Make It Stop: “An Old (Married!) Friend From High School Is Putting The Moves On Me On Social Media”

I’m in a happy, committed relationship. I just reconnected with a friend from high school who has a spouse and a daughter, and although it was fun to hang out, immediately after we did so, he started flirting with me and talking about how he had feelings for me in high school. It’s clear that he still does, and that’s fine, but I don’t have any feelings for him — or anyone but my boyfriend! Now I feel like I have to avoid him, but he keeps trying to talk to me on social media. What do I do?

There’s no need to jeopardize your happy relationship over some dud’s lame attempt at a cheap ego boost. You could block him, or unfriend him, or do nothing. I love doing nothing as a response because it’s easy and free! Eventually he’ll get the hint.

You could be direct and say, “I’m not interested. Please stop,” but I don’t want to make it more dramatic than it needs to be.

As for me, depending on how comfortable with him, I’d probably make a joke out of it. Like next time you see him out and he starts chatting you up, give him some sass.

Him: “You know, I used to have the biggest crush on you back in the day.”

Me: “Really? That’s nuts. Well, I’d never date a guy like you. You’re too rugged! You’re like a lumberjack. You should be pouring maple syrup on things left and right. That’s why I’m with [boyfriend’s name]. He’s scrawny as hell. I love it.”

Him: “Maybe you need some of my lumberjackiness in your life!”

Me: “No, I need arms that remind me of overcooked spaghetti. That’s what gets my marinara goin’: his spaghetti arms. He’s like my own personal Olive Garden. I love it.”

The key is to joke around about his great attributes, but still be firm that you’re not interested in engaging with him. Ever. Handle it with equal amounts of grace and humor and you can totally still be friends, if that’s what you want. Otherwise, I give you full permission to ignore him.

I love my family, but it can get volatile when we gather together, causing massive arguments and hurt feelings.  I’m going home for the holidays (I don’t live in the same city as they do), and I want it to be pleasant and fun and memorable because it’s important to me to get along with my family.  Any advice for making the holidays smooth, and free from any criticism, hurt feelings and drama?

The key about surviving family get-togethers unscathed is to give yourself strategies for potential triggers. Think of situations that come up and know a few different ways to nip ‘em in the bud before they spiral out of control.

If things get tense, vote with your feet. Leave the room. Don’t engage. Make a beer run at the store, pick up some coffee at Starbucks, or go buy some random toiletries at Target. Hell, go for a walk if you need to, or just go somewhere else in the house. That’s always an option.

If someone says something that pisses you off, before you lash back with a pointed zinger — “I’m a drain on our parents? Well, you smell like broccoli farts, so fuck off!” — take a deep breath and look at things from their point of view. Is someone being overly sensitive because they’re in physical or emotional pain, or some other kind of invisible source of stress? Maybe your mom’s back is acting up, that’s why she’s being snippy. Maybe your brother is terrified of losing his job so his fuse has been shorter than usual. If you pull back from the situation and try to look at everything going on around your family member’s life, it might give you more sensitivity into why people are acting the way that they are. You’ll have more sympathy for them, making it easier to not take insults or jabs personally.

I would also advise you to watch your tone when talking with your family. Minimize sarcastic comments or playful ribbing. And, if someone is sarcastic to you, just ignore it. Holiday gatherings are like text messaging, they need to have their tone policed. Your lighthearted jokes or criticisms might be causing more damage that you realize. Something as innocuous as saying that the mashed potatoes are a “tad” dry might set someone off, even though it wasn’t your intention. Everyone’s on edge so try to keep positive with anything you say.

Finally, add slight to moderate amounts of wine to all situations. At least that always helps me. As crappy as it gets, holiday situations are only temporary, so try to have a sense of humor about everything, and cut everyone (including yourself) some slack. Good luck and be strong!