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Am I A Jerk For Refusing To Write Two Essays In Order To Attend My Sister's Wedding, And Other Advice Column Questions

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There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we're committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here's a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists (and subreddits) addressed in recent days.

Am I A Jerk For Refusing To Write Two 250-Word Essays About Why I Want To Attend My Sister's Wedding?

So my sister is getting married next February, destination wedding no less. I have doubts whether this wedding is actually going to happen with the pandemic and everything but she is totally set on moving forward.

Anyways because of the pandemic, her original venue has made her cut down on guests because they're cutting capacity by half. As a result she's sending out "re-invites" that asks everyone to RSVP again. But in order to figure out who to invite and who to cut, she's asking all confirmed guests to submit two 250-word "essays" to two questions. The gist is that they'll use these essays to choose who can come or not, based on people's enthusiasm. People who don't write the essays at all will be automatically disqualified.

I just feel really insulted by all of this. The questions aren't even pandemic-related, its broad topics like "why do you still want to celebrate this day with us?" And "what will attending our wedding mean to you specifically?" So she's blatantly looking for people to kiss ass and tell her why they REALLY want to go.

Anyways I told her in advance I'm not writing 500 words on why I NEED to attend her wedding, spend my own money on plane tickets/hotels, and buy her a present. This has really rubbed her and my parents the wrong way. She's said that to keep things fair if I don't fill out the RSVP correctly I won't be saved a spot. I said fine with me. Then my parents said if I don't show up I'm going to be in big fucking trouble with all our relatives so just write the essays.

AITA if I stay stubborn on this?

[Reddit via Twitter]

The commenters on the r/AmItheAsshole subreddit side with the letter writer. "If they don't care enough to 'reserve' you a spot, why would you want to celebrate a day with someone so selfish?" one of them writes. "I think they're going to get a hard dose of reality when people don't respond or meet their 500 word essay." Read the rest of their answers.

Am I A Bad Person For Financially Supporting My Needy Nephew But Not My Boyfriend's Well-Off Children?

My baby sister died by suicide after having a child. My nephew is being raised by my mother, who should have retired two years ago. I live in a different state and have been contributing monthly to my nephew's care, including setting aside money for college. My boyfriend, "Alex," has three children from his first marriage and they are all close in age. His ex has remarried. Alex and I have been talking about marriage, but the sticking point is the money I spend on my nephew. Alex pays child support, but I easily give more to my nephew than he does to all three kids. I also have more saved for college. Alex tells me I am "favoring" my nephew more and need to be "fair" to his kids. He takes it as a lack of commitment on my part to the role of stepmom. I feel like my back is against the wall. I love Alex's kids, but they have two sets of grandparents, three parents, and other relatives. My nephew functionally has me. The money I send pays the light bill; my boyfriend's goes to French tutors and horseback riding lessons.

The situation isn't even close to fair. Alex makes more than me. It is tough to balance my bills, savings, and taking care of my family. Three other additional kids would put me in the red even if Alex and I merged our retirement funds. I know Alex is panicking because college costs are high and all three kids are most likely going to be in college at the same time, but I don't think the answer is that I make up the difference. Does this make me a bad person?


Danny M. Lavery rules that the letter writer is not a bad person and encourages her to ask lots of questions about Alex's financial expectations if they marry. "If he can't respect your role in your nephew's life as that of a guardian very much like his own role toward his own kids, then I think you have bigger problems than figuring out just how much money you want to earmark for each kid," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Should I Tell My Friend I'm Worried That She Actually Believes She Is Dating A Ghost?

I'm worried my friend actually believes she has been having sex with a ghost in quarantine. We went to college together but have lived on opposite coasts for close to a decade. I'm quarantining with my partner; she's quarantining alone. Both our cities have been locked down since March. We've always been close, but we've talked especially frequently during this time, because she lives far away from family and doesn't have a lot of close friends because of a punishing work schedule. In a conversation in April or May, she mentioned to me that she'd been masturbating while thinking of a man who lived in her apartment in the 1920s. I assumed she meant it as a fantasy, and we had a good laugh. But in subsequent conversations, she named the man John, and she's begun referring to him when I mention things my partner has been doing, like her stories are complementary: John said this, John did this, John is having a bad day. As her city slowly ends lockdown, she mentioned possibly seeing an old sex partner again, but said she's worried John might get jealous. She mentioned "John" on social media without explanation, and a mutual friend asked me if she was dating someone. We talk over the phone, so it's hard to read her expression when she mentions John, but at this point I know as much about him as I would about a real man she's dating. I can't tell if this is harmless or if I should have a more direct conversation with her about it. What do you think?


Rich Juzwiak urges the letter writer to just straightforwardly ask the friend if she's being serious when she talks about John. "She either is fully aware of how ridiculous this is or not at all, and the latter case would be cause for concern ... probably," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Why Don't Women Appreciate My Depth?

[M]ost women (not all) that I choose to date are not accustomed to a man with this much depth or emotions. Often don't know how to respond, haven't reflected on themselves or I've gotten "you just talk way too much for a guy"…

I do not see my emotions as a "handicap" or negatively. I am very self-aware, ask a lot of questions, confident, giving and work on compassion and empathy daily. I try to understand a woman's boundaries, how she likes to receive love and what is the best way to communicate with her. BUT my choices in potential partners to date seem to only want or go one maybe two levels deep in conversation about emotional intelligence and self-awareness... 

About me: I am an extrovert, I consider myself a loud "bag of shit" who has many close platonic female friends "best friends". I swear, my wedding line and bachelor party would consist of amazing GroomsWomen. I take pride in what I do, Tech Project manager (career) Yoga instructor (Passion to connect and help others)

SO! with that small snippet of what I believe is my challenge to find depth, passion, and emotional intelligence within an impatient, "I want it now", technological, self-gratifying, unaware, lack of true connection dating pool. You either get lost within the millions OR she lacks the emotional maturity/experience to go deep with me.

....... HELP me

Reflect on this differently. 

The natural technique of approaching a woman in person to spark up a conversation safely, has gone out the window… Women don't know how to respond to such depth and if you take the friend route..... now I feel like a mentor.

[Paging Dr. Nerdlove]

Harris O'Malley advises the letter writer to stop trying to force depth right away and instead start with small talk. "Here's the thing: having depth of emotion doesn't mean much if you don't also have the wisdom to know when to reveal it or deploy it," he writes. Read the rest of his answer.

Should I Be Worried About The Fact That My Boyfriend Hasn't Accepted Multiple Facebook Friend Requests From Me?

I have been dating this guy for almost nine months, and we often talk about getting married. Yet, I find myself preoccupied with a small thing: He doesn't accept my friend requests on Facebook. Several times now, I have sent him a friend request, and it hasn't been accepted. After three days, I get embarrassed and go to his page and delete my request. Afterward, I mention it to him, and he tells me that he didn't see it and I'm overreacting. He says that I have his heart and that there is nothing to worry about. Should I be worried or not? 


Annie Lane suggests that the letter writer tell their boyfriend that they've sent the friend request right away, instead of after they've deleted it. "If you can't be direct with each other about such a simple thing, marriage is not in the cards," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

How Can I Break My Habit Of Talking To Myself In 'Baby Talk' When I'm Home Alone?

I am a middle-age woman who lives alone.

I have a beloved pet. I work from home.

Before the pandemic I had very limited interaction with the public, by choice, but did go out freely on errands and shopping trips.

I consider myself a very cordial and pleasant person when encountering people.

Since the pandemic, my exposure to the outside world is close to nil and I have developed a bizarre habit that worries me.

Where I always had the habit of talking to my sweet pet in an overly sweet type of "baby talk," I have noticed that I have carried this over to everyday areas of my life, almost like a narrative of sorts: "Oh, I'm washing my face, Ohhhhh! And we don't have a toweeeelll!' ... in a sort of baby-pitched sing-song.

This happens often, throughout the day — a bizarre, high-pitched narration to punctuate different activities or to highlight different thoughts, decisions or items on TV.

I think I'm losing my mind. Have you ever heard of this, and how can I break this weird habit?

[Tribune Content Agency]

Amy Dickinson informs the letter writer that she polled her friends who live alone and found that all of them talk to themselves when at home. "I don't think you are losing your mind," she writes. "I think your mind has adapted to your situation, and so like Tom Hanks in 'Castaway' (he personalized and talked to a volleyball!), you have found a way to actually stay sane." Read the rest of her answer.

LV Anderson is the news editor at Grist and an advice column aficionado.

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Two years ago, Latria Graham wrote an essay about the challenges of being Black in the outdoors. Countless readers asked her for advice on how to stay safe in places where nonwhite people aren't always welcome. She didn't write back, because she had no idea what to say. In the aftermath of a revolutionary spring and summer, she responds.

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