Dear Mr. Wonderful,
My mom keeps making passive aggressive jabs at me because I'm a theater major and she wanted me to study something more "practical." There is a lot of, "Well if you had gone pre-law..." only then to back off and say that she supports my decision. It's driving me up a wall. What should I do?
Dear Future Unemployment Recipient,
Ugh. Sorry. Seriously, I know you can't hate her because she's your mom, but I hope it helps you to know that I hate her a little on behalf of you, because that sucks.
I don't mean that it sucks that your mom disapproves of your decision. I mean sure, that's unfortunate, but she's allowed to have her opinion. Plus for you, that's nothing a spine can't fix.
The passive aggression is what sucks. Passive aggression is one of the shittiest, most awful, most infuriating behaviors a person can take part in. It's pure fucking evil.
Real aggression is explosive and scary, but it at least gets everything out there, and allows everyone involved to rebuild from the rubble. Passive aggression is death by 1,000 stupid paper cuts--only without the death. Nothing gets out in the open or solved. You just kind of bleed and hurt a lot, and then you bleed and hurt more.
Passive aggression is, ultimately, "Hey let's make everyone feel bad while solving nothing! Yeah!"
The real bitch of the problem is this: You probably want to scream at your mom right now. She has revved up so much aggression within you, that if she makes a few more comments and pushes you over the edge, you probably will scream at her.
This sucks because her comments, on their own, seem innocuous. They're just singular paper cuts, so if you respond to one of them with a good ol', "MOM SHUT THE FUCK UP," you'll be the one to look like a crazy person.
So as much as this may suck, your only option is to get it out in the open. In other words, fight the passive aggression with some direct, open, calm aggression. Don't yell, or tell your mom to eat a dick, as much as you may want to.
Instead, ask your mom about her problems with what you're doing and respect her thoughts. It doesn't mean you have to change majors. It just means that she has to be heard, and you can hope that once she is, she can then shut the fuck up a little.
Tell her that you respect her opinion, and then say, "But Mom, you're also being a tool bag."
And after that, you have to get her to agree to stop with the comments. Make her understand that that won't change anything. She's just selfishly taking jabs at you to make herself feel better, at the cost of her relationship with you.
That last part is the trump card all kids have, but you should use it judiciously. When you abuse it, you're abusing your parents. When they actually are actually acting poorly and damaging their relationship with you, however, it's justified. Play it, and she'll fold in a fucking hurry.
And then, every time after that that she makes a comment, you have to call her out immediately--fucking immediately. I don't care if others are there, I don't care if she's otherwise been nice that day, and I don't care if a nuclear bomb is about to land and she's saying, "You know an attorney might know what to do here."
Don't let her off the hook. Notify her when she's doing it every single time. Irritate her. Get her out of the habit.
My friend has changed a lot since she got together with her boyfriend. Obviously we hang out less, but she also doesn't want to do any of the same stuff, or watch any of the same shows. I feel like I'm losing her. Help!
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: Your friend is allowed to change, and as long as she's happy, tough shit for you. Deal with it. Find other people, watch My 600-Pound Life by yourself, make friends with an online chatbot. I don't know--whatever works for you. But if she's not somebody you want to be around any more, that's kind of your issue to deal with.
Otherwise, this is likely just as simple as it seems. The answer is the same one that solves most of these problems:
Talking, talking, talking.
It's nearly always the answer. It may seem like it's not sometimes, but that's because people don't talk in the correct ways. They think talking is blurting out, "You don't appreciate me!" and storming out in the middle of Finding Dory.
So yes, definitely talk to your friend about this for sure, but be sure to do so in the right way.
Don't go on the offensive. This isn't really about her changing. This is about your relationship and what you two can do together to rectify it. Make it not about concern because she's taking some D instead of watching Food Network with you, but about your love for her, and how you miss her.
When you get good at factoring in somebody else's sensitivities, you can talk to them about anything. You can call them a dumbass, or an asshole, or casually accuse them of molesting your dog--as long as you word it correctly.
The key is in allowing them to see your discomfort with how things happened to have gone, instead of trying to make them think they've wronged you in some way.
So yes, speak with her, and do so as frankly as possible. But do so with her sensitivities in mind, with her concerns at the forefront. When you're the one with the problem, you have to play the game on her turf.
Chances are that a part of her knows that's she's gotten totally lame, and feels guilty. If you approach her with love, she'll listen to you (unless she actually sucks, in which case, she's worth losing.)
If you approach her with accusation, she'll just avoid the conversation and talk shit behind your back, and things will weirdly peter out between you two over the next couple of years, until one day, you realize that you find her to be a total bag of twats.
It doesn't have to be like that. Talk, talk, talk.
Dear Oh Wise One,
I kind of can't stand my sister-in-law. She doesn't attack me personally per se, but I find the way she views the world and people in it to be reprehensible. I feel like half of the stuff that comes out of her mouth reveals her to be a total monster, and nobody ever calls her out on it! It hasn't been an issue so far, but what can I do to make sure that it continues to not be one?
Dear Bleeding Heart Asshole,
I mean you could speak calmly and try to persuade her if you think she'd respond to that, but going off of your description, I'm guessing she wouldn't.
I'd say you already have the answer to your question. You said it hasn't been an issue so far. So if you don't want to create an issue, uh, fuckin' don't?
But that's not really what your question is, is it? What you really want is permission to lash out at her for being awful. Sound about right?
Well tough. You're not getting it here.
Think about this. Do you have any expectation of changing who she is? I'm going to guess not, if she's actually just a shit person at her core. Sometimes we can change people for sure, but generally assholes are assholes. Talking to them isn't going to make them stop excreting poo.
But you know this, and you know that deep down, you have no expectation of changing her. This isn't about that. This is about you calling her out and feeling like a hero. This is about you feeling great about yourself because she sucks so much and you can put her in her place, drop a mic, and walk out and have everyone applaud you, right?
When you put it like that, you kind of come across as a needy asshole, don't you? Well sorry, but that's reality. This is--entirely--about making yourself feel better.
And you're not even really doing that. Once you start laying into her about what a shitbag she is, you'll feel it get awkward really quickly in the room, and you'll immediately regret starting your rant. You'll notice that no standing ovation is coming, and that's a painful departure from the image in your head. You'll realize you would have made things less awkward by farting and shouting "whoopsy doodle!" in her grandma's face.
And the fallout of all of this? You'll make your significant other feel like shit. You'll make things weird, and put him or her between a rock and a hard place, all so that you can theoretically--but not actually--feel better.
So the other question you might have here is, "How do I feel better about her shittiness?" The answer is you accept that you're not going to feel better.
People being awful should bother you. Good on you! But guess what? You're going to feel awful sometimes. You're going to be annoyed. It's a part of life. Keep feeling those feelings. It's your way of checking your soul's pulse. Accept that this feeling is good, even if it feels like garbage
If you'd like to have your dumb decisions thrown back in your face and receive some sage wisdom from me, e-mail Will@BeBetterStupid.com, and I'll air all of your dirty laundry out on this blog (without saying your name of course).