weekend free-for-all – April 27-28, 2019

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: Having discovered Alison Lurie a few weeks ago, I’m now reading everything she’s written, most recently Truth and Consequences, which is about two academics’ marriage, their affairs, and a bad back.

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

{ 1,134 comments… read them below }

  1. FD*

    There was a thread yesterday about basic life skills (link to follow), and things that it’d be great to teach students before the go out into the world. That made me think–what are some of the “I can’t believe I didn’t know this/how to do this” moments you’ve had?

    (Yesterday, I learned that eggshells shouldn’t go down the disposal. I had no idea!)

    1. Sled dog mama*

      That servicing a car meant changing the oil. For a long time I thought that an oil change and getting the car serviced were two different things that you could do at the same time.

        1. Someone Else*

          True, but it’s also common for people to use the phrase “car regularly serviced” as synonymous with “oil changes done on time”.
          All oil changes=car serviced, but not all car serviced=oil changes. (Getting new brake pads is also having a car serviced for example.)

      1. LJay*

        I think they used to change the spark plugs at the same time, but modern engines don’t need that done as regularly anymore.

        Also I would consider servicing to include checking all the other fluids and topping them up if needed, checking the tire pressure and filling if needed, and possibly checking/replacing the filters as well.

    2. Koala dreams*

      I heard about the US custom of having food rests and such go down the drain last year, I think, and I still think it’s amazing! We don’t have it where I live.

      A few days ago I talked with my Dad about getting tired when doing the dishes, and he told me he doesn’t wait until he’s done all the dishes to clean the sink, instead he cleans it when he passes by during the day, that way it just takes a few seconds and doesn’t feel like a chore. So obvious, but I didn’t know to do that before!

        1. Ruffingit*

          Food rests refers to the “rest of food” meaning the peels of fruit and such that you don’t eat. Going down the drain means the garbage disposal. This is not common practice in many parts of the world, the garbage disposal seems to be something of an American thing.

          1. Less Bread More Taxes*

            Aha! Yes, it’s been a few years since I left the US and I was wondering if I had missed out on something new! I have to say I don’t miss my garbage disposal. I had an older sink and things were constantly getting clogged.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              My new house has one and honestly I’d rather have the space under the sink and less incremental odor. Removing it would let me replumb to drain better. And we rarely use it…my town has started a food scraps collection for a biogas plant, and we already had a worm bin for veggies.
              (Although it IS nice when I’m catching up on cleaning after being sick, because the family’s all too likely to leave peels and bits to form sink soup!)

              1. Bulbasaur*

                I stopped using them a long time ago. They don’t do anything that can’t easily be done by other means, I am far from convinced that putting ground-up food waste through the drainage system is a good idea generally, and the potential for problems has always seemed high. My first experience with them was when a friend overloaded hers. She eventually got everything through but it ended up clogging somewhere further down in the pipes, which resulted in every drain in the house starting to emit garbage slurry.

                Ours came with the house and the best thing I can say about it is that when you don’t use it, it’s almost as good as a normal drain.

    3. Ewesername*

      Taught people in my office how to sew on buttons awhile ago. Showed them that if you stick a toothpick under a two or four hole coat button before you sew it on, when you pull it out it leaves the threads just loose enough to accommodate the heavy fabric. Then you dab a little clear nail polish on the back to see the ends. No more popped buttons.

      1. Cartographical*

        You can also wind the thread around the “post” of the button threads and do a half-hitch with every turn to make a reinforced fastening. Then go down the middle of the post and out the other side for fastening off. It’s a little fiddly but you get the hang of keeping the button out of the way.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      More to the point, you should crush your eggshells and put them in your garden to add calcium to the soil. This is particularly good for the soil where you are growing tomatoes or other vegetables.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        ….. aw, MAN, I just threw out a dozen eggshells from breakfast this morning and my husband is going to be planting tomatoes later today.

      2. Angwyshaunce*

        And if you’re cracking eggs, and a bit of shell gets into the bowl, you can use a half shell to easily scoop it out.

      3. fposte*

        That’s one of those things that experiments don’t bear out–it turns out that eggshells take forever to decompose. When ground very fine, they can change acidic soil a little.

        I put them in my compost heap on general principles, but not to add calcium (which is okay–soil around here is pretty alkaline anyway).

        1. Cartographical*

          You can sterilize shells in the oven and grind them to add to pet food — crushed clean eggshell is both grit and calcium for birds and a great addition to bird feed during nesting season. Strong shells contribute to healthy baby birdies.

    5. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I’m from a reasonably big country (in its region), that has a few significantly smaller neighbors who absorb quite a bit of our national culture (TV, etc.). Let me add that at the time I thought myself to have quite a bit of general knowledge.
      Out of high school, I made a few friends from these countries. Realizing how much they knew about my country (general geography, population #, political system, names and approximate places of major cities, languages etc.) and how little I knew about theirs (on parallel topics) clearly ranks in the top 5 of my most embarrassing moments in life.

      More recently and more lightly, until I started [not today’s topic] in a related field, I’d never noticed most, if not all, of underwear and swimwear is knitted, not woven.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Knitted has more stretch, and you need form-fitting garments close to your eh… form.

    6. Mimmy*

      One that comes to mind was a few years ago at a hotel, I flushed the toilet and it just started overflowing. And I had no idea how to get it to stop. Meanwhile, water is going everywhere. It was during the wee hours and I had to wake poor DH up to help me. He later explained how to turn off an overflowing toilet. I cannot believe I never knew how to do that! The carpet in the hotel room got soaked and probably didn’t smell so great….

      1. LJay*

        I just looked this up thanks to your comment. Definitely didn’t know the whole thing. Thanks!

      2. Cartographical*

        A companion hint to this — many homes have a water shut off for the entire house. It should be noted on your lot information in your buyers package or you can find out from the local zoning office where it’s located. At my last home, it was outside between the house and the sidewalk, under a little cover. Make sure it’s working smoothly and you won’t regret it.

        Knowing how to cut your water and power to the entire house can save you a lot of money and hassle in an emergency.

    7. Uhoh!*

      I don’t know that this is a basic life skill but for wine drinkers (especially white wine that is not chilled and your guests are on their way), wet a paper towel, wrap it around the wine bottle, put the bottle in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes, remove the now frozen paper towel and you have nice, chilled wine!

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Liquid conducts heat or cold faster than air so filling a larger container (mixing bowl, vase) with ice water and putting the wine in works quickly too. Also for beer – put in a cooler in ice water, cold in minutes.

    8. Lazy Cat*

      I had to be taught, and then taught a friend, to brush your hair starting with the bottom and working your way up, so the tangles don’t get more tangled on each other.

      Even better, part your hair over each shoulder like pigtails, and do one side at a time – makes it easier to get the back and bits at the nape of the neck, which are the neck, where tangles especially like to compound.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

        I’m… a lot of things. I couldn’t sleep last night. I had a really hard talk this week with my therapist that included talking about stuff that happened during my childhood and how it taught me that staying up late to read, play games, sneak out, etc. was the only way to have independence and freedom. It kind of feels like the middle of the night is “my” time and I need to figure out how to feel like other times of day really belong to me so I can sleep at night.

        Also struggling hard with negative thoughts about myself, a lot.

        Proud of getting some medical stuff done and of riding my bike a couple times and of going to the gym. And today I’m going to help my unemployed friend workshop his resume.

        How are you doing?

      2. Cartographical*

        Using a microfiber hair wrap after you wash your hair, instead of a towel, really helps cut down on tangles. Also, take a comb for wet hair (wide-set, flat teeth) into the shower and run through your hair when you are conditioning. Rinse from roots to tips and then wrap it when you get out to pull the water out, you’ll reduce your time and tangles. The sectioning technique is great for tangle-free blow drying, too.

    9. Kathenus*

      I didn’t know until a few years ago that there’s a little arrow under the fuel gauge in cars to point to which side the gas tank is on. All those years of rental cars trying to look at the side windows as I approached a gas station to figure out which side to go to…

      Didn’t have those when I learned to drive, and somehow never heard about it for a really long time after they became the norm.

      1. Nines*

        I totally learned this like a year ago too! I couldn’t believe it. And i learned it from one of those “life hacks” list. So I guess I finally found something useful in one of those. XD

    10. DataGirl*

      I was told you should put eggshells down the disposal because as they are ground up it cleans it. Weird.

      1. Ella Vader*

        I was told to put coffee grounds down the sink to help keep it clear of stuff that will clog the drain. So far, I’ve yet to have a clogged drain no matter what I put down the sink.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Citrus peels are tough enough to clean it but don’t dull the blades like shells. (I went asking on an Internet forum when we moved to a house that had one.)

    11. MissDisplaced*

      I didn’t fly on a plane until I was 21 years old.
      My parents never traveled, and so I had no idea how one went about booking a flight. Now, this was the pre-Internet stone age days, so you had to actually go to the ticket counter at the airport or call the airlines individually.

      I think kids today start traveling much younger. But back then it was kinda a big deal to figure out and I felt so adult that I was flying somewhere.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        This! I remember using the *phone book* to call airline reservations and put a ticket on hold then call another airline to compare the price and times, and so on until you found one that worked. Such an ordeal! Then they mailed the paper ticket which you COULD NOT LOSE.

    12. PhyllisB*

      The biggest slap myself upside the head moment was when I realized all the chores I hated/postponed didn’t take very long. Unloading the dishwasher, folding the laundry, making the bed (unless you’re changing the sheets) and scrubbing the sink all take under 5 minutes apiece. You can do every one of those one right after the other and still have invested less than an hour. Now if I could only get that through to my grand-children. Children are adults; they will have to figure this out themselves.

      1. LizB*

        You must do your laundry folding differently from me — it takes me at least 15min to fold a load! The actual folding doesn’t take long, I guess, but hanging up everything that needs to hang and pairing socks adds a ton of time for me.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          For socks, I solved this problem by buying all matching socks. They are all now free to pair differently every week in some kind of hippie sock free love commune, and I can just grab any two socks to make a pair. (I do still store them in pairs, but creating 7 pairs out of 14 identical objects is much easier than creating 7 matched pairs out of 7 distinct pairs of objects.)

          On the other hand, I use drying racks for most of my clothes, so hanging those things up on the rack takes about 15-20 minutes. The only good shortcut I’ve found is to have more space than you absolutely need, so that you don’t have to re-shuffling things around as you get to the bottom of the basket and run out of space. (Having a second. smaller basket for the things you find int he first basket that you don’t want to hang up until the big stuff is on the racks is also handy.)

      2. Koala dreams*

        Folding the laundry takes more than 5 minutes for me, but I do it as I watch tv. That way it doesn’t feel like a boring chore, and I don’t fall asleep in front of my favourite program. It’s a win-win!

      3. Liz*

        YES! Unloading the dishwasher is probably my LEAST favorite chore. I despise it. I think its the fact that sometimes i have to dry the dishes off as they are still a bit wet (cheap apt. dishwasher). so one day I timed myself. it takes me under 5 mintues to do it! what i’ve also learned to do is when its finished, open it up, shake some of the things that water collects on, and let the heat and air dry things. Then its not too bad.

        As for my bed, as a child i was FORCEd to make it every day. with a bedspread too! so annoying. so as an adult, i never did, and rebelled. hahahahaha But after moving some things in my bedroom, i now have a chair out in the open where I can put the pillows etc. and while I don’t do it every day, maybe a few times a week i actuallly make it.

    13. Ella Vader*

      Not me but a young coworker/good friend thought you could literally drive your car on fumes to get to the next gas station before you ran out of fumes. How she made it to 25 before running out of gas coasting into a gas station, I’ll never know.

    14. Not My Money*

      Addresses: even numbers are on the south and east sides and odd numbers are on the north and west sides (at least where I live now). Always amusing to see people look on both sides for a specific number.

      1. fposte*

        Town by town, unfortunately. I’m currently in a south-side odd number house, but I used to live in a north-side odd number town, so I just look on both sides rather than trying to remember where the heck I live now.

      2. Ella Vader*

        It’s not like that in my neighborhood. I have an odd numbered house and the next door neighbor is even. We got annexed into the city, and it’s like nobody had any sense to number the houses in a logical manner. I feel sorry for new drivers for USPS, FedEx, and UPS. They’ll be out here for hours trying for find addresses. For some reason, my house is 521 and directly across the street is 368. It really makes no sense whatsoever out here – sort of like a postal twilight zone.

      3. JobHunter*

        Not in my town. Some of the streets in my town were extended when new developments were added, so the numbering systems were reversed and the evens/odds flipped. For example, First Street house numbers decrease east to west with evens on the south side. Then it becomes First Street West with the house numbers increasing east to west with the odds on the south side.

    15. Artemesia*

      I thought egg shells and coffee grounds were GOOD to go down the disposal as they would sort of act like little scrapers to sand off fat and other things that might clog the pipe. Like you I was recently astounded to learn that I had been wrong all these years.

    16. Cartographical*

      When I was first on my own, I learned the hard way not to ever use fabric softener on towels. I grew up without it and they advertise that it gives you fluffy towels! It also gives you musty, gross towels that make your skin smell awful. The hydrophobic molecules that make your clothes soft and static-free also reduce absorption (terrible for dish towels, too) and, worse, keep the deeper fibers from ever really getting dry.

    17. Kimmy Schmidt*

      These suggestions are all SO helpful. I’m learning a lot (hey, I’m still a twenty-something myself, sue me) and I know this will be really great for my students. This will my pet project over the summer, but I’ll try to share when this is finished in a few months, if I can figure out a way to do so without making myself and my institution totally obvious.

  2. Laura H.*

    For a second, I thought the orange cat was a cooked chicken…

    Happy weekend! Weather is nice and pleasant here, perfect for a corvette show downtown- and hopefully good for the businesses in that area too. The ice cream shop/candy store that employs me is in that area and I’m on schedule for today. Should be fun but busy!

    Have a good weekend all!

  3. CoffeeforLife*

    Anyone doing Orange Theory, how’s it working for you? Did you experience muscle gain? Fat loss? Overall strength/endurance?

    I started early March and gained 5 pounds. I haven’t noticed any physical changes even though I go 4-5 times a week and hit 35+ splat points. I thought by the 6 week mark I’d notice…something!?

    1. ATX Language Learner*

      What’s your diet like? Are you eating more because you’re working out more? I find that even if I work out 5 times a week, if my diet isn’t clean with portion control then I will see no changes or even gain some weight. Minimal sugars, no processed foods, weighing out my food, high protein, no binge eating, no extra snacks, no sugar cocktails (I do drink wine though). Every time I go off of my strict eating habits and gain a couple of pounds, a week after being back on it I’m already feeling better. I’ve written out a lot of meal plans for friend as well who have seen great results. One of my friends even lost 50 lbs!

      Measurements are helpful. Also weekly photos to see progress.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        My diet is well rounded and pretty clean. I generally stick unprocessed/whole foods with the exception of a plant based protein shake (after workouts as my 1st meal). I do drink alcohol but it’s usually 1 serving and then I’m sleepy.

        I just wonder if I’m not pushing myself hard enough or if I should be incorporating regular gym strength training? Is OTF “enough” or should I be doing other types of workouts? I’m looking for tone, strength, and a maybe 20 pounds weight loss. (5’10, 175).

        I spaced on doing measurements but I can say that NOTHING feels looser – I’ll do those today.

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Do you weigh out your food? If you don’t, you can never truly know how much you’re eating. People can eat clean and healthy all they want but if they’re eating too much, you won’t see changes.

          I have never done OTF but I do a mix of weights and cardio. Usually 2 days weights (one upper body one lower body) and 2-3 days of cardio (I do the stairclimber for 50 -60 min). I have done a variety of work outs and found that this combination keeps me lean and toned.

          Below is an example of what I eat (I do 5-6 meals a day – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, sometimes an extra snack)

          Breakfast: 3 egg whites + 1 egg + 1/2 oz cheese + 1/2 avocado + watermelon/strawberries (prob about 3-4 cubes of watermelon and 3-4 strawberries

          Lunch/dinner: 4 oz fish/chicken + green salad + veggies (I make my own dressing with olive oil and white whine vinegar and herbs)/ 4 oz fish/chicken + veggies

          Snacks: 1 oz nuts/protein shake (I also use unsweetened coconut milk. there are lots of hidden sugars in milk and nut/other milks)

          I do 2 cheats a week, 1 fun meal and 1 sweet treat. I spread them out so I have something to look forward to every few days.

          If you stick to this, you will see changes very fast.

      2. New Girl*

        I have been going to orangetheory for about 14 months. The first 6 months I lost about 20 pounds but I was also pretty strict with my diet, cut out alcohol, all dessert and 16:8 fasting. After 6 months, I loosened up a lot. I drink when I want. I eat what I want. I don’t fast. I haven’t lost any weight since then but I have lost inches! My running has improved immensely and I am working on lifting heavier.

        I hear a lot of people that get discouraged because they aren’t losing weight. Our coach tells us to take a hard look at our diet, start taking measurements and think of the non scale victories we are accomplishing.

      3. PhyllisB*

        To riff off your comment ATX, I quit drinking and now I have an intense craving for sweets. I know this is common when you quit alcohol (wine in my case) but it’s been four months now and still craving. Does anyone know when this stops? I’ve gained four pounds. Not a huge amount to be sure, but four pounds here, four pounds there…..

        1. ATX Language Learner*

          Oh wow that’s interesting! Sugar is very addicting so if you’re still consuming it, you will crave it. I’ve done 3 sugar cleanses and after a week or week and a half of eating absolutely no sugar at all (including fruits), I stopped craving it and slowly added it back to my diet.

          To curb the craving and not binge on anything sweet, I have a really nice bar of chocolate in the pantry (more than 70% cacao) and have one small piece everyday.

        2. Anonnnn*

          I think others have given better advice on curbing sugar than I would but wanted to say +1, as soon as I quit drinking I wanted desserts 24/7. That challenge is a lot easier than dealing with alcohol fueled regrets though ;)

  4. LucilleTwo*

    People with tattoos, how did you decide on the placement? Was it based mainly on where it’d look best or did you take into account how painful it would be? I’m planning to get my first sometime later this year, but I’m having second thoughts about the placement (middle of the upper back) because all the articles I’ve read mention that it’s a really painful spot! Anyone who’s got a tattoo on the upper back, how would you rate the pain?
    Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have four on my upper back (one on each shoulder blade, one in between, and one slightly above the in-between one), and none of them were unusually unpleasant. Every body is different though- for my sister, bony spots hurt more, for me, fleshy spots tend to hurt more. The most unpleasant one was over my kidneys, personally.

      At this point my placement decisions are based on where I have room left, with a minor preference to remaining symmetrical at least by the numbers. I have 6 down the midline of my body, and 8 on each side. (Technically 9 on the right side, but two of them are close enough to look like one piece even though I got them 12 years apart, so I’m never quite sure how to count them.) I think at this point if I want to keep going (and I do occasionally consider it) I’m probably going to have to scrap the preference to symmetry :)

      That said, I’ve never taken the potential pain of getting a tattoo too much into consideration when thinking placement – the pain is temporary. If I want permanent art, it is (to me) worth the temporary pain. :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also – my first one was the between my shoulder blades one, which I think is about the spot you’re talking about? And it wasn’t particularly bad, pain wise, my biggest “regret” afterward was that I couldn’t see it. Also a little fiddly to keep appropriately lotioned and whatnot for the aftercare by myself, which is even rougher when it’s your first and you’re trying to remember what you’re supposed to do, but not so bad if you have a helper. There’s also the first morning after panic when you wake up and realize you’re looking at the ceiling, which means you rolled over in the night and are laying on your fresh tattoo, and oh god did you ruin it??? (No, you almost certainly did not, but the panic is still there. :) )

      2. Me*

        I have a tattoo on my rib cage and a small one on the inside of my ankle. I had been wanting the one on my ribs since I was 15 (I got it when I was 22). I love it and I definitely don’t regret it, but I would never get another tattoo that I’ll never be able to show.

        I can show the one on my ankle whenever I want, but if I have to it’s easy to hide with pants or a bandaid. Even when it’s out, it’s not very noticeable. I also chose that one’s placement because it’s to celebrate running a marathon and years ago I broke that leg and had a few more injuries and didn’t think I’d run again. So the placement is also a small reminder of what I’ve overcome.

    2. Another Manic Monday*

      I have one script tattoo and I have it on the inside of my left forearm. I put it there so I would have a constant reminder for myself while it’s still somewhat hidden from other people. I did not take any pain into consideration as the position was the most important. The tattoo is the last two lines of the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4inFlgryiCg

    3. Wulfgar*

      My only advice is don’t have too long of a session for your first one. Find a good artist who is willing to give you breaks if needed. All artists are not created equal.

      I have 10, and the only one that became uncomfortable was on my collar bone. And, that was after about seven hours of work.

      1. SignalLost*

        My two worst (I have seven) were the one that goes around my bicep, and the one around my ankle. The bicep was because it gets really painful to have to move your arm into unnatural positions for a length of time. Like, I can hold my arm bent at that angle in that position comfortably for maybe a minute, and you want 15???

        My ankle was going to be, I thought, the only tattoo in the history of ever that was going to end with the artist getting a bloody nose. It didn’t hurt more or less than my others, my foot kept twitching and jerking from nerve stimulus.

        In general, I put the tattoo where I want it. Aside from those, I have a center back, two bracelets right under the hand, point of the shoulder, and lower abdomen. I made each placement choice for logical/aesthetic reasons rather than pain/difficulty of care.

    4. Marzipan*

      I would 100% go with wherever would look best for the design I wanted – different parts of the body are different shapes, and thus will house different shapes of tattoo more or less effectively. (And that would definitely have been my advice when I worked in a tattoo studio, too!)

      I haven’t had any upper back tattoos, but it doesn’t strike me as somewhere that would be especially hard going. And to be honest, my advice would still be to have it where you want it, even if it were. Getting tattooed is uncomfortable but it’s manageable; and the end result will be there permanently. Don’t sell your vision short because it’ll hurt – it really isn’t that bad and it’ll be over soon enough. Honestly, the itching while it heals is worse!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I have a large-ish one on my upper arm–I picked that spot so it would be easy to cover it at work. It only really hurt near the end, when the artist got close to the more tender flesh around the back of my arm.

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      I have one on my foot (just beneath my ankle) and I liked the placement. I didn’t realise it was one of the more painful areas due to thin skin but, honestly, it didn’t hurt that much. I think the pain really depends on your own tolerance and how big/how much colour you’re going to have done but any decent tattooist will talk you through that.

      My own gave me advice about the tattoo I wanted (the solar system on my ribcage) and he said that a) it would hurt and b) it’s an area that’s prone to stretching with weight loss and weight gain so he advised against having it done there.

      Listen to your tattooist, that’s my advice.

    7. TL -*

      I have one right on my anklebone. Hurt like a sunnabich and I do have a high pain tolerance.
      That being said, that pain is nothing to 60 years of staring at it thinking “it’s just slightly off center…”

      1. M&M*

        I was thinking to get one just under my ankle as it is to cover but I will pass. Laughed about yours being off center.

    8. Catherine*

      My first and only is on the middle of my upper back, between my shoulder blade. I didn’t find it painful or unpleasant–it was kind of tickly in a soothing way? I know that’s not a sensible description but I actually found the experience pretty pleasant and a bit relaxing. (2~3 hour session for a piece about the size of the palm of my hand, colored and shaded.)

      Aftercare was kind of a pain just because it was hard to reach, but it healed very nicely. Only thing is–out of sight, out of mind! I frequently forget I have a tattoo until someone asks me about it.

    9. Catherine from Canada*

      My first (and only so far) is on the inside of my right forearm about halfway between my wrist and elbow. It was moderately uncomfortable, not oh-gosh-I-can’t-stand-it by any means, which surprised me. Lying on my stomach with my arm twisted upward by my side was more uncomfortable than the tattooing.
      I didn’t take pain into account though when I decided on the tattoo, it’s where it is because it’s a beautiful coloured tattoo of a Pelagia Noctiluca (jellyfish) and it’s covering (and memorializing) the scars of my encounter with that species of jellyfish last spring.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      I got mine on my lower back so it would always be covered up. Plus I decided if later I hated or regretted it, I wouldn’t have to see it every day. I’m actually looking at getting another one. At some point when I’m older and retired and don’t care anymore, I’ll get one behind my ear, but for now, easy to hide is key.

    11. DataGirl*

      I consider both. My first was on the ankle bone and was so painful. Second I was going to go with my back but was talked into calf ‘so I could see it’ – regretted that. Next few were in fleshy areas but then I really wanted my feet done and those were super painful. I haven’t been brave enough to do ribs yet. In the end, go with the placement that you will love, since you’ll be with it forever.

    12. Tris Prior*

      I have a tattoo on my upper back and the only part I found really painful were the bits that were right on top of my vertebrae. That is my only tattoo though so I don’t have anything to compare it to.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      I have on the back of my neck on the shoulders, one on the shoulder and one on my ankle. And no, I really didn’t take pain into the account. But the only one that did hurt was around the ankle bone.

      Mainly, I wanted a place that I could show off or hide at will. Mine are all easily hidden for work, and if you have a professional office job I’d advise keeping that in mind. I think it’s less taboo now, but still.

    14. Red*

      I absolutely, 100%, choose my tattoo placement based on where it would look best. I look at it this way – the pain is temporary, but the ink is forever. And I’ve had a tattoo across my shoulder blade, it felt nice to me but I have a wicked high pain tolerance so that’s probably not helpful to you.

    15. Not My Real Name*

      You also may want to take into consideration your bra strap area, if you wear one. I have a tattoo the is pretty much dead center of my back but is now where my bra strap is because you get saggy with age.

    16. Claire*

      I have one medium sized tattoo on my forearm. I chose the location first, because then I could see it while I worked, but the artist said it was least likely to hurt. It turns out it didn’t hurt at all.

      My son has two full sleeve tattoos, which were much more painful, but he took things in several stages.

    17. Karen from Finance*

      I have only one tattoo on my side, on my ribs. I wanted it to be somewhere that I could see but that I wouldn’t be seeing all the time, and that wouldn’t be visible in work clothes. And I thought the placing was cute. I didn’t factor in pain at all.

      When I get to get it done, my tattoo artist told me it’s one of the most painful places and so she put a little anaesthetic cream thing that numbed the area. I didn’t feel pain at all, only the burn the days after.

    18. LucilleTwo*

      Thank you everyone, it was great reading about your experiences. I’ve decided to stick with the location I have in mind :D

    19. Kelly*

      I have 6, 4 are fairly large. Lower back with part along my spine, forearm, side (partly on ribs), upper chest near collarbone, lower abdomen, and upper thigh. All have had some sections that were more painful than others, but overall I can’t says there’s a huge difference in pain. I will say though that I have a fairly high pain tolerance. My last one (thigh) took 3 hours and my tattooist needed a break before I did. I find the post tattoo itching worse than actually getting it done. I’ve always chosen the site based on the design. My first three were also placed so that they would be hidden by most clothing, but now that I have a fairly well established career I’ve stopped caring.

  5. Kuododi*

    At 3:55 pm EST, DH and I will be sitting in a dark theatre with other happy little superhero nerds to watch “Avengers Endgame!!!”. We’re both excited beyond belief. ( I’m a bit concerned about the 3 hour run time. I’m not the best at staying awake during long movies.). I’m going to get a bit more coffee than usual in hopes that settles the problem. I will post a follow up when I get home this evening. ;).

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Just remember: Dr Strange watched how it was going to end six hundred million times and didn’t give any spoilers! Be like Dr Strange! :)

      I’m going tomorrow with some of my best nerd friends. I think we’re having either pizza or tacos tonight and watching Infinity War as prep.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m going to quote you on that to my friends…I’m staying off social media until I get to see it. And since today involved an unplanned 60 mile drive to visit MIL in the hospital ( pneumonia), it probably won’t be opening weekend.

    2. Dame Judi Brunch*

      There’s an article floating around out there (from CNET maybe?) about the best times to pee during this movie. It said do not leave the theater in the last hour.
      Enjoy the movie!!!

      1. Annie Moose*

        Having seen the movie, I concur. There is no good place to leave for more than a few seconds max!

        1. valentine*

          Those articles are the balm in my Gilead, but we need to resurrect pianists and intermissions.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area when Gone with the Wind was restored. I saw it at the Castro, and I had total goosebumps when the Wurlitzer organ came up at intermission!
            (As a side note, my boyfriend encountered the longest men’s room line of his life at that intermission and learned something about why women hate bathroom lines. LOL!)

            1. Artemesia*

              Anecdote. In Nashville when they built the football stadium (with public funds tacked onto our water bills, but I digress) they aimed for ‘potty parity’ and provided many more restrooms for women. First big game. Women zip right in but men are now standing in long lines as they miscalculated. You would have thought this was the crisis of the century. That got fixed immediately before the next game, because it was an outrage that men should have to line up to use the can. All I could think was I have been standing in long lines to pee for at that time over 50 years — and no one seemed outraged at all the women hours spend waiting in line with crossed legs.

            2. Arjay*

              On one of the re-releases, years ago now, they showed Gone with the Wind at my local AMC multiplex. They started the film on the wrong reel. The very young usher was quite perplexed when I complained that, “Gone with the Wond just started and Atlanta is already burning!”

    3. Elizabeth West*

      PEE FIRST. In fact, don’t drink anything before you go in because you won’t want to get up.

    4. cat socks*

      Have fun! I saw it last night. I know my bladder and didn’t drink anything for a few hours ahead and peed right before the movie started. The bathrooms were a mess, half the stalls were out of TP. Plan to get there a little early if you’re getting snacks. The lines were long at my theater!

    5. noahwynn*

      I wish these long movies still had intermission. The last movie I remember seeing with one was Titanic and that was only because the theatre in the small town took a few minutes to change the reels or something.

    6. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

      Omg I got REALLY lucky! I was originally planning on using some time I need to adjust to see it late Wednesday afternoon, but one of the theaters near me added 8 and 8:30 AM showings for today last night, so I pulled on my SpongeBob and Patrick as Iron Man and Cap tank top (Google “barnacle war” to see the design), picked up four McDonald’s hashbrowns on the way (I was shocked so many people in my theater got popcorn and soda that early in the morning), and was all ready for the movie to watch at 8:30!

      Unsurprisingly, I LOVED the movie! Surprisingly, I never needed to pee at any point and was entranced the entire time, so if you’re into the MCU, I wouldn’t worry about not staying away, especially since you’re not seeing it super late. Speaking of which, I love the MCU, but I’m still in shock over a 3 AM showing Thursday night/Friday morning at a theater near me that was nearly sold out…

      Also, I just want to give a shout-out to my boss. I was originally going to adjust my time to see it on Tuesday afternoon, but then realized it’d conflict with a work meeting our department was going to have, so I let him know yesterday that I was going to adjust my time on Wednesday instead. However, he sincerely offered to move the meeting to a different day or time because he knew how excited I was to see the movie! I told him it was not an issue for me to see it on a different day whatsoever and to not worry about it, but I still can’t believe how nice he is!

      1. Artemesia*

        We went to the Wild Nights with Emily movie on Thursday and there were hundreds of people lined up for Avengers. We had to crash their line to get to ours in time, but they were a pleasant crowd and we assured them we were not going to get their seat. They only had one ticket reader point with two staff for all the movies in the theater.

        1. Lore*

          An old friend is the writer/director of Wild Nights with Emily and I’m so delighted to see it doing so well out in the world! (Yes I need to go see it. I saw the play it was adapted from a million years ago but that’s not the same thing.)

  6. Jack be Nimble*

    For the past few years, I’ve ended up with tonsillitis every time I get a cold. It’s the pits, but I’m going to take advantage of the downtime to finish my current knitting projects–the twins I’d promised these blankets for are nearly a month old!

    1. Julco*

      If you have recurring tonsillitis, ask your doctor about having the tonsils removed. My 20-year-old son was having recurring strep infections, colds, and sore throat, and had his tonsils removed over Christmas break. He hasn’t been sick since.

    2. Blarg*

      If the twins aren’t in college yet, I think you’re doing just fine. :) feel better and enjoy your knitting time!

      1. Lilith*

        How frequently do you change your toothbrush? Do you share toothpaste or a water glass in the bathroom? One of our kids kept getting steel (I know it’s not the same as what you are going through), but the rest of us had to be checked to see c we were ” carriers. ” I think that was the term. We weren’t but there was shared toothpaste. That came to a halt.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One other thing that’s worth trying if you haven’t tried it before. .. a neti pot. No one likes them the first time, and some people’s sinuses never liked them, but for me using one* has nearly eliminated my tonsil stones. Even during allergy season!
      *(Side joke, my husband loves his WaterPic, and my neti is the powered model…so of course it got dubbed my NosePic.)

  7. Ewesername*

    Art thread!
    It’s cold and rainy up here in central Canada this weekend. I think I’ll paint something. Or sew something. Possibly sew something painted.
    What’s everyone up to?

    1. Ann*

      We have potential snow/rain today, so it’s a great day for crafting. I’m currently knitting a test knit for Jennifer Steingass, who designs beautiful colorwork yoke sweaters. At some point, I’m also going to warp my loom for my next project (a wrap out of merino/yak yarn), but that may have to wait until Sunday

    2. Venus*

      I will be tending to my tomato seedlings, and starting a few more seeds (peppers, basil, and maybe a few of the ‘max four plants per household’ variety), in the hope that the rain and snow will eventually disappear for the season.

      1. Ewesername*

        I have some used canvas drop cloths. They make nice bags. I am thinking I may paint some flowers on them first though.

        1. LLovesWork*

          I recently bought some really inexpensive natural colored canvas (it was on sale so I got 4 yards) and am having a blast painting it. I’ve got a couple reusable grocery bags and enough to make a boatload more. Super fun! Enjoy your painting/sewing!

          1. Trixie*

            Years ago at a farmers market, I picked up a large window screen with flowers painted on the screen. I’ve carried for years and thinking I should spray a fixative on it to protect remaining paint. Best ten dollars I spent at the market!

    3. Emily*

      Recently, I’ve been working on a climbing chalk bag for my boyfriend that I started over two years ago! (To be clear, if I actually worked on it continuously instead of stopping for months at a time, it would already be done.) The crocheted outside (which looks loosely like a yeti) is completely finished and I’m working right now on the cloth liner.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I started trying to teach myself to draw and sort of let it fall by the wayside. I’m having a bit of trouble getting back into a creative groove after finishing Book 2–I’d like to begin a new project (not sure what yet), but my brain is full of stress bees. So maybe I’ll drag my instruction book out and start on that again.

    5. Angwyshaunce*

      The wife and I finally aligned on a craft – we’re working with resin. She’s making bangles, and I’m making wood + resin objects and turning them on a lathe.

    6. Shrunken Hippo*

      I woke up to snow outside (yay for living on a mountain!) so I think I’m going to work on my sewing. I altered a pattern for shorts to make them high waisted and actually fit around my hips. The mock up was a bit small so I made a couple of adjustments and it’s fitting much better. I bought a nice blue-green linen cotton blend for this project because I can not handle heat well and it should help. I’ve also started to sketch again. White pages freak me out so I bought a smaller sketchbook and I’ve been much more productive. The art still looks awful but I can see myself improving, which is great. The thing that I should be working on is world building for my story but I got kind of sidetracked drawing up a map for it in more detail than I actually need to know so….

    7. Catherine from Canada*

      It’s a yucky day, cold and rainy. Working on finances paperwork stuff. Then spending the afternoon working on a long overdue purse for my daughter-in-law (canvas with leather trim). Also need to do a lesson plan for a swimsuit class I’m teaching next week.

      1. is it tea time?*

        do you have advice for sewing swimsuits? I’m teaching my daughter, but I’m mostly winging it because (1) she refuses to use a pattern- she can’t find one that does what she wants, and (2) we need to put swim cups in, which is an issue I’ve never had

        1. Catherine from Canada*

          My main recommendation would be to use a pattern because – indie pattern designers anyway – spend a lot of time in their instructions teaching you the how and why of the construction method and most have sew-alongs or video tutorials to ease (hehe) you over the tricky bits. I’ve listed a few below.
          For swim cups – what we’ll be doing in the first lesson is figuring out our size, tracing the pattern and test sewing the cups from bra foam. You sew the cup then hold it to your body to see if the cup shape and size matches yours. If it doesn’t, adjust and try again. Swim foam is relatively cheap, easy to sew and when you have one that fits properly, you can use it to first trace the pattern for the outer cups and second, use it in your swimsuit.
          Look online for a fabric site that specializes in swimsuit material and notions. I like Fabric Fairy, but Emerald Erin is good for the notions, as is Sew Sassy Fabrics.
          Use a stretch or microtex needle. Use good quality swim elastic. When finishing edges with elastic, use that weird stitch that puts multiple stitches in each zig and zag. It looks nice and stretches with you.
          Take a look at these patterns to see if any of them come closer to what your daughter wants. I’ve made the CCF and the Cashmerette ones (don’t get distracted by the Cashmerette illustrations, she drafts for curvy women and her models are curvy, but her sizes go from 12 to 28 and fit really well, I like her suit the best) and like them. The others, I’ve made other patterns from them and find them good.
          Closet Case Files (she has a good video tutorial):
          Bombshell: https://store.closetcasepatterns.com/products/bombshell-swimsuit-pattern
          Sophie:https://store.closetcasepatterns.com/products/sophie-swimsuit-pattern
          Cashmerette:
          Ipswich: https://www.cashmerette.com/collections/cashmerette-patterns/products/ipswich-swimsuit-pdf-pattern
          Friday Pattern Company:
          Vernazza: https://www.fridaypatterncompany.com/patterns/the-vernazza-two-piece
          Megan Nielsen:
          Cottesloe: (also comes in Curve sizes) https://megannielsen.com/products/cottesloe-swimsuit
          Jalie:
          One Piece: https://jalie.com/jalie3350-one-piece-swimsuit-sewing-pattern
          Hope that helps!

    8. Lilysparrow*

      I am sitting backstage at a high-school theater, working the costume room for my daughter’s dance performance. I’m working final dress & matinee, then I get to watch tonight. A long day, but it’s all stuff I enjoy doing.

    9. SignalLost*

      Making three corsets and a set of combination underwear because I continue to believe that the assembly line is the best line, even when it’s not and when none of the corsets use the same pattern. But I need to put white thread in the serger for the corset I want to make (periwinkle satin for a new Natural Form Victorian) and the underwear, I need black thread for the steampunk corset with butterflies and the steampunk Rogue cosplay, so clearly it is easier to make three corsets than to change the serger twice. I also have to do a work call today about the state’s tax code, so this’ll be interesting.

  8. Sparkly Librarian*

    I thought I would be sharing this week about adopting our new kitty… but now I can also share that we are adopting a new baby!!

    Kitty came home Wednesday. On Thursday evening we got that call from the adoption agency saying that a baby was born and we were going to be her family! (Sometimes this happens with no notice. We’ve been waiting more than 3 years. Surprise!) So I am awake at quarter to 5, typing this in a hospital room after getting the little one to sleep. (New kitty and existing kitty are at home, having been looked in on, fed, and scritched — separately — by a trusted friend.)

    Questions about either are welcome! I can’t brag just yet to people IRL; we are waiting for the paperwork to be finalized. But she’s coming home with us this afternoon.

    1. Jack be Nimble*

      CONGRATS!!!! My partner and I will be looking to adopt in a couple years, did you go through a private agency or your state’s adopt/foster program?

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        We are working with a non-profit private agency with several decades of experience with infant adoption. I think they’re really good at what they do, and we’ll probably choose them again when we’re ready for another child, but we might also add some of our own outreach through a consultant, to be presented to more situations and hopefully be chosen sooner. And we would like to foster in future! Just felt that we needed parenting experience for those ages/stages first.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          One benefit of working with an agency is that they have a pool of trusted, experienced professionals — social workers, attorneys, tax accountants — and established relationships with agencies in other states, etc. They’ll connect us with the right person for our situation, and we don’t have to do the legwork. Their reputation makes things smoother and more visible for their hopeful families. In fact, the reason we’re here today is because the hospital social worker had partnered with our agency before and called them when he realized that the newly-delivered mother wanted to make an adoption plan.

      2. No fan of Chaos*

        Just to let everyone know, in Nevada, after 72 hours the parents can’t retrieve the baby for any reason. This sure eased the minds of my daughters after adoption times three.

    2. LibbyG*

      I’m so happy for you and your family! I remember some of the possibilities from the past that didn’t lead to an adoption. I hope these early days are just as sweet as you’ve long hoped. So much love to share.

      Oh, this totally makes my day!!!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Thank you. :) It was a long wait (although that’s true for almost everyone, in some ways) and our failed adoption last year was very hard. The (meaningful? notable? coincidentally awesome?) thing is that this baby was born almost exactly a year after the one that was placed with us but whose adoption fell through. We got through the anniversary/1st birthday, and got the call the VERY NEXT DAY. I need to find a good way to explain this succinctly, because it makes for a great story.

    3. Kuododi*

      Mazel Tov! Blessings to you and your growing family. I’m very happy to hear such wonderful news!!! Best wishes!!!

    4. Sarah Austin*

      Congratulations! What a joy to bring two new little ones into your home in one week! Be sure anything you order on amazon has free returns – 3am can be a lonely time to be awake and groggy with a new baby and you will order a lot of “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” But seriously, so happpy for you and your growing family!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Good to know — so far all I’ve done is write work emails about family leave. :) Also, one is not so little. The cat outweighs the baby — more than double her size! He’s part Maine Coon.

    5. Bluebell*

      Congratulations! This is such wonderful news as you add to your family in this way. Wishing you all the best on this journey!

    6. Anona*

      Congratulations!!!!! That’s such a wild, wonderful adjustment. Best wishes to you as you adjust and welcome this new baby and kitty into your family!

    7. fposte*

      Oh, my goodness, Sparkly, I think I remember you first getting approved! So many congratulations. Don’t let the kitty teach the baby to climb up the curtains.

    8. Sick Civil Servant*

      Congrats on both additions to your family! I’ve adopted twice and can remember getting “the call”! Best wishes for an easy adjustment for all, both human & feline!

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      Congratulations! My sister and I are both adopted and if there is one piece of advise I can give it is to always celebrate (and never hide) the adoption – I cannot remember a time I didn’t know and I think that the phrasing my parents used helped with any abandonment issues I know other adoptees have. I was always told how much I was wanted and that my bio parents gave me up not because they didn’t want me but because they wanted the BEST for me and at that time, they weren’t it. The day we joined our family was always celebrated as a second birthday – we celebrated the day we were born and then celebrated the day we became a family. I absolutely rubbed all my friends faces in the fact I got 2 birthday’s with presents. I’m approaching 40 and we still celebrate our adoption days.

    10. Karen from Finance*

      Ooh this is wonderful, congratulations!!!!! Lots of love for you and your newly-expanded family.

    11. Artemesia*

      That is so wonderful. Hope your daughter brings you as much joy as ours have. Absolutely most wonderful thing that ever happened in my life and we now have two lovely grandchildren of hers.

  9. Ann*

    Does anybody have experience digitizing / archiving family photos? We have a lot that are either film or slides that I’d like to digitize then upload somewhere my relatives can view (and ideally let them upload their pictures as well)

    I’ve looked at a few different sites that I can upload too and one thing I’m running into is places like Amazon Photo don’t allow you to add captions, which I would like. There’s also a large enough quantity that uploading to somewhere like Dropbox/Box easily eats through the storage.

    1. foolofgrace*

      My reply went in the wrong place — please scroll to it or search for Picasa on this page and you can get the benefit of my experience at doing this.

    2. ArtK*

      Kodak and at least one other company have services that will digitize stuff. You pack it in a box and then they return the stuff along with a DVD or thumb drive with all of the images. I don’t know anything about quality or reliability. I’m going to give it a try soon — I have some mono reel-to-rell audio of my grandfather that I’d like to recover, along with family photos going back to the 1870s.

    3. Kathenus*

      I bought a scanner from The Sharper Image catalog that lets me scan photos, slides, and negatives – and I’m in the process of digitizing old family photos to share with the extended family to start, and a lot of my old personal photos eventually as well. I haven’t yet gotten to where I’m trying to upload, because the immediate family I gave some to already are less tech folks primarily so I did it via a flash drive (with a digital frame) as a Christmas present. But I’d probably end up using Dropbox and doing it in bunches, since I’m already on it.

    4. CoffeeOnMyMind*

      I use the PhotoScan app for all of my old family photos. It’s very easy to use and scans the photos in seconds. It auto adjusts for glare, and flattens photos that have curled at the edges. The app also uploads the scanned images to your Cloud account. I use google photos, but you can link other accounts. Highly recommended!

    5. Artemesia*

      I would recommend creating books which you can do on line and can annotate each picture and can chose the layout etc etc. The thing about a family photo book is that it will still be usable in 100 years when your great great grandchildren can view their ancestors. I have a photo of my grandmother from1916 holding my newborn father; she died in 1918 and this is one of the few pictures of her. So lovely. I can guarantee you that nothing digital will be readable in 100 years or maybe even 50. In my lifetime we have gone through several versions of computer disks and CDs are now largely obsolete. Digital stuff will evaporate, but a hard copy is forever more or less. And the books are fairly cheap to do and very easy and fun. I am currently digitizing our old family snapshots, slides and negatives and will produce such a book for my kids. I did both of their wedding albums and they are really nice (and because I did them I could include shower pictures and rehearsal dinner pictures etc etc).

    6. Observer*

      A few thoughts – I’m in the midst of (slowly) digitizing at least 1K slides from my father.

      You can do this yourself. If you have a mix of film, slides and actual photos a decent flatbed scanner is your best bet.

      You have a couple of choices regarding annotation. Some scanning software allows you to name and / or edit (which lets you add captions) the files as you scan, but the this means that you need to scan one image at a time. If you want to scan multiple items at a time (like my scanner allows when you’re doing slides), you will need to allow it to name and save the files then rename / edit each file to caption or add a comment to the metadata.

      Google Photos lets you add comments to each picture. I think that if you don’t upload high res picture you can have an unlimited number. If you want high res, the cost is not too bad. It starts from 15 GB free and goes through $100 per year for 2 TB, with a couple of pricing levels in between.

  10. Anónima*

    Any tips from on recognising toxic people before they become abusive in a romantic relationship?

    Also, if you’re in a healthy relationship, what are the things that make the relationship work and be healthy, for you?

    Thanks!

    1. Colette*

      1. Are they a functioning adult? Can they hold down a job, pay their bills, feed themselves?
      2. Do they take responsibility for their decisions, and admit when they make a mistake?
      3. Do they treat everyone with respect?
      4. Do they recognize and respect that you have thoughts, opinions, friendships, and responsibilities of your own? (No complaining or sulking if you’re doing something they’re not invited to, no expecting you to drop your priorities for theirs unless there is an emergency)
      5. Do they speak to and about you respectfully and positively?
      6. Are they always in control of their temper, even when angry? (No kicking walls, slamming doors, etc.)

      1. Goose Lavel*

        This is a great checklist, but it can miss true personality disorders. Oue ex daughter-in-law displayed all of the atributes listed during the time she dated my son. We thought she was wonderful and were happy to welcome her and her family into our family.
        After the wedding and birth of our first grandcild, her true self emerged and we realized she is a narcissistic sociopath who had everyone fooled. Her mother also is just like her. About 10% of the population have these personality disorders and are usually passed down from parent to child.
        She isolated my son from our family and disparaged my wife and I to our grand childern; they lived 10 minutes away and months would pass between contacts.
        After their divorce, she mentally and physcially tortures our grandchildren (cold showers and silent treatment for days just to mention a few) and CPS is not helpful. She and her mother are now treating our grandson as the “good kid” and our granddaughter as the “bad kid” and spreading this crap to neighbors, friends and at their schools. Nasty and evil don’t begin to describe them.
        10 years on and our grandchildren have let it slip she is planning to move out of state to live with her newest boyfriend. I have researched ways to keep this from happening and there is very little recourse. Even if my son would go to court to seek sole full custody with no visitation, nothing can truly stop her from disappearig and leaving my son and us shattered.
        You really can’t uncover these disorders if the person you’re dating is skilled at keeping them hidden. Humans trust what we hear and see and often don’t scratch below the happy surface patina until it’s too late.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Not everyone with a personality disorder is a narcissistic sociopath. While I certainly understand your deep frustration I don’t think it’s helpful or kind to stigmatize millions of people who do their best to manage a mental illness.

          1. Grace*

            Yes. Sometimes assholes are just assholes. Nothing to do with brain chemistry or the way your brain is formed – just a terrible person.

            Also, by definition, sociopaths and people with NPD have limited empathy because they were abused and neglected below the age of about five, and their brain pruned the connections for trust and empathy because they were more harmful than helpful – are there any sources for the “10% of the population are narcissistic or sociopathic” statistic? Because that’s an extremely high percentage for a personality disorder that is formed through persistent and repetitive neglect and abuse.

            1. fposte*

              But “sociopath” isn’t a clinical term, and the relationship between abuse and NPD isn’t professionally considered as incontrovertible. Basically, the research summary is that the cause isn’t known, but it seems to be a combination of genetic and environment; abuse *can* be a part of the environmental factor but doesn’t have to be.

            2. Goose Lavel*

              I agree that not everyone with a personality disorder is narcissistic or sociopathic and I did not intend to offend the millions of people who struggle with these issues.
              My 10% was not based upon statistics, so I apologize for this. It was a gross assumption based upon reading that 20% of CEOS and politicians have these personality disorders.
              I’m a child of a sociopathic father, who fortunately only physcially abused me and I’ve lead a fairly good life, especially after I forgave him.
              Can you direct me to further reading regarding the early formation of NPD? I would like to help my grandchildren to understand their personality disorders that will develop due to their mother’s abuse.
              Thanks!

              1. fposte*

                Whoa, no, please don’t take it upon yourself to tell your grandchildren that you believe they will have personality disorders.

                1. Goose Lavel*

                  I would not tell them. I meant how can I help them navigate the crappy hand they have been delt.

                2. fposte*

                  Good, but stay away from the “helping them understand their personality disorders.” They won’t necessarily have personality disorders, and it’s for a trained professional to decide if they do or don’t.

                  Love them, support their father, and encourage him to get them into counseling if they’re not already. (BTW, while some of what you describe sounds abusive, for divorced parents to move out of state or even across country isn’t hugely uncommon, and visitation agreements get written up for such situations all the time.)

              2. Dan*

                A 2009 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry says that in the USA, 7.6% of the population has a personality disorder that would meet the diagnostic criteria in the DSM IV.

                I read somewhere else that 4% of the population (or something like that) has NPD. FYI, Psychology Today says that the causes of NPD are “not yet well understood.” I don’t think NPD is a given as a result of an abusive childhood. That one is all about feelings of grandiosity and self-importance, and you don’t get those feelings by getting your butt whipped for doing nothing.

              3. Traffic_Spiral*

                At most, if they tell you about doing mean things, ask them “how would you feel if someone did that to you” and follow up for a few questions.

            3. Dan*

              Do you have any support for your “below the age of about five” statement? I’ve never seen that before. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus at all about the causes of NPD, so to say “by definition…” isn’t a true statement.

          2. Dan*

            While that is a true statement, Cluster B personality disorders (of which Narcissistic is one) are no walk in the park. At least when one has a choice, every single one of them (Cluster B) is an automatic “DTFMA” if the option exists.

            I think your point is true about the larger class of personality disorders, but from my experience with Cluster B, my only advice ever is “run”. Way too many people afflicted with Cluster B disorders *don’t* manage them, don’t try, and don’t even think they have a problem. That’s just too toxic for those in their environment.

            That said, Goose gets every bit of sympathy that I’ve got. It’s one thing to read about these in clinical/academic terms (or even on “layperson” sites like “Psychology Today”) but it’s a completely different beast to see what that looks like on a day to day basis.

        2. Dan*

          My ex has NPD and she meets pretty much every one of the criteria on that list. I actually think it’s hard to have a full blown personality disorder and not satisfy any of the criteria you outlined.

        3. Anónima*

          This whole conversation is stressing me out.

          First of all, my sympathies for what you’re going through. People who are toxic will bend reality for you and make you think that your own behaviour is normal when it isn’t. It’s a horrible place to be.

          Why are you saying though that your grandchildren will have a personality disorder? If you grew up the child of a narcissist, do YOU have a PD and does your son have a PD?

          Meredith Miller in YouTube is a wonderful source of info on narcissists, especially narcissistic parents.
          All advice I’ve come across with regards to narcissism is based on getting away from the person.

          Ime, (I’ve dated a narcissist, and they were by no means the only kind of toxic person I’ve dated, hence the post) there were warning signs which I ignored.
          They were a bit too attentive and charming. They moved too quickly. They talked smack about their ex and said she was mad. I wondered if THEY’D made her mad.
          It was hard not to get swept up in that.

          Abuse is very often ‘secret’ before it comes to the attention of outsiders. I’m wondering if your son had some inkling about it before you say you noticed her damaging behaviour.

          1. Goose Lavel*

            I would imagine that people that have a PD don’t recognize it in themselves and I don’t know if I have a PD or my son has a PD. I can’t speak for my son, but every job I’ve had, I worried I was going to be fired, even though I was one of top employees with regards to promotion, pay raises and accolades. I don’t know if low self-esteem or imposter syndrome qualify as a PD, but I recognize these two traits in myself.

            I only suspect that my grandchildren may gave PD based upon their current behaviors relative to their age, how they’ve been abused by both their mother and grandmother, how my granddaughter is the scapegoat whipping child for my grandson’s bad behavior and how my grandson has been labeled the “good kid”.

            To be clear, I suspect their mother will leave the state without telling us and abduct the children regardless of the divorce decree. That’s her style and vindictiveness.

      2. LJay*

        I would add
        7. Do they generally respect your other relationships in your life?

        Like, if you’re estranged from your parents, do they respect that, or do they urge you/try to take steps to make you reconcile with them?

        Do they respect your friendships or do they get upset and try to stop you spending time with your best friend?

        Do they understand that you need to maintain a good relationship with your work colleagues (or classmates or whatever) or do they need to express their irrational hatred for them every time you have to shoot them an email in their presence?

        I’ll give leeway for disliking one person. But if they have a problem with multiple people you talk to on a regular basis it’s a huge red flag.

        And kind of the converse:
        8. How do other people in your life feel about them?

        Presuming you have a good relationship with your parent’s, how do they feel about your significant other? How do your friends feel?

        Again, there’s some leeway. If one person doesn’t like them it could be due to just some sort of interpersonal thing that doesn’t have any reflection on your significant other or your relationship.

        If everyone dislikes them, it’s a big red flag.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I consider my marriage to be healthy for me. What works for us:

      1. We sometimes vacation separately. He likes to camp with his friends, I like to take trips with my sisters or cousin. This really throws some people for a loop for some reason.
      2. We recognize that we’re separate people. I’ve seen former friends treat their relationship as though they’re inseparable and must be joined at the hip 24/7. If they made plans with me, they had to bring the boyfriend. Why?!?!
      3. We each have our own downtime, separate from each other. I guess that ties into #2, though.
      4. We recognize that we don’t have to have *everything* in common. What makes us different is what makes it interesting.
      5. We don’t bother fighting about the little things. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time we had a fight about anything. A friend of a friend likes to say that relationships are complicated and we must work very hard at it. In my opinion, if you need to work *that* hard to maintain something, is it really worth having? Is it right for you? I guess I just feel like a relationship shouldn’t be complicated or hard if you’re right for each other. But YMMV. (And I’ve seen her relationship, which is quite the train wreck, so there’s that…)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This is pretty much exactly what I was going to say.

        (We have a Vacation Accord. He doesn’t usually vacation without me, because I have three times the PTO he does, but the Accord defines places we have agreed I won’t go without him.)

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, and trust, of course. We trust each other, which is why we can vacation separately if we want to, or chat with a person of the opposite sex, and it doesn’t cause a problem. A former friend of mine was so insanely jealous that her boyfriend couldn’t even say a celebrity was pretty without it causing a huge blowout. It must be absolutely exhausting to be like that. And if you can’t trust someone, why on earth would you be in a relationship with them? Seems like way too much work.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think some folks believe that love has to hurt or be difficult in order for it to be love. But there are other compounding issues that can be in place also.

          Ever notice that we each have our own definition of love and what love looks like? How many times have I heard someone say, “Oh, I would not put up with that in my partnership” yet another person shrugs off that same behavior.

          1. fposte*

            I think a lot of people, especially women, get wrongfooted by the expression “A relationship takes work.” That’s not a justification for endless, unrewarding labor.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Right. Effort is not the same as unending labor, and you should, over the course of time, feel that you and your spouse are putting in roughly equal effort.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Ties into the importance of identifying boundaries and sticking to those boundaries. Even though we talk about boundaries more than ever, I still think we have a ways to go.

            3. Venus*

              I know some people whose relationship is a lot of work, but in thinking about it… the work is due to their having mental health problems, and bad history with family, so essentially the work is spent in therapy to improve themselves and their relationship. The relationships with other people are much healthier now as a result.

              In these situations I think the difference is that “All relationships (friends, family, romantic, job) take work” rather than “The relationship with this one person is a lot of work”.

      3. Goose Lavel*

        I’m curious if you have children and if you do, how do manage and see to their needs within you narriage.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Nope, no kids. We decided before we got married that neither of us wanted them and it works well for us.

    3. Venus*

      My way of assessing people well isn’t ideal because it’s based on circumstance – I want to know how they react to something bad (illness, job loss, move, etc).

      When I went away for a few days with work, my now-partner came over twice a day to check in on my dog. A dog who ended up getting sick, so twice a day this person (who had only been dating me a few months at that time) came over and cleaned up diarrhea in the crate. At that time I remember thinking “This person is definitely different from every other person I have dated!”

      I think it’s also about respecting boundaries and how they react to hearing No. In my healthy relationships I always felt comfortable saying “Sorry, not tonight” or “I don’t want to do that”. I never got pushback in the healthy relationships – no whining, no pleading, no criticisms (the bad reactions were from the assholes).

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        I was going to comment that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat animals, which your post nicely illustrates.

      2. Anónima*

        Aw.
        How they treat animals and, as policy wonk below says, wait staff is very important to me too.

      3. LJay*

        This.

        On one of our first dates we went to a Margarita Festival. I drank too much, and got sick.

        He took me home and started running a shower for me. I threw up on my bed.

        He put me into the shower, took the sheets off of my bed, and brought them to the complex laundry room to put them in the wash.

        Then came back with some ginger ale, helped me make up my bed with different sheets.

        Once he was sure I was okay, he let himself out.

        It was all I needed to know about him.

    4. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Here’s my two cents on small-n narcissistic, toxic traits:
      >Always right. If they are proven wrong by something like a map, eh, it’s trivial.
      >Frequently tell anecdotes about how some business or entity did them wrong. They supposedly triumph in the end. If you get the feeling they are looking for someone to screw up so they have something to argue about, run.
      >Conversely, they have someone in their personal life, or a public figure, whom they gush over and who can do no wrong. It may reflect how they want others to treat them.
      >Mention helping others a lot. Not so much generosity as wanting others to be indebted to them.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I think one of the biggest issues is how they respond to being disagreed with or told they’re wrong or hurting your feelings or whatever. Do they understand the concepts of listening and compromise? Or do they immediately double down, deny, reject your viewpoint as stupid, etc.?

      Also the silent treatment IS abusive.

      1. going_anon*

        Yes, this is an important one to me. It’s actually an issue in my marriage. It’s gotten to the point where I rarely share my thoughts or feelings any more.

    6. Sam Sepiol*

      Warning signs:
      Testing boundaries. “I know you wanted a quiet night but I’ll just drop round for X.” Calling at 10.10pm when you’ve asked them not to call after 10. Little stuff like that testing whether you accept it or not.

      Doing stuff for you that you haven’t asked them to do. Not like what Venus is saying about the dog having diarrhoea; doing stuff round your house such as home improvements/DIY that you haven’t asked them to do or didn’t want. Favour sharking.

      Love bombing. “I love you” when you have only known them five minutes. Trying to move in together very quickly.

      Talking shit about their ex.

      None of these are proof but they are warning signs. Proceed with caution.

      1. Anónima*

        Oh this is brilliant thanks. I never thought of it but you’re right.
        And I leaned a new phrase, favour sharking.

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          Ask me how I know :-| the knowledge is very hard won and I’ve had a lot of help from Women’s Aid (in the UK) to learn all this.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        I agree with this. When you start to get the small niggling feeling that you’re being fucked with? You’re being fucked with.

      3. dumblewald*

        These are good tips! A lot of abusive behavior is wrapped up in so-called “good intentions”.

    7. fposte*

      I think it’s useful to keep an eye out for red flags, but it’s also valuable to realize that not everybody gives red flags in advance. Sometimes people hold a more functional pattern together in the early days, sometimes they change or worsen. That’s not so much to say “Oooh, you never know!” but to say that finding yourself with an abuser doesn’t mean you missed red flags.

      What I’d say is to remember everything you see counts as the real person. Don’t fall into the seductive myth that the bad parts of somebody aren’t really them because they were drunk/they only do it with family/it’s just when driving. That doesn’t mean the bad parts are dealbreakers–we all have bad parts–but that I see so many people assuming that a serious problem is like some kind of burr sticking to the person they love rather than a part of that person that may make love a real problem. Assume that bad behavior is part of them and will stay like that. Is that okay for you? Is that a package you can enjoy?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        All this.
        A good piece of advice I liked was to look at how they are doing with the older relationships in their lives. Typically this would be family relationships but it also could be friends from school or long term neighbors. This will give you an idea of where you are going after you have been with this person for a while.

        Now. Tricky part. This is for an overview, a general idea. If they have one or two soured relationships in their lives that could be okay as there could be legit reasons. It could be that their entire family IS toxic and they fled that situation. So clearly this advice does not work for everyone nor does it work all the time.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, there is a certain amount of reflection/learning that can help you break a pattern of unhealthy choices. But beyond that, it can turn into blaming the victim for the abuser’s choices.

        Abusers groom and deceive their victims. It is not the victim’s fault for being deceived.

        However, learning to listen to & respect your own boundaries can help weed out manipulators and toxic people at a relatively early stage.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, exactly, especially with an abuser and not just somebody with a pattern that is unhealthy for you. They’re going to hide red flags as much as they can, and they’re often very good at it.

          1. Venus*

            I remember interviews years ago with abusers who were in jail, and they were essentially asked how they would find a victim, and they said that they would fake it for as long as necessary. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, sorry, but essentially they made it clear that they knew they were faking their good behavior, and were willing to do it for years if needed to get control over someone.

            This shows that we can look for red flags, and we should listen to them, but some abusers know how to hide all those red flags. I completely agree that if someone is a survivor of abuse then there may not have been signs along the way – there should be no blaming!

      3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        So much this. Yes. Everything you see counts as the real person.

        Also, do they accept that you are an adult who was making your own decisions, plans, priorities before you met them? That you will still do this for yourself and do need, or want, them to do it for you?

    8. Annie Moose*

      Big sign is how they talk about past relationships. Are all their past partners terrible people who can do no good? Was every problem in their past relationships the other person’s fault, and they don’t take any responsibility? Not a great sign. Sure, some people legitimately have terrible, abusive partners, but it’s something to keep an eye on. I’ve known way too many people who get into a relationship with someone who trash talked all their past partners… and what happens when the new relationship gets to a rough patch? The other person starts trash talking them too.

    9. Policy wonk*

      To me a big red flag is how someone treats wait staff and service people. If they berate a waiter for a small mistake they could do the same to you when you have passed the honeymoon stage.

    10. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      I would say, an outside assessment is also wise. Not that you should let your friends and family control your love life, but they’re much less likely to be besotted with his/her eyes. Plus you can take advantage of older peoples experience instead of making your own mistakes, which is always wise.

      1. Turtlewings*

        This! There can be a million reasons for one person to dislike another person, many of which have nothing to do with that person being a good romantic partner. But if ALL your friends and family hate the guy? It’s worth looking at why.

    11. Wishing You Well*

      Some people hide who they are until you’ve made a commitment. They are hard to spot. One thing I watch for is whether they mention any friends or family members. If it seems like you’re their only friend, be careful.
      My advice is take things SLOW and listen to your gut. If you start feeling uncomfortable around someone, take your feelings seriously. Figure out what’s setting off your alarms.

      Even healthy relationships get a head cold sometimes, but a ready sense of humor gets me through every time.

    12. Lilysparrow*

      1) Keep the different types of intimacy (physical, emotional, time, personal information, family integration, commitment/exclusivity) at the same or very close to the same level. This isn’t a popular or “romantic” choice, but it is a very helpful safeguard. Kissing a stranger doesn’t make them not a stranger. Listening to trivia about someone’s favorite movies for six hours is not relational intimacy, it’s just a very long YouTube vlog. Treat them accordingly.

      Manipulators, abusers, con artists, and players create false, rushed intimacy on a physical or emotional level in order to sweep past your filters or discernment. Casual sex, instant commitment, or being “swept off your feet” romantically, can work out all right for people with strong personal boundaries who are confident in what they want. But if you’re concerned about your ability to pick good partners, this is a major point of vulnerability.

      Take it slow, and be wary of anyone who isn’t willing to take it slowly with you.

      2) How do they deal with your “no?” Do they respect it and accept it without making it a personal insult? Or do they bulldoze, pout, negotiate, or act offended? Do they attach disproportionate emotional stakes to unimportant decisions, or to personal decisions of yours that have nothing to do with them? Are you reluctant to disagree about small things, or ask for small things you would like? Is that because of your history, or because of the way they act?

      3) How do they do favors and kind gestures? Do they expect a big reaction to ordinary courtesy? Do they pay attention to the things that are actually helpful, fun, or special for you? Or do they push things you don’t actually appreciate and get put out that you weren’t grateful enough?

      And how do they receive favors/gifts/compliments? Is their reaction proportionate and appropriate? Do you feel better or worse after doing or saying something nice?

      4) How do they give and receive apologies? Do you have to work to get them to see what they did wrong, or can you simply tell them how it made you feel? Do they collapse and require comforting/reassurance when asked for an apology?

      Do they display unexplained tension or resentment, requiring you to dig out what’s bothering them? Or do they tell you when they are upset with you? Do they accept an apology at face value, or make you work to be forgiven? Do they look for offense, or get disproportionately angry or annoyed about minor things? Is it easy to understand how their sensitivities fit together with their personality, so you can be considerate without tying yourself in a knot? Do you have to curtail your life or stifle your normal personality to avoid upsetting or angering them?

      Do they keep score and hold grudges, or are things settled and done with once you’ve apologized?

      5) Do you admire their character and life choices in terms of values, priorities, judgment, integrity, and maturity?

      6) When you disagree about something important, do they “fight fair” or fight dirty? Are they pursuing the goal of a better relationship, or do they just want to win the argument? Do they see the relationship (even if it’s a first date) as a common goal you are pursuing together, or do they act like everything is a power play of some kind?

      7) Can you laugh with each other without feeling laughed at?

      That’s all I have time for right now, hope it’s helpful.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “Do they expect a big reaction to ordinary courtesy? Do you feel better or worse after doing or saying something nice?”

        Phew, yes. I can’t tell you the number of toxic *friends* I’ve had who expected me to fawn all over them for doing basic Friendship 101 things for me, and who gave me cursory-at-best thanks (or none at all, or coldness, or “I would expect the same thing from a stranger, honestly”) when I bent over backwards for them. Ugh, I had some sh*tty friends in college.

    13. LJay*

      There’s no aspect of “punishment” in the relationship.

      This sounds obvious. But, like, if I did something my ex wouldn’t like, like make plans that didn’t involve him, he would punish me with his behavior. He wasn’t physical, but he would try and schedule different plans with me and get upset that I said I had other plans first. He would emotionally withdraw from me or even give me the silent treatment as it got closer to the time I was going to go. Then while I was out he would call and text incessantly.

      So when I began dating again, I was meeting someone after work, and I wound up being like 15 minutes late getting out of work. I found myself getting really anxious as I approached the restaurant, because this would be the type of thing that would cause my ex to emotionally punish me by lecturing me about how I ruined the whole night, etc. I apologized profusely. And the guy I was meeting just said he was glad I texted so he didn’t have to worry I was standing him up or something, and that he didn’t know what I would want to drink so he just got me a water.

      But I distinctly remember how tense I was walking into the restaurant, and how I didn’t realize things were that bad with my ex until I realized I was having that reaction a lot in situations where other people I was seeing treated like the normal things that they were.

      And with my current boyfriend, it’s the opposite. He can express displeasure with something, but there’s no aspect of punishment whatsoever.

      Like, I borrowed his car, and the windshield wiper stopped working. I forgot to tell him. When he noticed he asked me if I knew about it. I said yes. And he said next time please remember to tell him so he can fix it before it rains, and so he can make sure to get it fixed while his warranty is still in effect. And that’s it.

      Or, like, I’m terrible with my finances. He expresses his concern – that he worries about pooling our money together when I overdraw my own account – but that’s it. There’s no manipulation or punishment involved.

      1. Artemesia*

        I love this insight of ‘punishing’. My husband and I agreed early on on a ‘no fault marriage’ and he has been true to his word (I am a little more blamey but work on it). I remember running out of gas and having him quite cheerfully bike to me with a can of gas without taking me to task about how dumb I was (which I was to let that happen). The only time I ever remember him getting mad at a mistake I made was the SECOND time I overflowed the bathtub and ruined the kitchen ceiling. We had a defective tub overflow valve and if I went to do something else while the tub was filling and it entered the overflow valve it ended up in the ceiling. I just started always staying in the bathroom while the tub was filling after that. (and I was the one who painted the ceiling both times). He once shared a Faulkner quote with me during a rough patch in our relationship (we are going on 50 years now) that had an old man say something like ‘ early in his marriage he and she had forgiven each other completely and in advance for all the disappointments they would be to each other.’ Always thought it summed up a loving marriage well — you give each other grace. Any hint of a ‘punishing’ disposition heralds a lifetime of petty miseries.

    14. dumblewald*

      I second what everyone says above about the fact that it may take time for toxic behaviors to come into light, which kinda sucks because you would rather know sooner than waste your time.

      Something else I would observe closely throughout your relationship with someone is how you feel around this person. This is usually a good gut check because I think sometimes we can err on the side of undermining problematic behaviors in an attempt to be forgiving. A lot of people in abusive relationships end up normalizing the small but bad behaviors and don’t realize they are problematic. Some things I would look out for are:

      -How do you act around this person? Do you feel like you have to hide a significant amount of things from them? Do you always behave cautiously? Are you always afraid of offending them?

      -Do you really trust this person? Do you constantly question what they say? Why? Is it because you caught them lying in the past?

      – How has your overall mood/disposition been since you started seeing this person? Are you happy, content? Or stressed out, depressed, insecure? (Of course, there could be other life factors contributing to these things, but it’s a good starting point when evaluating your relationship. Basically, is your relationship a good part or bad part of your life?)

      1. Pommette!*

        Yes to monitoring your own feelings!
        And your actions. For instance: are you cutting yourself off from people or commitments that matter to you? Are you toning down parts of your personality (in ways that you don’t feel good about)? etc.

      2. Artemesia*

        Time is an important point. In the first year in particular people are in courtship mode and then they revert to who they are. I had one boyfriend after my first marriage ended who was so wonderful and then after a year I began to see why he had already been married twice at age 26. He was one of those guys who wants a mother for a wife. He drank and needed ‘discipline’ about it — suddenly his girlfriend is a nag. I knew his second wife and she was a woman much like me — relatively intellectual etc etc and could imagine how their relationship went from ardent and interesting to whiny and dependent — and so moved on. My first husband was an entirely different man after we married — we married much too quickly. He was not a bad guy, but not someone I wanted to spend my life with once I got to know who he was. Time is your friend — see what they are like after the first ardor wears off — doesn’t have to be toxic or abusive to be not what you want for a lifetime commitment.

    15. Anónima*

      Thank you so much for all of your answers everybody. I found it really helpful and I’ve bookmarked this discussion to come back to at a later date. You’ve given me plenty to think about and some useful things that I can try immediately!

    16. Anon for this*

      I don’t have advice, but I want to stress to ANYONE that if someone does turn out to be toxic or abusive, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. It’s often not immediately evident and there’s no shame in not being able to tell.

      I haven’t been intimate with many men, but every one that I have been intimate with ended up being emotionally abusive. The first one (I was 18) criticized me for not shaving enough and pressured me to have sex (which ended up never happening, thank goodness), using the “You know you want to” line whenever I’d say no. (Sadly, he was by far the least terrible of all three of them.)

      The second (I was 20) was a friend of mine who proposed a casual sexual relationship (which I now know I should never have agreed to it.) However, he would smack my butt in public without warning constantly and was generally a politically incorrect a-hole towards people. Finally, without warning, he announced to a group of our friends that he had a new girlfriend, which I had no idea about. (To be clear, he had every right to have one, but it was a punch in the gut that he didn’t break it off with me first.)

      The third (I was 22)…I could genuinely devote an entire book to, as he makes the first two look like patron saints. To keep it short, highlights included not taking no for an answer, badgering for nudes, threatening to cut off contact if I didn’t fly out to see him on my own dime, and refusing to wear a condom unless I bought one.

      However, the last time I talked to him when things were imploding between us, I mentioned off-hand how everyone I had been with mistreated me, to which he said that I should go to a therapist and examine “why I pick guys who are so terrible.” I wish I told this to him at the time, but that infuriated me later because it was classic victim-blaming to me, as if I knew exactly what I was getting into every time. So I repeat, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT if the person you’re with turns out to be a grade-A abusive a-hole.

      1. Anónima*

        If you haven’t listened to Marisa Peer on YouTube I recommend her. She’s lovely. She talks about how people have patterns in responding to unhealthy partners, but more importantly she doesn’t victim blame and she describes really simple ways to break out of those patterns.

        1. Anon for this*

          I’ll look her up! Thanks for the recommendation. I’m always willing to examine my own actions and make positive change, but ultimately, it’s always an a-hole’s fault for being an a-hole.

          1. Anónima*

            Oh I definitely don’t blame myself for the way a-holes behave, but it’d be within my control to not date one of them again, so that’s what I’m working on!

            1. Anon for this*

              Exactly! As much as others may suck, it’s good to look at what you do have power over and examine life that way! Even if some things aren’t your fault, it’s better to look at what you do have control over and make positive change from there.

      2. Observer*

        It’s ironic that he said that to you – what does it say about him that he knows that he’s toxic? What pathetic loser would rather either be with people who have no other options, are “too stupid” to understand what they are getting into, or they have to fool into getting into a relationship with them?

        I would say that he had a point. Not in that you are “stupid” or broken in any way. And not that you are responsible for anyone being a jerk, much less for being an abuser. But when there is a pattern of choices that don’t work for you, that generally indicates that you might want to look at why / how you are making those choices. Especially since the patterns of behavior that you describe are quite similar.

        To be clear here: Jerks, abusers, etc. and 100% responsible for their behavior! The fact that you chose to get together with them, not realizing / understanding does NOT EVER excuse their misbehavior. But it’s to your benefit to figure out what you can do to minimize the chances of becoming a victim again, and of improving your ability to realize that a relationship is unhealthy earlier in the process and taking appropriate action.

        1. Anon for this*

          I absolutely agree. The impetus is on me to work on myself and improve. I was just dumbfounded that he would say something that insensitive and say it in a way that put all the impetus on me for getting into those situations, particularly because every single time, the guy pursued me, never the other way around. Hell, he specifically WOULDN’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER at least five times when he wanted to first get together. Though knowing him, I really shouldn’t have been surprised he’d say that, given that he was so painfully unwilling to take responsibility for ANYTHING he did, but I just wish I had the nerve to call him out in the moment.

          But I’m completely with you.

    17. Artemesia*

      The problem is that we all tend to disregard things we don’t want to see. Obviously the first clue is ‘is this a functioning adult’ i.e. do they have a job, or if in school are they making good progress and do they have a plan for their future. Then are they considerate; do they follow through, do what they say, make sure your needs are considered. Then are they clingy or pushy or wanting to make things serious immediately which is a warning sign. People like that are not interested in you but ‘having a woman.’ Then as you date notice how they treat other people and you and be willing to believe your eyes and experiences. Also listen to how they describe other relationships. If their first wife was a beotch and everything was all her fault — hmmm. If they are always the victim of bad bosses, unfaithful women, mean friends who stab them in the back — hmmm. The real problem is having the fortitude to exit a relationship you wish were good when you begin to see it won’t be.

    18. Batgirl*

      For me? Conflict resolution style.
      Abusive people:
      – Ignore your complaints, (sometimes very cheerfully and charmingly) ,
      – Make unilateral decisions and handwave your objections away as ‘control’
      -Punish anything they don’t like about your decisions. Either with dergatory comments, sulking, days of pointed moodiness or anger or guilt tripping. Or worse.
      -Leaving isn’t an option in the cold light of day. No matter how bad things get the idea of your leaving is traitorous. However the concept is frequently thrown out as an argumentative threat .

      With a healthy partner:
      – You can say ‘this bugs me’ without having to justify yourself. It will be heard.
      – Conflicts are dealt with without it being a big deal. If you don’t agree immediately there’s no pressure to submit before thinking it over.
      – If one of you accidentally fucks up the other one asks for what they need with the goal of a quick solution instead of treasuring it up and using the example against them.
      – You accept that you both have the right to leave if you’re unhappy for any reason; big or small.

  11. Anders*

    I’m not in a good place these days. A close relative died of a rare and aggressive cancer called angiosarcoma. It’s been hell on the whole family.

    1. FUAS*

      I’m so very sorry. My sister died of angiosarcoma last Friday, six months following her diagnosis. It’s an unbearably ferocious disease, and so rare I wonder whether we’re related… Sending peace to you and your family.

      1. Anders*

        FUAS, I’m sorry for your loss too. My relative died 3 years after diagnosis, many surgeries, and much suffering. Terrible, cruel disease.

  12. Flinty*

    I want to acknowledge up front that this question will likely be very painful for some.

    My partner and I are thinking more and more about having kids and are open to both having biological kids and/or adopting. I was looking through a local agency’s website, where they have short profiles about the children in need of homes, and was surprised by the enormous number that need lifelong, intensive care due to special needs (not just learning disabilities, but serious medical conditions.) I just can’t imagine adopting a child who I knew up front would either need to live with us all their lives, or need some kind of institutional care.

    Does that mean I’m not ready to be a parent at all? I realize that my partner and I could have biological children with very very serious special needs, or have neurotypical children, and then have some awful accident completely change that. It feels different somehow to know something is a risk and being willing to figure it out if that happens, than to sign up for a certainty. But at the same time, I wonder if I was really ready, I would be able to welcome a child with any level of needs.

    1. FutureAdoptiveMom*

      My husband and I are in the adoption process right now, and I also work with the special needs population for my job, and no, I don’t think this means that you are not ready to parent at all. This was something my husband and I discussed ourselves, and because he has health conditions, it would be very difficult for us to provide long-term intensive care in a situation like that. Even the paperwork we had to fill out asked us what types of situations we would be open to, so I think even social services recognizes that not everybody feels equipped for that kind of situation. TBH, I think very few people who have children go into it “ready” to have a child with serious special needs.

      1. valentine*

        If you sign up to parent, you are signing up for whatever needs the child has or may have. That’s the gig. If you don’t think you can meet them (especially alone, which is a possibility in the US), you’re not ready to parent. It’s like getting married “in sickness and in health” though you don’t want to deal with certain changes in ablebodiedness.

        1. Venus*

          ‘You should be prepared for anything’ is a great philosophy in theory, but not practical.

          A child with serious special needs can require one parent to stop working, and added medical expenses. Most people would have a lot of difficulty to afford a very sick child.

          It’s a bit like any other aspect of our lives – even if we buy house, car, or (supplementary) health insurance, the truth is that people who have their home burn down, or are in a car accident, or – worst case – have a serious medical problem… they often find that the insurance helps with some aspects, but th