SL Letter of the Day: You'd Better Sit Down


Well, that ought to do it. I anticipate a lesbian-colored mushroom cloud over Seattle sometime in the next half hour or so.
Have you tried telling her this? If it doesn't solve the problem or goes badly, no loss really, THEN stop talking to your ex.
She's your ex-girlfriend, GFOBD, and you're writing to an advice columnist to complain about your ex-girlfriend is failing to meet your emotional needs. That stage-four lesbianism, GFOBD, and I've never seen a case in a biological male before.

*Falls over laughing*

I might be offended if it weren't so hilariously true.

Nowhere in the medical literation can I find a single documented incident of a biological male this involved with an ex-girlfriend and this invested in an ex-girlfriend.

This is where I have to disagree. This is completely anecdotal, but two of my best friends from college - both heterosexual males - were just like this. They would get woefully confused whenever I called them pussies.
This ought to be good.

And GFOBD, borderline doormat. This doesn't sound like a reciprocal friendship.
She's telling you about how much *better* she's doing without you and you're telling her about what you've been up to. She's trying to win the breakup. Don't fall for it. DTMFA (again).
It's OK to call someone spiritually retarded if you believe they are. Same with "emotionally retarded". Not OK to call them "retarded" as an insult to their intelectual abilities as that assignation is loaded with all sorts of unfair stigma and injustice past and present. Another example: when tlaking about motors, its OK to say the "timing is retarded" if you are delaying the spark into the combustion chamber. etc. Nuanced, but no one is more PC than I when it comes to the dd so I'm reasonably certain I'm in an ethically defensible position.

It seems like I've spent a lot of the day telling a bunch of regulars here how much I love them, so I guess it's your turn, Dan. And responses like that are the reason why.
@6 actually your position is retarded.
When it comes to the word "retarded," I just refrain entirely. The word is too laden with prejudice and cruelty, and I'd just as soon excise it entirely from my communication. The English language provides a wealth of alternatives that work just as well.

In my view, using the word, even in the spiritual/emotional sense described by motofly @6, is indicative of a lazy gutter mentality. It's so easy to be better than that, there's just no excuse.
I think "has broken up" is a little too passive of a tense to know what's going on here. If he was, in fact, dumped, he may very well still be pining for her. In which case, Dan's advice to stop talking to her is doubly important.
Well, we wouldn't know about that, FTE @ 7, since you're hiding your activity now. What's up with THAT?

To quote @5: "She's trying to win the breakup."

Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

I must admit I don't understand the position against the word "retarded." Does the ban on the word "retarded" apply to synonyms of the word? Like idiot? Moron? Fool? Dunce? Ignoramus? Stupid? Imbecile? Dolt? Which, if any, of these words are we allowed to use as an insult to a person's intellectual ability? Or are we just not allowed to insult someone's intelligence, and instead must remove all of the above from our vocabulary?
AD, truly there is something up with THAT, but I'm not telling (for the same reason my activity is hidden). But at least my avatar's a real photo of me.

Regardless, you're definitely on the "love you too" list.
This sounds a little like my barely-extant relationship with my ex. I'm pretty sure she's decided, after the fact, that everything that was wrong in her life before we split up was mostly if not completely my fault. The few times we've talked since have been friendly but she's been careful to point out how much better off and happier she is now that things are completely different from how they were when she was with me.

It sucks and it hurts, because I wanted us to be genuinely friendly, but it is what it is. I've stopped trying to stay in touch. If your ex is bringing you down, GFOBD, tell her to knock it off, and if that doesn't work, stop talking to her. She's not your girlfriend any more. At some point you've got to stop thinking of her that way and mourn and move on.
If he's only looking for a little verbal encouragement and support now and then - the kind of encouragement and support he gladly (and kindly) gives his ex - then it might be wise to consider whether or not his ex is just the kind of person who really only wants to talk about herself and isn't at all interested in his well-being other than to the extent that his well-being will continue to provide her with what she needs.

If she is that kind of person, then DTMFA.
Proof once again that trying to remain friends after a breakup rarely, if ever, works out. God knows I've tried.
Calling someone retarded. or coming up with what YOU think are witty euphamisms for it, is like phobes calling each other faggot. They may think it's harmless and cool, but it's not. When are you going to outgrow this idiotic habit of saying leotarded? It's pathetic.
@ Dan: Correct!
@ 5: Correct!

The ex-gf is indeed playing to win, proof positive that one doesn't have to have a dick to act like one.

@Dan ftw.
@13 I'm in the same position. I get that it's hurtful to point out other people's faults (we DO still consider being mentally disabled a minus, right?), but we use negative adjectives in a whole host of other situations. E.g., "a fat stack of cash," "the ugly truth," etc. What's the deal with declaring someone who is acting like he has diminished mental capacity "retarded"?

I'm not trolling here; I just want to understand. In case it matters, I've mostly phased the word out of my lexicon since folks started getting all offended. My new phrase of choice is "deeply stupid."
Get a new Gf already. Expect her to pat your head. Stop being a douchebag.
"That's stage-four lesbianism, GFOBD, and I've never seen a case this severe in a biological male before."

God, Dan, I hope for your and your family's sake you've got your vagazzled kevlar vest on right now...
As a lesbian (hate the word but for now will identify) whose current, soon to be ex, girlfriend is already, pre-break-up, accusing me of future post-break-up lack of supportiveness, I totally agree.
Fifty-Two- Eighty,

Hope all is okay. I thought there was a new trend of hiding activity, your not the only one of late. And, being an exceedingly uncool person, I'm always late to clue in. Seeing as it is all archived and Google can find all, I personally don't see the purpose. That could be due to my hitting the Laphroaig already today. But hey, whatever lifts your luggage. ;)

" ... soon to be ex, girlfriend is already, pre-break-up, accusing me of future post-break-up lack of supportiveness ... "

I'm wondering whether your STB-ex is my ex who wanted to have a Serious Talk About The Problems In The Relationship on the topic of why we didn't have any problems in our relationship.
X's suck. Their memory, like old phone bills. Shred them.
@13 What's more, half of the words you mentioned are originally or previously terms for the mentally disabled anyway (idiot, moron, imbecile). Feeble-minded and cretin also were (you still may see cretinism, which describes a specific condition caused by iodine deficiency). Cretin, interestingly enough, is thought to perhaps come from a dialectal French form of "Christian".

Anyway, it just happens that being stupid, like being ugly, is just not ever going to be considered a positive condition by humans. Are there any societies where they are? It is likely that evolutionary motivations simply make that a part of human nature. Asking people not to insult based on intelligence is just not going to happen. And if calling someone stupid is acceptable, then what difference does it make if you use retarded? Are the retarded unable to realize the connection between their condition and stupidity? Certainly everyone else is. So if you think that not using "retarded" will somehow stop people from associating mental disability as something negative, I think it's a bit naive.

That doesn't mean that I'd call someone mentally disabled retarded to their face, or use the term in their presence.
@21--this is a bit discombobulated, but I'll give it a try. For many years I worked with people with developmental disabilities, so this is a particular hot button with me. Thanks for honestly inquiring.

It's about discrimination and de-humanization. Using a disability (other word/state of being of any other protected group of people) as an insult is de-humanizing people who possess said state of being. Unfortunately it's become so much the vernacular that people don't realize how offensive it is. Think about if you take a stereotype of some minority, and call everyone who is not part of this minority the vernacular or offensive term who chooses to exhibit said stereotype.

Why is it different than "moron" or "idiot?" Well, it's nuanced. People are diagnosed with a developmental disability that is called "mental retardation" (which I believe is now on the outs, in exchange for the term "intellectual disability"). Though they are technically medical descriptors, people aren't diagnosed as morons, imbeciles or idiots anymore. So using a medically diagnosed disease (particularly one that people have no control over) as an insult is incredibly offensive.

Furthermore, this is an aspect of someone they can't change. They are people first, who have a disease/condition that they don't want defining them as a person. So even calling someone a "mental retard" when they have been diagnosed with that condition is insulting and offensive, defining them by their inabilities.
@28--if you're not using it in their presence, then don't you KNOW it's wrong?

People with intellectual disabilities are so much more than their disability, they just want to be recognized for that and respected as equal members of society. Using their disability (or someone's race/ethnicity, color, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc.) as an insult is prejudiced, disrespectful, de-humanizing, and wrong.
Re: "stage-four lesbianism" and the whole pussy vs. ball sack thing the other week.

These gems are why Dan is the king of all advice columns.
@28, very very well-put, finally someone who knows there is a difference between calling things "retarded" and recognizing the humanity of developmentally disabled adults and choosing not to mock them.

My good friend walks with a pronounced limp. I can't imagine waging a campaign to remove the colloquial use of the word "lame" from the vernacular, so why are you doing this with "retarded"?

Great job as usual, Dan. The dude is obviously an emotionally retarded doormat and the sooner he stops returning her emails, the better.

...future, post-break up lack of supportiveness...


I'm impressed.

This is like Finnish, where they've got dozens of verb tenses and it makes my head hurt.

I hate to sound like a fanboy, but Dan's advice is perfect.

In principle, it's a good idea to try to salvage a friendship out of a breakup, but as principles go, it's not really that important — maintaining your self-respect and minimizing the drama in your life should be higher priorities. Sometimes it's better to cleanly excise people from your life.

You should read The Underminer: The Best Friend Who Casually Destroys Your Life, by Mike Albo.
Another lesbian-ish queer here. Hilarious. True, and fall-over-laughing funny. He should get that checked out.
I couldn't agree more with the "she's trying to win the breakup" comment. She could also just be so self involved that she is unable (or unwilling) to feel empathy for anyone but herself. It wouldn't surprise me if her selfishness was one of the themes that eventually led to the breakup. There are a few options:

1: Continue this post-breakup relationship without saying anything (or doing anything) which would only mean that your current state-of-mind will not change and you will find yourself in the same frame-of-mind one year from now.

2: Approach her kindly and let her know how you feel. If you haven't done this yet, you are the only one responsible for how you feel. Her reaction to your attempt to change things will determine where your post-breakup relationship goes. If she recognizes that support is a two-way street, you both will benefit from a mutually supportive relationship. If she doesn't, then she will lose a member of her support network.

Good Luck and Choose well.
I would try to be offended by this whole lesbian thing that Dan has... but the girl I was trying to make out with last night, wanted to stop midway so that we could talk how our casual, NSA snog (seriously, not even a hook-up, just two drunks kissing in the bar) would *affect the dynamic in our group of friends*... to which she got a bemused 'can we wait to overprocess this until we're done?'
@29 I'm trying to understand what your position is. You seem to be saying that it is ok to use a lack of intelligence as an insult (moron, stupid, idiot, etc) so long as you don't use a term that is close to a medical definition. Thus, if I want to say something the lines of "That is not intelligent," I can say "That is stupid" but I cannot say "That is retarded." In essence, I can use lack of intelligence as an insult, but only with certain words.

I must admit that this doesn't make sense to me. If the mentally disabled don't want a lack of intelligence to be used/viewed as an insult, then it doesn't matter if you use medical terms or not. For example, as you said, we do not think it is ok to use race as an insult. However, this applies no mater what word you use to reference race. If a person was to say, "Gosh, that's a stupid thing to say! What are you, an African American?" we wouldn't say, "Oh, well, they used 'African American' and not 'nigger,' so we're all good." We would all say, "There is nothing wrong with being African American!" It's the same for age, sex, race, and so on.

As has been said, there are a lot of things that we view negatively and use as insults that really aren't fair. If you say, "Oh, you're a big, fat, ugly liar!" You are at the very least using "fat" and "ugly" as insults. The list goes on. Bastard, bitch, son of a bitch, cunt, dick, douche, fucker . . . all are words that don't have an inherent badness that we would be willing to own up with. There isn't anything really wrong with having unmarried parents, female dogs, offspring of female dogs, female genitalia. male genitalia, rising of the female genitalia, or people who have sex. But we use those words anyway. If you really pushed, how many words that we use as insults really have meanings that we are comfortable saying really are bad?
Man, I was in a friendship like that (the other person constantly seeking emotional support and giving none). Seriously, drop her like a hot potato, that kind of thing is emotionally exhausting and will bring you nothing but grief.
@29: I guess I see a distinction between stereotyping on the basis of, say, race/sex-- where individuals within that race/sex are so varied as to make generalizations meaningless-- and stereotyping on the basis of a defining characteristic. All midgets are short; if they weren't, then they wouldn't be midgets. Similarly, all mentally disabled people are of below average intelligence; if they weren't, then they wouldn't be mentally disabled. I can say your solution is "dwarfed" by my solution without it being an insult to people with dwarfism; why not say your solution is "retarded" compared to mine?

Similarly, using race or sex as an insult is problematic because it necessarily implies that the race/sex is inferior in some way. Whereas using a disability as an insult is less concerning because having that disability is, by definition, a disadvantage. So we can accuse someone of being "blind" to the big picture, or "deaf" to the concerns of others, without such statements being insulting to the blind or the deaf. And neither the blind, the deaf, nor the midgets can change who they are either.

But... I can see a distinction there as well. Blind people are generally considered "people," in that their thoughts, feelings, and ideas are respected to the same extent as others (which occasionally means, not at all). The same goes for the deaf, the lame, the paralyzed, etc. But the mentally disabled are often stripped of their "personhood," and treated as "lesser than" in that their thoughts, feelings, and ideas are ignored or considered less important than those of other people. And it is because of that historical and to some extent ongoing mistreatment that "retarded" is offensive while "blind" is not.

Am I close?
@40, yes, the last paragraph sums it up pretty well. But on the "dwarfed" comment: people with dwarfism prefer the term "little people." I'm not really going to go there, I didn't pick that term, but I will respectfully use it.
Hey, FTE, I do sincerely hope you are OK. My life would be a lot duller without you and your ball gags. xoxo, Sweetpea!
@37 ftw. Wow.
Oh, I'm fine, AD. I just managed to pick up a stalker somehow. It happens. I'm an ex-cop, I can handle it.
And don't ever forget that there's a ball gag here with your name on it whenever you're ready. In fact, I'll put your name on the armbinder too if you want.
@43 sadly enough there wasn't much 'winning' involved. Head banging on wall, yes. Winning, no.
People who have a diagnosis of mental retardation are not stupid. They have mental capacities that are below average; it is beyond their control.

People who are stupid are people with average or above average mental capacities and don't use these capacities. If we call these people 'retarded' it is an insult to all people with a diagnosis of mental retardation because these stupid people (not the ones who are diagnosed with mental retardation) have a modicum of say over whether or not they are stupid. And they choose stupid.
Dude, just take your balls back from her and quit talking to her!
Oh FTE! You're all heart!
To 38, there is a difference between describing a condition that someone has, such as low intelligence, and using the term for that condition to describe someone who is committing a particular action. Someone with below-average IQ is someone who is going to have more difficulty doing a host of tasks. But what they actually learn and do will be affected by their potential, their education, and their work. Someone with a low IQ could learn more and do more than someone with a higher IQ if that person received a better education and worked harder. There will still be some things that are totally out of reach, but it doesn't mean that their actions will always or even usually be stupid.

Someone with a normal IQ who is doing something stupid is someone who is not using the abilities that they have. So, comparing them to someone who has fewer abilities is a bad comparison and rather offensive. They are not actually necessarily acting like someone with a lower IQ. There's a huge difference between thinking being more work for you and someone who doesn't bother to think about something.

And assuming that everyone with intellectual disabilities will act stupidly is offensive and simply wrong. The disability is a statement about obstacles they face, but it does not tell you much about what that individual will actually achieve.
Retarded means slowed, often intellectually slowed. Retard (accent on the second syllable) means to slow the progress of. Only retard (strong accent on the first syllable) is an insult.

While I have heard parents of a developmentally disabled person refer to that person as retarded, I have never heard one refer to their child as a retard.
Stage-four lesbianism!

Ooooh, this has just opened up a whole new wing of hilarity in my house o' funny.

And to the PC word police: get the fuck over yourselves. Seriously. Life is offensive. Deal.

Also, PC word-policing is total stage-one lesbianism. If you haven't actually eaten pussy while fingering your own clit just yet, you've definitely thought about it.
@19 - but everybody has an asshole.
@6 "that assignation is loaded with all sorts of unfair stigma and injustice past and present."

if there wasn't, being retarded wouldn't be an insult.
straight male here, need someone to define the four (five?) stages of lesbianism. plz.
Yes, someone needs to create a Stages of Lesbianism infographic. Then silkscreen it onto T-shirts and sell them on Etsy.
@38, the way I see it is there's a difference between "retarded" - inborn intellectual disability - and "stupid" - not bothering to think while being perfectly capable of it in theory. I have no problem with calling someone stupid when they're being stupid, because that's their fault, while retard and its synonyms is just being nasty about something people aren't responsible for and can't do anything about.
There's retards and motards. Motards are, of course Mo' Retarded.
Incidentally, the stage four who wrote the original letter is a motard.
She thinks you are trying to get back together with her- because you're signaling her that you believe your relationship would have a better chance of success now that you've fixed these issues. Why else would you couch these improvements in terms of how they affect(ed) your now defunct relationship, instead of merely describing them as personal achievements? I think she gets what you're after and her lack of encouragement is a way of hinting to you that she's not interested in rekindling your relationship.

Yes, she's told you about improvements in her life, too. But those improvements are of a different nature- it sounds like she's trying to tell you that the breakup was good for her- that she was unhappy when she was with you and now she's in a better place.
@5: Nailed. Just get away from this girl.
As a father of a boy with Down Syndrome, I really do wish y'all would stop using his medical diagnosis as a slam. There are lots of suitable words to use instead.
Yes, he IS a spiritually retarded, self centered prick...
"stupid" - not bothering to think while being perfectly capable of it in theory.

Well said.

The problem with the use of the term "retarded" is that it carries the connotation of uselessness and worthlessness. It's an insult we learned in elementary school and used with the naive cruelty of schoolchildren. We believed the kids who rode the short bus were not as human or valuable as we were. When we called someone or something retarded, we thought it was funny because we thought retarded people themselves were a joke. That's why responsible grown-ups asked us not to use it. When we use it today; we continue to imply that developmentally delayed/retarded people are,in themselves, a joke. It's not a conscious campaign against the disabled, but it's lazy and irresponsible. When I use terms like stupid, I don't inadvertently imply that a very particular sector of humanity is laughable in their very existence. It takes a bit more effort, but why not come up with more creative (and responsible) terms of derision?
I agree with everyone who says she's trying to win the break-up. But I'll add: if HE broke up with HER, he has to cut her some major slack. Especially if the break-up wasn't that long ago, she has some important self-preservation to do, and can't afford to be too emotionally invested in him. So, yeah: you tell yourself and him that you're better off, and don't care too much about he's doing, if that's gonna help you move on.
"straight male here, need someone to define the four (five?) stages of lesbianism. plz. "

I prefer video, unless, you know, they look like Pete Rose and wear flannel.
What words are offensive to whom isn't always completely rational. At some point the NAAPC thought that "colored" was an okay word to describe their members, now, not so much.

I figure the polite thing to do is to refrain from using words that others find offensive, when you learn of their offense. This seems like a fairly simple rule to follow, and costs me little. So I've stopped using "faggot" and "retarded". There are plenty of other words in English.
Coming from a lesbian, that was AWESOME. Snap out of it, boy!