Dear ACABby header

Dear ACABby: A Punk Advice Column By jimmy & bryan

Minneapolis punks jimmy and bryan answer Razorcake readers’ concerns in Dear ACABby, an advice column for the rest of us. In this edition, they talk relationships of all kinds. If you’ve got a problem you’d like Dear ACABby to have a go at, you can email them at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you here at razorcake.org.

Dear ACABby,

What are pivotal questions to ask before a hookup?

–Missing Connections

 
Hi there Missing Connections,

Short answer: It depends.

Long answer: Everyone has different needs in any given relationship. Instead of giving you a laundry list of questions to ask your prospective boo, one-off, or otherwise, we encourage you to dig into your own needs and wants, because that in turn determines what you would need to know about a potential partner. For example, if this is “just” a hookup, do someone’s interests and/or politics matter to you in the same way they might if you were angling for something longer term? What does “just” a hookup mean, anyways? Casual sex can be just as emotionally involved (or not) as dating, but of course, we can’t tell you if that’s the case here. It’s also perfectly normal not to feel like you have all your own answers: our desires are shifting all the time, and hopefully, too, we’re able learn and grow from good and bad experiences alike. It’s okay to experiment and find out a certain dynamic or person isn’t for you, but you owe it to yourself and potential partners to honor your boundaries, needs, and preferences. The pursuit of pleasure is just that, and getting intimate with yourself paves the way to confidence in asserting your needs and what will ultimately make up the pleasure part of the equation.

Bottom line, some basic bases that should be covered are mutual respect, autonomy, and consent. Just as important as honoring your needs is honoring the needs of any given partner, and part of that is knowing when it’s not going to work out. Not everything is meant to be, and it’s often not anyone’s fault. Dating apps can create a culture of entitlement or the assumption of entitlement to time and space, and it’s really easy to get caught up in not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, but it’s best to be straightforward if you think you’d be better off diverging paths. As is often the case, honesty is the best policy.

Good luck finding a beau, and we hope this helps!

jimmy & bryan

My best friend started dating someone new, about six months ago. He also started dating this partner’s partner shortly after, and it seems like things are going swell… Normally we share most everything about our lives, but he’s been pretty quiet about both partners. I’m not suspicious that things are secretly going badly or anything, but he’s told me hardly anything about them—I don’t even know what one of them looks like! I’m starting to feel shut out of something that seems pretty important to my closest friend’s life. I’ve tried to bring it up to him, but he was pretty dismissive. Of course he doesn’t have to tell me anything he doesn’t want to, and it’s totally normal to have a private life (duh!) but it seems like a pretty significant break in our normal communication style (he’s known all about all of my entanglements, big and small, and mostly vice versa), and it does just bum me out to feel occluded from this, especially given how much of the rest of our lives we share. It feels really weird to be his closest friend and not have even met the other closest people in his life… I guess I just want any communication at all about it, like if he wants to have a boundary about it or something I’d rather he just tell me than leave me in the dark. How do I broach the conversation again in a way that makes it clear that I want to share this with him (that is, without putting blame on him or make it seem like he’s being secretive or shitty or something), should he want to, without sounding like a jealous nut? Am I a jealous nut (well, I don’t think so…)? Am I making more out of this than it is? Thanks!
–Left In The Lurch

It does seem like you’re picking up on something, LITL. Often when we hide a part of ourselves, it is a result of deep-seated shame, and shame isn’t always a conscious emotion. We wonder if there’s something different about this relationship, being that it’s an intimate polycule, or if there’s a dynamic in play that your bestie assumes you won’t understand. It’s hard to know what the circumstances here are, but we agree with you that it deserves some investigation. 

Without ascertaining as to why the sudden shift, perhaps it’s time to bring this up again, making sure to center how being suddenly in the dark is making you feel. Seems like this deserves an intentional conversation, one framed by so daunting a question as,“Hey, can we talk about something?” It’s time to be extra vulnerable here. Attributing a level of care and importance to the conversation may keep your friend from responding dismissively. But don’t demand your bestie shares anything outright, instead asking for a glimpse into why this scenario is different, highlighting the ways it’s making you feel shut out of their life recently. Remember that it’s okay to ask for something more from our friends, so long that we are able to hear the answers we don’t want to hear. And remember to use I-statements, and try to create a warm environment in which this conversation may be held dear by the both of you (perhaps by heating up some dumpstered pizza?).

And remember, these times we are in are strange and unprecedented, our norms shifting seemingly out of nowhere. Relationships are taking new forms and sometimes require a new type of upkeep. We imagine this conversation may also help you get to the bottom of where your own emotions are coming from, hopefully offering some clarity into your own feelings and needs in this relationship. Best wishes to you both!

jimmy & bryan

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jimmy & bryan are two Minneapolis punks awaiting the verdict of the Chauvin trial and trying to thrive as the long winter turns into spring. You can send them your advice inquiries at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.