Turning The Screw
33

Ask Polly: My Terrific Herd Of Friends Is Being Ruined By This Awful Freak

Dear Polly,

I'm part of a group of friends that have known each other for many years. I treasure this group and want to be friends for a long time to come. Unfortunately, conflicts have been coming up here and there over the last couple of years, it seems to be escalating, and I'm at a loss as to how to make things better.

The problems mostly revolve around me and one of the other women in the group, "Jessica."

Jessica and I are very different people. She's an only child who, at age 40, still lives with her parents. Her mother does all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, even buys [...]

20

Ask Polly: I'm Turning 30 And Anxiety Is Ruining Me

Dear Polly,

I have a problem that's common to some extent for everyone but lately it's beginning to be unmanageable for me: I have terrible anxiety.

Background: I'm a gay 29-year-old male who's been working at a crappy data entry job for the past couple of years. I've never been in a relationship and since coming out, I've somehow gotten into the habit of having sex only once a year.

As you can imagine, growing up I used to be a nervous little queer kid; scared of being called a faggot, I cultivated this deep monotone speech pattern and tried my damn hardest to keep the camp to [...]

80

Ask Polly: My Ex Dumped Me Callously And I Can't Get Over It!

Hi Polly,

My ex ("John") and I, who are both in our late twenties, were together for a number of years. The relationship was lovely at the beginning, but because of intermittent long-distance, different life experiences, and so-so communication, it was increasingly bad for a few months. One day, John called to say that he wanted to talk about ending the relationship. I asked if he still loved me, and he said yes and then sobbed for thirty minutes. Then, I asked what he saw as the problems in our relationship and whether they were fixable, and he talked incoherently for an hour. I asked if he wanted to end [...]

83

Ask Polly: I Am Severely Chafed By My Gentle, Compassionate Boyfriend

Dear Polly,

I feel sick just writing this, and I don't want to lose something good, so here goes:

I'm a 34-year-old single mother of a beautiful, sweet, and healthy three-year-old boy. I never imagined having kids, but accidentally became pregnant three months into a destructive relationship. I kept the child and eventually got rid of the man (with the help of a domestic violence counselor and a restraining order), which was a healthy decision.

You see, healthy decisions are not my forte. With a few exceptions, I usually date the damaged bad boy, the alcoholic who needs rescuing, or the tortured artist. I scrapped all that when [...]

16

Ask Polly: I Never Felt Appreciated At My Job And It Still Drives Me Nuts!

Polly,

I'm going kind of crazy right now.

A year ago, I quit this job that I mostly enjoyed and was good at after three years in the same position. I quit because I wanted a promotion and suddenly it felt masochistic to keep waiting for that to happen.

I want to emphasize this: I really, really wanted a promotion. I wanted a promotion because I was undeniably successful in my role. I wanted a promotion because I had a lot of ideas how we might do things better but I had absolutely no authority to implement those ideas. I wanted a promotion because I wanted the external [...]

15

Ask Polly: We Had The Best Sex Ever, But He Won't Be Mine!

Dear Polly,

I'm at a point in my life (24 years and a month, to be exact) where I'm finally slipping out from my romantic ideas of the world and starting to accept hard facts. Things like preparing to be alone forever, me not giving a shit about impressing people who don't deserve my time, etc.

However, I'm in a funk right now that I can't figure out, which is horrendous because I'm a logical thinker who wants to solve every problem anyone has right away. Six months ago, I was living with my boyfriend at the time in the small, shitty college town where we went to school. He [...]

43

Ask Polly: These Tortured Intellectual Boys Are Torturing Me!

Polly,

I'm a 26 year-old woman living in a big city.

I've been in 3 serious relationships. The last one—the big one, the one that broke my heart and my soul and almost made me give up on love and all that junk—ended over a year ago. I'd been in love with him for about 2 years before we started dating. Once we did, it was a whirlwind of love and romantic weekends (we were long distance for most of the time). I felt that he was the one. I KNEW he was the one. He was smart and funny and honest with this biting pessimistic (and yet painfully accurate) [...]

13

Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Is Secretly Catfishing!

Dear Polly,

I am looking for a different perspective on my current relationship. I have been with my boyfriend for six years. I just recently moved in with him about four months ago. We have a pretty good relationship in that we hardly ever argue and still have sex fairly frequently, he makes me laugh, makes me feel safe, and I enjoy being with him.

A few months before I moved in with him I had discovered something disturbing and highly confusing! I found that he had a fake Facebook account. He had pictures of a young man and was claiming he was 8 years younger then he actually is. [...]

33

Ask Polly: I Moved To A New City To Be With An Emotional Vampire

Hi Polly,

I am stuck on my recent ex of about 15 months.

We began online and with distance. He was in a live-in relationship at that time. I told him that I was not interested in an online, long-distance relationship and that I definitely was not interested in an attached man but he assured me that these things were temporary—and I believed him. She was/is his boss (she got him the job) and he claimed he was fearful of repercussions and also that he feared she would kill herself or quit her job if he left her. He also said that he hated the city where he lives [...]

28

Ask Polly: My Parents Don't Want Me To Marry This Short Man And I'm Freaking Out!

Dear Polly,

For the past seven months I've been dating a great guy but now that things are getting quite serious I'm totally scared. I can't tell if it's because I myself am beginning to fall out of love with him, or if the internalized judgment of my (very judgmental) parents is freaking me out.

Before I met this guy, I was on an online dating rampage. I was preselecting guys who were tall, dark and handsome, had been to good schools, and were very, very likeable by my parents' standards (which at the time I thought were also my standards). I am extremely intellectual and well-educated and was [...]

28

Ask Polly: My Life Is A Beige Pointless Hellscape!

Dear Polly,

I don't seem to want anything all that badly. Well, I do and I don't… You talk about having a compelling vision for your life. Well, I can't seem to come up with much of one. At best everything is fuzzy. I've always wanted one of those careers where you're paid to be yourself—one where you can be funny and show off on a stage and make people laugh and be entertained. To be someone's muse and inspiration rather than the service lackey I am now. Except I took acting classes and auditioned for plays and never got in. I'm not stereotypically good looking and female, plus in [...]

37

Ask Polly: I Am So Jealous Of This Other Girl!

Dear Polly,

I am hoping you might help me with a peculiar personal problem. I apologize in advance if this is a bit vague. To begin with, I am your average 28-year-old fun-time party gal who is often overly drunk/brash, 'one of the guys,' sensitive to criticism/weirdo childhood and thus live a smaller life which I've overall been happy doing with great girlfriends of my own, cool hobbies, owning my own home, working a well-paying not particularly prestigious helping-people job that affords me lots of free time to do whatever I want. I definitely need therapy & a journal, which I plan to do, soon.

I've lived in a certain [...]

13

Ask Polly: I'm 40 And No Man Would Want Me Now!

Hi Polly,

So, I was dating someone long distance (YES I KNOW). Though I thought it was going well, he ended it—and now I’m not sure if it’s good for me to be friends with him (YES I KNOW JUST HOLD ON).

I’m a 40-year-old gay guy who’s never dated anyone longer than 9 months. This year I finally felt ready to settle down (not immediately! this takes work!), though I know that may not be possible at this point. I’m smart and ambitious, but with some major problems I’m finally working on (sorting out issues from my college-era drug use, always had difficulty maintaining friendships). Though I’ve always made [...]

17

Ask Polly: Help, Our Friend Is Marrying An Evil Harpy!

Dear Polly,

My boyfriend's longtime friend, who is also my friend, is getting married to a woman we dislike. And by dislike, I mean, good Lord we think he's getting himself into a world of hurt and abuse, and we don't know the best way to address it to him.

Our friend is a caring, thoughtful, capable man in his early 30s. He's from a middle class American family, but he's far from home and not wealthy himself so we usually hang out in cheap dive bars and hole in the wall restaurants (until he met his fiancée). He's kind of shy and a little awkward around women. He can [...]

44

Ask Polly: Should I Play It Cool—Or Ask Him For More And Be "That Girl"?

Dear Polly,

I’ve been seeing a dude for about three months. We met online, during an intensive dating-people-online phase of mine prompted by the end of a six-month relationship prior. When we met, I had pretty much given up—not in a resigned, self-pitying way; my attitude was that online dating was wasting too much of my time and energy, with unsatisfactory results, so I was going to keep myself open to romantic possibility, but not actively pursue finding someone.

Then I met this dude—we went for coffee, and I was surprised at the ease of our conversation, and we kept seeing each other and it kept being really nice. [...]

47

Ask Polly: I Am Obsessed With My Boyfriend's Evil Ex-Girlfriend—And Her Blog! (And Their Dogs!)

Dear Polly,

I'm a 26-year-old female living in NYC who has been in a serious monogamous relationship with my boyfriend for over a year and a half now. He's a supportive partner who fulfills all of my needs and I love him tremendously.

The only problem I have with our relationship is that he was previously married. I met him shortly after he left his ex, and was with him through the divorce. His marriage was an abusive one; she inflicted years of mental and emotional torment that he's still recovering from. He also still lives in the same neighborhood as his ex (I've seen her on more than one [...]

64

Ask Polly: My Mom Keeps Guilting Me About Visiting For Christmas!

Dear Polly,

So it's the Holidays again, which means everyone's going to come at you bitchin' about family. Let me throw my hat in the ring as a member of that (sizable) contingent. My mother and her husband live near where I grew up, about a seven-hour drive from where I live now. My father and his wife live out of state; I only see them twice a year or so. My two younger sisters both moved far out of state (to the same town no less) with their children within the past year and a half. The reason for this background—I'm the "only one left" close to visit my [...]

35

Ask Polly: If I Dump My Needy Girlfriend, I'm Afraid I'll Ruin Her Life!

Dear Polly,

Sometimes when I'm feeling unaccomplished I like to seek out some new, insightful, unbiased, life's great mystery deciphering blog or news and culture magazine or twitter account and somehow this morning I wound up at The Awl reading your column. I love it. Your hyper-honest, humorous, practical approach was entertaining and, dare I say, educational.

Here's my shit:

I am a 27-year-old male, which is probably not your target demographic, but third wave feminism says embrace the contradictions of life so fuck it, right? I graduated from college sometime in the fuzzy prehistory of my adult life and prior to moving to a new city and finding a [...]

32

Ask Polly: Help, I'm The Loneliest Person In The World!

Dear Polly,

Let's start this off originally, to match the unique snowflake that I am: I'm an extremely socially handicapped lady, 25 years of age, with just a handful (maybe 3 at best) of friends, and in a lonely place in my life.

To paint a bit of background: I have always been very shy, introverted, and fucking terrible at connecting with others. I was comfortable with my alone-ness, though. I've always been a bit (of a lot) of a closet romantic, so I can't really remember any long period of time since the fourth grade when I didn't have a crush on someone. But mostly, those were either boys [...]

45

Ask Polly: How Do I Find True Love And Stop Dating Half-Assed Men?

Polly,

My question is a simple and boring one: How do I find love? And, more importantly, how to I cultivate self-esteem? I'm in my late 20's, and I tend to get into relationships with dudes that are only half interested in me, and then I badger them to death about their half-assed interest until the relationship slowly dies. What I want most, MOST, in the world is a happy family. Children that I feel joy with. A genuinely happy marriage that lasts until I kick the goddamn bucket. I grew up with very unhappy, miserable parents that immigrated to the states, and I don't even know what to look [...]