Should I ask for what I need from him? And if so, how?
July 23, 2010 8:00 PM   Subscribe

My grandmother is dying. My boyfriend has not been comforting. Is this a character flaw, or can I somehow extract what I need from him at this painful time?

My grandma, who raised me and with whom I have a very strong bond, has been in a state of deterioration after a severe heart attack/stroke last year. Most of my close family has moved away and although they visit, many caretaking/visiting/advocating responsibilities often fall on my shoulders. I adore her and would go to the ends of the earth for her, so I don't mind doing everything I need to do to make sure she's comfortable and getting what she needs.

But it takes quite an emotional toll seeing someone you love in so much pain, suffering each day, with no improvement. I've talked to therapists (I am a social worker myself, so I'm certainly not anti-counseling) and have the emotional support of my family from afar. (I support them as well, as it's not an easy time for them either.) My friends have been understanding and ask how she's doing sometimes, but I rarely feel comfortable burdening them with tales of my dying grandma, nor do I feel like crying over a sushi dinner with them. Plus, I have my boyfriend for some extra, much-needed local support, right?

Not so much. (Some background: We've been friends for 10 years, dating for approximately 4 of those years.) I've been fortunate enough to never have lost anyone who is as close to me as my grandmother is, so this grieving experience is new for me. And perhaps him, too, to be fair. But I've found that he is perhaps the least comforting person when it comes to this. He rarely asks about her unless there's some recent development. If I've spent a day visiting her, he'll sometimes not even ask how my visit was. I'll offer the information out of a need to vent, and he will simply nod and say things like "that sucks" and "I'm sorry" and perhaps offer a hug. He's never once offered to accompany me to the hospital or nursing home. To be fair, I've never asked him to. Mostly because I sense he really wouldn't want to go.

Last night, I got a phone call that she was back in the hospital. It was a very upsetting, scary call. I let him know what was going on, he responded with "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say." He was out at a bar five minutes from my house at the time. He didn't offer to come by.

Tonight, I left work early to visit her and spent the whole evening with her at the hospital. The bf and I were supposed to go to an acquaintance's birthday party tonight. After a long day of work and many sad hours at the hospital, I told bf I was just going to head home, watch a movie, and get some sleep, as I was feeling pretty down and not necessarily social or fun. After urging me to come out anyway and several no's, he simply said "Aww ok. Maybe I'll come by on my way home around 1am, will you be up?" I simply said "Probably not, but have fun." Admittedly, a bit passive-aggressive. No response.

I realize it's unfair to expect someone else to get inside your thoughts and feelings and know what it is you need at all times, especially in extra tough situations. And I can't expect him to take on my socialworky qualities in times of crisis. But I do feel that sensitivity, consideration, and a little cheer-upping should be par for the course. I don't know how to ask this of someone who doesn't seem to know how to give it in these situations, or just completely lacks intuitiveness about these things. It feels wrong to have to ask this of someone who knows exactly how difficult it's been for me to deal with this all alone. It feels wrong that he makes me feel MORE alone at times. Also, instructing him on how to make me feel better wouldn't exactly make me feel better. I would literally run to him if he was grieving and sad, and I now know that he would not do the same for me.

I understand that he deals with grief and death way differently than I do. I understand that I'm not going to transform him into the warm, comforting, emotionally tuned-in guy I wish he was right about now, as I eat pudding in my bathrobe and cry to the internet about my woes. But I'm not getting what I need here. What do I do? What can I say? "Comfort me! Make me feel better! Say something nice! Be here for me! Forego stupid plans on a hot, rainy night with people you're not even that close to and come show ME you give a shit!" Actually...that could work. Would it? Help?
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Human Relations (49 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you told him what you need from him? We aren't very smart and sometimes need to be told.
posted by TheBones at 8:06 PM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you aren't sure HOW to tell him, or ask him, show him this post. You did a good job of summing up your feelings here, there's no reason why this wouldn't be appropriate to show to him.

You say "it feels wrong to have to ask this of someone who knows exactly how difficult it's been for me to deal with this all alone." Well, he doesn't, he's not you. If you are stoic, which it sort of sounds like you have been, then he probably assumes, and not necessarily rightly so, that you are alright with it.
posted by TheBones at 8:10 PM on July 23, 2010


Response by poster: I have told him that I didn't feel he was very comforting, at times when he's given me the "Sorry, don't know what to say" bit. His response is usually just another apology. "I'm not good at this stuff."
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 8:10 PM on July 23, 2010


Seriously. My husband flat-out told me to just ask him in plain words if there was something I wanted from him, 'cause he's just not good at reading things. If I want to be comforted, I walk up to him and say, "I feel like crap, I could use some serious TLC right now." I get the TLC I need, he doesn't have to worry about not knowing what I expect from him.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:11 PM on July 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


Being a comfort doesn't come naturally to some people - it feels awkward and strange. He may want to help but not know how, or he may just not understand how much you need him right now.

It feels wrong to have to ask this of someone who knows exactly how difficult it's been for me to deal with this all alone.

That's just it....you're assuming that he knows. I'm betting that he has no idea. Maybe it's because it's a grandparent instead of a parent, or maybe he's not as close to his family as you are to yours....for whatever reason, he's just not getting it. You really need to tell him what you need and then see if he gives it to you. Send him this link! Or send me his email and I'll do it....you need his shoulder to lean on right now. I'm sorry and wish you the best.
posted by iconomy at 8:12 PM on July 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ugh, should have previewed. Can you ask him to just come over and spend time with you? Specifying the way in which you want to be comforted could be helpful if he's experiencing clueless guy syndrome.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:12 PM on July 23, 2010


Best answer: A somewhat similar question was asked a few months back. Perhaps it will help you find some useful answers.
posted by thejoshu at 8:13 PM on July 23, 2010


Response by poster: Thank you for your responses.

I haven't really been stoic. (though, his inability to comfort during the emotional times makes me feel like I have to be more stoic with him. Which is not real. Or fair to me.) I've been very clearly down when talking about it with him, and cried several times. So it's not like he has no idea how this is affecting me.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 8:14 PM on July 23, 2010


Response by poster: @iconomy - Thank you for your well wishes. He has known for years what my grandma means to me, and does know how sad I am. This makes it extra confusing.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 8:16 PM on July 23, 2010


Best answer: Granted, it has been my experience that grieving can bring out both the best and worst in people, but I'm having a difficult time not seeing your point here.

You have been his friend for ten years and his partner for four? You have earned the right to be heard. I suggest you use it to explain to him exactly how you feel.

Yes, it sucks that you have to. This is exactly the kind of thing where you hope your partner, in a loving and self-giving way just intuitively drops everything and cares for you, but for some people, learning how to deal with grief comes later in life than it does for others.

I do not think you are being unreasonable, and personally, it would be tough for me to see a future with someone who puts such a high priority on acquaintances' birthday parties, especially in a time like this, but that is just me.

Tell him what you are thinking. He may come around, but be good to yourself in the meantime.

Prayers for your grandma. Have another pudding cup on me.
posted by 4ster at 8:20 PM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


What can I say? "Comfort me! Make me feel better! Say something nice! Be here for me! Forego stupid plans on a hot, rainy night with people you're not even that close to and come show ME you give a shit!"

Yes. Sort of.

He doesn't just need to be told, "Comfort me!" He needs to be told, "I feel comforted when you sit with me and let me talk about my grandma" and "I feel comforted when you come over to my place when I say I'm having a hard time" and "I feel comforted when you [fill in the blank]"--and he needs to be told, "When I am crying or am telling you I've had an awful day, I need for you to not go to the 'I'm just not good at this stuff' place: I need you to remember these things that I am telling you will comfort me, and I need you to do them for me."
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:22 PM on July 23, 2010 [32 favorites]


blackcatcuriouser: "Also, instructing him on how to make me feel better wouldn't exactly make me feel better."

Yes it would. Your boyfriend lacks emotional intelligence. There isn't a problem to solve so he doesn't know what to do. That's probably not his fault; he probably doesn't have any models to follow and really doesn't know what to say or what to do. But you can give him a whole new toolset now, and assuming you want to spend your life with him, this is an investment that will pay dividends over your whole lives together.

Or, on preview, what Meg_Murry said.

As with almost all relationship questions, the first step is to ask for what you need.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:30 PM on July 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Best answer: "I have told him that I didn't feel he was very comforting, at times when he's given me the "Sorry, don't know what to say" bit. His response is usually just another apology. "I'm not good at this stuff.""

He is being truthful -- painfully, bravely truthful, because he knows his cluelessness is hurting you. TELL HIM how to comfort you -- bring you ice cream? sit and hold you while you cry? Many, many, many people are terribly bad at this. (I was actually crying the other day when two friends of mine came over, being overwhelmed with some stuff and tipped into tears by the baby being squirrely, and one of my friends came over to me to take the baby and pat my back and say it would be okay and ask if she could clean my kitchen to help me out, and the other announced, "I'm not really comfortable with crying, so I'm going to go in the other room until you're done, but I feel really bad for you!" and then did so. Which actually cracks me up in retrospect ... that's a lot of honesty! Both are female.)

I know that it won't feel as "authentic" when you have to TELL him what you need, and that we would all like someone who just KNOWS how to make us feel better or comfort us properly. My husband makes me crazy with his inability to take care of me when I'm sick the way my mom used to ... he should just KNOW. I finally told him this. He asked me for the key points. I told him about making scrambled eggs and dry toast and checking on me every 30-45 minutes or so to make sure I didn't need anything and had a book. He SETS AN ALARM ON HIS PHONE. Part of me is still disgruntled he doesn't just KNOW how to take care of me, but the other part of me recognizes that he is willing to put in extra effort to do something not natural to him to make me more comfortable, once I explain to him what that thing is.

So please, tell him you'd like him to come by more often. Tell him you'd like him to ask about your grandmother. (I don't know what response to your stories you're looking for beyond "that sucks" ... there isn't ever anything good to say about these things.)

"I would literally run to him if he was grieving and sad, and I now know that he would not do the same for me. "

You can either live with that, or you can't. It's not totally clear to me from your post how serious you are. But as an adult you will have to specifically ask people for the support you need, because not everyone in your life will just "know" what to do for you. You should tell him what you need, what you think it is fair to ask him to provide. (For me, I think it's fair to ask him to drop casual plans to come comfort you, but I'm not sure it's fair to ask him to go to the nursing home.) But you need to recognize that not every CAN express their emotions well in these situations, and it is fair to say, "I need your physical presence and hugs and some verbal response beyond grunting to show you understand how bad this is for me" but it is NOT fair to say, "Pour your heart out to me and explain how you feel X, Y, and Z." In other words, you've got to meet halfway, even on this: Tell him what you need from him, but don't ask more than he is able to give.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:33 PM on July 23, 2010 [22 favorites]


And lost in that long response, I forgot to say I'm sorry about your grandma, that really sucks and I know how hard and scary it is. :(
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:34 PM on July 23, 2010


He has known for years what my grandma means to me, and does know how sad I am.

Yeah, it doesn't feel good to have to point out that he's lacking in the support department. Your bf isn't intuitively nurturing, but he can learn. He needs to be there to be an emotional support for you right now, that's one of the things that people in relationships do for each other. It sucks that you aren't getting what you need without asking for it, and it probably hurts to feel like he doesn't care. But he does care, and you need some hugs.... tell him so!
posted by iconomy at 8:36 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


my husband and i were friends for 10 years before getting together. when we got together we were bad at stuff like holding hands because we had spent so much time in the friend zone. very early on he said to me " i would like it if we vocalized what we found comforting. for instance, i find it comforting when you do ______" (i'm sure he said it with more flair than that, i just remember the gist)

and it was sort of weird at first, because i come from a background of "we shouldn't have to talk about it, it should just happen". however, i realized that it was actually really nice when i'd point something out that i liked in that way and the next week when i was down, there that thing was. a couple years down the line and we barely ever say new stuff anymore, and we barely have to reinforce things that we already knew. and i gotta tell you, it's the most supportive and comforting relationship i've ever been in.

you're very emotionally raw right now (for insanely good reasons) and it might not be the best time to actually process "is this a deal breaker?". get through the trauma with your grandmother. tell him specific things that you need (i'm not good at this stuff is a perfect time to say, i would appreciate if you could try _____). see if there's any improvement. maybe keep a journal (either online or off, but private and just for you) so you can remember your mental state about all of this later. and then when you have some distance from all of this pain, decide if this is something that can't be fixed, or even something you're not interested in fixing.
posted by nadawi at 8:36 PM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Best answer: I've been this guy. My GF would go thru emotional things, intense stuff like what you are going through and I didn't know what to do. All I really knew was that I couldn't fix it, and I'd learned that it was "male" of me to try and fix it, but that really all I could do was be there and offer comfort and support. I had to my trust my GF to tell me what she needed.

I still have no idea really what to do in this situation. I read your post and I think, so... what should the guy do, I don't know....

I think if I was your BF, as clueless as I am, I would love it to hear how I could help. I feel powerless in the face of big emotion and although I do have some experience with loved ones dying I'm crap at comforting. I know you don't want to do this, but for me, I'd love it if you said to me, hey love, I need you right now. I need to know you're beside me, and this is what I need from you... and you very clearly outlined that you wanted me by your side as much as possible right now, and needing me to be a partner, through all this.

In other words I would need you to ask me for pretty point blank what you needed.
posted by miles1972 at 8:41 PM on July 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry that you're going through this. It sounds to me like your boyfriend needs some clear instructions on what you need. Maybe he hasn't gone through the loss of someone close yet, or this is bringing up past grief that he's having trouble dealing with, or his grieving process is different to yours, or he's having a hard time coping with seeing you hurting. It sounds to me like he's at a loss (assuming that he's not usually insensitive or emotionally immature).

So, yes, you can tell him that you need comfort from him. And tell him what he can do, like Meg_Murry suggests. I know it can even be hard to articulate what you need at a time like this, but it is worth trying.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:45 PM on July 23, 2010


Best answer: miles1972 raises a second good point about fixing -- your boyfriend may have been urging you to come out so much because he felt like cheering you up could "fix" the problem. You may have double extra success in getting support from him if you tell him specific things he can fix. "I'm having trouble eating because I'm stressed -- can you get me chicken noodle soup?" "I don't have time to pick up my drycleaning because I'm at the hospital -- can you do that for me?"

Sometimes fixers, who freeze in the face of emotional issues like this, are actually fanfreakingtastic in the face of an acute family crisis, because they don't know how to make you feel better, but BY GOD they know how to make everything run while you're incapacitated by emotion. They do your laundry, pack your suitcase, clean your kitchen, appear periodically with food, pick people up at airports, and otherwise fix the little things that need fixing when you're at the center of a crisis. My husband not so good with the comforting always (still has to remind himself what he's meant to do), but put me in a situation of high stress where I'm freaking out and I come home to a shockingly clean house, a bathed baby, restocked cat food, clean litterboxes, and a comfort-food dinner. That's what he can fix, so he fixes it. As life gets more complicated with kids and pets and so forth, this skill becomes more obvious and valuable, I think.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:49 PM on July 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Maybe he's just stoic.

I mean I know I am. I've had my close relatives die and my wife was fawning all over me trying to make me feel better and I didn't understand it then, or now. I didn't like that much at all. I'm just like that I guess. I understand what happened. I know what they meant to me. I know it's sad, and it makes me sad, but I'm not going to cry and blubber around for days and days. I'll shed my tears, and that's my grieving process I guess.

This is like your situation in reverse.

He's probably like me, just doesn't know how to properly publicly process it, so he lets it go. I am absolutely terrified of my wife's relatives dying. If I behaved that way when my own loved ones die, how can I possibly comfort my wife when her's die? I've been married for almost 9 years and I have no idea. I know my wife will react pretty emotionally to the whole thing, and I don't know what to do about it. I literally assume the length of our marriage is based on both of her grandparents making it well into their 90s, because her reaction to my reaction might just do us in.

Yeah, I know how that sounds. But really, it's an obstacle we've only faced in one way (my way) a few times. I'd love to be there for her, but I don't think that I know how, and I'm pretty sure anything I do will be the wrong thing, and I don't want that either.

I'm just stoic I guess. I do feel, and I do grieve, but I do it in ways that most people wouldn't ever notice. I internalize it, live with it, know it, and accept it. And despite popular psychology, I get along just fine.
posted by sanka at 8:50 PM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Best answer: What do I do? What can I say? "Comfort me! Make me feel better! Say something nice! Be here for me! Forego stupid plans on a hot, rainy night with people you're not even that close to and come show ME you give a shit!" Actually...that could work. Would it?

Um, those actually sound pretty good (aside from the last one, which is too judgmental), as long as they're said politely and not all in a row like that. Are you suggesting that you haven't been saying any of these things, even while you have the time and ability to say them to a bunch of strangers on the internet? Wouldn't it be a lot more effective to tell him, rather than us, what you want from him?

He's never once offered to accompany me to the hospital or nursing home. To be fair, I've never asked him to. Mostly because I sense he really wouldn't want to go.

So you're pretty much admitting that you're not communicating what you want. You're hoping he reads your mind. Do you think he's very good at that? I can't tell, since I've never met him, but if I had to guess based on reading your question, I'd say he's not very good at reading your mind.

It feels wrong to have to ask this of someone who knows exactly how difficult it's been for me to deal with this all alone.

How do you know that he knows exactly how you feel? Again, based on your descriptions, doesn't it sounds like he's really bad at knowing exactly how difficult this is for you? He's shown you this over and over. Yet you're saying that surely he must be really good at knowing how you feel. That's your ideal of a boyfriend, but the ideal doesn't seem to be reality.

I would literally run to him if he was grieving and sad, and I now know that he would not do the same for me.

Well, isn't he at a disadvantage when it comes to that comparison? You're in the middle of grieving. You're very in touch with what someone who's grieving wants/needs, because that's synonymous with what you want/need right now. So it's actually fairly easy for you to imagine treating him really well if he were going through a similar experience: all you have to do is project what-you-want-for-yourself-right-now onto what-you-would-do-for-him. But I believe you said he has never had to grieve. Maybe the problem isn't just that he's inconsiderate; maybe he lacks imagination with respect to things he's never experienced before. (I'm referring not just to his ability to imagine how he'd feel if a close relative were dying, but also to imagine how he would want to be consoled -- and it's not a given that he would want the same kinds of consolation as you.)

You seem to have the classic "Sure, I could tell you what I want, but that would ruin it!" syndrome. It's this idea that honest communication is just too much of interference with the beautiful telepathy that's supposed to occur when people are in a relationship. You're seeing the results of this approach. It doesn't seem to be working too well, does it?

I do agree with you, of course, that it would be best if he were to do all the things you want him to. But he's clearly not doing that. You need to work with the boyfriend you have.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:53 PM on July 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Even if he does know exactly how you feel, he doesn't know exactly what to do. These are very different things.
posted by grouse at 9:00 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee: Sometimes fixers, who freeze in the face of emotional issues like this, are actually fanfreakingtastic in the face of an acute family crisis, because they don't know how to make you feel better, but BY GOD they know how to make everything run while you're incapacitated by emotion.

This is exactly me. I am not emotional, nor am I adept at picking up subtle cues. I know exactly how the household is supposed to work, and I know how to make it work like that whenever my spouse is having problems.

If you need something from your boyfriend, you should please, please tell him what that is. I have been told on numerous occasions that I will not notice "hints" unless those hints are written in Sharpie™ on a 2x4 piece of lumber and then I am hit with that lumber. Your boyfriend, assuming he has any kind of heart--and I'm not going to assume the opposite--knows that you are hurting and is being completely honest when he says he does not know what to say. If he could cry it out for you, he probably would. Instead, he thinks the way of solving the problem is to keep life around you as normal as possible so that when you are done with this process, you will be able to step right back in to your life.
posted by fireoyster at 9:05 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I honestly think he is trying here - but he's not trying things that are effective for you. He's encouraging you to get out, mix with friends, and distract yourself. He's trying to be a good listener, without constantly bringing up the Big Painful Thing (tm) and reminding you about how hard it is. He's being honest with you that he doesn't know what to do, beyond what he's doing - and that expression also says to me "but I'd like to do more!". Yes, it's true he might not want to go to the hospital. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm sure you sometimes don't want to go to the hospital. However, he really really really might want to go with you, especially if you let him know it would help you feel supported and loved in this time of crisis.

I'm really sorry you're going through all of this. It's rough, and because this is something novel in your relationship, it's made even rougher. I hope you can work it out. Give him the benefit of the doubt, think a lot about specifics that would make you feel better, and what sorts of things you do find comforting, and then help him help you.
posted by lriG rorriM at 9:07 PM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry -- these are hard times.

Based on what you've said, some specific things you can say are (I've added some details which may or may not work for you):

"Honey, I'm going to ask you to come to the hospital with me either today or tomorrow. I need someone to sit with me while I'm there." Or "Could you stop by the hospital and bring me a sandwich. You don't have to stick around all night -- but it would really help to see you and I'm going to need some supper."

"Today was another tough day. I miss you and I miss easier times. Could you run home right now, before the party, and rub my feet for 5 minutes? It would mean a lot to me."

It may not just be that he doesn't know what to do or say -- it may also be that he needs to know when he's getting it right. "He'll sometimes not even ask how my visit was." which implies that he does sometimes ask. Follow it up with a "thank you for asking me how the visit was -- it's exactly what I was hoping you would do."

In the big picture, you shouldn't have to be training your boyfriend in the middle of hard times -- on the other hand, when times are good, the areas of disconnect aren't obvious. That's what makes hard times so hard.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:22 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You need to tell him what you want him to do. Simple as that.
posted by desuetude at 9:29 PM on July 23, 2010


Yeah, to echo the others; you need to tell him how to comfort you. This question hits a nerve because "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say" could be a direct quote from me. When he says that he is not just repeating a platitude. He's speaking the literal truth; he doesn't know what to say.

People handle stress and grieving differently. They also need different kinds of support from others. There's nothing particularly right or wrong about that, nor with telling someone what kind of support you need. Whether that's the relationship you want is up to you but certainly I would at least find out if he learns what you need once you tell him. I do, but I sure as hell need you to tell me first.
posted by Justinian at 10:15 PM on July 23, 2010


desuetude nailed it. I am friends with a married couple who are exactly like this. He has no clue what to do when she is upset, but if she lets him know what she wants/needs he does it wholeheartedly.

I'm also suspicious he might have Aspergers. Your description reminds me of another friend who has been diagnosed with it.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 10:17 PM on July 23, 2010


I'm getting a strong passive-aggressive vibe from what you expect, and how you are dealing with this situation. Even your marking of best answers seems to reflect this; it feels like you aren't really looking for answers or advice, just looking for people to validate you on this issue or tell you what you want to hear.

Jaltcoh totally nails it. You seem to have the classic "Sure, I could tell you what I want, but that would ruin it!" syndrome. It's this idea that honest communication is just too much of interference with the beautiful telepathy that's supposed to occur when people are in a relationship. You're seeing the results of this approach. It doesn't seem to be working too well, does it?

This is exactly 100% right. Life is not a romance novel or a movie, you can't simply expect men to know exactly how you need to be treated at any given time and act accordingly if you aren't telling them specifically and directly what you need.

If he is out at the bar and you need him home to comfort you after a hard day then you should tell him that. Letting him think you are ok with him staying out and treating it like a test is not the solution to your problem.
posted by Jezztek at 10:19 PM on July 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Blerg, you know re reading that bit it seems a bit harsh and I see you did mark Eyebrows McGee also very good answer, I misread it initially. So I retract the "it feels like you aren't really looking for answers or advice, just looking for people to validate you on this issue or tell you what you want to hear." bit.

I'd delete my last post if I could.
posted by Jezztek at 10:22 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I have been going through something similar - it's my mother who's sick and my lovely, loving husband who, time and time again, wasn't doing what I needed him to. It was creating a whole new layer of pain - after 13 years married I felt radically alone, unloved, and abandoned. I felt like having to ask specifically for every piece of comfort took away from the spontaneous loving tenderness that I was looking for to ease the pain. I also felt that in addition to being in charge of my mother's care and my two younger sisters, I was also now apparently in charge of providing my own emotional support. I felt like I just did not have the love I thought I did, and the pain of that on top of everything going on with my mother made life close to intolerable for a while. It got so that every day seemed filled with fresh demonstrations of just how little he cared - and then it got so that each one seemed like an act of hostility. In other words, I completely lost perspective.

I regained it when we were driving to the funeral of his friend's father and he asked me, practically shaking with dread, "What do I say to her?" I said "Say 'I'm so sorry for your loss.'" He was convinced this wasn't enough - that it was what everyone said, and that he was utterly incapable of letting her know how deeply he felt for her. I realized during that conversation that when he was shutting down when I needed him, he was almost paralyzed with fear - like the guy above who says he lives in dread of the day his wife loses someone - that he wasn't going to do or say the right thing. He was becoming totally engulfed in the feeling of not being enough, of letting me down. It sounds to me like this is where your boyfriend is.

So is this a character flaw? Sure - having empathy and being able to express it in a way that makes a difference to others is a virtue. Not being able to do this for the one who loves and counts on you the most, that's a flaw. But I think now it's a flaw in the sense of you're flawed, I'm flawed, we're all flawed. It might be a deal breaker, if you can't live without that kind of empathy, but it's not a sign of a basically inferior being.

I now see my husband as being so loving and so open and so ready to be there for me that he doesn't even mind acknowledging that he's completely clueless as to how. I feel that all I have to say is "I need to cry for a while you hug me, and then I need a pizza and a funny movie" and it doesn't seem like I'm training him - it feels like I'm being told "You are in pain and you get to ask for whatever you need, you're not being demanding, I love you and would do anything to help, so just spit it out." And I do, and I know I'll get it. And the pizza will come from the place I like, with the kind of crust I prefer. That's his little special touch.

So I totally agree with all those who are saying that you should tell him what you need. I also think you should tell him how painful your perceptions of his distance have been for you - but also that you think you've misunderstood what that distance has meant, and that when you are in the midst of losing your grandmother you are all the more vulnerable to fears that you are alone. Give him the chance to tell you how much he wants to help and how totally helpless he feels. If he doesn't take that chance - well, then maybe he is a basically inferior being. But that's not the feeling I get from your post.

And one last thing - I always seem to write treatises, and I apologize, but this is hard-won wisdom. I have come to feel that although we as humans pay a heavy price for loving and needing one another, in the unbearable pain of loss - the path to solace for that loss lies in knowing that you filled someone else's life with love. What you are doing for your grandmother is a true act of love that has value beyond words for her and for you, and will not go away when she does. I hope that thought might help sustain you as it does me.
posted by Betsy Vane at 10:45 PM on July 23, 2010 [21 favorites]


Best answer: "I would literally run to him if he was grieving and sad, and I now know that he would not do the same for me. "

You know, this comment stood out for me, because it was the first moment it occurred to me that it might not occur to you that this is exactly what he might never want. I think sometimes people comfort in the way they themselves want to be comforted. It has been surprising to me how many men really, really wished that I'd just step away until they were willing to talk to me after something sad happened. All of my 'comforting sounds and considerate questions' were viewed as picking at a wound they really just wanted to lick in silence. They did like the being thoughtful enough to drop off food, however.

Truly, I don't know if it helps to frame it as having to 'train your boyfriend in difficult times'. That feels like it might just add to the devastation you are already feeling (how could I be with someone so thoughtless?). It might be more helpful to reflect on what it is that you want, and experience the joy and relief of having them do that. Keep in simple: I want you to lie here with me for about 20 minutes, stroke my hair, and tell me that I'm going to get through this. It would also help if you tell me that you are here for me, which obviously you are, because you're listening to me say this. Thank you. Then your narrative can be positive (This man listens to me.)

Please don't let yourself get caught up in the 'If you don't know me by now" song narrative. He does know you. He just doesn't know you as someone who is losing their grandmother who they love, yet. Don't penalize him for that. Don't do that to yourself. Grief is sadly, also an opportunity to learn about yourself and your partner. Cold isn't a partner who invites you out, when he doesn't realize he should invite himself over. Cold is a partner who you explicitly ask him to come over, who decides that his TV show is more interesting. Vitabellosi and others are right - be sure to give him positive reinforcement. Be kind to each other.

And bucketfuls of goodness your way. Your sadness and pain right now is a reflection of how wonderful your grandmother obviously is, as someone who clearly has been a gift in your life. It was probably always going to feel impossibly hard to see someone so important to you slip away right in front of your eyes, particularly before you are ready to let her go. But you will get through this. It is difficult, and so heartbreaking, but you can do this. You can be the person who visits when you can, and holds her hand, and stokes her hair, and plays music, and offers her comfort. I suspect that your presence and memory is a reminder to her that she is loved, has raised a thoughtful person - and is proud of both you and herself for doing so. I don't think there is a way to experience loss gracefully - I think you just endure it, try to be present, and feel compassion for everyone who is experiencing the losing of a love one. You will get through this.
posted by anitanita at 10:56 PM on July 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Best answer: But I've found that he is perhaps the least comforting person when it comes to this. He rarely asks about her unless there's some recent development. If I've spent a day visiting her, he'll sometimes not even ask how my visit was. I'll offer the information out of a need to vent, and he will simply nod and say things like "that sucks" and "I'm sorry" and perhaps offer a hug. He's never once offered to accompany me to the hospital or nursing home. To be fair, I've never asked him to. Mostly because I sense he really wouldn't want to go.

It sounds like you're both making assumptions instead of asking how the other feels. You would like him to ask about your grandmother and how she is doing; he knows it's a painful situation for you and the last thing he wants for you is to dwell on it further. He might not ask to come and visit your grandmother because you have such a close relationship with her and he feels as if it would be intruding. You don't ask him to come with you because you assume he doesn't want to.

I also sympathize with him when he simply says "that sucks" and "I'm sorry". What else is there to say about the suffering of a loved one besides that? I wouldn't be surprised if he feels that any words he might be able to offer would be insignificant compared to your relationship with your grandmother and that it would be disrespectful for him to even try.

Not offering to come and see you from the bar and trying to get you to come out socially after a rough day seem kind of insensitive. It could be that he's trying to avoid the whole thing altogether. If you're right about him not having anyone this close to him pass away then not handling it gracefully, while not fair in terms of providing the comfort you need, is fairly common.

I do feel that sensitivity, consideration, and a little cheer-upping should be par for the course. I don't know how to ask this of someone who doesn't seem to know how to give it in these situations, or just completely lacks intuitiveness about these things.

I lack intuitiveness about these things as well and judging from other comments it's not that uncommon, if not par for the course. "Sensitivity, consideration, and a little cheer-upping" can mean very different things from one person to the next.

I would literally run to him if he was grieving and sad, and I now know that he would not do the same for me.

This could very well be the last thing he would want.

What do I do? What can I say? "Comfort me! Make me feel better! Say something nice! Be here for me! Forego stupid plans on a hot, rainy night with people you're not even that close to and come show ME you give a shit!" Actually...that could work. Would it? Help?

Please try to avoid phrases like, Comfort me!" and "Make me feel better!" It sounds like he doesn't know what you need to feel better or to be comforted and this will just end up frustrating you both.

Your latter phrases are much more specific. "Be here for me!" is something he can actually do as is forgoing other plans to spend time with you.

I'm sorry about your grandmother. It's painful losing someone that close to us.

(on preview Betsy Vane covers some of the things I was trying to say much more eloquently)
posted by ODiV at 11:06 PM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


And as if I haven't already said enough...one thing you learn when you go through something like this is that there isn't a right thing to say - just say or do SOMETHING. How many times over the years have I dreaded calling someone who's in the midst of troubles - how do I know, does she like sick jokes, does she want me to be somber and wise, does she want me to suggest hanging out and watching So You Think You Can Dance or would that just be sooooo insensitive. (Now as a more mature person I know, of course, that there is never a wrong time for So You Think You Can Dance.) Now I see my friends doing the same thing and I think, God, you don't have to say the perfect thing, just let me know you're thinking of me. So having learned this, you'd think I would now be the most sensitive person EVER when a friend is in trouble! Then why did I spend four hours last night googling "what not to say when someone has a miscarriage"?

Point being, everyone who's said it's not obvious what comfort is, and that he might in fact be giving you a preview of what comfort feels like to him, I agree.
posted by Betsy Vane at 11:37 PM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Even if you tell him what you need him to do, he will still be doing it because he wants to, because he loves you.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:02 AM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


First off: I'm so sorry about your grandmother, and the pain you're going through, both with her illness and your relationship.

About your question...My marriage is like this. My husband is apparently congenitally incapable of emotional support and I have had many experiences like those described by Betsy Vane at the start of her first long post.

I respect the efforts of the folks saying "tell him explicitly what you need". However, this advice fails to recognize that when you are in emotional crisis, you BY DEFINITION are devoid of the kind of resources/resiliance to take care of yourself. Having to tell someone how to comfort you is an additional burden at exactly the time you are least capable of carrying it.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, yadda yadda. There's something to be said for knowing that you can shepherd yourself through the emotional depths and make it through, right. But let me tell you, there is also a price attached to this. Most people on the planet are capable of empathy and sympathy. Strangers on the Internet who wouldn't recognize you on the street are responding more strongly to your emotional situation than your partner, right?

If this guy has known you for 14 years and still can't find it within himself to even make the effort to do what you need, when you need it the most, to get outside of his own comfort zone to meet you in the middle when you're in crisis, then that's a fucking HUGE red flag.

By all means, talk to him explicitly, tell him what you need; hopefully he'll rise to the challenge gracefully and you both will make it through all right. By all means, find it in your heart to recognize that you're not perfect, either, just like he's not, and maybe in the grand scheme you'll decide that you can live with this, accept it as part of the natural compromise of any long-term relationship.

But good grief, life is long and full of challenge, and if you're thinking of signing up for a lifetime of being left twisting in the wind every time you're at your weakest... Think long and hard about that, if that's really something you want to accept in a lifetime partnership.
Sorry to be the big downer here, but it's a very sore spot for me and is likely to be the end of my marriage (17 years together, married for 12). Word to the wise, is all I'm saying.
posted by Sublimity at 5:06 AM on July 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sublimity, I don't think that's fair. The OP says that she hasn't been through this kind of grief before, and likely her boyfriend hasn't either; this is an entirely new situation for her boyfriend to see her go through this kind of pain. Even if he has gone through something similar, which the post showed no indication of, perhaps his own way of dealing with grief is entirely different from hers and thus what he knows to be comforting wouldn't be the least bit helpful to her. Not knowing what to do in a new situation does not, I think, equal to "being left twisting in the wind".

Also, it isn't like the boyfriend doesn't ever do what she wants. She said she wants him to come by. He was out at the bar and didn't offer to come by after that scary phone call, which I absolutely think she should speak to him about. But that other time when she told him she was tired after a rough day and wanted to sleep, he asked her if she'd be up if he stopped by after a party. (And were I in his shoes, I may have wanted to come by immediately, but sure wouldn't do so after the other person said explicitly 'I want to sleep'. Disturbing someone's sleep after a rough day isn't comforting.) So I think he's trying a variety of things in his own way, and admittedly timing them wrong or just flat out missing the mark, but I don't see this as a huge red flag (unless he refuses to help her when she explicitly asks for what she wants) just for not being able to intuit whatever she needs at specifically the right time.
posted by Hakaisha at 7:22 AM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Respectfully, I call bullshit on that, Hakaisha. It doesn't take a master's degree in psychology to recognize that the decline and imminent death of a beloved family member is a big, painful deal. This situation with the OP's grandmother has apparently been going on for a while, affecting the OP seriously, and if the boyfriend doesn't even move himself to ask how things went after she's spent the day at the hospital? Inexcusable, truly.

Listen. I recognize the tone of the original post--the careful way it's laid out, the full story, the justifications, allowing for every benefit of the doubt. That's the sound of someone who doesn't want to face up to the fact that they're being let down, badly--someone who's desperately trying to find evidence that it's not really as bad as it feels.

Well, it is. Absolutely, it's true that different people respond to grief and other intense emotions in different ways. But this episode is evidence that, in the face of one of the most intensely painful experiences someone can go through, he *can't* or *won't* step up to be there for her, he won't be proactive enough to find out what she needs and then do it. I'm telling you, that's a huge red flag.
posted by Sublimity at 7:40 AM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I apologize in advance if any of this sounds bad. I agree with anitanita - in situations like the one you're in, what I want is for people to act normally, not to get all huggy, touchy, lovey, bullshit on me, and to leave me alone. When my grandmother had her final illness, I recall distinctly thinking that some of my (particularly female) friends become cloying and annoying. The constant hanging around with concerned eyes and different voices. The asking how I felt. 'Just checking on ya!' It seemed to me like they were trying to constantly remind me and keep me in the most miserable part of my life. My wife was pretty good about it. But I do recall telling her at one point, look, I know where your shoulder is; if I need to cry on it, I'll come find you, OK? But I'm a guy and that's how I deal. But, of course, ymmv. That's why I would instinctively try to leave someone alone in this situation. It's broken; he can't fix it; he doesn't know what to do. Men often feel that they nurture through solving or providing something tangible and --honestly-- to a lot of guys, free-floating 'comfort' is kind of a vague, what-the-hell-does-that- mean concept. Am I prejudiced against men? Of course, I am one. We are often not smart out of our sphere of recognition. You want something, but he can't or won't play the game where women want something but unless the man dupes it out for himself it doesn't count. Maybe he's giving you exactly what he would want in a similar situation. And even if he is aware, in his dim guy-like way, that you require something more, what that is or why may be beyond him. But not because he's a soulless jackass; because he reacts differently than you.
posted by umberto at 7:43 AM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sublimity, I am so sorry for the pain you're going through. I do understand the pain of coming to feel that from this one person who's supposed to be there for you, you just aren't going to get what you need - because he doesn't love you enough or is just not a good enough person to make the effort. My mother is actually experiencing this right now - my stepfather has let her down so utterly during her probably-terminal illness that it can't ever be put right. If she lives long enough, she'll probably leave him.

The value of the "tell him what you need" advice isn't that she has to stage-manage every bit of comfort she gets (though I know the thing with the pizza sounds like that), but that this conversation will help blackcatcurioser know whether her boyfriend is a loving, supportive partner who's a bit clueless and afraid but will jump at the chance to get past that, or...not. Cluelessness and fear aren't always covering love and devotion and tenderness. Sometimes they're covering passivity, lethargy, and flat-out inadequacy. But unless she tells him what she feels and needs and gives him the chance to do the same, she won't know. And whether she works through this with him or leaves him over this, some clarity and understanding of what's been happening will be best for her long-term peace of mind.

And I wish you the same, and a partner who deserves you.
posted by Betsy Vane at 8:58 AM on July 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


I hear what you're saying, Betsy, but in the responses up there the OP says that she's told him he's not very comforting. His response wasn't "what can I do better to help you", it was defending his poor showing with "I'm not good at this stuff". That reads to me like she's already run the test you suggested and he flunked.

Fine to not be naturally good at this stuff--but not fine, to not be willing to make the effort to try.
posted by Sublimity at 10:01 AM on July 24, 2010


He rarely asks about her unless there's some recent development.

This is normal. Is he supposed to ask daily? Twice a day? You're creating expectations and then insisting that these are universal expectations that everyone knows. That's not true. I certainly wouldn't want to be asked about the same thing over and over again if nothing has changed. That he asks when there are new developments implies he's paying attention.

I'll offer the information out of a need to vent, and he will simply nod and say things like "that sucks" and "I'm sorry" and perhaps offer a hug.


You do realize he can't fix the situation, right? What do you want him to do when you vent? If you haven't told him, he doesn't know.

He's never once offered to accompany me to the hospital or nursing home. To be fair, I've never asked him to.

Read that again. You should be detecting a pattern.

Mostly because I sense he really wouldn't want to go.


Of course he doesn't want to go. It's if he's willing to go because he cares about you. You can't honestly expect him to look forward to such a visit.
posted by spaltavian at 10:34 AM on July 24, 2010


I hear what you're saying, Betsy, but in the responses up there the OP says that she's told him he's not very comforting. His response wasn't "what can I do better to help you", it was defending his poor showing with "I'm not good at this stuff". That reads to me like she's already run the test you suggested and he flunked.
Telling him he's failing is not the same as telling him what he needs to do to succeed. He has said "I'm not good at this stuff", and from what I can tell she has felt uncomfortable explaining specifically how he could do better. If she has said "I need you to come over and rub my feet" and he says "no, the football game is on" that is failing. But no one should be "flunked" for failing to adhere to rules that only one party knows about.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 12:36 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am very sorry for the situation you are experiencing.

I am a woman and I am truly terrible at helping people who are in pain. I just can't ever figure out what to do, and I always feel like it is a monstrous imposition to try and horn in on their grief by talking about it. If I were in your boyfriend's shoes I'd be behaving exactly the same way, even if I did feel bad that you were hurting and wished I could help. This is not a man/woman thing as much as it is a different kind of people thing.

You need to ask for what you want. You may not get it all the time - I can't say that I'd be thrilled about being asked to go to the nursing home/hospital even if I dearly loved the person who was asking - but it is emphatically not fair to expect that everyone instinctively know how to help you deal with your specific tough time. Everyone deals with grief differently, and if your style of grieving is different from his style he may not have any clue how to help you.
posted by winna at 2:57 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


There really isn't a common understanding of how one comforts another during a time of crisis.

Like the OP, and Betty Vane, I found out in the past week that my father's health is deteriorating. It was as if the world dropped away from below my feet. In the first two days, the grief was devastating; I did little more than weep in every room in the house.

During this time, I did not say what I wanted, which was to be held and told that I was going to get through this, and to be honest, Mr Anitanita didn't. I got judgy about it, and it took me a while to realize that his ability to intuit my needs is not a fair test on his love for me. Finally I started the sentence, "would you...." and he finished it with "go visit your father with you? Absolutely!" He later texted me a silly, 'we're going to visit your father' song, and all I felt was loved.

What I realized is that Mr anitanita is more responsive than intuitive. And really, if you can't have intuitive, responsive is so, so the next best thing. I imagine a thoughtful therapist might point out that I seem to be pretty crappy at saying what it is I want or need, probably because I'm unreasonably afraid of burdening others, and am not sure I deserve it. But he doesn't ding me for that, and though he has a pretty strong track record of positively responding to my requests, I still hesitate to ask. So the benefit of being with really intuitive people, is that I don't have to deal with my anxiety around asking. But that's not necessarily a great thing in terms of my development as a human being.

I will never know what would have happened if in those first 24 hours I had been explicit in my needs with Mr anitanita. I didn't ask. But I do realize that there will be more challenges to come, and when they do, I am going to make more of an effort to clearly state what it is that I want.

Please try to tell your boyfriend what you need. People don't always know how to help you during a time of grieving. Everyone is just so different. That doesn't mean you're incompatible. It doesn't mean that at all. This isn't an 'emotional intelligence- how "warm and loving" are you' test for him, any more than it is a 'ability to communicate effectively' test for you. He's not 'passing' or 'flunking' anything. This is your life. You are in pain. I think there are like 8 people in the world who seem 'preternaturally good' at dealing with grief. I swear to you that 7 of those 8 are trained hospice care workers and the 8th is a reincarnated Buddha who had numerous lifetimes to figure it out. The rest of us just slog along the best we can, and avoid it until it slaps us in the face.

Decide what it is that you need right now, and invite him to be a part of that. You deserve it, but if you want him to behave or respond to you in a specific way, sometimes you've got to be explicit. You've got to start the sentence with, "it would help me if you say/got/did......" and go from there. Repeat as necessary.

You don't necessarily have anything to lose by asking for what you want.
posted by anitanita at 2:59 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I'll tell you a story and apologise in advance for hogging the posting space; I hope there's something in it for you.

Some time ago, I had a car crash three hours from home. It should have killed me but didn't, the rental car ended up on its roof, one door torn off and strewn across the field.
Waiting for the police, I called my husband.
"Oh my God", he said.
"I'm ok, but the car is totalled. I need to know what to do."
"Oh. Ok." He gathered himself and began giving me advice.

I told him I was taking the train home and he said he'd meet me at the station.

After that, after a two hour ordeal of talking with the police and hitching a ride on the tow truck I sat in the train and burst into tears.
You know what I wanted? I wanted for him to have said, "Stay right where you are. I'm coming to get you." I wanted him to have said, "I don't give a damn that it's three hours, I'm coming."
I had almost died. I was scared and tired and miserable. But he hadn't come to rescue me and wrap me in love, he hadn't even considered it. I was married, but I had to deal with it alone. Come to think of it, when push came to shove, I was always alone. I thought about how his dad had sat with his mom in hospital and had absentmindedly pushed her slippers closer to her bed so she'd have it easy to slip into them, and I thought, "If I can't have that, what's the point of staying together?"

Well, I told him how I felt and how I wished he'd have acted. How unsafe and uncared for it made me feel. He said that when I'd phoned he'd been so gobsmacked his brain froze. He'd never been in any situation like that before. That he loved me and wanted to be there for me. He said a lot more things, but the important point is, after that, his entire behaviour changed. I noticed he'd take charge in little situations, when I wasn't coping too well . He had an air of assuming responsibility, of watching out for me. It was like he had redefined his role our relationship.

And now I'll tell you the thing I haven't admitted to yet because it was only much later that I realised it myself.

When I said I was taking the train home, this is the dialogue that really happened:

Him: Ok, I'm cancelling the club evening and picking you up from the train station.
Me: What for? I'm perfectly fine.
Him: Because I'm not sitting around chatting with the boys while you've had a car crash, for Christ's sakes!
Me: Oh ok. But you don't have to.

And I was dumbfounded when I realised this. That all these years I've been acting like I don't need anyone and like I can deal with anything by myself, because nobody's going to be there for me anyway. Yeah, I am Superwoman. And I never gave him a hint, or a chance what I was longing for. I had never realised it myself.


Give this guy in your life a chance to be the man you need.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:32 PM on July 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


For clarification: I say he flunks not because he can't read her mind, but because he was unwilling to ask what he could do better when she told him he wasn't comforting.

I agree with anitanita that very few people are naturally "good at this stuff" when it comes to grief. But unwillingness to even *try* to comfort a distraught partner is just incredibly weak, and to weasel out of it further when it's pointed out that one's (in)actions are making the pain worse is unconscionable.
posted by Sublimity at 5:56 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that's an extremely uncharitable reading of the situation. He is quite probably perfectly willing and even eager to comfort his partner, he just doesn't know what she needs. Do you think she flunks because she was unwilling to tell him what she needed? That would be an equally uncharitable reading.

Someone only flunks if they make a choice to not be there when you needed them or if they fail to learn what you need after you've told them a couple times since that means they don't care enough to learn. Simply not being able to read your mind or not knowing they should ask what you need is not a failure.

"I don't know what to say" would seem to include not knowing that you should say "what do you need me to do?".
posted by Justinian at 6:49 PM on July 24, 2010


Response by poster: Update:

Thank you all for the wonderful advice. I've especially appreciated the different points of view here. I truly can't relate to his way of coping/handling these kinds of things, so it's put a few things in perspective.

I had a serious talk with him in which I basically outlined the entire contents of my post - and more. I do think many of you were spot on when you suggested that the real problem here was not that he wasn't fixing things, but that he acknowledged his ineptitude in this area and did little to work on it. That was my main point when addressing it with him - "I don't expect you to fix things. You can't, no one in the world can. I don't expect you to understand what I'm going through. I don't expect you to know exactly how to help 24/7. I DO expect you to want to try." I also admitted that I'd sucked at asking for what I need. I gave him specific examples of things that would help me out.

He was apologetic and didn't get at all defensive, as I worried he might. He said I was right, that he handled things poorly, he understands why I feel the way I do, and doesn't want me to ever feel like he doesn't care or that I'm not a priority. He said he will try harder. Actions > words. We shall see.

Thank you all again.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 7:19 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


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