The Vine: August 13, 2008
I've often followed your advice, but this is the first time I've written in.
If you are, say, a florist, musician, or photographer, and your friend or relative asks you if you would do the flowers, sing, take photos at their wedding, and of course you happily agree, is that able to be considered as your wedding gift to the couple?
I've done such favours for a few relatives recently and haven't bought "tangible" gifts yet, and I was wondering if I was being tacky.I had figured that, because I charge a bit more for my services than many people would spend on a gift, it should suffice.However, I just caught myself wondering what your take on it would be.I'm still within the 12-month gift-giving window for all these newlyweds so I can still get them some "proper" gifts without being too embarrassed (except I think it will look funny me giving a late gift to the couple who stated in their invitations, in poem form, that they really had enough stuff and cash would be appreciated more).
Do I need to go department-store shopping?
Never A Bridesmaid, Always On The Order Of Service
I think you can consider it your wedding gift to the couple if it was your idea in the first place.Let's say you're a photographer, just for example; if you offered to take the photos for the wedding, something you'd normally charge for, and if you made it clear that it's a gift, no, you don't get them a second gift.
But if they asked you, it's not a gift, strictly speaking.It's either the couple wanting to include you in the day, albeit in a non-wedding-party way, or it's the couple wanting to save some money by asking friends and family to do things for free.Maybe it's a little of both; I don't want to cast aspersions on your friends.But unless you've had an explicit conversation about the fact that your photography work (or whatever) is a gift, then they may not think it is, and you should proceed from the assumption that they expect an actual, separate gift.How you proceed is of course up to you; since you've already donated services, you may want to get them something rather modest in addition.But I would err on the side of safety and get them something else.
This may make you feel grumbly, and I don't blame you, so in the future, it's maybe wiser to say something along the lines of "I'd be happy to photograph your wedding — I'm so honored that you asked me, and in fact I'd love to give you that service as your gift."If the bride or groom looks taken aback by this, explain in polite tones of regret that the service is in fact something the couple customarily pays for, and you can certainly discuss a wholesale or friends-and-family rate if they'd rather you get them something off the registry instead.
…Or something like that; it depends on what the couples ask you to do.If you do normally charge for whatever they're asking you to do for them, this is a conversation you should start having when it comes up, because they want you to do it for free, and if you have to buy a gift too, that's not really okay.If, on the other hand, it's just something you're good at, and/or they're asking you so they can include you…I mean, bridesmaids provide service too, of a sort, but they're still expected to buy gifts.
My point is, if the bride had written to me with the other side of the same question, I'd be telling her that she should have offered to compensate you for your time and expertise.
Hi Sars! Hope you can help me out…
My BF, "Janet," used to be one of the happiest, most positive people I knew. In the past few years, she's slowly become depressed, anxiety-ridden, and self-loathing. And I'm not sure how to help her.
See, she married "Josh" about seven years ago. He was the first guy she ever dated, ever kissed, ever…well, you get the idea. But he was (is) silly, nice, and they have some things in common (like an unnatural obsession with softball).
Josh also has a superiority complex, which means that he can't hold down a job for more than a few months because he always feels he knows better than his supervisors, and voices this without any apparent concern for the consequences. For the past four years, he has been gainfully employed for a total of about eight months (not all at once, mind). The rest of the time he has either been on unemployment (bad) or just living off of Janet (worse).
And although he claims to be looking for work all day every day, I find it hard to believe he can't find ANYTHING after more than a year of job hunting — which, I should point out, came to a total stop when Janet got him a job at her office, from which he was recently…fired, for telling off his boss (Janet's coworker) and causing drama at her work.
So, on to Janet. After all these years of dealing with this, Janet's solution now is to find a second job and/or attempt to squeeze a significant raise out of the non-profit company she works for. She told me that she's given up on Josh ever being a significant contributor to their household income, and now she's trying to find other options. Which…I mean, my head explodes every time I think of Janet busting her (already anxious) ass working two jobs while her husband sits at home "job hunting."
But what bemuses me even more is the realization that Janet is just accepting this fate as though it's inevitable, and just allowing Josh to continue living like a 19-year-old college dropout staying in his parents' basement. She's just enabling his behaviour. I wrote her a long, blunt letter pointing this out to her and suggesting that perhaps she should try separating from him for six months and see if it finally forces him to grow up, but her reply was (as usual), "I'm just not in that place right now."
[pulling large chunks of hair out of head]
Okay, but this isn't about me, really. Even when I'm blunt, Janet just can't see herself leaving Josh, or even using the threat of leaving as incentive for Josh to grow up and take responsibility for doing his part in their marriage. Janet is very protective of people she loves, to a fault, so that she'll be miserable herself rather than hurt someone she loves. In the aforementioned letter, I told her that leaving Josh, even temporarily, would take some bravery on her part. Her reply: "Maybe staying with [Josh] is the braver thing to do." Um…HOW?? How is staying in a situation that makes you miserable, has indeed made you a different, desperately unhappy person, brave? Because it's brave to stay with him and keep supporting/enabling him? Is it brave to stay stuck in this rut so that you can "save" him (which, clearly, isn't happening anyway)?
Argh, okay, now I'm just heading into Bitchville. What I'd love from you, Sars, is an objective opinion about her situation. Not what I can do, because writing you is about the last thing I can think to do besides always being there and being as supportive as I can be in the midst of my frustration. What can Janet do to improve her situation? I'm hoping maybe the objective opinion she can't seem to convince herself to find in therapy can be found here, and regardless of whether you agree with me about the situation, I'm planning to show this to Janet just so she can see an objective viewpoint.
At some point on The Vine you discussed how hearing the same thing from an outside party (particularly a dude, which, well, we'll make do) gets through to people in a way that hearing it from friends can't seem to do. Be my dude, Sars. Or tell me I'm wrong, if that's the case, 'cause at this point I'm so tangled up in the whole thing I'm not even sure which way is up myself anymore.
Wondering if it'd be easier to find a good place to hide his body
I think "Be my dude, Sars" just joined "have met/was bitch" and "Poor Dirk, he's GETTING A DIVORCE" on the TN Wall Of Hilarity.Excuse me while I rearrange my nut-sack…
Okay!S. Douglas Bunting, reporting for duty.Janet has low self-esteem, is probably clinically depressed, and has no perspective on Josh's treatment of her, because he's the only relationship she's ever had.It's easier for people who have had a bit more experience to compare and contrast, and also to acknowledge, even if they're not feeling it right then, that the last break-up did not in fact end their romantic and sexual lives.Someone else did in fact come along.They were not in fact doomed to tolerate selfishness, laziness, infidelity, or whatever other cross it seemed their fate to bear.
Janet should open her own bank account if she hasn't already, and restructure the household finances in a more equitable way.She should expect Josh to pull his weight, and if he can't, she's gone — and she takes her good credit and her name on the bills with her.…No?Then she needs therapy.Josh is not disabled or a minor child; treating him like he is while he chills on the couch all day is indicative of a neurosis.It's treatable, but it's time to treat it already.
It isn't going to work, mind you, most likely.Josh isn't going to toe the line, and she's going to have to decide whether to leave.And she should leave.He's a self-centered infant.Once she's filed the papers and slept with a few other dudes (or gals, whatever), she'll see that.Right now, she can't.
Hope that helps.[belch]
I have been dating a very kind, sweet, decent man for almost two years. I am a thirty-five-year-old woman and he is nine years older. In most ways, we have a good relationship: we have a lot in common, enjoy each others' company, and usually get along beautifully.
My (big) problem with the relationship is that we have never had sex — we've never even come close. Our physical relationship is entirely limited to a few good-night kisses per date. He is a very quiet, shy, passive man who has had very few previous relationships.
When we first started dating, I was very conscious of trying to giving him enough space for us to grow into a sexual relationship because he was giving me every signal that he was not ready for it (for instance, he never wanted to invite me to his house or to stay long when I invited him to mine; he only wanted to kiss goodnight in public places like parking lots, and was unresponsive to my jokes about "taking things inside," etc.). I was wary about pressuring him into anything sexual, and I was willing to be patient.
After the first seven or eight months passed with no progression, though, I brought up the subject politely but directly. I told him that I was attracted to him and interested in developing a sexual relationship with him, but tried to give him an "out" by assuring him that if he didn't feel the same way about me — if he just wanted a dinner or activity companion — I would be disappointed but understanding, and then I would be free to move on. He assured me that he wanted the same thing I did, and I was quite hopeful, but his subsequent actions seemed to contradict his words (basically, nothing changed, and he seemed as uninterested as ever in sex with me).
After several more months (during which the hope I had been given after the conversation had slowly ebbed away), I told him again that I wanted to have sex with him, but that I was very confused by the contradiction between what he had told me he wanted versus the way he acted toward me. I also told him that his actions (or lack thereof) made me feel rejected and sad. He assured me again that he was interested in me sexually, and he apologized for the ways that his behavior failed to communicate that.
I said that since I wanted to have sex with him, and he said he wanted to have sex with me, we should make a plan to have sex, since it obviously was not just going to happen for us. He agreed in theory but was unresponsive to my attempts to make the actual plans, and his behavior again never changed. Several months after that, we had a fight in which I told him that I felt like a humiliated fool for believing his words instead of his actions every time we discussed sex. He countered that by saying that I made him feel like he couldn’t do anything right, which made me feel even more hopeless, because I feel like I have tried so hard to AVOID nagging him.
Then, recently, his elderly father became seriously ill and moved across the country to live in my boyfriend's house while undergoing long-term treatment. This has been good in that it has reminded me again of my boyfriend's good, caring, sweet qualities, but it has also put any hope of resolving our sex problem on hold indefinitely.
I am really attached to him and would be devastated if we broke up now. However, it has gotten to the point where just seeing him makes me feel resentful and sad because I am with someone who (through deed, though not word) seems to find me unattractive, and lately, my sexual attraction to him has shriveled in the face of what feels like his sexual indifference toward me — and because it sometimes seems like my being attracted to him will never lead anywhere. I really identified with "Unsexy", except that unlike her boyfriend, mine has never told me he thinks I'm unsexy — he just acts as though he thinks that. It is hard not to take it personally, especially when our society is filled with the message that all men will leap at the chance to have sex with any woman at any time.
I recognize that the sexual aspect of a long-term relationship can sometimes fade away over time, and what is more important in those cases is compatibility and feeling comfortable with each other. However, what is there to do about a relationship in which the sexual component has never started? I am at a loss for what to do and really need some advice from an outside party. Thanks for any help you might be able to give.
He's never going to have sex with you.I don't know why you would even want to at this point; if he does finally agree to strip down and do the deed, it's going to feel incredibly weird and fraught, because he's delayed and made excuses for TWO YEARS, and he'll only be doing it because you pressured him.AFTER TWO YEARS.Which, apparently, he will feel free to point out, thus making you feel even worse about yourself.
And it won't happen at his house, either, because at his house, there is one of three things: a wife; gay porn; child porn.He is either married, not into girls, or bent in some way he doesn't want you to see, and even if none of that is the case, it doesn't matter anyway — the relationship is fucked, because he's refused FOR TWO YEARS to touch you, and FOR TWO YEARS you've tolerated it, and whatever happens now is fruit of the poisoned tree.It isn't your fault, but you've let it go on much much too long, and no good can come of it now.It's time to move on.
You both need counseling, in my opinion, but whether he gets it should no longer be any of your affair.Tell him that you care for him, but the utter lack of sexual interest, coupled with the guilt trips he laid on you for questioning it, is messed up, and you don't want to see him anymore.Talk to someone about why you think this is the best you can do.And if the next guy you date hasn't reached for your bra clasp by the third date, neg him too.
Tags: boys (and girls) etiquette friendships sex