November 3, 2016

Am I a bad person if I keep quiet about my political views on social media?


I'd really love to post funny memes and articles on Facebook supporting my preferred presidential candidate. But, I don't want to be one of those people who post about politics constantly on their newsfeed. My cousin supports the other side and I had to unfollow him because I found the stuff he shared so upsetting. However, my silence feels like support for a certain frothy-haired, ill-tempered candidate, which I'm also not comfortable with. Should I just say "fuck it" and post what I want or should I refrain? I'm torn! 

You are not a bad person for resisting the urge to turn your Facebook page into one giant political bumper sticker.

I understand why people feel the need to share articles they're passionate about. You want your friends to enjoy and find value in the same stories and articles you do. But, let's be honest: Facebook's newsfeed isn't the best place to have nuanced political conversations. It's designed for people who agree with you and enjoy your content. That's what all those thumb's ups and heart icons are for: quick, easy, positive interactions. It's not designed for getting into deep political discussions with your second cousin.

When you talk with someone face-to-face, you have physical cues -- nodding, leaning forward, scrunching a nose, crossing one's arms --  to suss out whether it's a productive discussion. But the internet strips those clues away. The internet is great for a lot of things -- Oscar Isaac gifs, old Triumph the Insult Comic Dog videos, Westworld fan theories on Reddit -- but it's difficult to convey tone. That's why it feels so hostile to post an article you agree with and see it attacked by people with different views in the comments.

Of course if you feel you absolutely must share something, you could always target the message to a specific group of friends in your privacy settings. Yes, you're basically preaching to the choir, but what's the alternative? Exchanging harsh words with an acquaintance from high school who's in the mood to lash out? If you'd rather avoid that kind of interaction, then what other choice to you have? You can unfriend everyone who doesn't share your political views, or target your message to a select group of sympathetic buddies.

Maybe there's a secret Facebook group you can join (or create!) where you share these articles and memes with other like-minded people. Or, if you must share something, go old school and email your favorite articles to a select group of friends. Or maybe explore other social media platforms where you can let your political flag fly without attracting boneheads. Read and share your favorite articles and memes on Twitter. Or create a Tumblr blog where you can post all those articles and memes you want to share.

It's a highly personal decision, so do what feels right. In the old days, you'd have to call your aunt on the telephone to hear her thoughts on politics. Now you just log into an app and her nutty thoughts are pushed in front of your face. Of course it feels weird!  

There isn't an elegant, consequence-free solution to posting political content without limiting your audience. So no, you are not a bad person if you keep quiet about your political views because Facebook isn't the best medium for this kind of interaction for all the reasons I listed.

Does this answer still not sit well? Are you still unsure? Maybe it feels like you aren't being true to yourself. But Facebook isn't your true self; it's a curated portal into specific parts of your world. It's not you. It will never be you. Once you shift your expectation about what Facebook is, then maybe the answer will come easier to you.

What do you guys think? Should people feel free to post whatever they want on their pages or should they keep political stuff to a minimum? Tell me in the comments.

November 2, 2016

Should I Be Friends with My Ex?

Would Freddy Mercury be friends with his ex? NO!
He'd mount Darth Vader's shoulders and belt out a tune.
My boyfriend of three years broke up with me last month and he insists on still being friends. I really miss him so I'm torn. But every time his name pops up on my phone with a silly text about his day, my heart breaks all over again. Am I crazy to want some space from him right now? Or should I push through my discomfort and try to be his friend?

He's being selfish. That’s probably why this all feels so icky, because this need to be friends is about him. It sounds like he’s intent on coming off as the “good guy” here. He probably feels guilty for ending it and is pushing this friendship on you to lessen his guilt.

Two words: FUCK THAT.

Repeat after me: he doesn’t get to dictate your reaction to his decision. He hurt you. It doesn’t do either of you any favors to pretend otherwise. The kinder, more respectful thing for him to do is to let you retreat to your corner and lick your wounds. How are you going to get over him if he’s texting you dumb observations throughout the day? You can’t! Besides, the truth is you aren't in a position to be his friend right now. Your heart needs to heal. In fact, this is one of the few times in life you can unapologetically put your emotional needs first. If you need to roll up in a ball, cry at random commercials, and buy a lot of weird face masks at Sephora as a self-esteem boost, fucking do it.

I strongly suggest you stop talking to him for a while. Like, there should be no communication for at least six months. Possibly up to a year. When seeing his name doesn’t make you want to hurl, that’s a good indication you could potentially resume a friendship.

But even then, for a friendship to work, you both have to be 100% over each other. He could lie naked next to you in a bed and you will have no desire to touch his body. That’s where you two need to be before you even attempt a friendship. In time--I'm talking a year or two at least--you can reconnect to see if there's a friendship there.

For now, protect your heart. You can't be his friend. He ended your relationship, but it's on you to take control of your life from this point on. You decide who you’re friends with. Don’t give him that power just so he can avoid feeling guilty. Because the only one who continues to hurt in this scenario is you.

October 25, 2016

Feeling Down

I've never written to a total stranger like this before. I'm feeling like a bit of a mess right now in the dating/relationship spectrum. I'm 29 and I've dated people for years and years, never taking a break to know myself. I've been out of school and on my own again since May, and I feel so frustrated because I'm so out of the dating world I just don't know how to do it. The one person I met who I was attracted to and interested in wasn't interested in dating exclusively. There are a few men who have tried to date me, but I just don't have those same feelings for them. I'm losing hope of meeting anyone. I also don't want to just meet anyone; I want to meet the right one. All of my friends are coupled up in long term relationships or already married, and now are starting to have kids. I just feel all alone. I don't have a core group of friends either. Overall, I'm just frustrated because while my work side of life is great, my personal side is really sucking right now. Any advice or insight would be much appreciated.

It definitely sucks to feel like everyone else is moving forward and you're just...stuck.

But it sounds like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to have these areas -- friends, boyfriend, companionship -- figured out. By comparing yourself to others, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. Stop doing that! Remove that pressure. Just give it the finger.

Here's a secret: relationships don’t magically make everything better. Let me say it again in caps so you get the message. RELATIONSHIPS DON'T MAGICALLY MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER.

You can still feel lonely and be booed up. You can still feel misunderstood surrounded by friends. That feeling you’re looking for, that all-encompassing love and acceptance, starts with you. Until you have it independently, you can’t have it instilled by someone else. Once you realize that no singular relationship will complete you, you will truly be free.

Instead of aiming for a relationship, platonic or romantic, to complete you, aim to find a relationship that complements you. Because until you know the difference, you might spin your wheels on relationships that aren't the best fit. It sounds like you're still in the "figuring out what kind of partner is good for you phase" so instead of fighting it, accept the challenge. Keep working on your personal and professional life so when you do meet the one, you'll be in the best position to make it work.

And, just so you know I'm not blowing smoke up your ass, I’ve been in your shoes. It’s not easy to keep hope alive especially when it seems like a romantic relationship and sincere friendships are so far away. If anything, the sooner I realized that the longest relationship in my life will be with myself, the happier I was.

If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t find myself in a committed relationship until I turned 35. Life didn't happen in the timeline I wanted it to (I definitely ached for a boyfriend at 29!), but it happened in the way it needed it to.

I feel like these relationships will happen for you in time. It may not be on your ideal timeline, but it will happen eventually.

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.