The Vine: July 30, 2008
My younger sister (14) has recently started talking to her older cousin (18) online in many forms, including Gaia Online — a place mostly inhabited by thirteen-year-olds with broken Japanese, "emo," "princess," and "Thug ho" in their screen names. Harmless, if completely disturbing for preteens. I think if I spent more time with my sister she wouldn't look for a big sister in our cousin but I'm really worried about our cousin.
I think she has low self-esteem because of her weight and that all her romantical relationships will suffer from her basing the success of them off the guy's opinion of her. I know she can be strong and she's very good at reaching her goals but she doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for herself. She thought it was a compliment when a customer at the store she works at told her that her lips were "perfect for a blowjob." She's my little cousin, and with so many little sisters I have the habit of treating everyone younger than me as if it's my responsibility to make sure they're okay…which it kind of is more with her than, say, strangers. Nothing I say makes her stop her current, bad bad decision.
Her online "boyfriend" "buys" her "jewelry" on Gaia Online, including a "ring" she's mentioned meaningfully…he said he was a Blood when he was seven, a heavy metal lead guitarist in a band she looked up ( not him) and that he had to join the Army for "school." That's it, "school." No mention of what he wanted to study. Also he switched stories saying the Army was really the Marines…
Any third-grader who goes to a Memorial Day service knows the difference and of course I know an "internet boyfriend" should neeeever be taken seriously but I write all this because she plans on using her hard-earned money to visit him. I know she's in for a terrible surprise.
She's been working her current job since she was 15, to help her mom feed her brothers by the second man who crapped out on her mom (they are her half brothers) — she's a wonderful soul and so loyal. I'm really concerned about some seeming arrested development issues though. She's never dated anyone, because she doesn't think they'll get along with her mom. She says online is the only way she can have a boyfriend. Her family isn't concerned and they call it innocent because she hasn't met him and he hasn't done anything yet and I realize most people don't think an online boyfriend is a problem.
But she had more than one for a while and as I said she's pretty emotionally fragile and I don't think he's eighteen, he sounds like a thirteen-year-old (she's invited him to chat conversations frequently) and she could be endangering a minor…I know I sound paranoid but this really isn't healthy for her. She needs to create real relationships with guys and stop distancing herself from a part of her development she's pretty obviously fixated with.
It's worth mentioning that he's her Gaia Online Sugar Daddy, and that her profile/avatar thing looks much different than her and is covered with tattoos. There is a difference between an outlet and constantly avoiding reality. My sister and I are the only "real" people she has on her buddy lists beside her younger brothers.
I've told her about how bad online relationships can go and she tells me she has him under control. I don't know what to do short of tying her to a chair in our attic and splashing her with holy water. It's worth mentioning I have very limited experience dating.She may not be taking any of my driver's-ed-warning-video-quality advice because I am not in a long-term relationship, but I think I know when enough is enough.
I tried scaring her, pleading…I think she likes the attention people give her about her "boyfriend" more than keeping it a secret, so I've stopped talking about him. I just want her to have an actual relationship; hell, if Judge Judy could land a real person my cousin can too.
Not sure what you're asking me here.Do you want me to agree that this sounds like an embarrassing disaster waiting to happen?I do, but sometimes people have to have one of those in order to learn the signs for next time.
Or maybe you want me to tell you what to tell her in order to talk her out of this, but: see above.I think you're right that she's more into the drama and the attention than she is into the guy himself, so trying to convince her that she's making a big mistake is only going to feed into that, and harden her resolve.The "it's us against the world THEY JUST DON'T GET OUR HISTORIC LOVE" attitude is immature, but hardly uncommon, and again, your cousin has to learn for herself that contrarianism is not one of the building blocks of a lasting relationship.
No, she shouldn't visit him — and maybe, if it looks like things are going that way and he really is thirteen, he'll break things off before it comes to that.Or maybe she'll get there and have a horrible, awkward time because they misled each other about everything except their mutual internet access.Hell, maybe it'll even go okay; I doubt it, but you never know.
But she's eighteen.She may not seem equipped to make her own decisions, but she's not going to get to a place where she is if she's not allowed to make a few stinkers and survive them.I know you mean well, and I know it's inexplicable, given that every other Law & Order is about something like this, that she wouldn't know better — but soon enough, she's going to.Unless she's getting involved in something you know is illegal, back off.Nothing else will work anyway.
Here's a situation I'm not entirely sure how to handle.I seem to have, well, kind of a stalker.Apparently as far as I can tell a harmless one, but he's creeping me out.
Long story short — I was on a business trip within the last year, and in the type of situation where a person hands out business cards like they were two-for-one sandwich coupons and I was dressed up as a giant sandwich.So.One evening, I'm in the bar of the place where I was staying, mainly because it was the only place where I could watch TV and smoke at the same time, and adding the ability to have a beer didn't hurt either, right? Anyway, the guy sitting next to me starts talking to me.I'm not too concerned about this either way, and pretty much went with the occasional polite response to the jabber.I just figured, some people like to talk a lot, right?
Then he made a clumsy pass at me in the elevator, which I declined politely.So, he is one of the people I've handed a business card to already, but I didn't think much of it at the time.
Over the next couple of days I notice that he's turning up wherever I am, which starts to freak me out a little, but I just figure the guy's bored, maybe he's got a little harmless crush, whatever.Then after I get home, he starts emailing me.(Because of course my work email is on my card.)It turns out he has come to the conclusion in his own head that there's "something special" between us.We were "meant to meet."Blah blah blah obsession-cakes, you know?I emailed him back that I did NOT feel the same way, that I'm in a relationship, that yes, I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy, but it's not going to happen. We will not be lovers.I'm not even interested in friends.Seriously.
He keeps emailing me.Not every day or anything, but randomly every few weeks.I've been ignoring and deleting, on the basis that if he gets NO response at all, he will give up eventually.Then recently I got an email from him telling me happy birthday.I just deleted it, as usual.Then a few hours later it hits me — I never told this guy when my birthday was.I mean, why would I?So now I'm officially creeped out.
Anyway, my question is do I just continue with ignoring and deleting, or has this gone to the point where I need to respond and tell him in no uncertain terms to leave me the hell alone?(Oh, and apparently he wrote me a song.Eeesh.)
Thanks for your help!
Apparently Irresistible To Creepy Old Guys
Keep ignoring and deleting.The "no uncertain terms" contact teaches a guy like that one thing, and it's not to leave you be — it's that it takes X number of emails, or Y number of creepy references to your personal information, to get a response out of you.And that's what he wants: a response.Negative attention counts.Don't give it to him.
Do you use a social networking site?He most likely got your birthday from that; if so, go darkon that account for a while.Go through any online accounts you have — Facebook, Yahoo Groups, wish lists at retail sites — and make sure they don't give any information beyond the bare minimum required to keep the account active.This is annoying to have to do, but it's not forever; it's just until he gets bored, which most of these guys do.
Save the emails he sends, just in case, but don't block-sender him and don't respond, ever; it just fans the flames.If he does escalate — makes noises about coming to your city, starts to sound threatening — then you can reassess, but sometimes, a guy of a certain age doesn't get the difference between "woman socialized to be polite making small talk" and "genuine connection."But it's not up to you to teach him that difference, so keep the evidence and remain alert, but you've already told him every way you know how that you don't want anything to do with him.The best way to back that up is to not have anything to do with him.At all.
I was just dumped.It's not a huge deal; we hadn't been dating for terribly long, and as we were getting know each other, I could see that there was one issue that might turn out to be a deal-breaker (it was).But I'm still disappointed, because I really did like this girl quite a bit.
In the course of the "I hope we can still be friends" pabulum, she essentially put the onus on me to make the first phone call "if and when you want to.Because I would really like that."I realize that rolling out the "being friends" line is usually just a way of assuaging one's guilt for having to be the bad guy, but it got me thinking.
If the dumper (Wilma) is at all serious about wanting to "be friends" with the dumped (Fred), shouldn't the burden of reaching out fall on Wilma?That way, it's up to Wilma to decide when she's prepared to see Fred, knowing his feelings, and it's up to Fred to decide whether or not he/she is ready to see Wilma in a non-romantic context?As it stands, Fred still wants to spend time with Wilma, but his reaching out is easily seen as trying to change her mind (doomed to failure), and puts him in the ego-bruising position of being dumped, and then potentially rejected AGAIN when he calls sometime later (probably too soon).
I'm probably over-thinking this, aren't I?
Well, it depends.It depends on the length of the relationship, it depends on whether the dump is one-sided or relatively mutual…there isn't a hard-and-fast rule.
Hypothetically, if I'm Wilma, in the situation you describe, 1) I'm only rolling out the "let's be friends, come that mythical 'someday' when we're both good with it" line if I really mean it, but 2) I'm also putting the ball in Fred's court with the understanding that the dumped may have some pride issues and as a result may not want to hear from me until he's dealt with those.
But every situation is different.One break-up of mine came after three-odd years of dating and a decade of friendship, so the "let's stay in touch" aspect wasn't really discussed; it was kind of assumed, but then, that split was mutual.Another one, which really wasn't, got complicated because the dumper kind of was motivated by wanting everything to Be Cool a lot sooner than it could be, and the dumped wasn't ready — so in that case, the dumped should have controlled that conversation.
This is why I advocate taking a firm, no-contact break for ninety days, though; sometimes you can downshift straight to "friends," but it's really rare, and if everyone takes a few months to get their heads right about what happened and then still wants to hang out and have pints, well, fine.Two weeks later, there's way too much second-guessing going on.
I mean, if it's a "burden," it shouldn't happen at all, but if you're trying to avoid mixed messages, the elapsed time is more pertinent than who makes the first move, I think.
Tags: boys (and girls) etiquette the fam