Posts Tagged: Turning The Screw
45

Polly Asks: New York Magazine Wants Me to Write Ask Polly For Them. Should I Tell Them to Piss Off?

Dear Readers,

I need to tell you a story. That means this will be just like every other Ask Polly column, except this story is a little longer than usual, and at first, when you read it, you'll ask, "Where's the tepid dude of the week?" Just bear with me.

In September of 2012, after reading and admiring The Awl for years, and writing a few short humor pieces for them, I sent Choire Sicha an email. 

Subject: Existential advice column That's what I should be writing for The Awl.

Come on, pay me a tiny bit and it's yours! Just enough $ so my husband doesn't roll his eyes [...]

23

Ask Polly: Should I Cut My Abusive Mother Out of My Life Forever?

Hi Polly,

I'm trying to figure out how to get the gist of this across without writing a novel, but here goes. I am a 30-year-old woman who is really hitting her stride. I bought a home with my boyfriend who recently became my fiancé, I have a great job and live a great life in Southern California. It's a dream, and I can't wait to start a family blah blah blah.

Obviously these are the types of joys in life that you want to share with family, but I only have one family member left, my mother, and right now I have such anger toward her that I feel [...]

18

Ask Polly: I Had a Stillbirth and My Husband Totally Lacked Empathy

Dear Polly,

I think my husband is spineless, selfish, and prioritizes his convenience over my emotions. 

Background: My husband is from another country. We visit for a month or so every summer, when he catches up with friends and family. I am cool with this. (I do wish he might also, I dunno, set some time aside for his *wife* during our only vacation time, but that's another letter). However, he has this one friend whom I would actually happily feed to rodents of an unusual size.

I had a stillbirth almost five years ago. It took a year to figure out what the problem was, during which I had two more miscarriages. They diagnosed [...]

72

Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Won't Stop Raging About My Sexual History

Dear Polly,

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

I've been dating a guy for about four months. We’re madly in love, despite being different in more ways than we are alike. Politics, education, socio-economic status, religion—you name it, we’re on almost opposite ends of the spectrum. However, we’re best friends through and through. A month or so into our relationship, he sat me down and shed a tear telling me how in love and how certain he was that he wanted to marry me. I am right there, too. Then shit started to get weird.

One night at a party, he got so angry about my friend and I laughing about this [...]

48

Ask Polly: How Do I Make My Boyfriend Listen?

Dear Polly,

I want to know how I can make my boyfriend a better listener.

It has happened several times that when I want to talk about something serious (the future, exes, fears, hopes, etc.) my boyfriend often gets distracted. It's not like he means to hurt me—I think it's just his nature, and possibly mild ADD—but it does hurt me.

I'm 24 and he will be 30 next year. We both see each other as potential life partners. But how can I be with someone who gets distracted by a squirrel when I'm telling him about my father's funeral?

That's the other thing: I have some [...]

13

Ask Polly: How Do I Know If I Should Break Off My Engagement?

Hi Polly,

My fiance and I have been together on and off since we were 18; we are now 26. He was my first boyfriend, first kiss and he is the only person I have had sex with. After dating 20 months I asked for a break to date other people because I thought we were too young, at 20, to be as serious as we were. The beginning of our relationship felt magical. The innocence of first love, having never felt these types of feelings before. I believed in true love and the "one" and knew we'd make it back to each other.

Six months later we did [...]

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. [...]

11

Ask Polly: I Think My New Boyfriend Might Be a Horrible Control Freak

Dear Polly,

I started dating a guy a few weeks ago, and yes I know, a few weeks is NOTHING, but, even in that short time some things have come up and I'm having a really hard time separating what is just me being sabotage-y and too fucking sharp, chopping shit up into julienne cuts, and what might be legitimate signs that this is not a good match, which I am overlooking because I am too busy chop chop chopping.

About four years ago, I was in a pretty terrible relationship. He was bipolar, and later on, I found out he lied about pretty much everything: He had a long-term [...]

35

Ask Polly: You Are Not Uniquely Fucked

Hi Polly,

I’m 29 and have been through an enormous amount of shit that is both situation-specific and universal; I am not unproud that I’ve made it this far, considering. I’m in therapy and have been off and on since I was eight, looking for a way to beat back some severe depression and find good reasons to keep doing normal people things that actually feel excruciating. I’m on some meds now that make me not feel like I’m walking around without any skin, but I know that’s just about getting level and now I’ve got actual work to do. I just have no idea where to go or what to do [...]

17

Ask Polly: How Can I Stop Being a Shut In Once and for All?

Dear Polly,

I don't really know what my real problem is. I can name an array of problems that I have, but I don't know if they are symptomatic, causal, imaginary or just plain over-analyzing. I don't have childhood traumas from which I can say everything started. I only know that these issues manifested themselves when I started university. I've kept diaries on and off for long periods of time and am seeing a therapist regularly for the last 1.5 years. Self-help books gather dust because I don't know if they actually address a problem I have. Or I lose motivation. Ultimately, I feel like I am in stasis. 

On [...]

22

Ask Polly: I Have Absolutely No Idea What I Need to Be Happy

Hi Polly.

I don't even know where to start, because for some reason I'm HORRIBLE at articulating my emotions. I feel like as soon as I have an "epiphany," it only opens up the door to another warehouse of issues to sift through. I'm so exhausted and worn out from an entire lifetime of extreme neuroticism and self-consciousness, and I need some clarity.

You seem to always have some advice that I can apply to my own life, so I have been wanting to write to you for a while. But I can't decide what to ask advice for since I really could use help in all areas of [...]

17

Ask Polly: Will Our Class Differences Tear Us Apart?

Hi Polly.

I've been with my current boyfriend for three years. We're really great together—similar interests, senses of humor, great sex. I love him so much—the only issue is that of our respective backgrounds. He grew up in a tony suburb, went to prep school, then to a very prestigious college, and finally the very prestigious graduate school where we met. I went to public school in a bad neighborhood, put myself through a not-so-prestigious college, made a name for myself in my field, then got into that same prestigious grad school. Our families could not be more different. I didn't think it would matter so much, but something happened [...]

23

Ask Polly: How Do I Stop Hating Myself For Getting Black-Out Drunk?

Hi Polly,

I drink a lot, some weeks nearly everyday, some weeks once or twice, and once I've started (usually when I get home from work) I always keep going until I go to bed. I'm OK if I do it alone, but if I communicate with people in any way while I'm not sober and then the next day I don't remember each and every word of the conversations I start panicking and feeling I did something horrible.

I've had a rough life, but I've worked hard and, after a couple of psychiatrists that didn't help much and 1.5 years of therapy that did, I'm finally, at 29, [...]

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 [...]

8

Ask Polly: I Want People to Know the Real Me But It Just Won't Come Out

Dear Polly,

I want to be known, and to know other people. I crave intimacy, and not just physical intimacy. I realize everyone wants these things. But I am afraid I will never “be known.” It seems that no matter what I say or do, no one will ever know the REAL me, not in full. When I talk to people I often feel like I’m talking to them through a thin glass wall. I want people to benefit from knowing me, and for me to be able to reach out and help other people, and empathize with them, and build proper relationships.

Part of the reason I can’t [...]

26

Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Thinks I'm Clingy and This Terrifies Me

Dear Polly,

I’m writing with a deceptively simple question. How can I be vulnerable? Some pertinent background: I’m an academic, working in a field that requires me to live in very remote places for extended periods of time. I find my work incredibly engaging and rewarding, and I know I’m lucky in this regard. Still, the life of an academic (particularly a traveling academic) is often isolating. I don’t have a place to call home. My family is deeply dysfunctional; although I love my parents and siblings, our relationships are fraught and I have never felt unconditionally loved by my parents. I was diagnosed as a child with OCD, and [...]

23

Ask Polly: How to Be Nice

Hi Polly,

One of the goals I have set for myself this year is to be a kinder person: more supportive and forgiving of my friends, more friendly and open to people I've just met, more approachable and compassionate with strangers. The problem is that this is a huge struggle because I am not naturally compassionate with people I don't already like.

I have two reasons for wanting to be kinder: to ~make the world a better place~ in an abstract karmic kind of way, and also (this one is selfish) to fight against my depression, defensiveness, and general negative attitude toward life by opening myself up to more experiences. [...]

11

Ask Polly: I Have a Perfect Life But My Insides Are Rotting

Dear Polly,   I have sort of a backwards problem, in that the better things are going in my life, the worse I feel. I know a good bit, or think I do, about why this happens. My mother committed suicide; my brother who tried to; and my father taught me that my sole purpose and value in life was to make them feel better and stop them from killing themselves. When I tried to care about myself and my needs as much as theirs, I was told this made me a terrible person, and no one would ever love me.

So I grew up to be extremely empathetic and [...]

123

Ask Polly: My Boyfriend Thinks I'm Ugly

Dear Polly,

The amazing man I'm with told me to improve my looks when we first got together. We've been together four years now. Here's the story:

When he first met me, he had fallen for me straight away, always coming in for coffee on my shift at the local cafe, always texting first, offering rides home, asking me out first. He was very sweet and persistent.

I was hooked and I said yes, yes I will be your girlfriend. Then some shit started…

He never complimented me on any of my physical traits, yet every weekend we hung out, he would somehow manage to tell me that [...]

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 [...]