Dear Molly, My boyfriend gets frustrated …

Hi! So lately (in the past 3 months) my boyfriend has been getting really frustrated with me when we don’t have sex and I’m on my period. He’s been really stressed at work and I know that sex is a good way for him to decompress, but I don’t like to have sex when I’m on my period. I’ve tried to explain, but he doesn’t understand why it’s uncomfortable for me. Basically I’m looking for how can I explain this to him and how can I still support him when I’m on my period. Thank you!

 

Get a new boyfriend.

This guy doesn’t respect you and how you’re feeling. He wants to decompress? Go for a run. He “needs” to get off? Masturbate.

Sex with you is not a medication for his mental health and you don’t owe him that at all. Supporting him and subjecting yourself to his “needs” are two different things. Especially if you have said “No, this is uncomfortable for me” and he’s still pushing for it or throwing a temper tantrum? BYE. He is not worth your energy. Sex is fun, sex is a way to connect and play, but sex is not a need. You can go your whole life without it. It’s not a need, it’s a desire. And desires don’t come before needs.

I’ve had times in my life where my mental health and physical health made me completely uninterested in sex for six straight months. Do you know what my boyfriend did? SUPPORTED ME. He put me first because my need to have my feelings validated and supported outweighed his desire for a sexual release. A good partner will do that and it sounds like your boyfriend is doing the exact opposite. He’s making you feel guilty and that is bullshit.

On to the next, my love. He is not worth your time.

 

xx,

M

 

Dear Molly, Is it Wrong to be Co-Dependent?

Hey. I know you talk about independence and being confident and it’s something that I’ve been struggling with lately. I feel like everyone is talking about how they don’t need a man in their life, but what if I want one? Is it so wrong to want to be in a relationship? I think I’m just naturally a co-dependant person, what’s so wrong about that?

 

This community has become one I am radically proud of. You each seem to consistently strive for your independent strength, stretch your legs, remain confident, and keep your head up no matter the challenges that come your way. One of the things I hope doesn’t happen is that you forget that there is not an inherent weakness in partnership or craving partnership.

I posted a few months ago on Instagram with the caption “a note to my v independent ladies: it’s okay to let someone take care of you once in a while” and was very surprised at the messages I received saying that you “Needed to hear this” or “Yes, we do! I always forget it’s okay to not be okay”. Being independent and confident doesn’t mean being impervious, faultless, or invulnerable. There’s so much beauty in your ability to be open to being cared for.

So to answer your question “what’s so wrong with that?” absolutely nothing.

Let’s get vulnerable and personal right now. Sometimes I think that I’m the neediest, independent person alive. I cherish my independence. I love my own space, my personal time, and looking out for “number one”. Yet in partnership, I am “needy” in the cleanest sense of the word. I like to be cared for, I like to feel special, reassured, and provided for. Actually, I don’t “like” it, I “need” it. It’s probably the most dichotomous aspect of my personality and one that’s been a curveball for every guy I’ve ever dated. They expect to date this hurricane that blazes ahead without a second thought and requires no support and instead, I can be fragile and find a lot of stability through relationships (romantic or otherwise). *shrug* People are complex. I’ve accepted the fact that if I was a plant I would not be a cactus happy to go months without support, I would proudly be a little orchid.

 

painfully applicable

 

At first, like you, I felt like this was a massive weakness. One that I thought I would have to work to remove to call myself an independent woman, but that’s not the case. Craving, enjoying, and benefiting from partnership is how we, as people, have always lived. At 26 I’m extremely proud of my tough exterior and soft, gentle inner emotions. This quality has forced me to be extremely careful about who I let into my inner circle and who I will genuinely open with. To be completely honest, there are less than five people in the world who truly know me. It’s how I protect and nurture the side of myself that craves partnership.

My final thought for you is this, love and nurture the side of you that craves partnership, but don’t rely solely on one person, romantic or otherwise, to give it to you. Even if you are single and wishing you were in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you are any less capable of taking care of yourself and thriving. You don’t need someone else to be next to you to accomplish all you want in life.

 

Dear Molly, How Do I Tell My Friend She’s Changing For Her Boyfriend?

I feel like my best friend is constantly changing for the guy she’s dating. Like if he’s super into football, she starts a fantasy league, if he likes Italian food she’s making homemade pasta. She throws herself into so many new hobbies and things for each guy within the first few weeks of dating and I feel like she isn’t being true to herself at all. How can I talk to her about this without it turning into a fight? I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but it really needs to stop. I think it’s part of the reason that so many of her relationships end after about a month.

 

It takes a lot of love to be honest and open about the hard things with someone. Conversations like this are immensely difficult as it can feel like a personal attack and turn into a fight. That being said, just because a conversation is difficult doesn’t mean that it should be held. Your friend is only doing a disservice to herself by chameleon-ing herself. Start with what you just told me: You don’t want to hurt her feelings, you care about her. And then let her lead the conversation.

It’s important that you listen as much as or more than you talk when it comes to things like this. You aren’t her parent, you aren’t her conscience, and you don’t get to dictate how she behaves. A good friend is a mirror, they ask probing questions to help you find the answers yourself. Something like “I noticed you started getting really into football when you were dating X, but haven’t heard you talk about it in a while. Would you want to go to a game sometime?” Maybe she will! Maybe it is a new passion of her’s that you just see less now that she isn’t dating someone who shares it. Or maybe she won’t because it was because of the guy. In that case, it’s a matter of following up and asking her the questions she should be asking herself. Keep them open-ended. There’s no wrong answer, you are just there to help. You are there to be a friend.

A final thought for your friend: We are happiest when we are presenting our authentic selves to the world, single or in a relationship.

 

xx

Dear Molly, How Do I Get Past Imposter Syndrome?

Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like a fake at my job. I just got hired last month and I constantly feel like I’m am behind everyone else. There’s so much I don’t know! I feel like I spend every meeting trying to hide my confusion. What should I do? Should I go to my boss about it? Have you ever felt like this? How do I get over imposter syndrome?

 

I’m a woman in my mid-20s writing an advice column for women in their mid-20s. Trust me, I’m well versed in all things imposter syndrome. Interestingly enough it’s something I’ve discussed numerous times in an academic setting as well. Within the world of Philosophy, you are often building a thesis to defend your own argument and interpreting other’s works to support your claims (just writing that gave me flashbacks to defending my 100-page senior thesis). Philosophy is dense, and misinterpreting classic texts is something every Philosopher is guilty of at some point — you often can have an out of body experience of feeling like everyone in the room is watching you dig yourself into a philosophical and metaphorical hole.

The takeaway of that digression is this: we have all felt that feeling. Especially in a professional setting. Here’s the good news, if you feel a little behind or outside of your comfort zone you are exactly where you need to be. That ‘uncomfortability’ is how we grow. The Educo Community has a great graphic to illustrate this:

 

 

In their model “Complexity” is where you currently are. Trust the people who put you in this position. When I was in middle school I had this idea (after taking five years off) to join my high school’s soccer team. I went to my dad about it and asked him if he thought it was possible and he told me one of those parental drops of wisdom “Just want it more than anyone else out there. They can teach you how to play, they can’t teach you to care.” I made sure I was the most aggressive person on the field and was offered a place on Varsity (and ended up running XC instead 😂). You were hired not only because you are capable, but because the person hiring you saw that you cared. That being said, there is a growth and adjustment period for every new position you are in.

Think about it like merging onto the highway, just because everyone else is coasting along and you are catching pace doesn’t mean that you are behind. You are finding your pace, your rhythm, and learning along the way. A good leader/boss/supervisor will anticipate a one to three month adjustment phase when they onboard someone.

Personally I would not suggest going to your boss about this, unless you are drowning. Playing on a previous metaphor, if it feels like you are merging onto the highway, stay the course. If it feels like you are merging onto an F1 race track, ask for a lifeline. Going to your boss and saying something along the lines of “I’ve really enjoyed the past few weeks, but would really like to dive in X deeper. I’d like to take next Wednesday to really learn all the nitty-gritty of the system.” You want to be sure to approach them with a solution/plan, not just a problem. Avoid words/phrases like “feel behind” or “confused” and speak in a more proactive and positive tone.

And to get you through meetings remember this, no one knows what’s going on in your head unless it’s on your face. Keep a neutral expression, take a lot of notes, and follow up one-on-one, after the meeting, with any questions you have.

Best of luck with the new job and I’m sure you earned it 🙂

 

xx

Dear Molly, I Cheated On My Boyfriend and Now He Doesn’t Trust Me At All.

I know I’m about to sound like the bad guy, but last year I cheated on my boyfriend. It wasn’t with anyone serious, it was a handful of times, and it didn’t mean anything. The guilt was eating me up, so four months after I ended things I told him. Obviously he stopped trusting me, but we stayed together. That was about ten months ago. And he still doesn’t trust me at all. Checks up on me all the time, doesn’t believe me when I’m going out with my friends, constantly asks to see who I’m texting and what I’m doing. At first, I thought it was temporary, just to give him back a little faith in me. But it’s been so long I’m not sure anymore. How can I prove to him that I’m trustworthy and get things back to the way they were? 

 

Trust and Trusting are two different things.

Trust is a noun, it’s formed over time through mutual generosity and confidence in each other. Trusting is a verb, it’s the action that builds Trust (the noun). Trusting is hard, it takes vulnerability, patience, and a willingness to be hurt. Trust isn’t built by one person. It’s built by two people Trusting, which means it cannot be rebuilt by one person. While you may have been the one to break the Trust the responsibility of rebuilding it, through Trusting, belongs to both of you.

What’s interesting to me is you said “to give him back a little faith in me”, but that’s not how faith works. Like Trust, faith is something he has to have in you, not something you can provide him. When you told him what happened and you both decided to stay together that was square one. You restart together. He doesn’t get to stand on a pedestal while you beg for forgiveness. To agree to restart is to grant forgiveness. His decision to stay was his own and he needs to act like someone who wants to stay because right now his words are not matching his actions.

You cannot have a relationship without Trust. To restore Trust (noun) in your relationship requires your boyfriend’s willingness to Trust (verb) you. That’s the funny thing about it, to have it you have to give it. Your boyfriend and you cannot have Trust if he doesn’t start Trusting. His behavior of checking up on you shouldn’t have started at all. Trust isn’t born of the absence of discretion. Trusting is risky, you can get hurt and he did get hurt. But that’s the nature of loving. That’s the dare we all take when we entrust our hearts to someone else. To truly love is to accept risk.

By agreeing to continue to be together he agreed to start Trusting again, the two are mutually inclusive. If he doesn’t want to move forward then he should have left when you came clean. If he loves you and wants to move forward he needs to practice Trusting you.  It doesn’t sound like he is moving forward, it sounds like he’s reminding you of it daily and using it to punish you and control you.

So here are the facts:

He didn’t catch you cheating, you came to him after you ended it. That speaks volumes about where your priorities lay and what you want most.

He doesn’t trust you and isn’t giving you the space to earn trust back. Yes, he was hurt. But he made the decision to stay.

You can’t make him trust you. You can’t make things go back to the way they were.

When you came clean and decided to stay together that was wiping the slate clean. If he can’t do that then you need to find someone who can. Learn what you can from this, leave him, and move forward.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, Why Is He Treating Me Like This?

I feel like I’m in an episode of Sex and the City, so I figured I’d ask Carrie Bradshaw 😂 I’ve been seeing this guy for a little over two months and things are going pretty good. The first two and half weeks were great, no red flags, no weird behavior, and then nothing. Like he dropped off the face of the Earth for about five days. No calls, no return texts, nothing and then he pops up again as if nothing happened. A couple weeks later it happened again. There, then gone, then back. What gives? Because it sucks and I don’t know why he would do that and treat me like this.

 

What did you do when he came back? You say you’ve “been seeing” him which makes me think you’re still seeing him? I’d change up your mindset and look at this from a different direction. Focus less on why he’s treating you the way he is and investigate is why you are accepting this type of treatment. The possibilities for why he went MIA are endless. Maybe he got caught up with work, maybe he needed space, who knows. At the end of the day it all comes back to the same point, he didn’t communicate effectively with you.

The beginning of a relationship can feel like a mad rush. And we want that right? That fiery intensity is half the fun of a new romance, but the heat can be too much for some people. That may have been the case with your guy’s first absence, but the fact that he’s done this to you twice now isn’t okay and shouldn’t be ignored. If he doesn’t respect you enough to communicate how he’s feeling, or that he needs time, or whatever is happening then he isn’t worth your time or energy. It’s not your job to teach him how to articulate his emotions like an adult. You are not his mother, don’t raise him.

When he goes AWOL, comes back, and your relationship picks up where it left off you are saying something about the behavior you’ll accept and something about the temperature of the relationship. It says that you view this as casually as he does and that you have an open-door policy on the relationship. I’d like to be hopeful and say that maybe after a conversation he would settle into a relationship with you (if that’s what you want) or at least be more predictable, but I’m doubtful that will happen after two months.

The world is too big and too full of people who will treat you properly to stay with someone who will jerk you around with emotional whiplash. I suggest cutting him loose. If he wants to be with you he’ll come back.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, How Can I Move Past That Embarrassing Thing I Did?

Do you ever have those moments where you start to think about something embarrassing or cringe you did like six years ago? I can’t stop thinking about this one thing that happened and every time I do it’s really hard to feel confident. How can I move past it?

 

We all get those moments. We’ve all put our foot in our mouth or done something stupid and “cringy”. When that sort of a thought comes up it’s usually based on the feeling that everyone else knows or remembers that same experience. It puts you back in the moment, reliving the embarrassment.

When that happens to me I force myself to take a beat, relax, and then challenge myself to remember something embarrassing that someone else did in high school. And guess what? I can’t. And you probably can’t either.

We tend to write our mistakes in ink and mistakes of others in pencil. Be gentle with yourself. Not one else is thinking about your embarrassing moment, so why waste your time, energy, and happiness on it?

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, I Agreed to a Date I Don’t Want to Go On.

I don’t know why I said yes, but I did and now I have a date scheduled for next week and I don’t want to go on it. How do I let him down easy?

 

Things like this happen in the dating world. They happen a lot. Saying “no” in the moment isn’t a skill we all have (but it is one we should all develop) and that can lead to regret later on. I promise that this redaction will only be as big and bad as you make it.

 

How to do it…

Most people would say that in person is best, over the phone is better. But if the two of you met for a second and have only exchanged a few texts you can definitely do this over text. This isn’t a relationship you are ending, this is just a plan you are canceling.

 

What to say…

Keep it short and sweet and honest. If it isn’t a hurtful reason you can say exactly why you changed your mind. If it’s a situation where you felt pressured to give out your number or something like that and changed your mind you can say that too! Just keep it honest and easy.

You don’t own him an essay on all the reasons you’ve changed your mind. But you do own him the respect of canceling at least a day in advance (if possible). Keep it as simple as “Hi, I’ve been thinking about it and I’m going to need to cancel our date on Friday. I hope you have a great weekend.” If you want you can also include a line with the reason, like “I just feel that you’re a little too young for me” or whatever that reason may be, but you do not have to.

 

And then move on and start practicing how to say “no” in the moment.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

My boyfriend cheated on me and I don’t know what to do. That’s really all I have. I don’t even really have a question, I just don’t know what to do. Do you think once a cheater always a cheater? I don’t know if I can trust him anymore.

 

Most people think that someone who cheats is immediately untrustworthy and should be cut out of your life, I disagree. To me, assuming “once a cheater, always a cheater” is a very narrow view of someone’s sexuality, capacity for a healthy relationship, personality, and their ability for growth. A person who cheats is always able to have a healthy relationship in the future, whether that be with the person they cheated on or a new person.

I think people are fallible, we make mistakes. I think people are defined not by the mistakes they make, but by how they rise. How they move forward. It comes down to this: Did you find out on your own or did he come to you?

If he came to you there’s a good chance he feels guilty about it. If you want to continue the relationship you need to understand that there is trust to be rebuilt, that it will take time, that it will take patience and sacrifice from you. If he came you to and genuinely feels bad and wants to move forward then, to me, the question isn’t only about your capacity for forgiveness.

Can you move forward? Can you feel secure in the future? What do you need to achieve those pieces? Don’t get bogged down in details of was it one time or on-going, those things don’t matter if you want to move forward. If you can’t separate that type of detail than I suggest you leave, because the odds of you being able to have a solid relationship in the future are slim. We’re taught to “forgive and forget”, but with cheating, it’s not so simple. Maybe you can forgive, but you’ll never forget. The potential future of a relationship rests on your desire to move forward and rebuild trust.

If you found out on your own then, in my opinion, the gloves are off. Especially if it was romantic. You don’t need to stage your own Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats music video. You don’t need to weigh yourself down with acts of revenge. But you do need to leave. Pretending you don’t know isn’t an option. Pretending it’s not a big deal isn’t an option. You’re worth more.

 

So why do people cheat? Everyone’s reason is different. People cheat for the thrill, for an escape, because it really was a mistake, the list goes on. Cheating is not the thing that ruins a relationship, it’s a fork in the road. It’s a symptom of something that is already wrong. It doesn’t need to be immediate, but if you move forward with this guy, you may need to have a conversation about the “why?” which can be incredibly tough.

 

I can’t tell you what to do. I’ve been cheated on and left immediately, I’ve been cheated on and stayed. It’s subjective to each relationship and situation. What I can tell you is that staying in a relationship and moving forward is going to be difficult. It’s going to require work and blind trust in someone who just shattered the trust you had for them. It’s going to take strength and vulnerability. It’s going to be the process of establishing a new normal, a new foundation for your relationship. It’s going to be hard.

 

xx

 

Dear Molly, How Do I Tell My Boss ‘No’?

So this is a little different than some of the questions I’ve seen you get, but I think I remember you work in business or marketing? I was hoping you could help me with something. My boss is always asking me to do things on off hours and I don’t get paid overtime. Like I’ll have to come in on Saturdays or weeknights. I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the job or lazy, but I also need my weekend. How can I tell her “no” without coming off the wrong way?

 

First, what your boss is doing could be illegal in your state. I highly suggest investigating further.

Second, this is definitely the right place to ask those kinds of questions! Context, in my 9-5 I’m a Director of Business Development and Marketing for a digital back shop. I always advise my friends on how to negotiate a contract or raise, how to advocate for yourself in the workplace, and how to say ‘no’.

If you consider yourself a millennial or Gen-Z then you’ve likely been told for the majority of your professional career that you are “too entitled”. We all know that the boomer generation thinks that we take everything for granted, but the truth is that we (and clearly you) do not. Instead, in an effort to prove that we aren’t entitled we allow ourselves to be overworked. In my first year as a salaried employee I used less than five (of my 15) PTO days. It took a little time for me to realize that you don’t need to justify not constantly being at work. You don’t need to check your work email before you brush your teeth in the morning and after you’ve had dinner each night. You don’t need to spend your weekend’s tethered to your inbox. You are allowed and free to take time away, and you should.

Next time your boss comes to you with an off-hours request that you don’t feel comfortable taking simply say:

“I won’t be available.”

It’s that simple. You don’t need an excuse, a fake doctor’s appointment, you don’t need to say you’d “rather not give up your off-day”. You don’t need to give a why.

Simply stating that you “won’t be available” is a clean way of expressing that you are not an option. Be polite, be sympathetic, you can even phrase it as “I’m sorry, but I won’t be available”, but don’t make an excuse. If your boss is professional they will respect this as a “no” and move on. However, they might not be professional. Here are a few follow-ups that you may get and how to handle:

/ “Why?” “I have a prior commitment.” Even if that commitment is just to you and refreshing yourself for another week of work. You matter and are allowed to take time for yourself.

/ “Can you reschedule? We really need you.” “I’m afraid not. Maybe someone else can come in?”

/ “Are you sure you’re not available?” “Sorry, but yes I am sure.”

/ “What is your prior commitment? What will you be doing?” “Sorry, but that’s personal.”

If you don’t provide a why you distance yourself from any pressure that an unprofessional boss is going to attempt to lay on you.

You need to learn how to say ‘no’ in a professional space just as much as in a personal space. 

 

xx