Relationships / Relationship Troubles

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“I’ve been with my girlfriend for two years now, and whilst I adore her, things are becoming a little strained. She’s started a new job, hates her manager and is having a rough time, whilst I’m super stressed over finishing my Masters degree. I want to be as supportive as possible for her, but I’m having a hard time too. Help!”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

Okay. I’ve totally got this one… because I’ve TOTALLY been exactly where you are slash kind of ARE where you are and I had a revelation yesterday while I was on a dock by the ocean thinking thoughts. Here we go. When we get into long-term relationships with people, we tend to feel incredibly comfortable being open, honest, vulnerable, and vocal about the things that are going on in our lives. That’s an amazing thing on most levels, because it means being connected and allowing for someone else to comfort us in our weak moments.

HOWEVER. We also tend to get so comfortable in that space that we forget that our emotions and moods (and expression of those things) has a big impact on our loved ones. Your girlfriend is struggling and you are stressed and you need each other to lean on, yes… but you’ve crossed a threshold where those struggles/stressors are actually making you LESS able to be a good partner. (Mayday! Mayday! *pulls alarms*) You now need to do two things:

1. Most importantly, you need to talk to your lovely girl (let’s call her Pasta bc I’m hungry) and explain where you’re coming from, gently and with lots of love. When she is having a good, calm moment, pull her close and say, “Pasta, I want you to know that I love you and I am so glad that we have each other to talk to when things are hard. I know you’re struggling right now and I am here to help in any way I can. Lately I’ve been feeling a little frazzled with my own stuff, and I thought it would be great if we could find times to vent, but also make sure that we have time to have fun and enjoy the good.” If you want you can then play that Tegan and Sara song about where did the good go, but only if you think she’ll laugh as hard as I would if we were having this conversation.

Essentially, you need to communicate that you both need to be operating at full capacity to take care of each other, and that you need some time to navigate the world and your own stressors without being under the constant strain of hearing/worrying about hers. Gently. Calmly. Lovingly. Cool?

2. Here’s my small revelation: our partners cannot take care of all that ails us. Maybe you already knew that, but I don’t think I did until very recently… and maybe your gf doesn’t realize that yet either. I tend to think I AM HURTING GOOD THING I HAVE A WIFE TO TELL WHO WILL LISTEN AND HELP… all the time. And all of the time is too much of the time! I am a strong person who has friends and family and myself and a cat and a journal and sidewalks to stroll on and a million other outlets for what ails me.

As people with loved ones we need to make sure that we use all that is available to us instead of defaulting, always, to the person who is often closest to us (in both proximity and emotional-feels). Maybe you can also talk to your girl about this, bc I wish I had had that realization about forty years ago. You know?!

Last thing before I leave you to your journey: it sounds like y’all love each other very much and this is a hard time. That’s okay. We have ups and downs and you’ll learn things from this down that will help you tackle the next one even more readily. Good luck to you and darling Pasta <3

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“There’s this girl who works at a coffee shop that I’m super into, but she just has a high school diploma and I’m working on getting my masters. We’re both into each other, but I can’t get over the fact that she isn’t really doing anything with her life. Am I a horrible person for letting this get in the way?! UGH! How do you handle education inequality in dating?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Shane Billings as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Shane Says:

Oh man, those girls in coffee shops…. putting heart shapes in your cappuccino and drizzling their number with chocolate syrup. I hope you don’t even drink coffee, and you’re just ordering it to seem caffeinated and cool for your barista boo-thang.

With situations like yours, it’s important to not let the idea of a thing (the implications of her education level) interfere with the thing itself (your mutual attraction). There’s nothing wrong with wanting specific qualities in a partner, including a certain education level. However, your concern seems rooted in a couple of assumptions – that MAYBE your coffee shop lady doesn’t have an advanced degree because MAYBE she doesn’t have ambitious goals for success, or MAYBE she doesn’t care about her future. Don’t give those “maybes” any control over your love life.

Truth is, your coffee shop lady lover is doing things with her life. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but she’s got an income and a love interest… and most people would kill for just one of those (please don’t kill anybody). I’m willing to bet that if you ask her what she’s doing with her life, she’d have an answer. And that’s the fun stuff! Getting to uncover all the details that make a person complex and three-dimensional, those are the things that will anchor your feelings in reality.  Maybe she is, in fact, too cool 4 school. School – especially higher education – is not for everyone, and isn’t a comprehensive metric for success or value in a person’s life. Don’t hold it against her.

So take a hot minute, while you’re sipping your hand-crafted mocha made special by your barista lover, and think about why higher education is important for you in a partner. Then take another minute (OMG so many minutes) and see what Aziz Ansari has to say about dating, specifically how people often realize that the qualities we say we’re looking for… don’t match the partner we actually become interested in.

You’re not a horrible person, at least not in this case. Maybe you don’t pay your taxes, or maybe you fart in crowded elevators. But like I said, “maybes” are just emotional contaminants, and don’t deserve the swaying power they have over our decisions. Don’t let the idea of a good relationship defeat an extraordinary opportunity that looks and feels different from what you expected.


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“I have been saving for a trip to Hawaii but my dog got sick and had to get emergency surgery. I can’t afford both so i rang my girl and said we would have to wait a little longer because i needed to pay for Barkus. She said i better not spend all that money ‘on the damn dog’ or she was gone. Obviously Mr Snugglebutt got his surgery! Where do i go from here? She’s perfect, y'know other than her dislike of Sir SnazzyPants. Should i really break up with her just because she doesn’t like Barfolomew?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

That dog is your child, and if someone was like “I hate your child, let it suffer bc I want to go on a trip” I would LOSE MY SHIT.

Also. Don’t date someone who is capable of hatred. Being constantly in the presence of someone who can dislike something so intensely is a very hard thing to live with, AND she shouldn’t be bartering her love for you like that, it’s so uncool.

Also Also. Don’t date someone who is incapable of having respect for the things that you love.

Kristin Says:

Okay, okay, OKAY…

The thing about her pressuring you to LET YOUR DOG DIE (I AM SORRY BUT SERIOUSLY?!) is that it isn’t just about Mr Snugglebutt… it’s about an inability to put another’s needs before her own. She hasn’t been able to understand the needs of Barkus AND she hasn’t been able to understand YOUR needs.

I would tell her that you are hurt by her suggestion that you let something you love suffer, and that you expect way more from a partner. I know it’s harsh, but what she said to you is WAY more harsh and totally fucked up.

You know that line from The Godfather that’s like, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”? I would like to apply that here: “Leave the girl, take the dog (and the cannoli).”

You’ll find someone who loves you enough to love the things that matter to you, and who is grown up enough to be able to make a sacrifice for the greater good.


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“I’m in an interracial relationship– I’m white, my girlfriend is black. I need help learning how to respond to all the little comments and microaggressions that happen when we’re together. It can be hard to know how to (and even whether to) respond. Any thoughts?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous with a reply from the scattered, disorganized desk of The Bad Gay, Mo Willis, as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Mo Says:

Ah, the complex and challenging interweavings of love. And Blackness and Whiteness. And relationships. And 3 out of 5 sentences/statements that begin with “I” or “I’m” when talking about a we-thang. Though, there is clear cause to lead with self here. Like, who else would you be asking on behalf of? Who else is asking the question? Is this even a learnable/advisable situation?

(Overwhelmed, days later I returned with a rapid-fire, long-form, shortish list.)

Some answers.

1. Racially-motivated “micro-aggressions” are happening to your gf more than she’s telling you. I’m saying that because you need to understand the magnitude of “micro-aggressions.” (Which let me just take a second to side-eye the hell out the term “micro-aggressions.” What the fuck is a micro-aggression? Are we actually trying to say “all non-violent aggression” or should it be more like, “he didn’t outright call me a nigger aggression” or am I to understand it as a “run-of-the-mill, just your everyday following me around the store aggression”? I don’t know. I’m not really sure what it means.)

2. Similarly, what is a “little comment”? Is it in the same pre-school playroom as “micro-aggression”? I just want to point out that what’s happening here, over all, is the diminutization (or, “making smaller”) of pretty fucked up moments that are happening with enough frequency that you feel compelled to ask about it. (Let me restate that more clearly: YOU are engaging in the act of making what you may think are small, petty things, small and petty. No matter how your gf reacts, know that those moments are exhausting, terrible, annoying, hurtful, deflating, unnecessary reminders of how the world actually feels.

3. I don’t know you. I don’t know your personality. I can only speak for myself. I be gyad-damned if I am with my gf somewhere and someone says or does some racist shit. I’m saying something. I’m doing something. We’re leaving. Admittedly, I’m not speaking from a place of being in an interracial relationship. But, as an ally and partner, your role is to support the ways she needs to process and to make no secret of your position of unwavering support. Just because you’re with a black person does not mean you not about that racist life. It just means you are dating a black person. Showing your support can look a lot of ways. Sometimes it looks like leaving. Sometimes it means looking at her and asking if she’s okay. Sometimes it means giving the finger. Sometimes it means holding her tighter. Sometimes it means having a white person-to-white-person call out time. Sometimes it means taking up even more space as a couple, intentionally. Sometimes it means not saying a fucking thing and standing there. You will become more comfortable and familiar with the responses that work best for you when you do work to understand what is happening–and maybe even understanding how/if you’re contributing to it.

4. You are never going to ever come close to being able to identify, understand, or address the kabillion ways she will experience anti-black racism in her life. That’s not your role. Your role, forreal, is to: a) stop acting like it’s little shit when what you’re actually witnessing is a fucked up system of oppression at work and to b) Talk to your gf. Together, maybe y’all can identify ways she feels most supported when inane, ridiculous bullshit happens simply because she has the audacity to be…alive.

5. When people treat you, as a mixed couple, in a shitty way, y’all need to tag team. That’s my totally unproductive advice. How will you clown these antiquated fools out here in ways that keep y’all safe and entertained? How are you dealing with it together? What would make your relationship feel protected and yet give you the glorious taste of “Mm. They shoulda known we weren’t standing for that shit.” Or, if you’re the type of people who take refuge in putting things quietly away, do that. But process. Unpack. Don’t be afraid to ask about it. Don’t be mad if you’re met with silence. Give tenderness. Be honest.

That’s it. There is never a point at which your work and investment will be done. Saddle up. Be sweet to each other. Pay attention. Use your words. Good start, asking questions. Keep going.

I’m out.



Mo Willis is a co-founder of Brooklyn Boihood, a collective whose mission is to “spread love through community-building events, music and art while sharing our journey as bois of color who believe in safe spaces, accountable action and self-care.” Support Mo and the rest of Brooklyn Boihood by visiting their website and online store!

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“My girlfriend is cute and funny and smart and romantic and perfect and, lately, rather smelly. How do I tell her this without being a total jerk?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

You could fake an obsession with a deodorant smell? Or suggest showering together A LOT MORE OFTEN. Or buy her bath salts. Or when she doesn’t smell, compliment her SOOOO much that she’ll want to continue to not smell? Or be like, “did you change your perfume?” and when she’s like “no what?” just say, “you used to smell like peaches and sunshine and now you smell like soup kinda, WHICH i love soup, so it’s totally cool, i was just wondering” … DON’T DO THE LAST ONE. THE LAST ONE IS A HORRIBLE IDEA. I QUIT.

Kristin Says:

The thing about it is this. If Jenny started to smell I would be like HEY LISTEN YOU SMELL WHAT GIVES. So I think, for starters, that I just learned I am a total jerk?!

Anyway, maybe do this: Say, “I read this thing that says you don’t have to use deodorant you can just put lemon juice under your armpits, DO YOU WANT TO TRY?!” Spoiler: I tried this once and it worked for like one day and then I STANK. So, you both try the lemon trick and then you both start to stank and you can be like “OMG LOL WE STANK SO BAD” and then you can go and buy two sticks of deodorant and wrap them and open them together for presents. And then she will use it bc it is a romance deodorant. See? Tada!

Also, I have no idea what your gf smells like so if you didn’t mean that this was a deodorant/shower issue and you just meant that she suddenly started smelling like skittles… well, a) I would like to date her bc I love skittles, and b) I don’t know what to tell you except maybe just tell her that Kristin told you to tell her that she loves skittles and also push her in the shower.


*backs out of door, eyes darting left and right*


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