July 17, 2004

The perfect gift for the extra-large trash can in your life

I had a conversation last night with my sister which was so illuminating that I've decided to turn it into a public service announcement. The immediate subject of the conversation was a girl whom my sister met at SF Pride last month, whose behavior with regard to their romantic involvement or lack thereof has been baffling Katie completely. That is because, as far as I can see, this girl may as well be a carbon copy of me. Hence the following helpful reference manual:

Notes For The Care And Feeding Of Your Co-Dependent

  1. There are, in fact, people in the world for whom friends-with-benefits is not a workable relationship model.
  2. They don't necessarily know that.
  3. Even if they do know that, that does not necessarily dissuade them from becoming involved with people for whom FWB (friends-with-benefits) is the preferred relationship model.
  4. They may be so reasonable and accommodating as to try to put their preferences aside and fit into the FWB model preferred by the people with whom they are becoming involved.
  5. This is not a remotely good idea.
  1. If someone who really feels the need for an emotionally involved relationship attempts to meet you (the FWB type) halfway and try a casual involvement, it is probably because this person has already fallen for you, pinned his or her hopes of fairy-tale love on you, and is now settling for what he or she can get with you in the hopes that it will eventually get better for him or her.
  2. Better in this context means happily ever after.
  3. If that's not going to happen, you will need to be offensively blunt in order to make that point understood.
  4. It will probably be misunderstood anyway if you express interest in continued casual involvement.
  5. This is probably not because Mr. or Ms. Cinderella is an immature drama queen who doesn't know how to handle adult relationships.
  6. I mean, it might be. But not necessarily.
  7. This is probably also not because you have been unclear about your own desires.
  8. It's a fundamental problem of preferences. You could think of it like a sexual orientation; if your partner is wired for True Love, it won't matter how attractive you make your Friends With Benefits setup because it's still not compatible.
  9. Do not believe Cinderella if he or she says that he or she can be okay with the aforementioned incompatible setup.
  10. He or she may try damned hard to be okay with it.
  11. What that will actually entail for him or her is hanging around as your fuckbuddy against his or her better judgment, hoping for you to fall reciprocally madly in love with him or her which you will not be intending to do.
  12. That madly-in-love-ness is a form of emotional support which Cinderella craves; the hope that it is soon forthcoming is a substitute which will suffice for a while.
  13. It isn't going to suffice all that well. Cinderella will probably feel vaguely abandoned and you will probably feel vaguely suffocated by his or her hopeful and/or unintentional angling for more of a relationship.
  14. Eventually that will get to the point where one, or both, of you will decide you've had it and can't deal with this anymore.
  15. Think carefully about how Cinderella will feel at this point, having hung around like a kicked puppy trying to do things your way and never getting what he or she wanted back from you.
  16. Shitty.
  17. REALLY shitty.
  18. Angry and ashamed and generally suckered.
  19. Cinderella will think of you as the biggest asshole in the world, not necessarily because you are the biggest asshole in the world but because thinking of you as the biggest asshole distracts Cinderella from thinking of him/herself as the biggest idiot.
  20. That isn't going to be very good for your chances of maintaining an amicable platonic relationship, if that's what you want to maintain.
  21. If you had had this list in front of you, and acted upon it, somewhere around #5, you would have had the opportunity to recognize what was going on and prevent Cinderella from doing Thing #16.
  22. You know, the shitty one.
  23. If Cinderella hadn't done Thing #16, he or she would have much less reason to be angry and embarrassed and suckered and hate you and hate him/herself.
  24. That might allow you to actually remain friends, or at least friendly, instead of bitter and antagonistic.
  25. That would be a good thing.
  26. You shoulda done it.

My sister read this list and posed the excellent and slightly plaintive question, "Why does your scenario call for me to be the bigger person here and not her?" I considered it for a moment and decided that whoever has a talk with her sister and thereby acquires an understanding of the other person's point of view is the one who has to do the inevitable breaky-up thing because the other person hasn't figured out that it's inevitable yet (well, or they could give in and have a relationship, which of course sounds better from where I'm standing). Also, the magic of perspective makes it much easier for me to rant about what I wish those non-committal types would do differently than to figure out what those emotionally needy types should do differently.

In any event, Katie will be composing a similar instruction manual, for the care and feeding of your commitment-shunner, in response to this one. Look for it either in her journal or here; I'll probably add it to this entry when she does get it written. Until then I will be gloriously, self-indulgently one-sided. Ha.

p.s. The title of this entry is not related to the topic at hand. It's merely something that had me doubled over laughing at work when I found it in the Office Depot catalog.

Posted by dianna at July 17, 2004 05:54 PM

As I started reading your list I assumed that I was going to compose a lengthy and lucid response, outlining why I agree with you, since I often end up (as often as I end up romantically involved) on the losing end of scenarios like this one. After reading your incredibly comprehensive analysis of the situation, I'm left with nothing more than:

Damn right.

Posted by: Chris at July 17, 2004 10:23 PM

Thank you for the vote of agreement, sir. Sorry to hear about the being on the losing end part.

Posted by: Dianna at July 18, 2004 01:10 AM

This is why everyone who doesn't go to law school should be neutered and spayed.

Then after that, we'll spay and neuter all the people who DO go to law school.

Posted by: poot at July 18, 2004 07:17 AM

Being neutered and spayed sounds complicated.

Posted by: Erik at July 19, 2004 07:31 AM

That, and I think that you might have neglected to close an Ordered List tag on this post. That, or your 'blog has decided to reformat itself.

Posted by: Erik at July 19, 2004 07:39 AM

Crap. I didn't forget to close my ol tag, which means that Movable Type is probably freaking out over the fact that I divided up the list between the short entry and extended entry sections. How badly is it screwing up the formatting, anyway?

I think you'd have to be neutered, then have a sex-change operation, then be spayed. Or vice versa if you're starting out female. It seems both complicated and unnecessary.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 09:23 AM

Isn't there an attribute you can use to start an ol at a particular number? If so, just make it two ols, with the extended entry starting at 6.

Posted by: Chris at July 19, 2004 09:33 AM

The formatting, she is screwed. Good call, Chris...I am pretty sure that either the OL has a 'starting' attribute, or the LI has a an attribute for 'number'.

Posted by: Erik at July 19, 2004 09:37 AM

All right, someone who's not using IE tell me how that looks now.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 10:08 AM


Posted by: Erik at July 19, 2004 10:34 AM

*Snoqualmie blushes furiously*

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 10:42 AM

Well, the best way to empathize with other people is to walk a mile in their shoes and then lose your genitals.

Semantic Geekery: neutering and spaying is quite possible when applied to a diversified aggregate, as neutering some and spaying others fulfills the necessary conditions, presupposing of course neutering/spaying are each mutually exclusive procedures depending on the orientation of the individual within the aggregate.


Booyaka moofaaka.

Posted by: poot at July 19, 2004 11:48 AM

Damnit, you people, I turn my entire page pink for a stupid joke and nobody even acknowledges it?!

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 01:19 PM

Holy hell, your page is pink!

Which, by the way, I noticed BEFORE you said anything.

Posted by: Arianna at July 19, 2004 01:52 PM

Oh, good. Being in Normal apparently grants people better perception skills than being anywhere in California.

I was at least expecting a groan or something. Weblogs do not blush.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 02:00 PM

i don't see why not.

Posted by: michele at July 19, 2004 02:04 PM

I do.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 02:35 PM

seriously brilliant. someone needs to hand this manual to anyone i might express the LEAST amount of interest in.

Posted by: jenni at July 19, 2004 02:37 PM

*Snoqualmie blushes furiously*

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 10:42 AM


Posted by: michele at July 19, 2004 02:46 PM

Hahaha! Fear my irreconcilable contradiction!

*does not compute*

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 02:55 PM


what color is this? kitten nose? pepto bismol?

my thought upon seeing it many many hours ago was, 'i wonder how long it will stay that color.'

Posted by: michele at July 19, 2004 03:10 PM

In a fit of g33kiness, I just checked out your HTML to see what the attribute was for starting a list at a particular number. I happened to notice that you don't close your li tags. I then noticed, after looking around more, that no one closes their li tags but me. I've always known that you don't have to close them, but I always have anyway. It helps creates order in a world of ever increasing entropy.

Woe! Woe is me! Why am I the only one?

Posted by: Chris at July 19, 2004 03:45 PM

Goddammit, my page will stay maliciously pink until people stop picking on my HTML. I realize that that was not the main point of Chris' post, but after Gene's emails this is entirely too much to handle. You can all look at Pepto-Bismol for the rest of the week.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 04:09 PM

i prefer to think of it as kitten nose. and i shall, yes.

Posted by: michele at July 19, 2004 04:13 PM

your page is pink? or am i late again?

Posted by: didofoot at July 19, 2004 04:15 PM

Hit refresh a few times and feel the pain of the Pepto Bismol Blog.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 04:22 PM

Chris- your LI tags are XML-compliant, if that makes you feel any better/geekier/worse...er (stupid English and its stupidly skewed comparative forms). You never know when THAT might come in handy...I certainly don't; perhaps mutant ground squirrels will rise up against the human world that always hits them on the rural highways (c'mon people...just slow down a LITTLE...) and spare only the writers of XML-compliant HTML, which, however unlikely, would be interesting.

I am enjoying the furiously blushing kitten nose blog, since I had something to do with it. Now if it had turned pea-soup green (or furious red) when I made my post, that would have been slightly less enjoyable (though greatly more familiar).

Posted by: Erik at July 19, 2004 07:33 PM

I don't mind the pink, but the standard MovableType link and sidebar header colors really clash.

Posted by: Chris at July 19, 2004 08:43 PM

she's having a girl!

did you mean that kind of late?

Posted by: michele at July 19, 2004 09:15 PM

So they do. So they do. This is what you get.

Erik, next time I get a hankering to change things it'll probably be plaid. Rejoice, or sulk, accordingly.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 09:22 PM

No! NO! No girls! No girls around here except me!

Woman, you're a menace.

Posted by: Dianna at July 19, 2004 09:26 PM

Dianna- Make it Tartan, and I'll rejoice. Additionally, have you seen the new pictures that the Cassini spacecraft took of Iapetus? Sometimes I'm actually proud of working at JPL (like when we aren't sending flaming masses of ex-spacecraft careening into the Martian atmosphere...that's like an ex-parrot, btw...but without the bit of a squawk...or the lovely plumage...and I'm probably going to be tarred and feathered tomorrow for that JPL dig...then I'll have plumage...and likely a bit of a squawk...).

I'll apologise for this post tomorrow, I'm sure.

Posted by: Erik at July 19, 2004 10:30 PM

kristen started it.

Posted by: michele at July 20, 2004 09:56 AM

to reply to the original post, which i finally read: marvellous list. it was invaluable to me in conducting the breakup conversation when i dumped the clingy, codependent non-girlfriend i wasn't having a relationship with. er.

that is to say, the list was invaluable in reminding me throughout the conversation that the whole (non)relationship, particularly in FWB mode, was a terrible idea, and why previous attempts to work it out had failed so miserably, particularly when my idea of "working it out" was that she'd calm down and stop smothering me, and her idea of "working it out" was a cushion-cut 3-karat diamond in a white gold band.

of course, knowing that the match is terrible and the relationship is doomed, while a good resolve-strengthener, doesn't necessarily make the breakup go any easier, especially when you (that is to say, me), as the sane, rational, saintly, non-codependent, perhaps-slightly-commitment-phobic one, are having to constantly ask yourself why it even requires a breakup conversation to end a relationship that wasn't ever even supposed to be one. although it's handy at that point to be able to refer to your point, 6, and then perhaps spend some amount of time rereading point 8 while choosing one's next words. the benefit is that you'll probably have plenty of time to choose your "offensively blunt" next words because the person on the other end of the phone will be screaming obscenities at you until they run out of air.

i am working on composing the complementary notes from the non-codependent front. in the meantime,

a small taste of the joy

Posted by: katie at July 20, 2004 04:50 PM

hahaha, when i read the first posted comment, i found myself wondering what was meant by "the losing end of scenarios like this one." i can't figure out which perspective that comes from, or which side is then assumed to be the winning one. is it supposed to be the one i'm on - the non-clingy side? wow. with all possible respect and sympathy, i gotta say: if this is the side that "wins," it must really, really suck to "lose".

Posted by: katie at July 20, 2004 04:54 PM

Okay, okay, point taken. I assumed that Chris' phrasing of his agreement meant he was referring to the same side on which I tend to find myself. I could still be wrong, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that, knowing Chris, I'm not wrong.

In defense of the general Cinderella community, I have to say that the whole screaming obscenities bit is not a tendency that comes automatically along with Cinderella-ness. Some of us are more wussy and just cry a lot, saving the obscenities for a) reasonable conversational tones, plus or minus some residual quavering, b) a later occasion, and c) talking to other people about the person who did the breaking up. Much more civil that way. Yup. Definitely.

Posted by: Dianna at July 20, 2004 06:15 PM

much more civil, indeed.

ok, your good name has been restored. The Girl is not a typical cinderella, she's an extreme case who got where she is through hard work and diligently avoiding contact with reality.

here's how you too can take it to the next level, OR, advice for cinderella:

1. get a mantra. use it to respond to all attempted messages from your putative lover on subjects like the actual status of the relationship. a sample mantra: "of course, that is fine. i am your very good friend. i am here for you. and in [number] years, you will repay me by giving me (an engagement ring)/(babies)/(a house in the country) [circle one]. just kidding, i know you don't want to think about that." (note: that last sentence is crucial to show your understanding of the situation.)
2. begin introducing putative lover to your friends as your future spouse. when lover freaks out, invoke mantra. repeat until they are mollified.
3. come up with TERRIBLE names for your future imaginary children and inform putative lover that he/she has no say in these names. that way, lover will get sucked into arguing over the naming rights, and will lose sight of the more fundamental problem, i.e., that you weren't supposed to be planning said children.
4. find out your putative lover's psychological weaknesses. compile a list of insults designed to prey on these. write them down. feel free to mix and match words, mad-libs-style: you adjective adjective noun! (lying boring asshole! pussy straight girl!) make sure that you have enough to continue for at least five minutes. practice delivering the whole list in one breath.
5. when putative lover dumps you inexplicably, citing inability to deal with you, fuck with their head. take their own image of their nice uncomplicated future without you and rework it into a nightmare scenario. five points if it ends with them homeless and alone. fifty points if it ends with them getting hit by a bus and whispering your name as they die.
6. play a drinking game: leave them angry voicemails calling them all the names you left off the list. then drink a shot. next time, leave two voicemails. then drink two shots. and so on. as you continue to leave voicemails you should take care to escalate the self-righteous language you use: move, for example, from "civilized" to "common decency." bonus points if you can affect a disdainful icy tone while slurring your words.

Posted by: katie at July 21, 2004 11:56 AM

I'm working at a public defenders office here in MA, and I have to say, katie, that your list reminded me of an awful lot of the cases on our docket...

Posted by: poot at July 21, 2004 12:32 PM

errr, which person is it, in general, who gets stabbed with a bread knife in these cases?

i love the word "docket."

Posted by: katie at July 21, 2004 03:36 PM

Bread knife? I don't know about anybody else, but my bread knives all have dull ends. I'd be much more worried about being stabbed with, e.g., the 9" long pointy chef's knife. Fortunately for you, Katie, I have your 9" long pointy chef's knife so nobody (except me) can stab you with it.

Posted by: Dianna at July 21, 2004 03:42 PM

It's funny you should mention a long pointy chef's knife...

One my personal favorites so far this summer is a domestic dispute. The complaintant alleges that after a night of drinking, her boyfriend got pissed at her because she wouldn't "do coke" with him and his friend back at their apartment. So, he went totally apeshit, and within the next fifteen minutes chased her with two knives, one a huge carving knife and the other a mid-size steak knife; he also knocked her into a cast-iron bathtub, and nearly choked her to death. Mind you, this guy spent two years in the National Guard and works 11 hours a day as a plumber's apprentice. He knows his killin' and is very handy with tools.

In "self-defense," she managed to stab him 7 times with a screwdriver, twice in the left arm, once in the collarbone area, once in the face, once around his stomach, and twice (get ready for it) in the back.

He was arrested a day later at his house, still a bloody, punctured mess. She was photographed two days after the alleged incident with nigh-imperceptible bruises on her arm and neck area.

And then, to top it off, the complaintant (after her boyfriend is safely behind bars) escorts the cops BACK to the apartment and shows them all his evil drug paraphenalia and $5 worth of pot, which they seize, but still haven't checked for fingerprints after 8 months (heaven forbid they find her prints anywhere.)

*Whew* ain't love grand?

Posted by: poot at July 22, 2004 06:17 AM

She stabbed him in the back? TWICE? Seems to me that would either suggest that he was stabbed while grappling with her or while he was trying to flee from her deadly screwdriver ninja arts. Either way, that's a messed up story.

Thanks for sharing! :-D

Posted by: Erik at July 22, 2004 07:18 AM

good lord.

i am going to go live in a nice cave by myself now.

Posted by: katie at July 22, 2004 02:09 PM