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Wellness Wednesday for September 13, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

After spending summer at a lower weight, I've decided to try and bulk and gain again. I have mixed feelings about it because I found bulking in the past to be very stressful and miserable, but then I also hate how small and weak I am.

I'm somehow still surprised that there aren't hoards of people who jump in whenever someone talks about increasing caloric intake in order to bulk with various versions of, "Bulking doesn't work; you'll just lose the weight again; your body will adapt; different people absorb calories differently; maybe we need to fix some chemical in the food supply before you're able to bulk; even just talking about the math of bulking shames skinny people."

It really drives home how emotionally driven their arguments are when they make them on the topic of weight loss.

Though I sympathize with your point, I find that my body very easily returns back to my 'typical' weight of 78-80kg, and staying above that requires some effort. And I could easily credit the existence of biological mechanisms that make weight easier to gain than to lose. Of course it's still possible to control my weight, but it's definitely easier in some directions than others.

I would be in complete agreement with your description of your subjective perceptions. Moreover, I think they generalize fairly well. Most people feel most comfortable in some middle range of weight and begin to feel more subjective distress as they push further into either direction. Even more-over, there is some variation in subjective perceptions depending upon baseline habits, degree of one's introspection, etc. I don't think any of those factors do much work to justify the silly things that people constantly bandy about (even in places like here) when the topic of weight loss comes up.

I'm a big fan of bulk cooking your favourite stew/curry in a slow/pressure cooker. Probably worth the couple of hours on youtube or the cooking wiki to find a good recipe made from unprocessed ingredients. Cooking from base ingredients tends to be fairly clean no matter what you make.

This really all depends on you not being a super finnicky eater though that can eat your favourite food 4 meals in a row.

I'm fine with a lack of variety, but I've always been reluctant to pick up kitchen gadgets. I would probably buy one if I wasn't going away in ten weeks.

Pressure cookers are amazing for fire and forget cooking. You just dump the ingredients in, turn it on and walk away. Even if you aren't in the market for one now I would keep it in mind for the future. I get what you mean about kitchen gadgets though, but I've gotten so much use out of mine over the years I couldn't live without one.

bulking sounds a lot more fun than dieting...

I find it stressful, it costs more money and takes more time. I'm not really a big fan of food and eating more makes me like it even less.

Only if you love to eat all day and lift a lot. Dieting is much less time consuming.

a protein drink is 250 calories. drink one an hour. how time consuming can that be?

You'll shit your guts out with so much protein in your diet. Even with 2g/kg I have to consciously prioritize fiber intake or my farts become a chemical weapon.

Are you trying to be funny?

It depends if you have the time, inclination, and knowledge to cook large quantities of food you enjoy. Trying to dirty bulk on fast food and protein is pretty miserable if you're not spiritually fat, and if you're not a cooking type the sort of diet I bulked on for busy times in college (oats, plain ground beef, protein shake with milk and olive oil) isn't very pleasant either.

Just put some taco seasoning in it and otherwise plain ground beef is pretty good

By the time I got back around to bulking again, my love of hot sauce had progressed too far for me to be satisfied with taco seasoning. I recommend Bertie's Pepper Sauce and other Caribbean sauces in particular if you like real flavour, not just heat and vinegar. Liking hot sauce (and learning how to use Asian spices) is a real cheat code for cutting, too, since it's zero calorie. Sub umami+salt stuff like soy sauce or furikake to change things up.

Ground beef is too hard to digest over multiple meals (which is what bulking is). I suggest pork mince as a substitute for any beef mince recipe (religion/culture allowing). Much lighter on the digestive system.

Is that due to the fat content?

I don't know. Potentially the opposite.

From personal experience, pork and chicken are much easier to digest (particularly in large quantities as needed for protein/bulking) than beef.

I often substitute ground turkey in my chili.

Is anyone else considering leaving the US or moving to a secluded area for the 2024 election season? The 2020 and 2016 election seasons had such a negative impact on my mental health that I don't want to stay where I am for the election next year and since I can afford to avoid it I think I will. I will probably also block myself from reading the news and themotte and most social media as well when I'm away. But I can't remember when things really start to amp up where politics becomes unavoidable- the election is held in November, but what time of the year do things start to get ridiculous? I'd like to be gone for all of September through the beginning of November at least but I can't remember if the entire summer in an election year is bad or not. Maybe I'll just wait it out and leave as soon as it gets unavoidable but I fear by then it'll be too late and I'll be too annoyed and I'll chicken out and stay longer than I need to.

I was in a hotel in Australia a few years back and turned on the local news because I thought it would be a nice change to avoid US politics. They talked about Trump for ten straight minutes until I turned it off.

Yep that's why I'm looking to be someplace outside the anglosphere and avoiding the media. US cultural domination is pretty much unavoidable anywhere that English is spoken these days

If you stay outside of the US for too long then there is a chance the local politics of your new home may start to negatively impact your mental health. There is political disfunction in many places so you may only be trading on cause of negative mental health for another. Additionally, US politics is often a trendy topic in foreign countries. If you socialize with the locals they may be interested in your thoughts on US politics. It would still be better than being in the US though because foreigners are far less vested in the outcome and can do very little to influence it.

I like your strategy of avoiding news and social media. Maybe just extend your strategy to avoid people (especially ones that bring up politics) for a while. You don't really have to travel anywhere to do that. Just do all your shopping online and only leave the house to go to secluded spots in nature.

If you stay outside of the US for too long then there is a chance the local politics of your new home may start to negatively impact your mental health.

Yep, I just permanently moved from Canada to the US this summer. Never been happier! And yes, politics and the culture war more broadly is a huge part of why.

I spent over a year traveling outside the US and it was great, I completely ignored local politics and didn't have to worry about US politics at all except for what I saw online. Almost no one talked to me about American politics or if they did they had such a different perspective than the people who irritate me in the US that I was able to hear them out and listen to them with a more critical distance than I do when people in America do the same. I like spending time in places where I don't know the local language because I don't have to get irritated by the political implications of everything and can just operate at a more basic level like a child does, sort of feeling what is going on around me rather than being bombarded with social and cultural messaging at every second like it is in the US

not if there is a large language and culture barrier, for the same reason some immigrants to the US fail to ever assimilate

What is it about the election season that's impacting your mental health? If you live in an area where things are known to get fiery (but mostly peaceful!) I'd say leave at least six months in advance. The civic powder kegs are being packed tight and there's no telling what might set them off.

If what you're trying to get away from is a feeling of anxiety about the election and its outcomes, then a change of scenery on its own won't help. That's coming from within, and will follow you to the ends of the earth.

I definitely don't have anxiety about the election and its outcomes at all. I know dumb shit will happen either way and my actions have effectively no impact on the outcome, I don't even vote, what irritates me is that other people have anxieties about the outcome of the elections and I hate having to see their anxieties on full display for months on end. I really don't imagine anything particularly fiery or explosive happening either, but the incessant political signaling and cultural anxiety is enough to drive me crazy and the past two election seasons had me thinking "I wish I was out of the country" for months at a time and now that I can make it happen I have no reason to stick around

Travelling will certainly separate you from the stimulus of seeing other people lose their minds on this specific issue. From your other replies it even sounds like you've done one of these trips before and had a good time. If you have the opportunity, you might as well take it.

However, speaking as your certified internet stranger, it still comes across as dodging the main issue: you're letting the behavior of others dictate your mental well being. You can't control the initial flash of annoyance when you see someone with election fever, but you do control your response.

This could even be a great opportunity for you to bring a little sanity to the world by setting a better example. Tune your media intake and personal systems to let you be the steady rock in the political storm. That way when the election is over you'll be better prepared for when life throws you a stressor that you can't travel away from.

My aunt and uncle had a place in Florida for the past decade until they sold in June this year. Like a lot of retired Canadians they live half up north, then go somewhere warm in winter. It wasn't the only factor in their decision to sell, but the forthcoming election was another push to convince them to get out. They felt in general people had gotten a bit more aggressive, rude, and generally unhinged in their time there. Aggressive driving seemed to be up as well as casual/threatening handling of guns. They didn't live in an expensive part and if you just walked around the neighbourhood you could see a number of sort of gauche displays of political affiliation. They decided that it was best to leave before you leave with bitterness.

instead of being discrete, elections have become increasingly merged into a sort of contiguous event. elections have become so intense and high stakes and the losers so embittered that you would never be able to return, because the aftermath of the prior election would still be unfolding, and then the cycle repeats itself. The dems were still challenging the 2016 election and bitter well until 2019, until Covid came along.

That's correct but from my view, there will always be some background noise of politics going on but it's usually possible to tune it out. But there is a point leading up to the presidential election when it becomes completely impossible to avoid politics for months at a time- just driving down the street you'll see signs, non political people on social media will be posting non stop about voting, the news will be a landmine etc

Another way to put this would be that elections are settling issues less and less over time.

True. Same thing for 2020. Trump and the republicans have continued to deny the validity of the 2020 election to this day and it’s become a loyalty test for the current Republican presidential candidates.

With the amount of money pouring into national races and federal elections every two years, it’s hard to avoid any election season.

I've been looking at my database of the things I've eaten and I've noticed one simple value for savory dishes that rather reliably tells you if it's worth eating: protein to fat ratio, or PFR for short:

  • PFR that is significantly less than 1: try to save dishes like this for special occasions
  • PFR of around 1: generally fine, but you might want to try fitness food, say, for breakfast
  • PFR of around 2: great choice
  • PFR of 3 or more: that's fitness food, if the majority of your meals are like this, you are fucking hardcore and might actually want to look at your fat intake

Of course, this doesn't apply to keto diets, but it's a great rule of thumb for regular "eat less" diets. I use it to plan my meals without counting the calories, the only counting I do is a snack/dessert budget, where I just treat myself to ~300 calories per day.

PFR by calories, or by grams?

By grams

What are some examples of the categories?

A sample from my database:

  • PFR 2.5 and higher: Caesar salad w/o dressing, grilled chicken/turkey breast, fried tuna, poke bowl, turkey burger (no mayo), chicken/shrimp tacos (no guac), protein-rich Greek yogurt
  • PFR 2: chili, roast chicken, pacific salmon lox, turkey sandwich (no mayo), homemade burger with lean ground beef and yogurt sauce, tuna salad (easy on the mayo), protein bar that I like
  • PFR 1: braised beef, chicken livers in sour cream, quesadilla with chicken/shrimp, Chef John's Greek lemon chicken, smoked mackerel, fried egg, lamb shawarma, csirkepaprikás
  • PFR 0.67 and lower: pork shawarma, pasta carbonara, pacific salmon and egg sandwich wrap, gyros, fish dumplings, laksa, tuna sandwich (with mayo)

Don't use this as anything but a very rough guide, always check the label or do the math for homemade dishes.

Based on the list, sounds like rederiving avoiding seed oils lol (and almost all Chinese/SEA food). If you do want to keep healthy fats in your diet while dropping weight, I'd recommend having some PFR 1 meals with low/no carbs as variety, or swap out heavy sauces for butter/coconut oil/animal fat (e.g. chicken livers go from PFR 1 to PFR 2 if you use peri-peri sauce instead of sour cream).


I don't avoid seed oils specifically, it's just that removing some sauce from a dish is much easier than removing marbling from beef.

Ethical Quandaries: What do we owe to a friend who comes to us for advice? Should we privilege a person's presumably-rational-and-considered long term statements regarding an action, or should we privilege their reactions and realizations immediately before taking an action? Is it legitimate, as an advice-giver, to consider the utilitarian impact to oneself of having given the advice, or should one be completely selfless?

My priors: Marriage is good, ceteris paribus being married is better than not being married. One should choose one's spouse carefully, and choice can make a huge difference in outcomes. Honesty is best as a first choice. Friends owe another their best efforts to improve each others' lives.

Background: My wife and I have a friend of over a decade, T. My wife is much closer with her, but I would say that T and I have enough of a relationship that I have subordinate but independent duties of care towards her. We all met in undergrad at the same university, where we took classes together. T was single throughout undergrad, with a fun series of romantic misadventures, but we were young and we figured everyone had a lot of time to figure it all out. My wife and I have been together since undergrad, and around the time we got married T started dating a new guy, D. My wife and I both disliked D from the start, he's the obese embodiment of generic New England beer commercial masculinity. Our dislike sharpened over time, as we saw more of him and heard more about him from T: T was trying to lose weight and D constantly undermined her efforts to diet and exercise, he wanted T to move in with him in the house he owned but insisted that she pay rent, he makes more money than T but insists on very strict 50/50 splits on all bills (from early things like vacations to after cohabiting things like groceries), he didn't want to propose even after T made clear she wanted it soon, and he just generally doesn't seem to be that nice to her. But hey, D has a good job (engineer), and T seemed to like him, so how much is it our place to criticize? And besides, he does some things better than I do (he T buys a LOT of gaudy jewelry). Ultimately, he did propose (just a week before a planned ultimatum!), and they have a radically enormous wedding planned for a month from now.

Current Situation: T calls my wife in tears two days ago. She thinks she no longer wants to marry D. She's not sure she ever wanted to marry D, really. She thinks they are totally incompatible, she's come to certain sudden realizations on some issues that she thinks make things irreconcilable with D. She's thinking of calling off the wedding, which would mean informing 300 odd people, losing out on mid-five figures in deposits, returning gifts from two separate bridal showers, etc. She keeps asking us for advice.

On the one hand, we both wanted to tell her to leave him, like, two years ago before they got engaged. I can't, hand on the Bible, say that he's a good guy and she should marry him. Once, she was visiting my house, and I came home and as I was taking things out of my pockets I mentioned to my wife "Thanks for doing the laundry." T looked at me and asked if I was being ironic. The idea of her bf actually thanking her for doing something around the house. I just don't think they have a good relationship.

On the other hand, she's understandably nervous about her upcoming marriage, but up to this point she seemed to really want to do this. So it feels like I shouldn't give in to her attack of nervousness. Like, if you go up a ski-slope with your friend, and then your friend gets scared when they look down the slope, you should encourage them to ski their way down and get over their nerves. I should probably encourage her to follow her rational impulses rather than her emotional fears.

On the third hand, I wonder whether she can really do better? She's put on a LOT of weight, it's tragic. She's in her 30s. Do I give her optimistic advice ("You'll get on Ozempic*, lose the weight, and find yourself a much better man!") or do I give her realistic advice ("He's not great but it's time to settle down...")?

On the fourth hand (I am an advice-giving Hindu god-ling), she's probably going to do whatever she wants to do regardless of what I say, so should I give my advice with an eye to protecting myself? If I tell her not to marry him and she marries him, that will create a rift. If I tell her she'd be better off single and she doesn't marry him, she might hold me responsible for whatever happens to her later. Don't make waves and ruin a long friendship.

What's your take, Mottizens? How should I handle this?

*D is very anti Ozempic, which I consider another strike against him.

Opposite to my last advice (but coming from a dirtbag comedian):

his advice: there is nothing you can do to change their mind. Support them through whatever.

Meta: I think it's interesting how many responses assume you will damage the relationship if you are honest and wrong. That's not obvious to me. There's a short list of people in my life who could absolutely tell me "you can do better" or "nah man time to settle" and, right or wrong, I'd be thankful for the opinion.

I'd consider laying out the consequences of getting it wrong. Paint a picture of a bad marriage and downstream consequences (like the opportunity cost of wasting 10 years in a bad relationship, stress/financial impact of divorce, dating as a single mum, dating in your 40's). Balance this out with talk about pre-wedding jitters, what it would feel like to break things off with a 'good guy', could she deal live with her decision. Painting a picture of the consequences of her choice and then avoiding advising her on which choice to make could be a path here while avoiding saying anything about her partner directly (which you can never take back and will cloud your future friendship if this guy stays in the picture). Telling her 'I can't make this choice for you' with a concerned look on your face would be advised. Heck, you could even go mask off and say 'I can't tell you which choice you should make because I've seen friendships ruined over things like this'.

Regarding the last part I have seen friendships ruined over things like this. I knew two guys when I was younger (still do). They were best friends. One guy had a long term (8+ years) partner who was an overweight, lazy, emotionally manipulative woman who others in our friendship circle disliked. Upon hearing that the boyfriend was going to propose, his friend decided to intervene and had a heart to heart discussion over alcohol (which is the culturally appropriate way of having these sorts of talks between men where I come from). The friend said he was making a mistake and that this girl was not right him. This went about as well as you'd expect. Their friendship was fractured and they didn't speak for several years. The boyfriend ended up breaking up with the girl and eventually settling down with a different girl (who was also overweight, an 'actress' in her local drama troupe, with no career to speak of). The friends eventually mended their friendship after several years, but it was never as close or as strong as it was. In this case the friend's advice was unsolicited and we have no idea if it impacted on the boyfriend's decision to break up with his partner.

I think if your friend has any maturity she will understand why you frame your advice so as not to cast judgment on this guy.

I watched as my brother married a woman that I thought was a bad idea. I tried to have a talk with him "are you really sure about this?"

They have three kids together. She spends them into financial problems constantly. She has driven drunk to pick up her kids.

Their marriage seems to be barely holding together. I think if divorce wasn't a complete financial non-starter she would have already tried to initiate it. She might do so anyways since she is financially illiterate.

In general I regret not being more forceful that "this is a bad idea". Plenty of marriages that look like good ideas don't even work out. I've never heard of a marriage that looked like a terrible idea turn out to be great. Marriage is hard and failure is more likely than success.

Do you think her prospects for finding a partner will improve if she becomes a single mother of 40 with a decade of stress spent trying to save a struggling marriage? If you believe that is likely to happen and you said nothing, can you count yourself as a friend of this woman?

My younger sister was engaged to a man while she was in medical school. She was doing her residency when he suddenly broke things off with her. Refused to even talk with her. Wedding was cancelled, people had to be told, some things returned. Some non-refundable deposits lost. Thank goodness it was called off though. The social embarrassment seems so minor compared to the suffering that might have taken place had she married that d-bag. He and his new girlfriend had a child about 8 months after he called off the wedding with my sister.

Here are some potential outcomes:

  1. You say nothing. Marriage surprisingly turns out great. You still don't like the man. You see your friend very little because he is annoying to be around, and he probably doesn't like you either. Friend lost. (even when I am friends with both people in a married couple, them being married has always decreased the chances that I see them and hang out with them)
  2. You say nothing. Marriage unsurprisingly turns out horrible. You failed to help your friend. Maybe she doesn't blame you for not telling her. But your friend absolutely suffers, and you live with the thought that you could have done something to help her. Potentially keep the friend, but you'll feel crappy.
  3. You say something. She hates what you said, goes through with the Marriage. If the marriage works you permanently lose her as a friend. It happens much faster, but its the same thing as scenario one. If the marriage failes, she probably comes back to you, and she probably gets out of it sooner if she gets advice from people she trusts.
  4. You say something. She realized you are right and calls off the wedding. You help her through the social embarrassment and sending back gifts. Friend retained, friend suffers a little short term to avoid a decade of pain and stress.
  5. You say nothing, someone else says something. She will either force you to give advice on the same topic, or not trust you enough to ask. You will be forced into one of the "say something" scenarios, but the chance that she trusts you as much at the end of them is much lower.

I think you are likely to lose her as a friend as soon as this whole situation started. But I feel the best chances of retaining her as a friend and her not being miserable are the ones where you say something.

You say nothing. Marriage surprisingly turns out great.

Obviously not directly related to OP, but I'm familiar with one instance where this happened. A close family member, single at the time, dropped "you could do better". Still together a fairly happy decade later, notwithstanding the usual ups and downs inherent in any marriage. Said family member is still close, and still single.

  • T is an adult and must reap the fruits of the bad decisions her younger self made.
  • You must also live with the fact that you didn't tell what should have told in the past and now the real cost has to be beared by your friend, as opposed to a a small opportunity cost by you back then.
  • There's not much to do here besides support T.

Your extra Hindu appendages are serving you well.

Your place here isn't really to advise, only to support. Both choices (stay, go) seem awful. If you involve yourself too much, you might find yourself getting blamed for the inevitable fallout. I'd say only offer advice if there is a clear path to victory. And leaving this schlub isn't that. The marriage market for 30-something fat women is truly dismal, even if they are able to get laid consistently.

Because I am given to writing out sprawling anecdotes, let me tell you the story of my friend W.

W had lived in Japan a few years and speaks better Japanese than I do--I who have lived here more than 20 years. He moved, as one does, to Hawai'i, where he worked at UH and did some ocean-involved part-time jobs. He is a natural physical, outdoorsy-type. Smart, quick-on-his-feet, clever, but also competent. Not bookish. He is also blonde and blue-eyed and has a winning smile. This leads to the next point, namely that he got around with the ladies to some degree. He was mostly attracted to Japanese women, possibly because, as Hannibal Lector says, "We covet what we see every day, Clarisse." Anyway he would occasionally come visit us in Japan and tell me the goings on of his life. I met one or two of his girlfriends. One of them I liked a lot, though, like W himself suspected, I didn't think she would be a great wife. He broke up with her. The next girl he dated I did not meet, though I did see photos. In the photos they looked immensely happy hiking up Diamond Head or diving or on some trail somewhere--they always seemed to be outdoors in the pics. They got along famously, he said. She was several years younger than him, but I saw that as only a positive. She was Japanese, she spoke a little English. She met some of his family, and he hers. He proposed, she said yes, they scheduled a date, the date eventually became the day after I received an email from him.

What comes next is the relevant part to your own story. For W suddenly had had a change of heart. Unlike the situation you describe, his conformed more closely to what I have seen as the norm--he had his change of heart because someone else entered the picture. It is my view that in the realm of relationships many of us will tolerate even the most tedious of sameness and irritating behavior as long as we see this person as our lot in life (once married, at least in my mind, this becomes part of the gig--in other words once married part of the job is tolerating the bad.) However even in good relationships among singles, once someone else drifts into the picture--and I mean someone who tickles our fancy, not just a random brunette at Starbucks who smiles, but someone who hits the right buttons--this is when we start thinking of greener pastures, etc. This is true as much for women as men. And this is what happened to W, though he told me this part in confidence. He then asked me for advice as to what he should do, whether he should go through with the wedding, or just end it, as, frankly, everything in his heart was telling him to do. I told him the choice was clear, and that he should break it off. I told him if he didn't he was going to make the poor girl's life hell later on.

And break it off he did. The day before the wedding. He earned his previous fiancee's eternal hatred, and the eternal hatred of her entire family, no doubt. And probably the hatred of many others. And he did not end up marrying the other woman, either (though he did end up getting married a few years later to yet another woman.) I do not know if he regrets his decision, and maybe there's no way of knowing because of the natural tendency to stick to our guns in such cases (sunk-cost, bygones, etc., though I really dislike such neat terms when applied to human relationships). I personally think he did the right thing, though I have no doubt it was traumatic for the girl and her family, and that he deserved their hate and still does. But that's life.

As for your friend, I am not sure that she will listen as closely to you as a man as she might to your wife. Even then, at the end of the day it's going to be trusting her heart, because Woman. That probably sounds and is sexist, but I don't mean it in a hurtful way. I wouldn't think about it too much if I were you, but I'd lay out your views as a friend. That's just me, and how I am. I know many reasonable people who wouldn't do this, who would keep quiet and just be there for the person regardless of what plays out.

Train has arrived, gotta go. Good luck.

Giving advice to people who should know better is so fraught with danger. From an advice standpoint, I'd encourage you to decide on what you think the truth is, then decide what to share with her based on a portion of the truth which is both shareable and directionally correct. So if there are three factors:

  1. He's pretty terrible

  2. Her current feelings may just be nerves

  3. She maybe can't do better than him

#1 and #3 aren't very shareable, so I'd pick a few related points, weaken point #2 (since the other points have been weakened), and then present that as my perspective.

However, I don't think she needs or even wants advice at all. It sounds to me like she has made a decision that she should cancel the wedding and is now looking for reassurance. What she needs is not specific advice one way or another, but a good discussion with someone who will talk with her, discuss the potential outcomes of her decision, and then say they'll support her whatever her choice.

You could do more, throwing your weight one way or the other, but then whatever your counsel and whatever her decision, it could reflect very poorly on you.

You are right, he just needs to provide help. For the discussion he might ask questions like "why do you want to cancel" and let her give her reasons. He can also emphasize that while canceling has a financial cost it's nothing compared to a divorce.

She might find no one now, but she has more chances than when she will be 10 years older and divorced with children. And losing weight is not that difficult compared to being in a terrible marriage

So just a quick note - I quit drinking alcohol daily, and my life has improved drastically. I would never have called myself an alcoholic, but I did like to have a few beers and/or a glass or two of whisky after the work day.

I quit drinking daily mostly on a lark, and partly because I was trying to cut back on expenses. I'm shocked at how many benefits I've seen.

It's far easier to write. Focusing in general comes to me much more easily, even things like focusing at work which I found difficult.

I've lost about 10 pounds and gotten to my goal weight without any outside effort (in fact I feel like I eat more to compensate for not drinking) but still.

On top of that, I'm much better able to regulate and feel my emotions. Despite not getting drunk very often, alcohol apparently still had a large numbing effect on me.

For any other casual drinkers who are thinking of stopping, I'd recommend it. I still plan to drink here and there with friends or at social events, but I had no idea how much of a negative impact my couple drinks a day was having on my life.

Now you make me want to quit drinking. The only problem is that I never started.

LOL. Well hey, there's always time to form the habit...

Nah, I mean there are plenty of other things you can do to function as 'training weights' I suppose, but it's definitely not pleasant to go through the process. Addiction, even the mild kind, is no joke.

I had no idea how much of a negative impact my couple drinks a day was having on my life.

I think drinking and aging might be a bad combination, and the "aging" half of that really sneaks up on you. I have one drink on a typical night, 3 drinks on a wild night (once a week) ... but these days I have to be careful to stay well hydrated on a wild night or 3 units of alcohol is enough for me to sleep poorly and feel exhausted the day after. A decade or so ago I gave up drinking for a couple months to see if I noticed a difference, and I didn't, but maybe it's past time to repeat the experiment...

That’s a fair point, I am stretching into middle age at this point so it probably has something to do with the effects. Aging really is a bitch, isn’t it?

Thanks for posting this. I could've written it word-for-word myself. Beer certainly adds to the waistline. A girl (well, woman now) I've known for years a month or so ago playfully whacked my belly a few slaps before I could do the requisite tensing up of my abs, and it became clear to me that I had started to form a spare tire around the midriff --I, skinny man since birth. That, along with asides about my beer gut, my sudden ability to recreate this scene with ease, and some weird inflammation issues that I suspected were related to chronic drinking, and I was inspired to give it a rest.

I was mildly irritable on day one, but after a few days I only noticed the positives. I haven't quit drinking entirely --I had a beer the other night and was quick to realize how low my tolerance had become (or how high it had been before). Anyway good for you. Let's keep this up.

Damn, sorry you had to deal with the bar shit. I’ve never liked drinking at bars myself.

I’m curious though, did you like eavesdrop and hear them talking shit or catch it through the grapevine? (An incredibly apropos saying for this situation)

just meant you'd have waitstaff and bartenders talk shit behind your back in return.


I didn't see the above comment before it was deleted, but I will say that I've seen bartenders treat their customers with undeserved contempt before.

Recently I holidayed in a different city in my home country and between social engagements with family and friends I had a lot of free time on my hands. I spent a couple of hours on a weekday afternoon alone at an Irish bar near my hotel. I drank 3 pints of lager and had a good time browsing my phone and texting friends out in the beer garden. I was unfailingly polite in our interactions, but the bartender on duty seemed very contemptuous that I was day drinking alone. To be fair there were obviously long term barflys hanging around the pub by themselves so I guess I pattern matched to that.

The city I traveled to is notorious for it's isolationism and bad service though, so maybe it was all in my head.

I did the same thing early last year. Tried it a bit again this year and quit again.

The thing that surprised me is how long the substance has its subtle claws in you. It takes weeks until the habit and its tools of coercion are out of the mind. It wants to sustain itself.

I, too, lost some weight and found myself with more money than before (high-cost country). I also feel a bit more "honest" than I did as a regular drinker. Like I'm not looking for excuses to get intoxicated anymore.

I took up a 'mild' (at least by American stoner standards, half a smallish joint a day before dinner) weed habit some years ago for a year. During that year, I stopped drinking all alcohol except very occasionally at events. I've always been skinny but actually became clinically underweight (despite the munchies mythology) because I'd guess a moderate proportion of my caloric intake had been alcohol.

I did find that it dampened any drive or motivation I had to do things with my free time though, so I stopped after a while. Now, again, I like a glass of wine with dinner, and sometimes a drink or two with friends, family or coworkers. I tried a few other drugs in my youth, and none of them (even weed) made me feel good, maybe relaxed or energetic, but not 'good'. Alcohol, even in small doses, makes me feel happy (my family has some rare examples of Jewish alcoholics). That's a dangerous thing indeed.

Let's have The Motte take the Big Five (one of the better psychometric tests):

You can take it here online--

My own results, embedded below, come as little surprise to me. I'm a rather calm, stoic person most of the time, and I suppose I'd score even higher on the emotional stability aspect if I wasn't stable via the means of always being low-key depressed :( . I'm reasonably agreeable, or at the very least, spare my contentious side for this forum.

And my conscientiousness is pretty bad, but hey, if it wasn't obvious that I have ADHD..

(In case anyone is confused, intellect/imagination in this test is usually referred to as "openness to experience".)


I wonder if neuroticity affects the test scores of the other traits. Someone who's neurotic might score themselves more harshly.


5th percentile conscientiousness sounds about right.

96, 96, 45, 0, 96

I am a man of extremes, but also no conscientiousness.

  • Extroversion: 9
  • Emotional Stability: 26
  • Agreeableness: 21
  • Conscientiousness: 31
  • Intellect: 23

I guess I am a hikikomori. @2rafa' s comment below hit me like a ton of bricks. I am also someone who does the things that are good for me (fitness, dating etc, work ) only when faced with impending undesirable consequences of my laziness. Hence the hikikomori label. I am guessing that I will have to see a therapist at some point in the near future to fix me.


  • O- 88,
  • C - 57,
  • E- 54,
  • A-40,
  • N-43

I think its pretty accurate. I am... AVERAGE!!! NORMAL. Suck it weirdos.

  • Extroversion: 3
  • Emotional Stability 93
  • Agreeableness 13
  • Conscientiousness 97
  • Intellect/Imagination 96

The person you don't invite to parties.

  • Extroversion: 54
  • Emotional Stability: 30
  • Agreeableness: 7
  • Conscientiousness: 92
  • Intellect/imagination: 84

I am not surprised by my results. Half the time I'm an introvert and half the time I'm an extrovert. When I'm an extrovert I immediately piss people off thanks to my low agreeableness so I go back to being an introvert. My conscientiousness is high because I can't stand messy/dirty environments or people who self sabotage so I try to avoid bad habits as much as possible.

  • Extroversion: 1
  • Emotional stability: 98
  • Agreeableness: 5
  • Conscientiousness: 26
  • Intellect/Imagination: 80

To quote Tom Wolfe, my emotional stability has a center of gravity like a 102-inch High Point Vinyleather sofa.

  • Extroversion: 4
  • Emotional stability: 78
  • Agreeableness: 2
  • Conscientiousness: 62
  • Intellect/Imagination: 80



  • Extroversion: 11 (no change from 2017 score)

  • Emotional stability: 36 (down from 52)

  • Agreeableness: 0 (no change)

  • Conscientiousness: 86 (up from 76)

  • Intellect/imagination/openness: 79 (up from 46)

You get a plus 10 to conscientiousness simply for correlating with scores from 6 years ago haha

I'd say you are, but then again you'd probably disagree ;)

Really, ZERO on conscientiousness? I'm terrible.


It's hard imagine someone conscientious being a regular here, somewhere you can read 80,000 words of new longposts a week and spend hours writing your own just isn't the kind of thing someone highly productive would do I think.

Yes, I absolutely think that's a weakness for me, but zeroth percentile makes me think there's a significant sample problem. Zeroth percentile conscientiousness is can't hold a job or pay a mortgage or maintain a relationship territory.

Maybe it's better to label this as "perception of one's level of X relative to peers?" Because I'm probably zeroth percentile in my graduating class. Just not in gen pop.

Hmm, that’s an interesting theory. I think if you’re smart you can find little ways of being lazy without ruining your life. If I had to do a job like secretarial work, being a receptionist, a clerk, a cleaner, I’d definitely fail. Some of the least conscientious people I know do stuff like programming, copywriting and sales, where you can hyperfocus and get a month’s worth of work done in 10 hours on one day and then procrastinate for the rest of the month.

  • Extroversion: 24
  • Emotional stability: 98
  • Agreeableness: 45
  • Conscientiousness: 89
  • Intellect/Imagination: 52

I'm surprised others here have low conscientiousness. You guys may be underrating yourself, or I may be overrating. My extroversion and agreeableness are as I expected. Emotional stability is higher than I thought, but I have been described as calm and unreactive by others. I would expect my openness to be 90th+ percentile, but I don't rate my own imagination very highly (maybe because I can imagine having a much better imagination?).

  • Extroversion: 70
  • Emotional Stability: 39
  • Agreeableness: 56
  • Conscientiousness: 18
  • Intellect/Imagination: 95

My extroversion has steadily increased as I've aged and started caring less about being awkward. And I'm glad to see myself in such good un-conscientious company : )

  • Extroversion: 70
  • Emotional stability: 66
  • Agreeableness: 51
  • Conscientiousness: 18
  • Intellect/Imagination: 96

Not sure what this means exactly.

  • Extroversion: 95
  • Emotional stability: 81
  • Agreeableness: 42
  • Conscientiousness: 76
  • Intellect/Imagination: 18

So, extroverted and stubborn? Sounds about right actually.

  • Extroversion: 11
  • Emotional stability: 52
  • Agreeableness: 62
  • Conscientiousness: 98
  • Intellect/Imagination: 91

I am the queen of conscientiousness! Now please excuse me as I get back to organizing my pen collection.

Care to donate two percentile points? You won't miss 'em, and it would double my score.

Sure! It'd probably make me easier to live with too.

  • Extroversion: 93
  • Emotional stability: 13
  • Agreeableness: 17
  • Conscientiousness: 36
  • Intellect/Imagination: 95

Wow. I sound kind of nightmarish to be around. I wonder if I have enough conscientiousness to reflect appropriately on this.

  • Extroversion: 7
  • Emotional Stability: 13
  • Agreeableness: 30
  • Conscientiousness: 18
  • Intellect/Imagination: 93

This survey makes me sound positively schizoid.

Unsurprising. The last thing seems to be "how smart do you think you are" (answer: I very much overestimate my abilities), though.

  • Extraversion: 63rd percentile
  • Emotional stability: 4th percentile (personally I think I'm a little more stable than that, my behavior is extremely cautious and non-erratic, but I do have frequent mood swings)
  • Agreeableness: 63rd percentile
  • Conscientiousness: 1st percentile (I win, but I'm extremely critical of my laziness and might overstate it)
  • Imagination: 96th percentile (I assume this means we both answered all relevant questions in the affirmative)

Doesn't the Big 5 usually contain neuroticism? Is that emotional stability? I typically get 99th percentile neuroticism on these tests.

Doesn't the Big 5 usually contain neuroticism? Is that emotional stability? I typically get 99th percentile neuroticism on these tests.

I'm pretty sure they're just relabeling the clusters. Neuroticism is emotional stability, imagination is openness to experience.

Conscientiousness: 1st percentile (I win, but I'm extremely critical of my laziness and might overstate it)

My condolences. It's certainly not obvious from interacting with you, not that I think a forum like the Motte is a good way to gauge anything other than the openness to experience aspect, which can be quite blatant at times.

I suppose that I'm a fair representation of trading conscientiousness for raw intelligence, which got me pretty far in life, at least until the point I needed meds to keep up with med school, which to no one's surprise, is absolutely designed for high conscientiousness people.

My whole life I've played little mind games with myself to force myself to work. The only reason I graduated high school and college is because I'd use my overactive imagination and over-empathy to tell myself that my father would hate me and be disappointed in me forever if I didn't do well. Now in the workplace I do the same with my coworkers, "oh, this deal won't happen if I fuck this up", "what am I going to say to client if they call and ask where this is", "how upset is the MD going to look if I fail to complete this by tomorrow morning". In many cases they wouldn't even care that much, but I need to weave these narratives to be productive, essentially tricking myself into thinking my situation is a lot more desperate than it is.

I also didn't post about it here (or anywhere) because I was pretty ashamed, but I had an entire year a few years ago where I resigned from my then-current job after getting an offer somewhere else, ended up not starting (for a variety of reasons that didn't really have anything to do with me) and then did literally nothing for a year except play videogames, post here and walk around the city sometimes during the day. I wasn't even depressed, every day I'd tell myself 'hey, why not speak to those recruiters spamming you on LinkedIn, or to your old boss, or to your family', but I didn't want to, I was happy enough sitting on the couch. I lied to my parents about what I was doing (and I have my dad on LinkedIn, so it became pretty elaborate), my partner knew partially but was out working so saw less of it. I just couldn't bring myself to do anything. Fortunately I was saved when someone very kindly offered me (essentially) my job directly, bypassing the usual endless HR/recruiter process (I still had to it, but after the offer was made), and since I've been fine. But I terrify myself sometimes.

where I resigned from my then-current job after getting an offer somewhere else, ended up not starting (for a variety of reasons that didn't really have anything to do with me) and then did literally nothing for a year

THE EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME. Wow! Except I didn’t leave for another job—I just quit with nothing lined up knowing I could probably easily get another job and needing to get away from what I was doing.

What I imagined I would do with all that free time compared to what I ended up doing with all that free time was a true blackpill. I now have proof that it is not a lack of time that is keeping me from reaching my personal goals; instead I now know that I don’t reach my personal goals because I’m a lazy, unfocused piece of shit who needs real consequences to make me do anything productive. So that was a fun lesson.

Like you, I too got rescued by an acquaintance who handed me my current job on a silver platter, though not as glorious as banking in London.

It’s a sad realization because I’m not sure what to do about it. I think it’s just who I am. People like us are capable of doing a lot, but only in desperate situations that are probably quite unpleasant, or when burdened with great responsibility (like being a single parent).

Interesting. It always seemed to me that society has always been composed of 1% that drives it, and the 99% that follows. And that 1% often gets frustrated because of that fact. This leads many in that intellectual and social engine to question the purpose of human life, which seems destined for suffering no matter how hard you try to avoid it, and with an inevitable end that truncates everything. And this leads to nihilism when it goes unchecked. It's important that we find a meaningful purpose in what we do or want to do, and for that, a period of societal hibernation is truly a luxury that everyone should afford at some point in their lives. Training, reading, traveling, wandering, thinking, and writing, especially today with the infinite resources available, is a very rewarding journey if the goal is to come out of hibernation as the best possible version of oneself.

Certainly happened to me. At some point, things turned around spectacularly in my life. Take it from a guy who was basically a bum for 2 years of his life.

Now in the workplace I do the same with my coworkers, "oh, this deal won't happen if I fuck this up", "what am I going to say to client if they call and ask where this is", "how upset is the MD going to look if I fail to complete this by tomorrow morning". In many cases they wouldn't even care that much, but I need to weave these narratives to be productive, essentially tricking myself into thinking my situation is a lot more desperate than it is.

Wow it's interesting to read such a similar internal monologue to my own. I've consistently spent my young adult/adult life basically internally shaming myself into working.

Luckily I'm slowly managing to get a healthier relationship to my emotions, but it's a hell of a process to go through. Seems like you're okay with it though I guess, so that's good?

I also didn't post about it here (or anywhere) because I was pretty ashamed, but I had an entire year a few years ago where I resigned from my then-current job after getting an offer somewhere else, ended up not starting (for a variety of reasons that didn't really have anything to do with me) and then did literally nothing for a year except play videogames, post here and walk around the city sometimes during the day. I wasn't even depressed, every day I'd tell myself 'hey, why not speak to those recruiters spamming you on LinkedIn, or to your old boss, or to your family', but I didn't want to, I was happy enough sitting on the couch. I lied to my parents about what I was doing (and I have my dad on LinkedIn, so it became pretty elaborate), my partner knew partially but was out working so saw less of it. I just couldn't bring myself to do anything. Fortunately I was saved when someone very kindly offered me (essentially) my job directly, bypassing the usual endless HR/recruiter process (I still had to it, but after the offer was made), and since I've been fine. But I terrify myself sometimes.

That does sound pretty bad, are you sure you don't have anxiety/depression yourself?

I spent about 4 months procrastinating on getting a new job after I got my GMC license, with the excuse that I was waiting for my girl to pass hers and get it too so we could leave together. Tbf, I dreaded going to work, because I despise standing around for hours as consultants perform interminable ward rounds. I take paracetamol just to get through the ache in my legs, and I'm useless and worn out after a 24h shift. Unfortunately, man's got to eat (and pay off debts incurred on my card on her behalf), so here I am again. Truth be told, the idea of heading for the UK alone scares the shit out of me, I'm scared I don't have my act together to the extent required to subsist as a lone adult without anyone to fallback on. Guess I'll have to bite that bullet at some point, I'm not getting any younger.

Truth be told, the idea of heading for the UK alone scares the shit out of me, I'm scared I don't have my act together to the extent required to subsist as a lone adult without anyone to fallback on. Guess I'll have to bite that bullet at some point, I'm not getting any younger.

Wait you're going to the UK alone? Since when?

I gave the exams necessary to practise as a doc back in December, and got the results in Jan. Right now, I'm waiting for another set of exams that lets me enter specialty training, which will be in Jan. If I got a job there rn, it wouldn't count for career progression!

And I would very much rather not go alone, that's why I was waiting for my girl haha, we're going to give the new exam together too.

Cool well I wish you both luck! Obviously hope you can come to the Land of the Free at some point, but I guess you can hang out with @2rafa and the other British rabble in the meantime ;P

Trust me my heart's on your side of the pond, but until I sort out my USMLE issues, I'm going to have to settle for the UK :(

And thank you!

An opportunity to be a datapoint? Let me at it!

Extraversion - 29th p.

Emotional Stability - 81st p.

Agreeableness - 40th p.

Conscientiousness - 18th p.

Intellect/Imagination - 80th p.

It pretty much comports exactly with how I understand myself and so isn't offering me any fresh or striking insights, unfortunately, but what can I really expect from a 50-question personality test?

(I do think 'Openness to Experience' is a better label for their Factor V though - I don't know that I would consider myself in the 80th percentile of 'intellect', or if I were to, it wouldn't be based on anything this test asked me.)

That makes me curious though, has anybody here ever gotten a result from a test like this that's very surprising or counterintuitive, in a way that offered you some grain of insight or cause for reflection?

edit: Oh cool, several responders here did get such a result. Interesting!


I got 19, 62, 0, 67, 33 respectively. The 0 in agreeableness is highly unlikely to be correct, but I may be misinterpreting what it purports to represent. I do tend to disagree with a lot of people, but I am certainly polite and hate confrontation.

It pretty much comports exactly with how I understand myself and so isn't offering me any fresh or striking insights, unfortunately, but what can I really expect from a 50-question personality test?

What Big 5 has going for it is largely that it's psychometrically validated with plenty of features we care about in real life, and reproducibly so. I don't expect anyone who has any combination of intelligence and introspection to be amazed at its findings, but it is a decent enough way of comparing between people.

Aww yeah. Will do this and post results in a bit. Also 2nd percentile on conscientiousness? That can't be right for someone like you who has literally written an entire novel.

Extroversion: 92

Emotional Stability: 13

Agreeableness: 71

Conscientiousness: 72

Intellect/Imagination: 96

Guess I'm just super smart and perfectly well rounded! Except for the emotional stability...

That can't be right for someone like you who has literally written an entire novel.

Most of that novel was written as a form of procrastination from other work haha.

Perhaps 2% is too low, but I'd be quite confident it's lower than 10%. About 50% when I'm on my meds I'd wager.

I sit here, nursing the wounds of a (minor) titan trigger fish attack on me earlier today. It hurts.

Diving in Malaysia and the Maldives (my preferred destinations) is extremely safe from a wildlife perspective, which is one of the main reasons I like diving there. Almost uniquely among prime diving locations (others are Hawaii, the Caribbean, Australia, Polynesia) there are almost no great whites or even (despite their technically wider range) bull sharks in much of the northern Indian Ocean and around the equator in Southeast Asia (the map does hint at the fact that great whites have been very, very rarely observed around Borneo, but these are vanishingly rare sightings). Those two represent the biggest risks to humans, as while tiger sharks are responsible for slightly more fatal attacks on humans than bull sharks, they are orders of magnitude more common, are much less likely to go in for the kill and are therefore 'per capita' much less dangerous.

Shark attacks on divers are very rare, but if you're a neurotic like me, you can't dive around Hawaii or Australia without the thought at the back of your mind that 'he's just behind me, isn't he?', like in a Marvel movie. Because diving (for tourists, at least) is a leisure activity, this mental burden can dampen the fun. It's a popular topic of discussion on diving boards that many thrill-seekers want to see a great white in the wild until they do, at which point they realize just how terrifying it is, contemplating a slow-ish death by nonconsensual limb amputation 80 feet beneath the sea a few miles from shore. Even if you make it to the surface (something that has to be done slowly for decompression reasons if you don't want to risk an even more painful death), you then have to wait to get picked up, take the boat back to shore, and then meet the ambulance to take you to hospital (unlike surfers, divers are usually too far out to be hauled in by other swimmers and lifeguards). Many shark attack victims die on the way to the hospital or during the ascent, where losing consciousness is often fatal.

In some places, like Southern California's kelp forests, perhaps most regular divers have at least spotted a great white at some point. Like pitbulls, these are animals that can be friendly one second and kill you the next for seemingly little reason, and in the ocean (unlike a safari with an armed guard or an arctic trip with a rifle for any pesky polar bears) the diver is usually entirely defenseless, and 360 degrees of movement and the muffling effect of being underwater on our hearing capabilities makes it easy for them to sneak up on you. Bull sharks especially have a pitbull-like reputation for not abandoning humans after realizing we're not fish, and instead coming back again and again for follow-up attacks.

Do you dive? What's the biggest shark you've encountered (outside a cage)?

I don't dive, but I have gone snorkelling on some tropical islands. The biggest sharks I encountered were black-tipped reef sharks, and those are so non-dangerous to people that I actually gave one a pat on the head (which mildly annoyed it, but it then just swam away from me). The nastiest interaction I had with a shark was when I went deep sea fishing - I was bringing up a kingfish and a shark decided to fight me for it (and the rented fishing rod). I'd been powerlifting and was in relatively good shape (140kg squat) and this shark did not let go and continued to try and take the fishing rod into the ocean for about fourty five minutes. My muscles were on fire at the end of it, but I did manage to avoid losing the rod.

I'm guessing you didn't simply cut the line but actually defeated the shark or at least old man and the sea'd the fish.

I managed to get the head of the fish I originally caught up onto the boat. The shark wasn't even hooked, it just didn't want to let go until I got it to the surface.

Did the shark eat the rest of your fish, leaving you just the head? If so that is both funny and fucked up. You fight an epic battle with a shark only to get a fish head you throw back overboard.

Yes, that's what I got at the end. At least the shark didn't take an expensive rented fishing rod with it, so I had at least some small victory.

I am clueless about deep-sea fishing, but: why didn't you cut the line?

That would have cost a bunch of money as I would have had to replace the hook and sinker etc.

Also I was a young male who really did not want to give up, I'd been working out for a while and wanted to put those muscles to use.

Got it - you had an expensive hook and sinker attached to the other end. No wonder you fought the shark for it!

Well, you also get to honestly brag that you've wrestled with a shark. That's pretty dope.

I've dived in the past (open water license only) and sharks were the #1 reason I didn't do it more. I have seen sharks in Thailand when I learned and its probably tempered my desire to go back into the water. You're just so helpless against them and as an amateur you don't really have access to anti-shark equipment.

Diving is an amazing sport as an introvert though. There is true peace down there beneath the waves.

Where on Earth were you where there was

  1. an alligator gar, and

  2. water clear enough to see an alligator gar?

Well, that just tells you how close he was to the alligator gar. I'd be upset if one of those ran nose-first into my diving mask too!

There was a video out of australia where a great white bit a guy in half horizontally. And then comes up and swallows the remaining half.

Do you have a link

Theres 2 parts to it, the other part should be linked in the comments