Friend Breakups, Sex Toys, Mediocre Men

What else do I ever talk about here is some advice

Advice for the new year and for all years, I am not an expert but I am sometimes wise, like an owl, these are very specific to me, but hopefully there are nuggets of wisdom applicable to you. Thanks to those who asked. Enjoy! 

Tips on being introverted but lonely?
Watch trash things. Stop trying to be an art introvert and embrace something terrible. If you have any friends who would watch a thing at the same time as you, that can be a nice way to hangout but not expend a bunch of social energy.

ID: a cartoon face with stringy hair sitting in a tea cup (no body, obviously) with a speech bubble that says “I’m not binge watching T.V., rather steeping myself in pop culture like a fine breakfast tea…”

Fantasy books, of course. I think getting into serialized books is a slower way to get that “binge” aspect of consuming media with a bit less stimuli. Some favorites of mine include anything by my boy Brandon Sanderson, the Sabriel series, the Broken Earth trilogy, Children of Blood and Bone, all things by V.E. Schwab. Short stories by Kelly Link, Ted Chiang. I haven’t yet read the Machineries of Empire series by Yoon Ha Lee but that’s next on my list! (Please give me your recommendations too, I love to nerd.) 

I’ve also found it helpful to reevaluate the people I’m reaching out to - sometimes we think we are getting kinship but the resulting mis/connection makes us feel more alienated. Also I know we know this but here’s a stark reminder: this time period is not normal. This is not ordinary loneliness, it is imposed loneliness, we are watching so much horror with little societal space to grieve, and even for people who are experienced with isolation already this moment is deeply surreal and challenging. Don’t discount that, and *cliche but true* remember you’re really, really not alone in feeling that way. 

I may have ruined a friendship because they’re flying to see friends. 
I wrote about strained friendships because of Covid more last year, here’s where to read it and also an excerpt: 

Maybe those friendships that crumbled so readily under pressure needed to disintegrate anyways. Fare thee well, old friend, ye no longer make me feel seen, heard, loved, and needed. And perhaps never did. But that’s not always true. 

Saying goodbye to people-who-no-longer-serve-you can feel strange—a mixture of relief, of sadness, of confusion, of loss. It’s also fair to recognize that while maybe it was the right thing to happen, the way it came about and what you may have inadvertently learned about someone you thought you knew can have lasting, rippling repercussions. It leaves you to cope both with the corporeal fact of their distance, and the person-shaped question mark they pose in their wake. The firm asks their absence demands of your shared past. Did we ever get along? Was this there the whole time? Is it somehow my fault?

There are many ways it seems relationships are splintering right now. There are the chasmic shifts, the rifts. There are the rather silent ones, the small cracks in the teapot, the ones that begin to fester but still remain. The ones that perhaps remain only because we feel so alone, their presence bittersweet at best. The friends we still follow but have deemed former friends, perhaps without their knowledge—that we’ve merely muted, that we traverse in the hallways of our digital homes as though nothing has changed, knowing fully well that everything has. There are those relations that are stretched, that still exist but are wrapped around a shared love rather than a common understanding. There are the type of intimacies where you are so close to someone and yet feel they don’t know you at all, a dissonance that be more painful than an altogether split. There is watching our chosen family betray us, watching our non-chosen families do the same.

A helpful reframing for me in the time since has been to emotionally distance myself from people doing things I wouldn’t do, but not try to change them or “fix” them. This moment is doing wild things to us, it’s easy to judge in every direction, do you and focus on yourself and people you feel understand. Worry about mending things, or not, in some nebulous future. 

Advice for making friends as an adult?
Become a reply guy, I’m not even kidding. I kept replying to people I thought were smart / cool until they noticed me LOL. Also, if you have mutuals or people you think you’d get along with but don’t know that well, start there! Phone calls are a beautiful thing, as are FaceTimes. I’ve met most of my adult friends online in some way, and I think a big part of that is a readiness and want to continue the conversation outside of social media. 

Also TBH, I’ve made a not insignificant number of platonic friends on dating apps. If you get along with someone and feel it isn’t right romantically or can’t happen right now, friendship can be a lovely option. 

How do I start online dating? 
Here’s a guide I wrote with Unbound on sexting better and also foreplay, which I’ll just throw in at the start here. 

Do not do this:

  • Pick an app that reflects the level of seriousness that you want from a person in regards to online dating. I.e., you’re not going to necessarily get the same energy on OkCupid than you would on Tinder or Hinge or Feeld or Grindr, etc. Why these companies aren’t paying me yet, I literally do not know.

  • People are gonna ghost, unmatch, swipe left, etc. It’s easy to feel like these rejections are substantial, and it’s real that they can sting. But it’s a wild wild west on the web, especially when looking for love, and I think holding lightly to the whole ordeal is a good place to be. Don’t lower your standards, but allow room for the fact that to these strangers on the internet you’re also a stranger on the internet—responses might come slowly or not at all, for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Move on, move on, move on. 

  • Once you feel like you connect with someone, try to put a good 20-30 minutes into actually chatting with them. As a serial ghoster myself, I am well aware how many cool people I’ve left in limbo, with curt responses coming every few days and any chance of actually getting to know each other lost along the way. Set a time limit, focus your energy, and give it a go. 

  • If you’re not feeling the whole endeavor, just stop! Don’t make yourself miserable trying to connect in a way that doesn’t feel right. It’s okay if it doesn’t work for you right now or ever.

  • Remember that most people feel weird about online dating and you’re not unique in feeling uncertain / sticky around how to do things. I say that only to reiterate that if people seem to be amazing at it they’re probably also feeling weird, and if you feel weird it might be coming off as amazing. Be easy on yourself! 

  • When/if you feel comfortable exchanging numbers with someone, I like to text for a bit and then suggest a phone call! Or FaceTime. It can definitely be weird but that’s part of the fun. 

How do I manage the highs / lows of chronic pain?
Find disabled / sick friends if you don’t have them already. I’d check out social media pages / twitter. Even just reading accounts from other sick people can feel kindred. Knowing you aren’t alone in riding that very frustrating rollercoaster can be really cathartic, and also provide more specific advice on management depending on your needs. 

ID: a cartoon of a person saying “but yoga would really help.” Another cartoon face responds “ok you put on my body and do yoga and tell me how helpful it is for me then!!”

A lot of this for me was emotional rather than physical - accepting that management and not “cure” is the goal, letting yourself feel it and wallow sometimes, and finding ways to celebrate your little victories and relieve the pressure on yourself when your pain gets in the way of doing the things you want to do. 

Open relationship but now two months of long distance SOS?
It’s really hard to do long distance, it just is, especially now, and very surreal to be in non-monogamous relationships with travel, and other partners, probably (depends where you are in the world) more or less off limits in the same ways as usual. I’ve written about how odd it can be to manage open relationships with being online (here, it’s very outdated lol but anyways) and that’s heightened now too, with so many more relationships blossoming and residing solely in digital space. 

Sometimes closing the relationship for a bit while you figure out what doesn’t feel right can help, or not expecting lateral behavior. You and your partner don’t have to do the same thing—relationships can look like whatever you want them to be. 

On a practical / personal note, I’ve found that I can over-communicate in ways that put stress on partners, especially when far away. It’s hard to want to talk to someone you care about all the time when that quite literally is not possible because of work, different time zones, different energy levels, different everything. It can feel really lonely, and it’s eerie to feel lonely within intimate partnerships. Solutions for me usually come in some form of scheduling, lol, where there’s a set day to have an actual chat and the rest of the time just float around not expecting much in terms of deep conversation, because things are intense and texting can be such a nightmare. Recognizing that tension comes from the structure/circumstances of the relationship where it is right now and not necessarily because of each other can be a needed intervention.

How to get over a mediocre boy but he was the mediocre boy for you?
He wasn’t <3 I know sometimes it feels like the person you just connected with / are still connected with and strained from is the only person you’ll ever connect with. I swear on Clem it’s not so. Open yourself up to the world and see who comes your way—I think the time right after ending things is a really powerful moment for lessons that have been stewing to coalesce. Don’t expect a linear or fast anything—just be in it where you are. 

ID: an awardsforgoodboys comic strip that has an exchange that reads “I really, really tolerate you.” “omg thank you! I really tolerate you too,” “let’s date until we find people we like more?” “Yes!” Underneath the yes is a box that says “she said yes!”

Personally, leaning into relationship anarchy / reorienting how I think about love has been helpful in all aspects of my romantic life. Love looks different with everyone, and I personally don’t ascribe to the idea of “getting over” people. I’m absolutely not over anyone, but they weren’t a hurdle to get over to begin with—they just were a part of my life and my formation of self, and now aren’t. I still appreciate them, and still love a lot of them, just in different ways. 

Also invest more into your friendships!! And go fuck / flirt with some hotties when it’s safe for you to do so / you’re into that. 

Best sex toy for having an orgasm? 
It depends on the shape of your desires and also shape of your junk! But here are some of my favorites / general thoughts: Puff by Unbound. I have a discount code, I am pretty sure it’s “awardsforgoodboys.” It might also be simply “Shelby.”

My parents are reading this so let me link to some generally good things to have, IMO, like nipple clamps, a strap-on, and a glass dildo

  • If you’re clit focused, I love the Hitachi, all bow down to the magic wand. I’ve been having fun with the Divvy from Unbound which you can use with a partner but can also use solo.

  • It’s my personally opinion that everyone should have at least one thing on hand to stick up their ass so get a butt plug or wand or anal beads.

  • For dicks, masturbation sleeves are cool and fun, for obvious reasons I’m rather obsessed with the whole premise and practice of the egg. Here’s a list of good options from GQ.

  • If you didn’t see what you needed here, I highly suggest visiting either of the listed places because both are super great. Also please clean your sex toys!!! 

Tweets you should see: 

Read: How to save lives in jail right now: Learn from mistakes made in earlier COVID waves.

I’m still planning to write about Obama and his memoir but this piece sort of did it better than I ever could so definitely read this, too. Also read: Sarah Hagi on celebrity culture and Sydney Gore on the rise of incense during the pandemic.

ID: a photo of Clementine in front of my computer, with awardsforgoodboys stickers including one of Clem, because she is 1) God and 2) very sexy. She’s sending out a hot take, finally speaking her mind on bones!

Happy new year!
Shelby + Clem