is more than my quarterly dual fuel bill for a 4 bed detached – bonkers for a flat.

  3. Ramona Flowers*

    We are finally seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tomorrow! (Bought the tickets over a year ago.) And then on Monday I’ve taken a day off and am seeing Lady Bird and The Shape of Water – I love daytime cinema trips but haven’t been for ages so I’ve treated myself to a double bill. I am very excited.

    1. G*

      Oh I really want to go see that! I’m a big Harry Potter fan. I asked my Mum if we could go for my 21st instead of me having a party but she said it was too expensive. In the end we did the family tradition of inviting all the female members of our family on a theatre trip (although we usually do this for 60th birthdays) and went to see the Lion King instead. That was quite good. My Auntie said the West End version was better than the Broadway version because of the actors coming down the aisles in their costume.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I don’t know how much it cost as they were a gift but I know it was really hard to get tickets!

        Thanks all. This is good self-care stuff for me.

    2. Al Lo*

      I was in London 2 weeks ago and saw it. It was fantastic! I’m a theatre professional, and there’s not a lot of theatre magic that can truly shock me (I love it, and I’m not cynical about it, but I can usually see it coming), but Cursed Child honestly made me gasp with some of what happened onstage.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Enjoy! The Harry Potter play is *really* well done – the on stage magic is amazing. And even from the stalls not easy to work out how they are doing it.
      Where re your seats?
      (by the way, if you want to buy merch. when i went, the queue was much shorter before the play starts than they were in the interval)
      I don’t very often see plays more than once but I am going back to HP this summer (after all, it is a new cast!)
      Be warned, though, if any of your party is tall they will be uncomfortable, the seats, and legroom, are not generous!)

    4. Bagpuss*

      Enjoy! The Harry Potter play is *really* well done – the on stage magic is amazing. And even from the stalls not easy to work out how they are doing it.
      By the way, if you want to buy merch, when i went, the queue was much shorter before the play starts than they were in the interval.
      I don’t very often see plays more than once but I am going back to HP this summer (after all, it is a new cast!)
      Be warned, though, if any of your party is tall they will be uncomfortable, the seats, and legroom, are not generous!)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Ohhhh The Shape of Water is soooo good. I cried and cried. You will love it! I’ll probably rent Lady Bird–I usually only go to the cinema for blockbusters or something I just can’t wait for, like the del Toro.

      I’m kinda jealous about HP. I read the play, and while I don’t really think of it as canon, I still enjoyed it for what it was.

  4. grace*

    Have any of you had minor allergies to cats and adopted one anyway? Did the allergies go away?

    A little backstory: I recently moved to live on my own for the first time and oh-my-gosh-it’s-so-quiet and — I finally have the time and space and means to have a cat, but I recently figured out that I’m mildly allergic. It’s nothing serious – my eyes and throat get itchy – but annoying enough that I’m hesitating, especially since it’s a one bedroom and I’d be keeping it out of the bedroom itself until I’ve (hopefully!) adjusted. I’ve had cats when I was younger and nothing like that happened, so I’m hoping I can eventually get used to a specific cat, but obviously haven’t had the chance to practice that out in real time. Google says it’s possible but I’d rather hear if real people have done it haha

    1. G*

      My mother is allergic to anything with fur but she’s always owned some sort of pet. She takes her anti-allergy medicine every day and she trains them to stay off the sofa and to stay downstairs. With our cat though she only succeeded in training her to stay out of her bedroom. Well not so much trained as the cat knew perfectly well what she wasn’t supposed to do and just chose which rules suited her.

      1. grace*

        Hahaa my boyfriend keeps his cats out of his room too if only because he closes the door, so I expect it won’t be easy… but I just want my pillow to be a safe zone for my eyes lol. Thanks for this! Did she see a doctor or anything about them? I take a Zyrtec often anyway but if it’ll help with the cat I’ll just do it all the time.

        1. G*

          She does have a prescription for her allergy pills but she is also allergic to pollen and cut grass and I think her pills also help her deal with that too.

    2. MissCPA*

      I had cats growing up even though I was allergic. Now when I go home I do notice that my allergies act up but it is because I am not used to being around cats all the time. I think your body would adjust.

      1. grace*

        Thank you! This is pretty much what I’ve been hoping for, but I’m still a little cautious. Now I guess it’s just deciding the right time to actually pull the trigger :)

      2. LavaLamp*

        Add Allegra and maybe pick up some visine allergy. Those things help me out when I’m really allergic to something.

    3. mandassassin*

      I used to have a mild cat allergy, but living with a cat did get rid of it in fairly short order. I don’t recall the exact time frame, but certainly before a year was up I had stopped having symptoms. It is possible! Though for some reason I’m super allergic to Siamese cats, I haven’t had a reaction to any other kitty. In the meantime, you could vacuum a lot/make sure your air filters are clean/maybe run an air cleaner.

    4. Turtlewings*

      I’m mildly allergic to dogs and cats both (but especially cats) and it hasn’t kept me from living with them! If I’ve gone a long time without a cat in the house, then I do have to acclimate to being with one — days, maybe weeks of runny/itchy nose and eyes, gradually tapering off. For years I did make a point of keeping the cat(s) out of my bedroom, and honestly that’s probably smarter — give your system a place where it can rest — but eventually I caved and have never looked back. I do recommend keeping a close eye on your symptoms because anaphylactic shock is nothing to mess around with, but it’s definitely possible to acclimate to having a cat.

      1. grace*

        Thanks! My boyfriend has a serious allergy, so we’re pretty cautious about anaphylaxis, but I don’t think it’ll develop that much. I volunteered in the shelters all the time in college, and really only put two and two together about why I was always having to take out my contacts afterwards, lol.

    5. Reba*

      Yeah, it depends on the cat. I had not-nice allergies to my sister’s late cat, no reaction at all to my brother’s. My BIL had a wonderful cat for many years, occasionally taking some allergy pills, and the next cat they got eventually had to be rehomed because his reaction to her was so bad. These were all shelter cats/general housecats, so breed not really a factor.

      Keeping it out of the bedroom sounds smart. I hope you get a pet you love!

      1. grace*

        Oh, good point. Did you notice if that was long hair/short hair, or just the cat? I love long hair cats (I mentioned downthread I had shelties – I must just like dealing with tons of hair) but I’ve heard the allergens can be worse with them.

        1. EN*

          I never noticed allergies with our first cat (a long hair), but they started acting up when we moved into a new house and got a second cat (a short hair) at the same time. I got tested because I was worried I could be reacting to something in the house and found out about the cat allergy (among others). Some breeds of cats like our long hair (a Turkish van) are supposedly more hypoallergenic

          1. EN*

            I take a generic Zyrtec everyday, which works well. Before discovering the allergy, our long hair slept in our bed, but he’s not good in the house unsupervised, so now he has his own room.

    6. Compact*

      I grew up with cats, no allergies. I went to college, away from cats, and developed an allergy to cats – itchy jawline, itchy eyes, stuffy head. It did not go away when I adopted my felines. However, one loratadine tablet daily (Claritine D is the name brand) takes care of the allergy symptoms. I can tell when I forget to take it – my head gets stuffed up and my eyes get itchy. Worth it as I like my cuddle time with the furballs.

    7. Jess*

      I have minor allergies to pretty much everything (dust mites, hay fever, cats, dogs…) and I have 2 cats. Like you, I had cats when I was younger with no problems. The first couple of weeks after getting my two I had symptoms but it calmed down after that – I also take antihistamines daily anyway. They weren’t the first cats I’ve had as an adult and the same process of symptoms then getting used to it has happened with previous ones too. I do let them sleep on my bed, and I know my sinuses would probably be a bit happier if I didn’t, but I love my kitty cuddles too much.

      My dad is also allergic to cats, and has always suffered quite a lot with allergies while visiting me, but he and my mum adopted a cat last year and he’s been fine with that cat. I say get the cat!

    8. Deschain*

      I have allergies to most animals (and pretty much every tree and grass), but I’ve always had a cat or a dog. I manage my symptoms with a good bit of Benadryl and lots of hand washing. About 10 years ago, for the first time in my life, I adopted a second cat. Within a few months, I started having severe GI problems. A few months after that, my whole body was hurting. After nine months, 12 specialists, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy, etc., a doctor finally realized that I was suffering from an allergic reaction to food. Because I had no visible reactions, allergies weren’t an immediate thought. Turns out, because I was living in a multi-cat household with cat allergies, I’d developed something called cat-pork syndrome. At the time, it had gotten so severe that I tested positive for an allergy to pork, lamb, beef, milk, and eggs. I stopped eating all that stuff immediately and continued to do so until two years ago when I got retested. Currently, I only test positive for pork and lamb. But I still have my two cats! I probably won’t ever have another cat but I couldn’t give up my babies. The doctor, UVA allergist Dr. Platts-Mills, said that getting rid of them wouldn’t have helped once the allergy evolved. The only thing I have to be careful of is kissing my cats-if I kiss the top of their heads after they’ve bathed, my lips will swell up and burn and itch for hours.

      1. grace*

        Oh my gosh, that’s so scary! I’m glad you got it figured out and managed, I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.

        1. Deschain*

          Thank you! It was really hard and scary. I had doctors tell me that nothing was wrong with me, that I had fibromyalgia, arthritis, Crohn’s, IBS, etc. By the time I was diagnosed, I could only wear loose, soft clothing because my skin and stomach hurt too badly to have anything press on it. Going over a bump in the road was agony. It took about six months after eliminating the foods for my digestive tract to heal and for my body not to hurt constantly, but I do have IBS left over from the experience. If I had known that such a medical issue existed, I wouldn’t have gotten a second cat, but I also can’t imagine not having my sweet Bella, who had it much rougher than me–she was found in a dumpster and taken to the local animal shelter. Unlike my other cat (shown in my profile pic) who likes to go out in his cat kennel and enjoy grass and sunlight, Bella prefers to be indoors on an electric blanket.

          So, I would not discourage you from getting a cat, but just know the risks involved and definitely don’t adopt more than one. I work from home, so my cats (and my Labrador) are my constant companions and I can’t imagine my life without them.

    9. Nicole76*

      I have noticed that some cats bother people more than others and it’s not necessarily tied to the type of coat. It just really depends on the individual cat and how much of the protein (that causes the allergic reaction) they produce. My recommendation is for you to foster a cat if possible. That way you are simultaneously helping an organization while looking for that purrfect companion. Good luck!

      1. Deschain*

        I agree 100%. I’m much more allergic to the cat in my profile pic (Drizzt) than I am to the second cat that I adopted. I’ve had several residents tells me that this isn’t possible, but my actual allergist agrees.

    10. School Psych*

      I’m allergic to dogs and I have one. We have professional cleaners come every few weeks and hepa air filters in our home. She doesn’t sleep in our bedroom and we don’t have carpeting down in the majority of our house which helps. One thing to consider is if you have seasonal allergies is that your dog will become covered in things that might aggravate your allergies when they are outside. I was really suffering in the summer because the pollen in the environment would stick to my dog on a walk and then I’d react later on from the pollen in my home. I’ve also found my allergies act up on the days she goes to doggy daycare, since she’s playing with dogs that I don’t live with and therefore am still allergic to. I’m currently working with an allergist and getting allergy immunology shots. You may want to consider a visit to an allergist before adopting your dog. They can do tests to see how high your level of reaction is to certain allergens including dogs and give you advice about how to minimize your symptoms when living with an animal. My allergist has been very helpful with getting my symptoms under control on a long-term basis. Your body chemistry can also change and you can develop allergies to things you had a minimal reaction to before. I was allergic to dogs a child, but adopted my dog after I tested negative for allergies to dogs. Two years later, I was wheezing in my house and tested as being allergic to dogs again. You can develop a tolerance for your puppy,but be allergic to your adult dog when their coat changes. All this is not to say don’t adopt an animal. I don’t regret adopting mine at all, but there are a lot of things I didn’t consider allergy wise. I had no idea you can develop an allergy tolerance to your dog and then lose that tolerance later on.

      1. Nicole76*

        I didn’t realize that was possible either (the allergy tolerance) until my husband, who owned cats before meeting me, suddenly was having asthma attacks from the cats I started fostering a few years ago. Apparently he can no longer tolerate cats, and was even having allergic reactions to our dog when we first brought her home. Luckily he adjusted after about a month.

    11. Lily Evans*

      I grew up with cats and didn’t realize I was allergic until I lived without them at college, but I still adopted a cat once I got my own apartment! I just take Zyrtec every day to help fight the allergies. I also adopted a cat who doesn’t have a lot of dander. She’s long haired and gets hair everywhere, but that doesn’t bother my allergies the way short haired cats who are heavy dander producers do!

    12. Simone R*

      I moved into a house where my roommate had a cat, and I’m mildly allergic. I sneezed a lot for the first week and then it went away. I kept the cat out of my room, and whenever I gave in and let her in, I would start sneezing again.

    13. Typhon Worker Bee*

      My husband is mildly allergic but agreed to get cats anyway, on the condition that they not be allowed in the bedroom. (He’s mostly fine just being around them, but cat hair on his pillow would be a problem). I just asked him if it ever still bothers him (we’ve had them for ten years now) and he said it didn’t really ever go away, but as long as he doesn’t rub his eyes right after petting them it hasn’t been a problem for him.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      I tested as mildly allergic to cats, have had them for… 25 years. Not a noticeable thing with other mild pollenish allergies. Would you consider allergy shots? I’ve heard good things about them in this case–mild allergy and want a pet.

      I will say that despite having cats and dogs for years with no strong problem (dust mites are my killer allergy), I seemed to get itchy/sneezy after 24 hours with a bichon frise we found in the woods. So it’s certainly specific to individual breeds.

      1. School Psych*

        Allergy shots are a huge commitment(1x a week for a year and 1x a month for the year after that). I decided to do it because I am allergic to lots of other things besides my pet and my asthma symptoms were getting worse. I tried lots of other things before going this route(hepa vacuum, more frequent cleanings, air filters). The people in my Dr’s office who are down to their once a month shots rave about how much having the allergy shots have reduced their symptoms. I don’t know anyone who decided to do allergy shots for mild symptoms and I don’t think it would be worth it. If the OP has other allergies they are having trouble managing or the cat allergy is more of a moderate to severe allergy, I think the shots would be worthwhile.

    15. Cats On A Bench*

      I’m allergic to some cats, not to others. I basically react differently to each cat individually. Sometimes hives, sometimes itchy eyes, sometimes both, sometimes nothing. Something about it being an allergy to something in their saliva, not the fur. We’ve had 3 cats over the last 17 years and I reacted to 2 of them mildly, 1 of them not at all. Anyway, when we went to adopt our current cat (we were really looking to get a dog but my son fell in love with this cat), I rubbed my face all over him to see if I would react. Nothing. Great! We got him. Turns out he’s more attached to me than my son. He is my baby. I love him dearly. However, within a month of getting him my eyes started being itchy and irritated all the time and eventually I started waking up with my eyes nearly swollen shut! No hives and no respiratory symptoms so I can’t give him up… love him too much and my son is attached to him too. I am still trying to figure out ways to mitigate my allergy symptoms, but he will be the last cat I ever have because my eyes are itchy and swollen all. the. time. As much as I love him, had I known I would slowly become more allergic to him over time back when we met him, I would have told my son no to getting a cat.

    16. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      I’m mildly allergic and my limit seems to be 2.5 cats :) (I never quite get adjusted to a 3rd)

    17. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Constant exposure to your allergen can either make it better or make it much worse. If you do decide to get a cat, start taking allergy meds about 2 weeks before, and never stop. You may want to discuss with an allergist if you have one.

      I am allergic to one of my cats, but not the other. I’ve also been allergy tested and don’t test as allergic to cats. It’s just some cats that I have problems with, all of them have been black (no idea why). I take allergy meds year around and it’s a non issue unless I forget. It’s important to note that I didn’t start out allergic to her, it developed over several years. To help manage it, I change my bed sheets regularly, wash my hands/face after cuddling her (she’s not much of a cuddler so this is do able), vacuum at least weekly, etc.

      Even if you’re allergic to cats, you may still react differently to individuals. If you can, you’ll want to find one that you’re better with.

      1. blackcat*

        +1 to meds. I am quite allergic to cats. The only time I haven’t lived with a cat was in college (in a dorm). I take allegra, which I would need 6 months out of the year anyways for seasonal allergies (I am allergic to basically all pollen).

    18. LPUK*

      If you’ve only recently moved to live alone, and if that’s the reason you’re thinking of getting a pet, why not wait a couple of months and see how you feel then. Living alone can be a little strange at first, but you may find that you get comfortable with the quiet pretty quickly! I love it now

      1. grace*

        Not the only reason, but the first time I have a chance to actually have a pet, and as I noted down below, I just lost my dogs – I’m not quite ready for one of those yet :)

    19. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I am not allergic to cats, but I want to share that one of the cats I have loves to be vacuumed– perhaps training a cat to be vacuumed would help with dander control and lessen the allergic effect. I did not train him–can a cat ever be trained?–he came that way as a kitten from his foster mom who told me simply that she “vacuumed everything.” He’s now 12 years old and still gets excited and runs to me whenever when he hears the vacuum or hair dryer (I think he thinks I am vacuuming my hair).

    20. Thursday Next*

      I’m allergic to cats, and unfortunately became more allergic to them over the 18 years I had them. Keeping them out of the bedroom made a big difference for me, though I missed the cuddles in bed. The last couple of years I also took prescription allergy medication once daily.

      It’s about the one-year mark since we had to put our last cat down, and I miss him terribly.

      1. grace*

        I’m so sorry for your loss! We just lost the second of our two dogs, and it’s been awful – thinking of you!

        1. Thursday Next*

          Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. They really become a part of our hearts, don’t they? You’ll be in my thoughts as well.

    21. Clever Name*

      I’m allergic to cats (and dogs) and I have 2 cats and I work in a dog friendly office. I have found I tend to have less of a reaction to cats I’m around a lot, but now I take Flonase, and it’s seriously been life changing.

    22. Chaordic One*

      I share your allergy to cats. One thing that I’ve noticed is that my problems are greatly minimized if you keep your living areas clean. This means frequent vacuuming of carpets and upholstery and frequent dusting. It makes a world of difference.

    23. Teach*

      Our vet reports good results from a weekly bathing of the cat! She carries a gentle, dander-removing or reducing shampoo (no idea if this is different than regular cat shampoo) and says most cats get used to the routine pretty quickly.

    24. ScarlettNZ*

      I’m really allergic to cats and dust mites. I just take an antihistamine every day. There is nothing on this earth that will make me give up my cats!

    25. Knitter who lurks*

      didn’t quite read through all the replies, but maybe try fostering a cat? Then, if your allergies don’ flare up or your body adjusts, you can keep the cat.

      I grew up with lots of cats and always two dogs at any moment. My mom had severe allergies throughout my childhood, but she got allergy shots at the doctor’s. It worked for her and she’s grown out of the allergies now and only takes OTC pills.

    26. Amantha*

      Hang out with different cats and do a little research. There are breeds and even colors that you may react to less. I am allergic to cats and have had many, and also volunteer at a shelter.

      I should also mention that I bathe my cats, which helps A LOT with keeping dander down and allergies.

    27. Gingerblue*

      I’m another person who has mild cat allergies but adjusts after a week or so of being around cats. (Though keeping on top of vacuuming makes a big difference for me–if the fur builds up, I stop being okay again.)

    28. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      My mother is mildly allergic; it’s never gone away for her, but we got an allergy shampoo and bathed my cat weekly with it, and it made a huge difference for her. That and banning the cat from my parents’ bedroom made it perfectly livable for her, and she loved the cat as much as I did.

      Fortunately, my cat apparently came from the school of not getting violent in baths, but instead making the most pathetic sounds I’ve ever heard from an animal in my life to try and guilt me into not bathing him.

  5. Laura H*

    All the tax stuff is together. Hopefully can start to tackle that tomorrow.

    And the new food place by my work- I’ve enjoyed all the stuff I’ve tried! I think the kolaches/ pigs in a blanket are my favorite. The amount of non meat options for Fridays during Leng is nice. Had banana toast yesterday. Gonna try the baked oatmeal this coming Friday.

    Anyway I gotta get the shoes on to go to that which remains unmentioned on weekends.

    1. nep*

      Pigs in the blanket — first time I’ve heard/read reference to this outside of my family.
      Glad you’re liking the new food place.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        We are pigs (or dogs) in ablanket all the time when I was a kid. Best birthday party food! We used refrigerator biscuits for the “blanket”.

          1. nep*

            Perhaps this recipe originally — or sometimes — called for pork, hence pigs.
            (I currently don’t eat animals so it’s odd to think back on all the meat-based meals.)

          2. Aurora Leigh*

            That’s so interesting! For us it was a hot dog wrapped in a biscuit — I never knew it could be something else!

          3. Just a Concerned Third Party*

            I’ve always heard of these as just being “cabbage rolls.” With us, “pigs in a blanket” referred specifically to some kind of pork product wrapped in some kind of grain product, like a hotdog or other sausage in a dough or cornbread roll.

            Cabbage rolls are wonderful though, and I just realize I haven’t made them in quite a long time. I think I know what I’m doing tomorrow!

  6. Casca*

    This happened at work but I think I need to address it as a social issue (plus I always miss the work thread).
    A colleague and I were chatting and he randomly used Hitler as an example for something. I indicated I didn’t appreciate it and he said, “yeah, but he was an economic genius”. I just said nope but he kept saying you can’t just say nope without arguing the point (yes, you can!)
    But I ended up saying I didn’t think anyone who made it illegal to do business with Jews and otherwise worked against their own citizens was a good economic leader

    Then he remembere d I’m Jewish and said, “oh, I guess someone of your background might not think so” and he backed off.

    I don’t think he’s antisemitic, I think he was trying to be a provocative intellectual, but it sure sucked.
    I can’t imagine it’s going to come up again but I feel like the whole dynamic has changed. He doesn’t- he still jokes around – that’s his thing. Knowing it’s someone I can’t avoid, how do I deal with this and not just feel terrible that I’m being nice to a tool?

    1. Laura H*

      I have no advice… but the sound you just heard was either my jaw dropping to the floor or me grabbing the book of all the explosive expletives I know and chucking it at this moron’s concept of that infamous, horrid man. WTH??!

      I’m so sorry.

    2. Fiennes*

      I’d be an ass about it, and start referring to him in larger groups as “our Hitler fan.” Watch the others stare. Explain in full. See him sputter and backtrack. (Or double down and reveal his true colors, who knows.) This is not the most politic or nature way of handling it, but I like to put the burden of the awkward on the source of the awkward.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        TBH I really like the idea of referring to him as “the Hitler fan” around the office! Casca, you confronted him in the moment, and it sounds like you did so reasonably politely. You still only got him to “oh, I guess a JEW might be offended by a reference to Hitler”?! As though non-Jewish people would have no particular feelings about him.

        “Hitler was a bad guy but, dang, he was a great public speaker” and the like are for 14 year old contrarians on Reddit. No one needs to put up with that in their workplace, and the dude should be casually shamed to match how he casually praised a mass murderer.

          1. Casca*

            Yeah, but then it also does make me wonder what other non-Jewish people I newly meet think. I’ve met people (mostly at uni) who didn’t think Hitler was terrible. It seems to be becoming more mainstream to say things like that, I don’t know

            1. Muriel Heslop*

              I’m not Jewish. Hitler was a terrible, monstrous creature. (When I teach Anne Frank each spring, I underscore how horrible he was, as does my entire department. I hope it’s not mainstream to think otherwise! Never forget!)

            2. Triple Anon*

              I have noticed that too. People seem to forget that he was responsible for the deaths of about ten million people and the torture of many more, not to mention the far reaching impact of that and his other actions. And Jews were not the only group targeted. And this could happen again, especially if people keep trivializing it. There have been other large scale acts of genocide throughout history. It’s a danger that we face as humans and we need to guard against it, first and foremost by taking it seriously and considering it a bad thing. I don’t understand people . . .

              1. Casca*

                I did consider mentioning Hitler’s terrible treatment of gay people because the guy has a gay sister he mentions fairly often but I just wanted the conversation to be over. It sure is some kind of cognitive dissonance though

            3. Falling Diphthong*

              I can see some value in pushing back on the theme “Hitler achieved power through mind-control rays” rather than by hopping in front of a popular yet hateful movement. But not in anything that starts off “If you leave aside his genocide of multiple groups of people…”

              I would either refuse to engage, or if an explanation is needed something like “I don’t enjoy ‘provocative’ discussions about how Hitler was right.” Stop. Let him add the “because you’re Jewish” and I’ll bet some non-Jews in earshot will enlighten him.

            4. Elizabeth West*

              Not even the least bit Jewish here that I’m aware of, and I think he was the f*cking Anti-Christ. I wish I could go back in time and hold him down while Captain America knocks his block off. Then burn him alive.

            5. Observer*

              Well, in that case you’re learning something very valuable about people.

              You COULD ask him what he has to say about the economic chops of people like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and whatever other genocidal maniacs you can think of.

              1. BenAdminGeek*

                “I mean, other than the mass starvation, how bad WAS Mao?” is what I imagine his response would be.

        1. Parenthetically*

          14-year-old contrarians on Reddit YES, nailed it.

          And good Lord, Casca, please take all this advice.

        2. MissGirl*

          He was also a great painter. He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon, two coats.

          Oh the so-called intellectuals who love to push a controversial point. The only reason he got Germany’s economy back on track was by feeding a war machine. Not the best long-term strategy.

          1. Observer*

            And, he actually didn’t do that good of a job on that either.

            Also, I’d like to ask him if he REALLY thinks that dependence on slave labor (yes, lots and lots of slave labor, both in concentration camps and on farms in the “heartland”) is brilliant economics.

            It’s incredible how often people try to defend their moral trash with arguments that turn out to be factually incorrect moral trash.

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        I was going to say the sameL highlight him as “the Hitler admirer” or something similar in conversation with others and it will disappear. I teach middle school and it’s the technique I employ with people who act like this, who always seem to be 8th grade boys. Good luck!

    3. dr_silverware*

      Oh, ugh. You know, there’s a nonzero probability that he is actually quite antisemitic and that his internet history would be a nasty, nasty thing to see; but even if that’s not the case, you are more than welcome to be extremely put off by a “provocative intellectual.” More than one “provocative intellectual” has been a horrible piece of work.

      Honestly, I’d say don’t joke around with him, and be pleasant enough. Small, cool smiles & subject changes all the way.

      That said I am not perhaps not standing on the firmest foundation here since I basically responded with silence and changing the subject to an ex-coworker being a real tool in a very similar way and I’m still kind of bummed about that :(

      1. Slartibartfast*

        This. Cool politeness. You’re being paid to work with this guy. You don’t have to like your coworkers. You just can’t be openly hostile. And you certainly don’t have to speak to him off the clock.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      No advice, but that’s terrible!

      I thought the two co-workers who sit near me say problematic things, but yours takes the cake! (They were complaining yesterday about there are always “blacks, mexicans, and foreigners” in tv shows now . . .)

    5. DoctorateStrange*

      If I recall correctly, I read somewhere Hitler was not an economic genius. That idea is just a part of propaganda he created. In fact, a lot of stuff that’s about “humanizing” him is his own propaganda.

      Moving on, if you still have to deal with this twit, I think keeping your distance is best. Be icy-polite, if you feel comfortable doing that.

      1. Casca*

        He sits next to me and is in my team so certainly have to deal with him
        He’s a schmoozer so everyone gets along with him and I’m still trying to build relationships so I’m worried if I’m icy-polite, I pre-emptively disadvantage myself professionally

        1. Triple Anon*

          I empathize. I’ve dealt with similar stuff at work. I’ve had to work closely with people who were charming and good at winning people over but also had a very nasty side and made pro-fascist remarks at times. They always act like they think they’re “edgy”, but they’re just being cruel and pathetic.

          Please document all of this. You’re probably not the only one affected by it and there probably is more to the story than what is obvious right now.

            1. Triple Anon*

              “Edgy”. It’s the flip side of “abrasive”. “Edgy” people think they’re provocative and forward thinking when they’re actually just being jerks. “Abrasive” people, meanwhile, are acting normal but are considered out of line because of the context and/or their demographics.

          1. Knitter who lurks*

            echoing the documentation x1000. include things he says in earshot of you but to others. he may say more offensive things in the future.

        2. neverjaunty*

          First, keep in mind that probably lots of people who deal with him are also thinking “Christ, what an asshole” but are being fake-friendly because they, too, are thinking that everyone else gets along with him.

          Second, one way to deal with jerks like this besides being icily polite is being Super Naive But Interested. Ask the questions that make him admit to his horrible beliefs. “Oh, wow, why did you think someone of my background would be offended by that? I don’t understand can you explain it?” in a curious, eager tone. “I’ve only heard people say he was an ‘economic genius’ because they thought the Jews ruined the economy, but you’re probably thinking of some other reason?”

    6. bunniferous*

      Ugh. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Yeah, I would not be comfortable around him either.

      1. Casca*

        Sorry- tried to make it more about the social aspect
        I’m always too late for the work thread because of timezones and Shabbat

        1. Reba*

          People do go into the work thread on Saturdays! Not as much activity, of course, but you can still get responses over there most weekends.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I thought a while ago, that if someone wanted, they could post here asking people to look at the work thread for their question. I think enough people here would be happy to go look, so it would work out well.
              Maybe even provide a link, if you have time.

              1. Beatrice*

                I was thinking it would be nice to have a keyword to indicate the start of Saturday discussions there, to make it easier for someone to use ctrl+F and just jump to current conversation. The thread does get so big that by the time Saturday rolls around, it’s intimidating to scroll to the bottom and few people bother. My Fridays are so chaotic that it’s hard for me to participate often, although I’d really like to.

    7. Temperance*

      Wow. I just … wow. What I would have done is point out that Germany was in the toilet after Hitler, including the economy, if I was just debating a provocative tool. I’m not Jewish, though, and I’m horrified that someone would say that.

    8. Tuxedo Cat*

      Some intellectual. He can’t argue that you don’t appreciate x- that’s how you feel.

      If he does this stuff all the time, I’d just pull a Regina George: “Why are you so obsessed with Hitler/dictators/fascists?” whatever he’s doing. And when he tries to backtrack or justify it, you can point that there are plenty of people who aren’t dictators who were economic geniuses.

    9. Artemesia*

      The ‘normalization of Hitler’ is proceeding apace in the US now that neo Nazis have been embraced by many political groups here. ‘oh but he was an economic genius’ is akin to ‘he made the trains run on time’. Suddenly the swastika is just a ‘good luck symbol’ that was misused etc etc. Glad you pushed back; sorry you work with an ass.

      1. Sylvan*

        +1

        I’m also wondering what’s going on in our history classes lately – I’ve bumped into a couple of teenagers online recently who seem confused about that entire part of history.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      .I met a person who said he was from Austria and claimed the same thing. He pointed to VW as his justification.

      I couldn’t get my jaw off the floor to say too much, I think you did better than I did. Since he was a customer my only thought was to wrap up and get away from him.

      I remember reading about a prof who insisted on saying Hitler was a great man. It boiled down to semantics. We usually associate the word “great” with good/positive. But someone can be a large figure and still be an soulless idiot, I guess that was the prof’s point. So students were very uncomfortable, but they had to write on their exams that Hitler was a great man because the prof reduced their grade if they did not say that.

      I think people say stuff like this to provoke reactions. They enjoy upset and they enjoy watching other people get upset. If this happens again maybe you could ask him why he would say things that he knows for a fact will upset other people. Explain to him that as employees we are compensated in part for our willingness to get along with others.

    11. Myrin*

      Pfff, I’m German and my only reaction to “Hitler was an economic genius” is “How so?”.

      I mean, I’m no historian and although we learn about Drittes Reich stuff extensively in school, I’ve forgot a lot about it but I do know that he was megalomaniac to the nth degree.

      My alma mater is in what was his favourite city and on my way there, I’d walk past some permanently installed posters showcasing what kind of massive buildings he had planned for the area (and we’re talking massive – several Greek-style buildings larger than one of the biggest libraries of all of Europe [which is just around the corner]); someone who wants to build that kind of stuff with taxpayers’ money does not an economic genius make.

      In a talk with my grandparents (who were children/teenagers during the war) last year, they both mentioned how they were suddenly doing so much better when they were occupied by the French (and I don’t mean “better” as in “better than during the war”, that’s self-evident, but as in “during the Nazi’s reign before the war”). When people live a better life while being occupied by a foreign nation they’d just lost a war against, they haven’t been thriving under an economic genius. Just sayin’.

      1. Observer*

        When people live a better life while being occupied by a foreign nation they’d just lost a war against, they haven’t been thriving under an economic genius. Just sayin’.

        Excellent point!

    12. Observer*

      You don’t ever have to feel bad that you are being civil to a jerk. And, he IS a jerk.

      He’s also an ignorant idiot. And pretentious to boot.

      Hitler as an economic genius?! You covered the obvious lunacy of what he was saying. But beyond that, and the fact that most of his philosophy was inherently actually very bad economics, the way both the German economy and the war effort were run were examples of TERRIBLE economics in action. Using save labor from the “untermetchen” races does NOT make one an economic genius. If you’re going to try to play the role of offensive, provocative and “edgy” so called intellectual, at least get your facts right.

    13. Close Bracket*

      > “oh, I guess someone of your background might not think so”

      This is the logical fallacy that straight, white men are completely unbiased, while everyone else is unduly influenced by being part of whatever marginalized group they are part of. If he, or anyone really, makes similar remarks, and you feel like engaging, you can do so in two ways. 1. Maturely and politely call him on his own bias as a non-Jew and point out that racism is abhorrent to all races, not just Jews (or whatever). 2. Snarkily throw it back in his face by saying, “Well, a white guy like you probably can’t see the issue clearly.”

  7. nep*

    Yesterday I went as far as dialing the number of the chiropractic office that does massage. I hung up after one ring. Background — a client gave me three gift certificates for full-hour massage. They expire in a couple of months. Cannot bring myself to make an appointment — as much as I understand massage is therapeutic and important (and I love a good massage). Can’t stand the thought of a stranger’s hands all over my body. I know, I know — the person is a professional. I know all the ways this is irrational. A couple other factors that hold me back; one is my back’s been really delicate lately and I don’t have the means to get things checked out and going further with all this, as they might end up suggesting. It is what it is. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll let these vouchers expire.

    1. JKP*

      It sounds like some part of you wants the help and that it could maybe help your back. Since you have 3 gifts certificates, you could call them, explain that you’re nervous, and ask if you could use 1 of the certificates for a talking only appt without any massage. Then you could meet with them and talk through different options to see if there is anything they could do that you would be comfortable with. Plus, after meeting them, you might feel more comfortable, like they weren’t a total stranger. And if you decide you don’t want to come back and use the other 2 certificates, you’re no worse off than deciding to let all 3 lapse.

    2. Ron McDon*

      Can you sell them on to someone you work with/a family member who might like a massage? If the face value is, say $50 and you sell it to someone else for $30, they’re getting something out of it, and so are you.

      Seems a better idea than just letting them expire.

    3. Nashira*

      It’s okay to not want to be touched. It’s okay for any reason at all, and it’s not a personal failing of yours to not want to be touched. I also do not want to be touched (aside from a short list of people and most animals) and would also end up letting the certificates expire or handing them off to someone who would enjoy them.

    4. LibbyG*

      If the idea of the vouchers “going to waste” adds to your stress, maybe you can reframe it along the KonMari lines of the gift having done its job. The client gave you the gift, you received them in gratitude. Whether or not you turn the vouchers into massages is beside the point. It’s your body – you don’t have to justify declining a massage, even to yourself.

      1. Thursday Next*

        This is perfect! You could also pass the vouchers along to someone who would welcome them. Then they have double value—as a mark of your client’s appreciation for you, and a nice oppudor someone else.

    5. Sparky*

      You could just get a foot massage, or a neck massage, if you’re comfortable with people touching those parts of your body. You wouldn’t even have to undress. You get to decide how/where/who you are touched.

      1. fposte*

        Seconding this, or you even if you undress more you can say “just legs” or “nowhere near my back.” And you can go and give it a try and after five minutes say “Sorry, this isn’t working” and leave. There’s no irreversible cliff dive anywhere along the process.

        I also think it’s perfectly reasonable for you to decide massage isn’t going to be that beneficial for you right now; that’s a legitimate decision that isn’t just avoidance.

        1. Lady Jay*

          This is true. When I went for my first-ever massage, I only undressed down to the waist – left my jeans on and everything! – because I felt modest/shy and that’s what I was comfortable with. They’re professionals; they’ll tell you to do what’s comfortable for *you*.

          That said, if you’re not comfortable, don’t go.

      2. Sylvan*

        I’m not generally a touchy person, but chair massages are great. They only touch your neck, shoulders, arms, and back. Your clothes stay on. It’s very relaxing and it doesn’t have the, I don’t know, “intimacy” that a full-body massage would.

      3. AndersonDarling*

        Excellent suggestion! When I was an LMT at a med spa, I had clients that were nervous about being undressed or about being touched in certain places…that sounds dirty, but I mean that some people didn’t like their knees to be touched, or their shoulders. If you have the certificate, then you pretty much have a pass for an hour of the therapist’s time and they can customize that time for you. I did hour long foot treatments, massaged with all the clients clothes on, and I also stretched a client for an hour. You may enjoy just resting in the massage room with the warm treatment table, soft music, and spa scents…especially if they have a sound table! Those are great!

        1. The Grammarian*

          I agree–even just resting in the warm room on the warmed table with the nice oil scents, soft music, and lowered lighting is relaxing. My husband actually fell asleep at the beginning of each massage he’s ever had, heh. I think the suggestions to either sell/give the GCs to someone else or to go and only have a part of you massaged that you’re comfortable with are good. I have joint issues and I get scared that the massage therapist will mess something up, so when I get these kinds of GCs, I ask them to massage my face and neck (two places that hold tension on my body and are not particularly intimate).

      1. Life is Good*

        I’m with you on this. I once got a gift cert for a manicure with wax dip (I think it’s called) and hand massage. I just couldn’t get comfortable with the thought of a stranger doing that. I wrote a thank you to the gift giver (my boss) and just let it expire. It was stressful to me to worry about wasting all that money – $50 – but more stressful to think about going for the treatment. I couldn’t really give it away because the manicurist was a relative of the boss and it had my name on it. Sorry you’re going through this.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      You could call the office and explain your situation. Maybe there’s some adjustment they can make for you or maybe they have another client who could be helped with your certificates. That way they would be useful to someone.

    7. Gaia*

      I regularly get massages now, but this was me a few years ago. The idea of a stranger touching me (especially an unclothed me!) was enough to make me physically sick. It did not matter that I logically understood that they were professionals. All that mattered was that my mind was screaming “NO”

      I was in a car accident and was so painful I couldn’t move. I had to get a massage. What worked for me was using my first visit to talk, fully clothed, about what they did and my concerns and fears. I built a bit of a relationship and developed a bit of trust. My next visit we did a fully clothed gentle massage (where I learned my favorite thing ever is just having my head held up – oh man, is that relaxing).

      It took nearly 6 months before I was comfortable being fully undressed and even now I’m not sure how I’d do if I had to switch therapists. I don’t even like when the pedicurist I see starts rubbing my legs. It creeps me out.

      Something like this may or may not work for you. And if it doesn’t, that is okay. It is okay to not want a massage. It is okay that you don’t use these certificates. The gift was given and you received it. What you do with it is secondary.

    8. nep*

      Appreciate all the insights and suggestions. (I have asked a couple of family members whether they want these — I’d then go to the place to see how to ‘transfer’. Thus far no takers though.)
      Thanks, all.

    9. WillyNilly*

      I am trained as a massage therapist (never went through with licensing as my career moved in a different direction). I definitely second calling or dropping in and discussing – there are many options.

      First and foremost, you definitely do not need to get naked! Yes most LMTs suggest it, but only because maybe folks want a full body, with oils massage. You can leave on as much clothing as you want, even if that means fully clothed. (Although soft clothes are best – think sweats, or t-shirt and leggings instead of jeans and button down shirts.)

      You can definitely ask them to talk you through it and announce where they will be touching and how before moving on with the massage. That’s a very common thing actually, a lot of folks want to be told “ok, I will be working on your legs next. I will start with the left leg and work my way down from thigh to calf…” before just feeling hands on their legs.

      And I know you know this, but I will repeat anyway – they really aren’t judging your body, or finding it sexual, or anything. Overweight, underweight, sweaty, hairy, body zits, tattoos, etc – honestly its fine. Its ok to fall asleep & snore, or fart, too. Promise. I mean do follow basic hygiene (shower), but its ok to have an imperfect (read: normal) body.

      1. nep*

        Thanks for taking the time to share these insights.
        It’s not at all an issue of being self-conscious about the state of my body. It’s just way too intimate for me.

        1. WillyNilly*

          Well if course that’s ok too! Nothing is for everyone.

          And if it makes you feel any better not using the certificates, consider most LMTs work in small businesses. Not using a paid for gift cert is still supporting the business; at worst its giving someone who works a physical job 3 paid hours off, at best its allowing the business to get double pay for 3 hours. What a lovely gift.

    10. anonagain*

      I think it’s more than okay to let the vouchers expire if no one else ends up wanting them.

      If you let them expire, you’re not alone: I read an interview with a massage therapist once where she described gift vouchers as free money, because so many of the vouchers she sold were never redeemed.

      1. nep*

        Yes — this is my second such gift.
        (I reckon most retailers / service providers make a good bit of money on gift cards.)

    11. Anono-me*

      Please ask if the business offers water bed massages or massage chairs. They are not the same as a professional massage, but I think that they feel pretty good.

    12. Betsy*

      I also find it oddly intimate. I am living in Thailand at the moment, where most other expats rave about getting cheap massages. I found when I had back pain physiotherapy was great, felt a lot less intimate than massage, and a lot of it is about giving you exercises to do in your own time. Sometimes my PT did a little bit of massage, but there were days where she didn’t at all.

    13. LilySparrow*

      I’m with you. There are a lot of things other people find relaxing that just don’t feel good or even sound enjoyable to me.
      I don’t like baths. Don’t like mani-pedis. Never even tried massage or spa treatments because it just sounds like expensive misery.

  8. Fiennes*

    This isn’t work-related enough for Friday, but it’s work adjacent. Alison cautions against making your passion your career, for entirely solid reasons — but I’m one of the ones who did it and has been really happy. Specifically, I turned my fandom pursuits into career.

    Anyway, last night, I wound up having a small, friendly dinner with four of the actors from the TV show that made me a fangirl in the first place. My work had made me friends with someone who’d worked with one of them, so it happened very organically. They all proved to be kind, funny and interesting, and I think I conducted myself like a mature human being.

    All the while, on the inside, my fan soul was going AAAAAAAAAAAHH!

    1. Turtlewings*

      Oh man, my fangirl soul is so jealous! I’m really pleased that you had such a nice time. It’s always a bummer when meeting your heroes turns out badly. Keep living the dream!!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      AAAAHHHH

      *jelly*

      AAAAHHHH SO COOL

      I like to think I’d be okay with anyone except Stephen King. I handled myself well with Clive Barker (aaaaahhh), but SK would make me want to throw myself to the floor a la Wayne’s World and scream, “I’m not worthy!!”

  9. Teapots for Llamas*

    I wanted to give an update to everyone who offered their support and advice when I posted two weeks ago about my shock st finding out that my (soon-to-be-ex) husband wanted a divorce, and wanted it fast.

    I did get a lawyer, who is highly recommended. I did tell me friends and family, they have been an incredible source of support. I’m still reeling a bit, but I am taking care of myself, my cat, and my responsibilities.

    I’m looking at moving to be closer to some family in a totally different area of the country (from rural, conservative, snowy to urban, liberal, and warm!) and trying to make a long-contemplated career-switch at the same time.

    I’m doing okay now, and you guys helped me through that first, awful, push. Thank you!

    1. Fiennes*

      I’m glad to hear you’re moving forward and have assembled a great Team You. Good luck with all of it.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      This sounds like a door closing, window opening situation. If change is being imposed you may as well go whole hog and change other things you have control over too.

      You sound like you are taking it all in stride, though, which is great!

    3. Turtlewings*

      I’m really glad to hear you’re keeping yourself together. On one hand I’d be wary of making so many changes during such an emotional time, but on the other hand, it might be really good for you! Best of luck with it all!

    4. Hellanon*

      Best thing to do is what you are doing: keep going!

      I went through something similar when I was 40 – divorce, major move & job change, and there were two things that helped me keep pushing forward. One was the thought that no matter how exhausting it all got, I had to keep going because staying put was not going to change anything. The other was that I had a responsibility to my future self to make my life into what I would need it to be: full of friends, in a place I loved, and doing good work. To that end I said yes to almost every invitation that came my way, and learned how to make friendships as a single person (not always easy at 40!). It was fun. It worked. You are doing all the right things and it still won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

      1. Teapots for Llamas*

        Thanks, Hellanon! That’s exactly the headspace that I am in. I’m ready to take some chances and try new things.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        That future self thing is a pretty powerful motivator. When my husband passed I really did not give a crap about anything. Then it came over me that in years to come I would be REALLY ticked at me for not giving a crap now. So I did a bunch of stuff that benefited future me who might actually give a darn.

        Fast forward to now, all those PITA things I did added up and I am much better off than if I had fed into the negative.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You sound really good, you sound focused and deliberate. This is stuff is so hard, but you will never regret your investment in yourself that you are making now. Keep us posted on how it’s going.

    6. King Friday XIII*

      If you can take care of yourself and your cat, and you’re excited about things the future can bring, then you’re doing AMAZING and we’re all rooting for you.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      We’ve had several days in the 60s this week, and I realized how much I could live somewhere that 60s and sunny is normal February weather.

    8. Former Employee*

      Wow! I did not see your original post.

      However, the way you describe the move as both getting you closer to family and resulting in your being in an urban, liberal and warm part of the country, and you’ll be attempting to make a career change that you’ve been wanting to do, it sounds as if you are already seeing some positive aspects of the situation.

      Good for you!

  10. Aurora Leigh*

    My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year and we’re starting to talk about “the future” and all that entails.

    Anyway, he would like me to move in. He thinks we should live together before we get married so we really know the other person first.

    I’m not opposed to this, but I already practically live at his house half the week. I stay over 3-4 nights a week, do lots of cooking, do all my laundry, keep tolitries in the bathroom, etc. I’m not sure what more he’d find out about me if I lived here full time.

    I’m not sure about the financial logistics — he owns his house, so it’s not like we’d both be on a lease and splitting rent. It seems weird to go in on someone else’s mortgage payments.

    I guess I’m thinking I would just like to know for sure that this a step toward getting married and we won’t just end up spending years living together (not anything people who choose that, it’s just not what I want).

    I know this is a conversation we need to have — any scripts? Also if you moved in with a SO, what did you learn about them you didn’t know before?

    1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      Slightly off topic, but I’ve read/heard (and not just in NY Times editorials – actual psychology books/journals) that couples that do cohabitation before marriage are far more likely to end up divorced than those that do not. I’m not saying that’s the case with you at all, but you already seem really on the fence. I’ll see if I can find the source for you.

      1. Triplestep*

        So these are numbers that get talked and written about a lot, and after what I have heard and read myself, here’s the explanation I subscribe to: Some people move in together as a way to enhance commitment (“This is the next step to marriage!”). Others move in together as a way to forestall commitment (“If I just move in, I won’t have to get married any time soon!”). When two people who have these opposing views move in together and end up married, they are more likely to divorce. Why? Because getting married is easier than dividing up belongings and starting over.

        Aurora Leigh, I have been married twice, and have done it both ways – lived together first, and then didn’t. The first time is not applicable to this conversation because there was a surprise pregnancy at play. But the second time, we did not opt to live together even once we were fully committed because the wedding was far off, and I had kids at home. A family-member asked “Well, when is he moving in? I think people should live together before they get married”, and I’ll never forget the answer that naturally came out of my mouth: “We’re getting married because we love each other and have common values and goals. If it turns out he leaves his socks on the floor, that’s not going to change anything.”

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, this right here. I think the research is starting to be a little more nuanced and show this sort of split.

      2. Natalie*

        I think the research in this area has evolved a lot. Even in studies that can identify an effect, a lot of them show that its disappeared in younger generations. Other studies show a very complex relationship of race/SES, intentions, finances, etc.

        That said, I do think it’s important to be very intentional about cohabiting. Inertia makes it really easy to stay in a relationship that’s “fine” but not great and kind of slide into marriage when you might have broken up otherwise (ask me how I know!). It’s also totally possible to wait to move in until you’re at least engaged, since at that point you’ve already made the decision to get married but it isn’t final.

        1. hermit crab*

          Also, even if there is a demonstrated effect, it’s still not 100% fated to happen for any given individual. (For example, not all smokers get lung cancer, even though that’s a very well demonstrated causal relationship and one that’s much simpler than human interactions!)

          Aurora Leigh, I think you are thinking about the right things and asking the right questions – and that will serve you well! For what it’s worth, my spouse and I didn’t live together full-time until a year AFTER we got married (two-body problem issues) and there were definitely still things we had to work out.

        2. TardyTardis*

          My daughter and her husband lived together before they married, and part of the reason they got married was to put him on her insurance. But…that was after they had moved across the continent with two cats and everyone survived, so I figured they were good to go anyway. They’ve been married for at least 5 years now, and are quite happy.

      3. ainomiaka*

        I have read that this disappears when you factor out religious drive-basically the never cohabitation group also includes the “it’s a sin to divorce even if there’s abuse” group.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah I was going to say this. This correlation is largely because people who are comfortable with living together before marriage are also often people who are not against divorce. I don’t think living together before marriage actually *makes* it more likely for a couple to divorce later, whereas they wouldn’t have in an alternate universe where they did not live together.

          1. Triplestep*

            As is being said in some of the other responses, living together before marriage doesn’t *make* it more likely a couple will divorce, but it can contribute a couple deciding to marry for reasons that make divorce more likely. (Convenience, path of least resistance, etc.)

            I’ve heard the religious correlation you cite before, and while I think it is not insignificant, it’s probably also not the major reason it may have once been.

      4. Artemesia*

        I did not cohabit with my first husband and would not have considered no so doing before marrying again. 45 and counting on the second marriage. Many people marry in order to save a faltering relationship; this is probably more likely if cohabiting. And it is almost as hard to break up when you live together, especially if you have property in common as a divorce and so I think many people who cohabit end up drifting into marriage that they would not have undertaken if they were not living together.

        This kind of correlation of cohabitation and divorce is obviously masking the real issues that underly divorce. (and FWIW, it isn’t religion and religious barriers to cohabiting as atheists have the lowest divorce rate and fundamentalists the highest)

        1. Artemesia*

          But PS I would not move in with someone without being engaged if that is where you want this to go and in the OP’s case with lots of time spent together, I would be wary of moving in with this particular guy who seems to want to avoid marriage.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        What I’d read was that living together upped the odds of divorce back when it was to some degree unusual to do so, but now there is no correlation. (That is, it makes your odds of divorce neither higher nor lower.) Theory was that in the 70s and 80s, one person saw it as a step toward marriage and one was stalling and didn’t really want to get married. Once it became a common thing the distinction went away.

        I have heard of people having good luck with 6 months in stating “So now you know what it’s like to live with me. Wanna get married?” And receiving “Sure.” Someone’s individual “I don’t want to get married until we’ve (dated 2 years/met each other’s families/lived together 1 year)” tests don’t have to make sense for the entire world, just for that couple. I would be hesitant if people are building in years of delay, or trying to test drive EVERYTHING that could happen over the ensuing decades.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Background: 49, married 28 years this summer. We lived in a shared apartment with other friends our senior year. I don’t feel strongly on the correctness of living together or not before marriage–I think it’s useful, or irrelevant, to individuals rather than being some universal test of compatibility.

          I will say Marriage Is Different. We hadn’t expected it to feel different, but we agreed afterward it did. And THAT I find is pretty widespread–that making vows before your family and putting legal teeth to it feels different in surprising ways, ways I don’t think living together, getting a dog together, etc mimic.

          I will pass on Carolyn Hax’s observation that she gets A LOT of letters from people who have 30 reasons to break up with their SO but it would require disentangling the dvd collections and blurg. Whereas if these people weren’t sharing living space the 30 reasons would obviously triumph. It’s fair for you to move in with a ring-in-a-year deadline in mind. (I firmly reject the “marriage light flips on, SO will marry the closest person of appropriate gender at that moment so you need to stick it out another decade and that’ll be you” model. That person just doesn’t want to marry you.)

      6. Kj*

        It is actually a problem of people “sliding, not deciding.” Basically, actively choosing to live together can make breaking up harder- so people “settle” and marry the person they live with even though they have doubts. This can be combatted by having a good discussion and being committed to not sliding into marriage because it is easy.

        My story: I moved in with my now husband after knowing him 6 months. He wanted me to. I was nervous. I ended up telling him that I would move in on two conditions: 1. we had to discuss marriage then and there, as I wasn’t moving in if marriage wasn’t the plan and 2. if we started arguing or fighting often, we had to go to couples’ counseling. The first was easy- he said he had always planned on marrying me and we agreed on a timeframe for getting engaged (not the next month by any means, but “within 18 months.”) . The second part was easy and we didn’t have to do it, but it is a nice agreement to have in your back pocket.

        My husband and I are lucky in someways- we planned and it worked, even though we hadn’t been together very long. But I was super-open about what I wanted- I was not co- habitting without a plan for marriage, as that seems to disadvantage the partner who makes less money (me) and I was worried about that. We are now married, own a house and are expecting our first child.

        Good luck!

    2. grace*

      My boyfriend and I have had similar discussions even though it’s a year out for us – but I was pretty upfront with him. I don’t mind moving in before marriage but I don’t want it to be a long time; I want a ring on my finger within a year, preferably less, and …. I just told him that. He’s more religious than I am and I knew already he felt the same way, so I was less anxious about saying it, but I think being upfront and honest about expectations and where your limits are (I’m not saying put an ultimatum on it, but a timeframe helps make things less fuzzy/in the air), and what his are, too.

      Good luck!

      1. Artemesia*

        I would not want a ‘ring on my finger within a year’; I would not move in till engaged. I have seen lots of guys use moving in as a way to avoid marriage.

        1. Kj*

          It depends on if you can trust them. And I’d argue if you don’t think you can trust them on this, you should break up now.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      The main difference in my experience is stuff. Even if you’re staying over 3-4 days a week and have clothes/toiletries there, its very different having all your stuff there, and having your own defined spaces. There will inevitably be some give and take; giving you a drawer in the dresser is very different for both of you than giving you an entire dresser!

      Right now, to some degree you’re living under his rules for the space, because it’s his space and you’re a guest. If you move in, it becomes a shared space and the dynamics of that are just different! If you want a new couch, you have to agree with another person on 1) whether you need it in the first place, 2) how much to spend, 3) what color/model to get, 4) how you want to set it up (do you want to rearrange the room?)

      None of this is bad or insurmountable, but it is worth working through before you commit to being with a person forever (imo!)

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Funny story — I actually have a whole dresser! :D

        He didn’t own one when I met him, he literally just piled his clothes on the floor — and a few months in a co-worker of a family member had furniture to get rid of so we ended up getting two matching dressers!

        We’ve already split the cost of some major appliances. And I definitely have a voice in the ongoing kitchen remodel.

        But points to ponder!

        1. Artemesia*

          Then why his hesitation to proceed to engagement and marriage? I don’t want to marry someone who is not enthusiastically wanting to marry me.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            Obviously digging deeper into this night bring something else to light . . . but I think it’s less of a “not eager to get married” and more of “box we should check beforehand?” kind of thing.

            I mean, his mom once asked him why I hadn’t moved in yet, not why he hadn’t given me a ring yet.

            We’ve adopted a dog together, which is definitely a commitment, and he’ll casually talk about being together very long term — stuff like “when I’m 70 will you let me wear a belt and suspenders”, or once “in a few years when we buy a bigger house”

            This is just new territory for both of us.

            1. hmm*

              I’m not sure where you’re from, but no one I know in my American New England/Midwest/Northwest late 20s early 30s social group (or my parents/aunt’s/uncles generation), had engagement before moving in. Perhaps this is a cultural expectation you have for some reason some of us here wouldn’t be familiar with? I would be very confused if his mom expected us to be engaged before living together! Lots of people see it as a step before engagement, sounds like talking to him about it could be helpful!

              1. Natalie*

                Huh, I’m the same age cohort (in the midwest) and I know a number of people that waited to move in until they were engaged. Not for any cultural reason, but to avoid the “sliding, not deciding” problem mentioned above. Including myself after ending a long cohabiting relationship – I decided I wouldn’t cohabit again until I was ready to marry someone, and my now-husband didn’t move in until we were engaged.

                1. hmm*

                  I really can’t think of a single person, except an evangelical Christian friend of a friend. I don’t doubt it happens and there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’d say at the least it’s not so common to assume everyone is thinking the same way and worth talking to the boyfriend about it. I also distinguish between “we plan on getting married” and engaged… Moving in can be a step towards marriage even without a formal engagement, you know?

            2. Betsy*

              I agree with the other commenters who were saying that the significance depends on your social group. In Australia, I don’t have any friends who didn’t live together before marriage. It’s so much just the normal thing to do here. It would be seen as strange not to live together before marriage and you’d assume the couple were ultra-conservative.

            3. Slartibartfast*

              I see some green flags here. Talking about your old age together, actively including your input on renovations, joint purchases and talking about a bigger house. Certainly say out loud that you want marriage and what timeframe are we looking at here, but it sounds like he wants a future together. People who are settling/sliding tend to not talk about the future, it brings up the uncomfortable truths they are avoiding.

            4. Slartibartfast*

              “I would just like to know for sure that this a step toward getting married and we won’t just end up spending years living together”
              I think this is your script. Maybe you could put your rent money in a wedding fund instead of his mortgage?

      2. Sparky*

        You and he might want to move some furniture around, maybe paint the bedroom, just so it isn’t his space, his choices, and it more becomes “ours” for the two of you. You can discuss paying him some money towards the mortgage, and what would happen if you two break up. Do you get some of it back?

      3. K*

        I agree with that. In both of the relationships where I lived with someone together, it was a huge difference. Suddenly to notice that shared costs became a constant issue for arguments or decisions on apartment issues was quite a revelation. Especially if you’re the one to move in, I’d be very candid about your expectations. It has to become also your home and not just “his house with you in it”.
        To me, these were valuable indicators whether I’d like to spend the rest of my life like this.

      4. Phlox*

        I’ve noticed this w my housemate. She was a half week honorary housemate dating my other housemate. But definitely different dynamic when she moved on for real in terms of house decision ownership etc

    4. Fiennes*

      My partner and I moved in together fairly early in our relationship, for various reasons, so my experience may not map exactly into yours. But for me at least, there turned out to be a huge difference between “together almost all the time” and “together all the time.” There’s no more point of retreat when you’re at your lowest; you have to learn how to work through that in the same space as the other person. You have to figure out how to make the time for all that boring annoying stuff you usually handle on your own (taxes, scrubbing grout). Managing money together is important. (Though I share your concerns re: paying half of someone else’s mortgage. When my guy first moved in with me, we split all expenses except the mortgage, which I insisted on paying in full on my own. As I was purchasing the house as my sole possession, this seemed to me to be the wisest course. I don’t think there’s any one way to handle this, but it’s something you guys ought to work through.) So I think living together full time teaches you a lot.

      That said, it sounds to me like you’re worried about getting stuck living together in a way that would postpone marriage. I’d urge you to talk this through with your boyfriend, both to make your expectations clear and to ensure that you’re both coming from a place of clarity and trust. Without that, IMO, there is no right decision. Good luck with whatever you choose.

      1. Divorcee...*

        “there turned out to be a huge difference between “together almost all the time” and “together all the time.””

        This was my experience too. You said you weren’t sure what he would find out about you, but you could find out things about him! I moved in with my ex before we were married, but when we were already engaged and deep into wedding planning. It was intensely stressful from day 1, for reasons I couldn’t then analyze or put into words. Basically, I lean towards being an introvert and he is emotionally needy–he focuses on needing his partner to validate him and be with him all the time to mediate his experiences and make him look good, sulks when he feels ignored. It was practically impossible to read in our home, for example, because he would want to watch TV *with*me*. I never noticed that kind of thing when I had a few nights a week at my own apartment. I didn’t have the guts back then to cancel or postpone my wedding based on inexpressable feelings of unease, so we got married and then divorced some years later. I truly believe that if I had lived with him first we wouldn’t have gotten married. Obviously it’s an extreme case because he’s had two other relationships that foundered at the living together stage whereas I can be kind of a loner, but I would never marry again without living together first.

        1. All Hail Queen Sally*

          I did live with my ex for a while before we married, but obviously not long enough. We too, had problems with the extrovert (him) introvert (me) dynamic. He couldn’t stand being alone for five minutes; I felt like was going insane without “me” time which he could never understand. I ended up leaving after ten miserable years.

        2. K*

          I know that problem in some way as well. My live-in partner has me rather watch his laptop screen and do nothing than actually doing something productive. This lead to me often feeling guilty when I’d like to do things on my own while he’s at home. It’s sad to think of it, but some of my best days are when he’s not around.

          OP, please also consider how you two spend free time alone when you’re going for marriage :)

          1. All Hail Queen Sally*

            My ex wanted me to watch him watch TV (sports–which I hate) rather than crochet, read, or anything else while I was in the same room with him. Very frustrating!

      2. Betsy*

        Or it could turn out to be really not an issue. I went from a long distance relationship to living with a partner in one bedroom in a sharehouse and we were just very happy and had no issues at all. From what I’ve heard it’s a big deal for some couples (who maybe have very different habits or lifestyles) and no big deal for a lot of others. I’d say our main issue ended up being about her being much more social than me and needing to compromise about when to go out and when to stay in.

    5. dr_silverware*

      There’s no harm in waiting to move in! Absolutely no harm. And there’s no harm in saying, “This isn’t a proposal, but if we move in together soon, I would really want marriage to be on the table. I’d love to live with you, but I really see it as a step to marriage. What do you think?”

      When I moved in with my boyfriend it was both really familiar and really strange. Familiar because we’d been together 2 years and had gone on an extended road trip together, so we’d spent a lot of time a maximum of one and a half feet away from each other. So I knew that I wasn’t going to get tired of him.

      On the other hand, I learned what he’s like when he’s down and Does Not want to move from the couch, and he learned what I’m like when I’m having an anxiety attack and can’t talk about what I’m feeling. Either of those things–anything–could have been a dealbreaker.

      So, I think it’s a case of you don’t know what you don’t know. And also: you can’t know for sure that once you live together marriage is a sure thing on the horizon, just say plainly what you want out of your life, and continue to see if the relationship works out.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes. Having the “I see moving in together as a step toward marriage. How do you see it?” conversation is just so incredibly important. If you see it as a step up in commitment and then find out he sees it as a way to buy some time before making a commitment… I mean you definitely want to know that.

    6. Wondering*

      I moved in after we got engaged. I thought it wouldn’t be a shock because, like you, we half lived together. For us, though, it was a seismic shake. We were both about 30 and used to our space and ways. When dating, we were much more flexible about schedules and times because we were so excited to hang out. It’s easy to disrupt your life and put someone else first temporarily. But when we moved in, we had to align our routines. For example, I was used to coming home and watching TV for an hour before starting dinner. He, otoh, felt overloaded sensory wise at work and was used to coming home and doing some meditation. We lived in a one bedroom apartment, so doing both those things wasn’t really possible. We would have huge fights over things like who’s turn it was to cook, or who got the good parking spot. We worked it out, but we had to learn how to have productive conversations.

      Before moving in, talk about finances really thoroughly. Who is paying what, when. I wasn’t on his lease, so I paid him, and it felt weird. When we moved again, I insisted on being on the lease.

      Scripts- maybe something like, “I’m open to moving in together as the next step, but marriage is important to me. I would like to be engaged within a year (or whatever you want, op.)”. Or, you could suggest getting engaged before moving in.

    7. Muriel Heslop*

      I am married to someone who didn’t want to live together before we got married because he had lived with two other women (one of whom he married) and neither worked out. A week or so ago Man Repeller had an article about what you need to talk about before you move in with someone and what the good and bad reason are for doing so. I read over it with my husband and he said he wished he had done his homework like that. We thought it was a great article, and I suggest checking it out. Good luck!

    8. Forking Great Username*

      My husband and I did end up moving in together before getting engaged, and it wasn’t something we initially agreed on. I definitely agree with what you seem to already know – it’s important to have a talk about where/how you each envision this going. I had always imagined that I’d be engaged before moving in with a guy. My husband had a broken engagement in his past that had ended when they moved in together and had that go terribly, so he was set on moving in before getting engaged. In the end I did end up moving in with him without being engaged, but we were looking at rings and actively talking engagement. He ended up proposing about two months after I moved in. I really don’t think I learned any new things things about him – we mesh very well in a cohabitation situation (similar habits/preferences) and had talked about the money stuff and chores pretty in depth before I moved in.

    9. Co-habitation Stuff*

      My then boyfriend and now husband and I moved in together after dating 8 months, we lived together for more than a year and have been married a year. We had *many* honest conversations about our expectations for domestic bliss and what kind of big picture futures we could imagine before moving in and I couldn’t imagine being where we are if we hadn’t lived together first. We found out more about each other after living together than just the several days a week sleep overs, and I wouldn’t have married him if I didn’t know for example that he could maintain some of cleaning standards that are essential to my mental health. As far as scripts, I tried to cultivate conversations about feelings and expectations rather than immediate solutions. So, for example, a similarity in our situation was the finances of living together, and I said things like “I make less money than you, how do you feel is the most fair to split bills?” or “Your student loans are 98% of our combined debt, how do you think we should pay for those?” and also, “Dude, I would like to live with you as a step to marriage, do you feel the same? And if so, how do you want to navigate a time line for that?” We still have these types of conversations, and sometimes we revisit a topic one million times to discuss multiple options that we can both feel as good as possible about!
      Also, I struggled in past relationships with people who were “talkers” and not “doers” so I emphasized that action needed to follow declaration of wants, and setting that precedent early on with my husband has been essential. For example, your boyfriend says he would like you to move in, I would say something like “Great, lets negotiate some of these things to decide if this can work for what we both want, and then if we are all systems go, I will need you to do x,y,z (I need 2 cleaned out drawers in the dresser, or I need a cleared out closet for my clothes) before I move in so that I can feel comfortable with sharing space with you!”
      Good Luck!

      1. many bells down*

        Mr. Bells and I moved in together after 3 months of dating. It felt less like “the next step” in the relationship and more like the “inevitable progression of being together forever.” And it’s been 15 years, so I think we’ve done all right.

    10. Red Reader*

      Financial logistics: I own my house, and my first-boyfriend-then-fiancé-now-husband has always paid me the same rent/bills as our other two housemates. (I pay the same amount into the rent account myself every month, and pay the mortgage and bills out of it.) We haven’t had any formal leases (though we have informally documented the arrangements), but you could do if it made you feel better. The general idea at first was, he’d be paying rent somewhere anyway, so why not pay it to me instead. At this point, it’s just what works best for us between our choices of financial separation and our prenup.

    11. the gold digger*

      For me, I didn’t care about living together before marriage because I knew no matter whom I married, he would annoy me somehow.

      We did live together (and bought our house together) before we got married, but only because of the way his lease worked out and the state law re marriage after divorce. Before that, though, we had had a lot of conversations about money and how we spend and how we save and how much we each had. Those conversations were harder to have than the sex history conversation.

      1. Triplestep*

        ” …because I knew no matter whom I married, he would annoy me somehow.”

        This literally made me laugh out loud. I should have been thinking along these lines!

    12. neverjaunty*

      It sounds like you already have your scripts. “I’m not sure about the financial logistics. And I would like to know for sure that this is a step toward getting married, and not just ending up living together for a while, because that’s not what I want.”

      Also, if you’re over there that often, you already have all the information you need about what his living space is like and his habits.

    13. Typhon Worker Bee*

      On the financial side – my sister was renting before she moved in with her partner, who was about a year or so away from paying off his mortgage at the time. They hadn’t been together all that long and he’d been badly financially burned in a previous relationship, so he was reluctant to have her chip in for the mortgage; that would entitle her to a share of his house if they broke up, and he might not be able to afford to buy her out. So he kept on paying the mortgage 100% from his own account, and she took over paying the other bills instead of paying mortgage or “rent”. A semantic difference, really, but an important distinction legally! It worked out really well for them and they split the cost when they renovated last year, so she does now have some claim on the house, not that I think it’ll be a problem!

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Know yourself first. This is a conversation between you and you initially. What is it you want? What are you willing to flex on? Do you have a time frame in mind? How long are you willing to wait to be married?

      Using a really basic example, I knew I wanted a dog. Not up for debate. I had to have a dog. I moved on to other big picture things such as I wanted continuity and I wanted security. Yeah, so I was pretty sure marriage was the route I wanted to go. I dragged my heals because of family issues. After a couple years my guy said to me, “Poop or get off the pot. Get in or get out. Let me find someone who will follow up on all this building a life together stuff.”

      Okay, really bad delivery there, but I understood his point. (This guy was not a jerk although you really can’t see that in this example.) We had to talk about the family stuff going on and how we would handle it as a married couple. We were on the same page about building a life together so we worked from that as our starting point.

      It is fine to say that you are looking for a relationship that goes into marriage. It’s fine to say that if he has any doubts he should say so. That way you can talk out the concerns or you can decide that maybe you two are almost perfect for each other except for the marriage thing.

      If you are not comfortable with his answers let that discomfort inform you.

    15. LAI*

      I moved into my boyfriend’s (now fiance’s) house, and we got engaged about 6 months later. I do think *actually* living together is different from spending most days/nights together. For one thing, having zero private space or time was a change for me. I personally like to have quiet time when I’m just reading, hanging out with my dog and no one is talking to me or making noise around me, and I like to do that at home. It’s been fine cause my partner has a lot of outdoor activities and is frequently out of the house. I definitely think the biggest thing is how my attitude toward his (now our) house changed when I moved in. Before, it was his house so I was happy to help clean up, but keeping it organized and running was ultimately his responsibility. Now it’s a shared responsibility. And basically, your decisions affect each other a lot more when you live together. For example, recently my fiance wanted to buy new tupperware and we had to have a whole conversation about it because I thought the ones we already had were fine and there wasn’t room for more, etc. In the end, if you’re already compatible, I think you can know that living together is likely to go well, but it IS different.

      I pay him rent every month and I don’t think that’s weird. Although now that we’re engaged, we might change to a model where I put money into a joint account each month and we use that account for things the house needs.

    16. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      There is a difference between spending a ton of time there and actually living there. My boyfriend moved in with me, and 5 months later we’d completely fallen apart. We could not live together.

    17. hmm*

      I’ve been living with my SO for almost two years now, and I’ve gotten a lot out of it! The sorts of communication for running a house in particular (there’s just more to do than in a flat) has affirmed my decision to marry him soon.

      For instance, I know how we split chores, that he carries his own weight, he listens to my needs without getting offended, we’ve had serious conversations about emotional labor… He is indeed the feminist of my dreams! It is certainly different than when he was at my place several days a week. We are both responsible for this space. I suppose theoretically this could’ve happened if we lived together after marriage, but I think the lower stakes involved (we’re not married!) make it easier to solve problems because there’s less pressure to make it work. Despite what others say, if problems had come up, I’d feel more pressured to make it work when married, not before!

      Logistics – how will you pay rent, what will happen if you move out… You need a lease, essentially. And more so, have you talked to him specifically about your marriage plans? That’s the way to confirm this is leading to marriage! Before getting serious with my guy we had detailed conversation about what we both want in the future.

    18. kc89*

      3-4 nights a week plus having separate homes is a lot different than 7 nights a week and one home. I’ve known multiple couples who had similar set ups and were happy and then when they officially moved into one home they quickly broke up.

      Not saying that will happen of course, but you might find living together in one home to be a lot different than you anticipated.

      1. Mary Smith*

        I think living together is a really important thing to do before marriage so you truly see him at his worst and see if that’s acceptable to you. I also think it helps to see any potential signs of abuse before marriage (my family used to rescue women who were being abused and they always said it started after they moved in).

        With that said, I see your point about moving in. I would have a really frank sit-down with him and ask “Do you see this as a step toward marriage?” If he says yes, then “If I move in and all continues to go as planned, what would be your expectation of when we’d take the next step and get married?” Don’t let him off with half-answers, you wand a solid yes/no to the first and probably a number of years or months for the second.

    19. Kuododi*

      The one thing I would tell you having heard the horror stories from my mother the retired bank manager….do not under any circumstances cosign for loans, buy in together on a morgage for a house, cosign for cars etc unless y’all are legally married. If something happens and y’all split as an unmarried couple….it would be a nightmare from the seventh circle of h*** to disengage yourself. I’m a big fan of relationships, commitment and long term planning however I am also aware that Prince Charming is a fairy tale!!!! The only guaranteed things in life are death and taxes so make sure and be pragmatic while looking out for your future!! Best wishes and Mazel Tov!!!

    20. Elizabeth West*

      Hmmmmmmmm
      Well, I lived with someone and though we didn’t get married, we functioned as if we were. And when he ended the relationship and I had to move out of what I considered my home, I felt very much as if I were getting divorced. The only good thing about that was I had no legal fees. It could have been so much worse (just watch Judge Judy for a few weeks), but he was a decent guy and didn’t pull any shenanigans.

      If you’re going to live with someone, you will have no legal recourse if something goes wrong, so I would advise sitting down and getting in writing how you plan to do bills, etc. I’m very leery of the idea of paying into his mortgage, too. If you’re married, in most jurisdictions legalities exist surrounding joint property and how it would be handled if someone leaves. But if you’re only cohabiting, there likely won’t be squat.

      One of the women I worked with at the cafeteria where I first met my ex had been living with a man for twenty years, and she’d paid into his mortgage and everything. One day, he kicked her out, just like that. Every bit of money she’d put into that home was gone. Because of that, and the uncertainty I had regarding my relationship with my ex, I will never again move in with a man unless we have a firm wedding date set.

      I’m not saying your SO would take advantage of you. For all I know, he’s a saint. I’m just saying please make sure you protect yourself. Get it in writing, always.

    21. WillyNilly*

      My personal opinion/advice to folks is to not move intogether until/unless officially engaged. This is based on my own experiences and what I have witnessed among friends & family.

      My reasoning is moving sucks. Breaking up sucks. If you are not engaged (but in the grand scheme of life someday want to be married), you are saying “breaking up is a very real possible outcome of this relationship; we are not ready to commit to even attempting forever yet.” So why risk combining two really, really sucky, hard, huge life issues (moving & breaking up).

      Now sure, engagements can be broken, and marriages end. But at least there was a plan for forever, instead of a plan for “it could go either way.”

      YMMV

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        I agree with your underlying sentiment, but I want to push back on some of it.

        Moving in with someone when you aren’t sure if the relationship has legs is almost always a really bad idea. The only possible exception would be if you are both confident that if you break up, you’ll still function fine as roommates… and lucky enough to be correct about it, too. Otherwise, you’re creating premature financial (and/or legal and/or other) ties with someone that can be tricky, and sucky, to break. Leases don’t just vanish when one of you moves out, and if neither of you can pay what’s owed, they can end up dragging down both of your credit for years. And future creditors are not hugely sympathetic to tales of “We cosigned, but they didn’t pay when we broke up.” Okay… but neither did you. Moving in together because it’s easier to go along than split up… really bad idea.

        But I do strongly disagree engagement or marriage are the sole markers of making a plan for the future or being committed to moving forward, and that moving in together without those is indicative of a mindset of “breaking up is a very real possible outcome” or “we are not ready to commit to attempting forever”.

        For myself, living together is a step on the path of commitment. I would not move in with someone I did not see a real future with. But I’m also pretty ambivalent about marriage as a legal and social institution, so a viable relationship does not have to include future marriage for me to see it as a long-haul kind of thing. I lived with a former partner for about five and a half years, and we had no plans to get married at any point unless absolutely necessary (such as for health insurance benefits). We ultimately broke up, but for reasons that would have caused us to split even if we had gotten married. It was simply not a component of the depth of our relationship.

        I’ve been living with my current nesting partner for about three years, and we are tentatively discussing marriage. He is much more interested in it than I am, and I have needed some time to come around to the idea. But my uncertainty about that has never been uncertainty about *him*, and he would have been ok with it if I had ultimately decided that I found the institution of marriage too unethical to participate in.

    22. RestlessRenegade*

      Not super relevant to your question, OP, because neither I nor my boyfriend have ever wanted to get married–but there was a huge difference when we went from me staying at his house 6-7 nights a week and us living together. It’s different for you since he owns his house, but I learned a LOT about my partner when apartment hunting and then living together. Not all of it was good. I think a lot of it depends on how home-focused you are. I am extremely sensitive to my environment and I am a control freak, so living together has been a challenge for me in lots of ways, but it was also a natural progression for us and I wouldn’t have been happy living apart.

      I think, though, that since you want a commitment to marriage, you might be better off not moving in until you guys have discussed that more and you know where he stands on that. Good luck!

    23. Aurora Leigh*

      Thanks everyone for all the thoughtful replies! It so great to see the range of experiences people have had. I’ll update you all on what we decide. :)

    24. Koala dreams*

      Here in Sweden it’s super common to live together without being married, or to live together for several years and then getting married. The one thing is not at all a step towards the other thing.

      So yes, it’s great to discuss what you want before hand.

      Good luck with the future!

  11. Shay*

    BIID is not analogous to being Transgender and stating such is problematic.

    TL;DR Being transgender is so much more than being “born in the wrong body” and comparing it with BIID is offensive because it simplifies transgender experiences to this inaccurate and offensive narrative. Without this narrative BIID and the transgender experience have little in common.

    Being transgender doesn’t inherently lead to the person wanting to or fantasizing about taking dramatic steps to self harm as a way to relieve the anguish inherent to being transgender. Conflating the two experiences leads to minimizing the anguish and stigma that are faced by transgender people because it can’t be as severe as wanting to cut off your own leg.

    Being transgender doesn’t inherently come with gender dysphoria, comparing the experience with BIID perpetuates the myth that it does and that mild dysphoria doesn’t make one valid enough.

    While gender and disability are both social constructs they are wildly different social constructs. I am multiple disabled (physically, neurologically, and psychologically) and transgender and my experiences of gender and ability are incredibly different from each other, such that I find the comparison between a transgender and BIID experience nonsensical, ridiculous, and offensive. Offensive because it the conflation of the two experiences means that neither are well understood in the person’s mind and because they are both too complex to be simplified as such.

    Also, while my sample size is currently very small (of trans and disabled people) we are currently in 100% agreement that BIID should not be compared with being transgender.

    While not much about BIID is well understood, it seem widely agreed upon that the desire to become disabled starts in early childhood. “Born in the wrong body” does not accurately summarize the transgender community and conflating the two experiences because of this perpetuates the idea that trans people must have known they were trans from childhood to be real and valid and deserve whatever transition related medical care they desire.

    Also it perpetuates the idea that transgender people must transition to be transgender, which, again, is not true.

    It is possible to (and in fact we SHOULD) accept someone who says they are a woman or man or transgender despite that person doing nothing to transition or outwardly convince you as such. It is not possible to accept someone with BIID as being blind or an amputee when they have done nothing to “transition”. However, it is possible to accept them as someone suffering from BIID. Which is what we should do.

    It’s so much complex

    Encouraging people to experiment with gender harms no one, and helps others understand gender more empathetic and complexly. Notably, when exploring gender one is exploring their own gender experiences and not that of others. Encouraging people to experiment with disability harms disabled people as it can perpetuate the idea that disabled people are faking or not as disabled as they really are. Notably, those with BIID are not exploring their own ability experiences, but are instead exploring that of others.

    All someone needs to do to be a man is to identify as a man.

    The experience someone with BIID has to their desired disability is notably different because their experience with that disability will be inherently different to someone without BIID.

    The two will have different struggles and different journeys to self acceptance. To ignore BIID in this element is to ignore the very fraught relationship those without BIID have to their disabilities. BIID sufferers who have disabled themselves or who imagine doing so tend to describe it in universally positive terms. This is not the case for others with disabilities and a large part of a disability identity surrounds one’s journey around their relationship to their disability.

    So, this all to say, you can’t say, “I’m blind” and be blind, either in the social or medical sense of the word. And since medical disability identity does exist (it is not purely social like with gender) this should not be ignored. To say, “Oh, well if you say you’re blind I guess you’re blind.” And to conflate it with the transgender experiences is to imply that to someone who says, “I’m a man.” but doesn’t look or act like how you think a man should look or act, or how you think a woman should look or act if she wants to be seen as a man, is to say to that person, “That’s very nice that you think that.” with a condescending head pat. You do not accept that that person’s internal experience is that of a man.

    The internal experience of someone with BIID is that they deeply desire to be disabled in their given way but that desire itself is not an inherently disabled experience and to say that it is misunderstands the experiences of the disabled.

    To take the attitude with someone with BIID that that’s very nice you think that, is to affirm the reality that they know that they are not blind but want to be. It should come as part of a larger discussion about how best to respect that person. But to believe someone with BIID isn’t blind just because they say they are, but instead to believe that they have a difficult and painful mental illness that drives them to wish to be blind, to the point of pretending without malicious intent or to pouring drain cleaner into their eyes is to believe and respect reality and, in turn, to respect that person with BIID.

    BIID will likely never have medically sanctioned surgeries because BIID does persist after the sufferer has become disabled in the way they desired. Let’s just not get into “detransitioning” because it’s really complicated and wrapped up in non binary gender experiences and there are a handful of very well known and very BS studies about it.

    Also, detransitioning is a thing in the first place. Cures for what BIID sufferers want to do to themselves do not exist.

    Also, when it comes to “transable” and “trans-racial” why is there concern about appropriating disability or racial identity but not transgender identity?

      1. Book Lover*

        I think one of the regular question/answers during the week. About the man who feels he is paraplegic and therefore uses a wheelchair.

      2. NaoNao*

        There was a question post earlier this week about a person using a wheelchair who has BIID and there was a lively discussion of how it does or does not correlate to transpeople’s experiences. A complex idea and topic, indeed. Very interesting.

      3. Reba*

        There was a letter about this recently, and it was requested to have a longer discussion over here (rather than totally bog down that thread).

      1. Shay*

        It really bothered and upset me, so I’m glad I could take the negative energy and turn it into something positive.

        1. Rulesfor*

          Agreed. I was really upset about it all week, and I really appreciate your taking the time to make the comment in this thread.

    1. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

      Shay, could you point me towards some good material on medical disability identity? I know I could google but I feel like you might know a good starting point instead of me flailing around.

      Thank you so much!! <3 I loved hearing your thoughts and, as much as I support people with BIID, I so agree that it is not anywhere near what transgender is. Apples and oranges x1000.

      1. Shay*

        Hmm
        I’ve written about it a few times but I haven’t gotten published yet. Im on a feild trip at the moment but when I get home I’ll dig it up for you.

      2. Book req*

        Carl Elliot has a chapter about BIID specifically in his book Better Than Well. The book is about fifteen years old, so it’s probably not the most accurate representation of contemporary psychiatric and social theory, but I remember his account being fairly compassionate.

      3. Shay*

        Okay, if you are not still around I completely understand! But if you are…

        Mel Baggs at http://withasmoothroundstone.tumblr.com/
        They have a very extensive book collection by and about autistic people (and sometimes disability more broadly) and many of these books handler identity. I’m having a hard time finding a list of what books are in this collection, but if it’s not out there I’m sure Mel would have no problem sharing the titles.

    2. Marvel*

      Thanks for articulating this so well. I’m also a trans person and I was pretty upset with some of the comparisons happening in that comment thread. I understand why they look superficially similar to people how have little to no experience with either, but I think people who have such limited experience should perhaps consider that it’s not a good idea to compare two things you are not very well-versed in to begin with.

    3. Thursday Next*

      Thank you, Shay, for all the nuance you present here. I’ve been thinking about the BIID letter a lot this week myself. I had reflexively resisted the analogy between BIID and transgender that some people were offering, but couldn’t articulate why; it was knee-jerk emotion, not logic. Your comment today has given me a lot to think about.

    4. Rahera*

      I really appreciate reading this, Shay, thank you. I was very worried by the trans and BIID comparisons going on in the other post.

    5. Close Bracket*

      > Also, when it comes to “transable” and “trans-racial” why is there concern about appropriating disability or racial identity but not transgender identity?

      I wonder about this a lot. I am fully committed to treating people as the gender they say they are. I am also uncomfortable with trans-racial identities, and I have trouble pin-pointing why. One thing I can say that I have noticed is that while there are both trans men and trans women, there are very few trans-white people, and very few trans-able-bodied people. In other words, transgender identities exist in both more-privileged to less-privileged (MtF) and less-privileged to more-privileged (FtM) directions (alongside all the other trans identities). Trans-racial identities are overwhelmingly from more-privileged to less-privileged, and trans able is defined as able-bodied people identifying as disabled, i.e., more-privileged to less-privileged. I’m not sure what this implies exactly about the differences. I sense a certain fetishization of marginalized groups. Regardless of the meaning, there is an identifiable difference in how trans gender and trans racial/trans abled identities present in society.

      Thoughts? Am I just a trans racial/trans able bigot?

      I give serious side eye to otherkins.

  12. Lily Evans*

    Does anyone have any tips for getting better at interior design? I really want to re-decorate my bedroom but I just have no natural talent for design. I know what I like and have a general idea of how I’d like my room to look in the end, but getting from point a to point b eludes me. I’m not talking like heavy duty changes since it’s a rental, just stuff like choosing a new rug, how to hang frames so they look nice together, and arranging furniture. I know that like any other talent there must be tricks out there for getting better at it, I just haven’t found them yet.

    1. grace*

      I’ve found pinterest has a lot of helpful guides – how to pick a rug for the size of your room, etc. I also like watching HGTV (I’m a huge Joanna Gaines junkie to be totally honest), which I think helps because they often explain aloud why they’re picking what they are, and how it works in the room can be seen within an hour.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m not good at decorating, either. Most of what is in my living room is from Pottery Barn and Pier 1, and my sister helped me pick it all out.

        I used Pinterest for my bedroom and it turned out great. I based it on a rug that I found on Overstock (https://tinyurl.com/y85bwcxj) and started a Pinterest board based on that. Then I just kind of found elements that I thought looked good with it (again, with sister’s help) and my bedroom turned out pretty good! I mostly credit the rug; it’s not my normal style but I loved it for a long time before I got it and I’ve never been sorry.

    2. Fiennes*

      Apartment Therapy might be a place to start. They can be faddish, and sometimes they shill stuff, but they offer many good posts about core decorating advice and tricks. Also, there are tons of house tours that show off individual homes decorated on budgets actual humans can afford. Lots of DIY and rental-specific advice too.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Grace’s thoughts are super on point! It’s also worth noting that the things you’re pointing out as being tricky for you isn’t really a natural talent; its all logistics! Some people have a good eye for design, and for seeing the potential in a space and having a knack for what looks good together, but none of that makes the actual logistics of learning about different kinds of frames, what the pros and cons of different rug types are, and how to arrange furniture in a room much easier! People learn that over time. Pinterest, as grace points out, is a great way to start learning those things. There’s also a mobile game called Design Home that I play all the time that’s an interior design game that uses real products from real brands.

      The other way to learn is by doing! Check out rugs on Overstock and get an idea of what grabs your attention as you scroll endlessly through the options. Go to a frame store and look at all the options, and think about what you like.

      Oh, and I’m always telling people… consider an accent wall in a different color! Its a good way to refresh a room that you don’t want to invest the full expense of painting in. I think we’re gonna do an accent wall in our living room, and we just need to decide on a color.

      1. LPUK*

        Seconding the feature wall advice – I hate the blandness of all white/ cream rooms, but colour on every wall is a big commitment. Colour on one wall, or even two can make a huge difference to the mood of a room, and also help pull everything together. I have a soft olive green in my living room, chocolate brown in my guest bedroom and a lovely glossy conker colour in my kitchen which makes me happy every time I took at it.
        One thing I would do is paint the colour you are thinking of on a piece of paper first, stick it to the wall and then live with it for a week or so, checking what it’s like at different times of the day and in different lighting conditions

    4. Pat Benetardis*

      I have found the Houzz app to be really helpful. You can analyze what you like about certain rooms and then try to recreate those elements with your own things.

    5. Where's my coffee?*

      Check out the book “The Perfectly Imperfect Home” for good inspiration. And remember it’s always better for a room to be “wrong” but “you” than it is for a room to be “right” but “not really you.”

      Some general good tips:

      -Get a much bigger rug than you think. IKEA, Amazon, and Overstock have big rugs for reasonable prices.

      -Some people love one big piece of art; some people like the look of many mismatched frames artfully arranged. If you do the latter, arrange the frames on a sheet on the floor. Does one side look “heavier” than the other? When in doubt, one big piece makes a bigger impact and is (imho) easier to pull off. I have a beautiful, giant painting in my garage that was done by my kids.

      -Some decorators aren’t into displaying family photos, but I love ’em–especially casual shots that have been enlarged and printed on canvas. In general, hang pics with the center at eye level unless over a sofa.

      -Arranging furniture is a beast for everyone, since builders do not apparently think about how humans actually use rooms. Leave space to walk around furniture when possible, but mostly do what feels comfortable. Smallish ottomans with trays can used for everything from seating to coffe tables to nightstands.

      -Lamps and curtains make a room look more finished. Custom curtains are breathtakingly expensive, but IKEA has a line of cotton velvet curtains that I have used in traditional, modern, and eclectic rooms with great results. They have enough weight to not look cheesy, and they’re good for acoustics and warmth. If you like a breezy look, they also have affordable linen-type curtains.

      Good luck and have fun!

      1. Reba*

        If you can sew and are reasonably good with measurements, making your own curtains is definitely within reach! There are many cool upholstery fabrics these days that you can buy online.

        I remember when I first added curtains to the blinds that came with the apartment, I did feel a bit like I had arrived. :)

        Many of the Ikea curtains do look great, as well.

    6. Reba*

      Find a designer you like who has a decent web presence (echoing apartment therapy as a place to do that, too, as well as self-decorators). Emily Henderson comes to mind if you like California style, and she has a website where she often breaks down the decisions that she’s made for different rooms/projects.

      I know Apt Therapy has some posts on arranging frames and hanging tips for sure. In most of my home we have had the artwork first (lucky to have artist friends) and worked the other items around that.

      I’ll share my pet peeve, which is not understanding where you need vertical vs. horizontal pieces of art. Put a horizontal piece over your bed (or a set of squares a verticals that function like a horizontal)!

      Have fun with your project! That’s exciting!

    7. HannahS*

      Design blogs and pinterest? I honestly look up stuff like “gallery wall” or “how to hang photos” or even “decorating 101” and there are loads and loads of posts of how-tos. This post in particular kind of blew my mind, because it brought me back to TLC’s Trading Spaces of yore, when a designer would coo at a pillow and be all “THIS was my inspiration” and I thought they were nuts. But it makes sense! https://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/02/cheater-formula-decorating-blank-room/

      The other value of blogs, to me, is that many of them are/were written by stay-at-home moms who wanted to make their houses look nice, so it’s not quite as out-of-reach for me as looking at an redesign in a magazine, where they had ten thousand dollars and a team of professionals.

    8. Lily Evans*

      Thanks to everyone who’s commented so far! I can already tell that Apartment Therapy is going to be a great rabbit hole of info for me to spend the afternoon reading!

      1. Aphrodite*

        I am an AT addict as well and it is a great resource. One thing worth considering is using their search function for specific things you are interested in such as rugs, bedroom. That will bring up all the posts that have anything to do with that narrow subject.

        Though I subscribe to all the shelter magazines, my favorite is House Beautiful. The editor is damn good. You can also, if you don’t plan to keep them, tear out pages that have something that particularly appeals to use like a color, the way a bed is made, a lamp, or just about anything. Also, start perusing CraigsList (be careful and particular) and thrift and antique stores-but don’t be in a hurry. Take plenty of time and if it takes you a year or five to fix your bedroom the way you want it that’s okay. Every single thing in there should be something you love!

        Have fun with it.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      One thing I found helpful is the thought that all the choices I make have one common thread: It’s something *I* like. My tastes/preferences are that common thread. This is good to realize, a person tends to gravitate toward similar colors/styles/materials over and over. So as you go along keep track of the things that grab your attention over and over. Looking for the features and characteristics that you seem to go toward will help lessen the whirlwind of choices.

      Another thing to do that helps with budget is to get practical as often as possible. Initially, I liked furniture that served two functions. For example a coffee table with storage space or a couch with a pull out bed. Think about how you use each space and what would make the space work best for you.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      You might poke around the library design shelves and see if any books draw your hand. One thing I really liked in the Not So Big House series was that it could spell out the patterns that underlay my “I like this room, but not this one” feelings. (So I like light on 2 sides and a circulation path; I don’t care about ceiling heights.)

    11. Just a Concerned Third Party*

      This could end up being a rather large time commitment, so it probably isn’t exactly practical advice, but … try learning to use a 3D design program like SketchUp. Download some of the furniture / object models from their library, drop them into a box, and play around with the positioning, colors, and patterns to make a few virtual rooms with whatever you like in them. For extra realism, you can go on stores’ websites to get photos of paintings or rugs that you’re considering and stick them right on your 3D objects. It’s pretty low-stakes and you don’t have to spend a cent on any of it if you don’t want to.

      1. Ann*

        This is what I did! My brother makes fun of me for it, but I have a weirdly shaped apartment so it really helped me visualize different layouts without having to actually move the furniture. I used sketch-up and modeled everything myself (except for Ikea furniture, which was all in the library), so it meant it was fairly accurate and I could see things like “what’s the first thing people see when they walk in the door?” or “how visible is the TV from the kitchen”

        If you don’t want to 3D model stuff, you could also use a program like Visio to make a 2D floorplan. (Visio makes it pretty easy to make it to scale)

      2. Jillociraptor*

        Floorplanner.com is similar to this but I think a slightly shallower learning curve. You can build a floorplan in 2D and then view it in 3D to get a sense for proportions and flows. It has a whole bunch of furniture already loaded in, and most of it can be customized to different sizes and colors.

        Also, IKEA has several planning tools that can help with visualizing those products in a 3D space.

    12. Betsy*

      This is more general design, but my high school art teacher said never to have more than four colours in any one artwork. So if I’m thinking about how to set out a room, I try to think of two key colours for furniture and bedding, etc. knowing that I own a few things that might go against the overall scheme. I tend to like light blue/grey at the moment, so my bedding is usually that colour, as well as other soft furnishings. I ended up with a mustard colour chair and a red mid-century armchair I’d bought on eBay and then I own a lot of wood furniture, so dark brown ended up as the fourth colour.

      I try to keep everything quite minimal and not cluttered, so I try to have a few pieces of beautiful furniture I love, and some high quality bedding, and keep it at that.

    13. Jillociraptor*

      I love browsing furniture and decor stores to see how they’ve laid things out and put different pieces together. I’m that nerd who will spend hours in IKEA going through every showroom. I’ve developed a better idea of what appeals to me by looking at the differences between spaces that immediately pop versus those I don’t like as much.

      There’s also an iPhone game called Design Home (pretty sure it’s free) that’s mostly fun but could also be an interesting way to start to practice some of the composition parts of design. Basically, you get a few challenges each day where you have to place furniture and decor items in a space, usually with some parameters (like, you have to use a green chair and a gold lamp or something). You can start to analyze proportion, mixing or matching colors/textures, and how to fit different kinds of decor with the “bones” of the space. Part of the game is also rating other designs so you get the opportunity to keep refining your own point of view as you see what works for you and what doesn’t. (That said, I’d take the ratings your own designs get with a grain of salt — you need to rate designs to get the “points” to play the game so I think most people aren’t spending tons of time in careful contemplation!)

  13. Baguette*

    Does anyone have any experience with landlords/letting agents letting themselves into your property illegally?

    I’m currently getting a situation (hopefully) resolved where a letting agent used their key to get into our flat without notice nor for an appropriate reason. We were all in bed at the time, it’s just so creepy.

    It’s hopefully going to be handled so it doesn’t happen again, but I’m just so astounded that it would happen in the first place and not realise (or not care) that it breaks the tenancy agreement and the law! Has anyone had a similar thing happen to them? And what did you do?

    1. dr_silverware*

      Had this happen to a lesser degree–it states in my lease that maintenance should notify us an hour before entering the apartment (which is too short a time imo). But we came home and found out that someone had been in to change the smoke alarm.

      Called my landlord to remind them about the one hour notice period, kept the smoke alarm box, wrote down what happened, etc. I don’t think there’s recourse except getting money back through small claims court if you need to break your lease and move. But IANAL and I’d check with a tenants’ rights group in your city.

      1. Baguette*

        Currently waiting for a response from the boss, but the agent who came in and their colleague have both told me this is common procedure for the agency, so I assume no firing will be happening.

        1. Observer*

          And you really believe anything this guy says? I mean it COULD be true, but he could also be lying through his teeth.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      In the UK this is completely illegal and can be considered harassment. If that’s where you live I would give Shelter a call. They are super helpful.

      1. Baguette*

        I am in the UK yeah. I have heard of calling Shelter about this kind of thing! I think unless I get a “we’re so sorry this will never happen again” response then I’ll call.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          What concerns me is them saying that it’s standard procedure for your agency. That’s not ok. They need to be giving you 24 hours notice beforehand unless there’s some kind of emergency. Had you not mentioned that I would have thought this one agent had gone rogue. I would give Shelter a call – expect to be asked what kind of tenancy agreement you have and whether it contains a break clause as those are just useful in helping them give advice tailored to your exact situation.

          1. Baguette*

            I know, that confused me too. I think either they’re lying or it’s “what they usually do” but not official procedure, because the tenancy agreement states otherwise.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Oh and IANAL but I think as well as 24 hours notice they also have to only come at reasonable times of day which it sounds like this wasn’t.

          It’s fine to call Shelter just to get some advice if you want to!

          1. Baguette*

            It was late morning so I think that would count as a reasonable time, but it wasn’t even for a reason that they’d need access to the property in the first place, that’s what’s so infuriating. We were all awake but in bed, and didn’t answer the door because I was barely sure someone had knocked but we also weren’t expecting anyone. Little did I know they’d just come in!! I actually heard them walking through the flat and assumed it was my flatmate. Creepy creepy.

            I think I might speak to Shelter for advice about where we stand.

      2. paul*

        It’s illegal in most states as well! Were they nice enough to put the “standard procedure” line in writing?

        1. Baguette*

          Nope, was said on the phone. But we’ll see if that’s the line they repeat when they give me a written reply

    3. Victoria, Please*

      My stepdaughter had the most awful old bag of a landlady while she was in college — the woman would come in whenever the hell she wanted. Once, my SD was in the shower and if we hadn’t installed a chain lock, the landlady would have just walked in! She screamed at my SD to hurry the “f” up and get to the door, and then yelled at us for installing the chain.

      I think my SD only lived there a year, and then moved into a rathole in the attic of some old house. It was a total pit but at least the landlord was a nice guy, if all he did was shamble around and fix nothing.

    4. Triple Anon*

      Yes. It’s happened to me a few times. I tried to get help and didn’t have any luck. I ended up moving each time, but there was a cost – moving expenses, things that were stolen or damaged by the landlord. The first time something like this happened, I tried to get legal help through some free services and go to small claims court. The landlord was significantly better off and more established in the community so he hired a better lawyer, made some frightening threats, and scared me out of pursuing it.

      Another time, I tried calling a tenants rights org and a community violence hotline. The tenants rights org didn’t want to get involved because there wasn’t even evidence and he had previously had a good track record (I had heard complaints from previous tenants but no one had taken any kind of action publicly or formally). The community violence resources were all for people in abusive relationships; they couldn’t help with a landlord-tenant sort of thing.

      I really wish I had just filed a police report after moving out, or even before. It’s scary because there is corruption and sometimes people retaliate. But I think you’re probably better protected that way than if you do nothing. If they enter in a way that’s outside the terms of the lease, it is breaking and entering, and they can be charged just like if a stranger did the same thing.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Happens all the time with jerk landlords. I would change the locks and then give the new key to the landlord (or person who is actually entitled to have a key) if that’s required by law.

      1. Banana*

        I definitely had this happen to me in my first apartment when I was a college student. Of course, I was a college student, so at 8am on a Saturday morning, I was sleeping. For some reason that I can’t remember, the management had emailed me at 10pm the night before that they were coming to do something.

        8am my bell rings. I was apartment #1, so I had had the experience of people ringing my bell when the person they really wanted wouldn’t answer, and they would just ring #1 hoping to be buzzed into the building. I was not expecting anyone so I ignored. They rang and rang, and still I did not answer. Then they started knocking. I was not dressed, so I did not answer, still. Then they opened my door! Fortunately, I had a chain on the door so they couldn’t come all the way in. Then they whistled. I pretended to be asleep and didn’t answer, because I had no pants on! Finally they went away.

        They were all upset because I hadn’t let them in and they emailed me to tell me so. But they did not give me 24 hours notice, as is the law, so I just said “Too bad, so sad!”

        My current landlord also sometimes tells me he is coming with less than 24 hours notice. It is annoying, but he does not care about the law (he violates other housing laws as well). I don’t think there is any real recourse you have except to call the police, and I don’t want to jeopardize my cheap rent, so…I’ll just deal with it.

    6. Amadeo*

      Yeah, the last place I rented the landlord did that to me for the first month or so. Wouldn’t let me know he was coming, just would let himself in to do some work on the apartment. I had a german shepherd at the time and for the first few weeks she’d let him come in (he’d even walk her, arg!) and then one day – she wasn’t having it. She stopped letting him just come in when I wasn’t home so he had to call me and let me know when he was coming so I could put her in a bedroom. I never actually had to ask him to give me notice (and I suspect it wouldn’t have gone well if it had come to that).

      I suppose I’m lucky that it worked out that way and he didn’t tell me she had to go, but I have to admit, I was glad she finally put her little doggie foot down!

    7. Anono-me*

      You might want to get something like a door bar or one of those things that the travel stores sell for securing hotel room doors.

      Landlord showed up unannounced to do a fire inspection. I was sleeping with the door chain on. I ‘slept’ through it. (Lease required 24 hour notice except in emergencies and he knew I worked nights.)

      When I came home the next day the chain was gone. It was a weird building and I was moving soon, so I didn’t say anything, I just went and bought a door bar.

  14. She who has never baked a potato*

    How clean does a potato need to be before you bake it?
    All the instructions I find are just ‘wash / dry’, some mention scrubbing but no indication of at what point to stop. Is it purely just ‘get rid of visible dirt’ or more ‘scrub ’til it’s practically peeled’ level of cleaning?

    1. grace*

      How are you cooking it?

      But in general I just clean it until there’s no dirt I can see and then hope the boiling water will get rid of anything I missed :)

    2. nep*

      I’ll be interested in responses here. I roast potato wedges often; I give the potatoes a good rinse, rubbing just with my hands. Still alive to tell about it, so…(I sometimes wonder whether I should be cleaning them better.)

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      If I’m cooking for someone that eats the peel, I scrub under the faucet till the water coming off isn’t dirty. For me, I just quick rinse and microwave — poke holes with a fork first!

    4. Lily Evans*

      If I’m baking it whole I just give it a light wash before baking, but I also don’t eat the skin. If I was cooking for someone who liked eating the skin on the potato I’d wash them more thoroughly.

    5. Typhon Worker Bee*

      I eat the skin (it’s the best part! This is true whether you’re roasting, baking, frying, or boiling. I even leave the skins on when I make mashed potatoes), and am perfectly happy with a “get rid of visible dirt” level of clean. Whichever cooking method you choose will obliterate any surface germs by the time the potato’s ready, unless maybe you’re just microwaving it, but that’s a terrible thing to do to a potato anyway.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      When I first started working, I had to peel potatoes for one job. A big pot of potatoes every morning. We just threw them in a sink of water and let them soak while we peeled.

      I was not impressed with this system as the potatoes looked a little dirty in the pot.

      I use a veggie brush and running water, so the dirt falls away from the potato. I might spend all of 30 seconds scrubbing each potato. If I have those small purple or red potatoes I put them in a colander in the sink and give each one a quick brush over.

      But I use the veggie brush on any veggies that will hack it – usually root veggies.

    7. only acting normal*

      Just ate baked potato for dinner!
      Gave it a little scrub under running water (it was fairly clean already really – if it was muddy I’d rinse under the tap first then finish with a light scrub to get in nooks and crannies).
      Prong with a fork a few times, oil and coarse salt rubbed in by hand, 15min microwave + 10min in oven. Butter and tuna-mayo. Nom nom nom. :P

    8. Mike C.*

      Two things about roasting potatoes that I’ve seems on America’s Test Kitchen that make them awesome:

      1. Roll the cleaned potatoes in a very salty water solution. As the potato cooks, it gets a really nice, salty crust.

      2. 10 minutes prior to being finished, brush oil onto the surface of the potato. Once it’s done, it’s amazing.

    9. paul*

      I just get rid of the visible dirt. Then lightly sprinkle with sea salt, stab it with a skewer and put ’em in. So good. The skins get a little crispy and oh, it’s so good. Crispy salty skin, soft wonderful innards….

  15. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    1. Enabler dad co-owns mutual funds/stocks with my name attached and I had to pay $600 in taxes because it got dividends, which ate into 10% of my wedding budget. After paying that much, I’m tempted to just sign away my rights to him. I hate my parents essentially holding dividend/tax info ostagehay during tax filing time, and I never plan to use that fund. It’s why I haven’t been able to do more than 1% 401(k) contribution, and I’d like to up it to 4% ideally.

    Q: Thoughts? Basically, parents using stock/money as means of tax control, financial micromanaging. Maybe I’m being paranoid? ;S

    2. Wedding planning is wrapping up (TG/knock on wood). It’s been isolating because the MOH has 2 jobs, BMs are all out-of-state, my mom isn’t someone I’d trust (she’s on sidelines trying to micromanage to no avail), and SO’s mom’s divorced and dealing with stuff (roof collapse–but covered with insurance and no one injured TG). My extended family (20 cousins on FB–2 congratulated me, 18 don’t care/are apathetic). My friend circle’s shifted–mostly singles, and they’ve invited me to events less, or I’ve been busy with planning too, and meeting up with married coupled friends, which is an adjustment.

    Which means going to alterations alone today. I joined a FB group for engaged folks. I’m busy working, I do yoga, run, and SO has been AMAZING at co-planning with me. But everyone on his side is super excited, but nobody in my family is happy and it feels like a funeral vibe.

    Q: How do you feel less “alone”? How do you stay happy when nobody cares/nobody in your family is celebrating with/for you?

    3. Wedding planning has me getting cranky at times/impatient, exhausted. I have less tolerance for BS, basically. It helps during the week since I do management stuff, but it’s made me cranky overall.

    Q: How do you deal with this? How do you feel “less cranky”?

    1. Natalie*

      Eh, from what I recall you make a pretty reasonable living and have a comfortable nest egg, correct? I would drop any kind of jointly owned investment – it sounds like a pain in the ass even if your parents were normal.

    2. Turtlewings*

      Q1: Definitely drop the investment. More trouble than it’s worth.

      Q2: Focus on spending time with people who ARE happy and excited for you (maybe make plans with those two cousins?), and remember you don’t need anyone’s permission to be happy and excited for yourself.

      Q3: Just try to be really kind and patient with yourself. Treat yourself like you’re taking care of a toddler — don’t expect too much, space out your schedule, make sure Toddler You gets enough food, drink and sleep, give Toddler You space to calm down when needed, etc.

      I hope that’s helpful, good luck with the wedding!

    3. Lazy Cat*

      Re #2, I just want to say that you aren’t alone in feeling alone. I moved across the country to join my then-bf, and when we got engaged (and throughout our engagement and wedding), all of “my” people lived 3+ time zones away. Our mutual friends in New City were all through his law school, and were 3Ls and studying for the during our engagement. I got really sad about not being able to celebrate with my friends and family, and it was rough to hear him come home from grad school with stories about (random person) congratulating him. The societal stereotype or pressure that an engagement should be full of events with your closest women was really rough.

      I got through it by being 100% upfront about that with my fiance, and reading lots of wedding blogs or forums. Also, just accepting there was nothing I could do to change it, and trying to snag fun / excited moments where I could grab them.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Is there a way to extricate yourself from the investment without handing your dad a bunch of money?

      Their issues are about them, not you – I know you know this intellectually, but accepting it emotionally is probably the best way to get past the fact that they are not celebrating with you the way emotionally healthy people would.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      From following along, your parents definitely use money to manipulate you. My response to someone who does that is “keep your money”. Maybe you can announce that as a reverse-wedding present you will be gifting your dad your ownership of that account. There is more than one way to eliminate BS from your life.

      Which brings me to question 3 about stress and BS. Back off on the details. It is what it is. When we get too involved in detail our joy disappears. If you want your joy back, get rid of some of the detail stuff that does not amount to a hill of beans. My MIL had kittens when I said it did not matter what color the ribbon was on my bouquet. She melted down all over. You know. I had this random color for the ribbon and I was still able to get officially married in spite of that random color for the ribbon on my bouquet. Imagine that. Happily this is a good skill to have and use over and over again.

      Question 2. That is a sad one, however, I have found this happens so much in life that the healthiest thing to do is focus on the people who do respond and forget the rest. Another helpful thing is to remind myself that some where someone is saying, “Why doesn’t NSNR remember me and what I am doing?”
      Many things come up in life that take our joy. This is probably where the expression about the glass half empty or half full came about. No moment in life is totally joyful but the good news side is that no moment in life is totally sad. I have smiled at funerals and cried at weddings, just because that is how things go.

      You are going through some big life changes. Make sure you are getting adequate rest so your tired mind can think things through. (Another valuable tidbit that you will use over and over.) Remember at the end of the day, you will still be a married person, no matter what else goes on.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      1) As Natalie said, cut the strings and walk away. If they want to straight-out hand you the money at some future date they can do that.
      2) For people like the disinterested cousins, dial your expectations to zero. You can then be pleasantly surprised if it’s a bit better than that, rather than disappointed that it’s not as much as you’d set up in your mind.

    7. nerdgal*

      If they are jointly owned, you can cash them in and pocket the money. That may be more aggressive than you want, but you could use that as a reason for him to get the SSN changed. If he doesn’t do it, then you can seriously cash them in, write him a check for the balance, or half the balance if you want (less any taxes due :)) and then say, here, now go open an account in your name only.

    8. Lillian*

      The website apracticalwedding.com is an amazing resource. They have a ton of practical advice but more importantly there is an amazing community there. Their comment section is as helpful and respectful as the one here at askamanagr.

    9. Observer*

      If the money is yours, empty the account and close it or take your name off it. Your dad may be able to keep the account open, but he can’t force you to keep your name on it.

      If the money was put in there by your parents, then just take your name off it. Again, it doesn’t matter what they say. They CANNOT force you to keep your name on it.

      You need to disentangle EVERY SINGLE financial connection you have with them.

    10. Former Employee*

      1. If your father won’t buy you out,can you force a sale of the asset the way you could with real property? (Though I don’t get why paying $600 in taxes would keep you from more fully investing in your 401(k) account.)

      2. Do you know exactly what is going on with your various cousins? Could one be dealing with a difficult pregnancy, another facing possible foreclosure, a third unsure of what will happen after the merger, etc.? Enjoy all the positive stuff and ignore the rest.

      3. I don’t have much to say on the crankiness. Deep breathing, maybe?

      Best of luck.

    11. No regular name*

      1. If you owed $600 in taxes just on the dividends from that account, it must be worth quite a bit. I’d find it difficult to just walk away from, especially since you could use it for your wedding. Can you ask your parent to sell half & give to you and he can keep his share in his own name? Or just split the account into 2 separate accounts? Also, fyi, investment accounts, even in joint name, typically are reported to the government under the social security number of the person whose name is first on the account. Just saying.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks. Definitely food for thought.

        These accounts have been made decades ago–likely before I could even walk. I started paying taxes 100% on my own after financial independence. I don’t think my parents will listen to reason re: selling half. I’d like to think they’re rational creatures but I know for a fact they’re not. Spent last night commiseration with fiance that 3 years from now I’m going to decide between a mortgage, future kid’s diapers, and paying these hefty taxes :/ The parentals: trying to starve me into submission……so they can throw $ at me and reattach strings I have no intention of reattaching to them. TG I have other means to take care of myself…

    12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      1. Is the account a custodial account or a joint account? If it is joint you can contact the investment firm that holds it directly and work with them to get your money and vanish. If it’s custodial, that gets a hell of a lot sticker, because there’s no legal way for you to directly turn over ownership to your dad, and it requires his participation for the assets to be moved into your direct control. Basically if it is a custodial account, I highly recommend contacting a good lawyer.

        1. Observer*

          It doesn’t have to be that complicated, in all cases. Depending on the way it was set up, she might be able to deal with more easily than it looks, because some accounts apparently automatically change when the child reaches a certain age. (That’s what happened with some accounts we had set up for our kids. Which was fine, since we weren’t trying to use these accounts to control anyone. It did take me by surprise though.)

  16. DanaScully*

    I’m so excited to share that we have just booked to go to Thailand for two weeks in December! My first and only visit was 11 years ago, but this is my gf’s first time in Thailand, and first time flying long haul. We are both very excited!

    We are two women in our mid/late twenties and we would really appreciate any advice, tips or recommendations you may have. Good hotels, landmarks we shouldn’t miss, restaurants, tasty meals, good bars, anything at all.

    We haven’t got a concrete itinerary just yet, but we’re looking at Chiang Mai, Krabi and Bangkok. Open to alternatives.

    Thanks!

    1. Lily Evans*

      I’ve never been, but a couple travel bloggers I follow have spent a ton of time there and have a lot of resources about the country! Here are their links: 1 & 2.

      I hope you guys have an awesome time!

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I got some responses to my ask last week (although we are including Singapore and Malaysia) – maybe have a check back in that thread?

    3. HeatherB*

      We stayed at Rayavadee in Krabi and loved it. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are some of my favorite places – the scenery and food is completely different from the beach areas down south. There’s a true elephant sanctuary in Sukhothai called Boon Lott’s that you might look into. They have rescued elephants from begging, illegal logging, etc. There’s no chains, no riding and they have guest houses. They are booked out quite far in advance. Enjoy your trip!!

    4. Peggy*

      My wife and I went for our honeymoon last year. We kept a low profile as a same sex couple – in some places Thailand is very “anything goes!” But in other regions, it’s a very conservative Muslim place and we felt safer just not revealing our relationship.

      We did 2 nights in Bangkok to get over the jet lag, 4 nights in Chaing Mai, a night in Phuket Town, 4 nights on Koh Lanta, 1 night in Ao Nang, then the last 2 nights in paradise at a resort called Nakamanda on Klong Muang beach near Krabi.

      Bangkok and Phuket and Ao Nang were wasted nights. Basically just places to crash before and after flights and long ferry rides. Our time in Chiang Mai and Koh Lanta and Klong Muang were the best days of my life and if I could relive them over and over I would.

      If you go to Bangkok – you’ll find stuff to do. See Kao San Road and the huge Buddhist palace and take a commuter speed boat and marvel at how you lived through it. We didn’t have much time to explore there because we were adjusting after the flight and then basically booked it out of there to Chiang Mai.

      In Chaing Mai we took a cooking class at a place called Zabbi Lee (there are hundreds of cooking classes – the one we picked was a PERFECT day and a highlight of the trip). We did a half day at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (humane/no riding, swimming with elephants was best day of my entire life). Make sure you’re in CM for the Sunday night walking market, they have night markets every night but Sunday is huge and special. Get massages every day, they’re only a few dollars each with tip and they’re life changing.

      No restaurant tips other than eat curry on the beach as often as possible.

      I have more to say but I fear typing for an hour on my phone then hitting submit and losing the comment. I’ll come back later to post more!

    5. Jojobean*

      I’m currently living in Thailand! It depends a lot on where you’re going – I spent 6 months living in Bangkok but was recovering from my last posting so didn’t get out to do much touristy stuff. It’s super safe, easy to get around, and fairly inexpensive by Western standards. Beware the humidity, though.

      I haven’t been to Krabi either have but heard lots of good things, so you should have a blast. It’s supposed to be beautiful.

      I’m currently living in Chiang Mai so I can give you lots of info on that, if you let me know what you’re interested in?

      1. Peggy*

        I wish I’d discovered Chiang Mai in my twenties. I’m about 40, taking care of parents, paying a mortgage, starting a family now. If I’d known how deeply I was going to fall in love with Chiang Mai, I’d have gone 20 years ago and never left.

        Now, it’s my retirement dream. :)

  17. Madeline*

    This time last week I posted about how I was going to meet up with someone I knew through a fandom online, feeling a bit apprehensive etc.

    Updating to say…it was completely /not/ what I expected, and not in a particularly good or bad way, just…unexpected.

    For one thing, I always assumed she was in her early 20s (I’d have to go back ages to find out what gave me that impression, maybe talking about fandoms in general I expect people to be young? She’s never been deliberately misleading or anything) and it turned out she was at least as old as I am (early 30s), and was travelling with her daughter who was almost 10 years old!

    So yeah…that took a bit of re-calibrating straight off the bat! But apart from that it was all pretty normal. We had dinner and chatted about the fandom which was quite fun, the language barrier wasn’t as much of an issue as I thought it’d be (even though I was really tempted to switch to English, because it’s mainly an English-language fandom). We didn’t talk that much about stuff in ‘real life’ though. I don’t think we’re going to close friends or anything, most likely just continue with the fandom-based stuff as before.

  18. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    It’s been a crap couple of weeks for me, so I’ve booked a makeup lesson/makeover at Sephora for this afternoon. I’m excited! And nervous. I’m (irrationally, I know) afraid they’ll judge me and know I’m an interloper. But! I’ve made it a personal mission to figure out how to do my makeup and there’s only so much I can teach myself from YouTube. So, I am looking forward to it.

    (But still a little anxious…)

    1. NaoNao*

      Sounds fun! I used to work for a company that sold makeup and we did free makeovers for a radio contest and I’ll never forget the look on one woman’s faced when she peered into the mirror afterwards: “Wow, I’m so pretty!” —that’s what makeup artists, makeover stylists, hair dressers, and other beauty and fashion consultants LIVE for. They’re not judging you! They love to help others look and feel amazing.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Thank you! It’s just my low self confidence flaring up, I know. I’ve never been the “pretty” girl so I feel like they’ll think I don’t belong. Which I recognize is STUPID. I am, deep down, excited. It’s just a little outside my comfort zone.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I have always had wonderful experiences with the people at Sephora! Most of them are there because they love makeup and helping other people love makeup. Even though I am an old now, they still treat me like I am young and fun. Perhaps you could let the person know that you are a little nervous? They will probably be able to help put you at ease.

      Have fun!

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Thank you! I was bullied pretty badly as a teenager even though I’m 31….it has stuck with me. So I know that’s why, I’m still stuck in the mindset of “Oh, they’ll make fun of me in the lunchroom!”. Which doesn’t make sense. And isn’t fair to them! I *am* excited. So I’m attempting to focus my energy there.

    3. Reba*

      Good for you! I hope you get a good stylist or whatever they are called. In my experience they love initiating newbies into the makeup cult. Please report back!

        1. ainomiaka*

          I’ve only done it a couple of times, but both times the consultant has been super nice about answering questions and helping if I say “I want to learn”

    4. Kat*

      Let us know how it goes! I have often thought of getting one, but I don’t like the make-up departments locally. The assistants never genuinely talk to me, and as my skin is not great I know they just think I need a makeover. But when I ask them questions they don’t tell me anything useful! If I can get to a Sephora, I might try them, if they’re nice!

    5. Simone R*

      The people at Sephora are so nice! I’ve gone in a bunch to say I don’t know what I’m doing, but I want something that does X,Y and Z and they are very helpful. They are also amazing at giving out free samples, so if there’s something that you like that they do but aren’t sure how much you’ll use it at home, don’t be afraid to ask!

      I’ve also recently subscribed to Sephora play which is a great monthly makeup subscription box. I felt like I wanted to revamp my very basic makeup routine and it’s a good way to try a lot of stuff for cheap with low commitment. I’ve bought a few of the samples that I loved in a larger size and I would never have thought to try them!

    6. Alpha Bravo*

      Please let us know how it goes! I’m old, and apparently a makeup minimalist. I do use makeup, just not a lot of it and I tend to go with neutral colors that don’t look makeup-y. My daughter is trying to convince me we should go to Sephora together and get me properly educated. I don’t know….

      1. Can’t remember my name*

        I had a wonderful experience the one time I went to Sephora. I went with my daughter and figured everyone would just ignore the dowdy old lady trailing behind the pretty young woman. But I was treated well, they were so nice and helpful and made me feel like I actually belonged in a makeup store and it wasn’t weird at all that I would wear makeup! I ended up buying makeup and I have never worn any my entire life other than mascara and lipstick.

    7. Nina*

      I hope you had a good time. The first time I went to Sephora to get matched for makeup, I was wary. I hated buying makeup OTC because it was either too dark or too light, and being Black, everything showed up incorrectly. Ulta was no help. So I went to Sephora. The girl at Sephora not only matched me immediately, she did my whole face. Loved it. Now Sephora is the only place I go to for makeup.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh, report back!
      Does this cost anything? When I can buy something in there again, I’d love to have them help me with eyeliner. I can’t do a flick to save my life.

      1. Amadeo*

        I think it’s ‘free’ but you have to buy $50 worth of product. At least that’s what I and my mother were told the last time we looked into it. It’s been a year or two.

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        You can get a 15-minute mini-makeover for free. They do eyes, contouring, etc. The big ones cost money (unless you’re a VIB, then you get one a year for free, or a VIB Rouge member, and then they’re always free).

    9. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      It went really well! They asked what I wanted emphasized and I said my eyes. Holy crap. I am not used to me eyes looking SO INTENSE. I like it! But it’s just not what I’m used to seeing look back at me in the mirror.

      Everybody was super nice. And I told them I was intimidated. Which the woman doing my makeup laughed and said she understood. They’re really trying to change that image and make it more accessible. Plus we bonded over both having chinchillas for pets.

      What I really like is that when you’re done, you get an email with a before and after pic. As well as a list of all the products used. Also! They start with skincare. Which was awesome. I have psoriasis so I was all over that.

      It *does* cost $50 worth of product. But, as I said, below (or above… depending on where this pops up) it’s super easy to do. And I’ve spent that on products I guessed on at the drugstore. So I don’t mind buying stuff I like that’s been recommended.

      Makeover pic to follow!

        1. Former Employee*

          Looks professional without looking like it was “done”. To me, that’s the perfect balance between the DIY look (a little messy/off) and the over the top kind of professional make up that you only have done for something like a wedding.

          1. Windchime*

            Yeah, I agree–they did a wonderful job (but they also had a beautiful canvas to start with; you are very pretty). I like what they did with your eyes, too. It’s kind of smokey without being too “night-club”.

            What kind of product(s) did you end up buying?

            1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

              Awwwww, thank you!

              I told them I wanted my eyes to pop…but not go for a totally evening look. But not quite as subtle as a daytime look. I think she nailed it.

              I bought the foundation and the eyeshadow. Foundation has been by Achilles heel, so when they found one that worked, I was thrilled. And it wasn’t terribly proceed – $42. It’s Cover FX. And you use a teensy amount. It goes a long way. I liked the eyeshadkw, too. I mostly have big palettes and this will be nice to toss in my purse. It’s one of the Smash box trips.

              I loved the skincare products they used. But $135 for one of the moisturizers was just a liiiiiiiitle outside my price range. Although after googling about it, I might save up. It wasn’t just a sales pitch that it would help with my psoriasis (also eczema). It’s the Tatcha Indigo cream for anyone who wants to look it up.

        2. Mananana*

          Oh my goodness– you are beautiful! Sounds like you enjoyed the experience – hope you’ll treat yourself like that regularly.

      1. Reba*

        Wow, they did a great job! To me it reads as polished without going over the top. I don’t think it’s too intense at all, although I know what you mean about the surprise of seeing your different looking face looking back at you. :) And it works wonderfully with your glasses!

        Did you get a good foundation match / are you happy with the products so far?

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          I am! It all wore very well. The first foundation she tried was way too pink. Which I did warn about: almost everything is too pink or orange on me…so that took some trial and error.

          She did ask if I wanted to pick out the colors and I said no since I didn’t want to fall into my comfort zone. I can honestly say these aren’t colors I would have picked but! I’m glad she did.

  19. Anon for this*

    How do you all deal with uncertainty about the near future? I’m leaving undergrad as a structural engineer in May–but I’ll be 30 yrs old. I don’t have a job lined up, am still waiting on my grad school application, and all the nervousness is keeping me awake at night. Imposter syndrome makes it hard to work up the gumption to apply for jobs; I don’t feel qualified for *anything*. And I don’t know where I want to be: east coast with family or west coast with boyfriend. Both relationships are a little rocky at the moment.

    I guess I’m frustrated because 20 yr old me thought this would all get easier as I got older. Lol.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I obsess about it and make people around me crazy. Do not do that.

      What does help me is taking one day at a day and trying to focus on what I can control instead of what I can’t control. When I am dealing with an especially stressful period, exercise and plenty of sleep help too.

      It sounds like you are in a time of big transitions with a lot of choices to make. Does it have to be east coast or west coast? Is there anything you want to do or try that you haven’t? Maybe after you apply for one job applying for the next will be easier? Good luck!

    2. Grace Less*

      Most large and mid-sized engineering firms have tons of offices. I would focus your job search on companies that have locations on both coasts, and then you’ll have the option to transfer if you fancy a new locale.
      Try networking within specialty groups in structural engineering – bridge groups, deep foundations, etc. and see what excites you.
      Don’t worry about not being qualified enough. Engineering provides an amazingly diverse range of positions, and everyone’s unique talents are what makes the whole project work. You’ve learned a lot and combined with your own experience, you’re going to be a valuable contributor.

  20. Amber Rose*

    Last year I went to my first concert ever for Imagine Dragons and next week I get to see another one for Theory of a Deadman. It’s weird how once I do something once it tends to keep happening. Anyways this one is a birthday present to myself. I turned 30 last weekend. Spent a night laughing at my friends for setting all the food on fire at a Japanese BBQ. It was a good time.

    Next week we do taxes. I’m expecting a couple grand in refunds, and we’re having a hard time figuring out how to balance paying bills with stuff we want. I want to kill some credit cards so we can afford a good vacation next year, but he wants to go on vacation this year too and it doesn’t seem doable. :/

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Maybe make this year a cheap/close vacation? We did a long weekend in Miami (we live in DC) last year, and it wasn’t very expensive at all, because we grabbed plane tickets when they were on special for $75 bucks each, round-trip. Even with 3 nights at a reasonably nice hotel, we weren’t spending a ton of money (and making it fairly short really helps with that!)

    2. Former Employee*

      Are you in a place or close to one that has a lot going on? If so, you could turn long week ends into longer ones by adding a day or two of vacation and then just do a few mini “staycations” locally.

      I always enjoyed that way before the idea was popular and many years before the word “staycation” even existed.

      One warning: Be careful about allocating the refund. You probably can’t pay off the credit cards, go on two real vacations and…whatever, with the same couple of thousand dollars. Some people get into a kind of magical thinking and mentally apply the same money to several things.

  21. bassclefchick*

    I’ve been sucked in to the madness that is LulaRoe. Yup, I know. It’s an MLM. Having seen articles on their crappy business practices, lawsuits and shady business model, I know I shouldn’t buy from them. Not to mention, I’ve been a firm believer that leggings are not pants. But, I really like them! And I found a great consultant.

    So, ethically, I know I shouldn’t buy them, but I do anyway. Any of you like an MLM product that you know is a horrible company but you don’t care because you like the product?

    1. Temperance*

      I have some Lula, and I love the clothes. I hate the company, but a lot of their stuff is cute. I buy on eBay mostly.

      I also like a specific bag made by Thirty One. It’s a shoulder bag that is small enough to bring into stadiums. I need a replacement.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Honestly, and I know I might be alone in this, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently shady about MLMs. I mean, ultimately, the real test is whether the company makes most of its money by selling a product people like, or if they mostly make it by getting people to buy in as consultants/sellers and fail to sell. There’s part of me that likes the structure because its very collective; you sell good products to people you know, and the company gives you a cut rather than spend that money on mass marketing.

      Of course, most of them end up being pretty scammy in practice. Which is a shame! But, like, there are plenty of decently good Avon products, and Mary Kay as well. /shrug

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I feel like my bad feelings about MLMs comes from the fact that I don’t know how high up in the organization any given salesperson is, so I don’t know if they’re actually being compensated for their work. Typically, in these types of organizations, you don’t see any money for your sales unless you have other salespeople reporting to you, so this friend that I want to help may not actually see any of the money I’m spending.

        If I buy moisturizer or leggings from a brick and mortar store, I know that the person who rings up my sale is being paid for their work, and that’s important to me.

      2. Cambridge Comma*

        I didn’t feel strongly about it until I read Elle Beau’s blog on Younique, but it does seem that they deliberately exploit a lot of the people who get involved.

    3. NaoNao*

      Not so much love the products, but I’ll buy a token item from friends (which is how these companies keep going, basically) even though I know it’s just perpetuating the cycle.

    4. fposte*

      I think if you like the product more than products you find elsewhere, it can be okay to purchase through an MLM, and at least LulaRoe isn’t making health claims or statements about “chemicals.”

      It’s the roping in of often financially vulnerable consultants and the obfuscation about economics that I really can’t stand, with an additional dose of dislike of the way those consultants end up being weaponized against people they know.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Melaleuca (sp?) is an MLM, but they make the greatest bathtub cleaner, ever. (sighs) If I could just buy it and not have to get sucked into the MLM part, I’d be happy.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I just bought my first maxi. My high school reunion is coming up and I wanted something that was a bit dressy, but still comfy.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      LuLaRoe is one company I will not buy from, not ever, especially after they backed up a seller who mocked people with Down syndrome. I don’t like Mary Kay much, either (overpriced, IMO). I do, however, like Avon products and will buy from them. I think you can order online now; I haven’t seen an Avon consultant in some time.

      Oh, and Tupperware — but almost all my Tupperware is vintage and I buy it at the flea market for practically nothing.

    6. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I’m not trying to be judgmental, but please, please do not buy from MLMs. They are almost always exploitative at worst and super annoying at best. LulaRoe, especially, targets women in vulnerable economic situations to suck into their pyramid scheme. (Here’s one article that goes into all that: https://www.buzzfeed.com/stephaniemcneal/lularoe-class-actions?utm_term=.xa0oea0oA#.joALnJ5Lj)

      Surely there are other places where you can get leggings.

    7. Yorkshire Rose*

      I have a ton of Lularoe, but I learned to buy it off of the GOOB facebook groups to save tons of money. Now that I’m sick of all the styles they have, I’ve started buying Agnes and Dora, which has a lot more variance in their styles and is equally as comfortable. Their styles are also much more work appropriate.

      I also buy doTerra. Call me crazy, but some of their oils applied topically actually work better for joint pain than prescription or OTD meds taken internally.

    8. Elizabeth H.*

      I didn’t know it was an MLM! I had a vague sense it wasn’t a regular company but I thought it was like stitch fix or something. There are a lot of Lularoe leggings on Poshmark (which I am obsessed with) and the clothes buying experience is much better on Poshmark than eBay imo.

  22. Anna*

    Is it weird to prefer foods that skew towards bitter rather than sweet? Like…to have whatever the opposite of a ‘sweet tooth’ is?

    It seems perfectly normal for people to love cakes/pastries/other sweet foods, but I get weird looks when I say I don’t particularly care for sweets but prefer foods that are bitter, like coffee or dark chocolate (80%minimum) or kale (yes seriously) and that kind of thing. People seem to assume that’s because I’m following a diet fad or trying to cut sugar or trying to be hipster or something, but I genuinely just don’t particularly like sweet foods.

    It doesn’t help that I still love looking at baked treats (either in print or through shop windows) because they’re so pretty, but I never really have any cravings to eat them – just the opposite in fact, since once you start eating them they’re not as pretty.

    (Incidentally I tried Googling ‘ is it weird to like bitter foods’ and got a bunch of results suggesting I might be a psychopath. I’m not sure what to do with that information.)

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      psychopath? No way! I personally can’t relate because I like everything :( (sweet, salty, spicy etc). But I know people who prefer salty over sweet.

      1. Lissa*

        lol, me too. I have about 3 foods I don’t like and still try those occasionally just to check. I’m the person who all those “but you’d like it if you tried it how *I* made it” people want to encounter cause I’ll try it and not be annoyed. Bitter? Sweet? Sure! Bitter and sweet together? Even better! …I’m so sad since my friend who likes weird foods moved out of town.

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      Nope. I’m similar. I do like some sweet things, but not many, and I definitely prefer savory to sweet in general. It took me a long time to realize that all those cakes, cookies, etc. that most people seem to rave about are just never going to taste as good to me as they apparently do to other people. (Although ice cream still gets me sometimes.)

      Just about all the vegetables I like are on the bitter side, too. The only time I’ll eat “sweet” vegetables is if they’re cut up really small (think grated carrots over a salad) or if they’re cooked in a stew or something.

    3. NaoNao*

      Salt tooth, baby! Or Fat Tooth!

      I have always had a MUCH bigger salt and fat tooth (gimmie all your rich, bitter, briny, blu-cheeses, please, and no one gets hurt) than sweet.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I like bitter foods! And bitter drinks — IPAs, stuff made with Campari or bitters… yum.

      I developed a massive sweet tooth when I got pregnant that worsened when my son was born, but yes, you are not alone in enjoying bitter foods!

    5. Flowers r cool*

      Not at all! I prefer salty and savory to sweet. I couldn’t finish my ice-cream last night because it was just too much! And in an aside, that preference can possibly have a genetic link too. My 23andMe traits report states that I have a higher probability of preferring salty to sweet.

    6. Hellanon*

      There’s a book! “Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor” – under $10 at Amazon if you are interested. And I’m with you – I love bitter, vinegary, salty things and intense flavors much more than sweets…

      1. Parenthetically*

        Vinegary, salty things WELL looks like I’m adding salt and vinegar chips to this week’s shopping list.

    7. Lily Evans*

      I was reading something interesting the other day about how people react differently to tannins (which are behind a lot of bitter flavored foods). Some people (you’re probably one of them!) really enjoy tannin heavy food because they taste tannins differently than people who dislike bitter food. Kind of like how some people think cilantro is delicious while other people think it tastes like soap. I can’t remember exactly where I was reading this, but if I do I’ll link back to it later!

      1. LPUK*

        I read this too – it’s a genetics thing. Some people have a gene that leads them to prefer bitter tastes – black coffee, olives, cruciferous veg, fermented food- if you like any of these you are likely Tolkien all of them ( I don’t really like any of them myself, so obviously didn’t get that gene). Did get the one that makes coriander taste like soap though, and for years I was baffled that people who loved coriander must like soapy things, until I found out that for those people, it tastes floral not soapy! Genes also control whether you get asparagus pee after eating asparagus ( though apparently the pee is the same, your ability to smell it differs) and also whether you can smell bitter almonds ( ie detect cyanide in Agatha Christie type situations). It’s all really fascinating and started me thinking of what other things we think of as personal preferences are down to how we are programmed to experience them by our genes

        1. Dead Quote Olympics*

          Your Tolkien autocorrect made me laugh – so all of us that like bitter and fermented are hobbits? It changed with age, for me – I still like black coffee, olives, fish sauce but I picked up a sweet tooth as I hit my 40’s.

        2. Betsy*

          Oh, this is fascinating! I loved coffee and would eat olives from the jar as a toddler. I must have that gene. Unfortunately, I also have the coriander soap one.

        3. oranges & lemons*

          That’s interesting, because there are some bitter things I really like (olives, coffee, dark chocolate, anything burnt or smoke flavoured) but I really dislike the taste of hops and bitter vegetables like kale. I wonder what this says about my genes.

    8. Porygon-Z*

      I don’t think it’s weird. I like sweets well enough but they get sickening really fast. I prefer savory food generally, and I also really love sour food. Most people I’ve met don’t see the appeal of sour food like I do. I think it’s just a matter of tastes being an individual thing.

      1. hermit crab*

        You’re not alone in being a sour-lover! I am much more of a salty-savory person, but my spouse is 100% sour all the way – to the point where we have a bag of citric acid in our cupboard so that he can make things even more sour. He likes to give me tastes of the super-sour popsicles, soda, etc. that he makes and watch me make faces. He especially likes sour beer, which tastes like stomach acid to me. Whatever floats your boat!

    9. Typhon Worker Bee*

      I have a major salt tooth. I enjoy chocolate, cakes etc. but don’t often crave them; put a bowl of crisps or pretzels in front of me and I lose all sense of self-control. I like bitter flavours too – hoppy IPAs, very dark chocolate, very strong (some would say over-brewed) tea etc.

    10. Bagpuss*

      No, I think it’s pretty common – lots of lovely things which are bitter -coffee, dry wines, bitter, dark/bitter chocolate as well as all the awesome savoury snacks there are.
      I do quite like (some) kinds of cake and sweet things as well, but can’t stand things like meringue or confectioners custard, as they are far too sickly sweet for me.

    11. Elf*

      I personally like most flavor groups, but if I’m in the mood for one in particular I don’t want any of the others :)

      Definitely don’t think you’re a psychopath. Remember, grapefruit is popular for a reason.

    12. Triple Anon*

      I’m kind of the same way. I don’t like things that taste like they’re high in fat. I like earthy tastes. People say I’m depriving myself, but it’s a healthy preference to have so why fight it?

    13. kc89*

      It’s not “weird” but I think most people are more familiar with people liking salty foods or savory foods, I don’t hear many people specifically saying they like bitter foods.

    14. Betsy*

      I’m more of a sweet tooth now, but as a kid I loved being allowed to have a sip of my parents’ coffee. I also would much rather have had a packet of chips over candy, when given the choice. I’d actually start to feel sick if I ate too many sweet things, whereas my brother would sit there guzzling cookies and soda.

      As an adult, I really like ice cream, but I don’t really get cookies and cake. I’ll eat them if they’re available, but the main reason I like them is that they are often covered in chocolate and/or cream, which is far better than the actual cake or cookies, in my opinion.

    15. Star Nursery*

      I like dark chocolate. I tend to prefer salty more than sweet… So chips and cheese more than cake/cookies/cupcakes… Etc.

  23. Nervous Accountant*

    Kind of a stupid question but do the coffee k cups have sugar or fat? A few of the boxes I see don’t have any nutrition information on them. I try to avoid drinking my sugar & calories.

    1. Natalie*

      I would be astonished if they had more than a few calories per cup of anything. Coffee is essentially nutritionally blank, and any added flavorings would be as well.

    2. periwinkle*

      K-cups that pretend to be lattes may have noticeable calories from added sugars or fat.

      Flavored coffees might have a negligible amount of added calories from flavoring oils/powders, but we’re talking maybe 2-3 calories a cup. Check labels on those before buying, but for the most part they’re fine. Unflavored black coffee is 0 calories.

      I’m not a fan of K-cups but it’s the only coffee we have available in the office unless I bring in my Aeropress…

    3. Blue_eyes*

      K cups are basically just coffee grounds in a little plastic cup, so it shouldn’t be different than brewed coffee. If they’re just coffee, they shouldn’t have sugar or fat. Even the flavored ones like vanilla or hazelnut shouldn’t have extra calories as long as they still make black coffee.

      Anything that comes out looking creamy (like hot chocolate, or chai latte k cups) may have additional calories from sugar or powdered milk.

    4. Nina*

      Agree with the other posters that sweetened versions will have more sugar and carbs versus the plain K cups. But I doubt it would be many.

      The creamers are the ones to watch out for. Because while they are deceptively delicious, but loaded with carbs/sugar, and fat. Yet I will still keep adding them to my coffee.

  24. LavaLamp*

    Anyone else have experience with credit card theft?

    On Valentines day someone got my bank details and charged over 500$ on flowers, and 900 numbers (phone sex basically). My coworkers are teasing me not that I got stolen from but what the thief spent it on and I’m so mad. I haven’t changed any routine or where I use my card so I’m at a loss to figure out where they got my info.

    My bank is being super slow at investigating too; of course it was my debit card that was stolen. Ugh. I really want to slap whoever did this.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Yup. I, sadly, have had more than one experience (had an attempt on Thursday -WHOOHOO). Which means I spot stuff right away. I also have fraud alerts on everything so it gets flagged right away. Obnoxious when you’re in the middle of Kentucky and can’t get gas until you call them to turn your card back on. But so much better than dealing with getting your money back.

      1. Arjay*

        If you’re traveling, most banks/major credit cards will allow you to set your travel dates and locations online so they can tell whether a gas purchase in the middle of Kentucky might be legit or not.

    2. Temperance*

      Yes. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

      Booth’s debit card was cloned at a casino restaurant, and the woman who stole his identity was stupid enough to create a card with her legal name and his number. The store sold clubwear in a small town in New Jersey, and they were happy to send us a photo of the woman, as well as her name. We had to fight, but I created a dossier of her information and presented it to our bank. We also filed a police report, but I’m not sure what came of it. We were reimbursed and didn’t have to deal with the charges. However, since it was his debit card, we were pretty much broke for a solid month because that was our cash she stole to buy tight pants and stilettos.

      What we did afterward was switch to the credit card system. We use our CC for everything now.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Eh. Its not been as bad recently, but I went thru a period where my credit card was being frauded every 4 to 6 months. There’s just a lot of ways to get ppls’ credit card info. I called and talked to the bank after the last one, because I was worried they would think I was doing the fraud, but there was absolutely no indication of that, and when I asked them if I should be doing anything differently, they told me no, it was probably some kind of info compromise at the point of sale, and that they work with shopkeepers/etc to secure their terminals once they narrow that it was probably theirs that the latest spate of frauds started at.

      FWIW, I’ve had a $700 Aquasana home water filtration system sitting in a box in my front hallway for over a year. Because the last time someone frauded my card, that’s what they ordered, and I guess they didn’t intercept the package? Because the thing was delivered, to me in my name, even though Aquasana did cancel the transaction and I wasn’t charged. And they are extremely not motivated to get it back from me. So now we’re trying to sell it. LOL.

      So, the tl;dr is that I just don’t really worry about fraud on my cards anymore. I just get another one, its a minor pain, and rinse and repeat. If the bank’s not concerned, neither am I!

      1. Arjay*

        The frustrating part is that I have some recurring payments that go on the credit card (for points) and a couple of those companies have terrible processes for updating the online payment info. We rent a storage unit and every time the card number changed, I had to print, sign, and mail them a paper authorization form. Ugh.

    4. fposte*

      Yeah, periodically. Mine has all been credit card, though, so it’s been an abstract pain. There’s never any investigation that I know about–the charges get reversed and I carry on.

    5. dr_silverware*

      You probably did nothing special to get your info stolen. At this point there are so many points of vulnerability, leaks, insecure ecommerce systems, and information already floating around that your only two protections are 1. ultra-paranoia and 2. good luck that your info won’t be the next drawn out of the hat.

      Roll your eyes at your coworkers, get that money back, and honestly, stop using your debit card for purchasing–at least fraud on a credit card doesn’t put you out actual money in your account.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. At one point I was reading up on vulnerabilities, apparently there is/was no encryption at gas pumps. For a split second all our info was in the wide open. I am not sure if that situation has improved.
        There was also a big hack at a grocery store here. They got millions of numbers. The weak point was between the machine where you swipe and the register, again with no encryption.

        I saw online where people could buy machines that would collect the credit card numbers. All they had to do was sit outside the place of business and wait.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yeah, gas stations tend to get really long leeway periods on pretty much every major update to the credit card processing requirements, since upgrading a bunch of card readers built into pumps is a pain in the rear and not cheap.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I can’t get a credit card, so I’m stuck with debit. However, my bank seems to be pretty good at flagging stuff–I bought a painting online and they blocked it immediately. I had to call them and prove it was me who bought it.

        After the Equifax breach, I put a freeze on EVERYTHING. Even ChexSystems. I’m not going to be renting an apartment or making any major purchases anytime soon, and I’ll probably have plenty of notice if any employers want to do a credit check, so I can lift them if I need to.

    6. Nicole76*

      This has happened to me twice in the past several years, but always my main credit card which I use for the majority of my purchases. I actually don’t use a debit card at all because I don’t want them taking my actual money. If you’re able to switch to a credit card that you pay off in full monthly that would at least lesson the headache when this happens again. Unfortunately these days it’s only a matter of time regardless of how careful you are (and I don’t think you did anything to prompt this).

      1. Blue_eyes*

        This. Consider using a credit card instead of a debit card. The credit card company can and will reverse fraudulent charges fairly easily. Getting the bank to restore money that was taken from your checking account is more difficult and can take longer.

        A lot of credit cards also offer extra consumer protections like extended warranties on things you buy with the card.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          If the debit card is being used in a non-face to face environment, or in a face-to-face environment without using a PIN, then it’s being processed as a credit card and it is subject to the credit card company’s rules about disputes and acceptance.

      1. LavaLamp*

        I think I am going to get a credit card. This is such a mess, and I wouldn’t have noticed for hours if I hadn’t looked at my account before bidding on eBay. And of course the bank isn’t going to question flowers on Valentines day. Who would?

        I don’t think it’s my banks fault persay, but their policies are “lets take ages before refunding you and treating you like you’re the one who overdrew your account by 500$”. Ugh.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          This is another reason to get a credit card – a thief can max out your card, but can’t overdraw your account the way you can with a debit card.

        2. neverjaunty*

          It is your bank’s fault that they do not have appropriate policies in place to deal with fraud quickly and make sure you’re OK. “Here, please use our debit card! But if someone steals it, we couldn’t care less.” Not a good bank.

    7. Lady Jay*

      Yes. Several years ago, someone used my SSN to open a new credit card. They initially charged about $200 on it, but over the course of a year, it worked up to $700, and I only found out about it when I got called by the debt collectors. It took me four months and probably $100-200 to straighten out the information. Ugh. You may want to consider:

      Cancelling your debit card. I assume you’ve already done this, but am listing it here just for information’s sake.

      Filing a police report. The chances of the police catching your thief are next to nil, but having the report can be really helpful, as it’s a nice, official way of documenting that you did experience credit card theft at this point. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, though this may be overkill since it was only your debit card, not your full identity.

      Getting a copy of your credit report, make sure that the debit card was the only thing compromised. You can do this at annualcrediteport.com, or sometimes through your bank. Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service if you don’t currently.

      Placing a fraud alert on your credit account with the three credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, Equifax), especially if your credit was compromised. The alert tells lending agencies to call you if your information is used to take out a loan.

      You can find more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s website; I’ll put the link in a comment.

      Good luck! I know from personal experience how awful this is.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Change all of your passwords. NOW! Any password connected to your money AND all of your email passwords.

    8. Tris Prior*

      Yes. Ugh. Between me and Boyfriend, it happened 6 times in 1 year. So frustrating! A couple of them were really weird, too, like someone got my credit card info and used it at a pharmacy I’d used once a long time ago, and the meds actually got shipped to the place I quit working at 6 years ago – ?? Also someone hacked my Sephora account, changed the address to that of a state I don’t live in, and charged some makeup remover wipes to my Visa. Again, ??

      My bank was very good about immediately sending me an automated text saying essentially “uh, these charges look suspicious, was it you?” Boyfriend’s bank, not so much. He only noticed when he was checking his balance online. When he called to report the fraudulent charges, he asked his bank why he hadn’t gotten a similar notification (the charges were wire transfers made in a state we don’t live in, which one would think would trip some sort of “that’s suspicious” alarm?), he was told he had to pay extra for that service! WHAT.

      Neither of us use our debit card for anything other than to withdraw cash, any more, and we try to use the same ATMs and check them for skimmer devices first. One of my fraudulent charges came immediately after I used an ATM that was on an outside wall of a bar in a not-great neighborhood so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

      That being said, it’s likely nothing you did wrong. This stuff’s really common now.

    9. only acting normal*

      Yes. In the UK (probably makes a difference on laws etc). My debit card showed some charges that weren’t mine (coach to airport and budget airline ticket… the last of the big spenders stole my details!)
      I walked into my bank and reported it; on the spot they recredited my account & cancelled the card, then sent me a form which I filled out with details of the fraudulent charges and anywhere I thought my card might have been compromised, sent me a new card… and that’s it. Their fraud office handled it from there, and I never heard anything else.
      Surprisingly painless, and though there are a lot of problems with my bank (one of the UK “big 5”) I was very impressed with that experience.

    10. paul*

      Yes. My wallet got stolen at a work function one year; I didn’t realize until the next morning (the event ran till frigging midnight).

      By the time I’d realized it, my checking account was overdrawn. Had to file a police report, and got bounced around between the city I live in and the city I was pickpocketed in. But it took maybe 3-4 days to get *that* straightened out, plus replacing licenses, key cards, stuff like that took a while.

    11. MsChanandlerBong*

      I’ve had my debit card info stolen a few times. What makes me really mad is that my bank has flagged my card for fraud when I’ve tried to buy a $6 lunch from the restaurant NEXT DOOR TO MY HOUSE, but they never seem to catch actual fraud. One time, a thief got my debit card number and bought $300 worth of Straight Talk phones/minutes. Another time, some idiot in Chicago stole my debit card number and used it to buy a $500 laptop from Walmart.com–except it was pretty easy to figure out where they lived, since they put their home address as the delivery address. Even though I had the person’s name and address, the police didn’t do anything about it, which is also annoying. I wouldn’t call the cops on someone who stole a $3 jar of peanut butter, but using someone else’s debit card to make a $500 purchase is something that shouldn’t be tolerated.

    12. Clever Name*

      My number has been stolen at least 3 times. The las time I noticed a small charge at a restaurant in another city I’ve been to, however I know for certain I wasn’t there on that day, so I called the cc company and they deactivated that number and issued me a new card. Each time it’s been as simple as me calling saying I didn’t make the charge. I’ve fortunately never been out any money.