October 18, 2016

How do I get over this guilt?

Hey Anna, 

I dated my ex for nearly five years. We broke up because I wanted marriage/children and he didn't. We're still friends, and love each other but definitely are not IN love with each other now, a year later. I started dating my new boyfriend about 4-ish months ago, and we're like... super in love. We're going to move in together, we've talked about marriage, kids, the whole deal. I'm really happy. The problem is that I feel guilty about moving on sort of quickly, almost like I've done a disservice to the half-decade I spent with my former partner. He hasn't found a great person yet, and I know he's lonely, which might be why I feel like this. How do I overcome the feeling that moving on has cheapened an important relationship in my life that I'm also glad is over?

Before I address the guilt you're experiencing, I want to tackle this cheapening issue first.

Let's apply this logic -- moving on with a new guy is cheapening your relationship with your ex -- to something else.

Does having a wonderful dinner lessen your enjoyment of a delicious lunch? 
Does loving "Westworld" cheapen your enjoyment of watching "Fleabag"?
Does finding a great deal at TJ Maxx detract from the joy of finding a great deal at Old Navy?

The answer: OF COURSE NOT. 

You can hold both in your heart at the same time: excitement at your new relationship and appreciation for the time spent with your ex. One has no bearing on the other as they're two totally different experiences. Yes, they both involve men you're romantically involved with. But you're a different kind of partner to each person. You have different inside jokes, different habits, and different trajectories.  

I don't know where you're getting the idea that your new relationship cheapens your last one. Relationships don't work like that because any relationship -- romantic, platonic, adversarial, familial -- serves different needs at different times. The best you can do is be thankful for the lessons you learn along the way. Your ex helped you see that you require the shared goal of marriage and children in a romantic relationship. That was his role in your life. All you can do is be grateful for the lesson.

The second issue is ridding yourself of the guilt you're feeling. Although the thought make you uncomfortable, it's okay for your ex to feel lonely in the short-term. In fact, seeing you in a happy relationship might motivate him to carve out a better life.

How he makes sense of his loneliness is up to him. You might feel his life is small because you're moving forward and he's not. But in reality, his future is now wide open. Maybe he'll finally finish the novel he's been thinking about writing. Maybe he'll sell his stuff and travel across the country just to see what it's like to roll into a new town where you don't know anyone. Maybe he'll throw himself headfirst into charity work and meet a kind woman with curly hair who doesn't see marriage and kids in her future too.

If you're looking for permission to enjoy your new relationship guilt-free, I'll give it you. But you need to tell yourself a new story about where you're at. You aren't a heartless monster moving on while your ex suffers in solitude. You're a flower lifting its petals towards warm, nourishing sunlight. In time, your ex will move his face towards the sunlight too. And when it happens, as his friend, you can be the first to cheer him on.

October 14, 2016

Hey Jealousy, Flaky Dudes, and Movie Recs

Sorry to bother you, but I've got a big problem. My boyfriend continues to stay in touch with his ex even though he knows it upsets me. They only dated for five months but I've seen the texts saying he loved her when they were together. We are very happy (apart from him emailing her) but it's tearing me apart. How can I stop the feeling of jealousy?

I don't blame you for feeling jealous! Your dude has an obligation to put your feelings first in this relationship. I think you're totally justified in your jealousy.

As for how to stop being jealous, you have a few options.

1. You can make an effort to get to know her and see that there's no threat there. For all you know, she's a really cool person and you two might hit it off as friends. It's a long shot, but it's an option.

2. The next time he withdraws into a spirited text conversation with the ex, tell him you understand she played a role in his life before you met, but now that you're together, you need him to prioritize your relationship over friendships with former flings. Don't shout. Don't make ultimatums. Just be honest with how this makes you feel and be clear about how you expect him to behave going forward.

Unless he has kids with her or some other strong incentive to be in touch with her, it sounds like he's trying to enjoy the attention of his old flame and enjoy your attention too. It's understandable why he's keeping her around in his inbox, but he should get the message that this behavior's deeply uncool. He's gotta grow up, stop looking for attention from other women, and choose you.

Hi Anna! I've been seeing a guy I met online back in January, and we went on our first date in March and been a hanging out since. Well he's been blowing hot and cold. One minute he's really into me and turns the charm on, and the next minute, not so much. The last month he's been lagging and flaky. One minute he will want to see me, and turn around and make plans elsewhere. He'll make plans with me in the same day and five minutes later change his mind. Please help! What's going on with this guy? 

It sounds like this guy is giving you a classic case of mixed signals. As to why he’s doing it, it’s irrelevant. You’re still left feeling the same way after interacting with him: slighted.

I’d stop engaging with him altogether. It sounds like you’re spinning your wheels on someone who doesn’t respect your time. Wherever his head’s at, it’s not with you and that’s all you need to know. Take control and stop agreeing to participate in this messy waste of time. You’ll feel better almost immediately once you decide to disengage, I promise!

I just wanted to say firstly, it was a pleasure reading your book Clearly, I Didn't Think This Through. It was short and sweet (no pun intended) and entertaining. This is a random question, but what are your favorite films?

Thanks so much for dropping a line. I'm happy to hear you liked my book. That's awesome!

As far as my favorite movies, in no particular order:
All the President's Men - I LOVE '70s cinema, but this is one of my favorites about how Nixon's Watergate scandal broke. The visual style, the story, and the stellar acting make it a stand-out. 
The Big Lebowski - I adore most films the Coen Brothers crank out, but this is my all-time favorite of theirs. So many quotable lines! 
High Fidelity - Chicago + record stores + surly John Cusack + wacky Jack Black = heaven.  
2001: A Space Odyssey - A sci-fi classic that absolutely holds up.  
Back to the Future - One of the best movies ever made PERIOD. It has drama, suspense, comedy, and my #1 boo, MJF.  
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - I love the texture of the sets, the sly camera tricks, and the incredible imagination of director Michel Gondry.  
The Watchmen - The opening sequence set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'" is a jaw dropper  
Apollo 13 - I love the story, the acting, the pacing--it's damn near perfect.  
Jurassic Park - An almost flawless film. It falls apart at the end, which is a shame. But it's on the list because I still feel like a kid when I watch it. 
  That's a good start!

October 13, 2016

Wassup? Long Time No Talk

Hello! *waves*

Anna here. Since we last talked, a lot has changed.

The first major thing is I'm no longer on the dating scene. I've been rollin' with the same fella for almost four years and we live together in South Philly with our jalapeƱo plant, Boomer.

Look how goddamn cute we are
(even though my eyes look super beady for some reason)
I still write a ton. Aside from a steady gig writing about food and culture for The Kitchn, I've penned pieces for The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Refinery 29 and more. I also send out a newsletter where I talk about things I adore (TV shows, apps, articles, and makeup) and things I want to kick in the dick (Ben Affleck's forehead, seasonal allergies, Farrah Abraham's entire existence).

Of all the things I've done since we last gabbed, I'm most proud of writing my "Make It Stop" advice column for the Frisky. Even though the column ended in the spring, people still write me for advice all the time. I realized maybe instead of finding a new home for my advice column, I can post my answers here.

So Shmitten Kitten is now an advice blog. That's what's up.

I want all your questions: heavy or frivolous, silly or serious. I'll post the answers on here. Anonymity is ok, so don't worry if you want to keep your identity secret.

Have a question: email it to me at anna@shmittenkitten.com or tweet me @AnnaGoldfarb.

Okey doke. Let's get this started!

January 11, 2016

Where Have All My Guy Friends Gone?

As I'm cruising into my mid-thirties, certain patterns have shifted. For instance, I no longer spend my Saturday nights sweating off my eyeliner dancing with my best friends in a packed club. I've basically turned into a nervous lizard because I can’t eat heavy meals after 8pm. And I don’t stalk my exes on Facebook anymore. There's no point. They're all puffy, balding and look well-fed and happy so what used to feel like a forbidden thrill now feels as exciting as watching a rerun of "Parks & Recreation" while I'm cooking dinner.

But my least favorite trend about growing older is that it is no longer cool for me to hang out with my guy friends one-on-one if they are in a serious relationship. If they have a girlfriend, I'm out. The other stuff I expected. But this, this took me by sad surprise.

Apparently, I missed that entry in my Encyclopedia Britannica
Like a lot of girls, I had a steady stream of guy friends in my twenties. We'd grab beers and gab about well, everything. Work, crazy dates, wild hookups, drama with friends--we'd talk about it all. I've never had brothers, so this is what I imagine it'd feel like. I loved my guy friends.

But as they've each entered long-term relationships, our solo hang time has dwindled rapidly. It's almost like our friendship can't exist if he's close with another woman. It sucks. Over the past few years, my band of brothers has steadily dissolved. Our friendships, which used to be so casual and fun, are pushed aside. It sucks extra hard because I know it isn't this way for his male friends.

"Let's grab a drink, old buddy!" "I can't. I have a girlfriend now."
Now our interactions are limited to hearting Instagrams of his cat and liking his Facebook post about how there's a Game of Thrones beer. That's it. That's what years of friendship has boiled down to. It's pathetic.

Don't get me wrong. I understand why it's happening. I know that kickin' it with women who aren't his girlfriend is not an acceptable way to spend his spare time once he reaches a certain age. And I know that a lot of girlfriends can be threatened by the bond we share. And that sucks. It feels like a wall has been erected, slicing me out of his inner circle. I'm now a relic of his single life, one that doesn't translate to his new reality.

So, yeah, I get it. But, I miss my guy friends. I miss the make-believe family I cobbled together with these loose sibling bonds, which made me feel so rich but now feel hollow.

I'm so emotional about this!!!!! Scott Stapp knows what I'm talking about!
I never thought I'd say this, but I guess having best dude friends is something I need to relegate to my twenties, like rockin' short skirts and wearing pigtails in public. As much as it stings, I've learned to let go. But I mourn the loss in little ways. I'll hover over his name on my phone, debating whether I should try to arrange plans to grab a drink like the old times, but I know our moment has passed. I respect his decision.

Is this just me or have you experienced the same thing? Do certain friendships have a shelf life because your buddy is the opposite sex? Tell me in the comments.

September 16, 2015

Get The Memo: I Keep My Relationship Offline

Hey guys!

I wrote an essay for the Washington Post about why I keep my relationship offline. In doing research for the piece, I found out that if you post too much about your significant other, people will think you suck. That totally makes sense which is why I don't do it!

Read the article here and let me know what you think. Do you post pics with your boo with two middle fingers in the air not giving a fuck, or do you keep it close to your chest and off your newsfeed? Let me know in the comments.

August 5, 2015

I Now Present You With The Official Shmitten Kitten Bad Date Bingo Card

Next time you have a crummy date, refer to this card. Let me know if you get Bingo because, hey, even if you weren't able to score on your date, you could still be a winner.

July 15, 2015

Real Talk: Ain't Nuthin' Wrong With Sending Texts From the Toilet

Your man texts you a funny meme from the third page of Imgur or Reddit. You giggle and continue about your day and think nothing of it. Like most text messages, it zips out of your consciousness as soon as you tuck your phone back into your purse.

Maybe if it's an especially compelling text, you'll send a series of emojis back--a pancake next to a crab and a cat with a party hat on, or a martini glass next to the waving and dancing lady. I'm a big fan of the thumbs up next to the smiley face wearing sunglasses because that's how I roll.

But, in all likelihood, I’d imagine that at least 35% of these daytime texts are composed sitting upon a man's most sacred throne: the toilet. In fact, the odds that a man is texting a woman at this very moment from the porcelain confessional are overwhelming. It's more pervasive than outraged tweets about the government shutdown.

For those of you who refuse to accept that nature and technology converge on the regular, you need to get over it. It’s not that big of a deal. You probably didn’t even know he was texting you from the toilet when it was happening. It's a victimless crime, like taking two samples at Costco or tearing the tags off your mattress.

After recently receiving what I know to be several texts from the time squatter, I felt that toilet texting is wildly misunderstood. It's got a bad rep. In fact, I think toilet texting should be viewed as a positive sign in a relationship for a couple of reasons.
1. Time spent at the thunderdome is a sacred time for people. It’s when a man can let his hair down, escape from life's stressors, catch up on his Facebook feed and maybe play a few rounds of Words With Friends. It’s a time of meditation and self-centering. If your man is taking the time out of his daily 2:00 PM meeting to drop you a line while he's dropping a deuce, he probably likes you.

2. It means that your beau doesn't take himself too seriously. Maybe I’m just foul-minded and hopeless, but I don’t mind a man who can laugh at himself, especially when his pants are around his ankles. It evens the playing field for women like me, all of whom are prone to fits of inappropriateness and the giggles.

3. It’s funny when your man leaves the room for fifteen minutes and starts texting you from across the house. That’s a toilet text and the fact that he’s not ashamed of it is good fucking news to me. I can always use a good meme and a guy who can make me laugh. But, gentlemen, if you think that your woman hasn't done it too, you’re fucking kidding yourself.
Toilet texting is one of the joys of living in 2013. So next time you hear someone cracking up in the can, know that he's 'avin' a laff in the loo on his mobile while he takes a wee (that's British!).

May 29, 2015

Dear Shmitten Kitten: How Do I Let This Guy Down Gently?

I received a letter from my reader, Arielle, who doesn't know how to let this guy down gently. Naturally, she asked me what to do even though I'm a total spazz in roughly 99% of my interactions with other people.
Eh, let's not do this "dating" thing. Cool?
Hey Anna!
I love, love, love your blog and book. I'm a huge fan! I need some advice though since I'm relatively new to dating. 
I went out on three dates with this nice guy, but we're just not compatible. We have mutual friends so I can't just ignore him and let it fizzle out. He's asked me out again, but I'm not sure how to let him know that I'm not interested. It's important that I don't come off as a bitch, but I need to make it clear that this isn't happening. 
What's a girl to do?
As a woman who'd rather dye her hair blonde and move to another state than tell a guy that I'd prefer not to share a plate of pad thai while he tells me about his day, I'm going to give you some advice. But it all depends how he asked you out.

If he asked you out by text, I'm going to need you to take a deep breath and type out the following: "I've had a lot of fun getting to know you, but I think we should keep things on a friend level. Cool?" My hope is that by prompting him with a question on the end like that, he'll quickly respond, "That's totally cool. No problem." And then you continue to enjoy your life guilt-free. If he tries to suss out why you aren't interested in moving things forward, don't take the bait! Just keep re-iterating that you two are better off as friends.

If he asked you out over email, you're going to need a little bit more of a composed response. I'd go with something like, "It's been a lot of fun getting to know you, but I think we're better off as friends." Really, keep it as short as possible. Don't go into reasons, don't tell him that the thought of seeing his naked body makes you want to puke. Just be concise, upbeat, and firm.

If he called you to ask you out and you feel like you have to call him back, I say just send him a text instead. Is it bad form? Maybe. Do you really care? Eh, you've only been out a few times so he'll just have to get over it.

Some people will tell you to break up in person, but that's bullshit. Who's got time to arrange a meeting all just to tell him to buzz off? No one's got time for that!

However, and this is important, you can't be weird when you see him next. You are now a robot and it's your mission to be cool as shit. If you're weird, it'll make him feel 100x weirder, trust me. The ball is in your court since you did the dumping. Never bring up the text or email you sent him. You have to act like he's your best friend's cousin; just be super cordial. You're going to need to summon all of your acting skills to pretend that the Failed Dating Disaster of 2013 never happened.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes. If anyone has any other suggestions, leave 'em in the comments!