The “Strain of Being Supportive” Edition

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S1: You produce your prudence, Dupere here. Prudent decisions, your approve here pre these things that I should contact him again. Help, help. Thank you. Thank you.

S2: Hello and welcome to another mini episode of Dear Prudence I I’m your host, Danny and Lavallee, and the show is for you, our plus subscribers. Our guest this week is Jordan BLOCK, a queer non-binary science communicator, research administrator and hoop earring enthusiast based out of L.A.. And now here’s our first letter.

S3: Oh, oh, oh, oh.

S4: So I know that you just read the last one, but this one has been so important to you. And I want it.

S5: It means a lot to me. Yeah. OK. Subject. Christmas from heck. I also have. I’m gonna take a quick break. I hate the word hack with such a strong passion too. I just have to get that out there.

S4: Well, and you did live in Salt Lake City for a long time. So I feel like you probably got a lot of all the different euthanized swear.. alternative of get it just like my spot.

S5: They’re horrifying. They’re truly horror. It’s never going impact that again. All right. Subject Christmas from Jack. Dear Prudence. My brother in law cheated on my sister a with our other sister B. This was a few years ago. And now my ex brother in law has remarried to B, which our parents announced at Thanksgiving. They were invited. Meanwhile, A has not remarried or dated much, and remains justifiably, in my opinion, angry at them. However, our opinion. However, our parents think that we all need to just accept the new status quo. Since B is now trying for a baby that might have influenced them and have invited everyone for Christmas selfishly, what the heck do I do now? A expects me to sit out Christmas in sympathy with her. My parents expect me to turn up and B says that she misses me. I think that A was badly treated, but B is still my sister too. And even though I hate to admit it, B and jerk in law are happy together and good for each other. Plus, I would like to meet my new relative when they appear. I want to stay out of the middle. In case you can’t tell him the middle child in the clan. But I can’t work out how. If I go, I pick B. If I don’t go, even if I take a week off to go somewhere nice, it looks like I’m in A’s camp. Any ideas?

S2: I do love in this family. There are like siblings who are willing to like steal away or sleep with their other siblings partners. And then this one’s like, I will not say hell like we have to draw the line somewhere in here, Emily.

S5: Thank you. Them the moral kind of disconnect here is throwing me through a wall, I think. I am obsessed with this.

S6: I do think I feel about like cursi if msms the way that some people feel about like meat substitutes where they’re like, if you’re gonna like, eat me, eat me. And if you’re not, don’t eat fake me, just eat beans or whatever, which I find silly.

S2: But I do. I think yeah, I think that’s a dick. Yeah, but I do feel this way about curse words. It was like if you don’t know where Eric is, totally get it. Don’t swear. Please don’t say things like, oh my hack.

S7: Definitely say that. Please. I really appreciate getting this on the record because you definitely say hacks. Do I see it often? No, but you definitely say so.

S8: Listen, I have a lot of residual evangelicalism, but I am trying to sluff off and sometimes you think you’ve gotten it all. I’m a little bit comes tumbling out. So yeah, I do agree. Probably part of what I hate is that which I am. Yeah.

S5: Well you have a scientist that’s that’s you know, you do it key I think like my thing with the word hack. Is it so. It’s so like alien to me. And I also cuss like a sailor but it just like it just inserts itself like into my body.

S2: It also just like I associate it with something we were talking about. Again, I think in an earlier episode, which is like people who will say things like, I’m not homophobic. I’m not transphobic. I support you, but then don’t do it. And so this this way of life, you have to soften something or pretend that something’s not there, like the word is hell. The word you are looking for is hell. If you don’t want to invoke those associations, they totally get it. But like adding a different sound to the end of hell and acting like you have made a new word just makes me feel like I’m losing my mind.

S7: I’m really ever it makes me feel like an struggling and I always feel so alienated by the kind of like constant you.

S9: Amazing that one encounters with this sort of stuff even as one doesn’t. I do understand isn’t it’s like post-traumatic for people.

S5: I think like heck specifically. LT bothers me more than like a fudge for fuck because heck just it sounds. Minar. It sounds worse and it sounds vaguely hate-crime me. I just think it’s across the board a worse word individually. I’m dying down a bit. It’s so heavy. Pounding.

S6: Yeah, so apologies to this letter writer, but I do feel like the heck here is part of the problem, which is like you want to pretend that there’s a way to not choose a side here or you want to pretend like maybe I can convince a that it’s not that bad because like our sister and A’s ex-husband make a better couple and it’s just like you’re not going to be able to square that circle. You cannot straddle that divide and hold on to each of your siblings like they’re never going to repair this relationship because her fucking husband left her for her fucking sister and they’re having a fucking baby. Like to call that justifiably, in my opinion, angry doesn’t do justice like that relationship cannot be repaired.

S5: One may not normally see how one could be angry in this situation, but I’m going to go out on a limb. Right.

S10: But I can see all this, some part of me that kind of appreciates that.

S11: The letter writer can acknowledge that B and Gerkin law are good for each other. I mean, like the one thing they have in common is that they are both jerks when it comes to sexual ethics like. But, you know, I don’t know. I kind of get that. But at the same time, like, why are these people still all having family holidays together?

S7: As middle child, it is your responsibility here just to get the heck out of you. That’s why. Take a vacation.

S6: Yeah. And you’re just going to need to like either decide like your sister is like hasn’t dated. Is is essentially estranged from the rest of the family is you know, it doesn’t sound like like lashing out in her anger is just sort of like, look, I need I need my space. So, yeah, either you can say like, I’m with you, I want to spend time with you. Let’s spend the holidays together. Or you can say, you know, I really wanna get to know this new baby. And I feel like they’re actually good for each other. And I agree that what they did to you is awful. But like, I’m willing to put that to the side to get to know them. And then accepting that your other sister will probably be very angry with you, but you have to own whatever choice you make. My fear for you is that you are gonna make a choice and pretend that you’re not an attempt to claim neutrality, that you don’t actually possess and try to make everyone happy and say, look, I’m not choosing sides. I’m not choosing sides. You literally have to do exactly.

S5: And like just kind of be okay with not coming out of this completely clean. And not from like an objective moral standpoint. I mean, maybe, but I’m not going to put that out there. But like, you’re gonna choose a side. People are gonna feel a way about it. And like Danny said, you’re just gonna have to sit with. Yeah. Whatever.

S2: Yeah. The whole like I want to stay out of the middle. Well, you can’t, you know, because your brother in law left your sister for your other sister. There’s no middle there. You either say, you know, I’m on this side or I’m on that side. And it doesn’t mean that you have to like cast one side of your family away forever. It just means that whatever choice you make, someone’s gonna get hurt. And you need to be able to acknowledge that hurt and figure out either other ways we can try to repair this between us. Or do you need space or do we need to have a fight like this fantasy where it’s like our family can be like ripped apart by this horrible act of like betrayal and sadness and then later, like new life and like, yeah, and happy relationship. I’m just gonna somehow be able to, like ice skate my way through it, like Hans Brinker. It’s just like. Right. You need to acknowledge reality. You need to say, hell, you need to acknowledge her. You need to acknowledge. And that’s really it. Yeah, like hell is real. But it doesn’t exist. Like that’s where you need to get to in this. So I’m not going to tell you like which sister to spend the holidays with. But I think whatever choice, what a spending with a Jesus Christ.

S7: I don’t think that’s a deal because everybody else is exactly the families lined up behind the douche bags, which is always the way, especially because there lay some savings.

S8: You know what I mean? Like they’re like, oh, we’re having a baby. We’re a couple.

S12: Everyone’s gonna be reproducing our children where we you know, we’re making more of this shit and we are like, but investing in this franchise, no ends the franchise and reproductive productive future, etc. You can you. Can you tell that Grace and I have recently become fully estranged from my family of origin? Are you picking up on any energy here?

S5: I’m getting it. I’m getting involved. Yes, it’s fantastic.

S12: This is the whole thing. It’s like the parents are invested in just making more babies.

S11: I’m not saying anything else has any bearing on kind of apparently. Right, because the drive to just reproduce babies is like a prime directive and everything else can be slotted in to blast. Yeah, I’m acting like I know this family on the basis of the fact that the way to hack appears in the subject line.

S7: I think it’s an insight. It is it is a very I have lived in my and also I’ve watched things for a decade too long.

S5: I feel like I’ve also watched enough like scandal shows on TLC that I do know this family. Yeah. Mm hmm. Write down. I totally agree.

S2: Yeah. And then little last, I’ll just say it’s like again, like you say, if I don’t go, it looks like I’m in A’s camp. Stop worrying about what things look like and start worrying about what things you’re doing. Like don’t just act in a way that like offers the appearance of support in one direction or the other. Choose a fucking side like.

S5: Choose a side. Choose. A word or a not word and stick to.

S2: Right. I don’t want to be like full revelation 3:14 to 22, but it’s just like I mean, I’m assuming there’s an evangelical background here and I could be way off, but it’s just like, don’t be the fucking church that is neither hot and cold.

S13: It must be spit out of the mouth anyways. Jordan, you’re so fantastic.

S5: You are just a joy. You’re both a true pleasure. I’m so happy.

S6: I’m so happy.

S5: I hope he gets me in prison soon. I hope so, too. We do. In New York.

S13: Yes. Yes. New York. We’re going to do it. It’s going to be any of the trip there. You are fantastic. And the greatest guest in the history of time. And I hope you come back very soon. Okay. Bye. Okay. Bye. That’s my hard exit. Okay.

S2: You better get out of here. All right. Bye. Grace, if you yourself have a minute. We have one letter we didn’t get a chance to get to with Jordan, but just a secret special. Just this virus. Yeah.

S7: Just in old times sake. Exactly.

S2: And it’s the kind of letter that I try not to answer too often because the answer is almost always the same. I haven’t read it yet. Great. Well, would you like me to read it so that you can hear it? Yeah, I’d love that. Great. The subject is strain of being supportive. It is hard to be supportive. Yeah, it’s very hard. We’ll get there. Dear Prudence, my partner of 3 years came out to me as trans 6 months ago. I love her, but I am straight. She was terrified of rejection, so I stayed with a smile. She doesn’t have anyone else in her corner right now. Her parents told us not to come for Christmas, and we have lost several friends. We have started moving in more queer circles, which makes me uncomfortable. I feel like a fraud here, and I actually don’t have much in common with anyone except a few people who are obsessed with their dogs like me. I am lonely and have struggled with my attraction to my partner as she gets more feminine. Our sex life has nosedived the few times I have tried to talk about my feelings. It has triggered a fight and I’ve ended up apologizing and feeling guilty. I know this isn’t her fault, but I can’t stay and I don’t know how to leave help. She’s told me I am the only reason she is still breathing somedays.

S10: Yeah, well, I think that you should end the relationship. I also think that you are going to end the release. Yes. And I think it’s okay. And you need to. And I think you know that. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

S2: It’s it’s not the strain of being supportive. It’s the strain of being told. You are the reason that I am alive and you can’t leave me. Yeah. Which she may not have said explicitly you can’t leave me, but she’s made it clear that that is not an option.

S9: Just to like be a little bit more forceful on that point. It is not okay to threaten suicide in order to get someone to make an emotional commitment to you. Yeah. And if somebody were to threaten suicide to you in order to extract an emotional commitment, then you should withhold the emotional commitment and prioritize your own self-care.

S2: Yeah. And I think especially because people who do that don’t necessarily say I am doing this manipulatively unconsciously. It can often feel as if you need to say like, well, they don’t really mean that they don’t or they don’t know how painful that is or something. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just not an okay thing ever to do.

S9: It just isn’t. You know, you are not a bad person for wanting today, boys or masculine people. You are not a bad person for not wanting to be in a relationship with a woman. You’re not about positive. Wanting to be in a relationship was on her suicidal. I’m a little concerned about you feeling uncomfortable in queer circles, but I’m willing to let that slide in the context.

S2: Right. I had that thought too, which is just like presumably, even if you like, if you had a boyfriend right now and you just didn’t like having gay friends, I would say that strikes me as homophobic. Yeah, my guess is it feels bound up in the whole. I feel pressured to perform like enthusiastic. Potentially bisexual or lesbian support in a way that is not actually real or meaningfully. So assuming that that is going on. I get it. Hopefully once you are out of this relationship, you can pay attention to if you’re still uncomfortable around queer people, that might be worth seeking out a therapist for because it is not the fault of queer people that you like or just stay away from. I mean. Yeah. Or leave. Yeah. You know, queer people just leave us alone. Yeah. But yeah. You know, I mean I think you know where the problem started, which was she was terrified of rejections. I stayed with a smile. And that’s not to say like it’s your fault or how wrong you were, but just you can’t stay with people because they’re terrified of rejection. That’s mine and a healthy basis for a relationship. So you’re gonna need to break up with her. You’re gonna need to accept that whatever support she gets from like for in dealing with that breakup can’t come from you. Yeah. You can’t be the person who supports her after she break up with her.

S14: Yeah, that’s a really good point. That will that will be presumably something that is asked of you.

S2: Yeah. And you you just can’t you’re not being cruel. You’re not being transphobic in breaking up with her. And she needs to develop different coping strategies and threatening suicide so that you stay with her forever.

S9: It’s funny. So much of like.

S14: So many of the problems, I guess you’re right, come down to like women who feel that it would be wrong of them to leave a relationship on moral grounds and therefore stay in a relationship that is doing them emotional harm. Yeah. And the moral grounds are invariably bullshit.

S2: Yeah. And, you know, it is very, very common among women. I also hear from non-binary and people and men who are in that same situation. But it. Sorry, I like a little sensitive to it. After our earlier letter where the woman was like he was sexually assaulted like a woman was. Yeah. And so I just also feel like it’s as common as it is among women. It’s it’s whenever somebody is going through this and when I myself have gone through this variously in times of my life where people experience me as a woman or time, some people didn’t experience me as a woman. It was hard. And it sucked all of those times. Yes. It was very rambling.

S14: Yeah. I guess if it’s important for me to say. But it is not just women who get bullied into staying in relationships that are emotionally harmful, then, you know, I’m happy to acknowledge that. Clearly, it is not just women here in that situation. I will maintain that it is often and distinctively women and probably that it is a feminizing pattern of emotional abuse, even when it is in a pattern directed against men and non-binary people.

S15: I’ll sign off on that. But yeah, you need to. You need to leave and you need to ask for support from your people, whoever that may be.

S2: And if it’s, you know, probably not going to be your soon to be ex as parents, it’s certainly not going to be the people in the queer circles that you have felt uncomfortable around, because I don’t think you should ask for support from people who you don’t feel comfortable with. But calling your people, let them know that you need help, set really clear boundaries when you break up with her and encourage her to call a therapist or other friends. But don’t try to direct how she handles your breakup and don’t don’t accept updates from her. If you need to block her number for a while, if you need to tell her I need to go a certain number of months without hearing from you, and I will not respond to your attempts to contact me. We need a clean break here. I’m not saying like, you know, change the locks tomorrow or like, yeah, like have the conversation.

S11: But I just have to say, you know, written this letter, I think this person is going to feel so good when they have ended this relationship. Like, I feel like, you know, that you have to do it. You don’t want to do it. It’s going to suck for like half an hour or an hour or two hours that it’s like, don’t let it go to two hours. Don’t don’t let it go so as not to try to keep it brief and a promise like you will feel about it. I can tell you there is in this letter even just the beginnings of an acknowledgement if at the excitement that is on the other end of this, like that kind of sexual, romantic, erotic social features for you that will emerge once you’ve been able to shut this down and shut it down. You should. And you don’t feel guilty for that.

S15: Yeah. So, you know, the implicit fear that I hear is the few times I’ve tried to talk about my feelings, it’s triggered a fight. And I ended up apologizing and feeling guilty. So that’s the that’s the pattern that you’re going to need to not get back into this time. And I think that needs to start with like you don’t need to launch into all of your feelings. You just need to say, I need to end this relationship. I don’t want to be with a woman. I am straight. We are not compatible.

S16: That’s it.

S15: That’s not an argument. If she starts saying anything like to attempt to turn it into an argument, you know, you can acknowledge like, I know this is painful. I’m sorry for the pain that you’re experiencing, but this is important and this is necessary and I’m very sure about this. And then beyond that, if she wants to try to turn it into a fight, if you need to like write on a script, if that would help you, if you want to have a friend call you like 20 minutes after the start of the conversation so you can say, look, I need to step away if you need to even just say like I cannot get into this with you again. When we’ve talked about this in the past, I’ve ended up apologizing for not wanting to be together. And I won’t do that anymore. You don’t take whatever steps you need to to say the thing that you need to say and then go. You don’t need to convince her that this is the right thing. You just need to say it.

S10: Yeah. Just go. Yeah. Slip out the back, Jack.

S2: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Play. There must be 50 ways to leave your letter. There’s a lot of ways to end a relationship and none of them require convincing your soon to be ex. That is what they want. Yeah. Yeah I I have often again like in previous breakups had a really hard time with like. Okay now you’re supposed to agree with me. And when that doesn’t come I’m like oh fuck I’m not allowed. I can’t get off the phone or I can’t leave the room or I can’t end this conversation until you say, okay, I agree. Were broken up. God.

S11: Yeah. I’ve had some very long break ups. And I’m thinking about similar problems in my life that I’ve faced, including, incidentally, a problem not unlike the one that you’re describing. That’s right. But sigh. Yeah. Yeah. Just just close it down. Close it down and find a new and better life out there for you.

S2: It will be good for the both of you. She should either be single or with somebody who wants to be with a woman. And you should be either happily and safely single or with a guy that you’re really excited about. Yeah, that just feels really obvious to say the like. Yeah, you will deserve that.

S11: It feels Christmasy to me. Like we’re just like giving a gift of clarity or. You are allowed this you are allowed a sex life that determined that you get to determine the time. So you do not have to accept somebody else’s costing of you as a sexual subject because it suits their emotional needs to do so.

S2: Yeah. And she needs to figure out a way to advocate for her own emotional needs that don’t involve, again, threatening suicide. Yeah. That’s never OK. So good luck. Happy holidays. It’s good to be back. Grace, thank you so much. Thank you so much, Daniel.

S8: I’ll see you in a minute. In the hallway. We’re leaving together. Yeah. I don’t know, but I’ll see. Yeah. This is a fake goodbye for the sake of the episodes. Like I was writing at all. Great. I’ll see you soon, I guess. Yeah. I enjoyed turning your chair away a little bit.

S14: Okay, I’ll do that. It’s been a great pleasure turning my chair away from you a little bit.

S17: That’s aremany episode of Dear Prudence for this week. Our producer is Phil Circus. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. As always, if you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message at 4 0 1 3 7 1, dear. That’s 3 3 2 7. And you might hear your answer on an episode of the show.

S2: You don’t have to use your real name or location, and at your request we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short. 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening.

S18: Well.