I don't mind if you post this to your site, but I think people will think badly of me, primarily you... I dunno. but I just want you to know that Lion (cheating boyfriend who turned a new leaf, failed again, etc.) has done something drastic. For the good. At least I think so.... I know you will say to me that I deserve all the pain that he will maybe put me through ... and I know. But please hear me out....
I was unsure if I could write to you again because you told me to dump him and I did not listen. But I tried. I tried to break up with him, but after two weeks of back and forth communication, I noticed the primordial thing in all of this problem I had with him is that we did not communicate fully. Yes, he fell... but you gotta give me credit on something. I gathered the courage to tell him everything. How he made me feel, how I knew everything he did to me, and that if he wanted to be with me, he had to really gain my trust again. He cried while hugging me asking for forgiveness, and trust me when I say he does not cry easily.
I feel that this whole incident was a new turning point in our relationship and he finally understood the ultimatum I gave him. He cried for months, telling me how wrong he was, how desperate he was to change and that he was going to finally give all he had for me. Because I deserve it. He said I deserved only the best of him.
A few months later, he is kneeling before me, asking for my hand in marriage in front of our entire family and our friends.. and I said yes. I know you will say I am making the biggest mistake in my life, and I probably am... but... it's not that I'm afraid I'll never find love. I know I will, be it with Lion or with someone else, I know I can find love again. But Lion and I are so close together... when I am in pain, he feels it. When he is in pain, I feel it. It has become like that since everything happened. I can say he is my soul mate. My other half. I am thankful that God has allowed me to live in a far more beautiful reality than my dreams.
The sir that gave us the wedding gifts is still with us helping us, Lion stopped talking to that girl and deleted everything about her, and he has shown love to me far beyond I have imagined. He says he is deeply, amazingly grateful for what I did; he knows that he does not deserve what I did for him, but that I deserve only the best of him and that he will do everything in his will and might to make me happy til death do us part. I learned not to be weak minded and set my boundaries and he learned to say no to temptation and run away from it as fast as possible.
I am shaking right now because I know you or your followers will probably hate me or scorn me for it; when I wrote my last letter, it was out of pain, but this one is in a relaxed yet anxious tone since im secretly terrified of what others may think. :'( I deserve everything you may say or think but.... I just wanted you to know. keep it up, you have been of great help to me and many, many others.
* * *
First of all, I would never hate you for following your heart. Secondly, what difference does it make what I or others think about you and Lion? The only thing that matters is what you and Lion think and feel.
My earlier responses to you were based on what you were telling me. I have the singular disadvantage that when I hear about people's problems, I only get one side of them. I never heard from Lion or what he was feeling and thinking, so I could only judge his actions by what you said--and what you said was said while you were in emotional distress.
There was once a time when I thought that people couldn't change. But that time is long past. People can change, the only question is will they? I do not doubt that Lion, at this time in your history, is sincere. Only time will tell if he will remain true to his word; he does have a history of going back to old habits.... Only you are responsible for your actions in believing him or not.
I truly truly truly hope that he has changed for the better; I'm still a bit uncertain about that. BUT! What I do see here for certain is that YOU have learned to stand up for yourself and speak your mind. Even if this doesn't work out with Lion later, I think you have learned a lot and have grown, and that is worth a million bucks. And, if it doesn't work, don't consider it time wasted. I was married for 21 years, and even though my marriage ended, I consider that time with her time well spent.
I wish both of you luck and love. Don't forget to send me some wedding photos :-3
* * *
Oh my God, you're the best. <33 I am in awe of your kindness and care. I really thought you were going to throw stern words at me, but alas, you surprised me once more. <3
Of course I will send you photos! I am very thankful for your advice and care for us lil' furries. Thank you so much. <3 I know I can always count on you for guidance when I need it the most, and for that, I thank you. Expect an update from me in the future with my wedding photos included. It will be inDecember 19th, 2015! :D
God bless you!
Hello Papa Bear,
My name is Mike. I’m 17, from Germany, and there are some things I would maybe like to talk about with you.
I am in the furry fandom for almost 3 years now. I feel good in it. I like the art, most people of it and yeah, I really like it! But there’s one thing/or thought I have and that crosses my mind quite often.
I don’t need full attention 24/7, I don’t want people to adore me or compliment me every moment. To be honest, I’m happy how I am. But still I sometimes get a weird feeling when looking at, let’s say, furries with many watchers, or many page views, or when having a partner. I know this is stupid, but i often think in a way like „why them and not me?“
I sometimes feel like not being worthy or good enough. My self-esteem isn’t low all the time, but sometimes there are these moments where I tend to think in a very negative way.
I have an idea that this may come from my past and my ex. My parents divorced, I had some really bad years, but somehow managed to get around, figured out my sexuality and came out and things went okay. But not all. As time and my mind progressed, I realised more and more that my father has no real interest in me. I have a feeling that he needed me so he could pressure my mother during the breakup and when they argued all the time. When this stopped, I still saw him from time to time, but on neither side it felt like we wanted to see each other more than we HAD to see each other, because that is how things go, right?
Then I met a furry and pretty much fell in love with him. This was last July. For me, a 17 year old is the first relationship very exciting. Things went okay at first, but soon it failed horribly, but, naive and filled with feelings, I thought that he just had a bad phase. He had 2 exes and both cheated on him and changed him so that he is scared of trusting anyone. Additionally to this, he had problems with his parents, so the whole situation wasn’t easy for him (he wasn’t outed). I tried to help him and to show that he can trust me, but every time there was a step forward, there were two backwards. One time he told me he felt like he liked me too and it felt good; then he went silent for days and said that he isn’t ready for a relationship and doesn’t know if he will ever be; then he told me how he likes me again. Being naive, I thought I could help him, this poor guy who lived through all these bad things with his exes and his parents and so on. But soon it started to hurt me. How he didn’t text me, didn’t talk to me for days, turned me down for more important things (like doing vore RPs instead of talking to me) and my self-esteem dropped. It was a relationship and it started out so bad, but I thought that it would turn better. We both made some mistakes, but how he acted towards me was worse and worse.
But the way how he treated me, didn’t give me attention, hurt me a lot. And at the end I decided to break up. He wanted to do it too, but told me, that he didnt have time to tell me. We talked long and to summarize what he said is that he didn’t have the nuts to do it. All in all, the whole relationship with him was poisonous for me and lasted 3 months. I felt like a wreck after it.
At the same time, I tried to better the relationship to my father. I had no real father figure in my life and was scared to loose something like this. But I also realized that he didn’t really care for me and I broke off contact. I do have awesome friends, I do have an awesome sister and also an awesome mother, but this was like my father just died and I was left alone because I wasnt worth enough for being his son.
I don’t know, maybe this led to my first relationship, that I was searching for safety. But in the end it was just something I tried to build up in my mind and keep my little world somehow running and working because I thought everything will work out this way.
My father and ex gave me the feeling of not being worth enough. Maybe that’s why I’m jealous of other (happy) people? Thanks in advance.
* * *
Sounds like you’re pretty good at self-diagnosing. There is a logic to what you say, especially when it comes to your father’s rejection of you (or, apparent rejection), and that this would leave you overly sensitive to the idea that you might get rejected by furries, or even just being hyper that you are not as popular as other furries.
I have a couple pieces of advice for you. First of all, you say you have an awesome mother, sister, and some great friends. Instead of focusing on what happened between you and your father and your ex, look at all the great people you do have in your life! There are many people out in the world who don’t have anyone like that: no mother or father, no siblings who care about them, not even an aunt or uncle or grandparent. This isn’t to say that the pain you feel about your dad and ex isn’t legitimate, but you shouldn’t feel that just because some relationships in your life didn’t work out that you are somehow unworthy of love and friendship. Your other relationships prove you are worthy. Nobody on this planet has a 100% relationship success rate. No-bod-y.
Secondly, there will always be other people who are more popular, more successful, richer, more handsome etc. etc. than you are. Don’t worry if some other furry has 1,000 friends on Facebook. It’s not a competition, and, besides, most of those people—if not almost all of them!—are not really friends but just people who follow that person or are casual acquaintances. Having a Facebook friend or followers on, say, FurAffinity, is not nearly as valuable as having true friends in your real life. Let those furries have their slew of followers; who cares? I’d rather have 5 super duper friends than 5,000 acquaintances.
So, there really is no mystery here, and I’m guessing that you wrote Papabear just to check if your thinking is on the mark or not. I would say, yes, you have a good grip on what’s going on. Now that you understand why you are struggling with self-esteem, you can do things to make yourself feel better about who you are:
Be happy, my furiend,
How are you? And Happy (belated) Valentine's Day. I've been in the furry fandom for at least two years (or three, I haven't been keeping up really). I was a gamer ever since I was 8 years old, and at age 15, I found out that I wanted to have a career in the gaming industry as a game designer. And in 2013, I gained interest in the furry fandom and it has really helped me through many things. But now I seem to have hit a dilemma, should I give up being a furry just so I can have a successful career?
Neo the Demon Skunk
* * *
Your question no doubt stems from the all-encompassing fear among furries that they will be “found out” and fired for being a furry. Nonsense. If that were true, nobody who was a furry would be able to hold down a job and we would all be living in our parents’ basements. Furries of all sorts have great careers, and you can, too.
To have a career outside the fandom, just adhere to the same rules that everyone else follows while at work. These are obvious things, such as don’t use company computers and company Internet connections to look at furry websites and chat with furries; use them ONLY for business activities. When in the office, follow whatever dress codes are expressed in company policy (this likely means no tail, ears, partial fursuits, etc., except perhaps at a Halloween party). Office time is for the office; keep your personal life at home and you will be fine.
As with any “rule,” there are exceptions. Some offices are totally cool with furries. The best example I know of this has to do with my buddy Tycho Aussie. He has worn his fursuit at work, and the people there love it. Now, this is not typical, but it is possible.
You do not have a dilemma at all. Stay furry!
I feel like I'm trapped in an uninteresting life. I'm living somewhere where I feel rather isolated, I have “friends” but they're mostly just family friends, I have very few people who I feel truly close to, and they are almost all online. I feel like I'm uninteresting, both socially and sexually. I have kinks, but no way to really practice them. I have an unsatisfying sex life, but I'm not sure how to resolve that. I feel like I'm unhappy with my love life, but I'm not sure if the problem is the relationship, or me. I feel like I'm just drifting through life, not accomplishing anything, and I have no idea how to change that. People make it all sound so easy—go somewhere else, figure out what you love and do it, and things like that—but I'm not sure where to start with any of that. What am I supposed to do?
Bear (age 22, Canada)
* * *
While the advice of moving or finding your passion can be true for many people, the particulars on how to do it can be problematic. Your friends are trying to point out that you are in a rut and need to shake things up, but unless you know where you are going this might not work. For example, if you move from Canada to New York City, it might be an exciting new environment, but you can’t run away from your problems or lack of ambition or lack of goals. Those things follow you. Likewise, you can’t just snap your fingers and say, “I summon my passion!” Many people, frankly, go through their entire lives without finding their passions.
Why is that?
There are several things that stop us from doing what we really want to do. I call these “The Shit Factors” (it sounds better in French: “les facteurs de merde”) and they are:
The Shit Factors are not established in us from birth. When we are little kids we do things because we love it, even if we are terrible at it (e.g., drawing people as crayon stick figures). It isn’t long, though, before we start to “learn” that such joys are not valued by our parents and peers. Parents tell us we must get an education and get a degree so we can find a job and make money; peers will take the first opportunity to make fun of and mock us at almost anything we attempt so that they can feel better about themselves. These two outside forces squash the joy out of most people, effectively turning them into boring drones who do all that is expected of them: go to school, work, raise a family, pay taxes, and die.
One of the saddest lines ever penned was by Henry David Thoreau: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
My passion when I was younger was to be a writer. I struggled a lot with this, and my early stories were, well, awful (SF #1). I remember submitting a bunch of them to the creative writing program at Bowling Green State University, where I was considering going for a master’s degree (MFA). They gently suggested I just register for their standard MA. I was crushed. Slowly, though, I began work on my fantasy novel. Took years, got hundreds of rejection letters, and then I got “the call.” A publisher liked it! So, spent a year in contract negotiations, after which the publisher changed her mind, postponing publication indefinitely. Another year wasted (SF #5). I then submitted it to a small press in Canada (Double Dragon) that was having a writing contest judged by Piers Anthony (“Xanth” series), and I won! The book, The Steel of Enadia, was published, but didn’t sell worth a damn. I made no money off it (SF #2 and #4). The book got some online reviews that were pretty upsetting, too (SF #3).
Afterwards, I was pretty sad. I continued to write, though, publishing a number of nonfiction titles for young adults until finding my next passion: writing a history about Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. This was a labor of love. The zoo, the oldest in the state that was accredited, had never been written about, so I dove in. This took a couple of years of research, interviews, and writing. I then submitted it to the Michigan State University Press (MSU’s vet school had a long history of working with the zoo and so it was a good fit). The editor loved the book, but they didn’t have a budget to publish it and kept delaying (see, all the money from sport programs never goes toward anything academic or artsy, or else they would have had the money in spades). Soooooo, I found a place that, basically, was a vanity press and got it published. However, I got absolutely NO support, either from the publisher, or, frustratingly, from the zoo itself, which refused to sell the book in its gift store (“We don’t sell books” and “You only want us to do that because you want to make money off of us” were two reasons I got). Although the people I know who read the book loved it, I couldn’t sell it and it is now out of print (thanks a lot, Potter Park Zoo, you putzes).
I stopped writing after that for a long time. Then, I found the furry fandom, which has now led me to writing this column. I make no money from it. None. Zilch. But I love doing it. I am grateful to those who write in and who read this column because it gives my life a sense of purpose, and it would not have happened if I had given up on writing because of the five Shit Factors.
My success with this column has also inspired me to begin research on my next project: The Furry Book: The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the Furry Fandom, which I hope to complete by the end of this year.
Not to make this a column about me, but I offer you my experience here as an example of how dangerous the Shit Factors are and because I suspect that you may be in your current rut because you are being stopped by one, some, or all of these factors. To find personal satisfaction in your life (note I am not saying “to find money” or “to get a career” or even "to find love," although these things can happen, too) you must break through all five factors and then ask yourself this question: If your doctor gave you one year to live, what would you do with your time?
This is not a frivolous question. We all die, of course. Any one of us could die tomorrow, could die later today. I just got an email from a friend of mine who is 56 and a bit shaken up by the fact that a cousin of his who is his age went to bed last night and never woke up.
The future is never certain. Live your life for today. Do not be complacent, content to sit on the couch watching “Survivor” or playing “Final Fantasy.” Live.
As for the Shit Factors, let’s look at them again:
Much of what I have above here is about your vocation or avocation, it seems, but it can actually apply to your love life, as well. Why do you suppose your sex life is unsatisfying? Could it be due to a Shit Factor? Such as you are afraid to tell your lover what you really want (related to SF #3)? Why did you choose this particular mate? Was it because they were low-hanging fruit (related to SF #5)? Because they have a good-paying job (related to SF #2)? Think about it....
I hope this helps. Please write again if it doesn’t and we can continue the conversation.
To start off, two things. I am very sorry to hear about your family member! I've had a TON of surgeries, like, 12? (I have a MAJOR fear of them, though. It's the only thing that can make me break down nowadays.) I definitely feel their pain, and I hope for their quickest recovery. Can you make them some yummy hot chocolate, on me?
Second, you're probably wondering, "What's with this secrecy?"
Well... I have written to you once before, only once, and I just don't want to feel like I'm swamping you with letters. I was so excited and overjoyed by your response and the way you responded, I kinda forgot to proofread my comment... Heh... Whoops. My mind kinda just tends to word vomit like that, and the product is anything but graceful.
Speaking of word vomit, I should probably start with my question now.
The subject of this letter is a bit of a sore spot for me. I've dwelled and dwelled over it almost all my life: Religion.
I don't live in the Bible belt, but the community I'm surrounded by is extremely Christian. My family, my friends...
My friends go to church, I'm not sure if they truly believe in God, and my family does believe in God.
Now, being Atheist... I feel a little exiled. As if I don't belong. Just last Sunday, a friend spent the night. They left for church early the next morning. This wasn't a problem for me, didn't make me feel awkward. Later, however, I went over to my best friend's house. I've know her since kindergarten, but ever since I became Atheist, I feel so unwelcomed in her home. I've always felt kinda awkward there, her parents aren't the nicest folks and always made me feel awkward, but when they left for church, too.... The feeling of being a black sheep was overwhelming.
I don't know your religious beliefs, and I hope mine do not offend you. I really do apologize if they do. A lot of families here are religiously involved. There's this friendly priest that visits our house. I hide up in my room to avoid said priest, even though I really think he's a nice guy. Nobody knows about my beliefs. My mom knows I'm not 100% into the whole "God" ordeal, but she doesn't know about my beliefs. Told my friend jokingly, so I don't think she believes that these are my thoughts.
To sum up.... How do I get over this looming feeling of exile around such a religious community? Should I tell my family the whole story, or keep my trap shut?
Thank you again. You're an amazing guy!
From your slightly embarrassed fur,
Anonymous (age 14)
* * *
Hello, Fellow Furry,
Gosh, I’m sorry for all your surgeries. I wonder, offpaw, if your suffering in any way contributed to your becoming an atheist? Sometimes, when people endure a lot of pain and personal loss, they begin to question whether God really exists and, if God does exist, why do awful things happen to good people and good things happen to wicked people? But that’s an entirely different topic....
Quickly about my personal beliefs, so you understand where I’m coming from: I’m not a religious person in that I do not follow any organized, culturally approved faith; however, I am a spiritual person in that I believe there is a lot more going on in the universe than simply the matter, energy, and physical laws we can observe around us. Do I believe there is some guy with a white beard and robe sitting on a throne on a cloud surrounded by pearly gates and fencing with little cherubs fluttering around? No, that’s silly. I don’t think God is a separate being; rather, everything around us and in us is God; we are bits of embodied spirit unified by spiritual energy. Because we are limited by our perceptions within our physical bodies and living in a physical universe, however, we are vulnerable to misinterpreting the true nature of existence. This has resulted in many people being disconnected from their true spiritual selves, which, in turn, leads to the misunderstanding that the only way to reach God is through a priestly class that serves as an intermediary.
You do not have to be religious to believe in spiritual energy and the beauty of something beyond and grander than our physical world. And, actually, the more we learn about physics—from the incredibly tiny to the mind-boggling immense—the more I believe in a greater spiritual existence. Science and God are not incompatible; they are one.
Your friends and family are allowing themselves to be led by social convention (as you note, a lot of your friends go to church but they probably just do so because that is what is expected of them, not because they are particularly religious). The vast majority of people who consider themselves religious follow those faiths they were raised on and told from a very tender age were “the truth,” and anyone who believes differently is wrong, misguided, or even evil and a threat. This mindset becomes particularly bad when it becomes an extremist faith that says it is okay—even righteous—to kill others who don’t believe as they do. The result has been a string of religious conflict that has murdered untold millions. Many people who realize this have lost their faith because they have seen all the suffering it has caused and they blame religion. Actually, it’s not the religion, it is the people who practice it and warp it who are causing the pain.
People do not like to have their beliefs challenged. That’s because to be told that something you believed in from the time you were able to understand language is wrong (or, at least, not entirely correct) is frightening. Not only is it frightening, but it challenges one to think, and many people do not like to think for themselves; it’s much easier just to do as one is told and then call it “faith.”
The reason you feel isolated and rejected, therefore, is because you represent a challenge to the shelter of blind faith that so many people take comfort in. To use a pop culture metaphor, you are like the red pill in the Matrix: when swallowed, it shows them that the world is entirely different than what they thought; not only is it different, but it requires action on their part to return reality to its proper path. That’s scary, even terrifying. Much more cozy to take the blue pill and believe the virtual world of your existence that you understand so well is the truth (interestingly, there is now a theory proposed by Gerard t’Hooft that our existence is, in fact, a giant hologram).
To your question of “How do I get over this looming feeling of exile around such a religious community? Should I tell my family the whole story, or keep my trap shut?” Let’s take into account, firstly, that you are 14 years old. This is awfully young to reach any definitive conclusions about your belief system and, trust me, it will likely change in some or many ways before you’re my age. (I applaud you vigorously for not blindly accepting what you are told about God, however). So, instead of telling your parents and others that you are an atheist, tell them that you are undecided and that you wish to actively explore your religious/spiritual side. To do so, you should keep an open mind about all faiths, including Christianity. This means, in turn, that you must socialize with people in your community who are Christians to further observe the practice and consequences of their faith.
In addition, you need to recognize that people are more than just their faith (just as they are more than just their sexual orientation, gender, income level, physical abilities, etc.) The fellow you mentioned who is a priest and a nice guy: he sounds like someone worth knowing. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot have friends—good friends—who have a belief system that doesn’t match your own. I have some very dear Christian friends and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Even the religious community is beginning to realize the advantages of interfaith organizations (often teaming up Jewish and Christian communities, but others as well). It is the wise person who recognizes that one can learn a lot about life by talking to others who have a different interpretation of the world.
Talk less, listen more.
I would like to further recommend to you that you go out and explore other faiths. Visit a Jewish temple or Islamic mosque. Try a Unitarian Universalist church. Learn about Eastern faiths and philosophies, such as Jainism, Shinto, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sufism, Zoroastrianism etc. etc. Also, there is much to learn of shamanistic beliefs of indigenous cultures, such as in Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. You can, even further, study the great philosophers and schools of thought, including Sophism, Deism, Stoicism, Platonism, Neopositivism, Hedonism, Existentialism, Epicureanism, Agnosticism ... well, you get the idea.
Since the first primitive human gazed up into the sky, looking at the stars and Moon, and wondered what they were and what he was, people have been trying to figure out their lives and find meaning in them. By questioning what people believe and why people believe, you will embark on a spiritual quest that can last your entire life. And! To do this properly, you will need to talk to people, which will, in turn, do the OPPOSITE of isolating you. Instead of hiding from the nice priest or minister who comes into your home for a visit, come down the stairs from your room and start asking him questions about his faith. Talk to others in your community as well; and, if you can, find people who are Jewish or Muslim or follow any other faith and ask them about what they believe and why.
Truth be told, hon, none of us mere mortals truly understands what God is. My belief is just what I've come to given my experiences and readings. Exploring that side of ourselves is part of what makes us human. You have concluded you are an atheist, but that is a conclusion based on a mere 14 years of life! So, I say to you, don’t be too hasty. Open your mind and heart and you will see that there are many paths that lead to the same goal. As long as you are a good and kind person, your path will lead you in the right direction.
Thanks in advance, I really, REALLY respect what you're doing here. ^^
With Valentine's Day approaching [this letter was received February 12], I've been thinking a lot about the girl I'm in a relationship with, I'm wondering what you're opinion is with what we've been through in the 9 months we've been together.
This is my question. As you'll see below, the relationship that I wanted and that she said she wanted too, has TOTALLY derailed into what I've tried to avoid. However my feelings for this girl keeps me hanging on. I'm not unhappy, she's not manipulating me, she's just a girl with low self-esteem who was too timid to tell the truth, but I forgave her.
But now I'm at a loss. Has this girl earned a break up yet, or do I go through the motions and keep her until I move in about a year, trying to help her in her issues as best I can?
It was really quite nice when we agreed to start dating because we were very close friends while she was in another relationship, and when she broke up with her ex we basically went at it within a few days.
We already knew tons about one another, including the fact that I was a male-preferred Bi-sexual furry, and me "knowing" that she was bi-sexual, recovered-anorexic, and she actually (to my delight) said she was a furry! We wanted a casual, fun, sexy romance and for a few weeks it was just that and it was awesome. However, a few things came to light. I found out she's actually really uncomfortable with me being Bi, (she gets upset just by me mentioning my homosexual experiences) she was a virgin who never actually messed around with guys & girls like she said, and she also made some signs that she wanted a relationship that was... Extravagantly committed. She had a bit of a "soul mate" complex going on. Oh, and she wasn't furry. Although she promised she was "curious" about it.
So basically, a few lies. I was obviously very disappointed but I thought we could just go forward from there, now that everything was out in the open, but -WHOOPS she just confessed that she still actively anorexic. To my horror, she confessed she lies about what she eats when I ask her, and all those nice (HEALTHY) dinners I brought her to, she's PURGED.
I'm a little worried because now that I'm seeing this girl's true colors I'm not liking what I see... She fibbed little to make herself more attractive to me, and now this disorder which she's promised me she's recovered from, I'm finding out is actually VERY much a part of her life, and what's worse, she's actually in LOVE with this disorder. When we smoke weed she talks about it like I would talk about my love in acting or artwork. But She doesn’t want to talk about the artwork she does, she wants to talk about what phase in her anorexic cycle she paints best in. She brings it up in conversation in front OF PEOPLE as if it's a workout routine, or a fashion statement. She's proud of it! she considers it an artistic expression! But she knew, because I told her, I was not comfortable with this "love" of hers so she covered it up and said it was in her past.
Our sex life is a mess because she doesn’t have the experience she said she had and I was prepared for. So her lies are beginning to catch up on our relationship.
I'm forgiving this girl's fibs left and right and she apologizes each time, and I love her enough that I want her to know I will accept her for HER, but I don't know if I can do it as a "mate" anymore.
I know this girl needs love and she needs help but I don't know how I can love and help this girl if I break up with her, even though she's lied about things ranging from her furry fascination to her hidden PASSION for her eating disorder which she promised me was no longer in her life. And I've done my best to forgive these fibs of hers, which are obviously born from low-self-esteem on her part. I used to do the same thing in high school to puff myself up. I keep thinking she deserves to be forgiven for all the shit going on, but she also kinda deserves to be dumped. I'm just very conflicted.
Help me out, Papa.
Shrapnel (age 20)
* * *
For accuracy’s sake, your girlfriend is bulimic, not anorexic. In anorexia, a person simply starves herself, but if one has bulimia nervosa one binges on food and then purges.
That’s a technical mistake. The emotional mistake you’re making is believing that you are somehow obligated to make this person happy by being her boyfriend even though she has repeatedly lied to you about who she really is. You wanted to be with someone who was a furry and, well, preferably, not suffering from an eating disorder. Also, she lied about her sexual experience, and I bet she lied about being bi just to please you because if she were really bi she would understand how you felt, being bisexual, too. In other words, this person is a compulsive liar and the person you think you love isn’t really that person at all.
This is one of those letters that Papabear gets in which, I suspect, the writer, you, wants a second opinion that will validate what you have already concluded to be the right decision. That is, you really don’t want to be this girl’s boyfriend, do you? Be honest. And hanging out with her for another year is just a strategy you are considering so that you can escape “gracefully.” I bet you plan to move and then “lose touch” with her using distance as an excuse because you don’t have the courage to tell her now that it is over.
This relationship has no future. This girl needs some help and needs to get her act together. It’s nice if you wish to be her friend and help her (if she actually wants help), but don’t feel obligated to have a sham relationship with someone who is, frankly, poison to your emotional well being.
Heya there, Papa Bear!
My name is Danielle. I’m an 11-year-old furry from California. I'm bi, and I joined the fandom when I was 7. I have a lil' question for you. I easily know way too much, and I know everything about the fandom. But when I’m walking by with my friends, people shout, “Yiff in hell! Furry!” It gets on my nerves, and I have no apparent plans on becoming a yiff. I kindly tell them to stop, but they are major assholes about it and they simply refuse to halt their immature comments. I go up to them and say, “Seriously, would you please stop calling me a yiff?! I'm not harming anyone, and furries are a lot nicer than you are!” I mean, I would’ve totally broke out and cursed, except ... Big Trouble. Oh, and also ... I have a trans friend. He was a girl, and he says he’s bi as well, so I'm not a complete loner. The catch is ... not many people know I'm bi, and I started puberty a long time ago. Even period ... heavy, period.... So I’m easily used to the subject of puberty/body parts/various subjects related to that theme. That would most likely get a shitload of criticism, and much more weird looks. Thank you for your time, Hon.
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Normally, I would say you are asking me two questions in this letter: one about being a furry and one about being bi. Actually, they are related because with both your concern is about being teased, made fun of, socially ostracized, etc., and the answer to this combination question is the same....
When I was a cub, I was teased a lot. I was teased for being smart, for being pale-skinned in the land of sunshine (SoCal), for being unathletic, for being shy, for being part German, for being part Russian, etc. etc. People, in general, get teased and bullied for all kinds or reasons, ranging from ethnic prejudice to issues about not being popular for reasons such as “acceptable” appearance or athleticism.
In the end, the reason for the bullying is not because the object of the teasing has something wrong with him or her, something unacceptable; the TRUE reason is that bullies get off by hurting other people’s feelings and making them upset for any reason at all that they can find. Danielle, what has happened here is that these people have discovered that by shouting “Yiff in hell, furry!” they are getting a reaction out of you. Every time you protest, every time you argue in your defense, every time you so much as flinch, frown, or look upset in any way, you are feeding the wolves the steak they crave.
Therefore, the solution is not to find a clever way to get back at them; the solution is to give them no reaction at all. Don’t talk to them, don’t argue with them, don't report them (unless they get physically violent) don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they are getting a rise out of you. The less reaction the get, the less fun it will be for these butt munches to tease you.
I know what you’re thinking: “What if I try that and then they come up to me and say something like, ‘Hey, didn’t you hear me, furry? I said yiff in hell”? Yes, it’s possible that their first reaction will be to double-up on the bullying. The answer is to respond to them cooly, without emotion, and to make it clear to them that their words mean nothing to you. You can say such things as, “Yeah, I heard you. Have a nice day” or (very distracted) “Uh huh, that’s nice, I’m really busy right now” (and then walk off, completely ignoring them) or (insincerely) “Yeah, never heard that one before, clever.” Only say such things if they confront you in such a way that it is impossible not to say at least something. While it’s important to show no interest in what they are saying, it is also important not to show any anger or irritation. If they continue to try and engage you, they will eventually show they really have no follow-up for their comments. Example:
Idiot: “Yiff in hell, furry!”
You: “Okay, have a nice day.”
Idiot: “Hey, I said, yiff in hell!”
You: “I heard you.”
Idiot: “Well, don’t you have anything to say?”
Idiot: (insistently) “You furries are all sex freaks.”
You: “That’s your opinion.”
Idiot: “Yeah, well, it’s true.”
You: “I appreciate that everyone has a right to think what they like.”
Idiot: “You don’t deny it?”
You: “I don’t deny that you have an opinion on this. Do you have a point?”
Idiot: “Yeah, er, my point is you’re a, um, a furvert.”
Idiot: (sounding lame) “And, uh, you’re going to hell.”
You: (looking distracted, bored, and checking your watch or iPhone) “Yeah, great, okay, nice talking with you, but I have to go now. Bye.”
See how this works? Now, this might not stop the teasing 100%, but I guarantee it will reduce it significantly. The same strategy would work if the teasing was about your being bi or anything else. The key is to be confident in who and what you are and to not be ashamed of it or feel like you have to defend who you are because who you are requires no defense. This is, I admit, a rather tough lesson to learn when you are a pre-teen, but if you learn it now it will go a long way toward improving your self-esteem and self-image.
Another point: combine this strategy with overt friendliness. That is, always be gracious, kind, and welcoming to everyone you meet—yes, even the bullies. There is nothing like the one-two punch of self-confidence and friendliness to confuse and befuddle bullies. Soon, people will like you too much to bully you :-)
Good luck, hon.
I'm going to get to the point pretty quickly. I am in a relationship with another guy and I love him. But I'm starting to think he isn't "the one" since we hardly have anything in common besides the furry fandom and gaming. Plus I am the huge nerd (sorry if it doesn't seem like it since I lack grammar and organization skills) and he sometimes is a dimwit. I truly do love him but I'm always paranoid that we aren't perfect for each other. But he's also my best friend and if I broke up with him, I still would want him to be there for me. So to shorten this whole paragraph, Should I break up with him? And also, how do I break up with him and still stay friends? (I'm not sure if this would affect breaking up with him, but just in case, I have slept with him before).
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Dear Furry Friend,
There is no such thing as a “perfect” mate, so disabuse yourself of that concept, to start off with. The idea of finding “the one” is romanticized bullshit that comes from romance novels, Disney princess films, and Hallmark cards.
When it comes to things in common, there are some things for which it doesn’t matter and others for which it does. The things that do matter are fundamental. For one extreme example, my marriage broke up because I discovered I was gay and she deserved a husband who was straight. Another big difference could be age (if it is extreme, like an 80 year old guy marrying a 20 year old), religion (but only if the people in the relationship are inflexible), family planning (one person wants children but the other doesn’t) or when one is (or both are) selfish jerks. These things are often insurmountable because they delve into the very core of one’s being.
But many other things, such as hobbies and other interests, are no big deal. My ex (with whom I’m still friends) came from a poor family, loved sports and cars, and liked to do crafts such as beading and cross-stitch, while I came from a middle-class home, hated sports, and craft shows made me yawn. But we had other things in common, such as a love of reading, shared political values, enjoyment of travel, and so on. My current mate also is different from me in many ways. He’s nine years older, loves disco music, and his work in radio and TV is both his job and his passion. I really don’t give a damn about the media, am indifferent to disco music (it’s okay, but only for a little while--I know, Yogi, I have blasphemed!), and grew up in a different era when it comes to my gay life (he lived through the first wave of the AIDS crisis, a horror I can barely begin to imagine, and that has really affected him to this day). Yet we have many things in common: love watching live plays and musicals, enjoy working on the home, share political views and a world view, have a similar sense of humor, etc. In both cases of my ex and current mate, I was with people who were kind, loving, caring, compassionate, helpful, and sharing. In other words, I fell in love with their hearts, not their hobbies and family backgrounds.
So, you don’t share everything in common, big deal. You have gaming and the furry fandom, which are probably big parts of your lives that you can share. And for the things that make you different—viva la difference! When two people have everything in common and do everything together, conversation can get a little dull, as in: “What did you do today, dear?” “You should know, you were with me!” Leaves very little to talk about. Differences can be good, because they can help us to see and experience different things that we otherwise might not have, and that helps us to grow.
I can’t advise you on whether or not to break up with your boyfriend, but I can suggest you take a test. Sometime, when he doesn’t know you’re watching him, take a few minutes and just watch him doing something ordinary, some routine thing, and look not with your eyes, but with your heart. If your heart melts inside you, you love him, and you should not break up. If you don’t feel moved in any way, then you probably have a friend there, but not a love. I did this test once with Yogi. He was out in the back yard with Ernie the Wonder Dog (our Shih Tzu). He was standing there in robe and slippers by the pool, hair messy. It was morning, he had a cup of coffee in his hand, and he was taking in the view of Mt. San Jacinto, a contented smile on his face. My heart melted. It was a joy to see that he was happy, and that made me happy, too.
Take the test first. If the result is a fail, write again and we can talk about break-ups.
P.S. Whether or not you slept with him is irrelevant, FYI.
Good afternoon (as of February 03, 2015). I am a young male of mixed Puerto-Rican/Azerbaijani heritage, with Sunni Moslem beliefs, studying at the university level. I discovered what is called the "furry fandom" on the Internet back in 2007, and my experiences have not always been positive. For now, I will not deal with the already-covered, more controversial aspects, but I have another question instead: Am I the only one who finds much of the costuming, artwork, and writing superficial and tacky? On any given day, I could visit DeviantArt or Tumblr, and be stunned at the appallingly low or gimmicky quality of most user submissions (granted, this is a general phenomenon of amateur content sites and social networks). Outdated sound bites, devoid of substance, by people with no clue as to what is good aesthetic taste. I have viewed online footage of AnthroCon, and I was not much impressed either. Like the fundamentalists of my faith (give or take however you want it), although bullying and intolerance of those who consider themselves "furry" is a sad reality, a few also seem to lack perspective on themselves and be incapable of taking any criticisms. These are the images of furry artwork I have seen so far:
And I could endlessly go on and on, but I would never finish. Maybe I am being too demanding and unrealistic, but I would like to see anthropomorphic animals explored from a deeper, more elegant and sophisticated, fine art perspective (I would actually pay to see such an exhibition!). Oh well, maybe I was quacking at the wrong door the whole time. I hope you could orient me a little. Thank you very much, may Allah be with you, and have a most excellent week.
* * *
Dear Joaquin Claro,
Thank you for your question and kind words. I would agree with your statement toward the end of your letter that you are “being too demanding and unrealistic.” Expecting all the art (or even the majority of it) posted by furries on the Internet to somehow be top quality stuff worthy of display in a museum or art gallery exhibits a misunderstanding of the purpose of the fandom. That would be like expecting everyone who writes Trek or Lord of the Rings fanfic to win Hugo and Nebula Awards. Remember, these people are, for the most part, amateurs. As the word “amateur” denotes, they draw furries for the love of it, not because they are pros and want to make money or earn awards (although many appreciate kind feedback for their efforts); to my way of thinking, that is a very admirable reason.
I, personally, always encourage people to express themselves artistically, whether that be in the visual arts, or in writing, music, dance, or whatever moves them. If you feel that much of their work is imitative or pedestrian, remember that many artists begin by emulating what inspires them and what they enjoy. Some will never move beyond that point, while others will eventually find their own artistic voice and become quite brilliant.
I would object, too, to the implication here that all furry art is bad. There are a lot of very talented artists. I am constantly amazed by a lot of the art I see.
You also mention costume arts (i.e., fursuits). This area is one I find particularly impressive. I’ve seen dazzling fursuits by a number of creators, including the talented woman who created mine, Beastcub. I’d list more great fursuit makers, but I’m afraid if I pick and choose I might hurt some feelings if I leave people out who are talented, as well.
As for artists, again, there are some very gifted people out there, such as Dark Natasha and Blotch. Too many, in my opinion, to list here.
If you are looking for the best furry art, one place you might start is the Ursa Major Awards page. Look through the pages of past winners and current nominations and you will find links to some great stuff. Most of the awards are for fiction and just a few for art, however; I keep hoping they’ll start an award for best fursuits, but I’m still waiting (anyfur also think this is a good idea?) I also think that there is no need for the UMAs to award movies, novels etc. from the mainstream world and that, instead, they should focus on arts created by the fandom (just my opinion).
If you feel that the furry art world can be improved, there are a couple things you might do: 1) you can contribute art yourself if you’re an artist (not an artist? then maybe you should be less critical of something you can’t do yourself), 2) if you find certain websites gross, disturbing, banal, or otherwise inferior, stop going to those websites, and 3) encourage people you think are talented by commissioning works from them and giving them positive feedback on their websites and discussion groups. Artists gotta eat, too, ya know :-3
You apparently wouldn’t agree, but one of the things I find most attractive about the furry fandom is that it is contributed to by furries, rather than large, moneyed corporations (this is why I find going to a furcon more rewarding that ComicCon). Amateurs are, therefore, to be appreciated and hugged, not berated because they don’t have art hanging in the Louvre.
Art, Claro, is in the eye of the beholder.
To answer your question, there probably are other furries who feel as you do about the art in the fandom (many of them turn into trolls), but, when I think about it, I really don’t know what the purpose of your and others’ criticisms could be. Do you hope, by pointing out that you don’t like most furry art, that the artists will suddenly decide to do better because you have pointed out where they have gone wrong? Or do you hope that they will read your criticism, get discouraged, and stop drawing things you find inferior or offensive, and, thus, clear the way for more gifted artists? Neither is a very admirable goal.
You note that many artists don't take criticism well. You might wish to consider how it is often true that furries have found themselves, for one reason or another, rejected by society, criticized by peers and family for what they love. Therefore, to be criticized further by fellow furries, the people they have turned to for support and camaraderie, tends to put them on the defensive.
I could be missing the point, though, so if I am, please write again and let me know. I’m not trying to be harsh here; just trying to figure out your letter.
Yours in Furriness,
I am in middle school and they don't allow tails; they will be taken away. My question is: how can I find another way of showing my love of being a furry?
Vixen Fox (age 12, Colorado)
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Dear Vixen Fox,
Your very short letter hits on a very touchy subject in Papabear’s eyes: school dress codes. Hope you don’t mind a long reply that gets a little off topic at times.
The purpose of dress codes is to assert authority, uniformity, and control among students in a school. The Education Commission of the States says: “Student appearance ... can be regulated if it is vulgar, indecent, obscene, insulting or if it carries a message that encourages inappropriate behavior." Therefore, it has been seen as reasonable when a school bans clothing that reveals too much skin or promotes violence, drugs, or alcohol use. In a way, I do support this attitude because you are at school to learn, but I think schools go way too far in enforcing it.
Many school districts extend this guideline to mean anything they perceive as potentially disruptive. Because of this, there have been a lot of ridiculous cases where school districts have gone nuts, in my opinion. For example, at one school a girl was suspended for shaving her head in support of cancer patients; another school banned bracelets that said “I [heart] Boobies” in support of breast cancer research. A girl who wore rosary beads because she is Catholic was suspended because gang members in her school also wore them. Absurd. Even more stupid, a school in Oklahoma told one kid he had to turn his shirt inside out because it supported a Michigan university and only shirts promoting Oklahoma schools were allowed.
Oh! I almost forgot: I once had a furry write to me that at her school she wore a furry outfit during a day when the school asked everyone to wear a costume that expressed who they felt they really were. Well, guess what? When she wore her fursuit she was immediately taken to the school counselor’s office and they told her parents she was crazy. In other words, “Wear something that expresses who you truly are, but only if that is a state-approved identity.”
Over the past 20 years or so, parents have been complaining more to schools and school superintendents about these rules, especially when their kids have done nothing wrong. Sometimes this has actually had the effect of changing school policy. Do your parents support your being a furry? If so, you might ask them to go to your school principal and support your wearing a tail. Has your wearing a tail ever caused a “disruption” in school? For instance, did other students start harassing you because of the tail and causing a commotion in the hallways? If so, the principal might argue that the tail is a disruption and that’s why it was banned. Unfortunately, he would probably be backed up by a judge if this went as far as a courtroom. But, if not, and if your parents support you, you might have a chance to get the principal to change his or her mind. If you feel strongly about wearing a tail, this might be worth a shot. To beef up your argument for wearing a tail, you might even say that you are wearing it in support of animal rights or wildlife conservation and that the ban is violating your First Amendment Rights of free speech.
Your being 12, though, it might be a bit much to expect you to make a state or federal case about this. But I would like to pause here and say something to you that you should always keep in mind: education is important, but you must always be conscious of the fact that you are going to a government-run school. Public (and even private) schools are designed for one thing: to turn little children like you into good little citizens, patriots, conformists, and worker bees. Therefore, everything you are being taught is designed to make you believe what you are supposed to believe so that you won’t “rock the boat” or cause trouble for those who run the country and have the power. You can’t just leave school, either. Under the law, you have to attend until you are at least 16. My suggestion to you, therefore, is to explore the world of books outside of school and spend some time educating yourself outside the “approved curriculum” that is shoved down your throat at school. Dress codes are one part of the brain-washing you are currently undergoing. You are also being told to memorize things and then write down those same things on the test, so that you will pass (although I hear no one fails in school now; it’s not allowed), graduate, get a job, pay taxes, and be a good little consumer.
The other thing you learn at school, though, is socialization. This is an important subject to learn because, throughout your life, you will have to deal with other people. So, Papabear further advises you to study your fellow students’ behavior and learn how to interact with them. You will be a happier grown-up if you can socialize well with others, as long as you remember that those others have, for the most part, swallowed the Alice in Wonderland candy and believe that everything they are told is true, even though much of it is actually crazy.
Question everything. EVERYTHING.
That’s why Papabear is proud of you for being a furry at the age of 12. It shows that you can think for yourself by following a path even though most people don’t like the same things you do.
Well, I hope I didn’t bore you with that. Let’s get back to your question :-) which is how to show your love for furry without wearing a tail, and, I assume, ears or anything else like that. Have you tried a furry shirt? Make sure it is one that doesn’t have any signs of sexuality about it. You could, to be safe, wear a shirt from a favorite movie that has furry characters on it, such as Robin Hood, Finding Nemo, or Kung Fu Panda. These are all very furry movies and can help you express yourself in a way that the schools would be clueless about (“Oh, that shirt is okay because it is produced by a multi-million dollar corporation that supports the American way of consumerism”). LOL, sorry if I sound like a communist.
Meanwhile, at home, I hope you are free to express who you are and your parents don’t mind. If that’s the case, I’m very happy for you and I think you should be 200% furry at home (and, yes, I realize that it is impossible to be more than 100% anything).
Again, my apologies for using your question to get some things off of my chest. Thank you so much for writing, and I hope this helps you.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.