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Wellness Wednesday for January 31, 2024

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.

I've mentioned on here a few times that our family has an Au Pair and I work from home most days. This happy arrangement is going to come to an end and I'm of mixed feelings.

First, for those who don't know, there is a program in the State Department that is designed to connect families with young women across the world who would be interested in taking care of children in exchange for living in America for a year. The host family has to provide a separate room and pay a weekly stipend. It's a "cultural program." As part of it they are supposed to take a couple college courses every year. There is a lot of abuse, but I pay my Au Pair more than the minimum, don't ask her to do more than just keep the kids alive, and buy her whatever she asks for that seems reasonable.

When interviewing Au Pairs (it's a lot like an online dating service, with profile pages and matches) I always asked, "What are you hoping to get out of becoming an Au Pair? What benefit are you looking for?" The answer was almost always, "More experience speaking English." This seems reasonable, as a good American accent probably gives people a huge advantage in business.

Anyways, the State Department is reviewing the Au Pair program, and has proposed a series of rules that will break it for most families. I don't want to count every toothbrush I buy her, or make sure that she only eats $10.88 worth of food every day. Regardless of what is financially feasible, I'm not going to do it. There's just no way to live with someone in your house, monitor them to this extent, and then still trust them with your kids.

But then the question turns to, "Who is going to watch my kids?" I have four kids, ranging from 10 months to 6 years. There is a preschool we send one child to for 1/2 day socialization, and she likes it well enough. I could send the others to their Summer Camp. But the 10 month old would be too young, and daycare for a 1 year old is already booked up for a year.

Then there's the reality that I'm not giving my kids the attention I want to. Work takes over too much. I might technically be off work at 4:30, but someone puts a meeting on my calendar at 5, or I really need to finish these three five emails, and before I know it it's Dinner Time. I have all these worksheets I want to do with my two oldest and practice penmanship (which they really struggle with.) I want to take my kids outside to play. I want to go for walks. But I also want to be held in esteem at work. As long as work is there, I will put off my kids because kids can wait but work can't. But that is a LIE. Kids grow up, and toil is forever.

I don't want to send them off to a church preschool from 7 to 5, and then pick them up, feed them dinner, do homework, and kiss them good night. That's not how I was raised. That's not what I want for my family.

So I will likely become a stay at home Mom, once my Au Pair's contract ends. I'm looking forward to taking my kids to parks, splash pads, libraries, festivals, and other public areas around my city. My city is actually really family friendly. I know it is hard work. I took half a year off work when I had my second child. I know it can be isolating. But I have the example of my mother, who make lots of mom friends and seemed to have a blast when my siblings and I were young. Thinking about making this change fills me with excitement and hope.

The two downsides - and they are huge - is money and the Future. Money is easy enough to explain - we will have less of it. My husband makes enough for us to live on, if we had no debt we would have a good amount left over after all the mandatory bills (food, mortgage, utilities, etc.) Unfortunately, we have debt. There are some student loans that are almost paid off and we are in a payment plan with the children's hospital after three of my children were hospitalized for a cumulative of 27 days, 10 of which were in the ICU. With this debt, we are still able to make due, and live a good quality of life, but we would need to be careful to limit things like how much meat we buy, how many clothes we get the kids, etc. Once the debt is paid off in a couple years, it's all fine. But we will have to live frugally for a couple years, or risk falling into more debt.

The Future one is harder to explain, but I can't stay home with the kids forever. By the time the youngest is 10, if not sooner, I need to go back into the labor force. I think that is where my mother messed up. She put her foot down on her identity as a homemaker, ended up not doing much during the school day, driving us around to sports in the afternoon (until I was able to drive, and then she had even less to do.) The cognitive decline you see retirees experience, she seemed to get when she was 50. She kept the public areas of the house clean, cooked dinner (badly), and otherwise watched Masterpiece Theater. Shortly after I graduated college, my parents divorced. Now she is a real estate agent with no sales and sometimes manages to convince her friends to pay above market rates to clean their house.

I see a few possibilities. I have a Master's degree, and can probably get a certification and find work as a school teacher once the children are in school. I don't have any particular interest in this. I think of schools as enemy territory, so to speak. It would be nice if I could instead home school my kids (I'm not going to leap straight into that, but it's a possibility now.) Maybe I could teach at a Catholic School. The benefit of being a school teacher is obvious, I would be off work most of the same days that my children would be.

The other idea I'm entertaining is to start my own business. I've been thinking up a small catalog of things I could crochet. Things that could only be done by hand, look unique, and would take me less than two hours a piece. I could buy a stamping kit for 1k and sell personalized jewelry. I could lean into the Mommy space, and sell "calming jars" and other kid trinkets.

The idea would be to do something for a few hours a week, just enough to keep a storefront and a tax ID. If I actually turn a small profit I can use to buy a zoo membership or something, that would be a bonus. As the kids get bigger, I can spend more time on it, eventually either actually making it a full time job, or pivoting back into being a wage worker. It seems like it will be easier for me to get hired if I can say I started a small business, rather than I took time off work to care for small kids.

I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Having dated a few Au Pairs, @BahRamYou This is your cause! Call your congressman! Call the media! Keep Au Pairs flowing into this country!

LOL. that does seem an interesting program. Not sure how I feel that I have that kind of reputation that you thought of me for this...

Don't worry love, you're still three more effort posts about it from being the "Gender ratio" guy. Two if you come with a slogan (Like powerology or the hock) that you clearly think is catchy.

In all seriousness, this might become one of my set of election year "weirdo neutral issues" I bring up to defuse political conversations.

Aren't most of them teens? S

I think they're normally 18-23 or so. Either college age or right after graduation.

It sounds like even though the au pair program change has inspired this, you'd be interested in being a SAHM in any case. So considering options (nanny share, retiree needing to earn a bit of extra money...) isn't something you need to waste time on. I will give my standard spiel that women often end up in difficult straits in their later years/retirement because they depend on a single income earner and things happen to make it not work out as expected. When you're in the middle of the stressful childcare years it can be tough to consider the far end of the path, especially if you're confident that divorce isn't in the cards; people don't want to consider early death or disability.

If you can financially swing it and you like being a SAHM, there are certainly ways to keep active and healthy without planning a return to work. My mom is in her 70s and doing very well, and she kept herself busy with church and child-care related activities and jobs her entire life (typical trailing spouse type stuff). She officially retired from paying work in her early 70s, but she's just as busy as ever with church activities and friends. She's sharp as a tack, although I wish she'd stay off the ladder, and I'm thankful she finally agreed to outsource the lawncare.

I didn't want to be a SAHM to a baby (I had a theory that anyone can love a baby, but it takes someone related to love a teenager, so if I was going to have to step out of the work force I figured it would happen during the years my kid was older), so we did the daycare thing. Because we were well enough established in our careers before we had a kid it gave us some flexibility. I worked from home a day or two a week, which meant short daycare days. When my kid was sick, and I needed to leave early or not come in, there wasn't a problem, I had enough sick & vacation time banked. I mention this because sometimes people re-entering the work force are stuck with one or two weeks of sick/vacation, and don't have initial flexibility while they "prove" their worth to their employer. OTOH if your spouse continues working, you can potentially lean on him to be the flexible one if you have a period of less flexibility if you re-enter the work force. On the other, other hand, it can be really hard for a working spouse to go from being all-in on his job because it was critical for his family, to suddenly being the one getting phone calls from the school because Junior's sick or forgot his lunch. I've seen this happen in both directions (and working in a male dominated field, listened to conversations men are having with men about this kind of stuff that I wouldn't ordinarily be privy to). Though you're probably senior enough now that if you do decide to re-enter you could negotiate some flexibility, it's still helpful to consider potentialities.

I wouldn't plan on making enough money with crochet to do more than subsidize your hobby. I crochet and knit, I'm reasonably good and fast, and I give things away to get them out of my house. People like me wreck the potential income. If you want to be a SAHM, and you can afford it, I wouldn't worry about trying to bring in income. For planning a work force re-entry you'd probably be better off finding a part time or volunteer situation in the same general area of your current career. There are any number of volunteer orgs that would love someone with your skills giving them time. Then you're not saying you spent 10 years doing craft fairs or trying to spin an etsy store into an entrepreneurship situation, instead you spent 10 years doing project management work with the local animal shelter, church, or homeless outreach. That is unless you don't want to resume being a PM.

I never did end up opting out of the work force. We lucked into a remarkably easy child and only had the one, and the few times we were in intense-parenting-stages all fit in times when I could auto-pilot work for a bit and focus on the kid. I enjoy working, I like the structure it gives my life, I never wanted to be a SAHM, and during the time when kiddo had a health scare and we though it might be required I really struggling with it. So that gives you some info about my biases.

I hope your kids are doing well, and it sounds like you really will enjoy being able to focus on your kids without other things pulling at your attention.

Then there's the reality that I'm not giving my kids the attention I want to. Work takes over too much. I might technically be off work at 4:30, but someone puts a meeting on my calendar at 5, or I really need to finish these three five emails, and before I know it it's Dinner Time. I have all these worksheets I want to do with my two oldest and practice penmanship (which they really struggle with.) I want to take my kids outside to play. I want to go for walks. But I also want to be held in esteem at work. As long as work is there, I will put off my kids because kids can wait but work can't. But that is a LIE. Kids grow up, and toil is forever.

For what it's worth, I feel this even as the male half of the household and sole breadwinner. I think this anxiety is natural for people in our position, but I also know my dad was gone from 5am-6pm every day for work. We made the most of the weekends and vacations and my relationship with him is equally strong as the one I have with my mom.

If I can talk through some of your work options:

  • Freelancing may be more valuable than you expect. I use one of the platforms to do side-contracting for ~$100/hour for 5 hours a week. Being a Scrum Master for 10 may be the best price/perf ratio.
  • Beware crochet as a side business. It can be awesome, but I know my wife had trouble with the physical capacity for calligraphy. Any cottage industry has hard limits and a low effective hourly rate. It resists automation and cost savings. If you're a great cook, I see that as a better option (buy in bulk, have the kids help, or work on it after bed).

What was the total outlay for the Au Pair? Having one is something I never considered as something I could do... but now I'm wondering if it's possible. I have a pretty big house right now, but our guest room shares a restroom with the kids. Not sure how much of a disqualifier that is.

What platform do you use to freelance?

For Au Pair: A shared bathroom is fine. Currently costs are about 35k a year, with about 10k given to the agency, 15k to the Au Pair directly (The minimum is around 10k), and 10k from education (there is a mandatory stipend for them to attend schoool,) increased utilities, food, toiletries, etc. If your kids are older and in school, I think paying the minimum works fine. Some people have Au Pairs drive their school-aged kids to and from school and to extra curriculars.

However, we expect the costs to double if the state department rules go into affect.

I use TopTal. I believe it's a step up from platforms like Fiverr, however there's also more aggressive screening. For example, I came on the platform as a full-stack developer. This required 2 interviews and the creation of a whole application from scratch, which took ~8 hours. I believe for management it's less.

That being said, I've gotten opportunities with a mix of startups and impressive logos who value onshore talent. They have great training opportunities too to keep you busy and upskilled. Not perfect by any means, but it's been way more lucrative than playing video games in the evening.

Is preschool and working part time at your current work (or similar) not an option?

Leave them at ~8 and pick them up at 14-15? (Or even less)

I tried working 6 hour days once. The problem is that businesses are bad at dividing how much work to give someone.

I'm responsible for a whole domain. Sometimes it might take 30 hours one week to respond to things in a timely fashion, produce everything that needs to be produced, attend the meetings, etc. Sometimes it take 60 hours. I could tell work, "I'm only working 30 hours, dock my pay accordingly," but I would still be responsible for the same amount of work, I'll just fall behind faster.

The experience and questions are so far out of my own range of knowledge that I can offer nothing, but I do just want to offer a quick note that you sound lovely. I mean it, you really sound like a great mom, and I'm glad there are people like yourself raising kids.

I'm curious what your current job is? I think the best course would be to do something along those lines as a freelancer, but I suppose that's not possible for all professions.

My mom was a SAHM and did a lot of volunteer work, which I always thought would be a nice choice if I had to go that way. It can be a good way to pick up skills that will come in handy later.

I'm currently a Project Manager. There are freelance opportunities, but I'm a little hesitant to go that route because I don't want to be in front of a screen while taking care of my kids, I want to be active with them. I crochet while they play sometimes, and they don't mind at all. I think I could manage something like one of these a day without the kids interfering.

If I get on a computer, suddenly all the kids want to sit next to me and watch, talk, and touch things, and I can't PM at the same time.

My mom was a SAHM and did a lot of volunteer work, which I always thought would be a nice choice if I had to go that way. It can be a good way to pick up skills that will come in handy later.

This is a good one. My mother did the same. Avocations can be just as stimulating as vocations.

I am a business owner and I spend time talking with other business owners, often about tax stuff. This year, in an obvious huge mistake, I am doing all my own taxes including my business taxes. It's been an eye-opening look into how the sausage is made.

At first, I was worried about small little issues that came up. But I realize now that my accountant constantly fouled things up worse than I ever could. Nothing bad has happened. I did more research and found that only like 0.5% of S-corp returns are audited, and most of those recommend no change. This is remarkable when you consider what the records of the local taco joint must look like.

The reason I bring this up is that many people have too much respect for government rules. Progressives especially like to create a lot of onerous government rules but at the same time refuse to enforce them. The rules are basically impossible to follow. The only reason that the gears of commerce have not ground to a complete halt is because people don't follow the rules.

With that in mind, are the new regulations truly a deal-breaker? Or can you just make a separate credit card for your au pair and then just guesstimate the rest of this stuff. As long as you're not in the worst 1% of au pair families it's probably fine, although this depends on the specific rules obviously.


Out of curiosity, what do you pay yourself as a reasonable wage? I pay myself 2/3 of total earnings and have no idea if that's too much or too little.

It's a complicated formula because you have to take into account QBI. I had been paying myself WAY too much before because of bad advice from my now-terminated accountant. But my current salary is well above what would be considered reasonable.

If you're worried, follow the Kohler Payroll Matrix. According to Kohler, no one has ever gotten in trouble for using it. Most people who get audited are being stupid and paying themselves NO salary, or a tiny one:

We would need to turn in logs to the regional coordinator. The Au Pair system in the US works through Agencies, you cannot get an Au Pair Visa without going through an Agency. That Agency will need to hire extra people to maintain the level of paperwork that will be required of them. Right now we pay our Agency 10k a year to handle the current paperwork to get the Visa, get the Au Pair in country, work with Embassies, and do the legally required checking up on the Au Pair (she meets with our Area Coordinator once a month in person.) It's expected that the cost of the program might double or triple with the changes.

Was this a deliberate department decision? To make this clearly non workable even though it was 'still available'?

No one will pay 30k to follow the rules for an au pair. If you're in the right state im sure that would be the salary.

It's ostensibly to give the Au Pairs a better standard of living, make sure they're getting a "livable wage" (whatever that means when all their food, utilities, phone, and shelter are being paid for by the host family, and the money they receive is on top of that.) Our Au Pairs have always had more spending money than my husband and I have ever budgeted for ourselves.

I see a lot of Au Pairs complain about the new rules. There is a worry that the opportunity will shrink for most Au Pairs. About 2/3 of host families will be priced out of the new rules. The ones that remain will have a large pool to pick from, and will likely pick the most educated with child-care experience. The 19 year old Au Pairs whose child-care experience comes from raising their three younger siblings and seven cousins will be ignored in favor of the 26 year old college graduate with 4 years of pediatric occupational therapy, who really wants to get their foot in America and this is the first step.

Maybe that's actually good for the United States? Smarter, more dedicated people coming in. But it sucks for me. I probably would not have had the fourth kid had I known the Au Pair system would be wrecked a year in.

Well... that sucks. I still wouldn't make any drastic changes until the rules come into place. It might not be as bad as you fear. And election results might come into play as well.

And, if it's any consolation, my mom was a homemaker and seems to have suffered zero mental slowdown into her mid-seventies.

If you break up with her and try to sleep around I think you'll find that as a male you will have a great deal of difficulty with this and will yearn for the days with your ex. And if the issues with sex are primarily medication induced on your end, that isn't going to go away with some strange.

If you ever carry through with this plan of yours, you are gonna regret it so fucking bad.

Glad you got some clarity, and I hope things get better from here. Those are very sensible steps. You and Syreen both sound like loving partners who care deeply about one another, a great foundation for any challenge that comes your way.

I agree with the general sentiment you should marry this woman and never cheat on her. But have you tried masturbation? Maybe you have and it doesn't do anything, but the obsession with casual sex you're describing sounds possibly neurochemical in some way. I know when I'm horny, sex feels like the most important thing in the world and I should text all my exes and look up with weirdest porn, then within literally seconds after cumming all of that feels irrelevant and that I should go read a book or watch some Netflix. Maybe masturbation would still feel too guilty and sinful for you if you're conservative, but at the very least, I'd strongly encourage you to get some post-nut clarity before ever actually downloading a dating app or going to a club to hook up with someone.

trying to figure out how to treat my depression without making my dick not work

You could use supplements like Icariin/Yohimbine or prescribed pharmaceuticals as a temporary solution.

...maybe find a kinky alt girl with weird makeup...I have this intense craving for sexual novelty. I want to explore kinky sex...

A lot of your desires for novelty and kinks could probably be explored with your current partner. Work on training your imagination so that you can feel different things when you are intimate with your partner. Get creative with the use of costumes/makeup/props/toys. Exploring many kinks is best done with someone you know deeply and are comfortable with.

desire to try and have casual sex.

I felt similar feelings digging up the Tinder advice pages for whoever it was a couple of weeks back. I'm not as far along these roads as you (either relationship length or intensity of the casual-sex-desire), but I definitely felt it. I sometimes also feel it social dancing: we go out together and have a great time, but of course we dance with other partners, and I feel it dancing with pretty young women who really know how to move and to respond to my lead.

In my case I've finally found someone that I could see things going long with, after years of short-term relationships with (largely) decent women that just didn't work out, a whole lot of heartbreak on the apps, and years of lonely posts to various advice threads across the internet and manosphere. We've been together for a much shorter time than you and Syreen, and while we haven't yet had the exclusivity conversation, it looks pretty close and I find myself excited when I think of her.

Because we haven't had the exclusivity conversation, I'm in this weird position where I have the apps installed, but I don't need to interact with them. I haven't touched Tinder or Bumble for nearly a couple of months, despite them sending increasingly desperate notifications and promotions trying to lure me back. And on Hinge, while I haven't sent a single like, I sometimes open Hinge's "standouts" page and find myself so uninspired. Another one who likes wine and picnics with her dog? Be still, my beating heart! This is the best that the algorithms can find for me?

The grass is nowhere near as green as you think, unless you're a rare specimen. And you're probably not. Pursue novelty within the relationship, or direct that sexual energy into something else which isn't going to blow up one of the best things to have happened to you. Because you're a man, which means you're meant to have a layer of reason and virtue on top of the bag of random impulses.

Another thing to consider, if the anecdote and admonition doesn't help: are you scared of the relationship going well and leading, nearly inevitably, towards the "end state" of marriage? As others have said, it is not a static state, but meant to be a state where new kinds of growth become possible. Kids, yes, but also that you've taken all this bullshit off the table and committed fully to each other.

Your comment was a big part of it starting, yeah.

I'm very sorry.

Part of it is that guy's page is sexually very loud and screams "you could have a sex life like this!" to get people struggling with OLD to fix their shit.

Unfortunately, it appears to have tempted you into thinking "I could have a sex life like this!"

You have been in the relationship for a long time, but how close and intimate is the relationship? You live separately, are long distance, you are having trouble with sex, and you are posting on an online forum for advice instead of having a conversation with your partner. I could be wrong, but based on this post, I am guessing one of the biggest hurdles you will have is being honest with yourself and Syreen, and addressing the deep-seated concerns you have about your relationship.

As someone who has had casual sex, it can be fun, but not much more than that. Flings range from "meh" to "pretty good". The best sex I have ever had is with a partner in the comfort of a relationship where we have communicated our preferences over time. I get that there's a bit of FOMO about casual sex if you've never done it, but you have to ask yourself if the underlying reason for your sudden curiosity is an underlying anxiety about your relationship and avoiding hard considerations. To me, your post reveals a waning attracting to your partner (maybe in relation to some mundane but scary choices you have to make), while doing everything you can to avoid addressing it by deferring to the more exciting notions of casual sex, kinks, etc. which are missing in your life.

I've always taken the exact opposite approach to finding a relationship (sex very early, build a connection after) for better or worse. The things you note as being great in your relationship reflect how it was built. It is calm, you have compatible values, it is focused on long-term growth and stability. But the things that have been put the side are now becoming concerns: excitement, sex, and physical compatibility. The good news is that a loving long-term partner is a great foundation for communication and exploration. It will just require work and conscious consideration if those things haven't come as naturally.

I think you need to be real about your sexual attraction to your partner, and consider changing the physical dynamic you have. Living with a partner changes the dynamic. If the majority of your time is spent away from one another and only visiting sporadically, you don't really know what living together is like. To me, marriage would be a pretty scary notion if I wasn't confident in the long-term viability of sex and mundane living with my partner (among many other things). You will probably have to have some nerve-wracking conversations about your worries. But addressing those worries should strengthen your relationship in the long-run and allow it to grow, if that seed is there.

Specific advice: don't cheat. If you end up breaking up with your partner because you want to experiment, aren't ready to settle, etc. then it will be hard, but you aren't doing anything particularly shitty. Some relationships run their course. Cheating is the worst possible outcome. Start with honest communication, and end with honest communication (or perhaps continue with honest communication, happily ever after, for the rest of your life).

I like to (or used to like to) call this (or some version of this) the Diamond Jim syndrome. I don't know who Diamond Jim is but when I came up with that term it seemed to fit. The Diamond Jim syndrome is pretty well defined by the following attitude:

(She) is obsessed with me, and has been since she met me....I don't know how in the world I could ever meet a woman as open to my weirdo contrarian conservatism as she is, or as accepting of my quirks, or as in love with me. She's put a halo on my head that I cannot possibly be worthy of.

If I may--and very possibly I may not, without being rude--It's possible you may be just a bit complacent and self-satisfied here. I am not suggesting this girl is without affection for you, not at all, but there's a dynamic here you're unaware of, possibly. You feel this way (beloved by her, beatified, desired) because for whatever amazing lucky reason she makes you feel this way.

Let me explain. And, in the explaining, I would encourage you to keep in the forefront of your brain that I might be wrong: This girl probably does love you lots. You're sweet, smart, and cute, just like what girls used to write in my school yearbooks (are yearbooks still a thing? I don't even know). But you feeling it, you knowing you are loved, that is a result of her efforts. It is very possible to be in a relationship where all the parts seem to function but you do not viscerally feel that you are loved--sometimes you even feel the opposite, that you are despised and contemptible, despite the fact that your other half seems to nevertheless stay with you. Feeling great and loved then is a reflection not just on you and your lucky self, but on the considerable talent and grace of this girl. Whom you now are considering (airily though your considering may be) ditching for some (I was going to write skank, then goth loli, but have settled on) sylph who might get your rocks off.

The fact is the girl you're seeing long distance may or may not see you as, in the words of my late father, "having hung the moon." She might like you lots, yes, but keep the following in mind: If and when she changes her mind, she will be far, far less sentimental about the break-up than you will be On the contrary, she'll walk away and never give you another thought and you'll be sitting alone thinking What just happened.

I want you to now enact a little mental exercise where you imagine just that scenario: You send a text (because you can't be bothered to live close to your beat friend/partner who loves you) and you brace yourself for the long sprawling message beseeching you to stay, stay. What you get instead is static. It sits on unread. You are blocked on social media--or maybe not? Maybe she was kidnapped and disappeared and moved away, etc etc. You suddenly, far too late, realize the folly of your mistake and send an apology. This also sits unread. You maybe try a, b, and c if whatever other scrambling to undo what's been done, but all this will be a waste of time. Because it's over.

But, but, she loved you! She would never leave you! You were practically soulmates. Yes, yes, she did, she wouldn't, and you were. And now she's gone and she ain't coming back, ever. Good luck with the casual sex.

All of the above may be wrong, but if experience is any teacher (and often it isn't) you can probably get something of value by rereading. I am not saying you'll change your mind. If you were using your mind this wouldn't be an issue. You're not using your mind. Diamond Jim never does. Diamond Jim sees the greener grass everywhere. He is full of confidence that he has but to seek and he will find. And he feels that way (which isn't a bad way to feel, of course) because he is puffed up with sexual confidence. Nevermind that he gained this confidence because he has a stable, supportive relationship.

Anyway. My train has arrived Good luck

He is full of confidence that he has but to seek and he will find. And he feels that way (which isn't a bad way to feel, of course) because he is puffed up with sexual confidence. Nevermind that he gained this confidence because he has a stable, supportive relationship.

Bang-on. When I was younger and stupider, and closer to OP's age, I'd stumble into relationships that felt so easy and natural. And then I'd expect to be able to do that all the time, and the grass beyond the fence would start looking pretty damn green. Of course it wouldn't work like that, and I spent a lot of time single.

If I may--and very possibly I may not, without being rude--It's possible you may be just a bit complacent and self-satisfied here. I am not suggesting this girl is without affection for you, not at all, but there's a dynamic here you're unaware of, possibly. You feel this way (beloved by her, beatified, desired) because for whatever amazing lucky reason she makes you feel this way.

This is the origin of the Nice Guy meme among women. Nothing improves a man's confidence or his (and, in lots of cases, other people's) perception of their own status more than getting a girlfriend. So the classic lonely Nice Guy who is so nice and caring and committed, becomes just another jerk once she starts dating him. Might as well cut out the middle bit.

I don’t think I’ve become a jerk, at least I hope I haven’t.

I'm not saying you have in any negative way, outside of this sudden desire for casual sex outside your relationship. I'm more focused on how the dynamic of increasing confidence and personal value can change the calculus that lead to the formation of the relationship that increased your confidence and personal value. Or, to put it differently, being a jerk maybe isn't always a bad thing.

People who claim they have never had any desire for anyone outside their relationship are fucking liars, or mentally unwell, and that expectation is destructive of other people's relationships. What you're experiencing is fairly to perfectly normal. I'm not sure how to parse all the depression/medication aspects of it, you know your history better than I do.

While I think casual sex is, or at least can be, very fun, I don't endorse your desire to exit this relationship. It does not seem compatible with your realistic desires and values.

What I'd suggest is that you need to learn to see your gf differently. TLP in Sadly Porn has this bit about how men feel jealousy for how other men see/experience their wives. She can be the wanton slut, the sorority girl, the hottie walking down the street just waiting for a zipless fuck, in any other man's imagination; but to you she is quotidian, your sex life constrained by realism, by your long distance relationship, by trying to cram in time around real life. She can be someone else's fantasy, but she must be your reality. Getting outside of yourself and trying to accept that and find a way to be both together is the project.

Hah, I needed to hear this. The greener grass phenomenon is so real, and this part:

Nevermind that he had gained this confidence because he has a stable, supportive relationship

Hit me like a sack of rocks. It’s very true that for me I’d probably be half the man I am today without the support of my lady. For most of my life before our relationship I was down in the dumps about how I’d be single forever and never find a woman. Then she came along and she was better than any woman I could’ve even imagined.

The problem is I can know all of this intellectually but still have to face the question of why the heck the thought of committing to her for live driving me insane with anxiety and fear??

It’s maddening I tell you, maddening.

My dad told me we make all our big decisions (career, spouse, kids) when we're too young and stupid to know any better. That's no longer as true as it was. We wait (and can choose not) to get married, we wait (and can choose not) to have kids. So we dither about it. It makes everything a whole lot harder. Once you make the commitment, you have to make it work. If the commitment's made before you think about it, you just deal with and move forward. But if you have time to think about the commitment, the magnitude is daunting.

Yeah, this is a great take. I frequently wish we had been set up by family or something, that there was some external pressure on us to get married/stay married outside of "well you both individually have to want to commit for the rest of your lives."

The magnitude really is daunting. And constantly seeing divorces or hearing stories of divorce makes it difficult to see the positive side of things. I suppose I don't have a lot of positive, happily married couples in my life now that I think of it.

The line that always stayed with me from this comic arc was "Instead, they'll just be stuck with her.", but "I hope you're listening to yourself." works here too.

Less patronizingly: How does "I want to explore kinky sex." cash out for you? If it really has to involve other partners then Syreen might not be able to help, but for anything other than that, "my best friend in the whole world", "intense and wonderful conversations", and especially "accepting of my quirks" sound like they describe a hell of a good place to start talking. People have their boundaries in different places, "a feather would be kinky but the whole chicken would just be perverted" as the old joke goes, but if the worst you expect is a "no" rather than an "ew, what is wrong with you" then you might as well find out hers.

Interesting. I'm in a similar situation, although my concerns lie less in the casual sex (although that's a factor) and more in the frustration with certain character quirks and worries over whether she's the right person, whether we'll be happy, etc etc.

It's difficult because I could've written this part:

I love Syreen, I feel comfortable with her -- not in the way that it's a mediocre relationship, but in the way that I feel happy when I'm with her -- and she's my best friend in the whole world. We have such intense and wonderful conversations, and we always seem to be able to fill the day with fun things.

And Syreen is obsessed with me, and has been since she met me. And we share so many values and beliefs, it's almost unreal. I don't know how in the world I could ever meet a woman as open to my weirdo contrarian conservatism as she is, or as accepting of my quirks, or as in love with me. She's put a halo on my head that I cannot possibly be worthy of.

Then again, in my darker moments I worry that we don't have much fun together, but a lot of that is probably on my curmudgeonly self. Meh. Committing to a lifelong partner, even one who seems perfect for you, is difficult as hell if you have anxiety and tend to neuroticism or over thinking. Just my two cents.

In my case we've also lived together for a couple of years, and that adds a whole 'nother level of complication. But that's another story.

Buddhists have preached impermanence of all phenomena for millenia, so it's absurd to me, even as an ex-Roman Catholic, that we should presume marriage is exempt from this essential quality of existence.

You never step in the same river twice. This is the problem with the modern view of Marriage as Achievement, where you both have your careers figured out and have your adventures and marriage is the last thing on the checklist. Marriage is about growth, together. I've been with my wife for twelve years, not married all of that time. Our relationship today isn't the relationship it was when we were in undergrad, or when we were in law school, and five years from now it will be different again, and thirty years from now it may be unrecognizable (I certainly will be, I'm sure).

Impermanence doesn't mean you can't commit to anything. It means that when you commit, you commit to flexibility. The marriage you have today won't be your marriage in ten or twenty years. Your marriage will be something new and different by then, you have to learn to change and grow with it, together.

I mean it depends. The point of marriages staying together is for the kids usually, and the stats are quite clear that divorce is terrible for children.

Now unhappy marriage vs divorce is more questionable, but I’d say divorce is still worse in many cases. For the kids that is.


Putting on my lateral thinking hat, couldn't you just...cheat on her?

Obviously, breaking up with her would be dumb and you would regret it. But you also say that you're currently long distance. Some carefully planned infidelity could scratch your casual sex itch and hopefully make you realise how little you're missing out on.

Of course, you would be betraying your girlfriend's trust, and there is a risk that you get caught even if she doesn't live near you. I suspect that your 'sleepy conservative hometown' isn't overflowing with loose women, and if you are religious then, as you say, the Bible is pretty clear on infidelity.

It goes without saying that if you do listen to the suggestion from the devil on your shoulder some asshole on the internet, you should never tell her or anyone else.

This is a terrible idea and will probably lead to the death of the relationship.

First of all, I don't have any advise other than the very obvious: don't be an idiot, marry this girl, if you break up with her you will immensely regret it and any casual sex you can have will probably not be better than with her.

But a question: Were you experienced with hook-ups when you started dating this girl? When you have these longings are they associated with images of what you had done in the past or just internet porn?

I'd tell them that trying to chase after loose women is a bad plan, I'd tell them about the dangers of STDs, I'd tell them about how the world was better back when people tried not to sleep around, I'd tell them about how rough the dating market is...

Well, lemme tell you as someone that had a decent number of casual partners, I don't buy any of these things as actually being true, which is why they might not sound very persuasive. Loose women are fun, STI rates aren't actually very high among educated white and Asian women, I have no idea if the world was better when people tried not to sleep around, and the dating market doesn't seem so bad for a decent positioned guy. The main thing I would remind them of is that it's just not really all that exciting in the end. Lots of fuss over some mostly mediocre hookups. It's not that they're earthshattering events that are going to destroy your life when you somehow get HIV, it's that you're going to spend a lot of time and energy and not get very much out of it.

Of course, I don't actually expect to people able to convince anyone of that either. Male craving for sexual variety is so normal, so utterly banal, that it just has to be dealt with on its own terms. Character and virtue lie not in lacking an impulse, but in resisting it and doing the right thing anyway.

What is the deal with.. slime? The kind kids play with.

I was in the States recently and saw retail shops that sell slime and only slime. No big deal, there a storefront that specializes in practically everything.

Now that I look more into it, the scale is much bigger than I could have imagined. They have their own Reddit, YouTubers, e-commerce and manufacturing. What? Why is there so much of a demand for slime, that too, specialty slimes, that the cheap Chinese shit I remember from when I was a kid hasn't eaten into that cake already?

And why are most manufacturers in that space women? Just search up "slime warehouse" in youtube and you will see a bunch videos of young women leasing out massive warehouses to.. produce slime ?? Why isn't their lunch eaten yet by autists who treat it like alchemy or the Chinese yet? wtf.

I think you are about a couple years late to the party? I remember this shit was insane around 2018. Every kid I ever interacted with was constantly watching slime videos or playing with slime.

Late to the Slime Party seems like a tshirt idea.

Ok anybody here done a career change? Know any good resources for counseling/assessment or just getting ideas for a new career?

There are all sorts of books and websites out there. Career Test is a decent website. My experience is that many resources are too specific since career paths often take unexpected twists and turns based on all sorts of factors.

I switched career paths a few years ago and it worked out really well. A lot of that was chance. I became a chef so many things will not be applicable. But some things that helped in retrospect:

  1. I was able to get work experience before getting too invested. I got a basic line cook job at a local restaurant (probably not an option for many careers) and it gave me the chance to understand the work environment and skills required in the job. I took two years of school and was able to work in my chosen field at the same time, so while the job isn't a huge money-maker at the start, it's not an initial money sink either.

  2. I switched to a career I enjoy and am good at. As someone who is (probably) older, you have a leg up in these areas since you probably know your preferences and strengths better than someone in high school. Use that understanding to your advantage.

  3. Speaking of strengths, consider the mundane, day-to-day skills you will need in your career. Those are usually more important than the blatant advertised skills e.g. organization, time management, procedural thinking, customer service, flexibility, team work, stress management, creativity are all as important as being able to cook well for my job, and are required in order to grow. You can learn the skills specific to the job, but you won't get direct lessons on the soft-skills. Again, this probably gives you a leg up on some people who go into a career from school.

  4. Consider the lifestyle. Physical fitness, whether you will be standing or sitting all day, doing the same thing or variety, etc. Those preferences and abilities are huge in the long run. They also put a lifespan on your career path.

  5. School is useful for networking, learning is secondary. Being a student opens opportunities to work in better places and build connections with important people. People who wouldn't otherwise give you the time of day will pay attention to you as a student who demonstrates a willingness to learn and work hard, so use that to your advantage if you end up going to school. Culinary school was worth the money to me for that alone. Other careers will require you to go to school for accreditation, just don't lose sight of the other benefits.

Yeah, I learned to code.

Why do to want to switch careers? What's the issue with your current one? It is important to understand yourself. I found working a simple service sector job far more tiring than programming, because it takes me a lot of energy to talk to normies all day. I didn't understand this about myself for a while, but it would have helped when choosing a career.

I don't trust any "career councilor" type person. The best way to learn about a career is to talk to someone who does it. In retrospect, I should have gone to meetups much earlier to get to know people and the industry. I would suggest doing that for careers you are interested in.

Why do to want to switch careers? What's the issue with your current one?

Honestly the problem with my current tech sales career is that I developed massive carpal tunnel/TMJ chronic pain issues from the stress. And now whenever I use a computer for work stuff or stressful things in general, I tend to get the pain again. So unfortunately I'm having to move out of the tech sector it seems, even though that's where all my experience/skill lies.

But even for non tech sector jobs, you will be doing you work on a computer. If you have a conditioned aversion to using a computer, it could be possible to train yourself out of it. Or if it's the stress, are there any less stressful teams/companies/adjacent jobs you could move to? Is tech sales inherently stressful? For programming, it depends on the team and company.

Tech sales is stressful as hell generally, yes. And as long as I'm not on a computer all day I'm fine. I'm on the Motte a lot after all.

Not all jobs require a computer, although increasingly more of them do. And yeah it does seem to be a conditioned situation... but not sure how to go about training myself out of it. Chronic pain is a difficult and nasty beast.

Tech Sales;

  • You can explain complex systems and their benefits to people who don't understand complex systems
  • You can manage a project well (tech sales are not often straightforward and require multiple calls / demos / proofs of concept etc.)
  • Networking, "people skills", etc.
  • Some ability to use soliciting questions to get information.

Honestly, anything that hits all of that should be interesting and well compensating. Off the top of my head:

  • Lobbying (would require some sort of government experience probably)
  • General PR / Strategic Comms / Crisis response (though I don't know if this is a non-start with your stress reactions)
  • Certain recruiting / executing scouting jobs. The good ones are niche, though, and you kind of have to know folks who can put you into them. Maybe one in the tech realm?
  • Reinsurance sales ... mostly because you'll be dealing with more sophisticated customers who can appreciate a little bit of complexity

I had a massive career shift about a decade ago, moving from my background and training to something almost completely unrelated. The reason for the change was primarily to switch cities and be with my girlfriend (now wife, this worked perfectly). I disliked what I was doing enough that even though it was a difficult decision, I was able to talk myself into it. Ultimately, the switch resulted in much higher compensation and much more enjoyment of my new work than my old work. There was no counseling or assessment to be done - I had spent two years in a long-distance relationship, it was time to fix that situation, and switching careers to something that was good enough to get the move done was an acceptable tradeoff.

The biggest piece of advice I could give my old self is that I should have been quicker to make that switch and more flexible about what I was switching to. Holding a career as an identity, for me, was a pointless waste of time that was based on personal insecurity rather than a genuine love of what I was doing. Switching careers added new skills, made me a lot more money, and offered opportunities for personal and professional growth. There was little or no meaningful risk involved - if I had disliked what I switched to, going back after a couple years would have not only been feasible, but I likely would also have had a better position thanks to the broader set of marketable skills I had acquired. Risk aversion in careers tends to be a mistake for people with skills that scale well across different companies and roles.

Yeah, I'm probably a bit too afraid of risk. Part of the issue, as I mentioned above is that I've developed chronic health problems and I'm plagued with the worry that they'll fuck up whatever career I switch to, as they fucked up my last one. Alas.

I should likely just go out and try something that seems like a decent fit with a future at this point, and be willing to switch down the road if it's not.