You’ve got problems, I’ve got advice. This advice isn’t sugar-coated—in fact, it’s sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love.
This week we have a new couple who doesn’t know what to talk about, a guy struggling with finding motivation, and two husbands who are always at each other’s throats when their wives get together.
Keep in mind, I’m not a therapist or any other kind of health professional—just a guy who’s willing to tell it like it is. I simply want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn lives. If for whatever reason you don’t like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here. Now then, let’s get on with it.
This Potential Couple Has Lost the Ability to Speak
I’ve got a seriously stupid problem. There’s this girl that I go to school with, and there is a mutual attraction between the two of us. I mustered the courage to ask her out, and she said yes! Our date went perfectly fine. The problem was the aftermath.
Before our attraction, we were fairly friendly, and struck up conversations whenever we felt like it. But now, after that first date, something is… off. Whenever I see her in the hall, I do the cliche movie thing, where I freeze, and can’t say a sentence without sounding like a Neanderthal with brain damage. And when I brought it up to her, she said she was feeling the same thing! So what’s wrong with us? What do we do to keep moving forward in this budding relationship? Please light a fire under both of our asses!
Timidly Tongue-Tied Two
I’ve got fire aplenty and I love sticking it under people’s butts, so fear not, I shall char thee. I think this inability to communicate can be attributed to one of three things:
- You’re both so infatuated with each other that you get lost in the beauty of each other’s eyes before you can utter a single… HAHAHA, okay, I can’t keep that going.
- You’re both caught up in how things have to change now that you’re dating. Before, you could have harmless conversation about anything and there were no stakes. Now, everything you say feels like it has weight. What if you say something and it all falls apart? What if you express your likes and they think less of you? You don’t know what to say because you’re too damn afraid to say the wrong thing.
- You two have nothing to talk about. [SAD HORN NOISE]
I’m sure you’d like to believe that it’s number one, 4T, but at best that’s only a small fraction of it. So you better hope it’s problem number two because that one is at least fixable. It’s awkward right now because you two are making it awkward. You’re putting pressure on yourselves to make things seem different, when you should be amplifying what made you two get along in the first place.
You can still talk about the same stuff you talked about before, and in the same way—especially when you’re just in the hallway at school (I’m assuming). Keep it casual! I mean, damn, it sounds like there are other people around during these interactions, 4T, and you guys have only been on one date! Stop thinking about all of this as “aftermath” when things haven’t even truly begun.
If you haven’t lined up date number two yet, you really need to do that soon, before she decides this is all too difficult. Privacy and a little bit of intimacy is only going to help you here, and you need to find out if it’s actually problem number three. If being alone in a more romantic environment doesn’t get the conversation flowing, consider using some prompts to get things going.
About that third possible problem, though … There’s a solid chance you’re both attracted to each other, you like each other well enough, but you just don’t click. Chemistry between friends and chemistry between romantic partners are two different sciences. The limits of your relationship may very well be “friends sho chat in the hallway and think each other is kind of cute.” It sucks, but it happens all the time.
This Dude Can’t Get Over His Laziness
How do I get over my crippling laziness? Even when the reward warrants the effort, I tend to stall out.
You need to learn to love the process, dude, not just the reward.
Working toward a goal, big or small, is like taking a long walk from one place to another. Some people trudge along, only thinking about what things will be like when they get to their destination, spending the whole walk staring down at their feet in despair. “I can’t wait to get there…” they say. This mentality saps your motivation, makes you dislike what you take on, and causes you to stall out. You start to question whether it’s worth walking to that place at all, and you might even convince yourself that it’s just easier to go back.
Other people, however, know they’re walking toward something, but allow themselves to enjoy the walk itself. They bop along to music, stop for coffee, take photos, and instead of staring down at their feet, they keep their head up, in search of the next little joy that keeps the walk from becoming a shoe-less march on frozen ground. “I’ll get there eventually,” they say. And they will.
It’s not that some people have more motivation than others, like it’s some sort of resource bottled up inside our brains. You weren’t short-changed on motivation juice at birth. It’s that they know that motivation is something you cultivate, and something you care for once you have it. Whether you’re in school, at work, or just trying to find the drive to vacuum your damn house, finding a way to love the process is the key.
It’s about the journey, Kyle, not the destination. Always.
And when in doubt, do what I do and follow the Nike rule: just do it. I tell myself to stop being such a lazy piece of garbage and try to make my existence worthwhile. I suggest you do the same. But you have to give a shit in order to try, and nobody else can do that part for you.
These Friends’ Husbands Hate Each Other
My childhood best friend (we-were-each-other’s-maids-of-honor level friend) just moved into my town and we now live in the same place for the first time in a decade. The problem is that her husband and my husband HATE each other. Like, this girl and I are basically the same person in two bodies, and our husbands are just different enough that they are almost incapable of being in the same room together without getting into a super-heated debate (unfortunately, the main personality trait they share is the need to be right).
I’ve given up hope of them being friends, but how do I get them to stop fighting like cats and dogs? It hurts me and my friend to see the men we love hate each other.
You guys must be a lot alike if you both married 12-year-olds trapped in adult man bodies! The simple solution here is for each of you to tell your husbands how this is affecting you negatively. Not at the same time together, but in private. Lay it all out and explain how it makes you feel.
Tell him that he doesn’t have to like it, or like the other guy, but he needs to understand and accept the fact that you will be spending time with them. And if he cares about making you happy at all, he must find a way to adapt. Do not give him a choice in the matter. If he’s going to act like a child, you need to be the authority figure.
Beyond that, I think you have a couple options:
- Get them to hang out together without you and your friend. Their macho “always have to be right” mentality could be a way of posturing in front of you two. Or at least it could be amplified by the scenario. If they were alone they might be able to find a way to match each other’s wavelength and at least keep the debates chill. Maybe they could get it all out of their system so they’ll shut the hell the up when you guys hang out together. Or maybe they’ll kill each other and you two can go out and find grown ups to marry…
- HANG OUT WITHOUT THEM. Seriously, screw those guys. I know people love the double-date couples-hangout scenario, but damn, go have some fun. Let those guys sit at home alone so they can feel like the most “right” person in the room.
Either way, Mo, you need to put your foot down here. Don’t let some hotheaded punks keep you from finally getting to spend time with your best friend. They need to get over it and grow the hell up.
Because I just don’t have the time or patience for all of you…
I just paid off $70k in credit cards by refinancing my house (ran up mostly when out of work). Now wife and kids (11, 15) want a bigger house than our 1700 sq ft ranch. 2500-3000 sq ft houses run $300 to $350 vs $225 for what we have now.
I make $102k per year, but still have $1200/month in student loans. I’d like to move up, but feel like I’m better off living smaller especially considering how badly we managed our budget.
What do you think?
Hi, MoMo… Can I call you MoMo? I know there’s another Mo up there, but is that alright? Don’t answer that—I’m going to anyway. Your gut instinct is correct, MoMo. Pay those loans off first! Then maybe you can look into making a new budget and see what it looks like without those crippling loan payments. If, and only IF, the new budget has some serious wiggle room, then maybe you can consider movin’ on up. Sounds like you have a decent gig with decent pay and a mostly pleasant family to boot. Don’t screw up the traction you’ve gained just because you’re tired of hearing your wife and kids complain about your not-that-tiny home. Tell them to suck it up and let MoMo do his thang.
I NEED ADVICE BRO
Bro, I know. Here’s what you do, bro: explain to people what you need advice on, bro. Otherwise they can’t help you, bro. *FIST BUMP*
Overqualified Engineer asks:
Do you mind being called ‘Paddy Cake’? Sorry that was stupid.
I am a graduate student in Engineering Management, I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I have a lot of debt and I am living with my parents to save $$. I am in my 30s and I don’t know if I will succeed with the degrees I will have and I finish in June. There isn’t much manufacturing in the SF bay area either.
What do you think I should do when I graduate? Did I make a mistake going to graduate school for a master’s degree?
That was really stupid, but it’s okay, Paddy Cake’s in a good mood and will help you anyway. I know several mechanical engineers who work in the aviation and DoD contracting industry and they make bank. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy, and it will take some time to pay down all that debt, but it’s totally possible in that field! Yes, you will succeed with those degrees if you don’t completely give up. If you weren’t about to finish, I’d say getting a graduate degree isn’t necessary, but neat! You could always fall back on a teaching career or something.
You’ve almost graduated. Good. You’re living at home to save money. Great. I’d say your next move is, uh, getting a job. You might have to look outside of the Bay area, but you should be able to find a gig that pays you enough to pay for a roof over your head and keep those loan monsters fed. School’s out. It’s time for your real life to begin.
That’s it for this week, but I still have plenty of blunt, honest advice bottled up inside. Tell me, what’s troubling you? Is work getting you down? Are you having problems with a friend or a coworker? Is your love life going through a rough patch? Do you just feel lost in life, like you have no direction? Tell me, and maybe I can help. I probably won’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. Ask away in the comments below, or email me at the address you see at the bottom of the page (please include “ADVICE” in the subject line). ‘Til next time, figure things out for yourself.